Friday, January 28, 2011

Lookin' For Love

An unexpected snow day, brought a sweet expectation into our house!

A few days ago I saw this neat idea for a Valentine Countdown Calendar on-line. I made a few minor changes, grabbed the tape & crayola markers, and we have a new fun family activity to look forward to.

With Dad home for lunch, a rare treat, we sat around the table with peanut butter sammies (PB & honey for Jeremiah, PB & banana for Mom, and "just PB, please" for Dad) and came up with 14 ideas to celebrate LOVE and countdown to the BIG Day!

Here is our finished project...

...even "Little Bear" is feelin' the LOVE today!

Here is how it works...Each day, you "look" under the sweets for some way to express or celebrate LOVE! Would you like a sneak peek?! ;)

Look under February 1st! Our first thing to do is to read 1 Corinthians 13, verses 4-8! If we don't know what "LOVE" looks like, acts like, or sounds like, how are we going to celebrate it, right?!

A little background into the project: This past Christmas, our family read the advent book, The Jesse Tree, for the first time. It was such a huge hit at our house, I wanted to keep "looking for Christ" well into 2011! Funny what come paper, markers, and tape can do, huh?!

The word advent means the arrival of something important or awaited. Everyone looks for love, don't you think?! How I await for that little kiss on the cheek when my hubby comes in from his day at work! How I look forward to waking up our sleepy red head only to be met with hugs! How I await for that time in the day when I can sit down and look into God's Word and hear again of His love for me!

God's love is no small thing. Look at how Bible reminds us that He does love us. He loved us so much, that He sent is only Son to die so that you and I could have a relationship with Him, and even call Him "Father." That's why we need to celebrate it!

The poster is up...even made peanut butter cookies...needed a little something sweet after cutting out all of those little pictures of candy...but we don't have to wait until February for the LOVE. My prayer is that you will find the joy of God's love if you are looking (Hint: John 3:16), feel the presence of God's love if you are hurting, and share the goodness of God's love if you are celebrating.

Stop back by for stories of our countdown or tell us how you are experiencing God's LOVE!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day: Except for Predator Art 101

Wonder what the Proverbs 31 Woman would have thought about me painting sharks yesterday?! Verse 21 says that she is not afraid of the snow. Well, while we hunkered down for bad weather...we painted sharks!!

Go ahead and ask me anything about sharks! I have read enough books, seen enough episodes of "Shark Week," and role-played enough shark attacks to challenge the top scientist at any national aquarium. Well, ok may not "the top" scientist, but defiantly his assistant.

My son is a huge fan. He reminds me that the tiger shark is known as the "garbage can of the sea." "Be careful, Mom! Sometimes sharks mistake people on surf boards as baby seals!" Even when we brush his teeth, he wants me to brush the "sharpest shark ones." What a hoot!

Yesterday was also a great day to finish one more exam in my Liberty Home Bible Institute studies. Small bites toward graduation...slow but sure. It just so happened that after shark painting, I took a Final Exam on the Doctrine of another very well know predator...Satan. You know the one who seeks whom he may devour, always lurking to steal, kill, and destroy.

Despite being inside all day, my little guy 's eagerness to learn about "a predator" really got me thinking. It made me look at so often we learn from those whom we trying to teach. With everything I learned in the Doctrine of Satan Unit, I am most encouraged by 2 Corinthians 2:11, "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices." We are charged to know how Satan works so that he doesn't take advantage of us when he tries to attack.

Let's not get caught unaware of what is lurking.

Do we know Satan's devices? Am I trying to learn them or be able to identify them in my own life?

As I prepared for my exam, I had to learn about how Satan tries to attack us. My little guy would be proud of how much I knew about THIS predator. I found this so enlightening, I wanted to share from Dr. Harold Wilmington's textbook, Wilmington's Guide to the Bible...The 16 Deadly "D's" of the Devil.

Have you heard of them? Does everyone know these but me?!

#1. In the attack of Disappointment, let's remember Romans 8:28.

#2. In the attack of Discoragement, let's remember 1 Samuel 30:6.

#3. In the attack of Dispair, let's remember 2 Cor. 4:8.

#4. In the attack of Doubt, let's remember 1 Timothy 2:8.

#5. In the attack of Disbelief, let's remember Hebrews 3:12.

#6. In the attack of Distraction, let's remember Matthew 14:30.

#7. In the attack of Double-mindedness, let's remember James 1:8 & James 4:8.

#8. In the attack of Dishonesty, let's remember 2 Corinthians 4:2

#9. In the attack of Deceit, let's remember Jeremiah 17:9

#10. In the attack of Dullness, let's remember Hebrews 5:11 and 1 Corinthians 3:1-3.

#11. In the attack of Deadness, let's remember Hebrews 9:14.

#12. In the attack of Delay, let's remember James 4:13-15.

#13. In the attack of Discord, let's remember Proverbs 6:16-19.

#14. In the attack of Defilement, let's remember 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.

#15. In the attack of Defaming, let's remember Psalm 101:5.

#16. In the attack of Disobedience, let's remember 1 Samuel 15:22, Romans 6:14-18.

So, think Dr. Wilmington is right? Is this how Satan nibbles, gnaws, and attacks at you? I answered "yes" to a few, myself!

Let us not tread as victims, but thrive as educated victors! Amen?!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Making "New"

Whew! Can I just share something?! (You know a girlfriend is about to vent when she starts with a line like that, right?)


I don't like home improvement projects. True! Some gals love to watch the HGTV channel and some fellas consider themselves a real Bob Villa. Even, my hubby loves those flipping shows. Not me. It is enough for me to keep the house up, vacuum, dust, and I am proud when the dishwasher is empty. We won't revisit my my laundry issues, but you can. Seriously, why take a part your home when you work so hard to keep it all together?

Well, we did. For a long time, I have wanted to paint the kitchen because the wallpaper has had a good life.
So what started out as "Hey Honey, let's paint the kitchen" has turned into track lighting, some type of decorative lip over the cabinets, new floor, and touch up wall repair. See, that's why I don't like home improvement projects. But, the lifting, turning, and aging "ivy" had overgrown its stay. So, today we started.

And somewhere in the 3rd hour while our son was under the dining room table (pirate ship) sticking his head out of where the leaf should be and playing "below deck, matey," my husband asks me, "Are you having fun?" I didn't smile. But, I did answer, "No, but I am writing a blog about this" and we did laugh. Because my prayer during the whole project today was, "He makes all things new! HE makes all things new. He makes all thing NEW." Do you know that verse? God encourages us with Rev. 21:5 and says, "Behold, I make all things new."

Do you ever see God doing something in your life in layers? I do. Sometimes, it is removing sin. Others it is getting to the core of an issue. Or currently, illuminating Truth. It is like His X-ray vision can see right through to the beauty of His clarity. And we benefit and He is glorified. But it is work!! We just have to trust His methods.
For me, it hasn't been all at once, but in His timing. Steadily revealing what I have needed Him to through His Word, Holy Spirit, and others.

How thankful that God doesn't leave us like this. He is faithful! He is complete. He is ever aware of what we need. Just trust. Because He is ever working, never tires, and is ever patient. Thank you, Jesus!
Each time I would tear huge pieces of the papger off, there would be another layer or residue underneath. Then, I would get a whole wall paper-free, and find little peices in the the corners. But now, we have these fresh clean walls. Ready for the beauty of a fresh coat of paint. It was worth it.

In that same verse, John is told "Write: for these words are true and faithful." How grateful, I am that John did. How else would I have gotten through today's tangle of ivy! But for my life, I clinge to these words in faith and in prayer. Each layered step in His Kingdom is for Him, by Him, through Him, and for His glory. Tonight, as I look at the clear walls of my future, it looks bigger. It looks hopeful! I wonder, how do You want to paint it? I can't wait...there are so many colors to choose from...I know You will pick just the right shade, Father!

Where are you in "the project?" What is He doing to the walls of your heart? Making them new?! Hope to hear from you in the "New" Year!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Unwrapping My Gift(s)

Happy New Year, friends!

You won't believe it, but I'm going to tell you anyway!!

Tonight, I left "the boys" and came to Starbucks to write my first blog of 2011. So excited, friends! I see so many phenomenal things gearing up for 2011 in my life and in the lives of those around me. God is blessing and I am here to shout that from the mountain tops. He wants to bless. He is in the business of blessing! Amen?!

Anyway, back to my story. Getting a night away by myself is not easy. My hubby works long dedicated hours and I am a Type A Mom who loves to "enrich" our family calendar. As I planned this "First ME Night" of 2011, I had a lot of options! Would I go to the Clinque counter and try and find a new foundation AGAIN. A week before Christmas, my bottle of foundation and I found out that they discontinued the entire line of Dewy Smooth. Ouch. What about swimming a few laps at the new Aquatic Center; that is on the New Year's list. Wanna go read your first of 11 Christian biographies of 20-11, the bookstore is so relaxing?

Well, trust that I purposely left the book at home, do not have on make-up (seriously Rebecca!) and my laptop does not work underwater. I am sitting criss cross applesauce in one of the comfy coffee-colored chairs at the Starbucks and left my fav Chai Tea Latte in 2010 and tried a new drink. As I "plugged-in" to MY night, the group at a table right next to me was a little loud. But guess what they were chatting it up about? Did you guess BAREFOOT running?! I kid you not! Can you believe it?! SO COOL! I wanted to elbow my way into the conversation and say, "Scoot over just a bit...wanna hear a blog about it? I got pictures!" Instead (aren't you proud?), I smiled at the Lord and knew I made the right choice, was in the right place, and need to hold my breath. I was COMING UP FOR AIR! FRESH AIR!

There are so many great "New" blog posts out there right now. Not only timely, but spirit-filled. Have you checked out Cindy's , Julie's, or my young friend Amanda's? Gals, you got my wheels turning. What I am going to write about? What do I have to write about? How can I have a great "New" Year post? And, as always, when will I have time to write something?

See first off, there is a problem with all those questions. Too many "I's!" Did you notice? Because blogging isn't really about me or even just about being barefoot in your heart and life. For me and the others listed above, it is about Jesus! So, in recent days as I have turned my face toward Him and prayed about my blog (wanting to make all these blogging goals, blogging improvements, blogging changes, etc...did I mention that God created me as a Type A? A is for April?!), I made a few word changes instead. God, what would you have my blog do through Jesus? SEE! There are no"I's" in that! Cool, huh?

Writing does not come natural for me. HONEST! I remember my Concord College sweetheart, whom I now affectionately call "Hubcap" (my hubby), sitting with me downstairs in the Towers lounge editing my English papers well after visitation hours were over while I wiped away tons of tears. He was also the only one between us that had a word-processor. (Disclaimer: if you are new to my blog and reading and do not know what a "word-processor" is, I am sure you could tweet and ask someone or look it up using an app on your i-whatever. [LOL]) I would cry and ask over and over "No, I didn't know that those verbs were not in agreement. How do you?" The one I remember the most is "How is this so easy for you?" Now 18 years later, add that the whole wide world can see what I write, my flesh gets timid. But there is a fire in me (you know what I am talkin' 'bout Cindy!) and I have to!

So, I know decorations are put away (thanks, Hubcap) and countdowns are over, but I am still unwrapping my gifts...none of which were under the tree. Let me just shout a little bit from the mountain tops about my Father giving me so much this past holiday season.

Oh yeah, there was that gift of potential. Four days after Christmas, there was talk about getting to spend extra time with my 3 younger brothers this summer while their parents travel. I am in deep prayer that conversation will turn into invitation. But, even the gift of potential was from my Heavenly Father. Don't worry, a proper thank you note has been sent. [Wink!]

But wait, as the holiday season even started back in November and I was on my way to Knoxville, Tennessee, and my friend Elaine sent me a link. Wow! If you are a blogger, you have to read this. No kidding! I had not a chance to read it until I got here to Starbucks tonight...Shhh! Please don't tell Elaine. But, I think she will be ok with it because it was a gift in a gift (I love it when you unwrap one thing and another gift in wrapped inside...I am notorious for that!). The words on the screen were a gift of confirmation and affirmation from my Heavenly Father about blogging in 2011. See change of prayer above.

Then right before the official gift giving day came, God got some help from an elf named, Christine, a dear friend. A surprised package arrived, a gift of encouragement. Christine's words telling me to "keep on writing" literally made me cry about writing again...happy tears this time. (Sniff*Sniff)

Friends, I could go on and on, but I want to mention one more. The gift of remembrance came when I was with some family in West Virginia Christmas Eve eve. We were trying something new as we drove "over the mountain, and through the woods" to have dinner out together. On the way home as the sun sank behind those Almost Heaven hills, I saw a deer atop. The same people who saw deer that night were the same people in the car the morning we saw a lone fawn standing in the middle of the road looking right at us on the way to my mother-in-law's funeral. I will have to blog about that story soon because I want to write it. The significance? Besides missing her long calls with words about Jesus, books, and His plan for me, my mother-in-law was probably the biggest believer (even more than me) that she would one day read my name on a best-sellers list during one of her many, many trips (or stays, should I say) at Barnes and Noble. How do I know that? She told me! Deer was also the theme of last New Year's post. Sigh. Thank you, Father. Only you know, but what you know, is everything.

Do you see a theme? Words. Today, I got an e-mail from a new friend and besides saying that I should stop sending her e-mails that mover her to tears (in a good way...wink!) she said, you have such a "gift of words". Well, thank you "B" but no, not me, Jesus. :)

As good friends, you should be telling me that it is better to give than receive. Right? I mean look at this abundance. Father, I have unwrapped all my gifts and I see that they are ALL from YOU, every last one of them. Now, whatever gifting you have placed in me, help me unwrap it for you and give back in 2011. Amen.

Gonna slip my shoes back on and go get a re-fill friends, what about you?