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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Inspired by . . . a new year

 

"...one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Php 3:13-14
 

 

It's that time of year again. After the let down JOYs of Christmas we seem to slip into a thoughtful, sort of half-awake, repose wherein we dissect the past and make new expectations for the future.

I know many of you make new year's resolutions, or choose words to inspire your focus for the upcoming year. Nothing wrong with either - - in fact, I admire you for it!

But for most of my life I've done little of either. I'm more of a 'by the seat of my pants' kind of gal, albeit in a controlled sort of way.  {I'm sensing some not so quiet laughter from some of you out there}  And, although this may sound cliché to some of you, I really do trust God for what's next.

I suppose, though, if your life happen to take a 180 and/or as you get older you're more apt to be thoughtful about the past and more concerned about the future no matter what personality tendencies you had before.

With all those wonderful, inspirational words floating around out there in blogland it shouldn't surprise me that I'm in a debate with myself about choosing one. Did you get that? The debate is more about the choosing of a word, than about the word itself. Why? Because, as I've already explained, this isn't really my sort of thing and I didn't want to do it just because others were doing it.... blah, blah, blah.

So, although I had a word, I had decided not to choose it. 

That is until Good Morning Girls announced the topic of their January study.

 

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There was no escaping it. The word had chosen me.

So now, like many of you, I have a word to help keep me focused in 2014.

My word is: Intentional

 

And, I am going to begin this year by being intentional with all of YOU and invite you to join my Facebook group for the GMG online winter study, Intentionally Focused. If you're interested you can request to join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/236810263143915/

 

Wishing you all a healthy and JOYfilled

New Year!

 

Blessings,

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Inspired by . . . action

You've heard the phrase, "Actions speak louder than words," I'm sure. And it is true. People can say anything they want, but their actions will prove them out.

The smallest deed, showing a person that they are in your heart and on your mind, means more than the spoken words, "I love you," when followed by neglect.

This was the topic of Max Lucado's Christmas Eve service.

Jesus is God's word in action.

 

Manger_Scene

 

I've often pondered this truth, but can't remember ever hearing it preached this way before. Lucado's words instantly reminded me of a scene from Heart's Desire:

 

I am the bread of life. Five thousand people were fed with five small loaves and two fish. John was reading in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John when it hit him.

Jesus's actions spoke louder than His words.

John had been debating all afternoon the best way to apologize to Mel. Now he thought he knew. He flipped back to Luke, and continued reading.

The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. Save them from what? John continued reading. From an eternity separate from God. How did Jesus save them? John already knew the answer to that question. He had died for them.

And He died for me.

John's thoughts quickly turned from a certain young lady to an all-powerful God. Having never felt God’s love in such a tangible way before, John fell to his knees, truly understanding for the first time what God had done for him on the cross. This was grace, not that he had done or ever could do anything that would merit the kind of love his Savior had shown him. God had given His Son; Christ had given His life so that he might have life. Life eternal with God. The debt for his sins, past, present and future had been paid.

It was dark outside when John finally rose from where he'd been kneeling. Fearing he'd missed dinner once again, he pulled out his timepiece and was relieved to see he had not. More than ever, he was determined to make things right with Mel. Since words seemed to fail him, he was fully prepared to show her by his actions. And with God’s help, he just might pull it off.

 

Jesus, God, always backs up His words with action. He did it when He walked this earth as a man, and He is still doing it today.

 

You can trust Him to fulfill His promises to you.

 

Blessings,

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Inspired by. . . Noel

 

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"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder:

and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God,

The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6

 

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From Our Family to Yours

May PEACE and JOY rule in your HOME and HEARTS this Christmas.

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Inspired by. . . Mary

 

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest:

and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David:
And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee,

and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:

therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age:

and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
For with God nothing shall be impossible.
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.

And the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:26-38

 

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Wow! I've probably read this scripture 100 times and I still can't get over Mary's response to the angel. "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word."

Admittedly, just the thought of having a child is terrifying to me. I am wholly inadequate to such a task.

But this was no ordinary child. No ordinary messenger.

I wonder if it was the last words the angel spoke that gave Mary the hope and faith she needed to answer as she did?

"For with God nothing shall be impossible."

Perhaps we can have the same hope and faith today. His words, His promises are not just for Mary. They are for each and every one of us.

 

With expectation,

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Picture is textured with Bonnie's Xmas music texture. Thank you, Bonnie, for your generosity.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Inspired by. . . hope

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. A time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the nativity {birth} of Jesus Christ.

 

This first week as we prepare our hearts and wait expectantly for what we know is to come, we focus on the word – hope.

 

Misty_Morning

 

There are many in our world today who have no hope. For many, the sheer desperation of their circumstance produces this state of mind. For others, looking out upon the world with a full belly, from the warmth of an "easy" chair, they simply see the reality of a world that seems to be imploding upon itself. Still others believe that as products of evolution, we are programmed to continually seek to better ourselves, and as a result shall never find true contentment. There is nothing after this. All is lost.

But the truth is that all is not lost.

That very first Christmas we were given the gift of hope. God's gift to us. His Son. Our Savior.... our Redeemer. Our hope for a better tomorrow.

Hope came into our world.

Hope ...... that God can take any life, no matter how broken, and make it beautiful.

Hope ...... that the best is yet to come!

This gift of hope that entered our world so many years ago has never left.

It is still here today. For some, it still lies beneath the tree . . . wrapped . . . waiting.

 

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,

so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. ~ Romans 15:13

 

Some of us need to be reminded of the hope we have. This Advent season is the perfect opportunity to refocus our hearts on Jesus, the Giver of all hope.

And some of us need to unwrap the gift. Let hope give birth to faith and . . .

 

Believe.

 

With expectation,

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Candy canes in a light blue cup

 

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Inspired by. . . a proclamation

 

Whether you reside in the USA or not this time of year seems like good time to look back and take stock of the year's "harvest" - - the things, material or otherwise, that have blessed our lives over the past year.

 

Vine_fall 

All of you are part of that blessing for me, and I thank you for reading, commenting, and encouraging me throughout the year. To all of you, no matter where you reside, I wish you a blessed season of THANKSGIVING.

Perhaps this proclamation by Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States of America, may inspire you, as it did me:

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

 

With gratitude,

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Inspired by. . . a woolly bear

 

If you live in Northern Mexico, the US, or southern Canada, chances are you have seen a woolly bear caterpillar.

 

WoollyBear

 

I chased this little guy around my front yard for about fifteen minutes the other day! We had tons of them in Vermont in the late fall, but having lived in AZ and TX for the last 20+ years, I can't recall the last time I've seen one.

They say the Woolly Bear can predict the winter weather. The more brown bands, the more mild the winter. If that's true then, according to this little guy, we're in for a cold one.

 

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Textured with Kim's Nov Trio 1011

 

You can read about how the Woolly Bear became famous HERE. I found it very interesting that the "original" woolly bear came from Bear Mountain State Park in New York. This area is well known to my family; we drove through it nearly every summer on our way my cousin's house.

 

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Textured with Kim's cinnamon texture

 

Whatever you believe about its weather predicting abilities, the woolly bear is a welcome sign of the changing seasons.

 

What's inspiring you today?

 

Blessings,

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Inspired by. . . the arrival

Is there something that you're looking forward to with eager anticipation?

When I was young, summer vacation and Christmas topped the list of most anticipated events. As time goes on, weddings and babies mark important and much-anticipated milestones in our lives. But not all of us get married, not all of us have children. And, I realize,  not all of us celebrate Christmas.

But Christmas is the ONE event that celebrates ALL of us.

Imagine God's growing anticipation as He carefully prepared and planned to reveal -- to send His Son, the Savior of ALL mankind, to earth. There are hints, some subtle, some not so subtle, of this much anticipated event all through scripture, beginning in Genesis 3.

Advent is the final crescendo of this great anticipation. And every year it fills me with JOY, excitement, HOPE and thanksgiving. It is a season, a holiday, like no other. And it is one that everyone in the world can identify with and celebrate as their own. Because Christ was given to ALL mankind.

My dear friend, Margo, said this about Advent:

 

The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000-year-old-event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God. Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power.

 

There are many different ways to celebrate Advent. Some are, and should be, very fun. Like Jacquie Lawson's animated advent calendars. These beautifully animated calendars have been a tradition in my home for the last three years. Advent calendars are a fun way to count down the days before Christmas. I've shared with you in the past the beautiful advent calendar my Nana made for me when I was a child.

 

Angel_Advent_Calendar

 

And I've started a pin board to keep track of all the wonderful Advent calendar ideas I've found through the years!

 

Celebrating Advent also can, and should be, solemn, reflective and thankful. Some of the examples on my pin board include DIY Advent Candle wreaths, which are a meaningful way to celebrate the four Sundays of Advent.

 

There are wonderful devotional books available, too. Watch for the Light is one I would definitely recommend.

 

And, if you're still with me, I would love for you to join our online bible study group for our upcoming Advent Study: Keeping our Hearts Focused on Jesus.

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We have a private Facebook page set up for the group. If you're interested, send me an email and I'll send you an invite to the group!

However you and your family choose {or not} to celebrate Advent, I pray that the JOY and excitement of this fast-approaching season will stir your hearts and minds with anticipation of His arrival.

 

With anticipation,

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Inspired by. . . easy dinners

I don't know if you've noticed, but many of Kikkoman's sauces and marinades now say "Preservative Free" on the label. Since Sweet 'n Sour {fill in the blank} and Teriyaki {fill in the blank} are favorites at my house, this is good news indeed!

 

Pork was on the menu this week.

 

SweetnSourPork

 

I hesitate to even call this a recipe, it's so quick and easy.

Quick 'n Easy Sweet 'n Sour Pork

Source: Adapted from Kikkoman's Classic Sweet 'n Sour Pork

Ingredients:

1 T corn starch

1 T soy sauce

1 lb boneless pork chops, cut into 1in cubes

2 T extra virgin olive oil

2-3 carrots, thinly slices

1/2 onion, thinly sliced rings (or you can cut it into chunks, your choice)

1 cup Kikkoman Sweet 'n Sour Sauce

1 can (8oz) pineapple chunks, drained (reserve juice)

 

SweetnSourPork2

 

Directions:

  1. Blend cornstarch and soy sauce in small bowl; stir in pork until well coated.
  2. Brown pork in hot oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Stir in 1/4 cup water. Cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir carrots, onion and sweet & sour sauce into pork mixture. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes longer, stirring frequently.
  5. Add pineapple chunks and/or about 1/2 the reserved juice; cook and stir only until pineapple/juice is heated through.
  6. Serve over brown rice

Note: Step 5 is optional depending upon your likes and dislikes. I only add 1/2 the reserved juice. The Kikkoman sauce isn't quite sweet enough for my sweetie, and neither of us care for the pineapple chunks. This made two servings with extra sauce.

I'm looking forward to trying some of Kikkoman's other Preservative Free products. Do you have a favorite?

 

With gratitude,

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