Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hand crafted cards

Everyone has been asking me to post pictures of the hand made note cards that I have been selling so here are some pictures Enjoy!

Ladybug "Believe" card

Gold leaf Thank You card.

An apple a day Get Well Soon card

Lavender Happy Birthday card.

Fruit Jar "Faith" card

Little chick Happy Birthday card.

Apples of encouragement card

Short note card

Fruit Jar Love and Hope Cards.

Custom Calla Lily wedding invitations

Friday, October 19, 2007

Seeing Red...

"Red is the color of fire and blood, so it is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love."

The color red evokes strong emotions. It also causes very real physical reactions like increasing respiration and raising blood pressure. Because this color is found on many national flags, it tends to promote feelings of loyalty, courage and passion for one's country.

During the height of the Vietnam era, it was the yellow ribbons, worn on the shirt collar, tied around the tree and everywhere else that showed our support. Yellow was an attention getter - a cry of honor and loyalty meant to evoke desires for a happier time when the war would end and our troops would be home with us again.

Examining the psychology of color, it's no wonder that the latest campaign to show support for our troops is by asking people to wear red on Fridays. Red is a stronger color, denoting passion and courage as our troops fight against the danger we feel from the threats of terrorism.

Since 9-11, many of us as Americans have felt a rising up of passion and love for our country. We support the work of our troops overseas and appreciate their fight for our freedom because we realize we are no longer oceans apart from the conflict. Terrorism can happen here at home if we let down our guard. So I plan on wearing red on Fridays, as a show of support for our troops who are sacrificing so much to protect us.

But I will also wear it as a reminder of the sacrifice of one life as He waged a war against our ultimate emeny - sin and death. Without the spilling of Jesus' blood, there would be no freedom at all for us - no freedom from the chains of guilt, shame, anxiety, fear or the hurt we perpetrate on each other.

Red represents His determined, passionate and powerful war against sin to rescue humanity from its self-destructive nature. Thank You, Lord, for shedding Your blood so I might live. Help me honor You with passionate, powerful service as I walk in the freedom You have purchased. Amen!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bubble Gum Sunday

An object lesson will always get a child's (or adult's) attention quicker than a lecture so to teach my children's church class about tithing, I used this object lesson:

Each child had the opportunity to "earn" 10 pennies by learning their memory verse. They had to be able to say it in front of the group.

Once everyone had their pennies, I taught them about giving one tenth to God - out of their 10 pennies they should give 1 to God. I passed the offering plate so those who wanted to put God first could place one of their pennies in the basket. About half of them did and two boys put all 10 of theirs in.

Since I knew some of the children would keep all their pennies, I wanted to show them how God feels about our willingness to give. I brought out bags of bubble gum, telling the children they were 10 cents each. Of course, those who kept all ten of their pennies were able to "buy" a bag with no problem.

"It's not fair!" Those who gave one of their pennies to God sat there frowning and a little peeved with me for collecting an offering before showing them the gum. The ones who kept all ten pennies were gloating while filling their mouths with gum. (Yes - they stuck all five pieces in their mouths at once!)

After the children with 10 cents finished "buying" their gum, I told those with only 9 cents to line up. Then I shared how God will provide for us by allowing our 9 pennies to stretch just as far as our 10 pennies - I offered them the opportunity to buy a bag of gum "on sale" for 9 cents. Then before they sat down, I shared how we can't out give God. Because they gave one penny to Him, He wanted to give them a blessing - a bonus piece of gum which the children with 10 cents did not receive.

Now the ones who kept all ten pennies were starting to feel sorry that they hadn't given one of their pennies to Jesus. One boy even began looking for the offering plate to put one of his pennies in so he could have extra gum. This was a teaching moment because I could tell them that God wants us to give without expecting anything in return.

By this time the two boys who gave all ten cents to God were wiggling up a storm in the back of the room. "What about us? We gave it all to God?"

I invited them up to the front and rewarded them with a bag of gum, plus 10 extra pieces, one for each penny them gave to God.

You really can't out give God. He's proven that in my own life so many times. Perhaps when these boys and girls grow up, they'll remember the lesson of God and the bubble gum and give freely of what they have to Him.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Good things come in shoe boxes!

It's time to fill Chrismas shoe boxes again!

Each year we participate in Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child project. I love shopping for the small items which will fill the shoe box for some child on the other side of the world.

Beginning in August when the school supplies are on sale, I fill up on crayons, glue sticks, scissors, pencils, erasers, paper and such for the boxes. As the time appriaches to finish, I buy other things like toothbrishes, toothpaste, wash cloths, soap, shampoo samples and other hygiene items and at least one toy or two.

It becomes a puzzle to fit all those items into a plastic shoe box that will close without having to sit on the lid :) But then they are finished and lined up across the front of the church to be dedicated in November and sent to the Graham organization for distribution.

What a fun and painless way to spread the Good News of Jesus! By purchasing only an item or two at a time, I soom have more than enough to fill a box. The children receiving the boxes hear the Gospel message of Jesus as they are being distributed. And the amazing testimonies that come back about those boxes! It thrills my heart to be able to give to the Lord.

Father, help me find other ways to give to You - not onlythrough finances, but through giving of myself to others. Help me to see others as You see them and to pray always.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Handmade card update...

Just an update on Friday's blog -

I went into the new cafe/gift shop on Saturday to speak with the owner about selling my handmade cards. Though the owner had expressed interest in seeing the cards to my friend, it was up to me to follow through.

I still battle with a lack of self confidence in many areas of my life and almost changed my mind about going in. After finding a parking spot about a block away, I sat in the car for several moments and prayed, "Lord if this is really You, grant me favor with the owner."

Selling the cards was important to me - a way to give back to the Lord by donating the profits to missions. Since I no longer work outside the home except for my writing, I don't have a lot of income right now.

"Your cards are not good enough quality to sell in a classy shop like this," the enemy whispered from his perch on my shoulder. I almost believed him as I walked into the upscale coffee shop filled with antiques and fancy gifts.

I looked around, gawking at everything. "I'd better at least buy a cup of coffee while I'm here," I told myself, clutching my bag of handmade cards closer.

There were other customers behind me in the line and my unease grew. I didn't want to bother anyone - the owner seemed busy waiting on tables leaving her mother to wait on the line of people ordering coffee and pastries.

My nerve failed as I paid for my cup of coffee. But as I put creamer in my hazelnut special of the day, I felt the Spirit's nudge. "What have you got to lose? You prayed for favor - try Me!"

Since I was still standing near the register, the owner's mom asked if there was something else I needed so I told her why I was there. She brightened up and said, "Yes my daughter's interested. She'll be with you soon."

"Soon" turned into twenty minutes as I stood apart from the register with a smile pasted on my face to cover up my nervousness. But when it was my turn again, the owner put me at ease right away.

"I'll take 10 of each of these," she said, pointing to 9 different styles of cards. My heart jumped into my mouth as she asked to see holiday cards in another week.

Feeling like God had blessed me already, I decided to press things a little farther and showed her my novel, Daughter of Lot. Since I am pretty much on my own to market it, I try to take every opportunity I can to promote it, though it is hard for me.

Her response overwhelmed me as the owner got very excited. I'll take 15 copies she said, indicating the faith based items she sold in her store were good sellers. It certainly was more than I had hoped for.

How many times I have missed God's blessings because of my own insecurities! But I am learning to trust and listen to the Spirit's nudging. His blessings are worth the momentary discomfort as He stretches and renovates me.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Scarlet Threads

I love to watch the way God weaves together the details of my life!

This particular color of thread began several years ago at a women's ministry luncheon, I viewed a video clip of a ministry which "redeemed" girls and young women from their slavery in the Far Eastern brothels. Many had been kidnapped or worse - sold by their families out of desperation to survive - and ended up as sex slaves in the city barrios and brothels. This ministry "purchased" the girls and then gave them their freedom, health care and an education so they would no longer be in danger of becoming slaves again.

That clip inspired the novel I am currently working on, but God didn't stop there.

Last year, I met a missionary wife who visits India several times each year, teaching the young women rescued from the brothels how to make jewelry. Her ministry to these women has become so successful, their jewelry making business now provides a support base for the work of the Indian ministry.

Meeting this young missionary wife motivated my decision to share a portion of the profit from my novel when it is published with a ministry of this type. But God didn't stop there.

Earlier this year I was approached by a young man to write copy for a new website. I am not a professional copy writer and had never advertised myself that way, but I agreed to do the work. His newly created non-profit organization dealt with ending child slavery world- wide. After completing the work, he sent me a copy of David Batstone's book, Not For Sale.

As I read through that book, I wept for the plight of those in bondage, especially the children who are forced to work in brothels. My heart broke again for them and I prayed, "It's not enough to promise a portion of the profit from a book that hasn't even been published yet. What can I do NOW, Lord?"

As though waiting for me to voice that question, He answered right away. "What do you have in your hands?"

"I make handmade greeting cards, Lord, but it's only a hobby. You'd have to find a market for them."

Within a few hours of voicing that prayer, my husband told me one of the local gift shops had been asking about my handmade cards. I hadn't even been in the store yet - they had "heard" about my cards from a friend of our family.

How amazing our God is - He weaves the most intricate patterns into our lives and provides direction for us to use our talents and abilities in the most effective way for Him. I look forward to seeing where this thread leads in the future and how it will look when completed! Our God is an awesome God.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

One of those mountaintop days

In "Other" Words

This week's quote is:

"We are not built for the mountains and the dawns and aesthetic affinities, those are for moments of inspiration, that is all. We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we
have to prove our mettle."
~ Oswald Chamber~

I'm VERY late in posting today, probably because I'm experiencing one of Oswald Chambers' mountaintop experiences; one of those moments of inspiration!

In case you were wondering, I'm involved in a week-long online writer's conference. It's a time of "getting away from it all" to learn, relax and to be inspired to follow the call to write God has placed on my life.

What an appropriate quote Laurel picked for today. You see, I can learn everything the presenters have to offer. I can sit and soak up their enthusiasm, causing my passion for writing God's message to flare to new heights. But unless I come back down to the valley and PRACTICE what I've learned, it does me (or anyone else) no good at all.

It's in the valley - the mundane day to day hours of sitting at the computer and actually pounding out the stories, struggling to find the right words, that the craft in me is honed. It is in the valley the message will have the most impact.

God is gracious to give us those mountain top experiences to refresh our weary hearts and strengthen us for the battles ahead. But He never meant us to remain there. He always places us where we will do the most good, where we can continue to grow and mature into the people (or writers) He intends us to be.

I plan to get the most out of this week that I can, but next week I will be ready to get back to the work of writing and sharing God's word with my newly learned skills.

See you then!


If you would like to join us today, simply blog about the quote on your site, then visit "Laurel Wreath" to read her take on the quote and to leave your blog address along with the other participants.


Monday, October 8, 2007

Muse News

This is a big week for me as I attend a "Virtual Writing Conference."

In my early years of writing, I was privileged to attend several good conferences - the Montrose Christian Writer's Conference in northeastern PA and the Greater Philadelphia Writer's Conference, along with scores of one day workshops in various locations. But this is my first ever online conference. How neat to be able to sit in my recliner and prop my feet up while getting in on the chats and forums.

I felt like a kid in a candy shop as I ogled the workshop offerings several weeks ago. What to choose? There were sooooo many great looking sweets. I know I probably overindulged, choosing close to 40 different classes, but the good thing is that I'll take lots of notes and have time afterward to digest it all.

Looking over my choices, there are many workshops on book marketing - probably since that's where I am right now, trying to promote my first novel and getting insight on what I need to do better the next time around. Then there's the standard fare of How To's for the various types of writing I do. And just for the fun of it, I threw in a class or two on things like poetry and writing for kids - things I don't do often, but sounded interesting.

So if you think of me this week, pray for me! There's a lot to absorb and since I'm home doing the classes on my computer, there's a lot of distractions. Oops, my Sister-in-law is calling... What is that dog barking at now?...I really need to fold that huge pile of laundry...

Oh well, back to work!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Oreo - 0; Skunk - 50!

In the first 4 years of his life, Oreo never encountered a skunk.

We lived in a semi-wooded area, our nearest neighbors over a hundred yards away on any side. He was free to roam whenever he went outside, but being a Australian Shepherd mix he preferred to stay close to home especially if we were outside. Occasionally he chased a deer into the woods behind the house, returning when they ran too far away. It surprises me he never had the misfortune to meet a skunk there.

But all of that changed when we moved to the edge of town where we live now. Oreo's free roaming days are over because our neighbors are a lot closer and there is even a small but busy gas station across the street. We also have a neighborhood skunk who makes his rounds every few nights.

Once in a while, Dan will let Oreo run at night before bed; after the gas station closes and our neighbors' lights are out. But last night he didn't realize Mr. Skunk was afoot. Usually his reputation precedes him so we are more careful about Oreo.

Being the joyful, gregarious small critter chaser he is, Oreo took off around the side of the house and startled Mr. Skunk who delivered a parting shot before waddling away. Poor Oreo...he got his first ever tomato bath followed by a lather of shampoo with Pine-Sol and had to spend the night in his kennel rather than with us.

At least he wasn't too smelly and the tomatoes did work. But he definitely won't be roaming free at night anymore for awhile...

Like we try to keep Oreo out of trouble in his new surroundings, God tries to keep us as Christians from becoming entangled in sin again through His Spirit and through our conscience. But because we have a free will, we are free to sniff after sin and sometimes, it catches us. If we confess it, He is faithful to forgive us, but we might have to deal with its after effects, like Oreo's tomato and Pine Sol bath to get the stench of it off afterward!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Where have all the hamsters gone?

"Hey Mommy!" My daughter called to me excitedly. "The hamsters have babies!"

Hmmm. They weren't there the night before so apparently we ended up buying a pregnant girl hamster at the store to replace one that died. Sigh! Just what I needed - more hamsters to take care of.

Throughout the day, the kids ogled their little mama through the plastic cage. I even caught them trying to reach in several times and scolded them. "Leave the poor mamma alone!"

Mamma hamster made a little nest in the far corner of the cage and covered her babies up with shavings just so we couldn't see them. She was fun to watch. But she must have had her fill of ogling eyes because the next morning when we came downstairs and peeked into her cage, THE BABIES WERE GONE!

Just to be sure, I removed her from the cage and cleaned the whole thing thoroughly. No babies. I wondered about it and talked to a few friends about it until I learned the awful truth...Hamsters will eat their young if they feel there is danger lurking around. That momma ATE her babies! EWWWWW, GROSS!

It still makes me sick to think about it. But what makes me even sicker is the fact that Christians tend to "eat" other Christians. We "roast" our preachers and youth pastors for Sunday lunch. We criticize and complain about everything at church that doesn't go the way we think it should. I can't tell you how many times I've heard the dear older saints say they want to minister to the young people, but they can't come to church with tattoos, piercings and black lipstick or nail polish.

Father, help us to open our hearts to one another in love. When one person hurts may others gather around in support. Help us not to pit one against another, but to learn to work together to bring glory to Your name and to further Your kingdom! Amen.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The attack of the killer glue stick...

I'm up to my eyeballs in card stock and glue as I work without ceasing on my niece's wedding invitations.

At first they were going to get married next summer which would have given me lots of time to make 180 invitations. The design Tara picked out was relatively simple - a tri-fold card which opens in the middle of the front. Inside is a vellum insert with all the information on it. On the outside is an embossed calla lily with the scripture from I Corinthians 13:13, matted with a pastel piece of card stock (see photo).

Now they've moved up the wedding date to Thanksgiving weekend so I have to work at warp speed to get them all done. So far I have 50 completed.

In the meantime, I also have another order for 25 party invitations to finish, housekeeping to do, tomatoes to freeze, applesauce to make, children's ministry on Wednesday evening and Sunday morning to prepare for and a host of other mundane things to do.

I learned a long time ago to pace myself and not to take on too much, but every so often the earth shifts through no fault of my own and all of a sudden everything is happening at once. Those are the days I've learned to call on God for His strength and help to do what needs to be done for that day.

I make a list of the day's chores and prioritize them, then pray over them that God will help me to do what is necessary and give me strength to do it. What doesn't get done will just have to wait for tomorrow.

Sometimes it leads to extra gray hair and some minor (?) frustrations, but as long as I start my day by taking time to nurture my relationship with God, I can get through it with His help.

So for today I will do battle with my glue stick and let any unnecessary things go til tomorrow with a clear conscience, knowing God will help me to eventually get it all done.Then I'll stop and regroup, giving up any unnecessary activities so I don't shift into "Martha" mode again.

When I become disgruntled inside, everyone around me feels it. But when God and His presence fill me, that's what spills out. God, please let your spirit spill out from me today!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

From Somber To Sunny...

In "Other" Words

This week's quote is:

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in HIS wonderful face,
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, by the light of His glory and grace."

~ Helen Limmel ~

She was a slim young woman with her hair pulled severely back into a tight bun. Her clothes were typical for the early 1900s time period - a dark colored dress with long sleeves and high neckline, the hem just touching the tops of her high black shoes.

What struck me most in this photo of my grandmother was her somber face. I knew her as a vibrant woman full of energy and fun, her face often wrinkling with laugh lines. But here she was, staring back at me so seriously. It just didn't seem to fit her personality.

Religious art from that same time period reflects a similar lack of joy - pictures of Christ staring at me with such a somber soulful expression, it makes me cringe. You see, I need to walk and talk with a God Who smiles.

I don't want to feel like He is upset with me or that I am lacking something in His presence whenever I look at some artist's perception of Him. All my dad had to do was give me "that look" of disapproval and I would turn into a spineless jellyfish, simpering and trying to do whatever he wanted. I DON'T NEED to envision my friend Jesus like that!

Some of my favorite pictures of Him are the more recent ones with the children. His hair is windblown and he is laughing with them, hugging them and smiling at them. When I look full into His wonderful face in prayer or worship. this is how I see Him - joyful, vibrant and loving. What comfort that image of Him brings to my care-worn soul.

When I see Him smiling, I smile back - not only at Him, but at everyone I meet. It's like the joy cannot be contained inside and has to spill out through a smile, a chuckle or a song. The pain of life's difficulties seems to fade away in the light of His glorious, gracious smile and I can rest in His presence, knowing I am loved.

For more thoughts on Walking with a God who smiles, check out my blog on Thursday, September 27, 2007.


If you would like to join us today, visit I Will Take it Lord, All You Have To Give to read her take on the quote and to leave your link along with the other participants.


Monday, October 1, 2007

Blue,blue my room is blue...

Wow! It's REALLY blue. But so far, everyone who has seen our newly painted Sunday School classroom likes it.

We got off to a late start - after planning to start around 8 am, we spent the morning cleaning up the room. The room had been used for storage as well as Sunday School, so all that extra stuff had to go! Then we wiped down the windows and the wall where it was the worst with black dust streaks. I'm not sure when it was painted last but the white swirl-textured plaster walls were grungy.

We set up the sewing machine and took a break to go buy the paint and pick up Sarah who would be sewing the new curtains for us. When we got back an hour later, we had to figure out how the sewing machine worked and finally we started to paint about 11:30.

Uh-oh. Why was the color so dark? As Brooke started to do the edging so I could follow along with the roller, the paint looked darker than I thought it should so I mentioned it to her. We then realized the wrong color had been mixed at the paint store. That meant another break to return the paint and get the proper color. Boy were we thankful the manager replaced it at no cost to us. Whew!

Finally we began painting in earnest about 12:30. Brooke and I finished painting our Sunday School classroom on Saturday evening - with the help of a professional house painter from our church who felt sorry for us. We struggled all day until about 4:30 and felt great about finishing 2 walls, but were sad to have to quit without finishing.

Greg came over as we were getting ready to clean up and painted the remaining 2 walls in a half hour! HONEST! Thank you Greg!

Now all we have to do are the touch ups and finish sewing the pillows for the children to sit on in the story area. When all is said and done, I'll post a picture. Until then, just remember - it is really BLUE - almost the deep blue of the sky on a crisp fall day.

At least we haven't stirred up a church controversy on the choice of color...