Friday, June 27, 2008

Avoiding the temptations of eating out

"For in that He Himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted." Hebrews 2:18

As a pastors wife, it's hard to avoid eating out, especially now that I'm trying to diet. Wouldn't you know it, the day I began my diet several weeks ago, the party invitations and luncheon dates began to arrive! I had gone for weeks without any of those things, but the day I start my diet, the temptations began.

We've had a missionary guest in our church's motel unit for the last month and have enjoyed the time spent in getting to know him. The second week he was with us, he began a "tradition" of taking us out for ice cream each Thursday evening to a local convenience store where the ice cream was inexpensive and the cone was FULL!

This has prompted a lot of prayer on my part. "Lord, what can I do so I don't fall off the dieting wagon again?" In answer to my prayer, the Lord has helped me develop several strategies to help me get through.

1. Plan your calorie intake for the day.
Tracking the foods I eat each day has helped me to see just what I'm eating and how many calories I'm consuming daily. On days when I know we will go out for ice cream with our missionary friend, I add the proper amount of calories on my food tracker first ting in the morning so I can tell what's left for the day. By planning for the evening treat, I keep within my calorie allotment.

2. Choose a low cal, low fat alternative food.
In the case of our ice cream loving missionary friend, I was able to find a "no sugar added" lower calorie ice cream that was actually pretty tasty and only had 122 calories per 1/2 cup.

3. Go prepared!
I nearly panicked when our missionary friend suggested we go visit some mutual friends and then go out to dinner since I was avoiding restaurants. Again I prayed and found a good solution.

He had already chosen the restaurant he wanted to stop at so I went online and looked up their menu and nutrition information. I picked out my choices ahead of time based on my research so I didn't even have to look at the menu when I got there, ensuring I would make healthy choices and not be tempted.

Most major chain restaurants today have their menus and nutrition info online. If they don't, choose another restaurant that does. Forewarned is forearmed.

4. Order water with your meal.
I'm tracking water intake as well as calories so ordering water makes good sense. Not only am I helping myself get my 8 recommended servings of water per day, my wallet is staying plumper while I lose weight. Most of the time that glass of iced tea or soft drink is more ice than drink.

5. Order a carry out container to be brought with your meal.

If you get the container before you start to eat, you can put half of your meal aside before you start. Then you ensure that you won't over eat with those large restaurant portions and you will have a great lunch for free the next day.

Thank you Lord for helping me avoid the eating out temptations so I can still enjoy the fellowship of my friends without the hassle of having to cook!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Encouraging Scripture Cards


Do you know how a verse or melody can get stuck in your head and go around and around like a carousel for days on end?

I saw a pattern for a neat scripture note card the other day that was quick and easy to make and decided to create some that I could send to friends to encourage them. For the verse, I typed in the key words "Bible Promises" and found lots of good sites filled with encouraging Scripture promises.

After choosing a site at random, I read down through the list of verses and found Psalm 32:7: "You are my hiding place, you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance."

When I saw the verse, the scripture chorus based on that verse began to whirl around in my mind and hasn't stopped for the past few days. If you are familiar with that chorus, you know it has a haunting melody. Even as I write this blog, I can hear the song and feel His comforting Hand.

So I wanted to share this card and verse with you today and trust it will bless you.

The cards are very easy to make : I use a 5.5" x 8.5" sheet of cardstock folded in half for the base of the card. Layer #2 is a contrasting color cardstock cut 4"x 5.25".

I used my computer to print the verse 4 times on a piece of 8.5" x 11" patterned paper before cutting it into 3.75" x 5" sections. This takes a little measuring to arrange the wording how you want it to appear on the finished card, but it's worth the trouble.

Finishing the card was easy with some ribbon, a silk flower and brad. I liked the end result so well, I plan to make several different verses using the same pattern in various colors.

Happy crafting!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Finding success by inches

This week's quote is:
"By perserverance the snail reached the ark."
~Charles Spurgeon~

Some of the most frustrating victories I've won in my spiritual life are those that I've won by inches.

I write each novel page by page, sometimes agonizing and praying over each word on that page to be sure I get it just right to get the message across that God intends.

By inching along page by page, I write the story God lays on my heart. Some days I want to quit because 60,000+ words is a lot of words. I don't feel like writing, the well of inspiration feels dry, I have tons of other things more pressing to do at that moment. But as I labor along page by page, it gets done.

I'm on a diet right now and I'm agonizing over each pound - I'm sure many of you have been there too! It took years to add them all - there's no way to short cut the process of taking them off again.

Some days I don't think I can face another salad or getting on my Gazelle to do the necessary exercise, but I do it just the same, pushing myself inch by inch toward my goal of a healthier life.

During a period of dark depression, I kept praying God would just take away the pain, but He had some very important lessons for me to learn in the day-by-day recovery time. The healing process hurt, but the little victories along the way gave me hope that I would be depression free someday - and 4 years later, I was.

OK - you've got the picture - we all fight battles. It's part of our spiritual lives to fight that good fight of faith. There's no way around it. But rather than getting bent out of shape or frustrated by how slow those victories seem to add up, we can change how we view them.

1. Look at the lessons learned rather than how hard it has been to learn them. As I struggle with each pound, I need to focus on what I'm learning about healthy eating - to ingrain those habits into my life. God wants me to learn these lessons well so I can be a better steward of my body.

2. Keep looking forward. When things are moving slowly, the scenery around me doesn't change very fast so I need to keep my eyes focused on the goal rather than what's just happened. Okay, I have the proverbial writer's block. I can either groan and go back to bed or keep on praying and trying to write. It's my choice.

3. Rejoice over each victory, no matter how small. When I lose 1 pound, it's still 1 pound! When I feel like I can't write and I manage to get 10 words down on paper, I have accomplished a lot. I need to celebrate that as a victory because it is! It's a step in the right direction. Every day I wake up and feel the Son shining in my soul, it's a good day.

Be the snail. Keep inching forward until you eventually reach the safety of the ark. And remember - you might experience some rain, but God will hold back the torrential downpours until you get to the ark because He loves you.
This week, Debbie is hosting "In 'Other' Words" at her site, Chocolate and Coffee . If you'd like to participate, simply blog about the quote on your site, then visit Debbie and leave your URL in the Mr. Linky box. Be sure to leave her a comment while you're visiting there.

If you'd like, visit the blogs of the others who are participating and read their takes on the great quote Debbie has chosen today.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The accountability factor

Last week I finished the rough draft of novel #2. Woo-hoo! I also lost 2 pounds. Double woo-hoo! And I couldn't have done either one without the support of my friends. Thank you, thank you.

One weight loss article I read last week claimed that people who logged in daily to their weight loss site - reading the articles, participating in the message boards and tracking their food or exercise - were the ones most likely to succeed with their diets.

Why? Because it kept their goals close to the front of their minds. It helped them verbalize their goals publicly instead of just thinking about them, making them more real - something to be tasted, touched and attained. Doing it within a group setting also helped alleviate the feelings of isolation; that "I don't have to do this alone" feeling.

That makes sense. It worked for me.

Having friends who were willing to put up with the grammar faux pas of the rough draft and pass along comments or suggestions kept me on track with my writing too in order to finish this second novel project.

For a long time novel #2 sat on the shelf half completed because the job felt overwhelming. The story burned in my heart, but my confidence was lacking and it felt too overwhelming to tackle. When I broke it down into chapters and promised to send one chapter per week to my friends for critiquing, I was able to get it done. Knowing they were waiting with anticipation for the next installment boosted my confidence and motivation to crank it out.

It's the accountability factor. While it's one thing to set goals and draft a plan for achieving them, it's quite another to actually do the work required to get the job done. So thanks to my friends who motivate and encourage me. Thanks for holding me accountable in love. Together we can do the work God gives us to do.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hanging on to the Pooh-Piglets of Life

It's a tattered pillowcase with a large picture of Winnie the Pooh on one side and Piglet on the other. Eve calls it her Pooh-Piglet.

Once upon a time when she was very young, it was new - a still-in-the-package yardsale find. I knew she would love it because she adored Winnie the Pooh. There was a twin sheet, fitted sheet and of course the Pooh-Piglet. She grabbed ahold of the pillowcase right away, claiming it for her own and a special bond developed between us.

When she was 2, she curled up inside it like a sleeping bag. At age 5, she began freezing it so it would be cool at bedtime on hot summer nights. Like Linus's blanket, everywhere Eve went, Pooh-Piglet was sure to follow.

When Pooh-Piglet was accidentally left behind at a restaurant on a trip, the family van turned around to rescue it. Thankfully they had only gone a few minutes down the road. If the Pooh-Piglet was missing at bedtime, the whole household came to a grinding halt to find it so peace and tranquility could be restored.

These days, the poor thing is a tattered scrap of cotton, so thin, you can almost see through it. The seams have been restitched, though it would rip out again if you tried to place a pillow inside. Long threads of cotton had tangled into knotted strands along the seams. When her other grandma cut them off, Eve mourned for several days because she used to twirl them around her fingers.

I'm not sure what would happen if the Pooh-Piglet suddenly disappeared...

Like my granddaughter, there are "security blankets" I hold onto - habits; things with sentimental value only to me; things that help me feel secure. One of those things is food. I started a diet last week - yes, again! It's been hard to let go of old eating habits and patterns as I begin the arduous task of tracking food and exercise in an effort to build newer, healthier habits.

Letting go of the comfort foods is hard - those carbohydrate and calorie laden treats I used to turn to to soothe the ruffled feathers and calm the quivering nerves. In these early stages, I find myself in withdrawal, screeching inside "Help, I need chocolate!" While I know one piece wouldn't hurt - I know I wouldn't be able to stop at just one so I avoid it for now.

Instead, I pray, "Lord help me to trust You for comfort today, rather than the chocolate or other rich foods." Then I focus on the other daily tasks He has given me to do. It's hard - I have to constantly pray and refocus, but He's always there to help and I know it will get easier.

"So, Lord, help me to give up the Pooh-Piglets in my life. Those other things I used to turn to for comfort and security instead of You. Help me to become a healthier, happier, more effective servant for You."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Digging for Bible Jewels

This week's quote is:
"As Christian women, we must repudiate the worlds agenda for women and seek to understand the Words agenda for women... we must determine to be obedient to the the Word of God no matter what is says, with no comporomises. This is what is means to be a woman of the Word. We must find out what the Bible teaches about marriage, about children, about men and women and their roles, and then we must be obedient with no apologies, no matter what the cost. Is this radical Christianity? No. This is basic Christianity."
~Nancy Wilson ~The Fruit of His hands
If you were to go into a room full of women and do a survey about which character in the Scriptures had affected their lives the most, 99% would answer with the name of a male character!

Joseph gives us courage to stand up for what's right under persecution and teaches us about forgiveness.
Moses give us key leadership encouragement.
Joshua teaches us about courage and victory.
And the list goes on. But where are the lives of our Bible Sisters? Why are they so conspicupusly absent from our lists?

Several years ago, a Christian psychologist and Bible teacher challenged my heart to find a Bible heroine - a woman in scripture whose life experiences mirrored my own, who had come through her trials victoriously. I immediately began praying and searching through all the women's stories to find this Scriptural mentor.

After several weeks, I was feeling discouraged - I had found several who had suffered some form of sexual abuse, but none who had inspired my heart because they overcame the effects of it.

As I continued my research. I came to the book of Ruth. All of the sermons and books I ever heard about Ruth dealt with her love and faithfulness to her mother-in-law or her romance to Boaz. They painted glowing pictures of her life and character.

"Have you considered Ruth?" The Lord nudged my heart as I prepared to turn the page.

"No, there's nothing here for me, Lord," I said, determined to move on. "Ruth never suffered from incest or anything like that. There's nothing in her story to even hint at it."

But the Lord wouldn't let the issue go. "Where did Ruth come from?"

"Well, Duh! Lord, everyone knows she was a Moabite." I felt irritated at His insistence.

His gentle voice persisted. "Yes, She was a Moabite. But where did the Moabites come from?"

"Okay Lord, I'll Bite. Where did the Moabites come from?" I did a name search and found their origin in Genesis 19:36-38. 36

So both of Lot's daughters became pregnant by their father. 37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. 38 The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today. (NIV)

Now He had my attention. Ruth was a descendant of the tribe of incest. The more I studied Ruth - her behavior, her emotional responses to those around her and the events of the book, the more I began to understand and see her as one who had walked a similar road to my own. The evidence was all there.

The message from the Lord to my heart was this: "It doesn't matter what is in your past - I will orchestrate the events of your life and bring you to the place I desire for you - as a Daughter of God!"

I found my Bible heroine and wrote her story in novel form to share her life from the perspective of an overcomer of sexual abuse. Through Ruth's story, my life has been enriched, stirred and forever changed. Thank you Ruth! I pray that others will be as touched by her story and her life as I have been.

"We must find out what the Bible teaches about marriage, about children, about men and women and their roles, and then we must be obedient with no apologies, no matter what the cost. Is this radical Christianity? No. This is basic Christianity."

Our hostess this week is Chelsey over at her site Joyful Living. Be sure to pop on over and see what Chelsey shared today. While you're there, leave her a comment and visit some of the other participants' blogs.
If you'd like to play along, simply bolg about the quote on your site, then visit Chelsey and leave your URL in the Mr. Linky box.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Healer of broken dreams

At the close of the campfire service my hand flew up, almost of its own volition. I had to answer the tug of God on my tender 14 year old heart. I wanted to dedicate my life to serve Him in some full-time capacity.

"What do you want me to do with my life?" I prayed that prayer each day, hoping god would drop some direction out of the sky right into my lap. And He did.

We were required to study a language beginning in 8th grade so I chose Spanish. From the start, I loved it - the rhythm and flow, the romantic sound of it. Shortly after the semester began, a special guest came into the class. He was a pilot, contracted by Wycliffe Bible Translators, to fly missionaries and supplies all over South America.

I can't remember what he said. I only remember the soaring of my heart as he spoke. "I'm going to be a Wycliffe Bible Translator someday." I knew it in the depths of my heart.

Time passed. My missionary dream kept me from yielding to the temptations of drugs and sex as a teenager in the late 60s. I needed to attend college but was told there was no money for that so I prayed and my heavenly Father made a way. My heart rejoiced as I took one step closer to my goal.

During my last year of Bible college, a well meaning professor felt the need to counsel me about things he saw in my life - my Martha syndrome (the need to please Jesus through "doing" and an inability to just "Be" in His presence.)

What he said was true, but I misinterpret ted the impact of it. I suddenly felt inadequate to become a missionary. I felt my motives weren't pure enough and that God was gently trying to tell me He couldn't use me as a Bible translator. I wept all night and closed the door on my dreams.

Thankfully, God kept His hand on me. I met and married my husband who desired to become a pastor. I plunged into ministry with him, often over-extending myself with three children, a part time job and doing everything I could in church. Meanwhile, my dreams lay in a gangrenous heap at the bottom of my heart.

Looking back, I understand more now. There were other things eating away at me too - including damage from an abusive childhood; things God needed to heal and remove from my heart before I could be ready for the fulfillment of my dreams. In the meantime, He worked on other things like teaching me how to be a writer.

As God began to work a healing in my life, I shared my lost dreams for missionary service. Several friends encouraged me by saying, "Just wait - God will open up a door for you. He cares about your broken dreams."

I wanted to believe them - I wanted to think someday I could go on a short-term missions trip or do something missions related. But I never really expected more than that. Yet, today I am convinced that God is a mender of broken dreams. No, I haven't seen what He will do with my teen-aged dream, but it's coming - I sense it inside like the anticipation of rain when I can smell it in the air and the clouds start building.

A few days ago, I blogged about praying for tribes of people who have never been contacted by outside sources. Three days later, I was contacted by the VP of prayer ministries at Wycliffe who had somehow found and read my blog. She introduced me to the Bibleless People Prayer Project and helped me to get signed up. I'll be blogging more about that in the near future.

Coincidence? NOT! The God who loves teenagers and cares about their broken dreams is still working to line things up as only He can to bring about a heavenly ending to His child's life-long dreams. I can't wait to see what my Father does next!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A great Chicken Marinade for Father's Day BBQs!

Father's Day is a great day to BBQ and nothing tastes as good as grilled marinated chicken.

It became a tradition for us in each church we pastored since 1996 when we lived in northern NY. A friend shared her yummy marinade recipe and we decided to make that chicken for the whole church for Father's Day.

We had to multiply the recipe 5-6 times to make enough marinade for 60 chicken legs. What fun! We found several 5 gallon plastic buckets and washed them out well, then took large clear plastic garbage bags and lined them to further protect the chicken.

The chicken was cleaned and trimmed to remove the fat and 30 legs were placed in each bucket before being covered with marinade. They soaked for 1-2 days before the Father's Day picnic.

The last few years, our daughter has made the trek to our house on Father's Day to grill the chicken, whether it's just for her dad or for the whole church.

Since then I make this recipe at least 1 or 2 times each summer and try to make enough to freeze the leftovers.

The original recipe:

1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups cider vinegar
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp pepper
1 Tbs[p sage
1 egg, beaten
3 pounds chicken

Instructions:Mix ingredients in a blender and pour over chicken. Chicken should be almost covered with the brine. Soak for 24-36 hours, stirring if needed to be sure all pieces soak evenly.

I have found over the years that the best way to mix the marinade for large amounts of chicken is to make one recipe at a time, making as many batches as needed until all the chicken is covered in your container. However, for your convenience to purchase supplies, here is the larger version for 60 chicken legs.

Church-sized recipe for marinade:
2 2/3 quarts of oil
10 Tbsp of black pepper
10 Tbsp of garlic powder
20 Tbsp. salt
5 quarts vinegar
10 Tbsp sage
10 eggs
60 + chicken legs

ENJOY and Happy Father's Day to all!


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Some Fluffy Motivation

Normally I blog about something related to Christian Education or program planning on Wednesdays, but today I want to digress a little and tell you about a great site I found the other day.

It's called Spark People and is a fantastic motivational site for those "fluffies" among us who need encouragement to be "less" than we are. It's like a "My Space" community for weight loss management.

SparkPeople offers a variety of motivational tools from a computer generated meal plan which can be tailored to fit your needs and a water intake tracker to a fitness tracker where you can find out how many calories you burn per day. I even saw a weight loss tracker to display the number of pounds lost as you wave goodbye to them.

Just for fun (or friendly competition if that motivates you), they offer "spark points" each day for logging in, reading the newsletter articles and tracking your progress on the various calculators. These points can be spent on virtual rewards for yourself or fun encouraging gifts for your friends. I already received a neat welcome mat to display on my site. Awww, do I feel loved already!

They send out newsletters related to all sorts of medical conditions offering diet and exercise management tips as well as a recipe site with some really yummy looking foods. Today I took one of my favorite recipes and entered the ingredients - it calculated the nutrition information per serving for me.

The biggest problem I can foresee with this site is that it is addicting. If I go MIA from my daily blogs, you may have to go over there and bring me back LOL!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Think on these things

This week's quote is:
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8

"Mom, do you remember that big hill on the dead end road near our house in New York?" my daughter asked as we discussed the new bicycle she planned to purchase. "We used to walk our bikes over to that hill and ride down as fast as we could to see how far up the other side we could go without pedaling."

"Good thing I didn't know about this back then!" I laughed as she began her story.
"Well, one time, I went downhill so fast my front tire started wobbling. I knew I had to do something quick before I wiped out. That would have been bad - really bad. I had to put on the brakes lightly and barely made it down the hill."

Oh to be young again, LOL! Thought I would be terrified to ride a real bike down such a steep hill now, the truth is, I do it emotionally each time the Lord opens a new door for me.

"I can't do this," is usually my first thought as I go careening down the slippery slope of fear. Oh I know the Bible tells me "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." His word reaffirms, "I will never leave you or forsake you." But the old negative thought wheels start to turn faster and start to wobble, threatening to turn me into a roadside splatter painting.

This verse is one of many that helps me put the brakes on the fear I often feel. I have to consciously stop and examine my thoughts, measuring them against this Scriptural yard stick. When I stop the forward motion or my runaway thoughts, things come back into perspective and I find I CAN do what He's asking me to do.

I can trust. I can accomplish all He gives me to do. I can be the woman of God He calls me to be... and the list goes on. I can safely navigate the slippery slope of fear rather than wiping out on the side of the road somewhere when I guard my thoughts and keep them focused on Him.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Congratulations Grads!

Three grads in one year. Wow! That makes me feel...blessed. (Bet you thought I was going to say "old" LOL!)


But all joking aside, I am blessed to be part of a great family with all the nieces and nephews committed to the Lord. Travis is the last of my brother-in-law's children to graduate from high school. He'll be starting trade school soon to become an electrician. Living close to my husband's family is nice - This is the first time we were able to attend any of the graduation parties for his nieces and nephews. We wish you all the best Travis!


In Eastern Maryland, two of my sister-in-laws children have also graduated. Best wishes to Nathan, their youngest who just graduated from high school and Amber, their oldest who graduated from college. Nathan's headed to college and I'm not sure what Amber will be doing yet.

God bless all my grads this year and yours too!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Practice makes a perfect pray-er

One of the best pieces of practical writing advice I ever received said, "If you want to be a good writer, you have to write something every day." It's good advice, but a little hard to follow since I sometimes sit down at my computer and stare at the screen thinking, "Okay - now what am I going to write?"

Another writing mentor suggested writing a daily devotional which is especially good because there are formulas and rules for writing a proper devotional. They are usually short and to the point with a Bible thought, a life application and a prayer. What a great way to start the day!

For me, I've found blogging works well as a practice tool (Sorry, I bet you didn't know you were all my guinea pigs as I hone my writing craft, did you? LOL!) I try to have a topic for each day of the week to jump start the creative juices, though I don't always use them.

Like today - on Fridays I was sharing some family history through old recipe books I found among my mom's stuff. However, today, another thought stood out to me as I read my Bible over a cuppa coffee.

It's the idea of practicing to become a good pray-er. Like a writer improves her skill by writing daily, a person who prays becomes a better pray-er by learning the how-tos and praying every day. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

But the thing is, writing isn't easy. At times I agonize over just the "right" word to make a sentence clear and concise. I am working on my second novel which has almost 60,000 of those words in it so far. That's a lot of agony!

There are rules to good writing to catch and hold a reader's attention; to bring the reader full circle so they have seen the full 360 degrees of the topic the writer is addressing whether it's fiction or non-fiction. It takes time and skill to do that. Writer's don't just sit down at the computer and let the words flow out perfectly.

I never really thought about it much until I read it in my current morning devotional book Experiencing God Day-By-Day by Henry and Richard Blackaby. To become a good pray-er (a.k.a. an intercessor) is hard work that often requires agonizing over one lost soul. Considering the fact that there's several billion souls on earth, that's a lot of agony!

Effective praying takes time and laboring love. It's more than just a quick arrow prayer aimed heavenward. "God bless so and so today amen." It also involves relationship - a willingness on my part to learn to care about the person I'm praying for.

Paul wasn't kidding when he said the "effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much." But it takes time, willingness, commitment and love, to become that kind of effectual fervent pray-er.

Father help me care enough to invest the necessary love, time and energy into others in prayer. Teach me to be an effective, fervent pray-er! Amen.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Folded Flower Cards


I love flowers but I'm not a gardener so I "grow" my own on paper. Here's a fun card idea using Paper Pizazz's Fold Back Swirl flower template available through Hot Off The Press's Paper Wishes catalog site.

Earlier this year when I had a problem with the muscles in my lower back, I had too much free time on my hands so I traced and cut dozens of these neat flowers with the template. Of course, then I had to figure out a way to use them so I created my own potted plants.

These clever little flowers are cut and folded into shape and fastened with a mini or regular sized brad. I attached them to the card with glue dots.

Because I had so many flowers, we used them to make Mother's Day cards in Children's Church as well with the grass and stems drawn on with a marker and little punched butterflies as embellishments.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bulletin Board idea for June


On Wednesdays I always enjoy sharing ministry ideas that my readers can take and make their own.

Today's idea is a bulletin board design inspired by a similar idea I saw on the web...

Growing In God's Image

For the month of June, my husband plans to share a series of sermons on the Image of God. Since June is a month for gardens, I googled free bulletin board ideas on the web and was inspired by a garden themed board one person had posted.

Our board is 4' high x 6' wide and because it is such a big space, it can be daunting. But as I started putting together my first ever bulletin board, I began to realize it was like creating a giant scrapbook page!

The background is a wonderful 2 yard piece of blue fabric with tiny dots. Fabric works well because it covers the length of the board almost from top to bottom and is easy to tack in place - no seams to fit together..

For the garden soil, I used recycled paper grocery bags, cutting off the bottom and opening up the side seam. It took 1 whole bag cut into 2 strips to fit the length of the board. I actually made 2 layers so I could make it look like I planted things in the soil. To get the look of soil, I crumbled the paper bag pieces before mounting them on the board and then used my brown dye-based ink directly on the paper to give it texture.

With the background of the board covered, I added the other elements - a trellis made from strips of brown cardstock, vines out of the twisted paper ribbon, construction paper leaves and beans which I photocopied from the front of the package of beans I planted in my garden. I wrote various character traits God is "growing" in us on the beans and lettuce plants.

The lettuce I drew freehand and the letters I made by taking 5 sheets of construction paper and cutting them into 4 pieces each. With the uniform pieces, I could create regular block letters large enough for the board.

As a finishing touch, I added dimension and whimsy to the board with silk flowers and vines. It was a fun board and took about two hours to complete with a little help from my hubby. It's my turn again in October so.... any ideas out there?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Brick by Brick...

This week's quote is:

"....the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people.....Brick walls are there for a reason. They give us a chance to show how badly we want something."

~"Romancing the Brick Wall"
from The Last Lecture
by Dr. Randy Pausch~

Yup! Brick walls are there for a reason. Sometimes God puts them there as a test in the obstacle course of life to see how badly we want something as in the quote above. Other times, we build them ourselves - supposedly for "protecting" our hearts from hurt.

It doesn't matter what kind of brick wall you're up against - sooner or later, it has to be challenged either by climbing over it or taking it down brick by heavy brick. God designed us that way.

No one can live behind a brick wall forever. Oh - I tried. As a child I walled up part of my heart after being hurt by abuse because I didn't know any other way to protect that wounded part of myself. I even hung pretty pictures on the walls of memory to camouflage the bricks on the public side of it. But the private hurting part of me behind the wall grew weaker and weaker with repeated bouts of depression until I reached a point where I had to tear the wall down or die.

There must have been some places where the chinking was missing in that wall I built, because I could hear Jesus on the other side speaking lovingly. Sometimes I'd even find little morsels of hope on my side of the wall. It was enough to eventually give me the strength to want that wall to go rather than guarding it fiercely with my dying breath.

That's all it took - that whispered desire to see the wall torn down. Jesus was right there to take down the first brick. Then He could strengthen me in earnest with hope and love for the rest of the demolition process.

It was tedious. Often I felt too weak and tired to continue. So He let me rest a bit, but never for long at the risk of becoming complacent. A hunger for freedom and wholeness grew until it consumed the weakness and complacency. Dreams of a future and a hope woke me in the night, spurring me to get up and work on that wall again.

The old wall of "protection at any cost" had to be torn down and a new, healthier wall of personal boundaries erected - a wall that allows healthy interaction with the outside world and intimate interaction with Him and trusted others. It was in the process of overcoming that wall that I finally found healing and purpose.

I think I would take Dr. Pausch's statement one step further - the brick walls in life do give us a chance to show how badly we want something - they also develop our spiritual problem-solving abilities and trust muscles as we work at scaling or removing them!

Our In Other Words hostess today is you'd like to play along today, simply blog about the quote on your blog site, then visit Lori and leave your blog address in the Mr. Linky box.

Be sure to read Lori's take on the quote and leave a comment. If you get a chance, stop by the blogs of the other participants as well to see what they've shared about today's quote.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Defeating Discouragement

Some time ago, the children's ministry director of a church we pastored pulled me aside and bent my ear for over a half hour in frustration wondering why our children's ministry wasn't growing.

The CE director blamed the parents for not caring enough, our lack of workers and a general discouragement on the part of the church members. He wanted to know what other churches and pastor's wives were doing to make their churches grow. He wanted SOLUTIONS and was frustrated that God wasn't listening to his prayers.

I left that conversation feeling so discouraged I wanted to throw in the towel and say, "Forget it God. Ministry isn't worth it! Why can;t my hubby and I be normal people and just fade into the wallpaper of a church somewhere like everyone else?"

On my way home from that impromptu meeting, I began to pray. "Lord, I don't know what other churches and ministry wives are doing. I'm only one person and I'm already at my limit for jobs in the church. What more can I do?"

Thank God He is patient with me. He reminded me He was in charge of building the church - not me. If I took on more duties in my own strength, I would surely stop doing some of the things I was able to do well - things He really wanted me to do. I had reacted to the CE Director's words and taken on his discouragement rather than responding to them.

It is too easy to get our eyes on others and what they are or aren't doing. It's too easy to watch the circumstances rather than focusing on God - maybe that's because the circumstances look so overwhelming most of the time that our eyes are naturally drawn there.

By the time I went back to church the following Sunday, my discouragement had changed to joy because I looked up to the Lord rather than wallowing in the Eeyore pit of gloom. The lesson for that day in Children's church went well and inspired a whole new set of curriculum ideas for future lessons. We had a monumental breakthrough in teaching the children about prayer. And for the first time in weeks we had a small crowd of children.

Perhaps it was God's way of reassuring me. "Don't react to the discouragement of the world. Let your heart respond to Me!"

Psalm 127:1
1 Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders work for nothing. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the men who watch over it stay awake for nothing. (New Life Version)