Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's Up? Wednesday - Thank You, Teachers!

Happy Hump Day! Although it doesn’t really feel like Wednesday. In my head, it’s only Tuesday. Maybe I’ll be caught up with myself by the weekend!

Today I am working on making thank you gifts for Olivia’s teachers. This is a sampling of what I’m doing:

They are post-it note holders and mini memo books. I still need to add ribbons to one of these. For the male teachers I am making journals (covered composition books) and matching pens. I will post a picture of those later today or tomorrow.

Olivia is in high school, and while some may think it isn’t necessary to give a thank you at that age, I must respectfully disagree. Personally, I think it is important to thank a teacher no matter the level of learning.

I am not a teacher, but I have deep respect for them. I know they do not receive the respect they once did, and that is so sad. Many pressures are put on them. They must try to effectively teach with little money, little time and many times little support from parents.

So for any of you who are teachers -- whether you are in private or public school, pre-school, daycare, Sunday school, wherever -- I want you to know this is one mom who appreciates you and all you do to make a difference in the lives of children.

Daily Bible Reading Plan

Still doubling up:

II Samuel 14-17; Psalm 113-114; Mark 14:66-15:15; Galatians 3:15-4:20

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Talk About It Tuesday - Menu Plan Monday (late)

Hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend. I love long weekends, but they mess with my personal clock the balance of the week. It wasn’t until I went to bed last night and looked at my nightstand that I realized today was Tuesday, not Monday, and that’s when we discuss “Practicing Hospitality.” Needless to say, I didn’t stay up reading the chapter, so we will continue with Chapter 3, “Hospitality & Family,” next Tuesday.

Menu Plan Monday (on Tuesday)

Here is my menu plan for this week. We had some alterations to last week’s plan. Thursday night we grabbed a quick Taco Bell meal on the way to the Challenger baseball game. We ate Thursday’s meal Friday night. Saturday night, we celebrated the long weekend by eating out again. So Sunday we ate Saturday’s planned meal, and yesterday we had Sunday’s. That will explain the repetition in meals for this week.

Monday - Steak, salad, baked potato, bread

Tuesday - Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu, steamed broccoli, pasta side, bread

Wednesday - Pork chops, steamed corn, sautéed spinach

Thursday - Roast beef with carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, green beans, bread

Friday - Out (celebration of last day of school)

Saturday - Grilled chicken, baked beans, pasta salad

Sunday - Grilled burgers, slaw, oven fries

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I will be doubling up today through Wednesday, because I fell behind this weekend.

II Samuel 11-13; Psalm 111-112; Mark 14:43-65; Galatians 2-3:1-14

Have a great Tuesday!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fun Friday - Joy

My family and I attended a Challenger League baseball game last night. In case you aren’t familiar, Challenger is a division of Little League baseball specifically for physically and mentally challenged individuals, ages 5-18 (or who have completed high school). My brother-in-law, who is a member of his local Optimist Club, heads up such a league in his community.

The game is coach-pitched, and there are four major components of the game: Everyone has a chance at bat for two innings. Everyone bats until they hit. Everyone makes it around to home plate. Everyone has a grand time.

This particular league has individuals with the most minor challenges to the most extreme ones. Some are in wheelchairs. Some need assistance batting or running the bases. Some are shy. Some egg on the crowd. ALL have smiles on their faces.

You would think these folks were playing in the World Series. They have their stances down pat, and most use their bats to point to where their ball is going to go. It took some of them ten or more swings to hit the ball.

One fellow (who had previously looked at all of us in the stands and told us about his future home runs) had so much difficulty hitting the ball that the coach switched places with him. He pitched to the coach. When the coach hit the ball, the young man took off running the bases and “slid” into home plate. He was so excited at his home run that he could barely contain himself. And then he asked all of us if we saw how far he hit the ball.

But you know what? These lovelies didn’t care how long it took to hit the ball or how far their ball went once they hit it. They didn’t care how long it took them to run the bases. They didn’t care when someone ran past them as they were running. These precious ones were just happy to BE.

The joy exhibited by the players is contagious. It spills out over the field and into the stands. I had to fight tears, because I was so moved by it all. I clapped and cheered, and I wanted to take all of them in my arms and tell them how well they were doing and how much I appreciated each of them.

I was reminded that this is how, as a Christ-follower, I am to approach life. With pure joy. In all situations. Good, bad and ugly. Oh boy, it’s so not easy.

I may reason, “Well, they’re happy because they don’t know better.” And the Holy Spirit prompts me: “You were given that same gift at Calvary.”

Thank you for that piece of Humble Pie. May I have another? (I may as well ask, because I know I will receive one sooner versus later.)

So as I go about my day (doing things I don't normally "enjoy"), I am going to thank God for the ability to do them, and I’m going to do each task for Him with joy. I pray that the joy I demonstrate will spill over and infect others. I pray that it will spill over and infect me some more so that I can carry it over to another day.

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!
Down in my heart!
Down in my heart!
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!
Down in my heart to stay!
And I’m so happy, so very happy!
I’ve found the love of Jesus in my heart!
And I’m so happy, so very happy!
I’ve found the love of Jesus in my heart!

I hope each of you has a joyful and blessed weekend!

Daily Bible Reading Plan

II Samuel 8-10; Psalm 110; Mark 14:32-42; Galatians 1

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What's Up? Wednesday - Great Deal

Happy Wednesday to each of you. Nothing much to report here today, but I do want to share my Target shopping experience from yesterday with you.

I talked here about using coupons. There are so many folks in blogland who talk about their amazing coupon shopping experiences, but I never seemed to be able to accomplish the same as they. Until yesterday. Armed with coupons and a list, I stormed into Target yesterday with a mission. I left with this:

Here is what I paid:

  • Three boxes of Ritz crackers - $2.99 each – I used two $1 off coupons on each (Target lets you “stack” coupons as long as they are not identical coupons. One was a manufacturer’s coupon, and the other was an actual Target coupon.) Final cost - $0.99 each.

  • Four boxes of Nabisco 100 calorie packs - $2.04 each (sale price) – I used two $1 off coupons on each. Final cost - $0.04 each.

  • Two bottles of Kraft Barbecue Sauce - $0.99 each (sale price) – I used one $1 off coupon on each. Final cost – Free, plus $0.01 overage (couponers call these “moneymakers”)

  • One can of Skintimates Shaving Gel - $2.24 – I used one $1 off coupon and one $0.75 off coupon. Final cost - $0.54.

  • Two Bliss candy bars - $0.99 each – I used one $1 off coupon on each. Final cost – Free, no overage on these

  • One Dove Go Fresh trial size deodorant – $0.97 - I used one $1 off coupon that didn’t exclude trial size. Final cost – Free., plus $0.03 overage

  • One Axe trial size shower gel – I used one $1.25 coupon that didn’t exclude trial size. Final cost – Free, plus $0.28 overage

My final cost for all this was $6.30! According to the receipt, I saved $22.84, so using coupons, I saved 78%! That’s pretty amazing. (Even more unbelievable is that little dab of stuff would have cost nearly $30 without the coupons.)

What’s odd is even though I experienced amazing savings, I felt funny in the check-out lane while the clerk was scanning all those coupons. And I felt funny about the way I went about getting the deals (“stacking” the coupons). It’s legal and goes with store policy. But I felt sneaky afterward. I don’t know whether anyone else feels this way.

When I went to Meijer, I used coupons in my normal way (one per item), and I saved $15.00 off of an $83.00 total, which is an 18% savings. I felt fine with that one.

I think I’ll just stick to that method from now on. How about you? If it goes with store policy, are you all right with stacking coupons to get a great deal?

Daily Bible Reading Plan

II Samuel 3-4; Psalm 108; Mark 14:1-11; II Corinthians 12:11-21

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Talk About It Tuesday - Practicing Hospitality

Practicing Hospitality - Chapter Two: Hospitality & Strangers

I am continuing my discussion of the book Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others, by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock. If you do not have a copy of the book you can read online here. I think you are limited to reading 30 pages in a 24-hour time period.

Today I am reviewing Chapter Two: Hospitality & Strangers. The base scripture for this chapter is Hebrews 13:2:

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Paul urges the Romans in chapter 12 of his letter to them to pursue hospitality. He explains believers should live in a way pleasing toward God because of God’s grace and mercy. Paul considers this a no-brainer. We should demonstrate our love for one another in a practical way. This is hospitality.

I have the tendency to confuse hospitality with entertainment. I must remember that entertainment focuses on appearances. Biblical hospitality is demonstration of love. By practicing hospitality we show our love for God.

We should practice hospitality with a willing heart and with a good attitude. Grumbling and complaining lessens the act to that of a sin. If we are cheerful when we give, we do not mind the sacrifices, if any, and it is pleasing to God. (II Corinthians 9:7) If we practice hospitality as a form of giving, we lose all expectations of receiving anything in return.

As Christians, we should extend hospitality with a willing spirit, with a joyful heart, and with an enthusiastic attitude. We must not save acts of hospitality for emergencies, holidays or special needs. Because we love people, hospitality should be practiced daily, and we should look for opportunities to do so.

Hospitality should be extended to strangers as well as friends and relatives. “Strangers” could include other believers, widows and orphans, unbelievers, the poor and needy, missionaries or Christian workers, or foreigners.

The way we practice hospitality varies according to the individual’s need. We should focus on those needs. If someone needs food, we feed them. If they need shelter, we provide a place of rest. If someone needs a shoulder to cry on, we listen and encourage based on God’s Word.

Our character is defined by how hospitable we are. God’s love, mercy and compassion toward needy people is modeled by our hospitality. In this way we show that we (1) love God and (2) love others. (Mark 12:29-31)

Old Testament hospitality was practiced far different than what we think of today. According to the customs then, hospitality was extended to not only friends and family, but also to strangers and sometimes enemies. If someone was in need when he approached the home of another, the host would accommodate that need with whatever he had in his possession. Wow. It was a cultural and religious duty that was offered with friendship.

By practicing hospitality we are demonstrating in a practical way our love for God and others. To be successful we must understand the Biblical definition of hospitality. (Hebrews 12:1-2) When we do this, we are not simply “Christian event planners.” Our plan has a Godly purpose, and vice versa. It is a reflection of God’s nature.

After reading this week's chapter and learning the Biblical definition of hospiality, I realize I practice hospitality more often than I originally thought. I now know that it is simply the same as showing love for others with my actions.

Next week is Chapter Three: Hospitality & Family.

Daily Bible Reading Plan

II Samuel 1-2; Psalm 107; Mark 13:32-37; II Corinthians 11:16-33

Monday, May 18, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Hello friends. I hope each of you had a restful weekend and are now refreshed and strengthened to begin a new week. I love Mondays. It’s like passing “Go” in Monopoly. I may not actually receive $200, but I get a fresh start.

Just like today. I have a menu plan to post. If you recall, I fell off the menu planning wagon last week, and as a result, dinner preparation was no fun. We got by, but it would have been much easier with a plan. It feels great to be back on track.

Menu Plan

Monday – Spaghetti (meat sauce or meatballs, TBD), salad, bread

Tuesday – Rotisserie Chicken (Sam’s – grocery day treat), steamed broccoli, corn on the cob, bread

Wednesday – Black beans & rice with smoked turkey sausage

Thursday – Country-style ribs, sauerkraut, pinto beans, baked apples

Friday – Out

Saturday – Pizza

Sunday – Steaks, salad, baked potatoes

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 29-31; Psalm 106:24-48; Mark 13:14-31; II Corinthians 11:16-33

As I was reading the New Testament portion of my Daily Bible Reading Plan, I was struck by something Paul said in II Corinthians 11:3-4:

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
Paul is speaking to the Corinthians about their slack attitudes toward those who would present something other than the true gospel to them. The last phrase “you put up with it easily enough” made me take pause. Am I guilty of this? Am I accepting of things that are contrary to those that Jesus taught?

This has given me something to ponder today. In this day and age, it would be easy enough to fall prey to teachings of those who desire to lead us toward something other than The Way.

I must pray for wisdom to be sensitive to the Spirit’s prompting, guiding and teaching. I must also pray to stay alert and not grow lazy in my daily walk with Christ.

In fact, this is my prayer for all believers today.

Blessings and peace to each of you.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Think About It Thursday

During the day I listen to talk radio. It is primarily conservative in theme. Sometimes, however, I get weary from listening and turn it off. My mind gets full to the brim with news of the United States’ current state of affairs. It seems there is never positive and upbeat news to report. More often than not, I will find myself feeling heavy and low based on what I’m hearing.

But then I read something like I read today in Psalm 104. It’s a long chapter, so I won’t copy here. The psalmist is writing of the majesty of God and describes in detail many things He did to form the heavens and the earth. He spoke these things into being. That’s all. God didn’t break a sweat or get dirt underneath his fingernails. He simply said, “Let it be,” and it was.

This brings my awareness back to God and His magnitude. All the things I hear discussed in the news are man’s doings. No man, not even the U.S. President with a majority congress, can speak things into existence. If God doesn’t want it to happen, it won’t. He can take man’s stupidity and turn it around for His glory. We can’t always see the sense in things, but God knows the “rest of the story.”

So if I choose to listen to or read the news, I intend to use it as a prayer request. If my God can create the world in a manner of days by simply speaking it into existence, then He certainly can handle the misguided attempts of men with their own agendas. And I will remind myself I have nothing to fear.

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 21-23; Psalm 104; Mark 12:28-34; II Corinthians 9

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What's Up? Wednesday

I’m having one of those weeks where I’m just about half a beat off. I really can’t explain it. I’ll blame it on hormones. They’re always handy.

Anyway, there won’t be a meal plan this week. I’ll tell you what we have had thus far. Monday night we had pancakes with blueberry sauce, bacon and fruit salad. Last night Olivia made sloppy joes, and we ate leftover potato salad and baked beans. Tonight Steve is going out to dinner with business associates, so Olivia and I will have smorgasbord from the refrigerator.

I'll return with a meal plan next Monday.

And I’ll carry over discussion of Chapter 2 of the book Practicing Hospitality until next Tuesday.

But since it’s What’s Up? Wednesday, I’ll tell you what’s up. Yesterday I worked in the yard most of the day. I mowed, weeded and planted. Part of my planting included creating this:

They are called Topsy Pots. I learned of this from a source online a few years ago and erected a set at our previous house. They are a great conversation piece, and over time they become quite lovely.

I thought I would share the process with you in case you’d like to make a set of your own.

First you need:

  • One 4-to-6-foot piece of rebar. Mine is 5-feet. I bought a 10-foot piece at the home improvement store and cut it in half with a hacksaw.

  • Pots of various sizes. For my 5-foot piece of rebar I used 6 pots. I chose terra cotta, because there is already a drain hole in the bottom. If you are feeling extremely creative, however, you can use any container. It simply needs a hole in the bottom large enough for the rebar to pass through. I’ve seen really cute ones made from watering cans, galvanized buckets, etc.

  • Coffee filters. I put these in the bottom of the pots to keep all the dirt from draining out.

  • Potting soil

  • Plants. You can use plants of your choice, but I suggest you have at least one type that will vine or cascade over the edge of your pot. This adds to the attractiveness of the set. I used asparagus fern. In the past I have also used vinca. Verbena would probably work well, also.

Drive your rebar down into the ground where you want the pots to stand. It simply needs to be non-wiggly.

Next, slide your largest pot down over the rebar onto the ground. Slip a coffee filter down over the rebar and into the bottom of the pot. Lay in some gravel or packing peanuts for drainage.

Fill your pot with soil.

Now, slide your next-to-largest pot down over the rebar and tilt it over to one side, using the soil as a foundation. Insert a coffee filter, drainage material and soil.

Select your next pot and slide it down over the rebar. This time, however, place it on the edge of the pot below and tilt. Insert a coffee filter, drainage material and soil.

Complete the pattern until you have reached the top of your rebar.

Now add plants of your choice and enjoy!

If you try this, please post a pic so we can all see, okay?

Hope you have a great Wednesday!

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 19-20; Psalm 103; Mark 12:13-27; II Corinthians 8

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Monday!

Happy Monday!

We were gone all day yesterday, and my brain is in a bit of a fog this morning, so Menu Plan Monday will be delayed until later on today. In the meantime, I want to congratulate “W” and “D” for winning the giveaway notecards. They commented on encouragement last week. I couldn’t bring myself conduct a drawing with two names, so they each will receive a set of notecards. Congratulations, ladies!

I hope you mothers enjoyed a nice day yesterday. I had a lovely weekend. My family made dinner for me Saturday evening. I don’t know which I enjoyed most – the meal or not having to cook and clean up! It was all great.

Yesterday we went to visit my mom. We kids made lunch so Mama wouldn’t have to. It was a wonderful visit and a lovely day.

I went to church with my mom yesterday. The pastor’s wife delivered the Mother’s Day message. It was very good. I thought I would recap her thoughts for you here.

She began by speaking of the influential mother figures in her own life. As she listed them, I thought of the women who have influenced me in a motherly way. I have even encountered them in my adult life. I hope I continue to do so.

First and foremost, a Godly mother needs to pray for her children. Not only should she pray for them, she needs to pray with them. By doing this, for even the least things, we teach our children that we can always turn to the Lord with our concerns.

Next, a Godly mother needs to exercise patience. God is patient (boy, is He) with us, so why can’t we be patient with our children? Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, and probably one of the more difficult ones to produce. This point reminded me of my favorite Bible verse, and the one on which this blog is named, Lamentations 3:22, 23:

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Finally, a Godly mother needs to praise her children and exercise grace towards them. Remember the positive things. Teach with the negative ones. There will always be a need for discipline, but a child who knows he is loved and who has been trained properly will know that discipline is a consequence of poor behavior, not a slam on them personally.

The underlying theme of these three points is that Godly mothers must be a living example for their children. If we don’t demonstrate prayer, patience and praise in front of them, how will they learn? God has demonstrated those things for us.

The speaker closed with Psalm 103:8-14, wherein she substituted the word “mother” for God:
A mother is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. She will not always accuse, nor will she harbor her anger forever; she does not treat her children as their sins deserve or repay them according to their iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is a mother’s love for her children; as far as the east is from the west, so far has she forgotten her children’s wrongdoings. As the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; so does a mother have compassion on her children, for she knows how they were formed, she remembers that they are dust.

That speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

Thanks for stopping by. Check back later for Menu Plan Monday.

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 15-16; Psalm 101; Mark 11:27-33; II Corinthians 6

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

Since Sunday is Mother’s Day, I am dedicating today’s post to my mother and all the mothers who stop by. The little story that follows epitomizes motherhood (or so it does to me).

So Happy Mother’s Day, all you moms, whether you have children of your own or whether you’re a mom in spirit. We wouldn’t be here without you!

I love you, Mama!

Love You Forever
by Robert Munsch

A mother held her new baby and very slowly rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she held him, she sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

The baby grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was two years old, and he ran all around the house. He pulled all the books off the shelves. He pulled all the food out of the refrigerator and he took his mother's watch and flushed it down the toilet. Sometimes his mother would say, "this kid is driving me CRAZY!"

But at night time, when that two-year-old was quiet, she opened the door to his room, crawled across the floor, looked up over the side of his bed; and if he was really asleep she picked him up and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. While she rocked him she sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

The little boy grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was nine years old. And he never wanted to come in for dinner, he never wanted to take a bath, and when grandma visited he always said bad words. Sometimes his mother wanted to sell him to the zoo!

But at night time, when he was asleep, the mother quietly opened the door to his room, crawled across the floor and looked up over the side of the bed. If he was really asleep, she picked up that nine-year-old boy and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she rocked him she sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

The boy grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was a teenager. He had strange friends and he wore strange clothes and he listened to strange music. Sometimes the mother felt like she was in a zoo!

But at night time, when that teenager was asleep, the mother opened the door to his room, crawled across the floor and looked up over the side of the bed. If he was really asleep she picked up that great big boy and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. While she rocked him she sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

That teenager grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was a grown-up man. He left home and got a house across town.

But sometimes on dark nights the mother got into her car and drove across town. If all the lights in her son's house were out, she opened his bedroom window, crawled across the floor, and looked up over the side of his bed. If that great big man was really asleep she picked him up and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she rocked him she sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

Well, that mother, she got older. She got older and older and older. One day she called up her son and said, "You'd better come see me because I'm very old and sick." So her son came to see her. When he came in the door she tried to sing the song. She sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always...

But she couldn't finish because she was too old and sick. The son went to his mother. He picked her up and rocked her back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And he sang this song:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my Mommy you'll be.

When the son came home that night, he stood for a long time at the top of the stairs. Then he went into the room where his very new baby daughter was sleeping. He picked her up in his arms and very slowly rocked her back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while he rocked her he sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

(Originally taken from the book by Robert Munsch.)

Happy Mother’s Day!!!!

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 14; Psalm 100; Mark 11:12-36; II Corinthians 5

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Think About It Thursday - Swagbucks

Search & Win

I once used Google quite often when I need to find a quick answer online.

Recently I learned about Swagbucks. Swagbucks is an online search engine that gives points/rewards for online searches. I read of someone who had earned enough in Swagbucks over four months to trade for hundreds of dollars in gift cards.

Swagbucks is very simple to sign up for. There are no fees. No credit card is required. And no phone number or address is requested.

You immediately receive 3 points credited to your account. You have the option to download the toolbar. As you search online you will earn a few more points. You can shop from their store with only 1 point. You can get a free $5 Amazon gift card for 45 points. A Starbucks gift card can be yours for 50 points. There are countless prizes.

Greater rewards occur when you refer others. Your points will then multiply by leaps and bounds.

Tell your friends about Swagbucks and give them your referral link. You will earn points for the referral, and you will also earn points for their online searches.

The more people you tell, the more points you earn. The more points you earn, the more free stuff you get. Lavonne funded her entire Christmas budget with free gift cards from Swagbucks. No joke! See her post here with the details.

Since early March I have earned 60 points with my own searches (no referrals).

You have absolutely nothing to lose and some free stuff to gain! Go here to sign up!

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 11-13; Psalm 99; Mark 11:1-11; II Corinthians 4

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What's Up? Wednesday & Giveaway

I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about encouragement. It seems to be a common theme for me lately. (See a previous post here about being a blessing to others.)

It fills me to the gills when someone gives me warm fuzzies. But it’s not a one-way street. If I want to be encouraged by others, I must be willing to do the same.

In attempting to assess my encouragement skills, I looked up the word “encourage” in Webster’s:

1 to give courage, hope, or confidence to; embolden; hearten 2 to give support to; be favorable to; foster; help
When I measure myself against that definition, I realize I have much work to do to be an effective encourager. I am better at times than others, and I am much better at lifting up those outside my immediate family. Why is that? Why is it that the people whom I love the most in this world receive less from me than I am willing to give others? My biggest prayer is that I improve in this area.

Encouraging is a spiritual gift (Romans 12:8), but I believe anyone can become an encourager, especially if they have the Godly desire to do so. God put us on the earth together to be a support for one another. He is surely going to grant us the grace to grow as encouragers if we so ask.

There are many ways I can encourage others. I can speak uplifting words to them. I can send a card or a note. I can hug someone. I can sit next to someone who may be sitting alone.

When I attempt to think of ways to encourage someone, I think of what would lift my spirits personally. And then I try it.

I personally am better at offering the written word than I am the spoken word. When I write, I take time to contemplate what I am going to put forth. For this reason, I like to encourage people with cards and notes.

But it doesn’t need to stop there. I must be alert at all times watching for those who may need just one tiny bit of love from me. I may be the only Jesus they see or hear all day.

How about you? How do you like to encourage others? What lifts your spirits?


I have a set of five personalized notecards I’d love to give away. They will be the same color scheme as the one shown, but of course, I will use the winner’s chosen initial. Simply leave a comment about today’s post with your thoughts on being encouraged by others and encouraging others. You have until Friday, May 8 at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. At that time, I will print the comments and draw one from a “hat.” Be sure to include your e-mail address (it won’t be seen online) so I can contact you if you win.

Note: If you have difficulty posting and are forced to post as "Anonymous," please include your first name and last initial in the comment. I am still learning how this works, so I appreciate your patience.

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 9-10; Psalm 98; Mark 10:35-52; II Corinthians 3

I’ve enjoyed our time together today!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Talk About It Tuesday - Practicing Hospitality - Week 1

Today begins my weekly discussion of the book “Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others” by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock. It is my desire to be a good hostess and to do so with the right motives and proper attitudes. I hope to gain insight from this book about how to achieve such a goal and how to do so from a Christian perspective.

If you do not have the book, you can order it here or read online here. I think you are limited to reading 30 pages in a 24-hour time period.

The authors state in the Introduction:

Our book focuses on developing both the Christian character and practical skills so that the act of hospitality is a joy for the host and hostess and a source of encouragement for the guest.
Sign me up!

Chapter 1 is entitled “Hospitality and Character.” The authors use the word “Hospitality” to create an anagram to describe a person of Christian character who practices hospitality:

I-Interested in Integrity
A-Adopted into God’s Family
L-Led by the Spirit
I-Instrumental in Producing Righteousness

They use scripture to back up each criterion. I’ll summarize each one.

Humble (I Peter 5:5, Matthew 5:3) - Sometimes I must step out of my comfort zone to practice hospitality. Maybe I feel inferior to someone or I think my home isn’t decorated properly, or … or … or … . I need to set aside that measure of pride in order to serve properly.

Obedient (Romans 12:13, Hebrews 13:2, I Peter 4:9) - Scripture tells me to be hospitable. And I am to be obedient to scripture. On top of that, I must be obedient with a proper attitude and serve as unto the Lord. I don’t know how my act of hospitality may influence others toward Christ.

Sincere (Philippians 1:10) - In order to please the Father, I must be sincere when I extend hospitality. I must be genuine.

Prayerful (I Thessalonians 5:17) - I must ask the Father to give me the grace to practice hospitality in the proper manner, one that brings glory to Him.

Interested in Integrity (Psalm 25:21) - I must be willing to choose what is right when given the choice, even if it is not the popular choice.

Trustworthy (Proverbs 31:11) - People whom I serve must be able to trust that my motives are pure and that I will not turn them away or betray their confidences

Adopted into God’s Family (Romans 8:15) - I am adopted as a child of God. My actions must reflect the character of my Father.

Led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14) - I must live the life of a Godly woman.

Instrumental in Producing Righteousness (Romans 6:12-13, II Corinthians 10:5) - I must choose to think pure thoughts, take my worries to God, and pray for his guidance.

Thankful (Colossians 3:15) - I must be content with my circumstances and practice thanksgiving for the things (concrete and abstract) that I have.

Yielded (Romans 6:19) – I show my love to the Father when I practice what he preaches. I must be willing to follow his lead.

What I found most interesting about this first chapter is that these are things I need to apply to my life as a Christian, regardless of my season or regardless of whether I'm exercising hospitality in my home. It’s just how I am supposed to live.

What do you think? Do you have any insight or anything you’d like to add? I’d love to know your thoughts. It gets lonely talking to myself!

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 6-8; Psalm 97; Matthew 10:17-34; II Corinthians 2

Thank you for visiting with me today. I hope your day is full of blessings!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sock Update, Meal Plan Monday

Sock Update

Remember the pile of socks I showed you on Thursday? I successfully sorted through them. It didn’t take very long at all. The results? Hang on to your hats. I had forty-nine (49) pairs of socks, twenty (20) leftover socks (that I am keeping in case their partners appear) and one pair of gloves. Gloves? The gloves went back to their home in the foyer closet. That means there were 118 socks in that pile. The basket didn't look that full.

Steve and Olivia reaped the greatest benefits of this sock-sorting marathon. I had two or three pair in the mix. They were surprised to see how many socks they were actually missing.

So there you have it. I can’t throw away anything. But this time it was a good thing. The sock drawer overfloweth.

Meal Plan

Monday – Leftovers from Saturday’s Mexican feast (was yummy)
Tuesday – Chicken Scampi, salad, bread
Wednesday – Crockpot roast beef, potatoes, onions, carrots, green beans, bread
Thursday – Bean Soup, cornbread
Friday – Chicken wings, onion rings
Saturday – Pizza
Sunday – TBD

For more menu plan ideas, go here. Today she has a list of criteria she uses to select recipes. Very interesting.

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 3-5; Psalm 96; Matthew 10:1-16; II Corinthians 1:12-24

You know, I am amazed at how I can see things as if for the first time when I read the Bible. Friday I began reading in I Samuel. I have read the story of Samuel many times. Usually my focus was on Hannah, her barrenness and how she prayed to have a son of her own. And it is wonderful to see how God honored Hannah’s faithfulness.

What I saw Friday, however, was Elkanah, Hannah’s husband. Elkanah had another wife, Peninnah, and she bore sons and daughters for Elkanah. He was a faithful man and regularly offered sacrifices to the Lord. When he did, he gave portions of the meat to his wife, Peninnah and her sons and daughters. However, to Hannah “he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb.”

He loved her. The Bible says so. It must have been an amazing love if it was notable enough to record in scripture. Here’s additional proof:

Each year Hannah went to the temple, Peninnah teased and tormented her about her inability to have children. Hannah would become so distraught she would cry and lose her appetite.

When Elkanah would see Hannah crying, his response was, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?"

I think that’s one of the sweetest things between husband and wife I have seen recorded in the Bible. Yes, Isaac loved Rebeccah, and Jacob loved Rachel. Solomon really loved someone (read the book), Hosea loved Gomer, and Joseph loved Mary. But Elkanah’s words touched my heart. He wanted to comfort her by letting her know (in his way) that it didn’t matter to him that she had no children. He loved her. Precious.

So Elkanah receives my Best Bible Husband award – at least for now.

I hope you have a great day! Thanks for stopping by!

Blessings and hugs!