Friday, August 30, 2013

21 Graces: Week 4

     I've always admired those faithful people who are counting a thousand blessings.  I thought about attempting it from time to time.  But,  recording 1,000 blessings seemed a little overwhelming.  I'm good at accepting blessings, but to write them down was another story.  That's why when I saw the idea behind 21 Graces, I was excited to jump in.  Everyday I note three things which blessed me.  That's it, just three things.  At the end of the week there are 21 Graces.  So simple.  God always blesses me with far more than three each day.
     Friend, you are welcome to join in on the fun.  Visit Jordy Liz Blogs to link up or to find out more.

  1. Root Beer Floats
  2. County Fairs
  3. Getting an unexpected check in the mail.
  4. Talking to my adult son on the phone.
  5. Baby robins.
  6. Red converse sneakers.
  7. My entry closet remodel!   Soon to be posted.
  8. Purging the basement of lost, broken, and forgotten items.
  9. Finding a brand new Kitchen Aid Mixer on Craigslist for $100.00!  The twist tie wasn't even off of the cord and the beaters were still wrapped in the packing paper.  So excited!
  10. Receiving a letter from my Compassion Child, Jimi in Indonesia.
  11. First day of college for my daughter!  
  12. The wonder of a fresh coat of paint.
  13. Getting to see baby turtles newly hatched from their eggs.  So perfect.
  14. A dentist who actually listens to me!
  15. Getting some projects completed around the house.
  16. Finding the perfect material for the seats of my dining room chairs.
  17. A dinner prepared with love for our family.
  18. My son telling me, "You are usually helpful, Mom."
  19. My husband tucking the blankets around me when he gets up for his early morning walk.
  20. That first amazing sip of coffee in the morning.
  21. Chicken eggs warm from the nest.
     Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books -  especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.  ~John Wooden

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dutchess County Fair!

      We had fun at the Dutchess County Fair.
      It was wonderful just to stand here and smell the aroma of the combined foods.  Delicious!
      Rides, flowers, and a newborn calf named George.
      More rides, minions, and a talking robot.
     Who knew?  Redemption can be found everywhere!
     We had a great day!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Compassion: Blog Month is Coming!

     Each September, Compassion has a God-sized goal to sponsor children through blogs like yours and mine.  This year, Compassion hopes to gain sponsorship for 3,160 children by 11:59 pm on September 30.
     Each week a writing prompt will be provided by Compassion with the goal of putting the needs of children before the heart of our readers.  
     Did I mention that there are prizes?!  Having five children sponsored through your blog makes you eligible for the Grand Prize, which is a spot on a 2014 Blog Trip.  I would love to go to Indonesia!  That's where our sponsored child, Jimi lives.  There are other prizes as well.  You can read about them here. 
    Sponsoring a child is easy.  Just visit the Compassion Website.  Each month our family gives just $38, tax deductible, which provides Jimi with food and clean water, medical care, educational opportunities, and life skills training.  Jimi also gets to hear about Jesus and is encouraged to develop a lifelong relationship with God.  We exchange letters with him.  It is wonderful to see how Jimi has grown.  

     Here are the posts that I wrote for Blog Month last year.
   Children are waiting.  Wouldn't you like to join us?

Keys to the Kingdom

     I have lots of keys.  I need lots of keys.  Unfortunately, I have a lot of difficulty with keys.  I lose them.  I put them in doorknobs and can't get them to turn correctly.  I replace them and end up with yet another key that does not open the lock for me.  I am something of a disaster with keys.
     The keys to my van have a fancy electronic gizmo that allows me to push a button and the car door will lock or unlock.  This has only gotten me in trouble once when I pushed the button and SOMEBODY ELSE'S van slider opened.  But that is another story.
     Friday afternoon, I headed out into the school parking lot joyfully anticipating my weekend.  When I pulled my keys out of my purse I realized that the unlocker button was missing.  My mind raced.  A friend's key had recently been bent in half, could my unlocker button have been broken off intentionally by the same vandal?  I headed back into the building wondering if I had a clue where the spare key was located.  You'll soon see that I really didn't have a clue about anything.  I needed a plan.   I decided that Pat would have to come rescue me.
     I called home about five or six times from the office.  Lots of rings, but no answer even though I knew that everyone was home.  Brain storm!  I could call my friend, Lori, who could call her husband, who could reach Pat and explain the problem.  Such round about stuff had worked for us in the past.  But Lori's phone had a funny sounding busy signal.  (Since then I used my remarkable powers of deduction to determine that the office phones had been turned off at 4:30.)  Obviously, I would be sitting at the school for a while.
     I headed back up to my classroom.  I decided that if I wasn't able to reach my husband soon,  I would walk over to Nik's house and throw myself on his mercy.  Nik, a friend of ours, lives about two blocks from the school.  Nik, I was sure, would be able to get me into my car.  He is pretty handy like that. After all, Nik repairs school buses for a living.  I was still pretty upset that someone might have messed with my car keys.
     I phoned Pat from my classroom.  Amazingly, he picked up right away.  I began to explain.   "The unlocker button on my key ring is missing.  I can't get into my car."
     Pat interupted, "Can't you use the keys?"
     Clearly, he didn't understand the depth of my problem.  "No, Honey, the button is missing so I can't get into the car."
     At that point my wonderful husband began to speak to me in the soothing tones reserved for crazy people and tantruming toddlers. "The button is broken, but what about the key?  Is there something wrong with the key?"
     The light dawned, "Oh!  I could use the key to open the trunk and climb into the car from the back."
     Pat muttered, "Donna, just call me from the parking lot if the key does not work."
     When I used the key, which I had been holding in my hand the entire time, to get into my car, through the door, I discovered the unlocker button was sitting on the passenger seat.  Only my mind had been missing and vandalized.
     I have always believed that there is a scripture for every occasion.  And this is no exception.
     These are the words of Him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David.  What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.  I know your deeds.  See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.  I know that you have little strength,   ~Revelation 3:7
     Isn't that the truth?  Jesus is the One who holds the key to my life.  He unlocks meaning and purpose.  He unlocks joy and sadness.  He opens a world full of possibility and wonder.  He holds the key to eternity.
     I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me.  And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.  His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.  His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.  In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword.  His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
     When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.  Then He placed his right hand on me and  said:"Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One;  I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!  And I HOLD THE KEYS of death and Hades.  Revelation 1:12-18
     Jesus has the keys to open and shut the doors of Hell and Death.  Jesus is the door to our salvation.  Jesus Himself holds the keys to the throne room of heaven.
     If it were left to me, I would still be trying to go through the trunk.

PS: This week has been incredibly busy, so I am sharing from my archive.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Walkway Over The Hudson

     We went again to the Walkway Over the Hudson.  It is so beautiful and peaceful to walk across this piece of history.
     Before it became the Walkway Over the Hudson, this 1.28 mile structure was the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge.  When trains began rumbling over the bridge in 1888, it was the longest bridge in the world.  The bridge was a main transportation hub that was crossed by 3,500 freight cars each day!  In 1974 the railroad bridge was crippled by a fire.
     Today the Walkway Over the Hudson is the narrowest State Park, as well as, the world's longest elevated pedestrian bridge.  It soars 212 feet above the Hudson River.
     Here you can see the Mid-Hudson Bridge which carries cars and trucks across the river.  It is a close neighbor just a little south of the Walkway.
     My handsome walking companions.  We walked from the Poughkeepsie side of the bridge to Highland and back.
     Pat pointing toward Highland.
     I love that you can see the shadow of the Railway girders reflected in the Hudson River in this picture.
     We were fortunate to see a freight train heading north on the Highland side of the river.
     Looking north.
     A photo opportunity waiting for me and the boys!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Going Camping With God

      One of the things I liked best about our church's VBS this summer, was that it reminded me so much of camping.  There were fireflies, s’mores, campfires, foot washing, children’s laughter, and tents.
     There were tents in the sanctuary, the lobby, and a classroom.  The tents were cozy and secure, a fun place to listen to a story in the glow of a flashlight.      
        Let’s pull out those sanctified imaginations of ours and imagine camping inside a tent, zipped up for the night, with a small lantern for light.  Now imagine what the tent would look like from the outside.  Picture the glow, as the lamp illuminates it from within.
     Did you know that God has a Tent?  In the Book of Exodus, when Moses had led the people out of Egypt into the desert, God instructed them to build a place of worship.  It was a very large tent, called the Tabernacle or the Tent of Meeting.  God described in detail how the Israelites should build and furnish the Tent of Meeting.   Pure gold lamps set on a lampstand made by the most skilled artisans  were to burn oil within the Tent from evening until morning.  The glow of the Tent illuminated the dark and reminded the Israelites throughout the night of the presence of God.
     God still uses tents.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us.  ~John 1:14
     The “Word,” of course, is Jesus.  The Greek word for “lived among us”, comes from a Greek word that means tent or tabernacle from the root, skay – nay) which means tent or tabernacled.  So this passage literally reads, "And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us."
     Jesus tabernacled among us. He brought us into the tent.
     Matthew 5:14-16 tells us that Jesus in us is the light.
 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
     Fueled by the Holy Spirit, we are to let Jesus’ light shine through us into the darkness as we are called to serve Him in this world.
     In Revelations, we see one last mention of the Tent.
For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.  They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;  the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat;  ~ Revelation 7:15-16 
     God will shelter them. The same word that was used in John.  God will spread His tabernacle, His tent over them.      
     God has enclosed us in his tabernacle.  He shelters us in His tent.  He is the God who created us, redeems us, sustains us, and loves us.
     Don’t you just love tents?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

21 Graces - Week 3

     I've always admired those faithful people who are counting a thousand blessings.  I thought about attempting it from time to time.  But,  recording 1,000 blessings seemed a little overwhelming.  I'm good at accepting blessings, but to write them down was another story.  That's why when I saw the idea behind 21 Graces, I was excited to jump in.  Everyday I note three things which blessed me.  That's it, just three things.  At the end of the week there are 21 Graces.  So simple.  God always blesses me with far more than three each day.
     Friend, you are welcome to join in on the fun.  Visit Jordy Liz Blogs to link up or to find out more.
  1. A wonderful family reunion.  It was so fun to catch up with everyone.  To admire the babies and exclaim over accomplishments.  A beautiful day.
  2. Finally, getting the slide show together for the church VBS.  Love those adorable children.
  3. Hearing that one of our laser etched pictures on granite, that I painted is such a favorite with a family friend that he has used the picture he took of it as a screen saver for years!
  4. Starting to get my classroom ready for the new school year which begins on September 3.
  5. Working on our entry closet makeover.  It's starting to come together.
  6. Early morning quiet time.
  7. My 18 year old daughter uttered the words, "You were RIGHT, Mom."  And the heavens opened and the angels sang!
  8. New slippers.
  9. Pat picking up the chicken feed so I wouldn't have to.
  10. Going for a walk at the Walkway over the Hudson.
  11. The smell of sheets hung outside to dry.
  12. Fresh tomatoes.
  13. I drank water out of my 11 year old son's glass by mistake.  "Mom!  You just took my glass!"  Oooops.  Well, I hope you didn't spit in it.    "No,  If there was any spit, it was ON it and not IN it.  That one little letter makes all of the difference!"  Yes, it does.
  14. A perfect summer day.
  15. Walking on the Walkway Over the Hudson.  So peaceful.
  16. Not running out of gas.
  17. Knowing that my classroom is ready for the first day of school.
  18. Time to dream.
  19. A good book and time to read it.
  20. A compliment from a friend.
  21. Watching Around the World in 80 Days, starring Jackie Chan, with my family.
     Look here for Week 1.
     Look here for Week 2.
     How has God blessed you this week?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Jack In the Box

     Have you ever noticed that many children's fairy tales and nursery rhymes star a young man named Jack?  There is nimble Jack who jumps over a candlestick.  Vegetarian Jack Sprat, who eats no fat.  Jack and Jill; poor Jack gets a concussion in that one.  Carpenter Jack who built a house.  Then there is Jack and the Giant Killer, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Jack Horner, Jack Frost, Jack-o'-lantern, and of course, Jack in the Box.
     Like a Jack in the Box, bursting suddenly from obscurity, Jack stories usually begin with a naive, but honest, young man who makes what appears to be a very bad decision, which somehow turns out exactly right, not only for him, but for everyone around him.  Jack is the hero who somehow saves the day.  Jack brings a new perspective to the situation.  Jack is the person who thinks "outside of the box."
     In John 6, we read an account about the feeding of the five thousand.  The feeding of the five thousand is mentioned in all four of the gospels.  Here is the story, edited for time.
     Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee...and a great crowd of people followed Him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.  Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down  with His disciples.  The Jewish Passover feast was near.  When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward Him, He said to Philip, "where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?"  He asked this only to test him, for He already had in mind what He was going to do.  Philip looked at all of the people, considered the amount of money they had, and told Jesus to tell everyone to go home.  They could not possibly feed all of them.
     In the midst of that huge crowd of thousands of people - rich people, important people, grown-up people, Pharisees, Saducees and fishermen, was a little boy.  The boy had tucked into his lunch box "five small barley loaves and two small fish."  Andrew brought this small boy to Jesus.  Andrew and the boy were certainly thinking outside of the confines of that lunch box.  They came to Jesus with the expectation that He could do something with the little they had.  They did not set a limitation on what God can do with what He has been given.
     The little boy and Andrew were not disappointed.  Jesus told everyone to sit.  He broke the bread, blessed it and handed it over to the disciples to feed the people.  In the end, there were twelve baskets left over.  The crowd wanted to make Jesus their earthly King.  Jesus, however, wanted to be the King of their hearts.  He wanted to be the King of their future.
     Sometimes we limit what God can do.  We put Him in a box so that we can understand Him better.  I stand impressed by a simple child's faith and my Saviors willingness and ability to supply for all of our needs.  Imagine what would happen, if we, like that little boy, put our limited resources into the hands of Jesus.
     I wonder if the boy's name was Jack.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Renaissance Faire

      Are you a damsel in distress?  Have you met your knight in shining armor?  Do you long to meet the Merry Men of Sherwood Forest?  Go to the Renaissance Faire, where fantasy rules!
      Our family went to the Renaissance Faire at Sterling Forest on opening day.  We saw sword fights and brawls.
      Guests are encouraged to join in the fun by coming in costume.  My girl, Patty, enthusiastically went as the princess that she is.   Patty finally met her knight in shining armor.
     The young lady on the fence held a yellow ring in the air for the knight to catch on his javelin, while running at full speed on his horse.  The boys really enjoyed the jousting and sword fights.
      My favorite village people.
      A flower girl enjoying a quiet moment by the Queen's Lake.
      My very own knight listening to a minstrel.
      The Queen presenting Robin Hood with a prize at the archery contest.
     This seemed like a good spot for Pat to take a picture of me.  I wonder why.
     We had a wonderful day at the Renaissance Faire.  We plan to visit again next year.
(I am not receiving compensation for this post.  The opinions expressed are, as always, my own.  We enjoyed our day, and I wanted to share it with you.)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

21 Graces - Week 2

If God doesn’t rule your mundane, then he doesn’t rule you.                                     Because that’s where you live.  -Paul Tripp
     21 Graces is based on writing down three moments of grace or blessing each day.  At the end of a week you have documented 21 Graces.  Look here for my first week.  You are welcome to join us at Jordy Liz Blogs as we link our lists.

1.  Visiting an old friend of my Father-in-law's in the hospital.
2.  Making an eight foot tall balloon tree for Vacation Bible School with friends.
3.  Worship music.
4.  A nap on a Sunday afternoon.
5.  Washing feet at VBS.
6.  Re-organizing our entry closet to make things easier and prettier when school starts in September.
7.  The smell of freshly cut lumber.
8.  Blueberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, and green salad.
9.  New school supplies.
10.  The sincerity of a child's prayer.
11.  Warm rain on a summer morning.
12.  Taking pictures at our church's VBS.  The sweet love the children show for each other.
13.  S'mores!
14.  A purring cat on my lap.
15.  Having access to medical and dental care, when so many do not.
16.  Watching the children at VBS serving others by bringing in donations for a local food pantry, writing notes to the Compassion child we sponsor,  and filling shoe boxes with goodies for Samaritan's Purse.
17.  Chickens squawking to announce the arrival of an egg.
18.  Dishwashers!  Washing machines & Dryers!
19.  Going to Ikea to buy a set of drawers, only to find the very one we wanted - as a perfect floor sample - for less money -  already put together!  Win!
20.   Ice cream sundae's.
21.   Cookies warm from the oven.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Turn to the Son

If I were a flower,
I would be a sunflower.
To always follow the sun,
Turn my back to darkness,
Stand proud, tall and straight
Even with my head full of seeds.
                   ~Pam Stewart

Monday, August 5, 2013

S'more Applications For Life & a Recipe

     S’mores are usually made with a marshmallow pierced with a stick and heated over a campfire.  The toasted marshmallow is then pressed, along with a piece of chocolate, between two squares of graham cracker.   Yum!  Sigh...S’mores, the wonderful, sweet, gooey, goodness of them.

S’more Life Application # 1:
     We are all a little like a s’more.  Go with me here.  Use your sanctified imagination.
     We are like a S'more.  You were born just a plain ol’ graham cracker like everyone else.  Sometimes you felt a bit brittle and crumbly.  Other times, you were more than a little perforated.  Half the time you were kind of square.
     Then one day someone told you about sweet Jesus, and your marshmallow heart softened over the fire of faith.  You felt all warm and toasty inside.  Your warmth overflowed and the chocolatey goodness of God’s love combined to make you into a new creation.  You were no longer a plain Jane cracker.  Our God can transform lives into something special and sweet.

S'more Life Application # 2:
     S’more is a shortened way of saying “Some more.”  Keep your heart soft and squishy like a warm marshmallow, by looking for the s’mores in your life.
     Look for S’more opportunities to share God’s love.
            S’more chances to serve others.
            S’more time to read your Bible.
            S’more time to sing praises to Him.
            Help your friends to find s’mores, too.
     When you look, you’ll find that there are s’mores all over.  The more s’mores you find, the sweeter life will be.
     So which would you rather be?  A plain ol’ cracker or an ooey-gooey, delicious s’more for God?  Don't forget to look for opportunities to share s’more of God as you go about your daily life.
     Because our God is a consuming fire.

Recipe for S'more Dip

All of the goodness of a S'more without the campfire!

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk  (not evaporated milk)
1/2 cup marshmallow creme
1 box of graham crackers or graham cracker sticks for dipping
How to:
1.  In a small bowl, microwave the chocolate chips and condensed milk on high for 1 to 2 minutes.  Stirring every thirty seconds.  Heat until chocolate chips are melted.
2.  Drop spoons of the marshmallow creme on top and microwave again for  another 30 seconds. Swirl a knife through the marshmallow and chocolate.  You want to marble the marshmallow and the chocolate mixture.
3.  Serve warm with graham crackers for dipping.  Enjoy!

Updated:  So happy to have this posted featured at Manic Monday!

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