Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Good-bye October...and Hello Germany!!

The end of another month - and one of my favorites.  I always hate to see October end but a look back over the month is always a good reminder of so many good times these past few weeks.  Here is my October, in review, by the numbers:)

TWO - the number of  "field trips" I had to local orchards and pumpkin patches!  There aren't just for kids:)  Actually, my first trip was with my senior friends from the Tribute.  We did not pick apples but we certainly did enjoy apple donuts, apple cider, apple dumplings.  You get the idea.  Apparently, priorities definitely shift as we age.  Forget the harvesting - go straight for the reward!!

FIVE - the number of pumpkins on my porch.  Along with mums and pansies - and even a few scarecrows.  Again, all the cuteness still makes us "old folks" smile!

TWO - the number of said pumpkins that have already expired.  Sigh.  There must be a secret, or hack:), to making them last longer!

FOUR - the number of Bible study lessons this month.  Studying Heaven with a (new to me) group of ladies.  I love Bible studies and I am so enjoying this one....and this group!  If  I sincerely want to be more heavenly and spiritually minded....well, certainly I must learn more, know more and yearn more for this eternal home of mine!

ZERO - the number of minutes remaining on the clock during our escape room adventure.  That's right...we lost.  Such a bummer and not just a little stressful either.  We tried a super hard room and I think moderately hard is much better.  I enjoy a challenge but it should still be fun.  Just my opinion.  We still had a great time celebrating our daughter's birthday.  Um, this fun evening may or may not have also included donuts.  District Donuts in Georgetown.  Oh, and gelato later on.  Oh my!!

THIRTY - that's right.  I said it, Em.  Most beautiful daughter of mine...who wants to live in denial.

NINE - at least.  The number of pumpkin bars my husband devoured and enjoyed after I made a huge batch for a staff luncheon this month.  The recipe was so easy - and, obviously, quite delicious!  Have you made anything pumpkin this month??:)

SIX - the number of nice lunch "dates" with different this month.  Seriously!?!  I love to meet my
friends and stay in touch and, apparently, I love to do so over lunch!  The conversation is wonderful...but oh so many extra calories.  Side note:  one goal of mine is to have more of these afternoons with friends at my house.  Inviting people in.  Doing a much better job of hospitality.  There.  I put it out there - in writing.

THREE - when this is posted, the number of days that we will have enjoyed in Germany and Austria.  Yes, we are planning to visit this castle - Cinderella's castle!!  I hope to have pictures on my Instagram.  You can find it on the sidebar.  Take a look!!

With such a fun start to the new month - maybe I am looking forward to November just as much as October!!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Stop Going With the Flow

To a great extent, our lives are made up - perhaps even determined - by the choices we make.  Certainly there are things that we have no control over but, even then, we can choose how to respond and how to react.  Most things, however, do come with choice and, if that is true, I want to choose wisely.  To regularly and consistently be making the right choice.  I have a well-established routine and comfort zone and it is easy - especially in this season of life I enjoy - to simply drift in my day to day flow.  But I need to be purposeful in the reactions I have and the decisions I make every day.  This requires living in the moment.

GO - Living in the moment, I suppose, can most easily be defined as living in the present.  Our past is full of good and bad.  Good choices and regrettable choices.  Good decisions and poor decisions.  Even good, or great, memories and some we would rather forget.  They all work together to define us and shape our lives.  But we cannot live off of past choices.  Today deserves - even requires - its own choices.  In the same way, the choices we make today cannot be solely determined by hopes or plans for the future.  Making a choice for today simply in hopes of manipulating tomorrow is a risky plan, to be sure.

Determining to live in the moment requires us to slow down.  To not only take notice of the simple moments but also to enjoy them.  To let them impact us....body, soul and spirit.  As well, it might require us to re-evaluate our priorities.  If there never is a slow moment to simply "be" - much less to enjoy our life - a change is probably needed.  Living in the moment also requires gratitude.  Grateful for today's goodness and not just yesterday's blessings.  Gratitude leads to contentment which is also crucial.  Be aware of whatever might drain your contentment.  If you cannot eliminate it, at least control it.

One final thought on living in the moment.  Each of us has the choice to do so.  My comfort zone, or regular flow, might not be as hectic or demanding as another's.  It might not be as slow either.  That is not the point.  None of us benefits from simply going with the routine.  Accomplishing all that we can on our own - in our own strength.  Clicking every box on our to-do list and getting to the end of another day, but having no idea how we got there or what choices we made throughout the day.  Even if it was a "good day"...we get the credit rather than God getting the glory.  Whatever your season of life, or whatever circumstance you might be in.....we all need to live in the moment.

These are my thoughts on today's Five Minute Friday prompt:  MOMENT.  I will miss next week's link-up since I will be on vacation.  There will be a Friday post, however, as well as my regular Tuesday post....and, hopefully, plenty of pictures on my Instagram.  I hope you will enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Victory Over Satan's Lies - Three Ways to Fight Back

In my last post, I referred to the need of regularly reminding ourselves of the powerful truths found in God's word - rehearsing, remembering and meditating on Bible truths in order to be prepared to recognize and defeat the devil's lies.  There is a constant spiritual battle and so often the attacks are in our thoughts.  Friday's post was about knowing the truth of who we are in Christ; however, Satan's subtle, often seemingly harmless, yet devious and destructive lies can be about just about anything.  It may be a spiritual issue.  It might involve relationships.  It may even be personal - or what we believe about ourselves.  So often, the way we behave or react - we way we make choices or decisions - is based solely on what we hold as truth in our thinking.  It is critical that we are daily asking the Lord for truth.  And replacing deceptions, misconceptions, and lies with clear thinking.

For months - more like years - after our son, Tyler, died, the battles I faced were much more mentally than anything else.  I knew of God's precious promises to walk with me through my grief, to comfort me, to give me the strength needed to continue living the abundant life He gives to all His children.  I knew these and more.  But, it seemed every morning I began defeated.  No doubt, for many different reasons but, most assuredly because I held tight to two specific lies from the devil.  One - I believed because my mother, and her mother as well, suffered from depression that I was destined to be crippled with it as well.  Two - I believed (strongly believed) that there would never really be joy again.  (I may have even convinced myself that joy was wrong for me.)  So, if there was no joy and it was inevitable that I would suffer with depression - it was not hard for my enemy to convince to just give in and give up.

As much as I wanted to take God's promises and live by them, I listened to the lies and I rehearsed them so often, they became the truth I lived by.  Thank the Lord, I have over the last eleven years been able to get victory - physically, spiritually and mentally.  Defeating Satan mentally, I believe, was the catalyst for spiritual and physical victories, as well.

Here are three basic steps for mental victories - defeating the enemy's lies.  Not just victory during grief but in any circumstance or over whatever lies might be holding you captive.  I pray they can be a help - if simply a start in the right direction - for someone.

1 - Recognize, record and rehearse truth.  Often, it seems the first step would be to recognize the lies; however, if you have believed them long enough often it is hard (or impossible) to even see a lie for what it really is.  A better place to start is simply remembering God's truths.  Start with a few you know from heart.  Then, get in God's word and look for more.  As you find them, write them down.  Keep them before you.  Make sticky notes or note cards - whatever works for you.  Have them available when your thoughts start to spiral downward but also simply keep meditating on them often.  Remembering who God is and all His wonderful attributes is key.  Focus on Him rather than on your situation.

2 - Surround yourself with like-minded community.  If there is power in numbers, imagine how much stronger Satan's attacks are when we determine to go it alone?  Your community - those you chose to walk with you and help you stay in the battle - does not have to be huge or necessarily even from your church.  I do believe a church family is essential; but, as well, there may others who can be a tremendous help.  During my early grief, I joined two different grief groups.  They were a tremendous support.  The support you need might simply come from your spouse or a trusted friend.  Maybe you do need a larger, accountability group.  Whatever form it takes, find support and lean on them.

3 - Follow God's plan.  When lies begin to take root in our thinking, often our judgments begin to cloud.  Soon, our emotions are taking control and we can become experts at rationalizing all sorts of wrong ideas and choices.  Whatever the situation, God will never lead us to decisions that go against His word or His character.  Don't convince yourself otherwise.  Many people - some in the Bible - have made very poor choices and thought God would somehow approve.  But that does not happen.  If you are not sure of all the major decisions or changes that involve "the bigger picture" of your situation, start with what you do know.  Each choice to believe God and to obey Him is a defeat over the devil.....and leads to complete victory!

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  Romans 12:2

Friday, October 19, 2018

Who I Am in Christ

I'm definitely late today but did not want to miss Five Minute Friday.  I always look forward to these posts....and am always amazed how one word can direct so many insightful, helpful and encouraging thoughts and posts!  Reading through the link-up is always a highlight.  This week's prompt is WHO.

Who am I because of Christ?  Who am I in Christ?  The Bible has many answers, but just to list a few.

Because of Jesus, I am:

   Redeemed and Bought with a price
       "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins."  Colossians 1:14
   Completely forgiven 
       "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,."  I John 1:9

      "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."  I John 4:10

   A new creature 
      "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."  II Corinthians 5:17

   A temple of the Holy Spirit 
        "....your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own"  I Corinthians 6:19
   Free from condemnation
       "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Romans 8:1 

   Gifted, Set apart and Prepared for good works
         "...he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work."  II TImorth 2:21b

   A joint heir with Christ
      "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;"  Romas 8:17a

   More than a conqueror  
       "....we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."  Romans 8:37b

   Blessed with all spiritual blessings 
       "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ"  Ephesians1:3

   A saint - 
      "....to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord...."  I Corinthians 1:2

Oh my...but I could go on.  These truths I know, in my head, to be true.  But, unless I remind myself often - while reminding my accuser - I tend to forget them in my heart.  I get discouraged and defeated.  And how quickly, I can begin to listen to Satan's lies.  I would do well to take one truth each morning - to remember and to rehearse each day.  And to defeat the enemy!

Perhaps you need to remind yourself, too, of a few of these precious truths!  Have a blessed and Heaven-focused weekend!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Consider and Be Wise

Every day, the trees are slightly more painted in their fall colors.  The mornings have been brisk and we were even able to use the fireplace over the weekend.  Just to knock off the chill.  And to feel our spirits say "ahhh!"  First morning coffee in front of the fire is simply wonderful, in my opinion.

I'm continuing my thoughts from Friday's post.  Embracing the beauty of fall...even in this fall season of my life.  Not only is this a season to praise Him and to be grateful but fall is a season of preparation.

"Go to the ant....consider her ways, and be wise:  Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest."  Proverbs 6:6-8

We know the squirrels, the birds, and the chipmunks are preparing for the winter ahead.  Food to be buried and stored away.  Geese flying to warm climates.  Even the bears prepare for hibernation.  (Of course, they do so by packing on pounds to sustain them but I will not draw conclusions there!)  The Bible says nature is wise in working while there is still time and preparing for the season when the harvest is past.  And that we would be wise to learn from their example.

It is easy to convince myself that this empty-nest season - with its extra aches and groans...and much less energy than in seasons past - is the time to quit.  And, if not quit completely, certainly a time to step aside.  Yes, I might not be able to do all that I once could, or with the same stamina, but there is much - much! - that I can still do.  And that I need to do.  I think this is true for all of us in the "fall" of our lives.

Investing our time, our talent and even our treasure today is wise.  Creating reserves that will supply us - and meet our needs - in the future.  When we get to those winter months of life.  Since we never know exactly when the winter will set in, now is the time to prepare.  Keep serving.  Stay surrendered and available.  Don't compare your preparation with anyone else.  (Just as the bird is not concerned with burying acorns.)  Don't even compare your work now with what you were able to do in years past.  Simply embrace this season for all the beauty it contains - all the extras "ahhhs" to enjoy! - and keep preparing for whatever lies ahead.

Friday, October 12, 2018

A Season to Offer Praise

Today has been 100 percent fall.  The leaves are just beginning their transition...but the temperatures are perfect autumn.  Sweater weather.  Clear skies and glorious sunshine that warms up the chilly morning.  The front porch mums are bursting out in color.  I helped put out a staff lunch today at my church and the school there.  And even the kitchen smelled like autumn with dessert tables full of pumpkin bars, apple pies and banana pudding.  There was cider simmering and a hearty sausage soup in several crock pots.  Yummy treats of the season.

Often I find my thoughts of fall and this wonderful season of the year reflecting my feelings on this stage of life I am enjoying.  There are so many parallels.  I want to share a couple but for the sake of Five Minute Friday, I will start with one - and then finish up on Tuesday.

GO - Praise.  As hard as it is to believe, autumn is not everyone's favorite seasons.  Some love summer (which I do really enjoy) and there are even some who totally enjoy winter.  This I do not understand.  But whatever your first choice, few cannot find much to appreciate about fall.  God's handiwork is so vividly on display.  The red, yellow and fiery orange trees never fail to amaze and to reflect so beautifully on their creator.  Without speaking, they praise the Lord.  They demonstrate His majesty as well as His imagination.

This is the season I am in.  Time to reflect on the former months - even as I prepare for the winter months ahead.  My words.  My choices.  My attitudes and days spent.  All of it needs to reflect on Christ and not only point others to Him but to cause them to be in awe of who He is and what He has done for me.  In so doing, I praise Him.  Praise is not reserved for certain times.  Praise is not done only through worship songs or beautiful music.  Our lives can praise Him.  Indeed, our lives should praise Him.

As I soak in all the beauty that continues to emerge in the next weeks of autumn, I pray that each tree - more beautiful than the last one I saw - will remind me to review my days.  Am I a reflection of praise on my savior?

"Let everything that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD."  Psalm 150:6

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Chex Mix and Treat Bags

There are several reasons that I blog...but one, for sure, reason is simply that I enjoy others' blogs so much!  There are so many wise, encouraging and talented woman sharing their words, hearts and inspiration through blogs.  One such blog that I read regularly is RefreshHer by Denise Cunningham.  I am always uplifted after visiting her blog.  And she shares great recipes.:)  Recently, she began sharing something yummy and pumpkin-y every Monday.  For instance, Pumpkin Sugar Cookies.  Yum!!  I also found a super easy recipe for Pumpkin Chex Mix on her blog.  I thought it would be a great filler for a treat bag.  Here is the recipe from Denise's blog:

Pumpkin Chex Mix

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups Cinnamon Chex® cereal
2 cups Wheat Chex® cereal
2 cups Honey Nut Chex® cereal
8 ounces pecans (I used peanuts)

In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice; set aside. In a small microwave-safe dish, microwave butter on High about 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in vanilla. In a large microwaveable bowl, mix all cereals and pecans. Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly distributed. Add sugar and spice mixture and stir until coated.  Microwave uncovered on High 5 minutes or until mixture begins to brown, stirring every minute. Spread on wax paper or a cookie sheet to cool. Store in airtight container.

I had some cellophane bags that I picked up on clearance after the season last year and some colored raffia from the dollar store.  Very inexpensive supplies, as you can tell.   I wanted to double to the recipe but did not have enough pumpkin pie spice - which seems a rather crucial ingredient  So, I made one and a half batches....and it gave me five treat bags.  I think four bags, a bit fuller, would have been better.  I also added a fall tea bag - to fill them out and just for fun.

The "Happy Fall" tags I made recently at a friend's house when she had a small group over to do some stamping and card making.  Mine were beyond easy - simply stamp with a pumpkin and color with pencils.  Bam:)  But I think they are cute and will make a few folks smile this week.  I plan to simply to have them on hand.  I have a few folks in mind but also hope to pass others out randomly.  (I also want to make another batch as soon as I run to the store.) 

These did not take a lot of money, any talent or much time....but I pray the Lord can use them to be a blessing.  Who could you give a treat bag to this week??

Happy Fall, friends.  Share some pumpkin fun with someone soon!!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Sharing is Caring - and Giving

Just two weeks ago, we were right in the middle of our annual missions conference at church.  Always a highlight for our church, as well as for me personally.  It is no secret -  I love missions - and missionaries.  Our speaker for the week was Bradley Edmonson, missionary with Medical Missions Outreach.  This group organizes almost a dozen trips each year to underdeveloped countries around the world - offering healthcare as well as the gospel and plan of salvation to literally thousands of patients.  All types of medical professionals, those with absolutely no medical training and anyone in between can be used to make these trips possible.  (The page on the link to their website includes a photo of a dentist and her husband assistant - from my church.  Just a fun fact.) 

Bradley shared many stories of top doctors, and others, giving their time, their expertise and their talent simply to aid others.  With no expectation of anything in return.  I think that is a very accurate picture of sharing.  With this on my heart, these are my five-minute thoughts on today's prompt: SHARE.

GO - Although most of us recognize sharing as good, even admirable, it is one character trait that does not come naturally.  Go into any preschool - even nursery - and the need to teach sharing is already quite obvious:)  Selfishness is easily seen in a toddler. However, even though we, as adults, can disguise it and even justify it, selfishness continues long past elementary school.  So we need to continually fight against it.  Looking for opportunities and ways to share.  To give unselfishly.  We need to share our time.  Our talents and our treasures.

Each of us has a different amount of money - or treasure.  We also have differing amounts of time, energy, abilities and talents.  But whatever we have been given is ours to share.  We are expected to be good stewards - and to use wisely - all of these things (time, talent and treasure).  Doing so, helps us die to self, gives us a right perspective of money and "sets our affection  on things above, not on things on the earth."  Learning to share - to be unselfish - gives us a heart that not only pleases God but honors Him.

"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."  Matthew 6:20-21

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Hello October!

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” 

Oh yes, so am I Miss Anne of Green Gables!!  I love this quote.  (I love the book.  And the movie.)  I love this month!!  

September is a full month at our house and one that is full of emotion.  It can be exciting and it can be draining.  Octobers tend to be much more unscheduled and I look forward to basking in the pause before the holiday months.  And, it doesn't hurt that Octobers in Virginia are glorious - the weather is perfection and, well, the scenery is pretty perfect, too!!  

As I continue to dream of pumpkin spice everything, I am also looking forward to:

1 - getting my porch properly decked out for fall.  I've started but I am ready to pull out all the stops.  Or all the pumpkins:)

2 - wearing cardigans.  Sweater weather clothes are my favorite.  A comfy cardigan and cozy tights just say ahh to me each morning.  I think I look my best...and I know I feel the best.

3 - festivals.  There is absolutely no shortage of fall festivals and fairs in our area during October.  There are numerous ones every weekend.  We take advantage of them all.  Well, some. Lots:)

4 - vacation!  For several years now, we have vacationed in the months right after school reopens.  It is definitely one of the perks of this season of life.  This year, our vacation is planned for the end of this month.  We are going to Bavaria....and are so looking forward to it!!  If you have ever been to that part of Germany - or even to Austria - I would love some suggestions for things to do, places to go, food to try!:)

My husband and I are definitely in the fall season of our lives.  Sometimes - but not as often - I find myself balking against it.  Something similar to wishing every day was a lazy, carefree day of summer.  But even that would get monotonous.

There is so much to embrace and to thoroughly enjoy in this phase of life.  I'm learning to appreciate - even savor - these days and the opportunities they bring.  I don't want to waste time or energy looking backward.

I am grateful for all the blessings and beauty of fall.  Outside my window - and in my life.