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Thursday, February 21, 2013

All Things Work for Good

"We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8.28

In today's verse, the words that Paul speaks bring comfort and peace to many of us in our difficulties and hardships ~ they give us hope that no matter what hurts and disappointments come in our lives, everything will eventually work out for our good. The two verses preceding Romans 8:28 talk about prayer. They say that when we don’t know how to pray as we ought to, the Holy Spirit comes to our aid and prays through us. It is through these Holy Spirit-filled prayers that all things work together for good, no matter what they are. Not all things that happen to us are good in and of themselves, but God is good and He can cause them to work toward our good if we trust Him.

Continuing to trust God is the key to victory in painful and seemingly unjust situations. Faith and prayer move the hand of God. If we continue believing, He promises to continue moving in our behalf to work everything out for good.God makes this promise to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. We must love God with all of our hearts, and we must want His will. We must be willing to submit to His plan at all times.

The plan that God has for us eventually changes us into His image. We are destined to be molded into His image. That may sound spiritual, but in reality, it usually hurts. Think of clay being pressed into a mold, wonder how the clay would feel if it had feelings? Being changed into an entirely different shape would be painful. If we take a lump of clay and press it into a mold, there is always too much clay to fit and some pieces must be discarded. I know that there is more of me than would fit into the mold of Jesus Christ, so many of my thoughts, words, and actions need to be discarded just as the clay.

We must go through things that are difficult and learn how to respond to them the way Jesus would. We must not give way to the fearful thoughts and feelings that attack us. We must learn to remain steadfast, knowing that no matter how things appear now, God will work them out for our good and in the process, He will use them to make us better people. God’s purpose in everything that happens is to make us more like Jesus Christ. Jesus was totally obedient, “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered” Hebrews 5:8.

We also learn through what we suffer ~ we learn from God’s Word and life’s experiences. Because of our sinful nature, we tend to fight God at every point, but this only makes the process longer and more painful. We need to learn to surrender quickly and save ourselves a lot of agony. We know, and I’ve learned, that God gets His way in the end, so why prolong the process?

Where the mind goes the man follows. Keep your mind going in the right direction, and your life will catch up with it. A person who has their faith firmly planted in God cannot be defeated. Satan cannot defeat us if we keep believing that God is working for our good, and that we are being continually transformed into His image.

Dear heavenly Father, make me more like Jesus. I don’t like to suffer, and I hate to fail, but through Jesus Christ, I ask You to teach me and enable me to understand that, because of You, everything truly works together for my good. In your name I pray, Amen.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Power of Your Words

“The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips.” Proverbs 16:23

The scripture tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. God Himself spoke the worlds into existence by the creative power of words ~ WOW think about that for a moment!

You can bless your future with your words, or you can curse it. There are many influences over our words ~ in the heat of the moment, we can let our emotions tell us what to say. We can listen to what others say and allow their opinions and ideas to influence our words. We can even be influenced by what we watch on TV, the internet or read in the news, but notice what today’s verse tells us that a wise person does ~ a wise person listens to their heart and lets their heart teach them what to say. As a believer, when you listen to your heart, you are allowing the Spirit of God to influence your words. When you speak from your heart, you are speaking from the heart of God.

We all have seasons when the challenges of life feel overwhelming. During those times, it’s easy to be tempted to talk about how bad things are ~ maybe it's a bad medical report, a strained relationship, or maybe it's a financial obstacle, however the more you talk about something, the bigger it becomes in your mind. Instead of "talking" about our problems, we’ve got to dig our heels in and say, “No, I am not going to give life to that defeat. I am not going to speak sickness over myself. I’m not going to speak lack. I’m not going to speak fear. I’m choosing a different report. I believe the report of the Lord which says, ‘I can do all things through Christ. I can defeat this sickness. I can break this addiction. I can have peace in my home. I can see restoration in my relationships.’ ”

Remember, even if you don’t see how things could ever work out, God does. You’ve got to speak His Word over those mountains in your life and declare favor over those situations. Instead of talking to God about how big your problems are, talk to your problems about how big your God is! Speak to your mountains and they will be moved!

Take time today, listen to your heart. Take time to be still and quiet before the Lord. Allow Him to teach you what to say. As you submit your words and ways to Him, He will direct your path and lead you into victory in every area of your life!

Father God, thank You for giving me power in the words of my mouth. Help me to stay tuned in to You by listening to my heart. Teach me to use my words to always speak life and blessing over myself and others. Help me to speak to the mountains in my life and say, “Be moved!” Today, I declare blessings, favor and victory over my future in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Count Your Blessings

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”Proverbs 27:1

Do you see every day as a blessed gift from God? Many times when we hear this, we may be tempted to brush it off and say, “Yeah, yeah, I know. Every day is special.” But truly it is! God ordained this day before the foundation of the earth. He has already ordered blessings for you. He has already orchestrated the right opportunities for you. He has already made the right connections for you. On top of that, the air you breathe, the food you eat, and the sunshine on your face are all part of the great blessing that God gives us daily.

Remember, we’re not promised tomorrow, so why waste a single moment living life defeated and depressed? Our attitude should not be, “I have to take care of the kids,” or “I have to mow the lawn today.” It should be, “I get to take care of the kids God has blessed me with,” or “I get to go out and mow the lawn today. That’s part of the house that God has provided.” See every opportunity as a gift. Count your blessings and watch Him multiply them exceedingly all the days of your life!

Father, thank You for giving me this wonderful day. Thank You for every blessing You have prepared. Strengthen me with Your joy and fill me with Your peace as I keep my mind stayed on You in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Handcrafted Valentine's Day Decor ~ DIY Crafts for Kids and Adults

Express your affection by creating these simple handmade gifts and decorations for Valentine's Day. From heart-shape art to pretty Valentine's Day decor for your mantel, these crafts and projects will be loved this holiday.

Valentine's Day Banner
Bright colors make this Valentine's Day mantel pop -- traditional pink hearts mix with bright orange, yellow, green, and blue patterned fabric on the banner.Trace 16 hearts onto pink houndstooth fabric and cut them out. Use a stencil to paint letters onto the hearts to spell out a sweet phrase (like "Be Mine Valentine"). Sew the hearts onto colored fabric squares with fun patterns, attach the squares to red ribbon, and hang across a mantel.

Paper Curls Valentine Wreath
A wreath covered with paper curls bursts with Valentine's Day color and spirit. Lovely over a mantel or on a door, this valentine wreath is easy to construct.Tightly wrap 1x6-inch strips of patterned paper around a pencil to curl. Glue the end of each curl into a loop. Hot-glue the paper to an 8-inch foam wreath form. Repeat until the form is covered. Lightly brush liquid adhesive over the paper curls, and sprinkle with glitter. Print a Valentine's Day sentiment on patterned paper, back it with a felt circle, and add a white stick for a paper lollipop embellishment.

Everlasting Love Paper Bouquet
Create a flower bouquet that could last almost as long as your love. These crepe-paper flowers bloom in valentine colors for a centerpiece that will make you swoon.Cut a 20-inch strip of crepe paper. Cut petal shapes along the top of the strip (such as large rounded or pointed petals or fringe). Leave about 1 inch at the bottom so the strip won't tear. Adhere a chenille stem or piece of florist's wire at one end of the paper strip. Roll the crepe-paper strip around the stem or wire, fluffing and shaping the petals as you go. Secure the end with florist's tape, and arrange the bouquet.

String of Hearts Garland
Tug on heartstrings with a garland of oversize stamped hearts. These colorful hearts are so easy that even kids can help.Wrap twine around a wooden cube, then apply a thin layer of paint to one side. Stamp onto white or solid-color cardstock, using the image for inspiration; let dry. Repeat with additional cardstock and colors. Cut the cardstock into large hearts. (Use a pattern for consistency or cut freehand for eclectic variety.) Use tape or glue to attach the hearts to a length of string, and hang the garland.

Modern Valentine's Day Artwork
Personalize these cute crafts projects to make themed shelf decorations for Valentine's Day.To craft the collage, cut out repeating shapes from fabric (we used birds and hearts in various sizes) and use spray adhesive to mount on white cardstock; frame. For more advanced crafters, design a work of Valentine art. Pencil a design on a store-bought canvas, then sew over your drawing using a thick needle (we used a backstitch technique).

Love Pillow
Spread a little love with this pillow. Dress up a plain throw pillow for Valentine's Day. Add the word "love" with stencils and fabric paint. Cut out your own letters or buy a set of stencils, available at crafts stores, for a quick design. Tip: Alternate colors for each letter or use a different word on the pillow to make the design your own.

Heart Spools Valentine Plaque
Cozy charm spills from this Valentine's Day accent. The easy plaque comes together quickly with only a few supplies.Spray-paint a heart-shape wooden plaque a neutral color. Punch various-size circles from patterned paper, and glue them to the tops of vintage or crafts-store wooden spools in various sizes. Adhere the spools to the plaque, placing the tallest at the top and working to the shortest at the bottom. Wrap short lengths of thin wooden dowels with patterned paper. Fill the spaces between spools with the embellished dowels.

Flaming Hearts Candle Wreath
Let your valentine passions burn brightly. Cut strips of pink patterned papers and adhere them to same-size strips of white cardstock. Die-cut, punch, or freehand-cut two sizes of hearts from the strips. Poke holes in some of the hearts. Run wire through the holes and wrap wire around the other hearts -- twisting and bending the wire into curls and loops -- to join the hearts. If you wish, slide beads onto the wire as you go. Continue until the wired hearts encircle the candle; join the wire ends to secure.

Public Display of Affection
Highlight those you love with snapshots and valentines in a three-dimensional display.Gather favorite photos and make black-and-white or sepia copies. Paste some of the copies onto decorative papers and cut into fun shapes. Tuck them in a photo tree.

Heart-Shape Pouches
Treat your valentine with a pouch of treasures, whether it's a cluster of posies or a handful of candy.Trace two same-size heart shapes onto pretty paper or cardstock; cut out. Cut more hearts in graduated sizes from contrasting paper, and use spray adhesive or a simple running stitch to attach to the front of the pouch. Stack the two main hearts with wrong sides together. Starting at one side near the top, use a sewing machine to zigzag-stitch around the edge, leaving top open; trim edges. Punch holes near top of pouch. Thread ribbons through and knot to secure.

Cute Valentine's Day Cupcake Ideas

Treat your sweetie to a Valentine cupcake that shows your love before the first bite. These cute cupcake ideas will charm children and entice adults, too. You'll fall in love with the easy decorating techniques used to create these delicious gems.

Love Banner Cupcakes
Get your Valentine's Day message across loud and clear. Print love notes or Valentine greetings on decorative paper and cut into narrow strips. Wrap each strip around a toothpick and glue a tiny wood bead to the tip. Adorn your favorite frosted cupcakes with heartfelt messages.

Layers of Love Cupcake
Stack the cupcakes in your favor. Sweet filling unites the moist cake layers for a perfect marriage. Simply slice the cupcakes horizontally into thirds and slather your favorite filling between layers. We used creamy vanilla pudding, but fruit jam also works. If vanilla cake is your choice, try a chocolate pudding filling or use lemon curd. Swirl the top with your favorite frosting.

Whoo Loves You Cupcake
Wise owls know exactly who loves them, and with these cute toppers, so will everyone on your Valentine's Day list. Use our free pattern to assemble the owls using cardstock, googly eyes, and scrapbooking embellishments.

Sweetheart Cupcakes
Whisper sweet nothings to the ones you love. Swirl your favorite cupcakes with creamy frosting and adorn them with a scattering of message-bearing, heart-shape candies.

Love Note Cupcakes
Cupcakes can speak volumes. Start with frosted cupcakes in vanilla, chocolate, or your Valentine's favorite flavor. With a piping tip, write a word of love on top of each cupcake in a contrasting color. Keep it simple with "Be Mine," or make it a sonnet if you're inspired.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Wear your heart on a decadent dessert. Red Velvet Cupcakes sport the color of the season. With a heart-shape cookie and a little powdered sugar, they're dressed for a party -- whether it's for two or more.

Love Letters Cupcakes
Spell out your desires. Romantic, charming, or passionate, your message is oh-so-easily delivered. Glaze alphabet cookies with thin icing, then sprinkle them with colored sugar. Perch the sugared letters atop frosted cupcakes and arrange the cupcakes to send the perfect message.

Rose Bouquet Cupcakes
When nothing but roses will do for your true love, create a cupcake bouquet. The pretty red petals are so easy to make, you'll have a dozen in no time. The secret ingredient: fruit leather dusted with sugar!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Get Ready for a Shift!

“The vision is yet for an appointed time...” Habakkuk 2:3

Did you know that one touch of God’s favor can put you 50 years down the road? You can be at a lower position at work, just going along being your best, honoring God, and suddenly, things can change. One good break, one idea, one person who likes you, and suddenly, you find yourself at the top. You didn’t see it coming ~ things just fell into place. That’s God shifting things in your favor.

The scripture says, “The vision is for an appointed time.” That means there is a specific time already determined for the fulfillment of the desires God has placed in your heart. The appointed time is the best time! We have to trust that God can see the big picture for our lives. He knows what’s up ahead ~ he knows what we’re going to need, who we’re going to need, and when they need to show up. If God did everything we ask on our timetable, it would limit us because sometimes what we’re asking for is too small. Sometimes the person we think we can’t live without, God knows in ten years they’re not going to be good for us. So He is closing the door right now. Sometimes the promotion we want so badly, if God gave it to us right now, He knows it would keep us from a much bigger promotion that He has three years down the road.

God can cause opportunity to find you. He has unexpected blessings that will cause you to suddenly meet the right person, suddenly you’ll see your health improve, suddenly you’re able to pay your house off. What happened? You came into a shift, God breathed in your direction ~ what used to be a struggle is not a struggle anymore, what should have taken years happened in a fraction of the time.

Remember, God has the advantage of seeing it all ~ the longer I live, the more I trust Him. The more I see His hand of faithfulness, the more I know that His plan is better than my plan. Trust that He knows what He’s doing ~ trust that He has an appointed time and it is the best time to bring to pass His promises in your life. Get ready for a shift, start with a shift in your thinking. Don’t dwell on how things are going to work out, shift your focus to how things will work out, shift your focus to what God will do and get ready to shift your life into the favor and blessing God has in store for you!

Father, thank You for Your hand of blessing on my life. I lift up my eyes to You and declare that I am ready, I am ready for unexpected blessing. I am ready for increase. I am ready for the supernatural shift You have prepared for me. Today I put my dreams, desires, hopes and longings into Your loving hands. I trust that the vision You have given me is for an appointed time. I know Your timing is best so I will praise You until I see the promise in Jesus’ name. Amen.