Friday, September 12, 2014

Faithful Friday: Drawing Near

Oh, the sweetness of this verse.
It is impossible for me not to fall in love with the words of the
Lord and this verse is no exception.

This is a thought that I think is so important to keep in mind.
So many feel that God has left them or forgotten them, which is never,
ever the case... some who feel that way have often drawn away from God
for some reason.  Or with some of us, with the busyness of life and the
distractions of each day, we may find we are growing very, very slowly
distant from God.  

He never leaves us and is never far from us because of his immense
love for each of us, but these words are a valuable reminder
that although this is true no matter how much of a priority God is 
in a person's life or even if you are pushing God away,
 the closest relationship possible that we can have
with Him is one where we draw close to HIM, too!
When God sees our hearts and sees that in them we truly desire
Him and are drawing nearer to Him, He will bless our walk
not only with Him but toward Him.

When I read this verse, I imagine two people standing a long distance
apart from each other.  They get closer to each other much faster
if both of them move and walk toward each other than if
only one of them were to walk forward.
It is the same with our relationship with God.

Blessings to you.

Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Loving Fresh, Summer Fruits

Happy Friday!
As always, time is amazing me by flying and I am having a hard 
time believing that Summer will be over this month!
Yay for Autumn weather on it's way!

Although I am looking forward so to cooler temperatures and crisp,
cool days ahead, one of the things I will miss about Summer that I have been
thinking about is the abundance of fresh fruit.  And fresh, juicy fruit at that.
Being in the South, because the weather is so mild, a variety of 
fresh fruits are almost perennial here, but they do taste sweeter and more
 flavorful in the season when they are "in" and are especially
delicious in Summer.
Don't they just leave the sweetest taste in your mouth and make you feel
refreshed after one bite!

I have enjoyed being refreshed by fruits during this Summer and have also loved
 eating them as a part of being healthy that I look forward to.
Eating raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, apples, pineapple, blackberries,
and blueberries at their tastiest has been a treat.  The only thing
that could make them better is to have the country Summer experience of
going to pick them myself :)
Here are some of the ways I have been eating my favorite fruits this

I know you're supposed to save best things for last, but I this is my favorite new
discovery and I had to put it first.  At the start of Summer, we found popsicle trays
and decided to start making our own fruit popsicles.  These are EASY as pie
to put together and such a fun way to get to eat the fruits you love in a new way.
I think it's so neat, too, to know exactly what is in it since you're making it
and the options are endless.
I just pop a couple of cups of whatever fruits I choose into the 
blender- usually I mix sliced pinapple and strawberries- and pour in a little
water, a little juice, and blend, then pour that into the popsicle trays and wait for 
them to freeze.  That is a fun word to say, hehe... popsicle. 
 I realize that as I read this in my head as I write.
I think one great thing about trying these was realizing just how
much flavor is in the fruits alone, without any sweeteners.  
These turn out so sweet and have the best natural, real taste in a way
that you don't get as much if you buy store-bought "fruit pops".  

Usual fruit popsicle ingredients.  I try to use low sugar or sugar free juices
and switch up flavors, from cranberry-grape to apple, depending on what fruit
is going in.

Another way we have really started enjoying fruit in the past year or so
is by making smoothies.
Sometimes I like to look for smoothie recipes to try and sometimes
I just like to mix up different things- all kinds of fruits, juices, yogurt flavors, milk- and
mix them up and see what happens.  That is easiest and always seems to produce
something pretty wonderful.

...And it just seems a little more Summery to drink smoothies from a
Mason Jar.
And don't forget a heaping tablespoon of whipped cream on top!

On the earlier days of Summer when the heat was more survivable,
 one of my favorite ways to spend some time in the
 mornings was to go out on the back porch and sit there, drinking
my smoothie and feeling those early Summer breezes, watching the birds,
admiring the flowers.  I loved eating my popsicles out there, too.

Recently, I have had a thing for berries most of all... blueberries and raspberries.
I have been loving eating a cup full of them at once for a snack.
It has been nice to crave these and have them to eat instead of chips or
something unhealthy.  I have been eating cups of them for snacks instead
and every week I am excited to go grocery shopping again to buy

I'm so thankful for fruits!  I don't know what Summer would be like
without them.  I can't imagine it without berries and pineapples and
the refreshment of biting into a juicy, ripe strawberry or even just seeing a 
watermelon or peach truck on the side of the road on a hot day.

What is your favorite Summer fruit?
Have you ever made fruit popsicles?

Have a beautiful weekend!!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Faithful Friday: Pleasing the Lord

What infinite wisdom is found in this quote!  I read this recently and it made me so thankful that God has developed in my heart over the course of my life so far just just how vital to my walk with Him it is that I work to please Him before anyone, to do what is right.  That last sentence, "We live to please the Lord and not people", hit me as something I have come to realize it is so easy to struggle with.  It is not that I don't want to please God, because that is always my prayer that I would live to do that.
But my stumbling block is that sometimes I find it hard to let others down, even when I know that what that involves is not the best decision I could make.  As a young person in school and around peers, I feel like it can be especially challenging to disagree with others around you or have to let them down or not do something that everyone else is doing- even something very seemingly innocent- because you want to be included and you want to be kind and peaceable.  I went through those moments and still do.
Even in a conversation, sometimes I will come away from speaking with someone and then ponder over what was said later in the day, when I find myself thinking that something I agreed with them on or something I did or expressed to make them feel comfortable very well did not align with what God has placed on my heart.

It can have more impact on your faith than you may think to give into letting go of your convictions and your resolve to please God first, even if only for a second or in one sentence you speak.  It is not a good feeling to think about something I said that could have gone differently had I put my desire to please God first instead of impressing someone, but on the other hand it is a warm and joyful feeling to look back on my day and know that I pleased God with what I said and did.

It has blessed my life and my heart for the Lord to ask myself in all things if my actions in them or my plans will please God first and foremost.
This is what my thoughts have been pondering recently and I am thankful for the reminder.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Labor Day Weekend: Kittens, Crafts, and BBQ

Is it just me or is it hard to believe it is almost Friday, again!?
I sat down to write a little about my weekend, only to realize that for some
reason I have been thinking that it is still early in the week and that it
is almost the weekend all over again.
This shorter week after Labor Day has me confused, but in the best way,
because I'm so thankful for the holiday weekend we just had
and the length of it.  I hope y'all had a blessed and enjoyable
Labor Day weekend!

Our weekend was so wonderful- pure fun and relaxation and
filled with the blessing of family time.
One of my favorite things was getting to share great food as a family
as we celebrated the long holiday weekend with BBQ one of the days
and cheeseburgers the next.  I love having a Daddy who loves
 to barbeque.  I can't complain ;)

Aside from that, I loved spending my time... with my Mama.  I will forever remember sitting at the
table with her, beading and crafting.  It is one of my favorite
places to be... sitting together, talking, stringing beads, getting excited
about our creations, sippin' on coke or lemonade or hot-chocolate
(depending on what season we're in) and just relaxing.
Those moments are my happy place and a blessing.
It has been so much fun collecting new beads and adding them into
our containers.  We are running out of room, though, (there are just too many
gorgeous beads at Hobby Lobby!) so egg carton storage has come in handy.

I love working with new charms and faceted dividers and beads we
come across...

...and getting creative, adding things like these beautiful brooch like

...Also doing some painting and illustrating practice.  There is nothing
so satisfying and lovely to me- when jewelry-making, painting, or whatever
it might be- as laying out everything in front of you, in this case paints, squirting
them out to be ready to be used, and starting to create.
Right now, though, looking at this photo brings my taste buds back
to exactly how that delicious blueberry soda tasted.  So good.

...Playing with and watching the precious kittens outside.
Their Mama had her kittens, I believe it was, around the time we left for our
vacation.  A few weeks ago, she started bringing them to our back porch and it has
been so sweet to get to look out our back door to see them playing, wrestling
with each other, being given a "bath" by their mama, and sleeping.
They are too cute for words.

...Another wonderful part of the "food" aspect of our weekend as a family was starting
it off Friday night with delicious Bacon Mac n' Cheese, which we made on the stove
and then took some of it and baked it with cheese and breadcrumbs on top.  Oh my gracious.
We also whipped up a chocolate cake that night.  It was definitely a bright
start to the weekend. 

What a nice, long Labor Day weekend it was.
I am thankful that another weekend is now just around the corner.

How was your holiday weekend??

Wishing y'all a blessed day!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Faithful Friday: Lean on GOD's Understanding

Happy Friday to you!
I hope your week was a very blessed one.
This past week has flown for me as it was my first week back in school.
I am so grateful for the time off I had for summer, but it is hard to leave it behind
and not be home as much anymore.  The positive in that is that will only
enhance my appreciation for the privilege of spending time at home and
getting time to do the things I love.  
I am thankful that this is a long weekend and am so looking forward
to jewelry making and baking a cake and spending the days with my family.

.          .          .

I was hoping to share something with you in the middle of the week, but
time got away from me with reading and assignments, so it is so nice
and refreshing to get to write a post to share today.

Recently, I came across these beloved and well known verses and read them,
 then thought of one aspect of them in a slightly different way.  I am always amazed how
 God can allow you to see something new or different in words within His word
that you have read hundreds of times.  It is so neat and captivates me, a feeling
of joy at seeing something from a different angle, so to speak.
I am in love with the words in these verses, their meaning, the comfort and 
assurance they make me feel... to imagine how, if we submit to the Lord, He Himself
guides our paths.
The portion that I saw differently the other day was "Lean not on your own
understanding".  I have read that so many times and I always think of it, every single
time, as God telling us to not relying on our own thinking and our own way of doing
things.  It also means to me to trust God with all our situations and trials because
he sees the rest of the picture and we do not.
However, I had never thought of it as meaning that we should not rely on our own
understanding of God's ways and His qualities specifically.  This was something
new for me to think about in reference to this scripture and that is the way I
suddenly saw it, with this new meaning added to it.
Maybe that sounds like something simple and obvious, but it is so interesting how
we all think of things differently and interpret things differently.  I had just not
taken those words to have such meaning before.  Personally, I found this so important
and a true revelation in my faith because I viewed it suddenly as pertaining to God's
working and His views of us...
How important it is to not think that we know everything about God, about
His love for us or about whether or not He will or will not do something.
  I think of this in terms of sin and being forgiven especially.
So many of us may feel like something we have done wrong or some habit we have
that we feel is a sin is unforgivable, feeling that God cannot forgive us.
Maybe we even feel like God is unfair in His ways concerning why He lets
death happen, why illnesses and suffering are happening all around us.

It takes great faith to believe that God can forgive you or that he can take away
the suffering in this world, but it takes even greater faith to KNOW he WILL forgive you
and that HE knows what the future holds and will put an end to those things.

Seeing this scripture in a different light or in other terms reminds me that
faith is not just leaning on God instead of yourself to get through tough times, but also
to lean on not your understanding or your opinion of what he will do, but to look
into His word to see the facts and the promises he holds.
He promises that if we are heartfelt in our repentance, God is quick to forgive us.
He is happy to forgive us.  God promises us this several times throughout the bible,
yet it is still hard for us to believe those words and we keep doubting that.
For me, this is because I find myself leaning on my own understanding of what He
means, rather than taking His word for what it clearly says in front of me.

This is a struggle for so many of us.
This scripture reminds me to pray for one another and for
ourselves to better understand God and what He feels for us and what
He can or cannot do.
May we listen to His promises as they are written instead of listening
to our own worries or are own concerns and doubts.

God bless you!

Wishing you a beautiful holiday weekend!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Faithful Friday: Angels

Lately, I have been blessed to have angels on my mind.  I have had them on my heart as I have meditated on their roles within scripture and God's purposes for them.  In particular, I have been amazed to ponder over their connections to us here on Earth.
I have been reminded recently of the passage at Psalms 91.  This has got to be one of my favorite chapters of the entire bible...

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,

    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.
(Shared from: Bible Gateway)

...Angels have always been a part of my spirituality and I grew up being reminded of how God allows them to be a part of our lives.  As humans, we may not be able to see angels or know what they look like, but it is incredible, comforting, and just a wonderful feeling to know that God would care about us and love each of us as his creations so much that he commands his heavenly angels to guard us and watch over us.

I write about this today because this bible passage is one I had not thought of in awhile and when I finally did again, I was so thankful I had come across it.  My heart bursts with joy just to think about this verse, verse 11, especially.

The Lord's love for us inspires strength and is comforting in ways there are no words for... his display of caring and tending to us as His children is shown in countless ways and one of those is through His arrangement with the angels.  I am always amazed to think of the purposes behind God's ways, to think that while He and Jesus are more than enough, he allowed even more amazing heavenly beings to be a part of heaven... and that they have so special a purpose.

In another verse in Luke, we are told of how the angels care for our spiritual well being as well.  What a blessing to our walk in faith to know that not only God and Jesus, but also the angels, care for us and rejoice over our repentance and watching us serve the Lord!
"In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Luke 15:10.

How beautiful to know that as you go about your day each day of your life, you can feel calm despite your hardships just knowing that God has commanded an angel to guard your ways and lift you up!  

Are you amazed by this verse, too?  What are your thoughts on angels?

Blessings to you!
Have a lovely weekend ♥

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch #10

Happy almost Friday! :)

Today I am joining Ms. Patrice and Wendell on the Farmhouse Porch for a chat!  It's always a privilege to get to join the chat when I get the chance.

Here are the questions for today...

1.  What are you most looking forward to in the remaining months of 2014?
It is so unreal to me that it is even time to start thinking about 2014 only having a few months left.  It was just January!   In the remaining months of this year (which I hope will not go by too fast) I am looking forward to so much... sewing projects, hopefully planting a Fall garden, getting deeper into my studies both in school and things I love to study on my own, writing projects, Fall decorating, spending time with my family during Thanksgiving break, seeing friends and family I am missing, chillier weather, taking a little road trip, and Winter being here!
2.  Tell us about the last movie you saw, or book you read.
The last movie I watched was RV, with Robin Williams.  I was so sad to hear of his passing and I really couldn't believe it.  When I was little, I watched the movie, Mrs. Doubtfire,  all the time.  From then on, I thought he was such a wonderful actor, so talented and genuine.  But more than that he had a quality about him that made him seem like he was a truly decent, good-hearted person.  I'll always remember seeing him smiling and being so loving and caring with the children in his work with St. Jude's.  His love for them and for others in general was beautiful to see and inspirational.  I know you can never fully know what someone is like if you don't know them personally, but he had a kindness in his eyes and a tenderness in his heart.

3.  Do you ever make smoothies or juice?
I love making smoothies.  They are so refreshing, especially now in the 104 degree heat.  My body feels so clean and healthy when I drink smoothies and they are fun to make because you control what goes into them and their flavor.  I would really like to make juices also and have been wanting to get a juicer.
4.  Who do you wish you could talk to right now?
Everyone I've lost in death.  I miss them and I think often of how much I'd like to have them here again to talk to and laugh with again, just to hear their voice, share my heart and my dreams with them.  I miss the conversations we would have had and the things I would have gotten to know about them if they were still here.

5.  Please finish this sentence:  "If I could spend a week in a lovely cabin in the mountains, I would like to
...spend as little time as possible inside the cabin.  I would want to go out and hike and lay out under the stars with the towering pines overhead and write or just stare at the skies.  I would go adventuring to find a waterfall and sit by it and just listen or a creek to hang my feet in.  On our trip to Colorado that we just returned from, I felt so blessed to find a couple of glorious waterfalls on our hikes and get to do just that, and I wish I were there again.  That feeling is like nothing else.

I'm so glad to get to spend some time on the porch today.
You can head on over and visit Ms. Patrice and Wendell here at Everyday Ruralty!

Have a blessed day and weekend ahead!


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