Monthly Archives: December 2014

My Favorite Book Covers for 2014

I planned to post my top ten favorite book covers for 2014.  I couldn’t do it. There were too many I loved. See below my favorite twenty-five.  Can you name your favorite book cover from 2014? What was your favorite book this year? My favorite book for 2014 was All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Unfortunately, the book cover did not make the cut.  Happy New Year and Happy Reading in 2015.

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all I love and know

and the dark sacred night

art of arranging flowers

 

cathedral of the wild

delicious

ghost wanted

glass kitchen

ice cream queen

king's mountain

long time gone

lost lake

lydias party

magnolia city

magnoli market

miracle in a dry season

No book

pearl

sea garden

seagrass pier

still life

story keeper

take this cup\

when love stirs

when the cypress whispers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let Go of Perfection and Find Peace

I always feel lacking in skills as I study beautiful homes decorated for the holidays in popular magazines.  I have attempted to copy ideas from these beautiful pictures. The result has left me feeling worn-out and discontent. Don’t let that happen to you.

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In our home, I am the cook, gardener, laundress, grocery shopper, and house cleaner. I’m often called to babysit my two grandsons (which I love). I also have a full-time job outside of my home, which I enjoy. My to-do list is long, and I’m sure your schedule if full too. For many of us, a normal day is overwhelming, and our budgets are strained. The burden of the holidays can drag us down like Marley’s chain from A Christmas Carol, especially if you pile up credit card debt.

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My home will never be picture-perfect. It may not be acceptable to Martha, Oprah, or Rachel, but that’s their problem. I encourage you to let go of their magazines’ idea of perfection. An imperfectly decorated tree is not the end of the world. A small tree can be perfect.  In fact, there is no law stating you have to put up a Christmas tree.

Little Christmas tree, gifts and candlelight on a white table.

I am attempting to be more selective when choosing holiday activities. Last evening, I joined a group and sang Christmas carols to elderly shut-ins. One sweet widow hugged me with every ounce of her strength. And then she held my hand while others sang. Her embrace filled me up with contentment.

carols

I adore having a house full of family and friends. No one who loves me will care if my home isn’t magazine worthy. My family has never criticized me for using a frozen pie crust instead of making it from scratch.

family

God has given us the perfect gift of His Son. It is not necessary for us to stress out because we can’t find the perfect present; we can’t afford, for someone who probably already has everything they need.

holy-family

My wish for you during this holiday season is for you to find the time to enjoy family and friends. If you don’t have “the peace that surpasses all understanding,” my hope for you is that you find it.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. (7) And the peace of God, that surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7.

Merry Christmas!

#letgoofperfection #Christmasdevotional #peacethatsurpassesallunderstanding

 

 

10 Free Gifts You Can Give to Boost the Christmas Spirit

Sunday – December 14

Look for people who need a hug, especially widows. The human touch can heal broken spirits.

Daughter hugging her mother and smiling to her.

Monday – December 15

Grab those extra coupons in Sunday’s paper. If you don’t get the Sunday paper, stop by your local library. Most are happy to share the coupons from the daily/weekly papers. Take those coupons to the grocery and tape the appropriate coupon onto the products in the store. Someone will leave the store with extra money in their pocket. It’s an easy way to be Secret Santa.

Beautiful Latina Woman at table in Kitchen with Coupons

Tuesday – December 16

Stop by the nursing home and ask the nurse on duty who could be cheered by a visit. Offer to sing Christmas carols. It doesn’t matter if you can’t carry a tune. End the visit with a prayer.

Nursing_home

Wednesday – December 17

When it’s your turn at the check-out counter, let the person behind you go first.

 

Customers Standing In Line At Checkout Counter In Supermarket

Thursday – December 18

Think of those adults from your childhood who made a difference in your life, perhaps a teacher or Sunday-School teacher and write them an email or note to thank them. Few things cheer me as much as a card from one of my Sunday-School students who are now adults.

thank you

Friday – December 19

When traffic is heavy, look for others trying to get out of parking lots. Yield and let them out and send them on their way with a happy wave.

waive_trafficSaturday – December 20

As you finish your last minute shopping, be on the lookout for elderly or handicapped shoppers that might needs assistance.

assist_shopper

Sunday – December 21

Call an old friend this afternoon just to catch up and wish them a Merry Christmas.

Senior Woman Enjoying Hot Drink Whilst On PhoneMonday – December 22

Scan your email contact list and find someone who might enjoy a note of encouragement. Include a special memory of the two of you together.

old man in eyeglasses working with laptop at homeTuesday – December 23

Think of those you’ve touched within the past ten days of giving. Lift up their names in prayer in secret. Pray for God’s blessings on them.

Stressed young housewife in living room

Wednesday – December 24

Reflect on the gifts you gave through the past ten days that did not cost you a penny and you will discover you gave yourself a precious gift, the feeling of peace and goodwill towards all.

chrismtas

Merry Christmas!

#10Freegiftsyoucangive

 

Are You Ready for a Storm?

When decorating for the holidays, I love arranging my Christmas village. My grandson, Matthew, discovered the miniature people and buildings last year.

Matthew_village

The citizens of the village experienced a few minor accidents. There was nothing too serious that Super Glue couldn’t repair.

Broken

Repaired_figure

After a visit from Matthew, the streets look like a storm has passed through the little village.

Real life is like that, isn’t it? We have everything arranged and planned just so, and then, BOOM! A job loss, illness, or the death of a loved one, knocks us off kilter. We are all going to face storms. Wouldn’t it be nice if Super Glue worked on our broken lives? I know someone who discovered something better than Super Glue, and I’d like to share her story with you.

I met a young teacher about fourteen months ago. Tiffany Barnes Gray was about five months pregnant and also suffering with a brain tumor. She was the guest speaker at a conference held at my church.

tiffany_pregnant

I’m happy to report that she delivered a healthy baby girl named Rosie.

Rosie

 

But Tiffany had difficult decisions to make regarding further treatment.

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I’ve followed Tiffany’s progress for months and continue to pray for her. A little over two months ago, Tiffany suffered a seizure and was immediately scheduled for surgery. Her walk through this trial has inspired me. If you too are experiencing a difficult time, I hope you’ll be encouraged by her words. With her permission, I’ve listed some of her Facebook posts starting with the evening before the surgery:

October 1, 2014

“O LORD my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me. Psalms 30:2

I am so blessed to have so many people on my side and praying for me tonight and tomorrow. I have never felt more love. The word above promises healing. I am crying out tonight, and tomorrow I have faith that I will be healed! I’m so thankful for God’s word which does not fail me.#‎strongerthanbraincancer

Oct_3

October 5, 2014

“Using a walker today! Praise God!”

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October 6: 2014

“Jesus take the wheel!”

October 10, 2014

“I had a bad day. I felt sorry for myself for a split second. Therapy is hard! I felt like giving up, I’m not proud of myself. Daily reflection: Being a victim simply keeps you stuck, paralyzed and powerless to actually be able to do anything about the situation that you are in. I can’t control my situation, but I can control the outcome. Forgive me lord for losing faith today. Tomorrow is a new day!

On October 31, 2014

“I am a huge believer in blessings, I find the harder I work, the more blessed I am! I used my left arm today! #‎strongerthanbraincancer

On November 28, 2014

“Eight weeks ago I would have never expected that I would be doing this! I couldn’t even get out of bed after brain surgery. Stroke victims rarely recover so quickly, God is so good, all the time! I’ve never been coordinated, but I’m so thankful that I can still walk! #‎strongerthanbraincancer

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November 30, 2014

Tomorrow will mark 60 days since the brain surgery/stroke. In just these couple of months God has shown his presence in my life more than ever. I learned to walk again, I’m using my left arm, and can now make and open a fist with my left hand. There is still a long road ahead, but I’m so thankful to say that I’m returning to work tomorrow! I can’t wait to be back with my LES family; it’s exactly where I’m supposed to be! #‎strongerthanbraincancer

Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

It’s amazing what a child of God can endure with the strength of the Lord. I stand in awe of what Tiffany has overcome. But then I know, her help comes from the Lord. Psalm 121-2. Tiffany has built her house on the rock. Matthew 7: 24-25 Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (25) And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

Whatever storms come Tiffany’s way, I have no doubt that she will endure with a smile on her face because her joy comes from the Lord. You too can experience this same steadfast love and joy by placing your hope in Jesus.

It’s simple according to Matthew 7: (7-8) Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (8) For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Please add Tiffany and her family to your daily prayers. I pray for God’s blessings on Tiffany and her family. I pray that God will heal her completely and that He will be glorified. I pray that God will use every second of her suffering to turn to His good and to grow His kingdom. I ask these things in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.

#strongerthanbraincancer

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Operation Christmas Child (Shoebox Ministry)

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to travel to Atlanta with a group of forty from my church. We signed up to work a shift at the Operation Christmas Child Processing Center in Atlanta. Some refer to this as the ‘shoebox ministry.’

It’s always fun to travel with this group of teens. Many of these youth were my students in Sunday-School class in first grade. It thrills me to see them active and serving.

group_operation_Chistmaschild

When we arrived at the hotel, God had arranged a divine appointment. I was waiting for the elevator with our group when a young man asked me, “Where are you from?”

I replied, “Franklin, Ky. We are here to work at the Operation Christmas Child Processing Center.”

His eyes sparkled. “I was a child who received a shoe box.”

I love how God pays attention to details when He arranges divine appointments. The young man introduced himself to us. “I am Renan and I am from Honduras.”  Our ‘Shoebox’ team leader Tammie is passionate about missions and plans to lead a team to a children’s home in Honduras in June.  She and her family served at the BMDMI Children’s Home in Honduras last year.

Tammie works tirelessly through the year to collect items for the shoeboxes. One week, she collected toothbrushes, the next week, a bar of soap. It’s not difficult for anyone to participate. Thanks to her efforts, our church put together over 700 packages.

Tammie_image (1)

“Every shoebox represents a person,” said Renan. “When I first opened my box, I saw a note and it said, ‘I love you.’ I lived in a village surrounded by people controlled by alcoholism and poverty. Because of the shoebox, I learned about Jesus and his love.”

hand“Don’t worry about what to put in the box,” said Renan. “Go to Walmart or the Dollar Store and pray as you shop. God will lead you. And pray over the box that a child who receives it will receive Christ.”

Today Renan is married to a missionary and lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I am thankful that God allowed me to be standing by Tammie’s side when he arranged for us to meet Renan.

I encourage you to make a shoebox for a girl or boy. Popular items to place in the shoebox include: a toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, comb, soap, washcloth, pencils, notebook, rubber balls, toothpaste, metal spoons, hard candy (candy that will not melt), plastic cups, sewing kits for older girls, and tool sets for older boys, knitted caps, ponytail holders, and small toys. I hope you’ll follow Renan’s advice and wander the aisles with a shoebox and pray as you fill it. For more details about how to build a box, check out this link: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/pack-a-shoebox-with-uncle-si/

allison

There are nine processing centers across the United States. If you would like to volunteer or organize a group for next year, check out: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/drop-off-locations/

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It’s easy to work at the processing center. First they train you. It takes about 10 minutes. There are six positions on the team. The warehouse is large but well organized. On Saturday, the entire center processed about 108,000 shoeboxes. Just imagine 108,000 thousand faces lighting up with joy.

cendy_opations_christmas

While we were working last Saturday, the entire processing center took a break to hear the testimony of a young woman who had been a shoebox recipient. She too was from Honduras. She had grown up in an orphanage when she received a shoebox, and was thrilled to get a toothbrush. Before she had her own, she’d had to share one toothbrush with 25 other children. She also had a package of 10 pencils in her shoebox. A treasure, because she was given one pencil a year, and it was expected to last her through the year. She hid her pencils in fear that someone would take them. It was through this shoebox that she realized that someone cared about her and that Jesus loved her. God has big plans for this little girl who lost her family. She earned a soccer scholarship and attended college in the U.S. Today she is enrolled in medical school. She is the one standing on the ladder in the picture below.

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My niece, Terra, is serving as a missionary in Niger, Africa this semester. She has participated in the shoebox ministry for several years at home. She was delighted when the children she was working with in Africa received shoeboxes. They were chosen because they were attending her Kid’s Club and learning about Jesus.

terra_operationchristmaschild

I hope you’ll consider putting together a shoebox next year. You will bless someone and you too will be blessed. Remember each box is for a child who has next to nothing. But the most important gift he or she might receive is Jesus.

I’d love to hear from others who have participated in the shoebox ministry. Please leave a comment.

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#operationschristmaschild #shoeboxministry #samaritanspurse #missions