Thursday, November 27, 2014

Preparing for "Black Friday"

Many of us know the day after Thanksgiving Day as "Black Friday".  Although "Black Friday" can have many meanings, (Read about it here) most of us know it to be a day of much shopping and great sales.  Most of the time I choose to do my shopping online, however, in years past I have joined the masses in waiting in long lines looking for that special deal. 

Today, I just want to share my heart on Black Friday.  Those of you that know me well, know I am the first one that likes a bargain!  I shop on clearance racks, at Goodwill, and garage sales 95% of the time.  However, often these special holiday sales can spur on impulse buying.  You walk into a store, hear the Christmas music blaring over the speakers, see the crowds loading their baskets, and next thing you know, you are caught up in the frenzy.  However, later, as you are unloading bags from your car, you get a sinking feeling.  Maybe you overspent your budget or maybe you bought things that now you are thinking you could of done without.  I have experienced that feeling and it's like a dark cloud that covers any fun you might of had shopping.  I want to give you some advice that I have learned over the years. 

First, I want to encourage us all to prepare mentally, emotionally , physically and spiritually before this big shopping day.  To prepare mentally, spend some time actually making a list of what you need to purchase.  Then, balance your checkbook and decide on a spending budget.  If you decide your budget is $100, then I recommend taking that in cash.  When the cash is gone, it's time to go home.  Our credit/debit cards are very convenient, however, most of the time they are TOO convenient, and later when we balance our money we have a big headache.  To prepare emotionally and physically, make sure you are very well rested before you go shopping.  Many of us lose a lot of sleep as we prepare the days before and during Thanksgiving.  Being tired can leave us vulnerable and subject to letting our "feelings" dictate us as we shop.  We might know we shouldn't spend an extra $50, however, the mood created by these big sales sweeps over us and we feel we can't let that deal pass us by.  So, take that nap on Thanksgiving Day or plan ahead to go to bed early.  Another note on the physical/emotional aspect, make sure to pack water and some kind of healthy snack in your purse or car.  There is nothing like being tired and hungry and standing in a long line of grumpy shoppers!  And last, but certainly not least, prepare spiritually!  Spend quiet time with God before you tackle these sales.  That idea might sound silly to some of you,  however, I have found that if I have peace in my heart my day goes so much better.  As I spend time with the Lord seeking HIS will for my day,  I have a better frame of mind and attitude.   I often come to him nervous, scattered-brained, and anxious.  However, as I began thanking Him for all my blessings, asking His direction and guidance regarding my spending, and seeking His overall will for my life, His peace rushes in.  Often, HE will lead me to my very best bargains.  He keeps my mind on the most important thing; loving Him and loving others.  When I seek Him first, then someone can cut in line ahead of me and take the last crème brulee candle and I will still be peaceful.

I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable day shopping; just let keep your eyes on what's really important.  Isaiah 26:3 says: You will keep in PERFECT peace all who TRUST in You, and all whose thoughts are FIXED on you!    Blessings!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Press On Wednesday: Game Plan

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day; a day to give God thanks and spend time with family and loved ones.  We also know that tomorrow is a day we eat lots of special casseroles and yummy sweets.  I want to encourage us all to have a "Game Plan" for tomorrow.  What I mean by that is, I think we need to plan ahead of time where, if any, our splurge will be.  For example, if you love bread, you may want to eat 2 rolls and skip the desserts.  If you love sweets, you may decide to skip the breads and have dessert.  But, what if you love it all?  If you decide that you are going to let yourself have some of everything, don't forget portion control!!  Remember, one tiny slice of pecan pie tastes just as good as that giant piece of pie.  Another thing to remember, if you are planning on eating your calories, then don't drink your calories too.  For example, if you are going to indulge food-wise, drink only sugar-free drinks.  Another thing, a lot of times we think it would be best to skip breakfast on a holiday to make more room for the other food.  However, I disagree.  Even if it is a small granola bar and yogurt, I highly recommend eating breakfast tomorrow.  If you have a little something on your stomach, you may be less likely to fall into a trap of over-eating.  So, I want to encourage us all to make a plan ahead of time and ask God for the strength to carry it out.  Tomorrow night, when we head to bed, it will feel good to know that we stayed on track and still enjoyed our special day!  Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD,

 FOR HE IS GOOD! HIS FAITHFUL LOVE ENDURES FOREVER. 

PSALMS 118:1 (NLT)

Press On Wednesdays: In Memory of My Dad, Troy
 

 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Giving thanks vs. Complaining

Wednesday night at church, one of our elders talked about bad attitudes and how contagious they are. A bad attitude IS truly contagious and seems to affect everyone around.  He  reminded us that it is hard to be truly thankful and complaining at the same time.  How true that is!  Have you ever been around someone that always saw the bad in everything?  How did you feel after being around that person?  On the other hand, have you ever been around someone that was full of joy and left you feeling a little more lighter too?

The bible tells us in Philippians 4:4-8(NIV): Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,  with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

In the world today, we can only truly rejoice by God's Spirit working in us.  Colossians 1:27 says it is Christ in us, the Hope of Glory.  Anyone can be grumpy and negative; in order to be filled with joy and peace takes being filled with God's Spirit.  As we approach Thanksgiving Day, I want to encourage us all to let God fill us up with His Spirit.  Let Him have control of your life fully and trust Him to work all things out. (Romans 8:28) Let's start this weekend with a thankful heart and a mind focused on God's will for our lives.  Psalms 118 says "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  His faithful love endures forever!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Press On Wednesday: Spicy Chicken Salad

One of my favorite things to eat for lunch is Chicken Salad.  There are many variations of chicken salad and it is very easy and quick to make. I start with a 12 ounce can of chopped white meat chicken. (or two small chicken breasts, chopped)  I drain the chicken well and mix with diced apple, chopped onion, 2 Tablespoons of Hot Chow-Chow, 2 Tablespoons Mayo and Creole Seasoning and Pepper to taste.  I like this mixture because it has a spicy flavor.  However, there are many healthy variations on this salad.  Instead of the Hot Chow-Chow, you can add Dill Relish.  In place of diced apple, you can add either red grape halves or mandarin orange segments. I also occasionally add chopped pecans.   Instead of the mayo, you could use 1 Tablespoon Light Cream Cheese and 1 Tablespoon Light Sour Cream.  I have some friends that replace the mayo with plain Greek Yogurt.  Sometimes, I like to add a tablespoon of spicy mustard for a kick. The possibilities are endless. However, in order to keep this salad healthy, stay away from processed sugars, sweet relish, dried fruit that has added sugars, and other high calorie ingredients.  Don't forget to experiment with spices as well.  I love adding curry when using Mandarin Oranges and pecans.  For my lunch, I usually eat 1 cup of this salad with about 7 pretzels.  I occasionally put it on a bed of lettuce also.  For me, keeping a variety of flavors in my chicken salad satisfies me much more than the same old thing daily.  Try it out and let me know what you come up with!  Press on with healthy eating!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

To what do you cling?

Webster defines cling as "to hold onto something or someone very tightly; to stay very close to someone for emotional support and protection". A person could cling to their job or successes to define who they are.  Some of us cling to our family and friends to validate us.  Still others cling to their degrees, successes, wealth, physical attributes, popularity, ministry positions, titles, etc.  We all cling to something or someone.  Who do you cling to?  Out of all the things we could cling to, which things are stable enough to truly rely and count on?  Psalms 63:7-8 says: Because You are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of Your wings, I cling to You, your strong right hand holds me securely.  The Lord is truly the only steadfast and perfectly faithful one that we can cling to.  If our security is based on anything else other than our Heavenly Father, we are sure to be disappointed.  I know this truth in my mind, however sometimes I get off track.  I find myself basing my security on temporary things, instead of eternal things.   I sometimes feel unpeaceful because I am focusing on what I can accomplish instead of focusing on my dependence on Jesus.  Isaiah 26:3 says: You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You.  
 
Lately, I have been reminded that the only thing I need to cling to is the Lord.  As humans, we can let each other down.  However, God is faithful and is the same yesterday, today and forever.  If you find yourself "clinging" to anything else more than you are to God, I want to encourage you to ask Him to search your heart and reveal any false beliefs.  Maybe deep down, you doubt that God will come through and feel you must take care of yourself.  Maybe because we have been hurt by others, we assume God will hurt us too.  On the other hand, maybe something has happened that has caused you to doubt God's love for you.  Sometimes life is hard and we just don't have all the answers.  It's okay if you are struggling; it's no surprise to God.  I believe God loves us so much that He truly wants us to be honest with Him.  He knows our hearts and He longs for us to surrender our hurts and pain so He can make beauty out of ashes.  Today I want to let go of all I've been clinging to and instead just cling to Jesus; there I can find true peace, love, security, validation, purpose and more.  Then, and only then, I can give it out to others.
 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Memories

I really can't believe that it is almost Thanksgiving already!  The weather here has really changed this past week.  It's funny as the air turns cold and I smell the smoke from chimneys, the memories rush in. I can remember my Dad making fires in our fireplace.
I can remember cooking hotdogs on a bonfire at Chad's parent's farm.  I remember toasting marshmallows with my boys when we camped out as a family many years ago.  What memories do you have during this time of year? 
Do you have any special memories that warm your heart?  There is no doubt that there is someone reading this that may be having a hard time thinking of good memories.  I, too, have had some not so good memories of this time of year.  What do we do with those bad memories that pop up?  I talk to God about them.  I ask Him to help me work through them.  Do I have any unforgiveness that I need to deal with? Do I need to ask forgiveness to God or someone else?  Do I need to let God bring my soul healing from a deep hurt or disappointment?  As I bring my bad memories to God, forgive and release, an amazing thing happens; He heals my heart.

No matter what past memories you have of this time of year, you can start making new ones today.  Gather your family, have a camp out and make smores.  Maybe you would rather have a movie night while you shared popcorn and sipped Apple Cider with red-hots.  Maybe you would like to take a short road trip and see the beautiful trees changing colors.  Whatever you do, spend quality time with those you love the most and make special memories that will last a lifetime.


 
Chad's parents, Mema & Grandaddy,
 at last year's  family camp out.
 They will celebrate 51 years of marriage this coming Sunday!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Press On Wednesday: Perseverance

Today's health tip is actually just encouragement to keep aiming towards a healthy lifestyle.  You may get off track occasionally, however the key is to get right back on track as soon as possible.  You won't make perfect health choices everyday,  but if you consistently strive to make health a priority, you won't get too far off.  Galatians 6:9 reminds us to not get weary in doing good because in due time we will reap the reward.
So, if you give in and eat  a cookie when your goal was to eat no sugar, don't despair.  However, don't throw up your hands and eat a whole bag of cookies either; stop immediately and get back on track.  Self-control is not something we are good at naturally.  Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit in us. (Colossians 1:27)  Keep pressing in to Jesus and pressing on towards your goal!
Press On Wednesday in Memory of my Dad, Troy
This is a pic of Dad and I  twenty-eight years ago!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Marvelous Monday: Counting Blessings

I hope you all had a great weekend!  We had beautiful weather and enjoyed being outside.  On Saturday, we celebrated my Mema's 91st Birthday together. Since she is my last grandparent here on earth, it was an extra special day.  We celebrated with gifts and 2 Strawberry cakes!

During her party, I was thinking about how it might feel to be 91. She is double my age plus one!   She definitely has seen and experienced a lot of life!  Can you imagine  how much the world has changed since her birth?  Can you imagine how much she has changed through the years?  My mind comes back again to how fast this life is. (I wrote about this on last Thursday's post)  My mind also came back to how blessed I am to still have my Mema in my life.

As I reflect back over my life so far, there has been good times and bad times.  There has been pain and joy.  There has been blessings and trials. I have a choice today; count my blessings or dwell on the negative things of my life.  I choose to count my blessings.  In 17 days we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day.  I want to get a head start and want to take this time today to thank God for my many blessings!  My salvation, forgiveness, husband, 3 sons, health, family are just a few.  What are you thankful for?  I want to encourage you to get a blank sheet of paper and start writing down all your blessings in this life.  Each day add a few more blessings.  On Thanksgiving day, read your blessing list to your family or friends and be sure to give thanks to the Lord for all that he has done.  Feel free to note something you are thankful to God for in the comment box below.  Have a Marvelous Monday and count your many blessings!


Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

My Mema, Grace
91 years old

Friday, November 7, 2014

Christmas Shopping on a Budget

As we get ready for the weekend, I thought it would be fun to share some of my recent garage sale finds.  In a previous post, I had shared how I enjoyed going to garage sales and some tips to get great deals. ( Click here to read post: September 19th Post)  We are getting close to Christmas and yard sales can be a fun and inexpensive way to shop for your friends and family.  Now, I know what you might be thinking: How could you find something nice enough for Christmas at a Garage/Yard Sale?  Well, it's not really that hard.  Below are four of my favorite things I have bought at sales this Fall. I personally would be tickled to get any one of these for Christmas! 
 
So, I want to encourage you to get out in this beautiful weather this weekend and enjoy some garage sales. Imagine how nice it will be to Christmas shop in the peaceful outdoors!  Remember, the early bird often gets the worm, however,  the late-comers often get the best bargains.  Have a blessed weekend.
 
 

Tri-Dip Tree-$2
Rooster Juice Pitcher-$3
Retro-Syrup/Honey Dispenser-$1
 

Black Dry-Erase Board-$1
  
                                                        





Thursday, November 6, 2014

Life is like the Morning Fog

Depending upon your age, you have probably heard many times how fast this life flies by. Each year, I am reminded that our life on earth is indeed short.   James 4:14 (NLT) says: How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow?  Your life is like the morning fog-it's here a little while, then it's gone.  So, it's not just in our heads; life does pass by quickly!  Each day is a gift from the Lord.  My wreck in August reminded me of this truth.

As I reflect upon this fact, a question is on my heart.  What memory and legacy will I leave behind when it is my time to graduate to Heaven? Will my loved ones remember me as a nervous and insecure worry wart?  What will be the main impression I will leave behind?  Deep questions!  Have I let God do all He wants to do in me and through me?  Am I holding back a part of my heart and life that needs to be surrendered?  We are not promised tomorrow.  This could be our last day to live, or we could have 50 more years. We can't change any of our past, however, we can still do something about our remaining time here on earth.

I want to encourage us all to do some reflecting and examining. God knows all about our past, present and future.  Talk with Jesus and ask Him to show you if you are holding anything back from Him. My heart's desire is to be completely and unswervingly surrendered to Christ and His Holy Spirit's work in my life.    Time is short and every moment counts!

 Psalms 25:1-12 can be our heart's prayer:
O Lord, I give my life to you.
    I trust in you, my God!
Do not let me be disgraced,
    or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.
No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,
    but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.
Show me the right path, O Lord;
    point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God who saves me.
    All day long I put my hope in you.
Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love,
    which you have shown from long ages past.
Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
    Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
    for you are merciful, O Lord.
The Lord is good and does what is right;
    he shows the proper path to those who go astray.
He leads the humble in doing right,
    teaching them his way.
10 The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
    all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.
11 For the honor of your name, O Lord,
    forgive my many, many sins.
12 Who are those who fear the Lord?
    He will show them the path they should choose.
 
 
 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Loneliness

Have you ever been in a place where you were surrounded by people and still felt lonely?  Maybe you are in a marriage in which you feel lonely.  Maybe you are a mother of several children, yet still feel lonely.  Maybe you are a teenager surrounded with a lot of friends, yet still feel lonely.  Maybe you are surrounded by people at work, but still inside you feel alone. As God's child, I can stand on the many promises in His Word.  I am so glad that my Jesus promises to never leave us nor forsake us and that nothing can separate us from His love. (Romans 8)  Sometimes even though I have Jesus, I still feel lonely.  Why? Well, for me, I can get my eyes off of God and on people.   I expect people to fill a hole that only my Heavenly Father can fill.  However, when I get my eyes back fully on God, I then remember what His Word promises and that He is with me.

When I was young, I didn't realize that being a Christian was about a relationship with God.  I often confused being a Christian with a label, a ticket to Heaven, and a high standard of morals.  However, being a Christian is so much more.  Jesus died and rose again in order for me to have life and have it abundantly. (John 10)  He is my everything!  He is my counselor, my comforter, my best friend, my strength, my Healer, my Father, my Peace, my Hope and more.  I am a new creation.  I have a new heart and a desire to serve Him.  I still sin, but I no longer have a drive for sin.  He offers me life and redemption.  I don't have to wait until I am in Heaven to experience His peace and healing. I am an Overcomer because of Him. (John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Rev. 12:11, Philippians 4) God is with me every second of the day.  He is healing me of past wounds.  He is setting me free from bondage.    He is all I need.  Do you know this Jesus I am talking about?  Do you know Him or only know about Him? Have you experienced His love personally or have only heard of His love?  He is real and alive! I want to encourage you if you are a Christian, to just take a moment and reflect on who He is to you.  For those of you that don't feel you know Jesus, talk to Him.  Ask Him to make Himself real to you.

We don't have to suffer in loneliness; we have a God that loves us and cares! (1 Peter 5:7)  Furthermore, as children of God, we are called not only to love God, but to love others as well.(Luke 10:27)   I want to encourage you today to look around and see who God has placed in your path. Sometimes, on the outside someone can look great; however, on the inside they are lonely and hurting.  Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and His leading.  Receive God's love today and then, pass it on to others!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Don't Worry, Be Thankful!

Each day we are given a choice: live by God's Word or let emotions, the world, and people dictate how you live.  However, God's way of living leads to true peace.  Through out God's word we are given instructions for victory in Christ. The steps to walk in God's peace are right in His Word.   Philippians 4:6-9 says:  Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ. Jesus.  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me- everything you heard from me and saw me doing.  Then the God of peace will be with you!  In these scriptures, God's word clearly tells us not to worry but to pray, tell Him your needs, and to be thankful for all He has done and will do!  I know in my personal life, it is really hard to be discouraged and to have a thankful heart at the same time.  Yes, there are negative things all around us.  Yes, there is bad news every where we turn!  Yes, things are not always how we want them to be! Does that change God and Who He is?  No!  He is faithful; Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!  (Hebrews 13:8)
 
I know it is hard to put aside our emotions and stand solely on God's word.  However, if we want true freedom, God's word MUST be our truth and foundation.  I want to encourage you today to put Philippians 4:6-9 in action; stop worrying, start praying, and count your blessings, and think on good things!  Have a marvelous Monday!