Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Old Witch

It's Halloween!! Witches, ghosts, goblins, things that go "bump" in the night. And no, I don't believe in any of that "fooky" stuff ("fooky" is how my grandson, Radley used to say spooky when he was learning to talk). However, to me Halloween is just a fun day to dress up, be silly, and get lots of candy. It's also a time to drag out old books and read, which is what I try to do each year with one certain book in particular.

When I was little, my mother bought me a book titled, Old Witch and the Polka Dot Ribbon by Wende and Harry Devlin. It quickly became one of my favorite books for her to read to me. As I got older, of course, I read the book myself. In fact, I still read the book! Every fall right around Halloween.

Old Witch is a cantankerous, moody, grumpy little old witch that lives in the attic of the old Jug and Muffin Tearoom. She was awakened from a very long sleep in the chimney when a little boy named Nicky, and his mother, bought and moved into the Tearoom. 

Actually, Old Witch is very nosy and sometimes causes a lot of trouble. What witch doesn't? But in this book, Nicky and his mother are baking and preparing for a cake baking contest the town of Oldwick is having at their carnival. 

The contest is to raise money to build a new bandstand. They invite Old Witch to enter as well, but warn her that Mrs. Butterbean always wins first prize. Sounds like a challenge to me... it does to Old Witch, too. 

The book, written and published in 1970, is a lively little book. The story line is fun and hints at helping the community as well as being fair and not cheating. I have always enjoyed Old Witch. She may be mischievous at times, but she's funny, and deep down wants to do the right thing.

At the end of the book is a recipe for Old Witch's Magic Nut Cake. A perfect recipe for the Halloween spirit, I think...even if it is from an Old Witch. [Recipe taken from the book, Old Witch and the Polka Dot Ribbon]

Old Witch's Magic Nut Cake
(Get Mother to help)

     3 eggs
     1 pound can of pumpkin
     3/4 cup vegetable oil
     1/2 cup water

Beat together and then add:
     2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
     2 1/4 cups sugar
     1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
     1 1/4 teaspoons salt
     3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
     3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
     1 cup yellow raisins
     1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Pour the batter into three buttered one-pound coffee cans and place in oven standing up. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour and 15 minutes or until a straw from a witch's broom, inserted in the cake, comes out clean.

Cool the cakes, turn them on their sides and frost with:
     4 oz. cream cheese
     3 tablespoons butter
     1 teaspoon lemon juice or vanilla
     1/2 box confectioners' sugar

Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

(Recipe tested by the Food Department of Parent's Magazine)

Hope you enjoy this nutty Halloween cake! You may try making it into cupcakes. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Give Me... Mismatched Socks!

I love mismatched socks! It sort of started when I was frantically searching for a pair of socks to wear one day and couldn't find the mate to one of my favorite pair. But then, when I decided to abandon that one and pick another pair, that mate was also missing! So wanna take a guess at what I did? Yep...I put the two lonely socks together and wore them! 

That one event led to grabbing a sock here and a sock there, whether they matched or not, and wearing them. And what started out as a joke on my "About Me" post about my love of wearing mismatched socks, has turned into an every day ritual, so-to-speak. 

But then I began to think about the poor little mismatched pair of socks. While most people would find a sock with no matching mate useless... I find that it still has worth and can be used... just like people.

We are all like a pair of mismatched socks. We go through life not matching up with anything or anybody, thinking we don't fit in anywhere. "Opposites attract" is not only an old saying, but actually applies to us! But here's the best part of all; no matter what you've been through, like the mismatched socks, YOU are still useful! Sure, the socks get used. They're socks. They still have a purpose. So do YOU! In your unique, wonderful, mismatched way, God can take you, and turn you into someone quite useful! He already has a plan for your life...and it's a plan that's absolutely awesome!

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. ~Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

A mismatched pair of socks keeps my feet warm (and they can get quite cold, let me tell you!). So, maybe by smiling at someone, saying hello, or helping someone out, you'll spread a little warmth into someone else's life. Or maybe just sharing your story with someone will give them hope that they, too have a purpose in life!

I wear the mismatched socks now, not only to make people smile, but to remind myself that like these socks, God can still use me.

Mismatched socks.... kinda like people, don't you think?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Comfort Training

There are many hurting people in this world. Many of them don't even know they are hurting. They just know that something is wrong in their lives and they don't know how to "fix" it. That was me. For years I suffered periodic bouts of depression, anxiety, and feelings of such low self esteem that I honestly believed that I must have done something to cause this to happen to me. I mean, that's what I was always told. Hearing "You brought this on yourself," repeatedly over the years, one begins to believe it truly is your fault that you are this way. 

But I didn't bring it on myself. It wasn't my fault. And it's not yours, either. The various people in my life who had always blamed me for my emotional issues are the very people who had kept me in the state I was in. At least, until May. Because that was the night that the Lord reached down and said, "Enough!"

[God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. ~2 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT)

Little did I know back in May that the comfort God was giving me was to be distributed, by me, to others. At least, I didn't know HOW I was going to do it. I also did not know to what degree I would be giving comfort. I just knew that I would, and that I needed to be ready and available.

I have spoken with many people in the last few months. I have told my story. And I have had many women come to me and say, "When you were speaking, I was certain that you were telling MY story!" How ironic that the things we have been through ran parallel to one another. That's how God works.

He takes each of us on a journey. Then, He gives each one of us a story to tell. A story that will in some way, help someone else. Just as the verse above says. God comforts us so that we can comfort others in the same way. Someone, somewhere, is going through the same thing you've been through. And someday God will set up a Divine Appointment for you to meet, so that you can comfort and encourage that person.

You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. ~Acts 1:8 (NIV)

Until that time, He is working on you, preparing you, training you, and getting you ready for your Appointment. I never realized that through all those years, I was being trained for this moment. I was getting my "Comfort Training." Not to bring attention to myself, but to testify to what God has done for me. For those little moments when I share my story and then someone comes to me and says, "Thank you for sharing what you've been through. It really encouraged me."

Never underestimate God... or how far He will go to reach someone. 

Here I am Lord... send me!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's the Little Things

Several years ago, an aspiring speaker and writer had a table set up at a Promise Keeper's event. She was asking men something like, "What does it take to make you happy?" It just so happened that my husband, Don was walking past her table and she grabbed him and asked her question, then gave him a survey to fill out. His reply? 

"It's the little things in life that make me happy... like when she fluffs my pillow before bed." 

The "Little Things." It made me think. What ARE the Little things? A pillow fluff. A smile. A touch. An "Atta boy" or "Atta girl." Little things. Saying thank you, saying please, saying excuse me. Or maybe it's just the acknowledgement. And I don't know about you, but it's when a man holds the door open for a woman, then she says thank you. It's not sexist at all for a man to hold open the door for a woman... it's the GOOD MANNERS his momma taught him when he was a boy. (Can you tell I've been in the south?)

Here's my point: those little things can add up to big things later down the road. It makes me feel good for someone to smile at me without wanting anything from me in return. It makes me feel good when a man holds the door open for me, and as I say thank you to him, he smiles and says, "My pleasure!" Because what just happened is that by acknowledging that person's act of kindness, I have given him a blessing. So it really was his pleasure!

Many times we remove someone's blessing by not appreciating the little things. Whether it's what I mentioned above, returning a dropped item, helping someone to their car with their groceries, or letting someone with one item in the checkout line go in front of us who has a cart load. The little things matter. 

Having a snack for the kids after school. Complimenting your child for making the bed, however messy. Making a tent on the porch with your grandchild. Listening to and encouraging a friend who's having a bad day. It's the little things. 

My husband loves to come home and smell dinner cooking. He doesn't care what it is. Just the fact that the house smells like something good to eat, makes him feel good. And of course the fluffing of his pillow before he goes to bed. It's the little things. And how much do you think it blesses the Lord when He sees His kids doing those little things? Random acts of kindness. 

We could start an epidemic with just that by itself.

Oh, and the writer who was writing her book? It was published... and many more since. We received a copy of that book in the mail, complete with my husband's quote among the others who were interviewed. It was "Capture His Heart: Becoming the Godly Wife Your Husband Desires" by Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries. (Don's quote is the "Thought For The Day" at the end of the Introduction...and yes, I still fluff his pillow before bed.)

What are some little things you could do for someone today?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Grace in the Mountains

Since my porch stoop is not available, I'm writing from my balcony in North Carolina in this post. I absolutely LOVE Fall!! I also love the mountains of North Carolina. Put the two together and I am one happy girl. Of course, I had never been to the mountains in the fall, believe it or not... until this year. And oh, what a surprise God had for ME!

We arrived at our favorite nesting spot, the Stony Creek Motel in Maggie Valley, on Friday afternoon, October 19, 2012. They gave us the key to our room, with a balcony of course, overlooking the Stony Creek. And even in the fall, we still have the window open so we can listen to the creek. It's like an unspoken rule. Open the window!

To our surprise, this weekend just happened to be the local Arts and Crafts Fair in Maggie Valley, and the Apple Harvest Festival in nearby Waynesville. So of course, we went!

Waynesville is an Historic town, complete with General Store and many other wonderful things. But on this day, the street was shut down and there were vendors galore! Arts, crafts, food, candy, drinks, you name it, it was there. And apples. Before we left, after buying a few items, we also had to buy apples (who can resist little boys in Boy Scout uniforms)! Then it was off to the bike and heading for the mountains.

We got on the Blue Ridge Parkway and headed... Up! As we took the first few curves of the Blue Ridge into the mountains, radio playing, the leaves are falling across our path, onto us. That's when we hear from the radio, 

"Hallelujah! Grace like rain, falls down on me. Hallelujah! All my stains are washed away!"

When we stopped for the first overlook, I asked DA what he was thinking, because he had been shaking his head. His reply was, "I was listening to the song and looked up and saw the leaves falling down, just as he sung "grace like rain falls down on me," and I thought, this is what it's all about."

Grace. Grace, like rain, falls down on me. It falls down on you. And just at that particular moment in time, God had worked all of it together to show us physically what it means. We all have grace. And we should show it to others as well. Because just as we were preparing to leave the overlook, an older couple had pulled in and got out of their car. As they walked toward us, they pointed to our casket and began to ask questions. We were able to share with them about Jesus being the way to heaven. The man was unsure, but said he was "trying." So we were able to encourage him. They thanked us and we rode off. Divine appointments, even in the mountains.

It took the better part of the day to ride, but it was well worth it. We got a little chilled, but when we got back to our Stony Creek room, I began to look through our "treasures." While those things are all good, I think the greatest blessings came from looking out over the mountains this day, knowing that grace fell like rain, in the form of fall leaves, down on both of us. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Go Fly a Kite!

A few months back, we found ourselves on the beach of Treasure Island, Florida with our oldest daughter, son-in-law, grandson, and our son. We had gone down for a conference in Daytona, then rode our motorcycles across the state, and met "Baby Abe" for a few days of enjoyment.

Upon waking one morning, we noticed down the beach that some people were flying kites. Of course being far enough away, we had no idea what kind of kites they were. But since we are the curious sort (okay, we're nosy!) we decided to take a little trek down the road to see what all the hub-bub was about. I'm glad we did!

Apparently they were having a large show or competition of some sort that day. Some of the kites were spectacular...and huge! 

What I had thought was an octopus from about a mile or two away, turned out to be Batman! He was complete with Robin, the Joker, penguins, Wonder Woman (who happened to look amazingly like Betty Boop), and some Merpeople! There were other, smaller kites being flown as well which were equally beautiful. Spinners, flyers, tubes, all kinds of kites. 

As I wrote this today, it started me to thinking that kites are a lot like people. Some are big, some are small. Some lead. Some follow. Some spin. Some are brightly colored, and some are plain. But the fact remains that regardless of what they look like, how they "fly," how plain, or how fancy they are, they are still a person...and God loves them just the same as He would whether they did all those things or not. Because He MADE them. 

He made you, too. He made me. The day we watched the kites, they were flowing in the wind so beautifully. They were flying thus because their "Kite Master" had a tight hold on them. 

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,  for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father's hand. The Father and I are one. ~John 10:28-30 (NLT)

Our Master has a tight hold on us, too. He never lets us go. Why? Because He loves us! He wants to see us flowing in the wind, just like the kites on the beach that day. As long as we keep our eyes on Him, that's exactly what we'll do.

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. ~Isaiah 40:31 (NLT)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


This morning I was awakened by a burden and immediately knew that my joy was gone! As I prepared to step out on "The Stoop" it became clear what my joy stealer was: a burden for one of my daughters. So I headed for the door.

Give all your worries and cares to God,  for he cares about you. ~1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

As I opened the front door though to walk out to The Stoop, the noise hit me. Birds were congregated in the trees just outside... and the noise from their "convention" was almost deafening. I even commented to my dog Buster, "Wow buddy, it's noisy out here!" He just looked at me like, "Really, Mom?" But we went on outside. I was determined NOT to let this deter me from meeting with the Lord... and to The Stoop I went. I was also determined to bust this burden.

The enemy will place many obstacles in our way to keep us from conversing, communing, and interacting with the Lord. Whatever he can conjure up, he will try anything. He wants us to keep our burdens. But if we stay focused, those things won't have any affect on us. Because quite frankly, NOTHING can keep us from the Lord. If we sincerely seek Him, He'll be there!

Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. ~Jeremiah 29:12-13 (NKJV)

As I approached my desired spot to bring my cares to the Lord, before I could utter a word, the burden hit me and the tears began. I couldn't contain them, and I couldn't contain my burden any longer. So I poured it out, spilling the fact that I didn't even know WHAT to pray FOR, but that I had such a burden and such a love for my daughter...and God knew that already. He knows how I feel about all my kids, my in-law kids, and my grand-kids. He knows the depth of my love for each of them and the depth of my burdens for them. And He knows how deeply I feel for HIM. So I stood there, tears streaming, crying out to Jesus... and unbeknownst to me, it got quieter, and quieter... and so did I. Because one by one, the Lord dried my tears, replacing them with a drop of peace here, and a drop of peace there.
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. ~2 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT)

Before long a soft breeze, blew across my face. I breathed it in and immediately felt so calm. That's when I noticed it: Quiet. The birds had gone.  I opened my eyes to the beautiful scenery I always have when I'm out on The Stoop, but the peace that surrounded me was as breathtaking as the scenery, maybe more. And I knew I wasn't alone.

Whenever you have a burden, bring it to the Lord. No matter where you're at. He will meet you there, He promises. And while you may not be able to feel His presence, you WILL notice what He does in and around you.

"I cried out with no reply and I can't feel You by my side, so I'll hold tight to what I know...You're here...and I'm never alone!" ~Barlow Girl, Never Alone

Is there something you need to meet with God about today?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Got Junk in Your Trunk?

Are you a collector of junk? I'm not talking about those lovely treasures we find tucked away in a corner of some antique store. I'm talking about J-U-N-K! Those ugly words someone said to you yesterday, or years ago. Whether from classmates, teachers, family, or friends...those nasty, hurtful things stick with you, sometimes for life. Ugly. Lazy. Stupid. Good for nothing. Mistake. Idiot. Fat. Weird. Worthless. Troublemaker... On and on and on...

I carried many of those pieces of junk with me for years and years. I stuffed them all in a little treasure box in the far recesses of my mind. The trouble was, I stuffed so much down in there that before long, my box became a trunk and it was so full of junk that I didn't even know what was in there anymore. But it sure knew me and it kept me from living the life God intended for me to live. Why? Because the enemy likes nothing better than to make our lives miserable. So I packed and packed. I had too much junk in my trunk!

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. ~1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)

Junk can really get to us sometimes. It may be in the form of words. It may be in the form of thoughts. But Jesus never meant for us to collect junk. He came so that we may have abundant life (John 10:10b)! He doesn't want us to be burdened down with so much junk that we can't function. And as long as we listen to the negative, we collect an abundance of junk in our trunks.

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. ~Philippians 4:8 (NLT)

In order to get rid of the junk in our trunks, we have to begin to focus on the true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable things. Focus on Jesus. Because when we start to do that, our lives will begin to get better and better.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. ~Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

On a clear night in May 2012, God healed me of the junk in my trunk. Of course, it's an ongoing battle to keep the junk out. But let me tell you something... putting my focus on Jesus sure helps keep the junk at bay... and in the process I'm able to give others the reassurance that they, too can get rid of their junk! There IS hope...and a way out!!

How much junk is in your trunk?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Do Yourself A Favor...

I was thinking about this journey to forgiveness that I'm on. Yes, I'm still calling it a "journey." Mainly because it is. That and the fact that in my journey, I've hit a lot of bumps, pot holes, snags, and detours. I began to wonder what had happened. Where did I make a wrong turn? Why don't I feel like I did when God first took all that from me? Why am I not doing nearly as well as I was when I was first healed? Did I have a relapse? No. I'm having LIFE. Plain and simple.

Being Forgiven Doesn't Mean Easier

Did I think everything was going to be sunshine and roses after God set me straight and nudged me in the direction I was supposed to go? Maybe. I'm not sure what I thought. I guess I thought that things would be easier

Just because we're forgiven, doesn't mean things get easier. 

It doesn't mean things go back to the way they were, either. Because often times they get harder. We just have the ability to handle them better, that's all. And yes, quite often we will run into someone, or several someone's, who won't understand us. Nor will they want to hear us, or hear our story. And not everyone's "forgiveness" story is the same.

Watch Out For Enemy Attack

It's also a time when the enemy sees an opportunity to bring back up certain things in our past that caused us great shame. False conversations arise. False situations. All of them using something in our past that makes us step back and wonder. One of my problems is forgiving myself. But here's something I learned in a devotion that actually opened my eyes and caused me to take notice.

It's that whole "I can't forgive myself" attitude. Do you realize that in taking that attitude, you are basically telling God that Jesus' death on the cross was not enough! Ouch! How prideful and arrogant we are to take that attitude. Because in Psalm103:12 it says, 

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." 

If I'm not mistaken, the east and west never meet

Do Yourself A Favor...

Here's another tid-bit of information for you. Author and Bible study teacher Kay Arthur said, "The idea of forgiving ourselves cannot be found anywhere in the Bible." It's not in there. If we sincerely ask God to forgive us, then He does. Period. It's gone. Wiped away. The slate is clean. Why then do we pick it back up and waller it around and stew over it?

So, in this journey to forgiveness, it's not just about forgiving others. It's also about believing that when we ask Jesus to forgive us of our sins, He does. They're gone! They're not coming back. We need to get over ourselves and get back on track and focus on the truth of what His Word says.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." ~ 1 John 1:9

Jesus forgives do yourself a favor and forgive yourself.

What do you need to let go of?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

In an Instant

I was trying to figure out an "I" word for the a2z meme & my mind was blank. Literally. I was also listening to some Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) on TV and the song that was on was "I Hope You See Jesus" by Bebo Norman. Of course, I have it turned down so low that I can't readily hear the words. And because I don't pay attention (quite often), I thought the bouncing title box on the screen read, "I Hope TO See Jesus." Which got me to thinking (yeah, I know), hoping TO see Jesus would mean that we have this hope that someday all of our faith, all of our prayers, all of our HOPE to get to see Him, to make it to heaven someday, WORKED!

If we are a Believer, if we have trusted Him, asked Him to forgive us of our sins, asked Him to save us, and basically just put all of ourselves into Him, then we were adopted by Him Instantly. In an INSTANT, we were forgiven, we were saved, we were adopted, we were given that hope, love, peace that passes all understanding, joy...all of it! In an INSTANT.

"In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears." ~Psalm 18:6 (ESV) (emphasis mine)

When we talk to God He hears us in an INSTANT. He hears us, He answers us, He loves us in an INSTANT. Sometimes quicker than an Instant, because sometimes all we have to do is think it and He answers! But my point is this: When we need Him, He is there in an INSTANT. In the blink of an eye, the twinkling of a star, faster than the speed of light. He's there! Always....INSTANTLY.

"Call to Me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known." ~Jeremiah 33:3 (ESV) (emphasis mine)

He never goes back on a promise. He never turns His back on us. We turn our backs on Him, but He never does on us. And even when we've been wandering through the desert, wallowing in our own self pity, He's still there for us, waiting. Waiting for us to realize we need Him. And when we do, all we have to do is cry out to Him and He's an INSTANT. All the time... Every time... Without fail... INSTANTLY.

Have you called out to Him lately?

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