Behind the Clouds

I first posted this a couple years ago, but I feel the need to share it again.  I have many friends and loved ones going through hard things right now, and in the light of Easter coming this weekend, I pray this post will be an encouragement!

This past Saturday morning I headed out early to purchase the last items I needed for my Easter dinner.  I was filled with excitement as I anticipated Easter Sunday and the joy of worshiping and remembering the empty tomb! The sky was kind of gray and cloudy as I headed out, but I needed to get this done.

As I drove into town, my mind went to the first Easter Saturday – that very day after Christ had been crucified.  I thought about the disciples, the many other people who had heard Jesus and believed He was Who He said He was, and of those that had seen His miracles and had turned in faith to Him as their Savior.  How must they have felt on that day after?  I’m sure many were filled with mixed emotions.  They had seen Him suffer, some had buried Him.  He was dead. Many must have felt hopeless, gloomy and discouraged.

“Oh!” I thought, “if only they could know what we know now they would never have doubted!  They would be as excited as I am as I anticipate Easter’s arrival tomorrow!”    They wouldn’t have been filled with sadness, gloom or despair if they could know what we know!

It was then that the Lord whispered in my heart,

“If you could know what I’m at work doing right now in your life, you wouldn’t be filled with despair in your trials either.”

How right He is!  Why do I doubt Him?  Why am I filled with sorrow in difficult days?  It’s because I believe the enemy’s lies when he says – “Nothing good could come from THIS!”  “Your life should be happier!”  “This is never going to get better – give it up!”

No!  My God is at work fulfilling His great plan for my life – to make me into the image of His Son.  It may take cloudy days, days of pain or suffering, but He’s got a reason, and I must trust Him!

clouds

Still in my car and carrying on this dialogue with the Lord, I looked up to see that the sun had burst through the clouds in splendor and beauty.  It was a visual of the lesson He had just spoken to my heart.  Something lovely is behind the dark clouds; wait and watch!

What dark cloud of difficulty are you staring at today?  Keep your eyes on Christ! He is at work on a plan that will leave you speechless!

With love,

8E63C63AC0BC189BF1C68B03C74DBB5F

Adding Spring Touches Around Home

Spring 2017 a

Today’s post will be mostly a picture album of some changes I’ve made at home to turn things from winter to spring!!  I love how bright and cheery it makes the house!  Ready?

The mantle…

 

Spring 2017

Spring mantle a

Coffee Table (and mantle in the background)…

spring coffee table

Living room bookshelves…

spring bookshelf a

I added lighting to the top, and middle shelves.  It doesn’t matter how pretty something is decorated, if it’s in the dark, no one can see it!  I used little battery operated lights on the shelves – see them beside the two bottom arrows below. I also put battery operated votives in the candle holders for light on the bottom shelf (above).

spring bookshelf b

The Dining room…

Spring Dining room 2017 a

The entryway…

Spring entryway a

My kitchen window… The cafe curtain is just two cloth napkins on the rod.  I change them out seasonally to lighten up the window!

Spring curtains

My craft room also got some spring cleaning, straightening and redecorating…

Craft room.jpg
Adding softness to the table with the placemat really helped!  The quilt over the chair is another way I added texture.  It’s amazing how little changes can make a big difference!

Take a step back and see what winter decor needs to be removed from your home and then let the sunshine in!  Show your love for home by adding spring touches.

Which area above is your favorite?

With love from my spring-y country home,

Denise Signature 150 px

Are You Living for The Next Thing or Content With Now?

Image result for disney world

Perusing through Social media recently made me wonder how many of us live for “The Next thing” that’s coming our way down life’s road.  It might be:

  • Marriage, then
  • Children, then
  • A home purchase, then
  • Vacation or Cruise, then
  • Another Child, then
  • A new car, then
  • When the children are in school, then,
  • A job promotion, then
  • The purchase of the newest gadget, then
  • When the children are on their own, then
  • Another great vacation…
  • When the grandchildren are born…

It goes on and on.  There’s nothing wrong, of course, with having goals, but some people seem unsatisfied until they attain that “Next thing.”  It’s such an easy trap to fall into, isn’t it?  Everything we see and hear in our world encourages that discontentment.  We’re always urged to want more and to do more and long for the next season of life.

But what if we could put on glasses with lenses that help us to really see what we have “Now”?  If we could really embrace the  joy of this stage, the gladness for these few possessions, the awe of this status of our lives?  Would we not be really living out the beauty the contented, Christian life that Paul’s wrote of when he said,

I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased and how to abound, every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  Philippians 4:11-13

If we feel a frequent restlessness with today and we’re  on the search for something else – big or little – to get us to through the next hoop of our life, it may be that what we’re really missing is not the newest toy from the electronic department, but biblical contentment.  

Where does that kind of contentment come from?  It’s not found at the Apple store, it’s found in the Secret Place of prayer.  When Paul spoke of “being instructed to be full and hungry,” he was talking of being initiated into the secret of contentment, and that can only come when we go to our God in prayer.

When we pray, we tell Him about our anxious heart, our longing for that something else.  We ask Him to give us joy in this day, this moment, this status, this car, this house, this marriage.  When you get up off your knees, you’ll find that instead of longing for something more, you will have found Someone who was enough!

Ask yourself (or better yet, ask God), “Am I living for The Next Thing, or am I content with right now?”  Respond as God reveals the Truth to your heart, and you’ll be staring the sweetest possession right in the face – REAL, TRUE CONTENTMENT.

Lovingly,

Denise Signature 150 px

(L)Oven Monday – Super-Fast Drop Sugar Cookies

sugar cookies 2

Not all sugar cookies are created equal.  Many recipes call for an hour of refrigeration before you can roll out the dough.  But what if you need a dessert in a hurry and decide that sugar cookies would be the perfect ending for your  meal for guests that’s just 45 minutes away?!

That’s exactly the predicament I was in a week ago!  I decided last minute to add cookies to the menu.  So what did I do? I made Drop Sugar Cookies!  This soft dough is whipped up in the mixer, then spooned onto baking sheets for a quick bake.  These make a delicious dessert!  Because I was in a real hurry, I only baked up one sheet (a dozen), which was all I needed, then after my guests left, I baked the remaining dough and froze the extras.  Yay for cookies in the freezer!!  This recipe was found on Pinterest and is a family recipe from The Mom Who.

sugar cookies 3

Drop Sugar Cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • ¾ cup Milk
  • ¾ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup Crisco
  • 1 Egg
  • 2½ cups Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • Sugar Sprinkles
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and baking powder.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, mix the sugar and Crisco.
  5. Then add the egg to your mixture.
  6. Next add the milk and vanilla extract to your wet mixture.
  7. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture that’s in the large bowl. Mix until incorporated. Don’t over mix!
  8. Scoop dough into 2 tablespoon sized scoops and drop them on your sheet.
  9. Bake for 6- 7 minutes and then carefully add sprinkles to the tops of the cookies. Continue baking for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
  11. Enjoy!
  12. *Note- You can add the sprinkles to the cookies before baking, but the sprinkles sink down into the cookies. You decide on when to place the sprinkles- Before, During, or After baking.

Is there a recipe you pull up if you need a fast dessert?  I’d love to hear what it is!

Happy Baking!

Denise Signature 150 px

Family Friday – Adding Wisdom to Your Marriage

0328172242_resized

When my husband and I got married 35 years ago, we had had no official premarital counseling.   I did have the blessing of many talks with my mom beforehand, as well as my parent’s example, but not the kind of teaching that a pastor would typically impart today. I’ve remembered much of what I witnessed and have applied that to my married life, but through the years, I’ve found it so necessary to keep looking for wisdom to apply to my role as a wife.  Anything left dormant is bound to get moldy after a while! I don’t want my marriage to do that!!

The Lord tells us in Proverbs 8:33 –

 Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.

One way I’ve continued to get instruction is through reading Christian books on marriage.  I’ve tried to read several a year by just reading little portions each day to keep my marriage healthy.  A few of my favorites have been:

  • Proverbs!!!  I read it every month!!
  • A Woman After God’s Own Heart
  • Creative Counterpart
  • What’s it Like to be Married to Me?
  •  For Women Only
  • Love and Respect
  • The Excellent Wife
  • Praying God’s Will for My Husband – Praying for him changes me!

There are more, but those are some of my favorites that really helped me grow in my role as a wife.

Another way I’ve sought out wisdom is by listening to radio broadcasts and now podcasts.  I started with Focus on the Family.  That’s a no-brainer, right?  They support the Christian marriage with topics that really help the couple!

Now my favorite podcast is Revive Our Hearts. I cannot tell you how refreshing their broadcasts are.  Nancy has recently done a series on Titus 2.  It has been so practical and full of truth!  Just yesterday she shared a piece of advice that the late Vonette Bright shared with her on her wedding day.  Let me close by sharing it with you.

She said, “Submit to whatever brings him (your husband)
pleasure in everything . . . and you’ll be just fine.”

Nancy went on to add –

By no means was she to encouraging me to satisfy any sinful, selfish desire my husband might have. She was not implying that I would be my husband’s slave, or that my role was merely to fulfill his every whim.

Here was a dear widow who had enjoyed a deeply loving fifty-four-year marriage, and who knew first-hand the joys of having a disposition—an inclination—to follow her husband’s leadership.

That is good advice!
What do you need to submit to that would bring your husband pleasure?  Do it!

Your marriage needs the refreshment that daily wisdom will give it!  Are you continuing to grow in wisdom regarding your role as a wife?  What will you do as a result?  Will you start a habit of reading and/or listening?

Refresh your marriage,

Denise Signature 150 px

Refreshing Your Own Heart

Spring dining room A

This week I shared some advice given to me on “How to Refresh the Hearts of Others.”  But has your own heart ever ached and wished someone would come and minister to you?  I understand.

This week has been full of activity, ministry and needs.  One morning when things seemed to be spinning out of control, I stopped – literally stopped with tears in my eyes and my heart pounding with frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed.  I turned my heart to the Lord.  I told Him my burdens, my frustrations, and my need.  At the end of my prayer I said, “Lord, please show me what to do.”

It wasn’t much later after that the Spirit of God spoke to my heart, directing my steps in a clear, biblical answer. My plans were to head out the door to join others in a good thing – we were to pray together – but the Lord said,

“Be still.  Pray here.”  

I thought, “Really? That makes so much sense! Yes, Lord!  Thank you!”

I let my friends know I wouldn’t be joining them where they were gathered, but I did join them at the Throne of Grace from my home.  It kept me from running there, running back, then running to prep for another obligation later in the day.

It gave me rest.

It calmed my heart.

No one but the Lord could have done that.

Now I slowed my pace.  I took time to pray for the needs of others.  I cleaned the mess that was around me.  I added a few touches of decor in my dining room. I listened to a podcast while I worked.   It wasn’t long at all until my own heart was truly refreshed.  I was thankful that it had come completely from the Lord’s directives speaking into my heart and not from a person.  It made me so thankful for the reminder that God cares about every detail of my life – even the little things that can trouble my heart.

My need was so simple, really, and I know there are times when there are HUGE needs, but there is nothing too big for Him to handle!  When you have a hurt, confusion, anxiety, burden or longing that causes your heart to be filled with emptiness and longing, what do you do when God sends no one to your doorstep, your pew at church, or your side?

  1. Recognize the need to go to prayer and tell Christ about what’s on your heart.  He already knows, of course, but this isn’t for His benefit, it’s for yours.  Stopping to put that longing into words and tell the Lord is so helpful. Divine intervention is what you need, and if you don’t ask, how will you receive it? This time of prayer also makes us realize that we are completely dependent on Him.  That’s always the best place to find ourselves, because He is omnipotent!  In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. Psalm 86:7
  2. While in prayer, ask God for His wisdom for the next step.  What do you do after you finish praying?  Without God’s help, you’ll be just as hopeless as before if you don’t have His direction for the next moment. But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Prov. 4:18
  3. Look for verses of promise regarding your situation and meditate on their truth.   If you can’t think of one off the top of your head, or you don’t have your Bible with you, Google it!  We ask Google for other things we need information on, right?  Use it now!  Google Bible Verses on God’s Provision  or Bible verses on Comfort.  A list will come up that can anchor your heart with Truth!!!  Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations. Deut. 7:9 
  4. Listen to music that will minister to your heart and calm you.  It’s amazing what good music will do.  I love to listen to instrumental music that points my heart to God.  It brings peace and a reminder of Who He is!
  5. Don’t isolate yourself!  Get with others that will encourage you.  It’s easy to want to sulk and be alone, but you need other believers to help you – even if they never hear a word from you about your trouble.  Invite a friend to lunch or coffee.
  6. Talk with a godly friend about your trouble and ask them to pray with you.  You decide with whom should share – it might be your husband, it might be a friend or your pastor’s wife.  Two are better than one.  Eccl. 4:9 Humble yourself and admit you have a need.  We ALL need encouragement from time to time!
  7. Put yourself in an environment that helps your attitude.  Open the blinds and curtains and let the sunlight in!  Straighten up the clutter that might be right in front of you.  Create the order that will clear your head and heart.
  8. Get some fresh air.  Take a walk in your neighborhood or walking path at the park.  Go walk through the nursery at Lowe’s or your local greenhouse.
  9. Do something you enjoy.  Stop for a sweet tea and take a drive in the country.  Go to the library.  Buy a bouquet of flowers for your kitchen table.  Stop for a Dairy Queen treat.  Rearrange your living room.  Do a craft you love.
  10. Do something for someone else.  See this list to remind yourself of what you could do!  The focus gets transferred from your problem to someone else.

I pray this will help you to know how to refresh your own heart when you need it!

What do you do when you’re anxious or feeling overwhelmed?

Denise Signature 150 px

Eggs In a Basket Video Tutorial

Cracker Barrel calls them Eggs in a Basket – they are simply eggs cooked inside a small hole in a piece of toast!  It’s like a breakfast package!  They’re great to fix for your family because you’re making the toast and the egg in one step!  Here’s a little video demonstrating how easy and fast they are to make!

Eggs in a Basket

  1.  Melt 1-2 Tbl butter in skillet
  2. Cut hole in bread slice, using a biscuit cutter or small glass.
  3. Crack egg into the hole in the bread.  Place bread rounds in pan to brown.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook 2 minutes, then flip toast over and cook until egg is cooked to your preference.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Do you make these at home?  They’re so good, and children love them!

Denise Signature 150 px