Saturday, February 18, 2017

Saturday Scriptures #6-Desert Times of Faith in Prayer


Pray Without Ceasing



Praying Hands
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The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.  I Timothy 2:1 
                                    (The Message)

Do you ever feel like your prayers stop at the ceiling? Or that you pray and pray and pray about a personal matter or for a situation that involves someone you love or care about and the situation never seems to change? At times like these, believers in prayer can get discouraged and wonder, "what's the use?" It is like trudging through a dry desert with hot sands underfoot. Our mouths are dry and dusty and each step seems to take more energy than we have available. We long for the healing of cool water on our tongue but there is none to drink. We wonder where the strength will come to continue onward. It would be so much easier to just lay down and give in to the hot desert around us than to keep on going. 

I've heard many thoughts about these "desert times" of faith over the years. Many people say that there are three answers to prayer: "Yes, No and Not now."  Others have added a little humor by saying the answers to prayer are: "Yes, No and You've Got To Be Kidding!" When a believer is hurting or watching someone they love and care about struggle, though, there is sometimes no humor to be found in why a prayer is perceived to not be answered. The worries and hurt can be too great. 

I believe that Jesus knew about these "desert times" of prayer when He walked on this Earth. Scriptures tell us that on the night before he was sent to the cross He suffered great despair in prayer. In Luke 22, we read that Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to pray asking God to, "remove this cup from me." As Jesus continued to pray, His prayers became so intense that "Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face." (The Message). Now, I have often struggled with prayer, but at no time have I sweat like drops of blood in prayer! Such intensity is hard to imagine. 

In reading about prayer over the years, I have been interested in learning about prayer as a conversation. So much of my prayer can be "asking" but there are so many other facets to prayer. Asking is certainly a part of prayer and we want to take our concerns to the Lord. But, I am learning that prayer is also about praise and thanksgiving and gratitude and joy. And, the most important aspect of prayer to me...and one that I have often missed over the years...is listening in prayer. If prayer is a conversation, and conversations tend to be two-way interactions, then I must quiet myself enough to listen. What is God wanting to say back to me? How is He answering my thoughts and questions and concerns and doubts and, yes, anger? 

I'm not certain that prayer is meant to be easy. It certainly wasn't for Jesus. I'm not certain that we are meant to get all of our answers right away. Perhaps some answers will not come until we meet the Lord. But, just like the comfort of a friend who sits with us, prayer is a time of companionship. A time to know that we don't walk alone is this world, even when times are hard and even when it doesn't feel like our prayers go past the ceiling. There is companionship even in silence. And what feels like silence to us....does not mean there is silence on God's end of things. Let's go back to when Jesus was sweating in prayer. From a human perspective, it might seem that Jesus was alone in His misery. But scriptures tell us that, "At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him." And what came next? "He prayed on all the harder." 

Friends, we are never alone in prayer. Even when it feels that way. Our desert times of faith are not unknown to the Lord, for He has experienced them as well. In Jan Karon's books, Father Tim and his wife, Cynthia, would often pray what they called, "the prayer that never fails." It is a prayer that Jesus himself prayed that night on the Mount of Olives. And it is a prayer that removes the worry away from waiting for answers of "yes, no, not now or, even, you've got to be kidding!" It may sound a bit simplistic when we are worried or hurting or doubting....but there is great wisdom in simplicity. The "prayer that never fails" goes like this: "Lord, not my will but thine be done." The Message translates it this way as Jesus prayed:

        "But please, not what I want. What do you want?"

Truly a prayer that never fails.....even during the dry desert times of faith.

Blessings,
Debbie

Hills And Desert
Public Domain Image





Thursday, February 16, 2017

Accessories Make The Look

Accessories Take Your Look To The Next Level


Hello everyone!  Today, I am sharing with you my thoughts on how accessories can take a look to a whole new level. The accessories I am using are a scarf, necklace and purse.


I love when serendipitous things happen with fashion. Take this purse for instance. When I saw the beautiful stripes of colors and fun silver handles of this thrifted purse, I knew that it was a style I would really enjoy carrying. See how the handles hang down into the curve when not being used? Little things like this add to the style factor of a piece, whether it is a handbag or a piece of jewelry. It's that "different" factor that can add a touch of "panache" to a look. 


Then, I held the purse next to this sweater and I thought, "Oh my...this is a perfect match!" I really didn't plan it this way. It just happened! 


I also like to have fun with adding colors together that are a bit unexpected. The paisley scarf I am wearing has a variety of colors and designs in it against a mainly red background. My turtleneck under the sweater is pink. There is some pink in the scarf. So, all of these shades work together to provide an unexpected melody of color that, I believe, adds to the outfit and takes the look to the next level of style. Using the paisley scarf and striped purse against the solid backgrounds of the sweater and jeans also adds some interesting pattern mixing. I typically don't wear a necklace with a scarf, but I liked the way this silver heart necklace added yet another layer of style to the look. 


So, let's do a comparison and you tell me if you think the accessories take this look to the next level. Here I am with no accessories (other than earrings).


Here, I have added only the necklace. 


And here I have added the scarf with the necklace.

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And, one final look at the whole ensemble. 

Do you think accessories add to the look?  Do you ever wear necklaces with a scarf?  How about pattern mixing--are you for or against?  Hope you'll take a moment to share. I enjoy hearing from you!

Until Next Time,
Debbie

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Love Is In The Air Magazine Challenge

Magazine Cover Creativity



Happy Valentines Day! I hope your day is filled with joy, love and sweet treats that bring you happiness! Today, I am having some fun with my creative side by joining in with Katherine of Katherine's Corner to do a magazine challenge. 



The challenge she gave us was to create a magazine cover about Valentine's Day. The cover could be one that was inspired by a magazine that we like or we could create a magazine exactly as we would if we had a magazine of our own. I decided to go with the latter. This is a "tour" challenge so make sure to visit the other blogs on the tour to see all of the great ideas everyone came up with. There is no voting for this challenge. But Katherine is drawing a name at random (via random.org) and the winner will receive a hard copy or kindle copy of the book, The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by MyQuillyn Smith.  

Always up for a challenge, I decided to join the festivities and give it a try! First off, I needed to figure out just how one goes about creating a magazine cover? Luckily, I had recently completed an online writing and publishing course which had introduced me to a free publishing site called Canva.com. I searched the possibilities on this site and voila...they did indeed provide the graphics for magazine covers. If you have never heard of Canva, you may want to check it out. The choices for graphics are wonderful and can be used for all types of designs and presentations from social media to ebooks and online book publications. I'm not receiving any compensation from Canva to promote them, I just have enjoyed using their graphics and am still in process with learning all of what they offer. There are certain graphics which involve a small cost, but I stuck with the free choices of which there are many. If you enjoy blogging, writing or just designing creative posters, business cards or flyers, you might want to check Canva for great ideas!

For my magazine cover, I used lots of pinks and reds and incorporated a tablescape vignette from last year's Valentines post. If you missed that post you can check it out here. I hope you enjoy the magazine cover I created and please make sure to hop on over to Katherine's Corner to check out all the other folks who joined in the challenge! Have a great day everyone!

Until Next Time,

Debbie

An InLinkz Link-up

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Southwestern Style Vest and Corduroy Pants

Southwestern Style


I decided to get one more style post in before Valentines Day in which I am wearing red. 


This outfit could actually be worn anytime. It doesn't have to be for Valentines. I love the look and comfort of this Southwestern style long vest with fringe by Studio JPR. I just picked this vest out a couple days ago at Stein Mart. 


I had been given a gift card to Stein Mart for my retirement and I decided to do some shopping. I actually tried on another long style vest in blue shades and decided against it. Then, I spied this vest and I knew it was the one. When I got it home and hung it in my closet next to my tan corduroy pants by Basic Edition, I knew it was a great choice and a great match! Plus, the vest was on sale. Win, win!!


There is just a hint of gray in the vest that matches well with the gray booties. And the red mock turtleneck by White Stag brings out the red stripes in the vest. Most vests don't have the longer sleeve length that this one does. So, it is more of a sweater vest in my opinion. Soft, warm and cozy. 


When I walked into the kitchen this morning dressed in this outfit, my husband wanted to know if this was my "Clint Eastwood look." Ha! Critics everywhere!! I like the look, though, so I do believe this will be an outfit on repeat! Oddly enough, however,  I'm suddenly craving spaghetti......

Be sure to check out my blog on February 14th---Valentines Day! I'm expanding my creativity in a new way. (It's a secret for now, you'll have to tune in Tuesday to see what it is!)  Also, have you noticed my link to my online course coming up in March through beadisciple.com?  If you click on my picture at the top of my sidebar, you will be taken to the info page about my course. I'm teaching a course on Finding Serenity using a book on the Serenity Prayer by Trevor Hudson. It's a great book and I would absolutely love for you to join the course! The class begins March 13th for two weeks so sign up soon!

Do you wear clothing with a southwestern flair? Hope you'll take a moment to share your thoughts! 

Until Next Time,
Debbie


*No compensation has been given for this post or for brand names mentioned in this post. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Saturday Scriptures #5-Puzzle Pieces of Life



Is Your Life Puzzle Missing A Piece?

puzzle piece
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God made my life life complete
when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together
he gave me a fresh start.
Now I'm alert to God's ways;
I don't take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works;
I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together,
and I'm watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.
(Psalm 18:20-24  The Message)

One of the great pleasures of retirement is the freedom of the early morning hours. Rather than rushing about dressing, eating a hurried breakfast and gathering necessities for the day before dashing out the door, I can enjoy the comforts of my living room while enjoying a second cup of fragrant hot tea. I find that my mind wanders during this time, often to events of the past. There is usually no set pattern for this. My thoughts often begin roaming with a school memory which leads to thoughts of a particular person who then connects with another event of my life and so it goes. Sometimes it's a family memory or a church memory or some long forgotten memory from my youth. This morning, it was actually thinking about books I have read that started my brain twisting and turning through a thousand random thoughts. Sometimes my thinking brings me pleasure and a smile as I recall a happy event of my life. Other times, the memories carry an ache of embarrassment or bring a pang of discomfort at the remembrance. At times, I can dwell too much in memory, rather than focusing on the present. I wonder about the "whys" of how things happened....or didn't happen....in my life. At times like this, I "worry" the pieces of my life trying to make it all fit together and make sense.....much the same way that I try to fit a puzzle piece in the wrong spot of a puzzle. No matter how hard I try, I just can't make the missing piece fit. 

Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch woman who lived with her widowed father, Casper, and sister, Betsie, in The Netherlands during World War II. Her father was a watch maker and Corrie assisted him in his shop while Betsie took care of the household chores. They were a devoutly Christian family and during the Holocaust the family made the decision to hide Jews in a secret room in their home to protect them from the Nazis. Corrie and her family paid dearly for this act of compassion as they were "turned in" to the authorities by a neighbor and sent to a prison where Casper, age 84 died. Later, Corrie and Betsie were then transferred to the notorious death camp, Ravensbruck. Life there was extremely hard. Forced to perform hard labor, the sisters cared for one another and those around them the best they could encouraging each other and serving as a source of spiritual encouragement to those around them. Betsie did not survive the ravages of the camp and died there, while Corrie was eventually released and went on to write several books about her experience including,"The Hiding Place," which was also turned into a movie. It is estimated that this family helped to save over 800 Jewish people. As I recall, from reading her many books, Corrie enjoyed doing needlepoint work. And she often compared life to a tapestry. She explained that when you look at the back of a tapestry it often looks messy with many strings hanging loose and dark colors. But, when the tapestry is turned over, a beautiful picture emerges. No strings hang loose and what looked messy is a truly beautiful image. She put these thoughts into a poem which I will share at the end of this post. 

I think about this image of a tapestry when I am trying to make the puzzles pieces of my life fit together. Even though the pieces may not make sense to me....they do make sense to God. In His infinite wisdom, God is working out the tapestry of my life in just the way it should be. I may not understand the ways the pieces fit together. But God does. And when the final piece of my life puzzle slides into place, God will be there to show me just how perfectly formed my life puzzle really was. You see, I really don't need to spend time "worrying" the pieces of my life together. I just need to place all of the puzzle pieces before God and let Him do the work. Lord, help me to be willing to do this. 

Until Next Time,
Debbie

Corrie ten Boom Quote:
"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God."

"Weaving" poem by Corrie ten Boom:

“Life is but a Weaving” (the Tapestry Poem)

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”


― Corrie ten Boom
        Source of poem

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Red Dress for Valentines Day

Feeling Like A Princess


In honor of Valentines Day, I'm styling a beautiful red dress that I picked up for a song at a local Goodwill store. 


What caught my eye with this dress is the beautiful embellished flowers on the bodice. The white against the red is stunning. I also like the longer length of the dress.


Since wearing this dress makes me feel like a princess, I decided to wear my Princess Diana ring by Avon. There was a time when these replicas of Diana's engagement ring were available everywhere. I love seeing Prince William's wife, Katherine, wearing the ring now. I'm a huge Princess Diana fan and equally besotted with everything Katherine, as well. 


I decided to wear my hair up for elegance and added some "blingy" Paparazzi earrings for extra glitz factor.


You've seen these shoes on the blog before, but they bear mentioning again. To have such a high heel, these shoes are surprisingly comfortable! The material is more like a bootie and it wraps around my foot to give really good stability. There is a zipper in back for ease of putting on and taking off the shoe. 


Since this is a short sleeved dress I want more covering on my arms. It is February after all! So, I added this pretty shawl that was a Christmas gift to me from my oldest sister. I just love it and tossing one end over my shoulder gives quite the "regal" look don't you think? When my husband came home tonight, after a late night school meeting, he found me all dressed up. I asked him if he remembered he was taking me out to dinner. Ha! I told him I thought he might like to see me in something other than jeans a sweater and tennis shoes which is my normal uniform since retiring!


Here is the back of the shawl. It hangs nicely with the dress and is a good length.


I also like the ruffled edging on the shawl. I have noticed more and more ladies wearing short sleeves or even sleeveless dresses during the winter. Notice this if you are watching television. Aren't they cold in the studios? Even though we've had a fairly mild winter so far in my part of the world, I still like a longer sleeve or at least something to cover my arms. 


So, I'm ready for a Valentines date with Mr.thisandthat.  Of course, his favorite restaurant is always Subway. Do you think I'll look overdressed?!  I wonder if Katherine has these issues with William......

Until Next Time,
Debbie

Dress: Thrifted from Goodwill, tag says "Sarah Elizabeth."  Same dress on *Ebay here
Shoes: Impo Stretch Similar *here
Ring: *Avon
Earrings: *Paparazzi Similar here
*Site links given for information purposes only. I do not vouch for the shopping experience on any of these sites. No compensation was given for mentioning brand names in this post. All writing/opinions are my own.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Saturday Scriptures #4-Peering Through The Mist

What Do You See Beyond the Fog?

Fog
Public Domain Image

We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
I Corinthians 13:12 (The Message)

I'm not a great traveler. While some people look forward to packing and planning trips and enjoy spending weeks and months pouring over travel brochures or searching on the Internet for the best prices for hotels and car rentals, I look at travel with trepidation. It's not that I don't enjoy the trip once I'm on it. And I enjoy seeing my family and visiting new places. But, I like travel more in hindsight. After the trip is over and I am safely back at home, I can look back and think of all the new adventures I experienced and then....only then....do I really "enjoy" the traveling. After all, there are a lot of "what ifs" that come with travel, especially these days. What if I didn't bring the right items that I might need? How will I sleep without my favorite pillow? What if something happens driving to the airport and we miss our plane? What if the TSA attendant isn't friendly? What if I have a flat tire on the interstate? What if, what if , what if.......?  And, of all the "what ifs" that I worry about with travel, probably the biggest worry by far, for me, is the weather. In winter it is the issue of snow. I absolutely detest driving in snow. And, because of that, I have pretty severely limited my winter time travel. But, that doesn't leave out the other seasons as far as weather. There are the Spring and Summer thunderstorms to worry about and the winds and heavy rains of Fall. Bad weather can make a flight or a car trip turn miserable quickly. Not to mention, the weather can curtail fun events that were planned along the way. And, then,  there is the issue of fog. 

I remember one trip my husband and I went on in which we departed early in the morning. The sky was still semi-dark as we started out heading West on I-26. Gradually, the sky began to lighten with shimmers of pink and silver skirting the sky as the sun began to filter through the clouds. We crested first one hill and then another as we drove along, making small talk and listening to the radio. One large mountain loomed in front of us and my husband shifted gears to begin the climb. We were familiar with this route and knew that at the top of the mountain we would be crossing over the state line. But, as we ascended, the scenery began to be shrouded in mist. A heavy fog met us at the top so thick that the state line boundary sign was hidden from view. Scenery, once so familiar to us, looked different, only vaguely familiar and sometimes totally obscured as we drove cautiously through the pea soup that was now surrounding us on the interstate. My husband adjusted his relaxed driving posture to sit up tall and peer intently through the windshield in order to see as much of the roadway, and other hidden cars, as possible. I too sat tall and rigid, peering carefully ahead saying silent prayers for safety. Our conversation stopped except for a few terse comments back and forth about the conditions. Minutes seemed like hours as we continued onward.....and then, the fog lifted. We drove out of the cloud that had surrounded us into brilliant sunlight and the views opened around us and we were able to see! Such relief!

I'm sure by now you know where I'm going with this. Life can be like the fog. We can be traveling along swimmingly, enjoying the sunshine, or at least the early morning shimmers of light when, without warning, we suddenly find ourselves surrounded by fog. Unable to see clearly, confused by the lack of clarity in the scenery around us, we peer ahead anxiously hoping for a glimmer of something that feels familiar.....a landmark that we can hang onto.....a beacon that will alert us that we are still on the correct route and not running off the road or into other travelers. For such events are scary, provoke anxiety and discourage travelers, like me, from going forward. 

Thankfully, God is our beacon in the fog. The message of 
I Corinthians 13:12 is one of hope. A hope that assures us that even if we can't see through the mist and fog, God can see us! And He is our guide through the fog and will bring us safely through the clouds to the other side where the sun shines brightly and we will know Him just as He knows us! For a timid traveler such as myself, this is good news indeed. The fog won't last forever. And it is clear sailing on the other side. Thanks be to God. Amen. 



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Until Next Time,
Debbie

*As always, comments  are welcomed and appreciated.
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