Instructions

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Hello friend!  Pull up a chair, we have so much to catch up on. Would you like a cherry lemonade slush? Amy’s recipe is the best.  We added some ginger ale for fizziness. Mmmm, refreshing!  Especially after the heat we have experienced this summer, hasn’t it been hot?

Can you believe school starts in just 23 days? No, I haven’t gotten school supplies, yet. My Chris was telling me the other day that the average family spends over $600 per child for back to school.  Can you believe that? Yeah, we pull that average way down for sure.

This summer, we have had so many plans to go new places and create new things–like Grand Canyon, a back deck and Kylie’s backpack.

Yes, the material is cut and ready to be sewn.  All the pieces are placed on the dining room table.  And the instructions? …laying there, making about 20% sense to me. I am hoping Chris can decipher them and help us.  I think engineers like to read instructions. Me, now? I would rather look at it and figure it out–and hope it works out. My way doesn’t always turn out so well.

Don’t you wish life came with instructions? Oh, yeah, I know…the Bible is our instruction manual and all.  But I guess the place I struggle with most is how to apply the crazy life and find the appropriate instruction IN the Bible for such life. I also was never very good at the matching tests of questions and answers. Sometimes, I feel like closing my eyes and picking at random.

My good-ness it has been a year I have been fully unprepared for, my friend.  What do you do when…

your dear friend has a major stroke?

the jobs you hoped for didn’t come through, but there are still bills to pay?

your health takes a turn for the worse and you realize you need to get to the bottom of it before you have a major incident?

your summer plans take a sudden u-turn and get cancelled?

you get hurt, feel rejected, forgotten and thrown away like so much manure?

Yes, I guess you are right, manure does help things to grow. So spread it around, huh? Yes, that is what I’ve been doing. Taking the fertilizer that has been my life and spreading it around, asking Jesus to make good things grow from it.

You know, you’re right, I have much to be thankful for…family, friends, life. And I am.  I am thankful.  Thankful is what makes me get out of bed every morning.  As my friend, recovering from her major stroke said the other day, “Sometimes the hardest decision every day is just getting up.” She’s right, you know.

As for instructions, I am thankful for the Engineer that is the Holy Spirit, who not only reads my heart but can apply His apt Word to it. Sometimes the solutions don’t seem to add up or make sense, not now anyway. But someday, they will. There is no reason to try and explain it all away and tie it up in a neat package with a bow.

Sometimes people forget your phone number, your birthday and hate your very life. Sometimes people fail to tell you the whole story and you meet with them over coffee and you try to prayerfully play the matching game–without all the choices and details–and you lose a friendship. Sometimes every single thing that seems like it oughta work out and save the day, it doesn’t. Sometimes a baby dies before she even has a chance to be born. Sometimes we experience the loss of abilities that we used to have and wonder what life will be like now. Sometimes it seems like those who said they’d be there, aren’t. It’s just plain disappointing and painful.

Where are the instructions for those kind of things? I feel, once again, like as I read my Bible, I can decipher only about 20% when it comes to all this heavy life. I need the interpreter and the engineer…

Oh, it is worth it though. Sometimes, I have seen God work in a way that never would work in everyday life. He takes His extraordinary measures and applies them to my ordinary. Sometimes, we do the hard work and actually take back some ground that was stolen. Sometimes, we are given the gift of one very good friend, who understands you. Oh, and if there are TWO? Well now, that is a blessing. Sometimes, being silent and making something beautiful is like a salve to the wounds. Sometimes, pouring it all out in angry speech to God just clears the air.  He knows anyway. Might as well just pour it all forth…get it out on the table, like the pieces of material for Kylie’s backpack.

Then we read through the instructions with the Engineer and He shows us the way to piece it all together. He is very good at showing us a piece at a time. And He’s all about making things new, making a way in the desert, giving hope to the hopeless.

Yes. Sometimes the hardest thing we do is get up every day. But we do. And we learn to love. We choose to show up. We choose to get in the yoke with Jesus. We learn how He works. It’s about as refreshing as this lemonade. I find that it makes me glad. Glad of heart and glad of soul.

Oh friend, thank you for stopping by today. Thank you for listening. Sometimes…well, you know, sometimes…sometimes we’ve gotta know we aren’t alone. I am glad to know you are here. God has bound our hearts together. For that, I am glad.

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The 21 Day Husband Project (Day 5)

College student texting

Ok ladies…this is the last day of our mini “Husband Project”.  I hope you have had a little fun with the projects, and that you may have been challenged to love your husband in a variety of different ways. I know I have.

Remember you can keep it going by purchasing Kathi Lipp’s book The 21 Day Husband Project.  Let me know if you do!

Now onto Day 5.

Project #5: E-flirt.com ~ Text or E-mail Some Sweet Nothings

“I turn on my computer. I wait patiently as it connects. I go online. My breath
catches in my chest until I hear three little words, “You’ve got Mail.” I hear
nothing, not a sound on the streets of New York. Just the beat of my own heart…
I have mail, from you.”
~ Meg Ryan as Kathleen Kennedy in “You’ve Got Mail”

Your Project
Send a flirty text or e-mail to your husband.

Getting Creative

  • Use an e-card service (hallmark.com or americangreetings.com) to send a cute and flirty note.
  • Don’t know how to text? Ask any teenager in the general vicinity.
  • Most phones have a camera feature where you can send a photo message. Be sure to keep it G rated so that he doesn’t get in trouble at work.

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It’s All About You

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“It’s all about you” is a popular slogan today, with everything from grocery and clothing stores to pet stores. Open up a national newspaper or popular magazine, and you’re bound to find articles and advertisements appealing to ~ and I’m being painfully honest here ~ people’s egos and feelings of entitlement.

Where is your focus today? Is it on yourself ~ your needs, wants, likes, dislikes, comfort, convenience, self-image?

It’s easy to get caught up in thinking “it’s all about me.” Everywhere we look, this message is reinforced.

The Bible tells us

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matt 6:33)

First seek God, His kingdom, His righteousness. Then He will provide.

Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:32-34)

Because really, it’s all about Him.

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When You Jump into that Stream

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Two Christmases ago, I sent out a Christmas letter to many of our friends and family.  I sent it out via email rather than post, since we had just gone through one of the hardest financial years of our lives to date, hoping that people would read my heart for our family and for the celebration of our Savior’s birth.

One reply I received was from a friend and brother, who would die a few short months later from leukemia. We loved our friend Kevin so much.  Our dear friend in the middle of his battle replied to my letter,

HOLY SMOKES!!!! Amen sister!
That’s what I’m talking about!
:)
Thanks for the encouragement today. They are releasing me from the hospital in a few minutes and I’m jumping in that rushing stream which the breath of God drives. What a picture. I know of the enemy you speak. He will not win. He has not won. Pressing on with you and Chris and your family.
Blessings,
Kevin

Because of Jesus, we not only have peace, but hope and a sure knowledge that we shall see our brother again. There’s not one thing you could tell me to convince me otherwise.  Jesus is real.  Jesus is with me this very second.  He is with you and He offers you rest in His gentle yoke.  He sees your tears and one day soon shall wipe each and every one away.  Then I believe He will hold forth the bottle filled with your tears, which He collected–did you know He collects every one? And I believe He will say, “These tears are precious to me.  Every single one, I captured as a beautiful offering. I knew your pain.  I carried you close in my arms. Welcome Home, Child. Welcome Home.”

That enemy is real, too.  On a daily basis, I encounter him.  I have seen his hatred for me.  I have experienced the covering of Christ in situations that were beyond my control.  I know this enemy and when he goes out target practicing every day, I am his target…as is Chris, Noah, Kylie, Sydney and Tabor. We are targets, but that does not mean we have anything to fear.  We simply press closer into Jesus, staying in His yoke,  knowing that He alone is the way to victory over this real enemy.

So when you are in the battles and storms of life, you can with certainty claim this verse:

“When the enemy shall come like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” Isaiah 59:19 KJV

The amplified says it more clearly and is exactly what Kevin was responding to:

“So [as the result of the Messiah's intervention] they shall [reverently] fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him and put him to flight [for He will come like a rushing stream which the breath of the Lord drives].”

So what is that rushing stream? It is the power and might of our GOD, who wins!

Lately our family has been in a multitude of battles, so I have taken seriously the fact that we are in an all out war.  I have taken my fight to the gym. I go armed with my memory verses, Priscilla Shirer’s Jonah, Toby Mac and Nicole C Mullen. The other day, when the battle was especially hard, I began with my verse that Joanne and I are both memorizing together, Habakkuk 3:19:

“The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]! For the Chief Musician; with my stringed instruments.”

In my mind’s eye, I began to picture the problem we are up against and I began to picture the STRENGTH of the Lord surrounding us and we are looking BRAVE…then I began to see the invincible army going before us to this battle,fighting with strength.  And I knew.  I knew that my prayers for God to help us were being answered in this picture.  I walked my 5k that day and I pictured the literal spiritual progress going on over my trouble, my suffering and my responsibility!

Then I began another verse that has brought to me a clear focus for the stream into which I have jumped,1 Corinthians 9:26-27:

“So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

When we jump into the stream, we are in the heat of the battle. We are facing the fear.  We are focused.  But we are also equipped, equipped to deal with anything or anyone on the attack against us.  We are secure.  And we can have confidence that He enables us to do it.  We can believe as Kevin did and as Kevin now knows face to face…”He will not win. He has not won. Pressing on with you…”

Will you press on, too? 1- 2-3, let’s jump in that stream that the breath of God drives!

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Perfect You

Perfect You by Holly Skelton

Perfect You* is a beautifully written and illustrated children’s short story. Presented as a letter from God, it encourages children to explore and discover their natural (God-given) talents. My three year old granddaughter was captivated from the moment she saw the cover of this book. She has requested it so many times over the past couple of weeks that she has basically memorized it, and now she “reads” it to us!

The book may be short, but examples of many different gifts and talents are given. It’s a wonderful way for parents, grandparents, and other care-givers to open the door to discussions about where a child’s natural bent could lead them. Like so many other little girls, my granddaughter is enthralled with the idea of being a ballerina. I was surprised to find that she also thinks of becoming an astronaut, a veterinarian and a baker.

A sweet, gentle story, Perfect You expresses the joy of being who God created us to be ~ each of us blessed by Him with the gifts make that make us, individually and perfectly, who we are.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

 

and the book:

 

Perfect You

Tate Publishing (May 10, 2011)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Holly Skelton has had a colorful and diverse work history, from engineering to wedding planning, all in an effort to explore her different talents and personality traits. After having children, she was inspired to write a tale explaining to kids how unique and special they are, blessed with their own talents and gifts. Holly is passionate about spreading her message to all children that they are made for a purpose! She lives in Plymouth Michigan with her husband Bryndon and three young daughters and feels she has finally found God’s calling for her as an author.

Visit the author’s website.

 

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Perfect You is a story for parents to share with their children to encourage them to discover their talents so that they can live a life of purpose and happiness. In this letter from God, children will discover that He has blessed them with gifts and talents that make them totally unique and able to serve the world in a very special way. Could the gift of bravery make you a police officer or firefighter, or could your compassion help you to be a great doctor or teacher? The possibilities are endless!

Product Details:

List Price: $8.99
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Perfect Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: Tate Publishing (May 10, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1617399183
ISBN-13: 978-1617399183

AND NOW…THE FIRST THREE PAGES (Click on images to view larger picture):

*Thank you to Holly Skelton for providing a free copy of her book Perfect You for review. The opinions expressed in this review are those of the article’s author.

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The 21 Day Husband Project (Day 4)

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Project #4: Heart vs. Stomach ~A Treat Just for Him

“You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jellybeans.”
~ Ronald Reagan

Your Project

Get a food treat for your husband that he’s not required to share with you or any other family member.

Getting Creative

Stumped for ideas? Here are some thoughts:

  • Get his favorite pint of Ben & Jerry’s and hide it behind the frozen chicken. Even if you buy it on Tuesday, you’ll have it ready and waiting for his special night later in the week.
  • Is there a certain cut of meat that your husband loves? How about having the butcher cut something just for him?  Most supermarkets will even do the marinade for you – one less thing to think about.
  • Is there a certain candy that your husband loves from his childhood? Check out www.candywarehouse.com. They have all the nostalgic candy you could want (Black Jack Gum, anyone?) while also carrying any modern favorite you could be looking for.
  • My husband’s family loves something called “noodles and mashed potatoes” (we lovingly refer to it as “The Starch Fest”). I learned how to make this special dish just for him.
  • My guy loves the smell of baking almost as much as he enjoys eating the treat. Have some brownies in the oven when he gets home from work or working out (I know, it negates the workout, but isn’t chocolate always worth it?).
  • Our friend Scott mentioned that he loves cranberry sauce, but eats it only at Thanksgiving. His wife intentionally made the holiday treat for him this past July.
  • Are you a wife who is an expert at low-cal salads and other forms of chick-food? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Man Food at www.kathilipp.com for ideas.

Keep going, we have one more day left of our mini “21 Day Husband Project” .  You can do it!!!

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The 21 Day Husband Project (Day 3)

Man Hugging Woman at Bar

Project #3: You da’ Man ~ Spreading Great Gossip About Your Guy

Your Project
Say something nice about your husband to someone else. Make sure you tell him what you said, and to whom.

Getting Creative
Who are the important people in your husband’s life? Your kids, his parents, his friends? Be intentional about who you chat with when you brag on him – it’s almost as important as actually doing it.

Having a hard time coming up with something? I still brag on my guy for things he did years
ago. He loves when I tell the story of how brilliantly he proposed (there were waterfalls and stuffed portabella mushrooms involved…).

Here are some other areas to think about when crafting your brag:

  • His parenting skills
  • His patience level
  • The way he treats your mom
  • His culinary ability
  • His job

This is me speaking again… it would also be great if you can say it in front of him to another
person.  In my book (I don’t have a real book :) that earns double points.   Don’t forget to check in here at the AMH website and let us know how you are doing.

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The 21 Day Husband Project (Day 2)

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Project #2 ~ Back in the Day

Do Something He Enjoyed Before You Got Married

“Lust is easy. Love is hard. Like is most important.”

~ Carl Reiner

Your Project
Initiate an activity that your husband used to love. Whether it’s his favorite hobby, sport, or pastime, it’s time for you to get involved – be his buddy today.

Getting Creative
Many a man’s hobby has gone by the wayside due to matrimony. Is it possible that it’s time you learned to golf or fly fish? Don’t try to beat him, just join him.

Possibly the only thing your husband would enjoy more than playing chess with you is teaching you how to play chess. Ask for a lesson so he can teach you something that he is an expert at (or really loves). Just your willingness to learn will be a huge boost to your guy.

Pick up a magazine about your guy’s now dormant hobby. Ask him questions about why he loves it so much. Learn a couple of technical terms so that you are better able to discuss it.

Do a little research. Find out what the definitive website is on your husband’s favorite subject. Maybe there’s an event in town, a lecture to attend, or a game to watch.

OK Ladies…make sure to check in by leaving a comment and letting us know how things are going with your trial run of the “project”.

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The 21 Day Husband Project (A 5 Day Trial Run)

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Hello A Martha Heart Friends,

A few weeks ago I was listening to the Focus on the Family talk radio program, and I heard author Kathi Lipp talking about one of her books, The 21 Day Husband Project. I know the title of the book seems kind of strange, but as I listened to the program I was so intrigued.  Kathi talked about how we honor God when we serve our husbands, and I agree as the Lord has been teaching me that lesson over the last decade.

Later that night, I went online to look up information about Kathi’s book. Basically, the book is a 21 day Challenge/Project for a wife to love her husband through acts of service, affirmation and other ways.  I quickly decided that I wanted to buy the book because my husband has really been going through a difficult season, and I knew that he could use the encouragement and affirmation.

While online I visited Kathi’s blog and found a mini 5 Day Husband Project that anyone could post on her blog/website.  So before I bought the book, I decided to try the 5 Day project on my blog and with my Facebook friends.  So far, the project has been well received and it has been great to hear about wives finding ways to love their husbands through Kathi’s “projects”.

I asked the editors of the A Martha Heart website if I could post the 5 Day project here as well.  They agreed quickly and I am so happy to let you get a little glimpse of what the “21 Day Husband Project” is all about.  If you complete the 5 days and you want to keep going,  you can purchase Kathi’s book The 21 Day Husband Project (visit www.kathilipp.com ) and complete the entire project.

The project is meant to be completed consecutively for 21 days, but for our trial run here I will post a new “project” every 3 days or so. That way you will have a little time to complete the project and then come back here to the AMH website and let us know how it went. I will also keep you updated on how things are going with my husband :)

So are you ready?  Below is Day 1′s project…

30 Minutes is All it Takes

Create Some Free Time When He Gets Home

“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.”

~Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

Your Project
Focus on your husband’s transitional 30 minutes today. Would he like to be left alone to rest and rejuvenate, or does he want some undivided attention from you? The point is to let your husband know you value what he does out in the world, and that he has a safe loving place to come home and get refreshed at the end of the day.

Getting Creative
There are plenty of reasons why it might not be easy for you to give your husband some transition time at the end of the day. You need to look at what can work for your relationship. Be creative, like the stories listed below. Brainstorm with your friends until you find a situation that will work for you and your guy.

  • My friend, Joann, purposely scheduled her daughter’s dance classes twice a week at the same hour that her husband gets home from work. That way, her hubby comes home to an empty house. He gets some quiet, and she gets a more peaceful man.
  • One husband has his workshop out in the garage. His wife encourages him to go and hang out there for a while before dinner. (Since starting this arrangement, her husband has started helping out with the after-dinner clean up. Nice side benefit.)

Crockpots are The Husband Project’s best friend. Set your crockpot to be finished thirty minutes after your husband gets home from work. Let him know that you don’t need anything until dinner is ready. Don’t know a crockpot from a flower pot? Check out the recipes in The Ultimate Guide to Man Food at www.kathilipp.com

Does your husband already have a great transition routine after getting home? Find some other little thing to bless that time. Maybe it’s making sure the TV is available, his favorite sweats are clean and ready to be changed into, or there’s a cold soda waiting for him in the fridge. It may be so small that he doesn’t even notice. That’s okay – you’ll know what you did.

What if your husband works from home? Maybe the best way to help him relax is to ask what he would like the schedule to be. Does he want dinner before or after he gets some time to recharge? Ask him what would make his night better.

“Lust is easy. Love is hard. Like is most important.” ~ Carl Reiner

OK, you have Day 1′s project to complete.  Make sure to come back here to the AMH site and let us know how everything turned out.  I can’t wait to hear your stories.

Oh,  and by the way, don’t tell your husband you are completing a “project” on him.   Just let him be the recipient of all your loving kindness and encouragement :)

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