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Monday

5

December 2016

Encouragement | Psalm 61:2

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psalm 61:2 encouragement

 

“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2

One thing I love about reading through the book of Psalms is that each Psalm usually begins with a heavy heart, and ends in praise and rejoicing. Psalm 61 is no exception.

There are several reasons I love Psalm 61, and verse 2 is a bit part of that. Here are some of the reasons that Psalm 61:2 is such a huge encouragement:

  • No matter where we are on this earth, God hears us. There is no where we can go that God cannot reach (Psalm 139:7). This fact alone should provide comfort and encouragement.
  • We all feel overwhelmed at some point or another. David says, “when my heart is overwhelmed”. Not if, when. It is completely normal for our hearts to feel overwhelmed on occasion. The key is that we need to take it to the Lord.
  • God is our rock. What an encouraging and reassuring fact, to know that we have a rock which cannot be moved (Psalm 62:6).

If you’re in need of some encouragement this week, just remember, God hears you when you cry, and when you’re overwhelmed; all you need to do is talk to Him. He will lead you and protect you!

“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2

 

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Friday

2

December 2016

Hope Reflected: Dealing with Disappointment

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hope reflected dealing with disappointment

There will be some days when it rains (and sometimes it happens both literally and figuratively!). There will be some days when you’ll forget that you left the oven on and you’ll burn what could have been a delicious dinner. There will some days when people you thought couldn’t let you down actually drop you or throw you under the bus. There will be some days when it seems like nothing is going right and everything is going wrong. Let’s face it – there will always be some days.

Dealing with disappointment is a reality of life. Though some disappointments will be more harsh than others, throughout our lives, we’ll all deal with several doses of the displeasure of disappointment. And that’s not a bad thing – you wouldn’t be human if once in a while you didn’t experience disappointment.

My college pastor used to say that the key to getting over disappointment is not letting it hold you down. You can become bitter, or you can become better. Rather than dealing with your disappointment, you can let it consume you, zap your energy, and capture your thoughts. None of those are good things. We’re always better dealing with disappointment head on. Sometimes – OK, most times – that’s way easier to say than it is to live!

Before you think I’m getting all down on you, I’m writing this so you know that you’re not alone if experience a day – or two, or three, or hey, maybe even an entire week, – of disappointment. Life happens to all of us! The key is in how we handle it.

The Bible talks a lot about dealing with disappointment, and today I’d like to share four verses with you, to encourage you through whatever you may be dealing with as you read this.

Psalm 42:11 “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” Matthew Henry once said, “The way to forget our miseries, is to remember the God of our mercies.” Amen! I’d venture to say that David, who wrote Psalm 42, arguably experienced more disappointment throughout his adulthood than most of us will experience in a lifetime. He still chose, however, to put his hope in God.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” We can rest assured that our Lord wants to give us a future and a hope, when we trust in Him. In his commentary about this verse, Matthew Poole says that our deliverance “will not depend upon your merits, but upon my [God’s] own mercy and kind thoughts and purposes.”

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Again, if you think you’ve experienced disappointment, do some research into the life of Paul. Throughout his life, Paul faced many disappointments, and yet he still had an incredible faith in God. Note that Romans 8:28 says “all things work together for good”. ALL things. Not just some things. Not just good things. ALL things. That includes disappointments.

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Paul, who wrote the letter to the Philippians, once again provides sound advice. Even in disappointment, we shouldn’t get anxious. We should in every thing – not just some things or good things or happy things – be praying and be thankful! That can be quite the challenge, because often when I’m disappointed the last thing I feel like doing is praying, let alone being thankful. But, we’re encouraged to just that. We’re also promised the peace of God when we do.

Like Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14, “this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” If you’ve experienced some disappointment the past week, you’re not alone. Choose to get better not to get bitter, and you’ll find dealing with disappointment is actually an opportunity to grow.

Originally published as “Dealing with Disappointment.” Minto Express, Arthur Enterprise-News, Independent Plus. September 28, 2016: 5. Print.

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Thursday

1

December 2016

For the Home: Indoor Christmas Decorating Ideas

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Looking for some indoor Christmas decorating ideas this season? You don’t have to break the bank to create an interior space that’s warm and inviting this holiday season. I’ve shared several lovely Christmas vignette scenes on my Pinterest, and today I’m sharing some of my favourites here on the blog. No matter your tastes, there are many indoor Christmas decorating ideas out there to get you inspired!

1. Tree slices and Christmas Centerpieces. Very rustic, and very warm, I love the infusion of nature into this Christmas centrepiece. Tree slices — used as coasters, chargers, or even candle holders — are incredibly trendy right now. I love how the designer used tree slices of three different widths to create an interesting and eye-catching centrepiece. Balanced with burlap and plaid, as well as some sprigs of holly and evergreen, this is a beautiful table setting.

for the home: indoor Christmas decorating

img src Christmas.365greetings.com

 

2. Mastering the mantelpiece with magnolias. If you’ve got a fireplace mantle, put it to good use this Christmas season with some seasonal decorations. I love this earthy design, featuring neutral colours, pine cones, magnolia flowers, ever green sprigs, and great glass urns. The colours are classic.

for the home: indoor Christmas decorating

img src digsdigs.com

 

3. Gorgeous Christmas garland. If you’ve got an open staircase, why not dress it for Christmas with some festive decor? I love the idea of a lighted Christmas garlic, complemented with lots of red ribbon (love how the designer incorporated it on the chandelier as well). Seem like a lot of work? Many garlands come pre-lit and pre-wrapped with ribbon.

for the home: indoor Christmas decorating

img src enchantedhome.com

 

4. Scandinavian-inspired centrepiece. Using straight lines and very little colour, this Scandinavian styled centrepiece features an over-sized glass holder, white candle, tasteful evergreen sprigs and earthy complements. And as with many trendy decor ideas, a little burlap wrapped around the bottom goes a long way.

for the home: indoor Christmas decorating

img src Christmas365greetings.com

 

5. Classic Christmas foyer mantel. I love classic and traditional Christmas decor, and this foyer example is no exception. While a dwarf gold crest cypress isn’t necessarily traditional Christmas decoration, it works really well in this space, acting as a contrast to the more royal jewel tones. Balanced on either end by two large candles, this is a beautiful traditional Christmas mantel.

for the home: indoor Christmas decorating

img src hopereflected

If you’re looking for more indoor Christmas decorating ideas for your home, be sure to check out my For the Home board on Pinterest. Follow along for lots of seasonal interior design inspiration!

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Monday

28

November 2016

Encouragement | Genesis 1:27

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we are made in God's image

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created him them.” Genesis 1:27

If you ever feel discouraged, or like you’re not good enough, remember this: God created you in His image. As Matthew Henry says in his commentary, “Man was made last of all the creatures: this was both an honour and a favour to him.” And it’s true! What an honour, what a breath-taking thought, to consider that we are created in God’s image.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God created us in His image. He has a beautiful, unique purpose for each of His creations; whoever He’s made you, He has a purpose for you. If you know Christ as your Saviour, and you have a personal relationship with Him, you can rest assured that God will not allow anything in your life that’s outside His will.

Need encouragement? Remember, you are created in God’s image!

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created him them.” Genesis 1:27

 

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Monday

21

November 2016

Encouragement | Nahum 1:7

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encouragement, the Lord is good, God's goodness

“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7

There are so many elements of this verse that provide encouragement:

  1. The LORD is good. He is! One of the things I love about keeping a prayer/gratitude journal is that it makes it very easy to go back and see God’s goodness and all prayers He answers, exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think.
  2. A stronghold in the day of trouble. A stronghold is defined as “a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack,” or “a place where a particular cause or belief is strongly defended or upheld.” The Lord is the one place we can go and confide all our thoughts, fears, hopes, dreams… everything! There is no relationship like the one you can have with our Heavenly Father.
  3. He knows those who trust in Him. Think about that for a minute. The Lord, the One who created the entire universe, knows you. He cares for you. He knows all those who trust in Him. Why wouldn’t you care for the One who created you? Having a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ will truly change your life, if only you’ll seek Him!

“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7

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Friday

18

November 2016

Hope Reflected: Choose Faith Over Fear

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faith

Have you ever been in a season of life where you face an unknown future? Perhaps you’re starting at a new school, or starting a new job, or maybe even making a career change. Maybe you’re facing health issues, or moving to a new town. One of the realities of life is that we will all face seasons of change. Many thoughts can run through our minds when embarking on a new journey, and it’s in those times of uncertainty that we all need to be reminded to choose faith over fear.

Have you ever tried mixing oil and water? Or, fellow food lovers, what about mixing extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar? Notice how they just don’t jive? Olive oil is less dense than vinegar, so it always floats to the top. Try as you might, you can’t mix the two together. The same thing can be said of faith and fear. Bob Proctor said it like this: “Faith and fear both demand you believe in something you cannot see. You choose!”

Last week at Clifford Community Church, Reverend Bott painted a picture in his sermon about the children of Israel and how close they came to entering the promised land… before spending forty years wandering through the wilderness. God doesn’t want us to stay stagnant in the wilderness; but we have to put our faith in Him in order to move forward! Sometimes it’s hard, but I know I’d rather choose a future and a hope through faith than anxiety and worry through fear!

By definition, faith is complete trust or confidence in someone or something. In the Bible, we learn a lot more about faith than just a dictionary definition, however. We see faith in action all through God’s Word, and we’re introduced to so many men and women who chose faith over fear and experienced God’s amazing blessings.

From my own experience, here are three facts I know to be true about faith:

  1. Faith is powerful. Hebrews 11:1 states that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” When we put our faith and hope in God, and His best, we eliminate any unbelief or feelings of fear. You can’t have fear when you’ve got faith – what a powerful thought! At one of the lowest points of his life, when he was caught by the Philistines at Gath, David said, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 56:3) If you’re feeling fearful or afraid, put your faith in God. He will see you through. If He brings you to it, He can bring you through it! And it’s through facing our fears head on that we defeat them and grow our faith.
  2. Faith is a gift. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” You may know people who have a super-strong faith that seems rock solid. And guess what? Faith isn’t just reserved for certain people. Faith is a gift from God that can be yours, too! As a result of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you’ll start to grow the fruits of the Spirit, including faith! You can go to church, get baptized, be a good person, even give money away, but none of it means anything unless you accept God’s gift of salvation. Faith is a gift; God’s grace is a gift.
  3. Faith is something we learn. Romans 10:17 tells us that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” An unshakable faith isn’t just something that happens to us when we come to know the Lord; faith is something we learn and develop when we dig into God’s Word. The more time we spend feeding our souls in the Bible, the less time we spend feeding fear and worry. When Joshua replaced Moses as leader over the children of Israel, he was reminded and encouraged to stay in God’s Word: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have not I commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Faith is something we have to grow, and we can’t grow our faith if we don’t spend time in the Bible each day!

Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Wherever you are today, you’ve got the option to choose faith over fear. Like oil and vinegar, faith and fear don’t mix. As Greg Laurie says: “Where fear reigns, faith is driven away. But where faith reigns, fear has no place.”

Originally published as “Choose Faith Over Fear.” Minto Express. October 19, 2016. 5: Print.

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Wednesday

16

November 2016

Wednesday Wisdom: Practice An Attitude Of Gratitude

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wednesday wisdom give thanks be happy attitude of gratitude

“It is not happy people who are thankful; it is thankful people who are happy.”

Sometimes it seems that people have this misconception that happy people are the ones who give thanks and practice an attitude of gratitude. Really though, it’s the reverse; people who practice an attitude of gratitude are the happy ones.

Take a few minutes today to count your blessings, and you’ll be surprised at how the day starts to look up.

I love this verse, found in Lamentations 3:22-23, “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”

God’s mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is great. Remember to take time to acknowledge everything He’s blessed you with. Take time to give thanks, to acknowledge all the blessings in our lives and the kind acts of others.

If you’re in the practice of keeping a journal, remember to note even the little things that happen in your life that make a difference. When you look back over your gratitude journal, you’ll be encouraged at the Lord’s goodness and provision in your life!

“It is not happy people who are thankful; it is thankful people who are happy.”

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Tuesday

15

November 2016

Gardening | How to Prepare Hostas for Winter

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This past weekend, Wes and I were finally (finally!) able to get out and complete some much-needed yard work in preparation for the cooler months ahead. Mainly, we (Wes) were able to clean up the blowing leaves, trim back the hostas, and trim back the peonies for winter.

how to prepare your hostas for winter

As you can see, we’ve got lots of hostas around our home. We love them; in the summer, hostas are one of the most easy, low-maintenance plants you can get. They require very little attention, and they look fantastic. All. Summer. Long. We’ve been fortunate this year in that our hostas looked good well into October. Each year, we take care to cut them back before the snow flies, and so far, our methodology of how to prepare our hostas for winter seems to work (each year they come back stronger).

how to prepare hostas for winter

If you’re wondering how to prepare hostas for winter, here are a few tips:

  1. Trim the hostas back after the first frost. Try to do this before the leaves of the hostas get too wet and start to rot. Using shears or scissors (I used scissors), cut the hostas back and remove the leaves. I usually leave a good 3 inches or so on the stem.
  2. Dispose of the old leaves. For some reason, hostas seem to be attractive to slugs and snails. By trimming back the leaves and properly disposing of them (don’t leave them laying in your garden), you remove any protection or ‘home’ for the slugs. I’ve also heard from several avid gardeners that leaving a small bowl of beer out in the garden around your hostas is a great way to rid the garden of slugs and snails.
  3. Make plans to divide your hostas. Typically, gardeners recommend dividing hostas every few years. I was extremely fortunate, as all our existing hostas were gifted by our generous neighbours. Our hostas are coming into year four, and Wes and I need to decide which varieties we’ll divide next Spring. Dividing hostas is best done in the Spring.

preparing hostas for winter

Some people may choose to cover their remaining hostas stems with mulch; I’ve read mixed reviews on this method of preparing your hostas winter. In the photo above, you can see how Wes and I leave our hostas for the winter. We don’t cover them with mulch, we don’t do anything other than trim them back and get rid of the old leaves, and so far we haven’t been disappointed.

Any other tips you use for preparing hostas for winter? I’m interested to know!

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Monday

14

November 2016

Encouragement: 2 Timothy 1:7

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encouragement 2 timothy 1:7

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

The past few weeks, the media’s been building and encouraging a lot of ‘fear’ in people; and admittedly, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion and excitement. There’s something very important to remember, however. God is in control.

And what’s more? We’re clearly told in the Bible that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear”. If you are feeling afraid, or nervous, or apprehensive about the future, consider this: In Isaiah 41:10, we are encouraged to “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” In Psalm 34:4, we are told, “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

Paul wrote to book of 2 Timothy from prison, and yet he encouraged us by saying that God hasn’t given us the spirit of fear. To have that realization and be able to admit that from prison? Wow! What a Faith! Can you imagine all the difficulties and persecution that Paul faced behind bars? I can’t either, but it probably was not an easy or comfortable place to be.

If you’re feeling nervous, or anxious, or fearful heading into the challenges of a new week, remember the second part of 2 Timothy 1:7. God has given us the spirit “of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Consider this: With the spirit of God’s power, love, and sound mind, we can set out to face any challenge that is before us. It’s easier said that done, but whatever you’re facing, God has promised that He will be there for you!

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

 

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Friday

11

November 2016

Hope Reflected: The Importance of a Firm Foundation

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remembrance day

As we approach Remembrance Day, this year more than ever before, I am reminded of the importance of having a firm foundation. The men and women who fought to protect our country, each of them truly believed in risking their lives for man and country. The men and women who served (and currently serve) believed so strongly in protecting our freedoms that they were willing to give up their lives. How many of us believe in something so passionately that we’d be willing to give up our lives for that something? We live in a world where it’s now considered acceptable to sit or kneel during the National anthem, where believing in God is considered passé, and where standing up for a faith puts one at risk of being considered hate-filled and intolerant. I find myself questioning, if we’re removing the very foundations that North America was founded upon, how can we in good conscience pay homage to those men and women who served and risked (and lost!) their lives to protect our nation?

Proverbs 22:28 reminds us to “remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” When we start messing around with our foundations, the whole structure shifts. And an unsteady structure is not a safe structure.

Think about it: The foundation is the arguably the most important part of your home. Without a firm foundation, your home is not secure. Any errors or mistakes in the foundation of your home only get worse as you build up. The framing, roof, and the rest of the structure will be completely out!

Just like your home, having a firm foundation for what you believe in is important for several reasons.

  1. A firm foundation is important because storms will come. In a home, without a firm foundation, your home would wash away when rains fall and storms blow. The same can be said about your faith. You may think it doesn’t matter what (or Who) you believe in, but when the storms in life come, you need strength and structure for your soul. Jesus told us in Matthew 7:24-27, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
  1. A firm foundation is important because our foundation is our core. Ever heard the saying, “Treat the cause, not the symptom”? Without a firm foundation, we put ourselves at risk for all kinds of surface issues. Just like errors in the foundation of a house, if we don’t have a firm foundation for our souls, we put ourselves at risk for bad influences to creep in, and ultimately, for the progression of sin. Paul says in his first letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 6:18-19), “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, wiling to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” Think about it like this: If you’re trying to get healthy, you don’t just exercise, right? If you’re truly trying to change your health for the better, you start in the kitchen, because the fuel you put in to your body is just as – or more – important than exercise. The same can be said about our spiritual life – it’s not just good works or deeds that matter, it’s what is in our soul that truly counts.

This Remembrance Day, take time to give thanks and to remember the dedication and example of those who have – and who continue – to serve our great nation. The strength of each individual and their commitment to the foundations of our country are truly honorable.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” (John F. Kennedy)

Originally published as “The Importance of a Firm Foundation.” Minto Express. November 9, 2016. 5: Print.

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