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Monday

27

February 2017

Encouragement | Psalm 139:3

Written by , Posted in Encouragement, Hope Reflected

encouragement psalm 139:3

“You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.” Psalm 139:3-4

Sometimes it may seem like you can’t see the path just ahead of you, and you’re afraid to take the next step. Rest assured and be encouraged knowing that God knows your path, He knows your lying down, and He is acquainted with all your ways.

Psalm 119:105 tells us that God’s Word is “a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” If you’ve ever held a candle-lit lamp, you understand that it doesn’t provide a whole lot of light. Rather, it provides just enough light for the stairs in front of you.

That’s the beauty of having a relationship with God. We don’t need to see all the stairs; we can trust that He’s in complete control and will provide the light we require. Just like we’re told in Psalm 139:3-4, God knows our path and He knows all our ways. We can rest in that.

“You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.” Psalm 139:3-4

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Friday

24

February 2017

Hope Reflected | Jealousy

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

jealousy proverbs 14:30

 

It was at the age of eight when I was gifted the Barbie Fold ‘n Fun House, and that Barbie house was amazing. Three different rooms, a rooftop patio, a couch that turned into a bed, and ‘outdoor’ sitting area with a street light that actually worked; my Barbie collection was complete now that Barbie, Ken, and friends had a place to live. Or so I thought. Enter the Barbie Dreamhouse, gifted to one of my best friends. Not only did it have a rooftop patio, it also featured six rooms spread over two stories, a Jacuzzi tub, and a ‘functioning’ fireplace. It made my Barbie Fold ‘n Fun House look more like a cottage. I would have loved to have that Barbie Dreamhouse as my own. It wasn’t until I stopped comparing my Barbie accessories to my friend’s that I actually started to appreciate and enjoy what I already had.

 

Jealousy. It happens to everyone at some point, and if you say it hasn’t happened to you, you’re lying. The key is that we shouldn’t dwell on jealousy or let it consume us. That being said, there are two types of jealousy of which we should be aware. There’s a rightful jealousy (that occurs when you have ownership of something that you’re trying to guard or protect), and there is an unhealthy, sinful jealousy (that occurs when we covet something we don’t have that belongs to someone else).

 

The Bible talks about both types of jealousy. You’ve likely read in the book of Exodus where God is described as a jealous God. That’s not a bad thing! You see, we belong to God. He created us, and when we take our focus off Him and put it on ourselves and on earthly things, that’s not right. God has a right to command our full attention, because we belong to Him. Interestingly, when we take our focus off Christ, that’s when we are at the greatest risk of going astray and falling away. Enter the bad type of jealousy (among other sins). Alternatively, when we keep our focus on God, and desire to do His will and live for Him, God wants nothing more than to see us happy, living in love and enjoying Him (the exact opposite of jealousy).

 

How do you guard yourself or catch yourself when you’re jealous? An important thing is to take the focus off yourself. We tend to get jealous or envious when we focus too much on what we have – or don’t have. Comparison to others is a dangerous game, and you won’t win. You’ll either come away with a false sense of pride, or you’ll feel inadequate.

 

  1. Admit jealousy for what it is. “You are still wordly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? (1 Corinthians 3:3) Each of us is human, and none of us is above jealousy or envy, but that doesn’t make it OK. Jealousy is wrong, and the first step to overcoming your jealousy is admitting it.
  2. Put your focus in the right place. “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2) We tend to get caught up in jealousy when our focus isn’t in the right place. As Christians, we’re called to act with love, and love’s attributes do not include jealousy (1 Corinthians 13:4). When we put our focus on the Lord, He’ll help us put things in perspective. (Psalm 37:1, 3).
  3. Choose contentment over comparison. “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30) You’ve likely heard the adage, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and there is great truth in these words. When we start comparing ourselves to others and going through all the haves and have-nots, there’s not doubt we’ll get jealous. It’s important to remember that God makes no mistakes. When we let jealousy take control, we’re essentially saying that God makes mistakes and that His gifts aren’t enough. When we choose contentment, however, we’re resting in God’s grace and His goodness.

 

Don’t let your coffee get cold because you’re so busy looking at someone else’s mug. Make the conscious choice to count your blessings, and remember the Lord “who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:5)

 

Originally published as “Jealousy.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. February 16, 2017: 7. Print.

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Thursday

23

February 2017

For the Home | 3 Outdoor Living Spaces to Make You Swoon

Written by , Posted in Gardening

There’s just something about an outdoor living space with comfortable, fluffy chairs, a welcoming layout, and a warm fireplace that I just LOVE. If you follow me on Pinterest, you’ve seen some of the inviting spaces that inspire me. Today, I’m sharing 3 outdoor living spaces to make you swoon. Complete with all the essentials — lots of cushions, covering, and greenery surrounding, — these outdoor spaces are sure to inspire your outdoor living area this spring and summer season.

 

1. Ode to tradition. There’s something about an outdoor living space that’s completely covered and yet completely open that is absolutely beautiful. I can picture summer Saturdays spent in this space reading and summer evenings spent lounging by candlelight with family and friends.

outdoor living spaces

img src athomearkansas.com

 

2. So many spots to sit. Especially when you’re looking to entertain outdoors, having more than one sitting area is an appealing (and functional!) idea. This space has a great layout: A fireplace at the helm, a casual lounge area under a shade pergola, and a more formal dining space.

outdoor living spaces

img src Architectural Digest

 

3. A firm foundation. While this look wouldn’t work in every yard, this outdoor living space is anchored by four strong, sturdy, white pillars that really complement the other elements of this set up. The fireplace in this space is equally as strong, and acts as a focal point in this gorgeous garden space.

outdoor living spaces

img src Traditional Living

Looking for more inspiration for your own outdoor living space? Be sure to follow my Outdoor Living board on Pinterest for fresh ideas!

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Wednesday

22

February 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | Faith

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Wednesday Wisdom

faith

“Faith does not make things easy; it makes things possible.” Luke 1:37

We know from reading the book of Hebrews that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Facts about faith:

Prayer, fellowship, and quality time in God’s Word are the essentials of a strong faith.

Trust, assurance, confidence, and a firm foundation in Christ are the results of a strong faith.

Looking to strengthen your faith and your relationship with God? Get into His Word. Having a relationship with God doesn’t always make things easy, but it makes them possible.

“Faith does not make things easy; it makes things possible.” Luke 1:37

 

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Friday

17

February 2017

Hope Reflected | Love

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

hope reflected love

Ah, love. February, long touted as “the month of love”, can be a sensitive time of year for some people. You know, you get those who say they don’t care about Valentine’s Day or commercial holidays; there are those who say that they don’t want flowers and they don’t eat chocolate; and there are those who say that they’d rather their significant other demonstrate love randomly on some other day of the year. There’s also the growing popularity of “Galentine’s Day”, (which started thanks to Amy Poehler in an episode of “Parks and Rec”), a day dedicated to celebrating love with your girlfriends.

As a traditional romantic, I love the idea of flowers and love letters and I’m thankful to be married to and in love with a man who also believes that love should be celebrated throughout the entire year.

The interesting thing about human love is that it’s conditional. Notice how the popular dictionaries define love, “arising from” or “based on” certain criteria being met. Human love is conditional because we base our love on our feelings – and we all know that feelings change. Have you ever heard of couples who, “fell out of love” or “lost that feeling”? Marriage requires a more firm foundation than that of one based on “feelings”.

On our wedding day, one of the best pieces of advice that Wes and I received – besides “happy wife, happy life” – was that to maintain a fulfilled and true marriage, we need to remember that our love is an act of our will. Even in the moments when you don’t “feel” like it, you’ve got to will yourself to love the other person. We can’t do it without God. I’m thankful for a husband who shares that foundation.

While I cherish Wes, his love, and his will, I also am thankful for the love of my Heavenly Father, who loves me unconditionally; Who’s love for me isn’t based on feelings or emotions. So how does God’s love differ from our human love?

  1. God’s love is unconditional. “God is love.” 1 John 4:8 God’s love is unconditional because God is love. He doesn’t love us because of how we make Him feel or something we did for Him; God loves us because God is love. Think about it.
  2. God’s love is giving. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 Another attribute of God’s love is His generosity. He sent his only Son to die on the cross so that we can have eternal life. There was nothing we did or said that could have influenced this. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” We didn’t do anything to deserve this; He did everything. As it is written in 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
  3. God’s love is ours. “Let us love one another, for love is of God…In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” 1 John 4:7, 9 God’s love is a free gift that’s available to anyone and everyone who believes in Him. All we have to do is acknowledge Christ as our Lord and Saviour, and accept His gift of love. “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:15-16)

If you’re looking for love, the best place to start is a relationship with God. Only He will love you wholly, unconditionally, and no matter what. He will encourage you and uplift you, and provide for you in ways beyond anything you can ask or think. God will love you more in a moment than anyone can in a lifetime. Spoken from experience, you can search the world over and try to fill your life with people, activities, and “stuff”, but nothing can compare to the love that God has for you, and nothing can fill that place in your heart like our Heavenly Father can.

Originally published as “Love.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. February 9, 2017: 7. Print.

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Thursday

16

February 2017

For the Home | 6 Powder Rooms that Make a Statement

Written by , Posted in Interior Design, Style at Home

Sometimes small spaces are best places to have fun with decor and experiment with different design elements. If you follow me on Pinterest, you know that I love posting inspirational ideas that speak to many different tastes — whether you’re modern or traditional, minimalist or extravagant.

Your space doesn’t have to be large to make a huge impact. Case in point? Check out these 6 powder rooms that make a statement. Great design really does come in small packages!

6 powder rooms that make a statement:

1. Feminine and moody. I’m not usually a fan of wallpaper, but a powder room is an excellent place to play with wallpaper. Check out this small space, featuring a dark, large floral print wallpaper. The print is large for such a small area, and I like how the designer used oblong side lamps and an oval mirror to add height and vertical length to the space.  Contrasted with brass hardware and bright accessories, this is an eye-catching space.

6 powder rooms that make a statement powder room ideas

img src georgianadesign.tumblr.com

 

2. Talk about texture. A textured wallpaper is a distinct way to add an element of interest to a small space. Complemented by other neutral elements — mirror, sink, hardware, — this textured wallpaper is distributed evenly on each wall, making for a uniform, regal space. Also, can we talk about how beautiful that sink is for a second?!

6 powder rooms that make a statement powder room ideas

img src decor pad

 

3. A way with wainscoting. Light, airy, and soothing, this powder room is reminiscent of a beach house bathroom. I love the classic white wainscoting that flows right into a built-in behind-mirror medicine cabinet.

6 powder rooms that make a statement powder room ideas

img src centsationalgirl

 

4. Statement chandelier. More than just fixtures and fancy wallpaper, it’s refreshing to see a designer take advantage of height and hang a statement chandelier. Especially in this space, where all four walls are finished in an iridescent wallpaper, the light from the chandelier adds brightness and depth. The countertop, hardware, and mirror are kept simple in comparison.

6 powder rooms that make a statement powder room ideas

img src Decoholic

 

5. Dark walls and a fun ceiling. Why reserve wallpaper just for walls? This powder room is a great testimony to the fact that you don’t have to reserve dark walls for a large room, and you don’t have to sacrifice style in a smaller space. I love the rich tones of both the walls and wallpaper choice for the ceiling. Framed by white crown moulding, it’s a classic look that won’t soon go out of style.

6 powder rooms that make a statement powder room ideas

img src Desert Domicile

 

6. Shiplap. Shiplap need not be reserved for beach houses and cottages; this powder room proves that a little style goes a long way. You don’t have to get all ornate for a space to look great. While this powder room features white shiplap, I’ve also seen spaces designed with black shiplap; your options are endless!

6 powder rooms that make a statement powder room ideas

img src rafterhouse.com

If you’re looking for design inspiration and ways to update any of the rooms in your home, head on over and follow my For the Home board on Pinterest for ideas!

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Wednesday

15

February 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | A Firm Foundation

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Wednesday Wisdom

firm foundation wednesday wisdom a purposeful life is built on a foundation more than mere possessions

“A purposeful life is built on a foundation stronger than mere possessions.”

A few weeks ago, my Wednesday Wisdom post resonated with many of you. I heard several comments from several readers who agree with the adage that “when you love what you have, you have everything you need”. An attitude of gratitude certainly is one of the components to a joy-filled life. On another, deeper level, we also have to realize that in order to live a purposeful (or purpose-filled) life, we need to build our lives on a foundation that’s stronger than mere possessions.

Life isn’t about how much ‘stuff’ you have; life is more than an accumulation of ‘things’. Each of us was created for a unique purpose, and until we start building on the foundation that God formed us and created us and has a plan for us, we’ll just be wandering through this life without real purpose.

You may think that love, or success, or even sunshine and warm weather, will help you live the life you want to live, however without the proper foundation, ultimately your life will amount to nothing. As we’re told in 1 Timothy 6:7, “After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.” Your life is about more than mere possessions.

A purposeful life is built on a foundation stronger than mere possessions. What foundation are you building on?

 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” Matthew 7: 24-27

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Tuesday

14

February 2017

Gardening | How to cut roses

Written by , Posted in Gardening

how to cut roses gardening

Singin’ in the Rain Floribunda rose | Img src Hope Reflected

There are thousands of rose varieties in the world. Some natural, some hybrids, roses can be separated into three groups: Species roses, old garden roses, and modern garden roses. Species roses are natural, old garden roses were cultivated before 1867, and modern garden roses were cultivated after 1867.

how to cut roses gardening

White Bolero Floribunda rose | Img src Hope Reflected

In our garden, Wes and I have started a collection of hybrid roses, each of a different colour and variety. A hybrid rose is created by the cross-breeding of two types of roses. While some hybrids are more hearty than others, hybrid roses make for a beautiful addition to any garden in full or partial sun.

how to cut roses gardening

White Bolero Floribunda roses | Img src Hope Reflected

If you’re looking to trim back your garden roses to enjoy indoors or to give away, there are some steps you’ll want to take to ensure you get the most out of your cut roses.

Tips for how to cut roses:

  1. Make sure your garden shears are clean. This can affect the quality of your cut roses. If you’ve been working with plants in your garden that have disease or bacteria, you don’t want that to spread to your rose bush (either the cut rose or the rose bush that remains in the ground).
  2. Cut the roses at the right stage. A good rule of thumb is to cut roses from your garden just after they’ve matured from a bud to a flower, when the petals are starting to blossom. This can vary depending what variety of rose you’re working with.
  3. Cut your roses first thing in the morning. If you can’t cut your roses before 9:00am, the second best time would be in the evening after the sun has gone down. You want to catch the rose bush when it’s still cool and holding water. This will not only make your cut roses last longer, it will also assist the remaining rose bush in recovery and regrowth.
  4. Cut your roses at the right angle and place. Don’t cut the rose stem straight across, you’ll want to trim the bush at a 45 degree angle. This will assist in drinking when you put the cut roses in a vase. Cut the stems as close to the base of the rose bush as possible.
  5. Remove any leaves that will fall below the water line. A good rule of thumb for any cut flower (not just roses) is to remove any leave that could potentially sit in the water of your vase. It’s important to leave some leaves higher up on the stem to assist the flower in drinking water, however any leaves that would fall below the water line should be removed before you put the roses in the vase.
how to cut roses gardening

Red Ten-Ten hybrid tea rose | Img src Hope Reflected

 

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Monday

13

February 2017

Your Consolation Brought Me Joy | Encouragement from Psalm 94:19

Written by , Posted in Encouragement, Hope Reflected

psalm 94:19 encouragement your consolation brought me joy

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Psalm 94:19

A new week brings with it new challenges: School assignments that are due, big meetings at work, extracurricular activities every night, personal responsibilities. The list is endless; there’s always something to do, somewhere to go, and someone to help.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in our circumstances, and just running, that we get overwhelmed. According to Matthew Henry’s commentary, Psalm 94 was written during a time of great persecution within the church. Yet, the Psalmist penned, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalm 94:19)

Even in the midst of adversity and anxiety, God provides encouragement and support. We can get so caught up in trying to control our own circumstances and lives that we forget the simple strength of “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) You can’t be comforted or consoled when you’re running and being “busy”.

Slow down, soul, and let God’s consolation bring you joy. When anxiety is great with you, — and even when it’s not — let God refresh your spirit and renew your strength.

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Psalm 94:19

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Friday

10

February 2017

Hope Reflected | The Cure for Loneliness | 3 things to do when you feel alone

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

loneliness quote c.s. lewis

At some point in life, each of us feels alone. Perhaps it’s physically, emotionally, or even spiritually. You may feel like there’s no one out there who gets what you’re going through, as though there’s no one out there who understands what you’re thinking or feeling, or as though you’re the only one who’s been there before.

As a child, in gym class – my least favourite class, btw – when we’d be playing dodge ball, or another “team building” game, group captains were assigned to create teams. Each captain got to choose who would be part of his or her team. And there was always someone who was the last to be selected. There were similar situations in class, when students were asked to form groups. There was always someone who didn’t get chosen to be part of a group.

Perhaps you feel like no one wants you to be on their team, or no one wants you to be part of their group. Maybe you’re single and you feel like you’re never going to meet “the one”. Maybe you’re an empty nester whose children are off at college or university. Maybe you’re a senior who feels isolated and misses family or like you’re constantly saying goodbye to people who are passing away into eternity. Maybe you’re someone who has plenty of friends yet still struggles with feelings of loneliness.

You don’t have to be alone to feel the force of loneliness. If you’re feeling isolated, or as though no cares or understands where you’re at or what you’re going through, take heart! There is a cure for loneliness, and steps you can take to overcome your feelings of loneliness.

  1. Admit that you’re lonely. “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 The first step to overcoming loneliness is admitting that you’re lonely. Tell the Lord how you feel; there’s no one who will understand more deeply. Jesus Himself experienced the anguish of loneliness. We read about the most public display of His loneliness and agony when He cried out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) But if we’re being real, Jesus’s loneliness on earth started long before He went to the cross for us. He spent His whole earthly life as an outsider – the only sinless man living in an entirely sinful world – Who came to redeem our sins and eradicate any feelings of loneliness and heartache we could ever experience.
  2. Enjoy the presence of God. “You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 If you’re feeling lonely, take a cue from David, who, arguably, experienced more loneliness and heartache throughout his life than any of us ever will. Wherever he was at, David claimed God’s promises and declared that being in the presence of God was the fullness of joy. When feelings of loneliness flood your heart and mind, get into God’s Word; train your thoughts on Him; talk to Him. Learn to enjoy the presence of God. We are promised in James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” When you feel alone, remember that there is One who truly cares for you.
  3. Reach out. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 A long time ago I heard the advice that in times of loneliness or anxiety, we should “Stop looking in, and start looking out and up.” Those are wise words. When you’re feeling lonely, reach out! It could be as easy as picking up the phone and calling someone you love, or getting involved with a local Church group or Bible study. Also, if you’re not feeling lonely, why not reach out to someone who is or who could use a friend? Visit the elderly or send a handwritten note of encouragement.

At some point in life, each one of us experiences the feelings of loneliness. C.S. Lewis once said, “Look for yourself and you will find loneliness and despair. But look for Christ and you will find Him and everything else.” Just remember, you are never truly alone; Jesus Christ longs to have a relationship with you, if you’ll put your trust in Him.

Originally published as “The Cure for Loneliness: 3 things to do when you feel alone.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. February 2, 2017: 7. Print.

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