August 21, 2017

How To Make a Home Management Binder

Home Management Binder …also known as a Household Binder.  The first question you may have is, “What Is It?

This is where I keep things that are important to me; things that help me manage my home more effeciently. My Command Center, so to speak. In this binder, I keep things such as:

  • Schedule
  • Meal Planner
  • Recipes
  • Cleaning Schedule
  • Kid’s Stuff
  • Contacts
  • Blog Schedule
  • To-Do / Projects

Binder1
For this project, you will need the following items:

3-ring Notebook – 3-inch
Sheet Protectors
8 Divider Sheets
8 Index Dividers

Directions:

You will begin by inserting your dividers into your notebook, and attaching the index labels. You will label each of your index tabs with the categories listed above.

Then you will begin adding in your inserts. I’ve listed several below, with links to take you to the free downloads, in some cases.

The first thing you will see when you open my binder is the Homemakers Creed, and a lot of other marriage or family-oriented inserts found on Darlene Schacht’s website (Time Warp Wife). Click on the link above to be taken to this awesome FREE printable!! You will find a lot of the inserts in my binder are from Darlene’s website.  Just click here: www.time-warp-wife.blogspot.com and click on the Freebies tab.

The freebies I have downloaded from Darlene’s site, and have added into my binder are:

  • Homemakers Creed
  • The Proverbs 31 Woman
  • The Ultimate Marriage Vow
  • Marriage Manifesto
  • Mommy Manifesto

SCHEDULE
The next thing you will see is the first section of my binder: Daily Planning Goals and Calendars. I find my calendar printable, again from Darlene’s website. Click on the link above to download your free calendar printable. This particular calendar from her site is awesome! Each monthly calendar includes the calendar, a To-Do list, Hope-To-Do List, Prayer Requests, Reminders, Thinking Ahead, Bible Reading, Groceries, People to Call. I love these calendars!!! You will also find my Birthday calendar. This calendar lists the birthdays of all family members.

MENUS
In this section of my binder, you will find:

  • Grocery List
  • Meal Planner
  • Coupon Pocket
  • Freezer Inventory
  • Pantry Inventory
  • Freezer Storage Cheat Sheet
  • Produce Buying Guide
  • Internal Cooking Temperature Cheat Sheet

RECIPES
This is where I store printed recipes that I love!

HOME CLEANING ROUTINE
In this section of my binder, you will find:

  • 60 Uses for Baking Soda
  • Daily Housekeeping Schedule (time warp wife)
  • Weekly Chores for Life (time warp wife)
  • My Zone Cleaning Schedule from FlyLady.com

If you haven’t tried FlyLady.com yet, give it a try! Each week, you are given a zone in your home to clean. She gives you a complete list of what to accomplish in each of those zones. Pretty cool stuff!

Binder2

KIDS
In this section of my binder, you will find:

Quick References for Kids

  • House Rules
  • Chores Chart for my kids
  • School District Directory
  • School Lunch Menu for each month
  • School Calendar – I tore this calendar apart so I could put each month in a sheet protector. Since it is the calendar for our school district, I went through each month and highlighted our school’s events for the whole year, including PTO meetings, holidays, spring break, early dismissal, and so on.
  • Classroom Handbook from our daughter’s teacher
  • Birthday List of each student in class

I have also included things for my own personal use that will help me pray for and encourage kids that come through our home through the Safe Families For Children organization, as well as my own kids and grandkids!

  • 31 Ways to Inspire Your Children
  • 31 Ways to Pray for Your Children
  • 31 Prayer Card for Your Children (time warp wife)

CONTACT LIST
In this section of my binder, you will find:

  • Contact List from my husband’s work
  • Medical Staff & Provider Directory for our community
  • Ultimate Contact Sheet that lists the numbers for grandparents, doctor, dentist, hospital, pharmacy, school, coaches/teachers, vet, housekeeper, insurance agent, miscellaneous. I downloaded this document from SimpleOrganizedLiving.com

BLOG
In this section of my binder, you will find information for my personal blog:

  • Monthly Blog Schedule
  • Weekly Blog Schedule – breaks my month down into Ideas/Projects, To-Do’s, Weekly Statistics, Bloggers to Encourage. It’s always a good idea to find bloggers to encourage. Blogging can be a pretty lonely job sometimes!! 🙂
  • Website Log-ins sheet
  • HTML Codes Cheat Sheet

TO DO / PROJECTS
In this section, you will find nothing but notebook paper. I use this section for things like vacation to-do’s, home projects, holiday/birthday shopping ideas, and more.

*****

I hope you have enjoyed a sneak peek into my Home Management Binder, and a little bit into my own personal life! I think having a good system like this is important, as it can help us stay organized and focused on the things that need to be done. I always feel good at the end of the day when I can look back at my list and see the items that have been checked off! I can go to sleep feeling quite an accomplishment has been achieved! A very good feeling!

Blessings,

Christi

________________________

If you would like more housekeeping, home organization tips, recipes, and more from Christi’s personal blog, visit her at:

www.ChristiWilson.blogspot.com

How To Put Together a Prayer Journal

Each day, we hear many different prayer requests; some of them are not even spoken out loud, but they are seen.  How is it possible to keep track of all of these requests when there are so many of them!  We have our spouse, self, kids, marriage, finances, grandchildren, outside family members, friends, community/church leaders, government officials, and our Country, that we should be praying over every day.

I have been on the lookout for the perfect Prayer Journal, and I think I have finally found something that will work for me.  I want to share it with you today; PLUS, you will get FREE downloads at the end of this blog!!  I hope you will utilize these free downloads and then let me know how this journal works for you!

PJ1

My Prayer Journal Cover

Items Needed:

3-ring Notebook (what’s called a View Binder)

Sheet Protectors (at least 10)

College-lined Notebook Paper

Washi-Tape, if you want to decorate your cover and/or pages

Index tabs

Directions:

1. Print out the free downloads found below

2. Insert each printout into a sheet protector

3. Attach an index tab onto the sheet protector for each category (listed below)

4. Insert sheet protectors into the 3-ring notebook in the following order:

  • Worship — this section is to be used for praising and worshiping God for who He is in your life!  I’ve also printed out a list of the names of God so when I need to pray for provision, or healing, I can pray to Jehovah Jireh, or Jehovah Raphe, and so on.
  • Confess — this section is to be used for any kind of confession you need to make.  1 John 1:9 says that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.”  This is so important to confess our sins, so He is able to forgive us, and then cleanse us of all that unrighteousness, so that we are then in right-standing with Him, again!  🙂
  • Thanks — this section is for thanking God for anything you can think of that you are thankful for, i.e., your spouse, kids, marriage, health, family, job, provisions, church, freedom to worship Him, and so on.
  • Calendar – here you will add all 12 months of the year.  Then you will add in any birthdays or anniversaries of family and friends.  Then you will go to this calendar each day, to see who you will be praying for on a specific day.  For anniversaries, I pray over the marriage of that friend or family member.  I will also list specific days for prayer requests such as friends/family doctor visits, surgeries and so on, so I can be praying over them on that particular day.
  • Daily –  MONDAY: Family – spouse, self, kids, marriage, jobs, ministries, and each of my ten grandchildren!  TUESDAY: My Christian Friends.  WEDNESDAY: Non-Christian friends, that they might find Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and any other needs that they may have.  THURSDAY: Girlfriends Coffee Hour Leaders / Members / Ministry, and my Church Leaders – Pastors, Deacons, Board of Elders, and so on.  FRIDAY: our country, President, government officials, local community officials.
  • Apply – this section is to reflect my quiet time w/God and how I am going to apply to my life the things that I heard God speaking to me that morning.  I think it is truly necessary to not only have that quiet time, but to meditate on the “how” of what God is saying to you!
  • Journal – this section reflects any devotions, poems, sermons, radio or online messages that have spoken to you, or anything else you would like to journal in regards to your spiritual walk.
  • Favorite Scriptures – here I list all of the Scriptures that have spoken to me over the years.
  • Worship Songs – this section I use for praise and worship songs that I have found on YouTube, or sung in church, that spoke to my heart.  I want to remember these songs, so when I need to spend some personal time with Him, or want to praise Him or worship Him in song, I can come to this section to find the songs that fit the need I have for that day.  I LOVE this section!!

Since I use a full size notebook, I don’t carry this with me throughout the day; but I do carry a small notebook.  That way I can write down the requests as I go through my day, and then enter them into my prayer journal at the end of the day.  Everything is kept in one place—nice, neat, and tidy…just the way I like it!!

To download your FREE Prayer Journal sheets, just click on the links below.  Save them to your computer, and then print them out when you are ready to put together your very own Prayer Journal.  Again, once you start using this system, I would love to hear back from you to see how you are doing with it!

PrayerJournalCollage

A peek into the inside of my Prayer Journal

God’s blessings on your day!

Christi 

__________________________

FREE Downloads

To download each page, click on the link, save the page to your computer.  To print a 5.5″ x 8.5″ cover page for the smaller 3-ring notebooks, just set your printer to print 2 per page.  You will have an extra cover page, but you could also use the extra pages to create a prayer journal for a friend as a gift! 🙂

Apply Page

Calendar Page

Confess Page

Daily Page

Favorite Scriptures Page

Journal Cover Page

Journal Page

Thanks Page

Worship Songs Page

Worship Page

Cinnamon Baked Apple Chips

If you are looking for a healthy snack that is easy to make, this is it!  Anything with cinnamon satisfies my taste buds!  That’s why this recipe really appealed to me!  It’s great for you, and for the kids; plus it is just so easy to make!!  Make a few ahead of time and keep in a Tupperware-type storage container.

For this recipe, I am referencing ingredients for just one serving.  You will use one small Gala apple for each person that you are serving.

 

Cinnamon Baked Apple Chips

Ingredients:

1 Gala Apple, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon Splenda

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
  • Spray a cookie sheet with Olive Oil Cooking Spray.
  • Place sliced apples on the cookie sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon and splenda.
  • Bake in 225 degree oven for 1 hour.
  • Remove from oven, and place sliced apples on a cooling rack for 20 minutes.

ENJOY!!

 

Cinnamon Apple Chips

I AM Free to Run … (Part 3 of 3)

 

The Lord Is

So far, in this mini-series, we’ve talked about falling into temptation; worshipping idols; and what things in our life is taking precedence over the priority list.  Today, I want to talk about how to get back on track when we have fallen into the temptation of worshipping the idols in our lives, and allowing things to take the place of our priorities instead of God.

How do we get back on track and stay there?

  1. Identify what is causing you to get off track.

Have you sat down and made a list of the things that are getting in the way of you having your quiet time each morning, or quality time with your family, or building a better marriage or relationship with your kids?  If not, I would highly encourage you to do so.  Be real with yourself.  Be honest.

Identify the areas that are showing up over and over again.  Is it too much time on Facebook?  Is it spending money frivolously?  Is work taking up so much of your time you have nothing to give your family?  What about television?  Is it taking up so much of your time that there is no room for communication in your home anymore?

These are all areas that I had to take a good hard look at in my own life!  I know you can probably relate to some of these things yourself.

As I said in #1 above, we have to identify what is causing us to get off track first.

After we have discovered the “what”, it’s time to discover the why.

2. Identify the “why.”

Let’s take television as an example.   Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Why am I watching television?
    1. Is it for entertainment?
    2. Is it because I am bored?
    3. Is it because there is nothing else to do?
    4. Is it because I just need some down time?

For myself, I work at home.  Until we started taking children into our home from Safe Families for Children, I was home alone most of the daytime hours when my husband would work days.  When he worked nights, I was home most of the time alone, because he was either sleeping or working.  So I found myself trying to drown out the silence!  I needed the noise because otherwise, it was just too quiet!  (Now that we have kids in the house, trust me, the silence is no longer an issue!)  🙂

But again, I have to go back to why the silence was bothering me.  The only thing I could come up with is that the silence represented me being alone.  I don’t like to be alone.  Yes, there are days where being alone is nice, but when it happens a lot, I don’t like it.  I would start to find myself getting bored, or lonely, so I would turn on the television for “company”.  Sounds weird, huh?  To put it in deeper context:  I was trying to fill a void in my life.

3.  Identify the “how.”

What happens when we try to fill a void with something other than Jesus?  What happens when we cave into our fleshly desires?  What happens when we don’t listen to the Holy Spirit prodding us to read the Word, or take a walk, or call a friend, or or or….???  We take our eyes off of Jesus, and we begin to sink, like Peter did in Matthew 14:28-30:

“And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be you, bid me come to you on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” 

When Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, and began to look at the storm around him, fear crept in, and he began to sink.  That’s what happens with us, too, when we take our eyes off of Jesus; the boredom, loneliness, worry, stress, fear, all begin to creep in, along with many other things!  As we talked about in Tuesday and Wednesday’s blogs, we have to keep our eyes focused on JESUS at all times, or we will fall into temptation!

Now that we have identified the triggers, let’s talk about HOW to get out of temptation.  We’ve already indentified one way: Keep our eyes focused on JESUS.  We are guaranteed a way out of temptation if we keep our eyes on Jesus.  Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 10:13, and see what God promises us here:

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 

First we see that there is NO temptation that is able to take us over.  Why? Because God promises that He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear.  He didn’t say we would never be tempted, or that we would never have fleshly desires, but He did say that He would provide a way out of these temptations when they did come!  Praise God!!  That is a promise that God has made to us!  Amen!

So the first thing we need to do is ASK the Lord for a way out of this temptation.  Asking means we need to communicate our weakness (John 15:5) to Him first, and then ask (2 Timothy 2:22) for His help.  Then since we already know that we are unable to get away from this temptation in our own power, we need to depend on GOD and His power!  Our flesh is weak!  But God is able to do anything, even the things that we think are simply impossible!

His way is always the best escape, or exit door, we can find!!  John 10:9:  “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved…”   God will rescue us, if we trust Him!  (2 Peter 2:9)

We also need to remember that we cannot do this in our own strength!  Our flesh will always fail!  (Colossians 2:21-23) It is only inHis strength that we are able to do ALL things!

Escaping temptation is our duty as a Christian.  We have to start by identifying the “what,” followed by the “why,” then proceeding with the “how.”  We have to trust that God will always provide a way out of our temptationno matter what it is, and no matter how strong it is!  We need to keep our eyes focused on Him.  Cling to Him.  Surrender to Him.  Run to Him.  Never trust the flesh.  Always trust the Holy Spirit.

This concludes my series on “I AM Free to Run.”  I hope you have enjoyed it.  I hope you were able to gain something from this series.

My prayer for you is that you will always seek God, in the good times and bad; in the easy times and tough!  He is always there for you, no matter what your circumstances are, or how big they are!

Always remember, there is NOTHING impossible for God!

Always In His Love,

Christi

I AM Free to Run … (Part 2 of 3)

1 Corinthians 10: 6-7, 13-14

These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did. As the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.  The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.  So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols.

Last night was another breakthrough in my media fast.  I went back to 1 Corinthians to review some of the Scriptures my pastor used in his sermon Sunday.  I want to talk about two things that kept revealing itself to me in the Scriptures above:

 

Idolatry – What is it? 

Idols – What are they?

 

Let’s start with idolatry first.

What is idolatry? 

The dictionary defines idolatry as:

    : the worship of a physical object as a god 

    : immoderate attachment or devotion to something

God instructs us in of 1 Corinthians 10:7 to not be idolaters, correct?   If so, we then need to ask ourselves if there are any idols in our life.  We need to start first by finding out what the word IDOL means.

The dictionary defines the word IDOL as:

idol

 noun \ˈī-dəl\

: a representation or symbol of an object of worship

 : a false god

I want to focus on the definition of “an object of worship”.  What does that mean to you?  The word worship means to praise something or someone; to honor; to put above.

In today’s world, there are many things that we worship, or idolize, that we may not even be aware of.  I’m talking about the things in our lives that we are “attached” to, can’t live without, we have to have every day, and so on.  These are things that if someone were to take them away from us we would not be happy at all!  These are things that we have become so attached to that they have become a part of our daily life without us even realizing it.  They are things that we think so highly of that sometimes nothing else matters and we get angry if anything comes in the way of us enjoying these things. Does anything come to mind when I say that?

Let’s take a look at some of the things that I am talking about and see if you recognize any of them:

  • Television
  • Money
  • Soap Operas
  • Romance Novels
  • Video / Computer Games
  • Drugs
  • Alcohol

And let’s not forget the ever popular Social Media:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Tumblr
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest

Do any of these things mentioned above take a high priority in your life?  Ask yourself this question:  “If someone were to take any of these things out of my life, would it make me happy?”  If you answered NO to that question, then most likely this thing(s) are an idol in your life.

For me, I can see several things on that list:  Television, Money, Social Media, Games.  During this media fast that I am currently doing, I found out that taking away my Facebook or Pinterest is really a hard thing!  I really never realized how much I am on Facebook, and/or the reasons WHY I am on Facebook, until this fast!

Some of the reasons I like Facebook:

  • A way of connecting with family & friends (not a bad thing)
  • It’s a way to kill time
  • It’s a way to fill the void in my life
  • It’s a way to beat the loneliness

I have had to seriously look at the reasons why I was spending so much time on Facebook.  Was what I was doing on Facebook productive?  Most times, not.  It was just a way of killing time, or beating the boredom, or filling the loneliness.  Yes, I head up a Women’s Ministry where most of what I do is on Facebook, but I’m talking about the things outside of what I do in this ministry.  I was using Facebook to fill those voids in my life, when I actually should have been turning to the Lord!  Yes, I could hear God’s voice in the background asking for time with Him, but did I give it to Him?  Not always.  In fact, if I am going to be honest about all this, not a lot of the time!  I hate admitting that, but it’s the truth!  I was putting Facebook above God.  I was worshipping an idola false God was getting my worship instead of where my worship should have been going!

Can you see yourself in any of this?  I know I am not the only one.  If I were to come to your home and tell you that I was going to remove all of your televisions in your home for 30 days, how would you, and your family, react?  Would you panic?  Would you begin to get nervous?  Would you fight me to keep your televisions?  If so, your televisions are an idol in your home, and in your own life!

If I were to come to your home and tell you that I was only going to give you just enough money to pay your bills, buy groceries and gas, and a $25/week allowance, how would you feel?  Would you begin to panic?  Would you freak out wondering how you were going to buy all of those other things that you so desperately wanted, and just had to have?  I see another idol in your life!   Believe me, I am preaching to the choir here, too, Sister!!  I’m seeing these things in my own life, as well!  But I want to show you what the Lord has been teaching me about this, so that YOU can walk away from the idols, as well.

I’m not saying I am an expert in this area because this is all brand new to me, sort of.  I’ve known about all this stuff for many years, but to be honest, I’ve never really put them into practice.  I’ve just begun to realize how much of an idol certain things are in my life!  So I’m walking this journey along with you!  I just want to share what the Lord has laid on my heart, so you can begin to meditate on these things, too!

Matt6_24

I looked up the word mammon to get its true meaning.  It means: riches or material wealth.  But, I also looked at some synonyms of the word mammon.  This is what I found:

  • Possessions
  • Money
  • Gold
  • Almighty Dollar
  • Graven image
  • Idol

There’s that word again!!  Did you see it?  IDOL …  We just can’t get away from it, can we?

In verse 13 of 1 Corinthians 10, we are told that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able; that He will provide a way out.

Then in verse 14, we are told to flee idolatry.

If God is telling us to flee idolatry, and that He will provide a way out, we need to take Him at His word, and realize that it CAN be done! He isn’t going to tell us to do something if there isn’t a way to do it!  When I finally come to the decision that I am ready to remove the idols in my life, He will provide a way for me to handle the voids in my life!.  I need to trust that when I am struggling, all I need to do is pray and He will provide a way out.

I can choose to walk by the flesh and cave into these cravings for the idols in my life; or I can choose to walk by the Spirit and allow the Holy Spirit to guide me.  The choice really is mine!

Ask yourself the same questions I’ve had to ask myself:  Is God really a priority in my life?  

I’ll be back Friday to finish up this quick series.  Until then, enjoy your 4th of July Holiday!

In His Love,

Christi

How to Make Cloth Dinner Napkins / Placemats

Ok, I will admit it…I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO SEW that good at all!!!  But by golly, I’ve always wanted to learn! I only know how to sew a baby blanket, and that’s as good as it gets!!  LOL  So today, I ran across a pattern that looked so amazingly simple even I could do it!! And I did!  🙂

Now for you who are awesome seamstresses, you may think “Dinner Napkins/Placemats? Piece of cake!!” But for me, sewing does not come easily! It did for my grandmother and mother, but for some reason that creative gene has hidden itself in me, and is just now beginning to cause a stir in my heart; which I LOVE because I’ve always wanted to be creative like the two women in my life that I loved so very much! Their handiwork was simply amazing, and I’ve asked God, sort of secretly, in my heart for years to bless me with the ability to do some of the things that they did.

So when I say that is BIG for me to show my handiwork to you, it truly IS! I’m like a little girl at Christmastime just waiting for you to open my gift to you, and I can’t wait to see your expression when you see it! Yea, I know, I seem to get a little too excited at times!! My husband reminds me of that often! LOL

So without further adieu, here are the instructions to make your own Cloth Dinner Napkins/Placemats.

How to Make Cloth Dinner Napkins/Placemats

Items Needed:

Materials (to make 6 cloth napkins)

  • 12 fat quarters of quilting cotton (a fat quarter is an 18″ x 22″ piece of fabric found in most fabric stores for as little as $1)
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • chopstick
  • sewing machine
  • coordinating thread
  • iron

Directions:

Step 1

The directions I found instructed me to cut each fat quarter into a square measuring 18 inches x 18 inches.  Choose two fabrics that coordinate well with each other (I used just one piece of fabric) and place the two pieces of fabric right sides together. (For placemats as seen below, you will cut your fabric 11″ x 18″, and then follow all of the steps below.)

Step 2

Sew the squares together along the raw edges using a straight stitch and a 1/4 inch seam allowance, backstitch both at the beginning and at the end of the stitch to secure it. Make sure to leave a 3 inch opening along one side for turning the napkin right side out.

Step 3

Clip each corner to help give the napkin a nice pointed corner once turned right side out. Make sure not to clip the seam you just made!

Step 4

Turn the napkin right side out. Take a chopstick or other pointy-edged object and use it to help push out each corner to a nice point.  This is really a must for tight corners.  I used my fingers because I didn’t have any pointy object, and the corners turned out okay, but they could be better!  My first time…we’ll get by!! 🙂

Step 5

Press the napkin with an iron, making sure to turn in the opening a 1/4 inch.

Step 6

Topstitch around the napkin by sewing a straight stitch and using an 1/8 inch seam allowance, backstitch at both the beginning and end of the stitch to secure it. Topstitching will give the napkin a nice flat decorative finish as well as closing up the opening used for turning the cloth napkin right side out.

The total time it took me to make the six cloth placemats pictured below, including the cutting time, was a total of maybe an hour and a half!  That made me even more excited because I began to think of some awesome Christmas gifts I can give to my kids this year!!

I hope you will give this simple pattern a try, and let me know how you did! 🙂

cloth2(1)

 

 

 

Enjoy your beautiful Cloth Dinner Napkins/Placemats!!

 

I AM Free to Run … (Part 1 of 3)

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been involved in a fast against media in my life: Television, Computer Games, Kindle Games, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and unneccessary texting.  It’s the first time I’ve taken on such a huge challenge all at once!  This fast is to last for 30 days.  I’ve learned a lot about myself, to say the least!  Over the next few days, I’d like to share some of what I have learned with you.

In the first week of this fast, I was ready to give up!  I was having a very difficult time staying focused, and staying away from the temptations of all of these areas of “excess” in my life.  I call them excess because the fast I am doing includes removing anything in my life that has taken time away from God, and my relationship with Him.  I had to really think about this when I was making my list of things that I was going to fast.

First of all, I had to really look at my life with a microscope.  I had to be honest about the things in my life where some days I would spend hours upon hours doing.  Facebook, as an example, is a huge area of excess in my life!  Why?  Mainly because of what I do for Girlfriends Coffee Hour, but also because I was spending HOURS a day just wasting time on “stuff” with Facebook because I was bored, or even lonely, at times!

So in my quest in looking for things that were taking time away from my relationship with God, and with my family, I had to get serious, and real with myself.  When I did that, I was really sad to see how much time media “STUFF” was taking up in my life, away from the things that needed me.  When I began the fast, I prayed “Lord, I am really going to need Your help with this because I know how drawn to Facebook I am!”

The first week…I FAILED MISERABLY!!!  The fast began on Monday, and by Saturday night I was ready to call it quits, I had failed to temptation so many times.  I prayed, “Lord, I am just not cut out for this!  I believe I have taken on way too much at one time!  I keep falling into the same temptations over and over again!  I’m just not any good at this.  I think I need to quit, Lord!”

The next day, I went to church.  My Pastor’s message was about keeping our eyes focused on the race, and on Jesus.  I just KNEW God had heard my prayer the night before, because this message was so “right on”, and just what I needed to hear!  I’d like to share some of it with you…

The whole point of this fast is to rid my life of the things that are taking time away from reading the Word, listening to God, praying, and building that relationship with Him.  It’s also about ridding the excess in my life to allow for more time with my family and other relationships.

My Pastor’s sermon was about running the good race, reaching the ultimate prize, running so others would see Jesus through this journey.  It was like this man had been reading each one of my daily blogs; which I doubt he truly is!!   But God gave him this message for today, and God knew that I needed to hear that message!

The message was titled “Free to Run”.

To start with, Pastor’s son had just finished a 100-mile run!  Yes, ONE HUNDRED miles!!! Can you only imagine!!  Never in a million years could I ever see myself running 10 miles, let alone 100 miles!  Right!?!

At one point in this 100 mile run, a friend of our Pastor’s son hit the 53 mile marker and he was just exhausted, thinking he could not go on. He was hurting so bad!  His wife kept encouraging him, and then she pulled a letter out from their daughter that encouraged him so very much!  “Come on, Dad. I know you can do it. I love you, Dad.  I believe in you!” and so on.  It was awesome!!  It was then that he stood up and continued to the finish line…running a total of 100 miles!  It just goes to show what we can accomplish when we have a team of encouragers motivating us to continue on! I loved that part of the sermon!

The overall story of his sermon today was that whenever we are doing something, anything—that includes reaching others for Christ, or showing Christ in our circumstances—we must not give up!  We must continue on toward the ultimate prize.

What is the Ultimate Prize in my fast?  To show what can be accomplished when we put our trust in Christ, and allow His strength and power to fill us up when we are weak; to be able to run and not grow weary; to walk and not faint; to shine the light of Christ through our struggles.  We should run with determination, and not toil along the way. 

Have you never heard?  Have you never understood?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth.  He never grows weak or weary.  No one can measure the depths of his understanding.  He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.  Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.  But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:28-31 (NLT)

He will give new strength to those who trust in Him.  We will soar like eagles; run and not grow weary, walk and not faint!  I really needed to be reminded of that Scripture.  The race I have been running with my media fast has been difficult.  I’ve caved into my fleshly desires many times.  My focus has not been on God…it has been on my own wants and desires.  I was choosing what is EASY, and not allowing God’s grace to take me over the edge to the other side of this journey, which is running the race WITH Him and not just in my own power.

I needed to hear again that my flesh is no longer the one I serve.  I have only one Master, and His name is Jesus!  I am not here to serve myself.  I am here to serve the One who loves me, encourages me, motivates me to keep going on!  Pleasing myself produces nothing for Jesus; and offers nothing towards eternal life—the Ultimate Prize!

When we run any race, or face any serious trials in our life, we need to always keep our focus on Christ.  It’s in Him that we are able to do all things, and in Him that we will be able to serve others.  It’s by that focus that we will bring others to Christ.  They will see that God is truly the only reason we are able to complete the race, or face the situation like we do!  That truly should be our ultimate goal anyway: to show Christ in all that we do!

I had not been doing that in this media fast.  I had only been showing others what Christi was able to do in her own power; which turned out to be nothing!  The Lord is my power, my strength, my grace, my hope, and my prize in the end.

The Lord Is

At the end of this fast, I want to hear God say “Well done, thine good and faithful servant!”  I want to hear others say that they saw Jesus through me.  That they were encouraged through my own struggles.  That they saw the true message: with God nothing is impossible!  That quitting is NOT an option!!

When it’s all said and done, there is really only ONE thing that matters:  Did I live my life for Him?

In His Love,

Christi

Christi’s Homemade Granola Recipe

This is a recipe I was a bit hesitant to try at first.  I thought it was going to take a lot of time to make; but I was pleasantly surprised to find just how easy Granola is to make!  I love eating it with a little milk, or served on top of plain yogurt.  My husband even used it on top of his vanilla ice cream!  I hope you will give it a try, and then let me know what you thought of it!

 

Homemade Granola

Granola

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup dried craisins

1/2 cup raisins

1/3 cup shelled sunflower seeds

1/3 cup slivered almonds

3/4 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup flaxseed

1/3 cup grapeseed (or olive) oil

*You can add other dried fruits, as well.  But craisins and raisins are our favorites!

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Spread out loosely on a large cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake 25 minutes; stopping every 10 minutes to stir granola.

When finished baking, take out of oven, stir again; allow to cool down on cookie sheet.

After granola has cooled down, store in air-tight container.

 

Happy Eating!

Christi’s Homemade Bread Recipe

When it comes to bread, there is nothing better to me than homemade!  I love the way the bread makes my home smell while it is baking in the oven.  I have always been a homemaker at heart, and there is nothing more special to me than to make a couple of loaves of homemade bread for my family.  My hubby works hard each day, for us, and he deserves something special for dinner.  I love a lot of things homemade, but this recipe is my all-time favorite.  I hope you will give it a try and let me know what you think of it!

 

Homemade Bread

Makes 4 loaves

Homemade Bread

Ingredients:    

 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees to 115 degrees)
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1/4 cup shortening, melted and cooled
12 cups all-purpose flour, divided

 

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add sugar, salt and shortening; stir until dissolved. Add half the flour; beat until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough that cleans the bowl. Turn onto a floured surface. Knead 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
  2. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours. Punch dough down. Cover and let rise again for 30 minutes.
  3. Divide dough into four parts and shape into loaves. Place in four greased 9″ x 5″ x 3″ loaf pans (I use Pampered Chef Loaf Pans). Cover and let rise in a warm place until just to the top edge of the loaf pan*, about 30 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans and allow to cool on wire racks.

*If you don’t want that dry-flour look on the top of your bread (as shown in the picture above), brush butter all over the top of the loaf before removing the bread from the loaf pan.  It not only makes the bread taste delicious, but it also gives the bread a nice golden brown color.

We like a denser bread versus a light and airy bread, so I only allow the bread to rise just to the top edge of the loaf pans before going into the oven.  If you want a lighter, airy bread, you will let it rise a little higher before placing in the oven.  Keep in mind that the bread will rise a bit further during the baking process.

 

Enjoy!!

 

How to Organize Your Incoming Mail

Several months back, our normal routine for bringing the mail was to simply lay it on the counter in the kitchen, until we found the time to go through it.  Sometimes the stack would just get bigger and bigger; it was always in the way of things I had to do in the kitchen; and I was getting more and more frustrated!

A friend of mine suggested the following organization tip for sorting my daily mail, and I have to tell you — THIS IS AMAZING, and IT WORKS!!

Today, when we bring in the mail, we have a spot in our kitchen that is used specifically for mail. It took a matter of about 3 days to get in the habit of using it, but once we saw how much better this process works, it was so easy to get in the habit of making it part of our daily routine!

So what is this fabulous organization tip, you ask?  I want to first share a picture of it with you to show you how little space it takes up in my kitchen!  Then I will tell you how to set it up.  (The picture is really all you need to learn how to set it up…it is THAT EASY to set up!)

Box2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This little table sits right next to the door that comes into our kitchen from the outside.  So this makes an excellent spot for this box to sit!

What you will need:

Iris(R) Clear Open Top File Storage

Smead Hanging File Folders, Letter, 1/5 Cut Tab, Assorted Primary Colors, 25 Per Box (64059)

Post-it Tabs, 2-Inches, Angled Lined, 4 Assorted Primary Colors, 6-Tabs/Color, 24-Tabs/Pack

Insert all of the file folders into your new Mail Storage Bin.

Mark each tab as:

  • Persons name receiving mail
  • To Be Paid
  • To Be Filed
  • To Be Read
  • To Be Shredded
  • Taxes
  • Miscellaneous

Once you have marked all of your labels, attach them to the individual file folders.

Box1

 

 

 

 

 

VIOLA!!!  Your new Mail Storage Bin is ready to be used!!  So now what?

Each day that you retrieve your mail, get in the habit of coming inside and going directly to your Mail Storage Bin!  Sort the mail right then!!  Place inside the folders what needs to be kept, and then TOSS anything else IMMEDIATELY!  I promise you, you will LOVE this system!!  At least two or three times a week, set aside some time to go through each file folder; file what needs to be filed; shred what needs to be shredded; pay what needs to be paid, and so on.

You’re Very Welcome!! 

Christi