Uniquely Puzzling

One day while cleaning out a closet, I found several of my 10 year old’s puzzles that had been pushed to the back by other things and had laid there unnoticed. An activity that we haven’t done in a while can peek our interest once more. So, I decided to lay a trap and see what, or should I say whom, I could catch! I retrieved about 4 puzzle boxes from the closet, and laid them on the table. They were sure to be noticed there! Sure enough, much to my delight, the work began. There were 25 piece puzzles, 50 pieces and 100 pieces. I was quickly reminded that 25 piece puzzles were for “babies”! Yet, there they were, all lined up across the table with empty boxes put to the side, displaying their masterpiece. Not too much to look at one piece at a time, or even several lined up, but in the hand of the right person, wow! They become a beautiful picture, but more than that, they have the ability to take you to another place. I’ve noticed her humming a song, while she works, and my heart smiles. ♥️♥️She has put each of them together over 25 times. So much so, that if a piece from another box gets mixed in she recognizes it immediately. Maybe it’s the sense of accomplishment of the “finished work” that is so intriguing. Perhaps it’s the lure of possibilities. Either way, my trap worked and I could not be happier.

What about you?……… Any closets need cleaning out? …….. Any hidden dreams or talents pushed to the back that need to be revived? ……….Any relationships that need to be rekindled or perhaps some that may need to have the strings cut. ….. Maybe it’s time to really forgive and move on……… This kind of stuff is not “for babies”! It’s not for the weak! This is the perfect place to quit trying to puzzle together a life with all the wrong pieces, and turn it over to the One who designed it from the Throne Room of Heaven. That my friend, takes courage and strength, to give over the control to the only one who can see the complete picture. It’s really quite simple, almost too simple. It’s a decision. It’s committing to being “all in”! Nothing worse than to finish a puzzle and step back only to notice there are pieces missing! Even worse to walk away and leave it only half finished! We don’t want that!! We want all that he has for us! We want his best! Perhaps that seems too hard or impossible. Maybe you are thinking you’ve messed up too bad for him to fix. Really? How absurd is that? His best friend denied that he even knew him –so strongly that he cussed! Yet before he left this earthly realm, he restored him, and positioned him as the head of his church. That means to me that there’s hope for people like me and you. Let the Great Artist take you from feeling weighted down from all the baggage and self loathing you are carrying, to being light hearted and carefree.

Unaccepted Grace is the most uniquely puzzling thing of all. It’s there for the taking. It cost nothing, but he gave everything! You have nothing to loose except torment, depression, anxiety, addiction, etc. You have everything to gain like freedom, joy, peace and contentment. One thing is for sure, once he has done his best work on you, there’s no going back to who you once were. If you have slipped, hurry, pick up the cloth of repentance and wipe off the smudged glass so that you can see clearly again and let him pick up the pieces! He is really good at what he does!! He’s my Daddy. He’s my Deliverer. He’s my best friend. He’s my redeemer. His name is Jesus. Just say his name out loud, I dare you, and watch the atmosphere begin to shift.

Prayer: Jesus take each piece of my life and redeem each one to give you glory. Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven! Amen.

Matthew 8:27 )And the men were full of wonder, saying, What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea do his orders?

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Come Up Higher

That is the cry of my heart. That the Father will beckon me to come up higher with him. Because I know that in order to get closer to the King, one must first be called.   About a year ago I began posting and writing down Bible verses in my home about Wisdom and Understanding.  My prayers were filled with praying for these two things.  My husband and I pray daily for eyes to see and ears to hear Kingdom activity around us, as Heaven invades Earth.  Now looking back, I can see how he has begun to open my eyes to see things and situations differently than I had before.  He has positioned me around people who challenge me to go higher in my pursuit of God.  He has placed seasoned, prayer warriors in my path to call me to a deeper level of prayer.  As I hunger and thirst for Righteousness, He fills me.

As I watch, read, and listen to men and women in the Faith, that are proven and tested to be true in their Kingdom Roles of leadership and authority, I am challenged to think higher, to deepen my walk with the Lord.  As we have prayed for Kingdom people to be placed around our children, champions of the Faith, we have seen that also come to pass.  We don’t just accept what comes floating down the river, using our rights as children of God, we cry out for destiny and purpose to be filled in all of our lives.  We pray that the Father reveal any darkness that has unknowingly crept in, so that we can get rid of it, before it takes root.

     The Word says in John 1:5 (NLT)  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

So as we shine the Light of His word into our lives, we will not be overcome by the darkness around us.  If right now, you have no clue what I am saying, and do not realize the dark culture we are raising our children in, then perhaps you have been lulled to sleep by that culture.  Perhaps one compromise after another has dulled your Kingdom senses.  Even still, if you are aware of this and are not actively and passionately putting a hedge of Kingdom Legacy into your children and family: beware!

Ephesians 6:12 (NLT).   For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

If this verse alone doesn’t call you to prayer, nothing and no one will.  We have been given all the tools we need for success.  We must however, put them to use. 💡🔧🔩⚙️🗡🙏🏻📖

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

As we position ourself in prayer, and seek His face, he will guide us into Truth. As we read and study 📖 His Word, it will cut darkness out of our lives, and draw us into His presence. Oh, if you ever get a glimpse of his goodness and mercy, if he opens your eyes to the fruit at his table, you will be forever hooked.  You will never again be satisfied at the table of Religion and dead works.

Our God is the Living God and His work is Alive!! He will speak into you His purposes for you, and gently guide you into destiny.  He will pour out His Peace over you, and it will fill your soul with Joy and Gladness.

Listen closely…..do you hear that voice deep inside beckoning you to “come up higher”…….. higher in your thinking, higher in your prayer life, higher in your relationship with Him, the Creator of all things.  Remember Jesus had many followers, but only a few pressed in close.  Will you be one of those?  You will not be disappointed!  Run to him, and like me you will realize that all along, you were the one being pursued!!
 

Change Your View

imageAt first glance, this doesn’t look like much. As a matter of fact, I have complained to my husband, several times that we were loosing ground to this vine!  One day, we noticed it was a muscadine vine, and at that moment all the complaining stopped! This year it has really put out. I have harvested about 4 gallons from this wonderful resource, and for the first time, I made some wonderful, delicious, organic, muscadine jelly. Now to someone else, this is not a big deal.  However for me, to be able to harvest, cook, and process my own jelly was very rewarding.  Mostly, because it took me back to my MeMe’s kitchen on a hot Mississippi summer day…..

I was just barely taller than the cook table in the kitchen.  My MeMe was making biscuits in a wooden bowl and letting me help roll them out.  I always asked to eat the dough, and she would warn me that if I ate too much dough, I would get worms.  Needless to say, I was horrified of that prospect, and kept the bites few.  As soon as the biscuits were ready, we took them out of the oven and immediately put butter and homemade jelly inside them.  We ate them on the spot. They were delicious.  Time moved much slower back then.

So you see, it was more than making jelly.  It was transporting me back in time to another kitchen, and a much smaller me! Who knew jelly could travel?😊

Yesterday, when I walked out to see if there were any grapes to harvest, at first glance only a couple were seen.  However, after walking behind the vine, into the arbor that it had created, the scene became alive with fruit!  I could hear the Lord whisper in my Spirit, “Sometimes, you just need a different view”.

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And then, my favorite scriptures flooded my soul..

“I am the vine, you are the branches, if you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing.”

I couldn’t help but wonder how many times we have questioned God, as to why we were stuck in a nonproductive state, when all the while we just needed a different view?  I don’t know about you, but for me and mine, to stay connected to the vine of Christ is all that matters.  I pursue him, because He is worth it! He gives so much more back.  His Peace is priceless, and his love unmatched! His name is Yeshua, the spotless lamb, that takes away the sin of the world.  I can’t wait to get to the Kingdom that He is preparing for us! The Bible says to be ready for his return, because we do not know the hour he comes. And that when he comes, he will take the ones that are watching and ready, and he will sit us down at his table, and he will put on an apron and serve us.  That’s the type of King I serve. The one who has given all, because He loves us so!  And because he knows we have struggled here, have felt the pain of loss and death, he will replace our tears with joy and laughter, and seat us at his table, and serve us. Oh if you think he doesn’t care what you are going through, you just need a different view.  Life deals some pretty tough blows.  He beckons us to fellowship with him, to come drink from the fountain of his Word, and let him refresh our spirits.  He calls for us to lay down the burdens and bondage of sin, and wash in the fountain of repentance, so that we can fellowship with The Father.  He says to be Holy because he is Holy.  Don’t look to the right or the left, look straight into the face of the one who gave it all just for you! You will gather and eat from vineyards that you didn’t plant, and dwell in houses that you didn’t build.  The walls of your house will resound with laughter and joy. Oh taste and see that The Lord is good! But I am telling you one thing is for sure, don’t fall for the lie of the enemy that a trip to a religious event a week will sit you at his table.  He is coming for the ones who are pursuing him. He is coming for the ones who have a living, breathing relationship with him, and the earth is anticipating this return like never before!  Steal away some quiet time just for him daily, and you will be forever changed! There is so much more to him than singing some words to a song you don’t mean, and sleeping through a sermon you didn’t hear.

He is alive.  He is speaking and He is very active!  He has gifts to pass out and is watching and waiting for you to receive them!! Do something different, CHANGE YOUR VIEW!

We Love Going “Whole Hog”

Cooking a whole hog is something we enjoy doing. Actually entertaining and having an excuse to invite family and friends over, is something we both love!  When we decided to do our own pig roast, my husband researched it extensively.  After many YouTube videos and “how to’s”, he decided with a cinder block style.  This offered the ability to move it and reassemble, as needed.  It is fairly inexpensive. He bought the cinder blocks and the sand was free.  He had an expanded metal grate made locally for about $60.  He has blocks on each end that he can remove to add more charcoal and wood or to let it cool down a bit. He concentrates the heat on each 4 corners.  He has a small fire pit to the side with hot coals ready to use.  The top that covers it was the hardest thing to find.  He luckily came across a large piece of sheet metal, which requires 2 men to lift it off.  So we have about $200 in materials altogether.   The first time is the big expense because that’s just the pit! However, you can always get family and or friends to split the cost.

Next, we had to find a pig to roast!  A few calls and we had a pig secured.  We found a pig farm within about 90 miles, Boe Farms in Moselle, Ms.  We have been more than satisfied with their product and service. Our pit can roast up to a 80-85 lb. dressed pig. However, Todd prefers a 75lb pig.  That seems to be the perfect size to fit our crowd, with plenty of leftovers!

Down in Mississippi, no BBQ is complete without baked beAns (which are a meal all by their self), potato salad and/or slaw.  There most likely will be some deviled eggs, corn salad, and a fruit tray as well. On the dessert table you will find homemade ice cream and possibly some banana pudding.  Our preferred drink is sweet ice tea and ice water.

The crowd gathers around when the digital thermometer reports that ‘it’s time’! For us, that’s a internal temp of greater than 200 degrees, 203 – 205 is perfect! Remembering that the heat is concentrated at the four corners, where the largest most heavily marveled and toughest pieces are located.  The loins have been placed on a double layer of HD tin foil, the  fartherest away from the heat source.  There is very minimal rub applied to the top layer where the meat is exposed.  We cook it skin side down, and never turn it.  We think it’s best to cook it low and slow, about 250 degrees.  Cook time is usually between 9 1/2 -12 hours, depending on weather conditions. When it’s ready, the top is removed, and the pig is wrapped loosely with foil, and left to ‘rest’ for about half an hour.  My loving Man believes that good BBQ depends on the 3 T’s:

  • Temperature
  • Time
  • And Temperature

The Lid comes off only once at the 4-5 hr mark to place wireless digital meat thermometer in shoulder. Otherwise the pit is left disturbed, until coals need to be added.

My husband likes to display the head just to see the reaction of the first timers.  Then pans are filled with the most tender, hand pulled pork you’ve ever eaten.  The table is set, the food is Blessed, and (my favorite part) everyone is happy and eating.  Personally, I like to mingle and check on everyone, and I rarely eat much at gatherings. I usually eat as the day goes by, so I can enjoy and serve everyone! “All my favorites in one place is always such a blessing!!”

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“It’s the little things”

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We love camping for many reasons, but just to name a few:

  • The kids get unplugged from electronics to be kids: to ride bikes and scooters, to make new friends, and play on the playground, to catch frogs, and lightning bugs.
  • Our quiet early morning walks, and late night ride thru the camp rd to look at all the tacky lights (we call our camp ‘Tacky Jacks’😉).image
  • The constant stream of kids and families eating and playing, and spending time together.
  • The walks to the bath house.😂
  • The chance to pour into nieces’ and nephews’ lives, and make their day just by riding bikes with them around ‘the loop’ and hear them say, “it’s fun going down hill”!!!
  • I love to see their eyes light up and smiles break out after announcing: homemade ice cream!  There are so many moments of the ‘little things’!  image
  • Watching for Pop to get up so we can have a early morning cup of coffee together. ☕️☕️
  • Realizing how much “stuff” we can do without, and promising myself to declutter as soon as I return home!
  • Reconnecting with each other and loosing track of time! Actually having to think before answering the question of “what’s today?”!👣🐾
  • Going into my mom’s camper anytime I want, to see her beautiful smile because I did! And thanking God above for that precious lady in my life!!💞
  • I know that we are building into our kiddos the same things our parents gave us: strong family ties. As we show them,  that we care for our old, and our young! That we are to give and not just take! image

So on this Memorial Day, May30, 2016 to all our Veterans who have served and especially to the ones who gave it all, we say THANK YOU for your sacrifice, so we have a chance to enjoy all “the little things”!!!

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Project: Revival continues/Outdoor style

The chairs on the front porch have been screaming for a while now. Last year, (or was that year before?) was ‘paint the outside of the house year,’ and that dominated the summer!  But it’s funny, I put off projects forever then once I start, I’m rolling!  So, out to the front porch, I go.  After the dining room table, I was feeling empowered! Lol! I hate to even post this ugly picture but just so you can see the transformation, here goes!

  
Even FishStix is violated, and who can blame her?  Theses cushions have set out in the weather, omg, I guess at  least 7 years! One year, I pressure washed them, but we are way past that now!  Mary Lyn’s new little pillow didn’t help much here, but we found somewhere it did! 

I could hardly wait for the fabric store to open!  Now there’s a place that could get me into trouble: aisles of beautiful fabric in the latest prints and colors!

I found something that looked similar to a pattern Vicki, my sister has, and stepped off on my own and purchased 5 yards and 1 yd of  a complementary fabric for the pillow that I would make.😳 Thank goodness it worked and she approved!! However, once I got chair cushions made I discovered I would not have enough fabric to finish the ‘leg cushions’, we decided to use fabric pattern that I got for pillows on the leg cushions as well.  I love-love the end result but let me know what ya think!

   
 I forgot to take pictures of the step by step. But I simply removed the old and used each pillow as a pattern, leaving a large seam allowance.  I cut the sides and front and back from the chair cushion being sure to label.  There was an indention for chair rail that I had to allow for. I just turned the old cover inside out and took my cues from it!😉  Once I sewed them together, I left one end open and safety pinned it in place, so I can remove them and wash, if needed.  By the time I had finished, I felt like a pin cushion. I can’t count the times I stuck those pins in my fingers!

Are ya ready? Here’s the Outdoor Reveal:

   
  FishStix Approves! 
It’s not perfect, but I did it all by myself!  And for Me, that’s enough! 

Did I mention there are 2 of these chairs? 😉😁  Can’t wait to get my Asparagus ferns to finish off the look!  I’ll update post when I do!

Project: Revival

Revival Time!!  I decided last week it  was time to bring the much needed change to the dining room table.  It was a Flea Market find and a challenge that I wasn’t sure I was up for, but what did I have to loose? $50? That’s all I had in the table!

 

Since this was my first chalk paint adventure, I called my sister Vicki. She has all the experience needed. She quickly spouts off the colors I should use and tells me what supplies I need, and off I go. I wasn’t sure about the colors at first, but I have learned to trust her. I was NoT disappointed!  After assembling what I had on hand: plastic for floor, staple gun (not pictured), and plastic containers for paint mixing, it’s off to Lowe’s I go.  Just FYI: they offer Sherwin Williams Colors, but one still can purchase the slightly cheaper Valspar paint, like me.  My colors chosen:  Aesthetic white SW7035, Web Gray SW7075 and polycrylic for the finish. It’s a clear finish and will not yellow over time like polyurethane. 

Then off to the fabric store for cushion redo! And yes, I took pictures and let Vicki make the decision, another win.  Here is before and after!  {yes that is dragonflies😂}

        All surfaces lightly sanded with sand block, just enough to rough up the surface, then wiped off with rag.  Time to paint! I had a lot of help too!  At first I said no, and then 💡I thought what am I saying?  Painting chairs is not fun, unless you’re 8!  The great thing about going for the distressed look is, it doesn’t have to be perfect!

I apologize for the picture quality.  There is a lot of glare in the room, and iPhone used.

First coat finished. Time to dry.

We began to layer and dry brush colors in.  When I say we, at this point I called in the sister for reinforcement!

For the leg posts and sides, I dry brushed using charcoal FAT paint. Perfect. More layers on table top, then a little sanding for the distressed look.

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Then table ended up with 3 coats of polycrylic, leaving 8 hr dry time in between.  Chairs got one good coat.  It was 3 days before we put anything on table or I allowed anyone to touch it. 😡  Covering the chair bottoms were easy.  It just takes a little care getting the corners folded in.  And since using a stapler is very inviting for my 8 year old, I had her busy on her own project of making outdoor pillows,😁💡 with her own handy dandy sewing machine!

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This change totally transformed and brightened up the space!!