Monday, September 18, 2017

Poem ~ The Little Birds of God

Her name was Annie Johnson Flint (1866 - 1932), the author of the poem below. She knew of burdens, the need for courage, she knew of just asking the Lord for the strength for the day.  Her Poetry and Hymns were written from her own experiences and adversities.

Annie was known as the “poet of helpfulness”, and often gave her poetry as gifts to friends.  As her poems became more widely known, many were set to music.   I have previously written about Annie, and you can find that here:  Annie Johnson Flint

by Annie Johnson Flint

I HEAR them at my window in the late, gray winter dawn,
The little birds of God, the farthing sparrows of His care;
They ask of me, as I of Him, His gift of daily bread.
With soft, impatient twitterings they voice their morning prayer.

The heavenly Father feedeth them, the little birds of God,
Though ’tis my hand that scattereth the food within their reach;
I do but share His bounty when I give the crumbs to them.
doubting heart and anxious heart, what lessons they can teach!

They sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns,
Content if but each day shall bring the day’s supply of food;
No question whence it comes, nor if the morrow bringeth more
Small optimists in feathers, who are sure that all is good!

God seeth when they fly or fall. Am I less worth than they?
I would not fail them in their need. Is He less true than I?
I would not mock their faith in me, nor hurt them, nor betray;
I answer to their trusting call, He to His children’s cry.

When sunset tints the fading light and dusk is falling fast,
The while I draw the curtains close and stir the hearth-fire bright,
I hear their cheerful chirping, the little birds of God,
And wonder to what shelter they are fleeing for the night.

But they, as I, shall rest secure beneath the wings of Love,
Though storm and darkness sweep the sea and cover all the land.
My life and theirs, so small and frail, God’s care of both the same;
My soul a nesting bird within the hollow of His hand.

Monday, August 28, 2017

God used my Pinterest Fail

It was a Thursday, and the Men’s Bible Study would be meeting at our church. The last time they met, I had made sugar cookies from a pinterest find “the best chewy sugar cookies recipe”. They came out perfectly, beautifully shaped, delicious, just as in the pinterest picture. My husband reported the men loved them. I have to say, I felt a twinge of pride as baking isn’t something I get real excited about. 

The recipe had worked so well the last time, I thought – let’s just keep a good thing going. On this particular Thursday my two grandsons were here as I made the cookies. They were excited about testing them when they came out of the oven. I turned on the oven light so we could peek at the progress. To our horror, they had flattened and spread on the cookie sheet into basically one giant cookie that was of course wafer thin.

As the cookies cooled I contemplated what I should do. The boys sampled one of the “cookies” and declared them delicious. There was no time to make another batch. It was sink or swim. After texting my daughter and a couple friends for some quick advice, as well as my grandson’s input, I decided to cut them into squares and rectangles and send them with my husband. 

He reported back the men went crazy over them, they LOVED them. One of them even asked if he could take a few home. The plate came back with one lone cookie on it. I think no one wanted to take the last one. The next day, I received a text from one of the wives asking for the recipe. Ha! 

I later determined the cookies were flat due to my omission of 1 cup of flour (recipe called for 2 ¼ and I had added 1 ¼ ). I viewed the cookies as a failure because of their appearance. They looked like losers, least likely to be successful, an embarrassment, throwaways, failures, not even registering a vote in a popularity contest.
The LORD does not look at the things people look at.
People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
 1 Samuel 16:7b

As I reflected on the flat cookies and their success despite how they looked, I was reminded that God can use any of us, regardless of our shapes, sizes, or view of our own abilities.  People look at our outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. It’s often the broken people of this world, the nobodies, the ones who were NOT voted “most likely to succeed” in high school that God chooses to use. Ask God how He can use you! Ask with a heart willing to serve and wait for the opportunities to unfold.  

The Best Chewy Sugar Cookies Recipe
pinterest link: Click here to pin sugar cookies recipe

This post may be linked to: Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth, Trekking Through,

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Brighten the Corner Where you Are

Brighten the Corner Where You Are
~ Helen Steiner Rice ~ 

We cannot all be famous
Or be listed in “Who’s Who,”
But every person great or small
Has important work to do,

For seldom do we realize
The importance of small deeds
Or to what degree of greatness
Unnoticed kindness leads—

For it’s not the big celebrity
In a world of fame and praise,
But it’s doing unpretentiously
In undistinguished ways

The work that God assigned to us,
Unimportant as it seems,
That makes our task outstanding
And brings reality to dreams—

So do not sit and idly wish
For wider, new dimensions
Where you can put in practice
Your many “good intentions”—

But at the spot God placed you
Begin at once to do
Little things to brighten up
The lives surrounding you,

For if everybody brightened up
The spot on which they’re standing
By being more considerate
And a little less demanding,

This dark old world would very soon
Eclipse the “Evening Star”
If everybody brightened up
The corner where they are!

I thought the expression "bloom where you're planted" went hand in hand with this poem by Helen Steiner Rice. No matter our circumstances, living arrangements, status in society, or financial means - we can be used by God. Ask Him how and He'll open quiet opportunities that will bless you and others in abundance.

I remember a time I was visiting in a nursing home. I saw a woman in a wheelchair with her head hung down, looking at the floor.  She lifted her head and looked around a bit. When our eyes met, I smiled at her. Her countenance changed before me and she lit up with a broad grin as if she were in the midst of a beautiful garden of flowers and birds. I'll never forget that. A small insignificant act on my part seemed to make such a difference in someone's day.

Why not look for opportunities to brighten the corner where you are. Have a blessed day my friends. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Sharing a Burden with Prayer

Have you ever had a friend call you with a burden they needed to share? I have had such an occasion a number of times this past week. As I reflected back, I have prayed on the phone with three different women in a short span of time.

The first time I recall praying on the phone with someone, was at their request. A friend called me and asked me to pray with her. I was a little apprehensive, but of course didn't refuse her. It turned out to be a blessing for both of us. I'm so happy she asked me to do that as it opened a door for me to step out of my comfortable place and encourage many since that first phone prayer.

Praying with someone, or praying over the phone takes "I'll pray for you" to the next level.  Of the three women who shared their burdens with me this past week, one called specifically for me to pray. With the other two women, I asked them if I could pray on the phone with them. Yes! was the response.

Bear ye one another's burdens,
and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

How does one bear another's burden?
  • ask God for wisdom
  • be a good listener
  • keep their confidence
  • pray with them & for them
  • a note of encouragement in the mail
  • text an encouraging scripture
Would you like to be an encourager in your circle of family and friends? Ask God to open opportunities for you, and He will. I guarantee it will be a blessing for both of you.

Have a blessed day my friends.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Singing Birds Poem

All day long the birds are singing
Sweetest songs that seem to rise
From their tiny throats far-reaching,
Even to the distant skies.

Then at night they rest securely,
Nestled close within their nest,
And the Father safely watches
Every little feathered breast.

Likewise we when night approaches,
Lay our weary heads to rest,
For we know that God will watch us
as He does the bird's wee nest.

~ Josephine Currier ~ 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Independence Day ~ 4th of July

Now the Lord is the Spirit, 
and where the Spirit of the Lord is, 
there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17

The 4th of July in America is a time of celebration with parades, fireworks, cookouts; a day off from work; a long weekend. However on July 4, 1776, under the threat of death, fifty-six brave men signed a Declaration of Independence from England. Those who signed, knew their signature would be a sacrifice.

Of those fifty-six men who signed:
  • nine died of wounds during the war; 
  • five were captured and imprisoned; 
  • several lost their wives, children or entire family
  • they were all victims of manhunts  
  • driven from their homes;
  • twelve had their homes burned; 
  • seventeen lost everything they owned. 
Freedom came at a high price for the men who founded our country.

The Declaration of Independence tells us: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. 
Our founding fathers recognized the God of the Bible when they formed our governmental system.

Most of the patriotic hymns acknowledge and give praise to God.

Francis Scott Key wrote our National Anthem "The Star Spangled Banner" during the war of 1812:

Blest with victory and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land,

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto, In God is our trust.

"My Country, 'Tis of Thee" was written by Samuel Smith, 1831 and sung at a 4th of July celebration in Boston, that same year.

Our fathers’ God, to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing;
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our king.

America is known as "the land of the free" however freedom has never been free, it comes with a cost, which is often blood. God set the example when He purchased our freedom from sin at a high cost. God offers each of us salvation as a free gift through the blood of His son Jesus. Our debt has been paid.

The freedom the world offers is temporary ~ spiritual freedom is eternal.

I'll close with some wise words by Abraham Lincoln - “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right”.

And you shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free.

John 8:32


Have a blessed day my friends.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Poem - Life's Trials

A poem by Helen Steiner Rice
There are times when life overwhelms us
And our trials seem too many to bear,
It is then we should stop to remember
God is standing ready to share
the uncertain hours that confront us
And fill us with fear and despair
For God in His goodness has promised
That the cross He gives us to wear
Will never exceed our endurance
Or be more than our strength can bear . .
And secure in that blessed assurance
We can smile as we face tomorrow
For God holds the key to the future
And no sorrow or care need we borrow.

Have a blessed day my friends.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

This is My Father's World

Many years ago around the late 1800's, a pastor from Lockport, New York named Maltbie D. Babcock like to hike. There was one area in particular he liked to go called the escarpment, an old upthrust ledge near Lockport. He described it as a marvelous view of farms, orchards and Lake Ontario. It is said those walks inspired the lyrics to this hymn "This is My Father's World". Before Babcock would walk, he'd often say "I'm going out to see my Father's world."

Here are the lyrics to this timeless hymn written so long ago. I would imagine Mr. Babcock would be pleased to know it's still sung today.

This is my Father’s world,
And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world,
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong
Seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
The battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

This is my Father’s world,
Dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise
Cry, The Lord is in this place.
This is my Father’s world,
From the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world,
Should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring.
God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world.
Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world.
I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze
God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world,
a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

Have a blessed day my friends.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Craft, Rebates & Children's Books

School's out this week for kids in our area, and summer vacation begins. After a year of volunteering off/on at my grandson's school, I was pleased to have the school year come to a close yesterday with the culmination of field day.

The grades rotated through various stations of activities. I was in charge of the craft station - are you surprised?  The kids made magnets - preschool through grade 7. It was a whirlwind of excitement with the face-painting station right beside me. Thankfully I had another mom/friend helping me - Charlie.

Last year's craft station, which I also managed, proved to be overwhelming for me AND the kids. I learned simple is better when you have lots of kids and a short window of time. My friend Darlene has a framing business and cut tons of foam-board rectangles for me, 2" x 3". Since it is a Christian school, I could incorporate a scripture verse into the project. I instructed the kids to decorate the front of the magnet any way they wanted with markers, then add the verse sticker. I chose "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Proverbs 3:5a".  It amazes me when you give a group of people the same materials to make the same thing, everyone single one is different. They added a magnet to the back, easy peasy.

This would be an easy craft for women's ministry events. If you don't have foam-board, you could heavy duty cardboard or mat-board.  Tip: if doing this with kids, use peel/stick circle magnets, they are the easiest, and . . . with preschoolers, have them put their sticker down FIRST before decorating with markers. Most of them didn't want to put the sticker over their design. And to think I thought I had thought of everything. 😥

I wanted to share with you an app I use frequently to get rebates on groceries and more. The free app is called Ibotta and you can use my referral link to sign up and find out more about it Rebates with IBOTTA 

So - just what is Ibotta? 
This is basically how it works: Before you shop, you'd look over the app for available virtual rebates at stores that participate, such as Walmart, or other major grocery stores, even amazon,  and select the products that interest you. Purchase those products when you go shopping, save your receipt and scan the code on the receipt into the app.

Your Ibotta account is then credited with the rebates that apply. When you reach $20 or more in your Ibotta account, you can request to have the funds transferred to paypal, or select from an assortment of gift cards such as amazon. This adds up quickly and since I've been using Ibotta, I've accumulated $80 in rebates that I had transferred to paypal. My friend with a large family, has received over $260 in Ibotta rebates. There is a help section within the app that explains more about it. The nice thing is they often have rebates that are NOT brand specific - such as: any gallon of milk, .25 back on any purchase, any bananas, any bread. Please remember, these amounts don't come off your grocery tally, but are credited to your Ibotta account. 

By signing up under my referral code, you'll be on my team, which essentially means, the more, the merrier. There are various "bonuses" that can be earned - such as your team redeeming x amount of rebates in a month and other ways to earn an extra $1.00 here or there in your account.

It's an easy learning curve if you're "app" savvy.

Moving right along - my daughter Bethany, a busy stay at home mom to four children, has become a consultant with Usborne Books. This allows her to get free books for their home library, and earn some income for her family. They are a direct sales company that sells high quality educational books for children.  Here's a few of the books I purchased to have available when my grandchildren come to visit.

One of favorites of course has to do with birds "100 Birds to Fold and Fly". Since it was about birds and an activity book, I knew I had to order it. I was quite surprised when it arrived - beautiful double-sided color pages of birds, pages tear easily from the book and have pre-printed fold lines.

Here's a link to Bethany's page where you can order if you'd like, or just peruse the books  Usborne Books with Bethany   There is a place on the website where you can contact her with questions.

For those who place an order by 6/30/17, Bethany will enter you in a drawing for a free book.

100 Birds to Fold and Fly - A sample of the beautiful papers

That's a wrap! If you stuck with me to the end of this post, you know why it's called "A Craft, Rebates & Children's Books". Happy Summer to you all. I hope to be blogging more often. Have a blessed week.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Importance of Hymns

There are over one thousand scriptures in the Bible which reference music in one form or another.   Hymns were instilled in me from a very young age, they came naturally to me, and I learned very quickly.  The Lord gifted me with an ear for music, and He had future plans for me to use that gift.  

As I’ve mentioned here before, I am the pianist for our church and have played the piano since I was four years old.  The old hymns are near and dear to me.  I can remember an old pump organ in our home that I liked to play.  There was just one problem…. I couldn’t reach the pedals.  My sisters took pity on me and would pump them for me so the sound would come out while I played.

Missionary and author, Elisabeth Elliot says this about hymns:

One of the things that I think is so important and often neglected nowadays is the learning of hymns, because it’s an easy way to learn theology. My father was not a theologian, but he was a very, very devout Christian and a writer and an editor of a Christian magazine. But we sang a hymn every single morning after breakfast. Because of that, we children learned hymns by heart without any effort whatsoever.

The old hymns are often thought of as old fashioned today and boring. However, most are timeless pieces of Christian history that were written in times of adversity.  Many of the joyful hymns were written BECAUSE of the adversity. They provide such comfort and encouragement just when we need it. 

Elizabeth Preniss

Elizabeth Prentiss, who wrote the hymn  More Love to Thee, O Christ (1856) had this to say about her life.  Much of my experience of life has cost me a great price and I wish to use it for strengthening and comforting other souls.  

Fanny Crosby
Blind hymn writer Fanny Crosby had NO earthly vision.  I know from studying her life and her hymns, what she lacked in physical vision with her eyes, she made up for it with the eyes of her heart.  She wrote thousands of hymns that touched people deeply, still today. 

Without the blindness, some of the popular hymns below would never have been heard.

All the way My Savior Leads Me
Blessed Assurance
He Hideth My Soul
Praise Him! Praise Him!  
Saved by Grace
To God Be The Glory
and thousands more

You don’t have to be musical to enjoy the old hymns or appreciate the words. Old hymn books can often be found in thrift stores or in used book stores. Sometimes just reading the words will minister to your soul. 

Often with the hymns I’m familiar with, I’ll say them rather than sing them and the words take on new meaning with the different approach.

The Cyber Hymnal is a huge database of hymns and the history behind them.  Searchable in many different ways.  You can even hear the tune to a hymn if you're not familiar with it.

If you are struggling with a burden, a load, a heavy heart, sing hymns and I guarantee you'll feel your burden lift.

But I will sing of your strength,
n the morning I will sing of your love; 
for you are my fortress, 
   my refuge in times of trouble.
Psalm 59:16 (NIV)

What are some of your favorite hymns? Have a blessed day.