Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Caroling... with The Waitresses

I just LOVE the song, Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses! It is such a fun song, and can be so true of how we let ourselves get bombarded with "holiday obligations" and forget the fun and celebration of it all...

"Bah, humbug!" No, that's too strong
'Cause it is my favorite holiday
But all this year's been a busy blur
Don't think I have the energy

To add to my already mad rush
Just 'cause it's 'tis the season.
The perfect gift for me would be
Completions and connections left from

Last year, ski shop,
Encounter, most interesting.
Had his number but never the time
Most of '81 passed along those lines.

So deck those halls, trim those trees
Raise up cups of Christmas cheer,
I just need to catch my breath,
Christmas by myself this year.

Calendar picture, frozen landscape,
Chilled this room for twenty-four days,
Evergreens, sparkling snow
Get this winter over with!

Flashback to springtime, saw him again,
Would've been good to go for lunch,
Couldn't agree when we were both free,
We tried, we said we'd keep in touch.

Didn't, of course, 'til summertime,
Out to the beach to his boat could I join him?
No, this time it was me,
Sunburn in the third degree.

Now the calendar's just one page
And, of course, I am excited
Tonight's the night, but I've set my mind
Not to do too much about it.

Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
But I think I'll miss this one this year.
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
But I think I'll miss this one this year.
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
But I think I'll miss this one this year.
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
But I think I'll miss this one this year.

Hardly dashing through the snow
Cause I bundled up too tight
Last minute have-to-do's
A few cards a few calls
'Cause it's r-s-v-p
No thanks, no party lights
It's Christmas Eve, gonna relax
Turned down all of my invites.

Last fall I had a night to myself,
Same guy called, halloween party,
Waited all night for him to show,
This time his car wouldn't go,

Forget it, it's cold, it's getting late,
Trudge on home to celebrate
In a quiet way, unwind
Doing Christmas right this time.

A&P has provided me
With the world's smallest turkey
Already in the oven, nice and hot
Oh damn! Guess what I forgot?

So on with the boots, back out in the snow
To the only all-night grocery,
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
In the line is that guy I've been chasing all year!

"I'm spending this one alone," he said.
"Need a break; this year's been crazy."
I said, "Me too, but why are you?
You mean you forgot cranberries too?"

Then suddenly we laughed and laughed
Caught on to what was happening
That Christmas magic's brought this tale
To a very happy ending! "

Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
Couldn't miss this one this year!
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
Couldn't miss this one this year!



Here's a great example of someone who remembers the FUN of Christmas:



I love Christmas shopping, Christmas caroling, Christmas crafts, Christmas music, Christmas parties, our church's Christmas pagent, Christmas weather (SNOW!!!), and all of the holiday festivities that go with the season. And it's easy to get buried in your gift lists and holiday cards and stocking stuffers and stuffing meals. But remember that Christmas is a cause for celebration: our Savior was born! Don't let the small nit-picky things get you down, and revel in all of the fun activities that occur this time of year...!

Merry Christmas!!!
:) Mags
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit - SELF-CONTROL Layout

Anyone who knows me knows that "self-control" is not my best trait. :) I tend to lead with my gut - and speak waaaaayyyy before thinking. Outside of my general personality, our era is not one to perpetuate patience and careful thought either. TV, magazines, newspapers, etc. constantly tout how to do things faster, quicker, instanteously while they tell you to "buy it now!" or "Don't wait!" Our society promotes a LACK of self-control - even glamourizing it in the media with the various celebrity divorces or rehab stints.

When we did our last lesson for the Fruit of the Spirit album, we came across this verse in 1 Corinthians - I liked the way The Message phrased it:


You've all been to the sadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally. I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyon eelse all about it, and then missing out myself!
1 Corinthians 9:24-27

I totally can identify with the "Life is a Game/Race" analogy; I have found it to be true over and over again... in school, in work, in life. I'm often thinking, "What is the goal? What are the rules of this "game?" And "what is the fastest way I can get there?" I figured Milton's Bradley's "game of Life" would be a good jump-start for this layout:




Our "prize" to the Game of Life is a life on earth filled with more happy, peaceful moments than sad and a life of joy eternally in Heaven with Jesus. What a game to win!
If you'd like to view all of the layouts of this album together, you can visit my gallery at MooTwo Designs. Comments always welcome!
:) Mags
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Caroling... with Michael W. Smith & Chris Rice

Our last Christmas carol was the song of Jesus' impending arrival from Mary's perspective. Michael W. Smith does a similar song about the everyday, ordinary person greeting Jesus in Welcome to Our World:

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from god
You've been promised, weve been waiting
Welcome holy child
Welcome holy child

Hope that you dont mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long awaited holy stranger
Make yourself at home
Please make yourself at home

Bring your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
World now breaking heavens silence
Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born

So wrap our injured flesh around you
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect son of god
Perfect son of god
Welcome to our world


Chris Rice also does a version of this song that is beautiful:


A baby is always a miracle... but the greatest miracle is when God came down in human form as Jesus. Merry Christmas!!
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit - GENTLENESS Layout

We have a dog - a wonderfully sweet, Cocker Spaniel named Clifton. Clifton is my FIRST dog - we got him before kids so he was our first "baby." He chose us - at the breeder's kennel, he trotted into the room... I was sitting cross-legged on the floor, and he walked right into my lap and snuggled down. From that moment, we were hooked - Clifton was to be our dog.

Now Clifton is 12 years old, and over the last 3-4 years, he has deteriorated. He is about 90% blind; he is deaf. He has had cancerous tumors removed twice. He is prone to warts all over his body and has had 20+ removed already. He goes through periods where he has seizures, and he sleeps ALL of the time. He still has some "life" left in him, though - he searches out the bunnies that live under our patio - he snuggles up with us to watch TV - and he can still rip through ANY diaper bag to snag the snacks... even if they are in a Tupperware container!

We do know, that his years (months?) are limited. I've described him as "blind, deaf, and 1/2 dead" for at least the last 3 years! But until he cannot take care of himself or is in pain, we will continue to love him and care for him. He has been a good and faithful dog - especially to my children, and his GENTLENESS is the focus for this layout:




I love the quote that says, "A person who has never owned a dog has missed a wonderful part of life." I know our life would not have been as full without Clifton.
:) Mags
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Caroling... with Amy Grant

Amy Grant has a ton of fabulous Christmas songs and albums. I always enjoy her version of Sleigh Ride. But one of her most powerful Christmas songs is Breath of Heaven - a song from Mary's perspective as she gets ready to become the mother of God's son:

I have traveled many moonless nights,
Cold and weary with a babe inside,
And I wonder what iIve done.
Holy father you have come,
And chosen me now to carry your son.

I am waiting in a silent prayer.
I am frightened by the load I bear.
In a I walk this path alone?
Be with me now.
Be with me now.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.

Do you wonder as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place,
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan.
Help me be strong.
Help me be.
Help me.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven.



While searching for a video of Amy Grant singing this on You Tube, I came across a short film originally produced by the LDS Church where a YouTube user had muted the original audio and dubbed over it with Amy Grant's song. It really matches perfectly - I thought you might enjoy it:




This season, when you take a moment to remember the gift of Jesus given to us by God, remember also the sacrifices made by Mary and Joseph... everyday, ordinary people chosen by God to take part in a miracle. Merry Christmas.
♥Mags
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Karaoke Tuesday: "Song of Hope"

I choose this song today mainly because of the musicality of it. It completely fits it's title, Song of Hope; the beat is infectious, and it makes you want to get up and sing. It IS a song of HOPE!

The message is simple: In your darkest moments, God is still with you. His presence will bring you comfort and strength. He gives you hope. That is our song today!


Title: Song of Hope
Artist: Robbie Seay Band
Album: Everlasting God: 25 Modern Worship Favorites
LYRICS


Hear it here on LastFM.

Then get up and dance!

♥Mags
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Caroling... with CeCe Winans

A few years back, David and I went to our first Michael W. Smith Christmas concert. He was touring with Amy Grant and CeCe Winans. And although we've been to other such concerts since, not one has captured the magic and power of that first show. Perhaps it is because CeCe Winans has not been a part of any concerts we've seen since. Because when she sang her version of Oh Holy Night, I nearly fell to my knees at the power of her voice. There are many, many beautiful versions of this song, of course. It is a beautiful song in and of itself, but CeCe Winan's is stunning. The album version is good - but even that cannot quite match the power of her live performance.



Oh Holy Night is one of my favorite Christmas songs, and there are many amazing versions out there. Other ones you might want to check out are Shawn McDonald and Shane & Shane's versions. If you have a favorite version of this song, feel free to post it in the comments section!

Have a blessed Christmas!
:) Mags
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Saturday, December 13, 2008

I Found God In Santa Claus...

I know there are some Christians out there who want to distance themselves from Santa Claus and the commercialism that accompanies the Christmas holiday. It makes sense, Santa does often overshadow the true purpose to the Christmas celebration. But, I happen to love Santa Claus and the spirit of Christmas he symbolizes, and I think there is room for both Jesus AND Santa Claus at Christmastime.

Of course, if you compare the two side-by-side, Jesus is the clear winner (exerpt below by the Rev. James Spellman):


Santa lives at the North Pole ... JESUS is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh ... JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year ... JESUS is an ever present help.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies ... JESUS supplies all your needs.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited ... JESUS stands at your door and knocks, and then enters your heart when invited.

You have to wait in line to see Santa ... JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap ... JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is "Hi little boy or girl,what's your name?" ... JESUS knew our name before we did. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future and He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly ... JESUS has a heart full of love.

All Santa can offer is HO HO HO ... JESUS offers health, help and hope.

Santa says "You better not cry" ... JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you."

Santa's little helpers make toys ... JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mansions.

Santa may make you chuckle but ... JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

While Santa puts gifts under your tree ... JESUS became our gift and died on a tree.


But what about their similarities...? God and Santa are very similar in many respects (exerpt below originally from HERE - and yes, it's tongue-n-cheek):


They look and dress alike: Both are older dudes with big fluffy white beards and both wear robes (sort of, Santa's red outfit looks like something you could wear as a robe).

They're both all-knowing: God, in his omniscience knows everything that has happened. Santa is virtually the same, he knows what EVERY person did EVERY year.

They're both everywhere: Just ask any priest, particularly in a church, and they'll tell you that God is everywhere. Santa delivers presents for the WHOLE world (at least those of us that celebrate Xmas and can afford it, but who's counting??) in one night, that's darn near close to omnipresent.

They're both all-powerful: God, because you know he created the universe and all that. Santa, because let's face it, the dude is a supply chain genius, even better than Michael Dell, that's pretty omnipotent.

They both judge: God looks at our lives, whether we've sinned or not and decides our eternity in heaven or hell. Santa looks at our lives, whether we've been good or bad and decides whether we'll get the GI Joe with Kung Fu Grip, American Girl Doll (heaven) or a lump of coal (hell) of course that's only for a year but you get the point.

They are both related to Jesus: Jesus is apparently God's only begotten son and Santa brings gifts ONLY on Jesus birthday, I can't think of many people other than parents that would celebrate their child's birthday EVERY year LONG after he died. I guess we're the beneficiary of Santa not being able to let go.

They both live in billowy white areas: God--Clouds, Santa--Snowy North Pole.

They both have friendly, protective servants: God--Angels, Santa--Elves

They both get offerings from the believers: God believers give money, Santa believers give him cookies and milk.
:)

What I love the most about Santa is the way he inspires others to spread goodwill and charity at Christmastime. Many of us remember our own childhood Christmases where Santa brought that one magnificent gift that we'd been craving (For me, it was a 4-foot long, Kenner Glamour Gals Cruise Ship). Now that I'm a "grown-up," I want other kids to feel that same joy - so our family joins in on all of the adopt-a-family opportunities we can afford (through our church, the kids' schools, hubby's work, etc.). Christmas makes people feel generous. Of course, it'd be nice if we all felt generous all year around. Of course, it'd be nice if we did it "just because Jesus would want us to." But if the end result is that Santa is a good "non-partisan" type figurehead that inspires people across different sub-faiths to be more generous... so is that really a bad thing??

I don't know if God objects to Santa. I do know he doesn't like it when people or things overshadow Him and His Son. But, there ARE ways that we, as Christians, can use Santa to remind children of the true meaning of Christmas: GIVING:

God gave the world His only son.
Jesus gave His life for the salvation of the world.
We can give to others in the spirit of Christmas.

T.A.W. wrote a fabulous article on enjoying BOTH Jesus and Santa at Christmas. My favorite idea was to write a letter from Santa to your children:

Dear [Child's Name],

It's so great to see you this year! I've been having lots of fun making trips around the world. Thank you for the cookies and milk. I'm glad to know that you've been very good all year!

Rudolph has been guiding my sleigh this year, as usual. If you hear thumps on your roof top, it's probably him.

I wanted to let you know why I do this every year. I love to see your smile when you open a present from me. However, the reason for Christmas is about Jesus. Jesus gave the ultimate gift when he died on the cross. He gave us life. And that is why I give presents every year to remind children (and adults, too!) that Christmas is about giving. If you know the Christmas story about Jesus, why don't you share it with your family?

Ho! Ho! Ho! And Merry Christmas! I know you will have lots of fun today.

Love, Santa


Still not sure how Santa can be "Christlike?"

Read this article about a Jewish man, Jay Frankston, who dressed as Santa for many years - bringing gifts to needy children...

Or visit BeAnElf.org and see how volunteers sort through thousands of "Dear Santa" letters at local post offices and bring gifts to the neediest children based on their letters.

Santa is a servant of Christ too.

I love this Oath by the Rocky Mountain Santa:
The Santa Claus Oath

I will seek knowledge to be well versed in the mysteries in bringing Christmas cheer and good will to all the people that I encounter in my journeys and travels.

I shall be dedicated to hearing the secret dreams of both children and adults.

I understand that the true and only gift I can give, as Santa, is myself.

I acknowledge that some of the request I hear will be difficult and sad. I know in these difficulties there lies an opportunity to bring a spirit of warmth, understanding and compassion.

I know the "real reason for the season"
and know that I am blessed to be able to be part of it.

I realize that I belong to a brotherhood and will be supportive, honest and show fellowship to my peers.

I promise to use "my" powers to create happiness, spread love and make fantasies come to life in the true and sincere tradition of the Santa Claus Legend.

I pledge myself to these principles as a descendant of St. Nicholas, the gift giver of Myra.


Phillip L. Wenz
©Arcadia Publishing

There's room in my heart for both Jesus and Santa, but I welcome your thoughts and comments too!
Merry Christmas!!
♥Mags
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Caroling... with Casting Crowns

You can tell by now that I just LOVE music. The iPod is by far one of the best inventions we've seen yet. The ability to carry around hundreds, thousands of songs in the palm of your hand is a miracle. So in these days leading up to Christmas, I want to share some fantastic Christmas songs I've discovered. Today is a selection from Casting Crowns.

Casting Crowns has a beautiful Christmas album out called Peace on Earth. And my favorite track is I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day. Here are the lyrics:

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to men
And the bells are ringing
Like a choir they're singing
In my heart I hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men
But the bells are ringing
Like a choir singing
Does anybody hear them?
Peace on earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men
Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells they're ringing
Like a choir they're singing
And with our hearts we'll hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men
Do you hear the bells they're ringing?
The life the angels singing
Open up your heart and hear them

Peace on earth, good will to men
Peace on earth, Peace on earth
Peace on earth, Good will to men

It's a new twist on a old favorite, and you can hear it HERE on LastFM.

It's hard to sing about "peace on earth" when you hear news reports of suicide bombers, bank robbers, children hurting, and more. But this version reminds us that God is steadfast and faithful to His children. He is with us through the troubled times, and our prayers for peace do not go unheard.

This Christmas, remind yourself that God sent His son to bring PEACE to us-- the rest of His earthy children. PEACE be with you.

♥Mags
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit - FAITHFULNESS Layout

I'm sure that most people who get married, aren't wondering how soon they will get divorced. Everyone expects their marriage to last "forever." But in an age where quickie-divorces are easy and common, actually having a marriage last until death do you part is getting rarer and rarer. A lasting marriage requires the active committment from both people involved to stick it out through the tough times:

  • the times when you look over at your spouse and wonder if you've married a buffoon (not that that has ever happened, of course!)...
  • the times where you aren't even "in the same book" - let alone the "same page"...
  • the sad times,
  • the times of great loss,
  • the angry times,
  • the financially unstable times,
  • the lonely times,
  • the beyond-hard times...
David and I have made this committment - twice, actually. The first was at our wedding. The second was when we went to a Marriage Encounter weekend and re-affirmed our committment to each other. We are faithful to each other - in our body, mind, and spirit. We choose to stand by each other - no matter what. Faithfulnes is LOVE HANGING ON. It is love saying, "I WILL NOT QUIT." That is my focus for this layout:


The song lyrics are by Fisher - a song called, "I Will Love You." It is a gorgeous, gorgeous song!
You can bet you'll hear about it again on a Karaoke Tuesday!
♥Mags
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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit - GOODNESS Layout

In October, my husband went to Austria for a 16-day Mission Trip to Haus Edelweiss. It is a school where Missionaries and Pastors can go for Master's Classes in Divinity - completing an entire semester class in 2 weeks. He was there as a short-term worker: fixing things, building things, preparing meals, cleaning up, and talking with the missionary students. In order to go on the trip, David had to take 2 weeks of his own vacation time from work - and our family had to give up two weeks with him. It was a l-o-n-g two weeks here for sure... I probably lost all of my sanity and patience with in the first week... but my kids and I knew that this was an important trip for Daddy to do - and for the students who would benefit from his service. That is why I chose his experience for my "GOODNESS" layout:

David's perspective on those who work and live in the Mission Field is forever changed now that he's had more 1st-hand knowledge of the kind of life they lead. And my kids have seen that it is important to help others - even if it means sacrificing your vacation time to do it. I'm so proud of David!
♥Mags
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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I Found God In A Wrinkle...

...In Time's author, Madeleine L'Engle. (I know... the title just pulled you right in and then I veered off in another direction! Sorry!)

I was surfing the Facebook feeds when I stumbled across this quote posted by my high school friend, Joe:

"There was a moment, known only to God, when all the stars held their breath,
when the galaxies paused in their dance for a fraction of a second, and the Word,
who had called it all into being, went with all his love into the womb of a young girl,
and the universe started to breathe again, and the ancient harmonies resumed their song,
and the angels clapped their hands for joy"
-Madeleine L'Engle

And I was just struck by this quote - with the enormity of it. We have entered the Christmas season, barreling into it with our shopping frenzies, our lists of Santa Claus, our party obligations. We may (or may not) take time out to remember the point of Christmas.... choosing to fill our minds with Black Friday bargains or recipes for egg nog. Those things are fun, and can certainly be a part of our holiday celebrations, but it is imperative that we remember the CENTER of Christmas is Christ, the miracle of his birth, and the impact He had on all humankind.

This weekend, my friend, Steph, and I will volunteer at our church's Christmas ADVENTure for primary age kids. We are making a Christmas Countdown Advent Calendar out of pizza boxes, construction paper, and large office tags. On the inside lid of the box is this reminder:

The True Meaning of Christmas


The FIR TREE - Teach the children that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, depicting the everlasting hope of mankind, all the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man's thoughts turning toward heaven.



The STAR - The star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of His promise.


candle icon Pictures, Images and Photos
A CANDLE - The candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of He who displaces the darkness.


A WREATH - The wreath symbolizes the real nature of love. Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection.


A HOLLY LEAF - The holly plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly berries represent the blood shed by Him.


The GIFT - God so loved the world that he gave his begotten son. Thanks be to God!


A CANDY CANE - The candy cane represents the shepherds' crook. The crook on the staff helps to bring back strayed sheep to the flock. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother's keeper.

An ANGEL - It was the angels that heralded in the glorious news of the Savior's birth. The angels sang Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good will toward men.



A BELL - The lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring mankind to the fold. The bell symbolizes guidance and return.



A SANTA CLAUS - Santa Claus can symbolize the generosity and good will we feel during the month of December. Certainly he can be a part of your Christmas, but he is not the center. The center of our Christmas celebration should always be remembering the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!


REJOICE! It is Christmastime

You can keep your shopping and wrapping and caroling. You can enjoy your egg nog and breakfast casseroles. You can sit on Santa's lap and make your Christmas wish list as long as you want. But through it all, remember that you've been given the most important gift already... and that gift came from God, himself.
Merry Christmas, God... and Happy Birthday, Jesus!
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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Karaoke Tuesday: Your Love Will Never Change by Dave Barnes

Everyday, ordinary people in the Bible who first heard of Jesus and his love were often, at first, incredulous. "How could the Son of God love me?" they wondered. The same is true today - people who are broken down, who have endured a miserable life, and who truly learn about Jesus later in their lives wonder the same: "I'm such a mess... how could someone love me at all?" Dave Barnes addresses this in his song, Your Love Will Never Change.  Read the LYRICS here.


What a relief this is!! To know, that even when I'm the darkest version of myself, God loves me. Even when I'm rotten, God loves me. When I'm broken, God loves me. When I'm a mess, God loves me.

God loves me.
God loves me.
God loves.... me.

And He does the same for you. Period.

You can hear this song HERE on iMeem.
Song: Your Love Will Never ChangeArtist: Dave Barnes
Album: Bring the Sun
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit - PATIENCE Layout

When we were 5 months along in our first pregnancy, we got a post-ultrasound call from one of the gynecologists at our practice. 5:00 PM on a Friday afternoon... a message on our machine that was along the lines of, "Please call us about your ultrasound." Of course, at 5PM on a Friday, getting to actually connect with the doctor is nearly impossible so we spent a good few hours freaking out about possible problems with our baby. *sigh*

When we finally got a hold of the doctor, she mentioned that our ultrasound indicated that our child had "clubfeet." We had no idea what that meant at the time, but it was the start of our long, windy journey that would involve more ultrasounds, a meeting with a geneticist, and after the birth, plaster castings, heel-cord releases, and big surgeries. It would take a year's worth of patience before we would see beautifully straight feet walking towards us.

This is the subject of the next layout in my Fruit of the Spirit album:

A year after Jack's journey to straight feet, our 2nd son, Luke was born... with the identical condition!

Another year of serial castings, tendon-releases, and surgeries...
I guess God wanted us to practice our PATIENCE a little bit more!! :)

Initially, David and I were devastated that we had created a child with a birth defect. This was PRE-brain tumor in the timeline of our lives, so at this point, this was the biggest thing we had had to face. But, as we spend hours in the Ortho waiting rooms each week or month to get new casts, our attitude changed. Ortho-day at the Children's Hospital Outpatient Clinic was also OT/PT day. Week after week, we watched as severely handicapped, wheelchair-bound kids worked diligently with their physical or occupational therapists - just to be able to do basic movements. Jack and Luke were only hindered by their casts for one year each - a small price to pay for a lifetime of "magic feet" that would work perfectly. Instead of feeling all "woe is us," David and I began to feel grateful to God for keeping our children healthy and for aiding us in finding the right doctor to straighten their feet.

Our patience was rewarded... Today, I watch my Jack play baseball, flag football, and basketball. Luke will start T-ball this spring. They run, jump, play, ride bikes and scooters. The only evidence of their year's worth of "upgrades" are some tiny scars on their feet and some great scrapbook pages.

Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.
-James 1:12
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Karaoke Tuesday: "Britney" by Bebo Norman

Below is an excerpt from an interview with Bebo Norman on his song, Britney - copied from CCMagazine.

“Britney” is a song about what our culture says and does to young women these days. It’s a collective apology for the struggle girls face growing up too fast in today’s overly adult-oriented world. The song confesses, “I’m sorry for the lies we told… We took you into our arms then left you cold/I’m sorry for this cruel, cruel world… /We sell the beauty but destroy the girl.” It’s about the lies we tell them about fame and money and what’s beautiful and what will give them life. It’s an apology for those lies. But more than that, it’s an invitation to the truth about a God who is bigger than the pain this world so often leaves them in.
I was up late, couldn't sleep, watching some news channel, when yet another story about Britney Spears came on. My first instinct was to scoff and write it off, but then there was this freeze-frame shot of a look on her face of utter and absolute despair and confusion and brokenness—a look that I recognized. And I remember thinking “This girl is a child of God.” Suddenly, I saw her story not as something to mock, but as a real-life tragedy that is desperate for redemption and hope—a story not so different from any of our stories. Take away all the lights and cameras, and it’s really just a narrative of a girl so clearly in need of love, so clearly in need of the redeeming love of our God.


And suddenly, all I wanted to do was just apologize, over and over. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry...on behalf of this fallen world, on behalf of our consumerism that so consistently devours what it wants and leaves the remnants in the wake of the search for the next fix, on behalf of believers, like myself, who mock and hurl stones rather than scribbling a message in the sand.

I think that night I saw her through the eyes of Jesus for the first time. I imagined what Jesus would say to me in my darkest hour and realized that those are the words we should speak to this world, to this culture, and even to Britney Spears in their darkest hour. “I’m sorry. Hope is here.” –Bebo Norman

This song is amazing! I didn't even realize it was about Britney Spears at first - I was just struck by the lyrics themselves and how they can apply to so many people - even me. It's so easy to cast the stones... poking fun at someone else who looks different, smells different, dresses different, acts different, or speaks differently... talking about someone behind their back (or blatantly in front!)... judging others for their choices... There used to be that childhood saying that "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Sadly, we realize all too quickly that the quote is a falsehood. Sometimes, words hurt much more than a stone; the words we use have the potential to leave scars that can last a lifetime.

Currently, I have a subscription to People magazine - it was a gift last Christmas, and I've noticed more and more, how sad I feel for these celebrities when their personal garbage is strewn all over the newsstands for us to gape at. Easily, I can judge them - for their ridiculous choices and behaviors that have led them to whatever current mess that is written about. But this song reminds me to have a little more sympathy and a little less judgement. Because when you compound all of the millions of people in the world who witness a celebrity's mistakes and blunders every day via TV or magazines, you realize that it must be so frustrating to have all of your life (the good times and the bad) displayed for the masses just because of the line of work you chose.

I found a fantastic Fan Video on You Tube using this song... The song, itself, is about 4 minutes - but the last 2 minutes include some bonus footage that you wont want to miss. I hope you have time to watch it all.




Song: Britney
Artist: Bebo Norman
Album: Bebo Norman


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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit - PEACE Layout

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
- Jeremiah 29:11


In teacher-speak, I am a "whole-to-part" person. When learning, I like to know the "big picture." Before I read a book or see a movie, I need to know the general plot. I need to know the final outcome of a puzzle before I can even start taking it apart. Expanding on that, in real life, I love to be in charge... to be in control. I like to know where I'm going and how to get there (something that is constantly thwarted because I am also navigationally stunted!). So imagine how NOT in control I felt when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. That was the focus of this week's layout on peace:

For those interested in not squinting at the screen, the story of my brain tumor was originally posted here.

Peace is when we can feel Christ's heart, even when we cannot discern his mind. Believing in Jesus does not mean that there won't be storms in our life, but it does mean that we can trust Jesus to hold on to us tightly in the midst of the fiercest storm. God is our strong, safe shelter, and that is the source of our peace.
See you next Thursday for the next layout.
:) Mags
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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fruit of the Spirt - JOY Layout


You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don't see him, yet you trust him—
with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing,
you'll get what you're looking forward to: total salvation.
1 Peter 1:8-9 (The Message)

This week's lesson was on JOY... an emotion that should be an undercurrent in everything you do - because when you become a Christian, that question of "Where do I go after this life?" is settled for you. When you accept Jesus into your heart - when you make the conscious choice to believe - then you've just been granted your ticket to Heaven. This weight that is lifted off of your shoulders should allow for a JOY to permeate everything you say and do. Furthermore, this sure knowledge of where Christians go after death, should make the death of a loved one a bit easier.

Yeah... I just said that... easier.
And yet, whenever a loved one dies, we are overcome with grief. It's hard to be "joyful" when we are facing the loss of someone close to us. When my aunt died, I felt the pain, physically, in my gut... and I dreaded telling my then-4-year-old son the news. Great Annie had lived with my family for over 20 years - she was like a 2nd mother to me and a 2nd grandmother to my kids. But, Jack was able to find joy in her death - as evidenced by this layout:

I've blogged about this story before - that out of a child's mouth came true wisdom that day. That is the JOY the Bible is talking about. :)
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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit - LOVE Layout

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
1 Corinthians 13: 1-7 (The Message)

God = Love. He loves His masterpieces... His children... His creations. He gives us 10 Commandments to follow - and then adds two rules above and beyond those: To LOVE God, and to LOVE our neighbors. That is how important LOVE is to Him.

For our Scrapbooking Bible study, we discussed "sacrificial love" - loving others so much that you put your own wants and needs aside. This is hard, for sure - and often a daily struggle for all of us. Selfishness comes easily to humans... sacrifice is not a comfortable word.

For myself, I feel that on my very "best" parenting day, I am self-sacrificing... because when you bring a child into the world, suddenly it's not all about "ME" and ALL about them! Here is the layout I created for "LOVE:"

Credits:
Papers and buttons by Jenna's Garden
Ribbon created by MagsGraphics (that's me!)
Love Wordart created by MagsGraphics (still me!)

Credits:
Papers and buttons by Jenna's Garden
Ribbon created by MagsGraphics (that's me!)
Love Wordart created by MagsGraphics (still me!)

What do you love most about your family? Who in your life has been a model for Christ-like love? And who are YOU modeling sacrificial love to?
See you next Thursday for the next layout!
♥ Mags
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Worries...


I was hoping for some divine inspiration about what to post here on Election Day (besides Karaoke Tuesday). I wasn't zapped with an original idea to write about, but I was directed to an excellent post on a friend's blog...

I am a digital scrapbooker; one of the great things about digital scrappin' is that there are hundreds of digital kits offered for free every month. On my daily "shopping" round, I visited Lynn at her blog (
The Mathematician's Assistant) and read her thoughts on the Election. If you are concerned about today's outcome (and at the moment, I have not seen any news today, so I have no idea how it's going!), you might find her post comforting too!!

I know the waits are long (I waited an hour!), but I hope you will brave the line and cast your vote!

:) Mags

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Karaoke Tuesday: "If We Are The Body"

It is my husband's and my turn to teach 2nd grade Sunday School this month. Sunday's lesson was on the 6th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Kill. Seems easy enough... usually you can safely say that all of your students have this one taken care of - surely there isn't a murderer amongst the 7-year-old crowd, right?!

The lesson we presented used this Commandment in a broader sense: it included the idea of "killing one's spirit" as well as physical murder. Using the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), we were able to show the kids how one's words and actions (or lack thereof) can physically hurt another human being just as sharply as a sword or knife.

Our song today is If We Are The Body by Casting Crowns. Often, we hear in church that "we are the body of Christ" - but are unsure of what that means, exactly. This song and the fan video I've included below gives us a clear picture of what it means to BE part of Christ in our word and actions:

Fan Video by rayman71

So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among it's members, so that all of the members care for each other equally. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. Now all of you together are Christ's body and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.
-1 Corinthians 12:24-27

It is our responsibility as Christians to extend the hand of friendship, generosity, kindness, and love to those around us - that's everyone around us... our friends, our foes... the popular ones... the "undesirables." Behaving "Christ-like" means being generous and loving - without restriction. Your small kindness can make a big impact on another... and just might be the very thing that brings them over the threshold to Christ.

♥Mags


Song: If We Are The Body
Artist: Casting Crowns


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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Scrapbooking Bible Study - Fruit of the Spirit

This fall, I started leading a Scrapbooking Bible Study at our church on the Fruit of the Spirit. I have the scrapbooking knowledge (I've been a scrapper since I was 15... over 20 years!) - but was a little short on the Bible knowledge. I found a book through Amazon that was great for the Bible part - but pitiful on the scrappin' part! I ordered one and then used it as a foundation for our class. We used the verses provided and the questions, but created our own originial layouts each week. I am the only digital scrapbooker in the group - everyone else has been creating amazing paper layouts. It really has been an amazing experience!

Here is my cover page:

Credits:
Background ©Layla Barzi,
2007Backyard Alpha from NRB
Text from the Bible

Galatians 5:16-23 is our main verse for this Bible Study. For the first lesson, we talked about God's role as a gardener and living a "fruitful life." Some people made a 2-page layout on this theme - others made a single-page layout to serve as the finale for the album. This is my final page:
Credits:
Verses from the Bible (NIV & Msg)
Dirt created by me
Flowers by BlueToille Scrap
Bows by Angel Flying Solo

We are the branches connected to Christ's vine... there are wonderful things we can accomplish through Him! Sometimes God needs to prune out the garbage from our lives - but in doing that, He enables you to grow and learn. What kind of "fruit" do you produce? And what does that say about you...?
Stop back each Thursday for the next several weeks to see the next layouts!
:) Mags
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Karaoke Tuesday: Who Am I?

Anyone feeling pitiful today? Weary? Defeated?
Anyone feeling tired? And insecure? Again... Defeated?


Some days are like that... heck - for some of us, MOST days are like that!

Every once in while (and we're talking once in a GREAT while!), I have a morning where everything goes my way... the kids wake up agreeable and don't fight... and they don't wake me up until after 7AM... I get to Starbucks, and they are serving my very favorite: their pumpkin cream cheese muffin, and I have a gift card with which to buy it... life is good.
HOWEVER, usually mornings do not go that way... Kids are up at 6AM... shooting each other with guns made from K'Nex... I'm exhausted even after a night's sleep... by the afternoon, I've lost all my patience and the "Mother of the Year Award" ... again. "Defeated" is often the word that describes me by dinner time!


These are just everyday trials... small things in the midst of a big world. Some people are dealing with BIG problems - even on a daily basis. But with billions of people in the world - all dealing with their own problems - it's easy to wonder if a big, big God can even hear our issues through the cacophony of angst. That's one of the reasons I love this song by Casting Crowns... it sums up my feelings of inadequacy and gives me comfort that my God is watching out for me with his safety net. That doesn't mean that bad things won't happen in my life; it does mean that God will hold my hand and help me through them... no matter what else is going on in the world - I have his undivided attention... as do you... and you... and you. That's what makes him God of all creation! :)

I also like this song for the refrain - that it's not about what I DO that is important... it's about Jesus and what he has already done for me. Something to remember in my most defeated times - that Jesus was strong enough for both of us. Enjoy the words below - you can listen to this song on Last.FM.

Song: Who Am I?
Artist: Casting Crowns:
Album: Casting Crowns
LYRICS



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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Karaoke Tuesday: "Your Love Is Deep"

Last year, my husband and I helped out during K-2nd Grade Kids Worship - and I found that there were a lot of great songs played there! One was "Your Love Is Deep" by Jami Smith:

Song: Your Love Is DeepArtist: Jami Smith
Album: Wash Over Me

LYRICS

Your love is deep,
Your love is high,
Your love is long,
Your love is wide.


It's a simple lesson, really. God's love for us is deeper, higher, longer, and wider than anything we can imagine. No matter how many times we screw up... no matter how many errors we make... no matter how undeserving we may be... God loves us... each and every one of us.

One of my favorite kids' stories is Guess How Much I Love You by Sam Bratney.
My favorite youth minister from our former church, Cindy, once used this book as an object lesson for Children's Time. In it, Little Brown Nut Hare tries to "out-love" his parent, Big Brown Nut Hare. Little Nut Brown Hare loves Big Nut Brown Hare THIS MUCH (spreading out his arms as wide as he can reach), but Big Nut Brown Hare loves Little Nut Brown Hare THIS MUCH (and his arms are much wider). The pattern continues through the book - with Big Nut Brown Hare having the size, strength, and wit to "out-love" his baby... including at the end:

Little Nut Brown Hare: I love you all the way up to the moon! (Nothing could be farther than the moon!)

Big Nut Brown Hare: I love you all the way up the moon........ and back.

Now, if you have the book at home, re-read it... but substitute YOUR NAME for Little Nut Brown Hare and GOD for Big Nut Brown Hare. Just like the words in Jami Smith's song, no matter how big, or deep, or high, or wide your love is for God, HIS love is bigger, deeper, higher, and wider. You are enveloped in His love... all the way to the moon... and back.
Have a blessed day,
:) Mags

--> Listen to today's Karaoke Tuesday selection on .LastFM!
I also really like Big Stuf's (one "f") version on iTunes - that's the one I play a lot! :)
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Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Edited" Movies - a pop culture alternative...

I love movies... Action movies, thriller movies, scary movies, romance movies, cartoon movies, science movies, whatever... I just LOVE movies!

I also love to share some of my favorites with my kids (ages 7 and 4). We've been fortunate that our oldest son is not afraid of movies - he's got a good sense of "real" vs "not real" so we've been able to see a lot of fantasy/sci-fi stuff that make other kids fearful. We saw The Dark Crystal together when he was around 4 years old - watching first the "making of it" to show how the characters were all puppets and then the movie. He loved it! And we have fun talking about how they made the characters move and work. Star Wars is a HUGE part of our kids' lives. We all seen all 6 episodes... even Episode III... because there used to be a local video store called "Family Flix" that rented "edited" versions of popular movies - with all of the bad language, adult situations, and bloody gore removed. When the video store went out of business, we were able to purchase Star Wars III in edited form... cropping out most of Anakin burning alive in the lava pit, cutting the beheading of Count Dooku to just him falling to the floor, and limiting the slaying of the Jedi children to just the hint of it. Those small omissions enabled both of our kids to see the last movie without scaring them or compromising the storyline.

This weekend, I rented Transformers just for me... yes, I'm an adult female - and it's probably not the typical movie that 36-year old Moms usually rent. But I remember the hey-day of Transformers in the 80's; my brother LOVED them, and the trailer for the movie looked amazing. I was so disappointed when it received a PG-13 rating because I just knew that my sons would love it...

Sure enough - the visual effects were fabulous, and the sound effects even better. The voice of Optimus Prime was just as I remembered it from the old cartoons - and the grinding sounds of the robots actually transforming was SO neat! But there were a few completely inappropriate scenes - scenes that could have been completely cut out without messing up the storyline. There was NO need for this movie to have scenes in it that required a PG-13 rating... especially not when boys as young as 6 or 7 could have just loved this movie.

I started surfing around the Internet for some Family Flix alternatives and found a great site: www.goodmoviesonline.com sells original movies WITH an edited version! You can choose among new releases, classics, actions, suspense, comedy, etc. - AND choose whether you want your version edited to a PG or PG-13 level! Best of all, they had Transformers! So I ordered the edited movie and will save it for my son's birthday in February. As soon as it comes, I'll watch it and be able to tell you about the quality of the editing - but for now, I'm just thrilled to find an edited alternative to some really fun action movies!!
Autobots... ROLL OUT!





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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Want To Host Your Own Women's Shoe Event? Here's How!

The event at our church that used all of the wonderful shoes I've been blogging about was a huge success. 190 women came for 2-and-a-half-hours and had a great time! If you'd like to host your own Shoe Event at your church, here's how we did it: (Keep in mind that we did not "invent" this idea - we scoured other women's groups and combined ideas!)

"IF THE SHOE FITS!"
Women's Ministry Event at CCM
# of People: 190

Decorations: Hot pink and lime green table clothes on round tables that seated 6-7 people each. We had little pedistals at the center draped with 1/8th of a black plastic table cloth for the different types of shoes. In the absence of a pedistal, you could cover a shoe box - it was just to give the shoes some height.

We were lucky that one of the members of the congregation is in the shoe business and had [i]hundreds[/i] of sample shoes that we could borrow. We separated them into 35 different themes, and I made the table tents ([b]if you email me "mags at magsgraphics dot com"[/b], I can send you the Microsoft Word document. All you'd have to do is print on cardstock, cut apart, and set on the tables). We added other types of shoes too to get to 35 different types - just did an "all-call" in the bulletin for the specific ones I wanted.

I also freehanded 20 huge shoes out of foam core. Traced them in big black marker and used paint and glitter glue to color them in. These lined up along the stage in the gym like a shoe store. Any extra shoes we had went up there as well.

Here were the types of shoes:
RUBY SLIPPERS
GARDENING SHOES/CROCS
RAIN BOOTS
TAP SHOES
BABY SHOES
GLASS SLIPPERS
DECK SHOES
BOOTS
GOLD SHOES
STEEL-TOED BOOTS
FLATS
CLOWN SHOES
SNOW SHOES
BLACK SHOES
ANIMAL PRINT SHOES
ROLLER BLADES
FLIPPERS
BALLET SHOES
HIKING BOOTS
MOCCASINS
BLUE SUEDE SHOES
GLADIATOR BOOTS
PLASTER CASTS/FOOT BRACES
RED SHOES
COMBAT BOOTS
PENNY LOAFERS
HIGH HEELS
FIREFIGHTER SHOES
WEDDING SHOES
SANDALS
HOSPITAL SHOES
NURSING SHOES
PLATFORM HEELS
PUMPS
SLIPPERS
GYM SHOES
FLIP-FLOPS

Someone put together a Powerpoint presentation that ran in the background during dinner - it was a slideshow of all of these wacky and wild shoes. Really funny!!

Food: This one was catered.
Cost: $10.00 per person - tickets sold in advance


Entertainment: We had our contemporary worship leader to an Elvis impression and sing "Blue Suede Shoes." Another lady did a Nancy Sinatra impersonation and sang an alternate version of "These Boots Were Made For Walking" that was about wanting to own gym shoes for exercising. It was pretty funny.

Testimonials: We had asked four people to speak about unusual life paths they had traveled / interesting shoes they had filled. I was "Hospital Shoes" and talked about my brain tumor. One was "Combat Shoes" and talked about her son in Iraq. One was "Missionary Shoes" and talked about her missionary work. The last was "Squeaky Shoes" b/c she had adopted a little girl from China and had brought back these little shoes that squeaked whenever her girl walked. The testimony was about her adoption journey.

Doorprizes: We had a small prize on every table. Each table voted on who at their table had worn the most fabulous shoes to the event and that person got the prize. We also had some "big" prizes whose winners were drawn from a hat: Gift certificate to DSW, Gift certificate to a pedicure, a flip-flop fly swatter, a pair of chocolate shoes.

After the event, people gathered the shoe decorations from their table and put them all on two long tables. Then as people left, they could pick up the shoes they let us borrow. I only had 3 pairs to shoes to return to people after the event; all of the others were picked up by their owners.

You should try it out with your women's group - it really was a fun time!!

:) Mags
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Monday, October 13, 2008

I Found God In Ruby Slippers...

--> This post is part of a series on God & Shoes... to read the first in the series, CLICK HERE. To read ALL of the posts in this series, CLICK HERE.

GOD & RUBY SLIPPERS


1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)

However, as it is written:
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him"


“There’s no place like home…”
“There’s no place like home…”

Just as Dorothy discovered through her journey, believers will discover that the best place of all is “home” in the arms of God. Even through all of life’s experiences: the sights, and sounds, and tastes, and thoughts – it is impossible to imagine the greatness and glory of Heaven. Heaven is where Jesus lives! It must be magnificent.
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Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Found God in Gardening Shoes...

--> This post is part of a series on God & Shoes... to read the first in the series, CLICK HERE. To read ALL of the posts in this series, CLICK HERE.



GOD & GARDENING SHOES
John 15:1-4 (NIV)
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

It’s not a “croc!” God will make changes in your life that will make you a better person and increase your joy in living if you will just hand Him the pruning shears. “Cut the fat” from your life – the things that are un-Christian, the things that clutter your mind. Present your body to Him as a living sacrifice, and your life will bear fruit!

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

I Found God In Rain Boots...

--> This post is part of a series on God & Shoes... to read the first in the series, CLICK HERE. To read ALL of the posts in this series, CLICK HERE.


GOD & RAIN BOOTS
Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

There are times when life just stinks. Low times … times of great sorrow and loss …. times of hardship and worry. But through it all, God is with you. Take comfort that God is holding your hand as you navigate the dark storms of life … you are never without Him.


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