Wednesday, July 9, 2014

An Artist's Perspective on God's Dream for Your Life

Last summer, I had the pleasure of interviewing watercolor artist and Bible Study Fellowship leader, Martha, on God’s plans and dreams for her life. Martha reassures us busy moms, who often place our dreams on the back-burner to make priorities of our children, husband, job, and church service, that God will find a way to keep our dreams alive for His perfect timing. Find out what happens when a woman aligns her priorities up to God’s!

First, I jumped right in and asked Martha how God developed her artistic talents . . . 

Q. Why do you think it’s important for people to use their God-given talents, and how have you made time for your talents throughout your life?

A. The Church is made of a body of talents. He did it for a purpose so He can have us contribute. I wanted to draw since I was a little girl. I knew I was an artist, but had to help take care of my siblings and then later raise my children. The important thing is you have to keep the desire. God will use it when you come back to it.

When I retired, I went straight to college. The first picture I drew was of a baby called “God’s Blessing” because I realized after all these years, I still had my talent! His timing is perfect for when he will use your talent!

I wanted to teach art at the adult school. I woke up each morning and thought of my art first thing. I even want to step down from BSF to focus solely on my art, and I wrestled with the Lord. After a struggle, the Lord changed my perspective, and I surrendered. He told me when I entered Heaven, he wouldn’t care about how many credits or degrees I had. What He cared about was how many souls I brought to Him. So, I put my art aside again to continue leading in the Bible Study Fellowship and make Him number one in my life. And then He gave me everything I needed to make the time and the way for me to do my watercolor art AND minister for Him through BSF with my cards and bookmarks. It wasn’t me. It was the Lord who led me, and this is exactly what I needed. Now, my ministry through BSF and art are married. God will often speak to me and have me give a participant a bookmark including an appropriate Bible verse just for that person.

After many years of serving others, today Martha’s artistic talent and service to BSF are blended through her watercolor greeting card ministry. She creates watercolor paintings, cards, and bookmarks for people who God places on her heart to encourage, including specific Scriptures that correlate with particular art pieces.

While trusting God with her dream, Martha raised her two children with her husband, who she has been married to for decades since the young age of 16. I wanted to glean some wisdom from her life experience and hear her advice for busy moms and single moms.

Q. What advice could you give single moms who are going through a difficult season want to grow closer to God and get their priorities straight?

A. First off, I have never experienced being a single mom. I can’t know what it must be like, but I do know the effects, the difference it would make in your life and the kid’s lives. Since 1999, I have been a Bible study leader for the international organization, Bible Study Fellowship. Young mothers of all denominations, both married and single, bring their babies and come for Bible study. They want to raise their children so they would know God and also get support and spiritual help. Joining BSF enables them to benefit from childcare while they learn about Jesus. After BSF one day, a mom even pulled over to the side of road to pray for her child to know the Lord. Both the mom and child can grow together in Christ. The attachment to God produces a joyful life of being filled up through Him.

Every Tuesday morning before BSF, I pray that the Lord would empty me completely so He can use me. I pray for Him to give me the eyes to see these young women like He does. I want to help people know God through the Bible study. All kinds of women share their heartaches and pray for each other. When you are praying for each other, you have a closer bond.

Speaking of a closer bond, are you looking for love, ladies? Martha also had a thing or two to say about what it takes to develop a successful marriage, so listen up!

Q. For single moms who have finally found God’s man for them, what advice do you have for them to do things differently and make their marriage work?

A. What I would have lost if I would have given into my feelings instead of my marriage! I prayed to be a better wife. When you meet someone who you like enough to want to spend time with and have a future with that person, check your heart. If you like this man exactly how he is, then he is the one you want. A man needs respect from his wife. If he doesn’t get it from her, he will find it somewhere else. If you respect that man, you will love him.

You have to ask yourself, what do you not like? What is he covering up? You have to find out these things before you marry him.

Learn from the mistakes of others. I had a woman friend who was nearing her forties and she had a heart for caring about people, but wanted to get married and have kids desperately. She had lots of specifications, but wasn’t thinking about character. She was focused on appearances.

She met a man who was a very smooth talker and misquoted the Bible in order to have control. She ran off and got eloped. Unfortunately, he was abusive, controlling, and had a criminal record. In order to be protected, the authorities gave her a complete change of identity, and she had to cut ties from all her family and friends so she could go into hiding to escape from him.

On the day of the wedding, the man is typically hoping she will never change, while the woman is hoping she can change him! Marry somebody you don’t want to change.

Always remember that the person is your best friend and you don’t want anything to get in the way of that, including hardships, finances, or  even the children. Marriage can be such a blessing, and a joyful blessing! Once you get to know the Lord and He’s in control of your life, you receive joy and peace through submission. That’s what I have.

Interested in joining or serving at Bible Study Fellowship International? Click here for a location near you: Bible Study Fellowship International

Linking to: Coffee for Your Heart

Saturday, July 5, 2014

8 Money Saving Tips for Single Parents

With the prices of gas and food on the rise these days, we could all stand to save a dollar here and there. Please enjoy this guest post on smart money saving tips by the UK's Ella Moss.

One of the aspects a lot of us struggle with as single moms is money. Only having one income can put huge pressure on what is often already a stressful situation, even if it can be immensely rewarding. There’s absolutely no shame in asking for help and many of us need it. Here are some tips on how you can make money a little less tight if you’re a single mom.

Save money where you can
Make a budget and stick to it. This will allow you to consistently spend over the course of the month without money getting tight towards to end. Also, have a safety net where you can keep your savings. That way, if unexpected costs come up, you don’t have to use your budget to pay for it and if you don’t spend it, you can dip into it for small treats for you and your child.

Collect food vouchers and keep an eye on offers. These don’t necessarily have to be for groceries - collecting restaurant coupons is a cheap way to take your children out for meals without having to pay huge prices. Also, buy and cook in bulk in order to not only save money, but save your time throughout the week. Stews, chili con carne and Bolognese all keep well in the refrigerator and are easy to grab and heat up if you’re busy with the kids.

What are you entitled to?
Although we don’t offer child benefit like other countries, like the UK, the US does offer Child Tax Credit and you’re perfectly entitled to this if you have a child under the age of 17. This can reduce your federal income tax by up to $1000, according to the IRS website. To qualify for this, you need to meet the criteria, which includes age and relationship status. However, if you’re a single mom, your needs should be understood.

You and your child are also most likely entitled to child support. As long as you’re the custodial parent of your child, the father should be paying maintenance in order for you to raise him or her. The majority of the time, the father is more than happy to pay child support and it can be settled outside of court. The amount of child support is usually determined by how much each parent is earning, how many children are involved and how often the children see the other parent or stay at their house.

Read the rest of the article here: 8 Money Saving Tips for Single Parents

Friday, July 4, 2014

A Happy 4th of July to One and All!

"I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments." ~Psalm 119:45

As we celebrate our nation's freedom today, I reflect on my many blessings. Today, I am very grateful to be living a happy, joyous, and FREE single mom life with a beautiful daughter who is growing into her own person. Summer (and 4th of July) is my favorite time of year, so I am truly glad to have the day off and enjoy all the red, white, and blue everywhere!!! 

THREE CHEERS TO FREEDOM! Now, I gotta get going to to 2nd annual Angel's game followed by a fantastic firework show. A happy 4th to one and all! 
My spirited friend and I at the first annual Angel's game last 4th of July!

I made these red, white, and blue flags and hung them in the kitchen with my cherry stuff. 

Almost bought one of these soy wax candles today from my favorite vintage shop. . . 

Let's end on a sweet note with a patriotic dessert! 
Linking to: Pink Saturday!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Easiest DYI Lemonade Sugar Scrub

I've been eating a ton of sweets lately, which is not good for my health, but I can't help myself  because there's so much temptation all around and it's sooooo good! One day last week, I noticed my pants suddenly grew tighter, and now I am motivated to get back on track. I have a theory that when I am craving sweets, what's going on under the surface is I need to add more sweetness to life. For me, that means getting lost in the creative zone, so I put myself to work by concocting a DYI sugar scrub sweet enough to eat (but you don't really want to do that, I promise!). Why pay $15 or more when you can make this sugar scrub with ingredients from your kitchen for less than $5? Your silky soft hands and feet will thank you.

Lemonade Sugar Scrub

  • 2 cups white or brown sugar (white sugar is preferred since brown sugar has a scent of its own) 
  • 1 cup olive oil 
  • Grated rind from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons lemon oil (optional) 

Mix together until ingredients blend, but do not dissolve sugar. Store in an air tight container for yourself or a friend. Breathe in the uplifting aroma and remember that life's lemons aren't so bad when you have a sweet perspective.

Linking to: One Project at a TimeWeekend re-TreatMoonlight and Mason JarsThursday Favorite Things

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Making Lemonade from the Sour Patches of Mommyhood

Here's a pretty use for lemons!
Listening to last weekend's Father’s Day sermon at church thrilled me to no end because I found the message applicable to parents of all kinds, especially moms of all kinds whether working moms, stay-at-home moms, or single moms. Inspired, I wrote a post based on my own interpretation of those ideas to help me—and you!—make lemonade out of those sour patches of mommyhood. We all need a little encouragement that we can make a difference in our kid’s lives, no matter where we have come from or where we are now on life’s journey. Even if your own childhood was a dysfunctional one and you lacked parents who modeled Christlike behavior, you can still be a godly parent for your child. With God’s help, you can create a new legacy for you and your children starting today.

Psalm 39:4-5 “Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more. My life is no longer than my hand! My whole lifetime is but a moment to you.” Life is short, but intentional daily steps can add up to lasting change.

1)      Seek out friendships that bring out your best. Make time in your life to build friendships with other ladies who model authentic Christian behavior and will hold you accountable. Christian women who have a real relationship with Christ and have good boundaries will bring out your best because they will speak the truth in love. Friendships like these are important because moms need support and encouragement since they take on the world each day and are often drained each night. Single moms need to fill up the void left from not from having a spouse around to lend an ear or a hand.

My dear friend who challenges me to be my best . . . here we are today at a Conference for Christian Moms

2)      Create meaningful moments with your children that are not just limited to vacation time. This summer, camp out in the back yard and roast s’mores on the fire pit. Let your kids get you soaked while washing the car. Make a yummy Sunday brunch and then play cards at the kitchen table before clean up. Take time to eat meals together to reflect on the day rather than tune each other out over a meal in front of the TV. Significant memories do not have to cost a thing, and they convey to your children that family time is a priority. 
Can YOU believe today's
 conference theme was LEMONS
and I wrote this article yesterday?

3)     Embrace a courageous attitude to be the best person you can be for God and your children.  Give God your all first through prayer and Bible reading, so you can pass that behavior onto your children by modeling it in front of them. Read Christian parenting books, attend seminars, and turn to God each day with a courageous prayer to move away from your past as you step forward into a new legacy. The resurrection power of Christ can help you to rewrite your past and create a new heritage for you and your children.

Only the BEST shaved ice I've ever tried! 

Mmmmm . . . who can pass up food trucks?

Linking to: Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart3D Lessons 4 Life Linkup

Sunday, June 8, 2014

91 Candles

Grandma would have been 91 on June 7. I think she’s been gone seven years now, but I am not good about keeping track of such anniversary dates. We didn’t get a chance to go to the cemetery yesterday like I’d hoped to, but I had breakfast with a good friend at Grandma’s favorite breakfast place, Polly’s Pies, and I ate a gargantuan cinnamon roll in her honor. I miss her so much that it still hurts. Sometimes I get a whiff of her Ciara perfume woven in cigarette smoke—Reina has even smelled it!—and I know Grandma’s stopping by to say hello. Hardly a week passes when I wish she could cook up a breakfast of crispy egg pancakes in my kitchen followed by us playing rounds of cards at my kitchen table. She would have been proud of Reina, me, the life we’ve created with my house and all.

When my bundt cake turned out fantastically and Reina blew out the candles last night with her friends, I felt Grandma’s presence, knowing she was celebrating with us. I baked the cake late Friday night and was so proud of myself because I have never successfully baked a bundt cake. (Think halves of bundt cakes stuck in the pan when turned over). Now a whole new world has opened up to me because the cake turned out so pretty and was so easy! Oven loads of bundt cakes are to come in the future—perhaps one for every holiday or celebration. The neat thing is that normally I just pick up a store bought cake for Reina’s birthday, but the teenage girls loved the homemade cake and even thanked me after Reina and her best friend, who shares the same birthday, blew out 15 candles.

15 candles for Reina. 91 candles for Grandma. 40 candles for me in August. Time spins so fast that I am dizzy trying to keep up. Each day as I tread nearer to midlife, I cherish the good things and celebrate the people I love who make a difference, both from my past and present. I bring them closer in my heart as I let go of my plans, so I can clearly see all of life's present gifts. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Secret to Making the Most of Your Days

You only live once, so live wisely and without regret. 
"Teach us to number each of our days so that we may grow in wisdom." ~Psalm 90:12

Linking to Thursday Favorite Things Blog HopPink SaturdayHolley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart


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