Thursday, January 31, 2013

The One Word of Advice that Changed my Life

Back when I was an overwhelmed young mother with a perpetual babe in arms and stair-step children by my side, an older woman shared some simple advice that really transformed my life.  In fact, I still live by her words of wisdom today! 
To discover her timeless advice and read the rest of this article, join me at Raising Arrows, where I am guest posting today for Amy, so she can spend more time snuggling with her precious newborn baby!  :) 

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Courtship Connection

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Guest Post: DIY Valentine's Treats

Valentine's Day is right around the corner.  Here are some ideas to make it fabulous!

Spoil your valentine with homemade sweet treats this year. These fun DIY food projects are a breeze to make and are as delicious to eat as they are to look at.

But before we get into the sweets, here's a fun and simple gift idea for your sweetie: Love coupons. Normally these coupons retail for $15 or more at specialty stores but with a little time, patience and creativity you can make your own for pennies of the price. All you need is some scrapbook paper, embellishments like stamps, stickers or ribbons and a pen to write your coupon sayings.

I recently read a blog by Ed Young, a well-known pastor and author, that gave me a fun idea for my coupons. He has made his wife Lisa feel like the apple of his eye for more than 30 years, and he lets her know every day he's thinking of her by doing sweet things for her. In the article, Pastor Young said he leaves little love notes throughout the house for his wife to find and loves making her her favorite foods.

Red Velvet Pancakes

For a romantic spin on breakfast, combine the deliciousness of a pancake with the richness of a red velvet cupcake. And what do you get? Red Velvet Pancakes! Yum.

Recipe courtesy from

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons red food coloring
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, sour cream, food coloring and vanilla until combined. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined. Be careful not to over mix. Next, add chocolate chips and fold into batter. Pour about 1/3 cup onto medium/high griddle and lightly brown on both sides.
Sprinkle powdered sugar and fun heart sprinkles on top. Serve with maple syrup or cool whip, whatever you like!

Conversation Hearts Cheesecake

Who doesn't love cheesecake? Transform the traditional round cake for some candy-themed hearts. I guarantee they taste as good as they look.

Recipe courtesy of

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Food coloring: pink, purple, yellow, green, blue and red
Supplies needed: Heart-shaped silicon mold, stand mixer or mixing bowl and hand-held mixer, rubber spatula, fine tip paint brush, roasting pan big enough to fit your heart-shaped molds.

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. You will need a water bath to bake the cheesecake, so line pan with enough water to go half way of the sides of the heart molds. 

Combine graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon and melted butter, stirring until it looks like sand. Spoon out a tablespoon of crumb mixture into each heart cavity and press the crumbs down firmly, making the crust even. Keep in refrigerator until ready to use. 

In a bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium high until smooth. Add sugar and beat for one minute. Add eggs and beat until creamy. Next, add sour cream and vanilla and mix just to combine. Equally divide the filling among six bowls and add food coloring to each bowl to create the colors you want. 

Pour colored cheesecake filling into the heart molds. Set the mold into the water bath and bake for 15-28 minutes. Once cool, use food coloring and fine tip paintbrush to paint conversation heart sayings in all capital letters. "BE MINE?"

For a detailed list of directions with pictures, visit the Hungry Happenings site.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie Topped With Valentine's MM'S

For a delicious treat, make a strawberry banana smoothie beautifully placed in a canning jar, topped with cool whip and pink, white and red MM's.

  • 1 banana
  • 4 large fresh strawberries or 1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 2 cups ice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla Greek yogurt
In a blender, combine all ingredients. Blend until smooth or until it reaches your desired consistency. Place smoothie in canning jars and top with some whipped cream and MM's. For an extra touch, tie some bakers twine around the lip of the jar.

Margaret Branson
Margaret has been redecorating homes since was 6, when she created curtains from pink Kleenex to match the parlor furniture in her dollhouse. She's been enjoying decorating and accenting rooms and giving advice to her readers on decorating, ever since.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Marriage Monday: Loving Your Husband Begins in Your Mind {Link up}

Marriage Mondays

Welcome back to Marriage Monday! I am in the midst of a series on Loving our Husbands.  Last week, I explored the three types of love that a wife should have for her husband.  If you missed that post, you might want to check it out before reading this one.

The most common objection to this teaching on loving our husbands is -- "What if I don't feel love towards my husband?"  As we discussed last week, those tender, affectionate feelings are only one type of love we should have for our husbands. We are also commanded to love them with an agape, God-like love. That means we must choose to love our husbands whether we feel like it or not.

The place where that starts is in our minds. Stop and take inventory of your thoughts towards your husband.  Are they loving and forgiving thoughts?  Or are they selfish, bitter, angry, unforgiving thoughts??

According to Proverbs 23:7, as a man [woman] thinks in her heart, so is she.

In 2 Corinthians 10:5 we are instructed to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ. That means we stop all thoughts at the door of our minds, frisk them, and if we catch any unbiblical thoughts, we handcuff them and throw them out!  We only admit the thoughts that pass the scrutiny of the TSA (Thoughts Scriptural Administration)!   ;)  

Of course, to be a good TSA agent, we must know how to recognize dangerous thoughts and throw them out and we must know which thoughts to let through. We do that by reading the training manual cover to cover, also known as renewing our minds with Scripture, according to Romans 12:2. The more we read and study God's Word, the more we discern which thoughts are pleasing to Him and which ones are not.  Here is a basic guideline for thoughts that should be freely admitted:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~ Phillipians 4:8

Now, let's try frisking a couple thoughts.

What about:

"I can never forgive him for how he's hurt me!"

Reject or Admit?

We would reject that thought because of Ephesians 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

What about this one:

"I'll get him back for how he has treated me!"

Of course, we would have to kick that thought out because we are instructed in 1 Peter 3:9 - not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

Here's another one:

"He always gets what he wants. I'm going to get my way for a change!"

I think Philipians 2:3-4 shows us to send that thought and all similar ones packing - Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Let's try one more:

"I've had it! I'm not going to let him hurt me anymore! I deserve better! I'm out of here!"

Obviously, we would reject that thought based on many passages. Let's start with Colossians 3:12-13 - Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  

Furthermore, we have the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:6-7 - And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' "and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?" So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." 

Truly, loving our husbands begins in our minds!  As we renew our minds, God will give us the grace to treat our husbands with love, and eventually the feelings will follow!

Your Turn to Share:

Do you have some thoughts that you've arrested and kicked out of your mind and replaced with godly, loving thoughts towards your husband that you could share?  What was the scripture that helped you renew your mind?  Please share so that we might all be encouraged to love our husbands starting in our minds!

If you were blessed or encouraged by this post, please consider sharing it with your friends on Facebook or other social media sites.  Thank you!

Link up:

I'd love to have you link up your blog to mine!  Please link up any past or present posts related to Christian marriage.  Don't forget to link back to my blog!  Thanks!



The Alabaster Jar

What Joy Is Mine

Growing Home

Courtship Connection


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Mom on a "Mission!"

Many of you have emailed me privately asking for an update on my Mom.  I apologize for not keeping you updated as to how she is doing!

Yes -- she is still alive!  There were several times this fall when we didn't think she would live beyond that day!  I certainly did not anticipate her being here for Christmas, but she was!  (Much to her disappointment, as she wanted to spend Christmas Day with Jesus!)

She keeps saying she has been "robbed," as there were times when she felt she was so close to seeing her Savior face to face . . . and then she woke up in the same old room and in the same old body.  

She has good days -- when she is able to be up in her wheelchair and move about the house and rearrange the contents of the refrigerator -- and she has bad days when the chest pain and pressure along with the shortness of breath keep her confined to her hospital bed. She continues to be joyful, non-complaining, and focused on others rather than her self whether she feels "good" or rotten!

Since this fall she has been on a mission to crochet custom afghans for all of her grandchildren!  She has 15!  :)  As of this posting, she has completed 9!!!!!!  She says that crocheting gives her something to pass the time and to help her keep her mind off the pain. The more intense the pain, the more her fingers fly! 

Here are two of the afghans she has made for my children.

This one is Hannah's:

And this one is Bethany's:

She has made me several afghans through the years.  Here is my Favorite one -- isn't it Beautiful??

"She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. . . Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates." 
 ~ Proverbs 31:13, 31

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Marriage Monday: 3 Ways to Love our Husbands (Link up)

Marriage Mondays

Welcome back to Marriage Monday!  Life is full of ups and downs, so two weeks ago I tackled the topic of loving our husbands during the tough times. Then last week, I looked at why it isn't as easy as it seems to love our husbands in the good times. Today I am exploring what love really is and what kind of love we should have for our husbands.

As I've worked on this post, I've come to the conclusion that the love of a man and wife must be the greatest love on earth, even surpassing the love a mother has for her children. Why? Because the love between husband and wife encompasses three different types of love, and according to Ecclesiastes 4:12, "a three fold cord is not quickly broken."

What are the three types of love that should exist between a husband and wife?

The First Type of Love: Agape

First of all, we should love our husbands with agape love. Agape love is a sacrificial love that gives expecting nothing in return.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son  . . . 

We are commanded to love everyone, including our husbands, with this kind of love:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.  ~ John 13:34-35

Agape love is a choice rather than a feeling and made possible only when the God of love is resident in our hearts, enabling us to love unconditionally.  

The Second Type of Love: Phileo

We also love our husbands with phileo love, which is brotherly love. In Titus 2:3-4, the Greek word that is used to depict the type of love we are to have for our husbands is philandros, which literally means "love of man."  

This type of love is best described as tender affection or kindness. We comprehend this love as the fond, affectionate feelings that we have towards our husbands. Apparently, this type of love can be learned, because in Titus 2:3-4, the older women are instructed to teach the younger women to love their husbands.

We experience this type of love when our hearts are moved with compassion for our husbands when they've had a long, hard day of work and come home to find out that the washer is broken, or when they have to go out in the wee hours of morning in sub-freezing temperatures to thaw out the well pump with a blow dryer! We also experience this type of love when our hearts are moved with affection when we see our husbands tenderly holding our newborn baby, playing sweetly with our little girl, helping our son learn to hit the baseball, or surprising us by cleaning up a kitchen full of dirty dishes. Another way we experience this love is when we simply relish spending time together, riding bikes, walking on the beach, going for a drive, sipping lattes and sharing our hearts at Starbucks, etc.

The Third Type of Love: Eros

Eros love is what sets apart the husband/wife relationship. This is the erotic, romantic love that makes movies and books top-sellers!  It is the love that makes your heart go pitter-patter and sends tingles up your spine!  :)  However, it is much more than that.  It is a love that grows deeper through the years as a man and wife grow in intimacy and understanding and unity.

It is the one-flesh relationship that is designed by God to be enjoyed by men and women only within the confines of marriage.  While this love is obviously physical in nature, it is primarily an emotional bond.  Furthermore, it is spiritual in nature, as it portrays a picture of Christ and the church in a mysterious way that is beyond our ability to fully grasp.  

As you can see, the love between a husband and wife is far more than an "I love chocolate" type of love!  It is a complex, all-encompassing emotional commitment that should include three types of biblical love intertwined in a cord that binds forever.

Your Turn to Share:

How have you learned to love your husband in all three of these ways?  How do you think we can teach other women to love their husbands, as we are commanded to do in Titus 2?  Please share so that we might all be encouraged!!! 

Edited:  A wise and observant reader (my Mom!) pointed out to me that the Greek word eros is not actually found in the Bible!  So, I did a little research on this and here is what I learned:  Although the word eros is not actually in the Scriptures, the sensual, romantic love that it signifies is powerfully portrayed in the Old Testament book The Song of Solomon.  Also, while the Bible clearly condemns a physical, intimate relationship outside of marriage, God designed the "act of marriage" to be a part of a healthy marriage for the purposes of satisfying legitimate physical needs, for emotional and spiritual bonding, and for reproduction.  

If you were blessed or encouraged by this post, please consider sharing it with your friends on Facebook or other social media sites.  Thank you!

Link up:

I'd love to have you link up your blog to mine!  Please link up any past or present posts related to Christian marriage.  Don't forget to link back to my blog!  Thanks!



The Alabaster Jar

What Joy Is Mine

Growing Home


Friday, January 18, 2013

Reminder: Lilla Rose 15% Off Sale Today Only!

I just wanted to quickly remind you that the Lilla Rose 15% off sale on select items is underway!  It is Today Only and ends at midnight Pacific Time.  If you've been wanting to try a Lilla Rose flexi-clip -- there is no better time to try one out!

If you are a NEW customer and order 3 flexi-clips from my website, I will send you one of the above clips for FREE!  Just email me for details!

I've already heard reports of some sizes selling out, so place your order quickly!!

Click here to start shopping!  :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Introducing . . . .

Not 1, Not 2, But 3 Brand New Flexi-clips from Lilla Rose!

First of all, this beautiful clip -- a perfect score for musicians!

And then this colorful clip -- excellent for those looking for some color to brighten up a dreary, winter day and herald the coming of spring!

And finally, this clip is sure to be a royal success!  Any New Orleans Saints fans out there??

Both of these new clips will be available for purchase starting Friday, January 18th!  Also on January 18th only these new clips will be on sale for 15% off!!!

Which one do you like best???  

You may take a look around my website here:

Reminder:  Make sure you see my greeting so you will know you have been directed to the correct website before you place your order!

If you've never tried a flexi-clip, this is great time to give one a try!  This is what some of my delighted customers are saying about their flexi-clips:

"My hair clip came yesterday! It is amazing!  I wrapped my hair in a twist, and with the flexi-clip, it stayed in place all day!  That never happens with my slippery hair! Thank you!"  ~ J.B.

"I love my new Lilla Rose flexi!!  it's beautiful, comfortable, functional, and very versatile!  This is the best hair accessory I've ever worn!"  ~ C.K.

"Thank you for my flexi-clip!!  I love it!!  ~ M.M.

"I just love the peace sign flexi-clip and the roses headband!  You've got a loyal customer here!"  ~ B.W.   

I'd love to have you become a flexi-clip fan too!  :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Marriage Monday: Loving Your Husband in the Good Times {Link up}

Marriage Mondays

Welcome back to Marriage Monday! Last week I tackled the topic of loving our husbands during tough times, and today I want to flip that coin over and talk about loving our husbands when times are good!

Of course, it is easier to love our husbands during the good times, when the pantry is stocked, the bank account is padded, the cars are all running, the children are behaving well, everyone is healthy, and life seems to be going along pretty well.  Or is it??

The truth is that hard times often draw us closer to the Lord and to each other. (Of course, the opposite can also be true, if we allow bitterness to set in. But that's a topic for another day and another blog post!)  However, it is easy to become complacent during the good times. We tend to think we don't need God, or our husbands, or our church body.  We start skipping our quiet times.  We start thinking of ways to make our life even easier and more pleasant.  Yes, before we know what has happened, we can become self-sufficient, self-focused, self-indulgent and self-satisfied.  Hey, we may even become self-righteous, thinking we are doing everything right and that is why our lives are so blessed!  (Tip: Whenever you see the word "self" that many times in the same sentence, watch out!) 

Whenever we become that focused on self, we have lost the ability to love.  Love is all about others.  It is giving without any expectation of personal gain. Love is preferring others above ourselves.  Love is dying to self.

If our blessings cause us to be self-centered and to lose our focus on God and others (including our husbands), then it actually becomes harder to love our husbands during the good times! 

God knows the traps that ensnare us when everything is going well.  He explicitly warned the Israelites in Deuteronomy chapter 8 about the dangers of forgetting Him when they were enjoying His blessings:

Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage . . . And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. (verses 12-14, 17-18)

As we see from the passage above, the first hurdle to overcome during the good times is not forgetting God, but continuing to acknowledge Him and honor Him as the source of all our blessings. The second hurdle is to not be puffed up with pride.  If we remain humble and grateful, giving all the glory to God, our hearts will be prepared to love our husbands as well.

Practically speaking, how can we best demonstrate love to our husbands when times are good??  Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Compliment your husband for anything he has done well that has contributed to the blessings you are enjoying, making sure he knows that you are proud of him and his accomplisments.
  2. Especially praise him for any godly character qualities he has demonstrated that have led to his success, such as diligence, perseverence, responsibility, creativity, etc. 
  3. If he has received an award, honor or a promotion, honor him with a special dinner, serving his food on a Special Plate (like the one in the picture above!)
  4. Help him remain humble by reminding him that it is the Lord that ultimately gives the power and ability to get wealth.
  5. Encourage him to give God all the glory and praise for the blessings that you are enjoying, especially if God has delivered you from a difficult situation.  (Psalm 50:15) 
  6. Partner with your husband to bless and encourage others who are going through difficult times, by demonstrating generosity, hospitality and genuine love for others.
  7. Continue to cultivate your relationships with God and with each other during the good times as well as the bad.
  8. Encourage him to prepare for difficult times ahead.  (Yes, the reality of life is that we are either in a trial, just finished with a trial, or preparing for the next trial to hit!)  
These are just a few ideas that I had for loving our husbands during the good times.  I'm sure you can think of many more creative ways!!

Your Turn to Share:

How do you demonstrate love to your husband during times of blessing and abundance? How do you keep your eyes focused on the Lord and not on His blessings?  How do you cultivate your relationship with your husband in the good times? Please share! I'd love to hear how you make your husband feel special during times of blessing as well as during times of trial.  Please share so that we might all be encouraged!!! 

If you were blessed or encouraged by this post, please consider sharing it with your friends on Facebook or other social media sites.  Thank you!

Link up:

I'd love to have you link up your blog to mine!  Please link up any past or present posts related to Christian marriage.  Don't forget to link back to my blog!  Thanks!



The Alabaster Jar

What Joy Is Mine

Growing Home


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