Sunday, March 30, 2014

Being a Candle

I know this might be slightly out of place since spring is coming upon the world in the Northern Hemisphere…but here in the Southern half the daylight is swiftly getting shorter. I was blessed again to read this post that I wrote on my blog back in February 2012, and I hope you’ll be blessed, too!

I love candles. It’s not just because of the waxy smell they put in the air, or the sweet smoky smell…I just love them! The other night I was walking down the hall, and saw this out of the corner of my eye; isn’t it beautiful? Candle light is such a beautiful thing. It reminds me of how we need to be as Christians: a shining light to everyone around us. No matter who we are, we can all be a shining candle burning brightly for Jesus.

“That ye may be blameless and harmless,” says Apostle Paul, “he sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the [dark] world.” (Philippians 2:15)

We shine as lights in this dark world of ours. Just like the candle burns brightly on its wick, so we must burn brightly with the Word of God as our fuel source. Just as the candle is shrouded in darkness, so are we covered in the darkness of the sin of this world. Candles have a lot to teach us!

God’s love—that He would send Jesus, His only beloved Son, into the dark, sinful world to be a light and to teach us how to be more like Him. Praise the LORD!

Keep burning!

Friday, March 28, 2014

My Plans Towards You

Have you ever felt despair of not knowing what tomorrow holds? Faced the unknown with fear? Became sick just thinking about the final exam tomorrow? Worked yourself up at the thought of your job interview next week?
The truth is that all of us have experienced the same or similar experiences some time in our lives. If you are at all like me, I can work myself up at that slightest thing abnormal or unknown in my life.
For example, I recently applied at PA College of Health Sciences as I work towards an Associates’ Degree as a Registered Nurse. The deadline to apply to class was February 1st. All my paperwork was into the college by that date, except for my GED transcript. That transcript was coming from the state of PA and the college did not receive it until two weeks after the deadline. Any applications that are received late are reviewed according to available space. So I began to wonder, was I too late? Would I be admitted to the August class? Should I accept the offer from the other college? After I declined the first offer, I began to wonder, did I make the right choice? Time began to slowly tick by - days developed into weeks. I continued to question my decisions and then started selling myself short.
My faith was quite small at that point and worry was taking over. I was struck with the thought that God is in control and He already knows the outcome. All I need to do is trust Him to lead me in His will. I was reminded of a verse from Jeremiah 29:11

I realized that I had so quickly forgot that God was in control of the situation. After surrendering my college issue to Him, I felt peace knowing that He would work in His perfect time. Although worry continued to surface, I reminded myself to let go and let God take control.
The challenge I leave with you today is to trust all your worry to God. When you surrender it to Him, leave it in His arms. Don't bring it back into your arms to worry and fret about it. He is faithful! He knows where you will be tomorrow, next year, and even ten years from today.
For me, the answer came once I fully surrendered my worry to Him. I received an acceptance letter to the college and the first thing I did before I opened the envelope was to thank God and ask for His continued guidance wherever He was leading me. Sometimes He answers in the way we were hoping, other times He says "No" and yet sometimes He says "Wait"
He is faithful. Trust Him moment by moment!

Blessings! Andrea

Monday, March 24, 2014

Encouraging our Siblings

As a big sister to five of the most wonderful brothers and one precious sister, I have plenty of opportunities to encourage my siblings. Each day the Lord gives me with my family is a priceless gift – and I thank him for both.

Abigail and Micah
Here are some practical ways sisters can encourage their siblings.  There are so many avenues you can travel down, but I hope my ideas and thoughts will only be a starting point for you.

-Memorize Scripture with your siblings.  Encourage them in personal Bible reading.  I know many of you are already doing that.  One way my siblings and I like to get into God’s Word together is by participating in the National Bible Bee.

-Praise them!  “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” (Prov. 25:11). Words are so powerful – we can’t take them back after they have been spoken – why not say words that will build them up?!

-For siblings of younger ages, tell them stories or read to them.  My 2 year old brother, Micah, loves to cuddle in my lap have me read a story to him. Sometimes even my siblings that are older will gather round to hear also!  You can also play with them.  Micah loves for me to build him big train tracks or chase him in a game of tag.  It’s also fun to sing together.

-Have a party, just because!  Invite them to a special time together – it could be one-on-one or all together. Have a special snack and drink, maybe play a game they enjoy.

-Take an interest in their activities. A building project with the brothers, a little bread loaf your sister made or even a simple drawing your 2 or 3 year old sibling made are opportunities to praise them!

-Including them in your activities is another wonderful way to build relationships. They will be thrilled to be doing “big people things”. If you’re washing windows, get them a rag and let them help!  Letting a little sibling help you with a baking project would make them so happy.

-Give them little letters and notes. I like to write little notes with scripture or a word of encouragement or praise to them. Put them somewhere where they’ll be surprised – like on their pillow.

-Do a special project or activity together. For brothers, this might mean playing baseball or Frisbee with them, building towers together with Popsicle sticks and hot glue, going with them on hikes or ATV rides in the woods… And for sisters, you could do a baking project together, card making or do her hair a special way.  If you do not sleep in the same room, let her “camp out” on your floor once in a while.

-Give them hugs and tell them “I love you” often. You never know how much more time you have with them – treasure the moments! It’s so precious to have them return the smiles and hugs.
There are many, many more ways to encourage and bless our siblings. Branch out and find new ideas and activities and make lasting memories with them.

May Jesus bless you abundantly – Press on, sisters!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Hard Side of Being a Friend

A [woman] that hath friends must shew [herself] friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a [sister].” —Proverbs 18:24

I’ve often struggled with my friendships. I don’t consider myself the best of friends at the best of times, and I know way too often I am demanding and unforgiving when I should be the opposite. I’ve often struggled with the question of how can I, as Christian young women, be a friend? Not just the kind that buys chocolate for my friends, or talks about the latest and greatest happenings—that’s only surface stuff. I like having things deeper than that. I don’t believe we can have real friendships if that’s all that is happening.

Proverbs 6:3 says, “Do this now, my [daughter], and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend.” The “humble yourself” part of this verse could also be translated “submit yourself”. When you submit yourself, you are becoming open to criticism.

I’m sure you’ve seen somewhere a picture of a triangle with God at the top and a man and a woman at the bottom corners. It’s often used to help explain (in a rough way) how courtship and marriage are supposed to work (if I understood the object lesson wrong, then please tell me!). That triangle can also be applied to our friendships.

As we individually grow closer to God, we grow closer to each other. And our communication rises with us—closer to God. For the most part in my friendships, I have a hard time talking about God and what He’s been teaching me lately. It’s something I just don’t feel comfortable with…maybe it’s because I feel vulnerable.

That brings me to my final point: You are going to be vulnerable (and I’m talking to myself, as well as you!). If you are ever going to have a deep relationship with anyone, you have to be willing to be vulnerable. Exposed. Unguarded. And that’s really hard. But Jesus did it—I don’t think anyone has ever been more exposed for all the world to see than He!

While I haven’t given any real advice here, I’ll have to say—this is still a learning ground for me. I don’t have a magic trick for having friends or any how-to tips. I’m just praying I’ll be able to further bless, encourage, strengthen, and challenge those around me whom I am privileged to call friends. I hope you will be able to, as well.

Stand strong!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Why I Love Doing the Dishes

     Each person in a home has their own job or chore.

     Mine is doing the dishes.

     One of the worst jobs, I used to think. Because no matter the time of day, the day of the week, no matter whether the day was busy or quiet, no matter the place in infinity, no matter how I feel - there are dishes to do!
     Thus, having the job of keeping up with the dishes of seven people may have helped me learning some responsibility. And although I am thankful for that, it’s not the reason I enjoy the chore.

     The reason is time.

The kitchen sink” by Alan Cleaver is licensed under CC BY 2.0
     Time to think, reflect, consider, remember. Time when my hands are busy and my mind and heart are free to fly as they will. So they do.
     They fly through the memories of the day. Little memories and large memories. Sweet and bitter.
     Then, running over the memory, my mind considers.
     It draws its conclusions.
     And plans the future.

     Trying to look past my reflection in the window to see the stars at night, and past the soap spots to see the seagulls by day, my heart is singing.

     This is wonderful.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Recipe Wednesday: Happiness

Recipe for Happiness:

Mix together (preferably in a home inhabited by a family):
  • Lots of laughter
  • A sprinkle of fun
  • A cup (or two) of bright sunshine
  • A shelf of good books
  • Large doses of siblings playing together
  • Boxes of chocolate icecream
  • An abundance of hugs
Leave a minute or two to set, then open wide the doors and let it spill out into the surrounding neighbourhood. You can’t keep happiness contained for long.
(Note: It’s best when served fresh.)


Note from Esther: Thanks for the good recipe, Bonnie! While I find it slightly humorous, its still very true. Thanks for sharing.

And to everyone else: I’m always looking for more recipes, so if you have one you think others would appreciate please stop by our Submissions Page and send it in. Thanks!

Monday, March 17, 2014

:: Come forth as Gold ::

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle [you].
:: 1 Peter 5:10 ::

When you suffer and lose, that does not mean you are being disobedient to God. In fact, it might mean you're right in the center of His will. The path of obedience is often marked by times of suffering and loss.
:: Chuck Swindoll ::

The man who has an easy way through life, will be spiritually weak, flabby and impoverished. He won't be able to do all that God wants him to do. But the one who has gone through trials and testing successfully, will be strong and capable of doing all the will of God.
:: Zac Poonen ::

"...for when I am tried and purified, I shall come forth as gold." 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

7 Ways a Daughter can Honour Her Father

In the society we live in today, the father’s role is increasingly being attacked, abused, and misused. Even the role of men in general is being undermined, and this is something that I find very disturbing—especially when I see people whose lives have been damaged as a result of men not getting the honour they deserve.

So I’ve decided to put together a little list of some of the ways you can honour your father—just as Ephesians 6:1-3 says.
i <3 You” by DaDooDa is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
  1. When you are making yourself a cup of tea or coffee in the morning, offer to make your dad one, too—especially if it is his day off. I know my father appreciates it!
  2. Ask your mom what your dad’s favourite meal is, and make it for the evening meal. This is one way to serve your entire family (your mom gets the meal off, after all!), and even if you accidentally burn the food a little your dad will appreciate the effort! Or, if you don’t feel confident enough with a whole meal, make his favourite dessert!
  3. Help him with his projects. Is he renovating a part of your house? Then ask if he has something you can do to help! Sometimes, I don’t even have to offer—Dad just volunteers me. :)
  4. Obey him promptly. Has he asked you to do something for him, even if it is something that doesn’t really have to happen right away? Get it done as soon as possible. He might not thank you for it, but that is a way you can honour him.
  5. Pray for him. I don’t do this one enough! Pray Numbers 6:24-26 over him. Bless him with your prayers—even if he never knows that you pray for him, I know he will be blessed.
  6. Send a note with your dad in his lunchbox! We’ve done it a few times when his birthday comes around, but I know this is something you could do at any time of the year. Send him an encouraging poem, Bible verse, or quote to find when he opens the box for his lunch! What a fun surprise.
  7. Never talk bad about him, no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. Tearing him down doesn’t help you, and certainly doesn’t help him or his reputation.
Your father is a precious gift. I suppose you could say that you are his gift, but in a way he is a gift to you as well—not all girls are privileged to even have a father! I know my dad is a wonderful dad—I couldn’t even start explaining all the things he does for me! And although I know it isn’t Father’s Day, I want to say—thank you, Dad.

Honour your father—in every way you possibly can. He’s worth it.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


This post came from The Pursuit (you can read others we’ve posted from the website here). It was originally posted on September 21, 2011.
Used by permission of the blog/magazine’s editor—thanks, Ariel!

Some girls wear it, some don’t. Foundation—a creamy concoction of pigments and fillers to create a flawless complexion. With a smooth canvas, a girl can create a masterpiece!

How important is having a foundation? I often think about my childhood and how blessed I am to have a family who set my feet on a firm understanding of God, love, morals and the important lessons of life. I often wonder what I would be like without their support and upbringing. No matter how far or how many times I’ve strayed, their words—especially those of my mom—resonate in my head, bringing me back to the path of the straight and narrow. Without that smooth foundation, where would I be? Would I be a mess?

Then I think about those who didn’t have a solid foundation set for them. Their lives were far from flawless and loving. My favorite thing is hearing about those Cinderella type stories where someone goes from nothing to something! The Blind Side was a great example, but the people I know personally who are truly better because of their rocky start and dysfunctional childhood. Those people truly deserve the world and respect! You see, no matter what, you have a choice—be that foundation for someone, someone who needs it!!

Every makeup artist starts with a blank canvas—flawless or not. It’s the teachings, experiences and creativity that helps them create that perfect look. Flawless or not, you have the option of creating a beautiful life for yourself and others. The Lord will honor you and bless you and guide you along the way :)

Psalm 40:2 “…he set my feet upon a rock…

Stay FabYOUlous,

Brynlea Taylor Cunniff is a tomboy in a tutu. With a desire to be the Proverbs 31 woman God created her to be, she walks down the runway of life hand-in-hand with her Designer (in heels…and cowboy boots). Brynlea has a true passion for the young ladies of today’s generation, so she has a blog dedicated to devotions, fashion and everything girly! Follow her on and Twitter @FabYOUlousGals. She would love for you to join her Facebook group “Fabyoulousgals” for Godly encouragement and girl chat!

Thursday, March 6, 2014


From the heart of Jean Rhodes with influences by other unknown author(s)—

When I meditated on the word Guidance, I kept seeing “dance” at the end of the word. I remember reading that doing God’s will is a lot like dancing.

When two people try to lead, nothing feels right. The movement doesn’t flow with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky. When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead, both bodies begin to flow with the music. One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back or by pressing lightly in one direction or another. It’s as if two become one body, moving beautifully. The dance takes surrender, willingness, and attentiveness from one person and gentle guidance and skill from the other.

My eyes drew back to the word Guidance. When I saw “G: I thought of God, followed by “u” and “i”. “God, “u” and “i” dance.” God, you, and I dance. As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust that I would get guidance about my life. Once again, I became willing to let God lead.

My prayer for you today is that God’s blessings and mercies be upon you on this day and everyday. May you abide in God as God abides in you. Dance together with God, trusting God to lead and to guide you through each season of your life.

And I Hope You Dance!!!!!!!!

Blessings to you all!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Recipe Wednesday: Chocolate Mint Bars

Chocolate Mint Bars

Brownies mint” by Gabriela is
licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts, optional

  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 tsp. peppermint extract
  • Green food coloring

  • 3 oz. (90 gm) coating chocolate
  • 3 Tbsp. butter

Base:  Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add cocoa, flour, salt, and nuts. Mix well. Pour into greased 9×13 pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool.

Frosting:  Cream butter; gradually add powered sugar, milk, peppermint extract, and food coloring. Frost cake and let set until frosting is firm.

Topping:  Melt chocolate with butter, spread over frosting. Chill 30 minutes, then cut into bars.

Rich and sweet, but good!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Take time for the Master!

Martha quickly kneaded her bread dough and formed it into a perfect loaf shape. This meal had to be just right, because a good friend of hers was there in the small village of Bethany visiting Martha and her sister, Mary. The friend was in the next room, and it was Jesus! Mary and Martha had looked forward to this day for some time, for they dearly loved Jesus.

As she shoved the loaf into the oven, Martha grumbled to herself: “Why am I the one doing all this work for our meal? Mary should be helping, but there she sits with Jesus!” Martha hurriedly began working on the other food, thinking similar thoughts. Once or twice she stopped a moment to peek into the next room, hoping to see her sister getting up to join her in the preparations. But each time Mary was always in the same place – listening with close attention to Jesus’ words.

Finally, a sweaty, frustrated, and irritated Martha, her arms akimbo, marched into the room where Jesus and Mary sat. She asked in an exasperated voice: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me alone to serve? Tell her then to come help me.”

Jesus gently rebuked her. “Martha, Martha! You are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” 

Martha felt so ashamed. “I’m sorry,” she murmured, taking a seat on by Jesus’ feet.  “I got so caught up in other things that I forgot how I should be taking time to listen to you instead.”

Jesus smiled, and this time, spoke to both of his friends. Martha listened attentively, and her heart was filled with happiness. She knew that this time she was making the right decision: sitting at the Master’s feet, and being spiritually fed.  The meal she was preparing could wait.  For now, she was feasting on food that would satisfy her soul.

                                                                                                        *Based off of  Luke 10:38-42*


As Martha, we should not allow the cares of this world, as important as they may be, to take from our time with the Master.  Time with Jesus – should be one of the most important things we do each day.

The Holy Scripture tells us, I love them that love me: and those that seek me early shall find me. (Prov. 8:17) We should desire to be with our Master, to be more like him.

Mary, for instance, was sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening very carefully to all he was telling her. She took the time to quietly listen, to meditate, to seek him. Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord. Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually. (1 Chron. 16:10-11)   Mary had peace in her heart – her heart rejoiced – because she sought the Lord.

What Martha was doing was not wrong – there is nothing at all wrong with doing household chores, or of eating or sleeping. Those things are necessary things! The point is...what comes first when the Lord is speaking? Shall we live without thinking about the Lord, (except on Sundays), or live in the Spirit and abide in the Lord's presence every day of the week? Dishes and food and beds can wait, remember, they are not eternal, and will perish. Let us begin living our eternal life now by sitting at the Lord's feet, listening to Him, today. Let us choose the better part that can never be taken from us.

My prayer is that I will always have time for my Master, and not let anything else be more important than Him – I don’t want to be like Martha, who was so busy, she forgot how Jesus was most important.  

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Past Finding Out

(A follow-up of this post.)

Tuesday morning. I hurriedly try to make sure everything is in order for our day away from home. Crochet bag, stories to read at the writing group, all is in order. Someone thumps on my room door, and I dump the assorted things in my arms onto the bed and hurry to answer the knock. It’s my 14-year-old brother, with important news. “Esther! Mom just got a text saying that there’s a possibility that the electric will be hooked up over at the new place today!”

“Really? Finally!” We’ve been waiting for this news for so long…three months now. It almost seems too good to be true! I rush to the kitchen to confirm that yes, there is a possibility that it will happen today. We have family worship, and I quickly message Rachel who just happens to be online to tell her the news and ask her to pray that the electric will indeed be hooked up today.

Then I scurry to help get everything and everyone to the van so we can leave on time. As we take off, I breathe a prayer—“Oh, Lord, please, if it be Your will, let the electric be hooked up today.

-   -   -   -   -   -   -   -

Photo taken on Takaka hill (in the north part of the
South Island of New Zealand).
Tuesday afternoon.
I watch the scenery slide away as we near the turn onto what will hopefully soon be our new road. Dad and Mom have several things to drop off here before we go on home, and we all are wondering what has been happening here today! As we drive in, we all notice the electric lines leading from the road straight to the house.

“It’s not on the ground any more!” One of my brothers excitedly shout, “It was hooked up!” We drive up the bouncy driveway, and park behind our soon-to-be landlord’s truck and an electrician’s van. Everyone piles out, all looking forward to finding out what progress has been done.

Dad forbids us from entering the house for a while, so we won’t get in the electrician’s way. Our soon-to-be landlady comes down, and she tells Mom that the power mains are all ready to go, and the electricians just need to finish all the wiring now. The most important electrical work is done!

Our soon-to-be landlord is working on painting the roof with some sort of a spray painting machine. How exciting it is to realise the machine is using electricity from the mains instead of from a deafening generator!

God is good. Dad and Mom discuss with our landlady new plans—since this has all been done, we can move in almost any time! The electricians soon pack up and leave for the day. They aren’t quite done with the wiring, but our landlady arranges for them to come in two days. We’re moving—Saturday!

-   -   -   -   -   -   -   -

So that’s how God did it. :) And that’s why, two weeks ago, I didn’t post. We had just moved, and I was feeling very stressed still. But over these past two weeks things have calmed down and we are now mostly unpacked. Yes, God is good.

I’ll close with a wonderful verse from Romans:

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”
(Romans 11:33)

Yes, His ways are definitely past finding out. And He is so faithful to work everything out in His time. It seemed almost impossible that we’d ever be able to move that week, but now looking back I know He arranged it all perfectly. And I find it so wonderful that the day after I decided to believe that He would do it things started to happen. (Pure coincidence? I think not!)

Keep your eyes on Jesus!