Saturday, December 29, 2018

Count the Fruit

I love a new year. 
I love cleaning things out and organizing them and starting fresh. 
I love thinking about my goals and dreams and plans for the new year. 
After Christmas I am ready to be done with the year and start 
dreaming and planning for the new year
BUT yesterday I was listening to the amazing and awesome 
and she said something that gave me pause. 
(If you don't follow her, you totally should! 

She talked about "counting the fruit" from a year before planning ahead for the new year. 
"Counting the fruit" is just thinking about and thanking God for 
anything you are thankful for, for any way that God provided,
for any answered prayers, for any way He showed up- big or small. 
The idea comes from John 15:1-8 where it says....
“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[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also 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. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

And I LOVE this idea so and am going to work at making this a practice in my life!
Jess said....

If you want to go into 2019 full of purpose and God's power,
you've got to leave 2018 full of gratitude and thankfulness.
Even if you think it was a hard year.
Even if it was a hard year.
Even if really broken things happened.

And to that I say AMEN!
To help write those fruits down, I created a little printable to make it easy. 


If you'd like to join me, you can print out a copy of both HERE

Friday, December 28, 2018

January Scripture Writing Plan: Psalms- I WILL....

Happy almost January sweet friends!

The scripture writing plan this month is over a topic that 
I stumbled a few months ago while reading my Bible. 
While reading through Psalms I realized that I often spend 
most of my time searching God's word for reassurance about
HIM and HIS love, care, mercy, and grace for me.
But His word is not only full of those things, 
(Thank goodness it is full of those things because we definitely need those reminders!)
it's also full of the things I should be committed to and focused on doing. 

So earlier this year I started reading through Psalms and writing down 
every single time it says "I WILL..." in terms of something I should be doing. 
And I found there were TONS! 
It was such a shift in my thinking to write them all down. 

Here are just a few...
Psalm 9:1 I WILL  give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I WILL tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 9:2 I WILL be glad and rejoice in you; I WILL sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
Psalm 13:6 I WILL sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.
Psalm 16:7 I WILL praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
Psalm 16:8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I WLL not be shaken.
So the topic this month is all of those "I WILL..." verses. 



These verses all contain the words “I will…” along with something God commands us to do. 
As you write each verse out, highlight the “I will…” listed. 

My prayer is that we would spend this month digging into His word
to learn more about the things that WE need to be doing 
and shifting us from thinking solely about what God promises 
us to include what we need to commit to doing for Him!

FYI: I made the plan 31 days and plan to do that with
all topical plans in the future so that they can be done any month-
not just the month I write them for.

TO PRINT: You can find a copy of the plan in English and Spanish in the folder HERE.
{Just a reminder, don't try to print the images below or they will be blurry. Be sure to click the link to download a PDF copy!}


Monday, December 24, 2018

Memory Verse: Week 52


I believe that Satan doesn’t want us in God’s word and will use any and every means possible to keep us from the truth and therefore we must be prepared and have a PLAN!

To work on hiding God's word in our hearts, 
this year I'm going to be posting a memory verse for each week
 along with a printable to print out and hang up. 


Here's the verse for week 51:


     
You can print out the verses in English and Spanish and the complete list in a folder  HERE


Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas Baking 2018

I love to bake. 
It's relaxing and fun for me to make sweet treats for friends and family. 
In fact, I started this blog (many years ago) to post recipes (and there are tons on here). 
I inherited the love of baking from my sweet mama who was an INCREDIBLE cook. 
At Christmas time each year we would spend a weekend making
 tons of treats and it was one of my favorite weekends of the year. 
As I bake now I miss her so but try to remember all the fun times 
with her and now am lucky enough to have my sweet girl join me sometimes. 

This week I made a few goodies and thought I would share the recipes in case 
you are looking for some yummy treats to whip up this week. 
Some are super simple and all are super yummy!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles: 
These are a HUGE hit every single time I make them. 


Recipe HERE but you can take a short cut and make them using refrigerated cookie dough. 

Peppermint Cookie Dough Truffles: 
I made these using the refrigerated peppermint sugar cookie dough and almond bark. 
YUMMY and super easy! 

Betty's Ginger Cookies: 
This recipe came from my sweet friend Betty and they are delicious!
They are a super soft cookie- which is my favorite kind!
Recipe HERE

Grinch Cookies: 
These are cool whip cookies that are super yummy and soft. 
I got the recipe my very first year of teaching (25 years ago) and for Christmas 
just added green food coloring to make them festive. 
Recipe HERE

Snickers Fudge: 
This is a time consuming candy but it is soooooo worth all the effort! 
It really does taste like a Snickers candy bar!
Recipe HERE.

Texas Trash (aka Chex Mix): 
This was a Christmas staple in my house and so I make it every year. 
I'm a traditionalist and believe two things: 
It must be made in the oven and you should double (or triple) the seasonings/butter mixture!
Recipe HERE.

White Chocolate PB Clusters: 
These are a staple in my house at Christmas time. 
They are super easy and make a ton and they are gluten free! 
Recipe HERE

Merry Mix: 
Super yummy and makes a ton!
Recipe HERE

Monday, December 17, 2018

And a few MORE CUTE GIFT IDEAS WITH FREE PRINTABLE TAGS

Buying little gifts for lots of people can quickly add up to lots of $ so I decided to come up with a few cute and inexpensive ideas that won't break Santa's bank! 
This time of year everyone is super crazy busy & hurried so it's nice to have 
a few things wrapped up and ready to give when you realize you need them-
for teachers, co-workers, friends, neighbors, etc.

For the past two years I have posted some CUTE & QUICK CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS
HERE and HERE for gifts that are great (& inexpensive) 
to give to co-workers, teachers, or neighbors
or just to have around during the Christmas season.

I've already post a few new ones this year that you can find HERE
and below are some new ones I recently came up with 
that are super easy and super inexpensive!


Idea #1:
I usually have several Sonic and Starbucks gift cards 
on hand just in case I need a quick, easy gift. 
I decided it was time to create a little printable tag to go with them!
For a bigger gift you could even add a gift card and tag to a cute cup or mug.
(Cute bag found in dollar spot at Target)
Total Cost= $5+



Idea #2:
Flair pens are the BEST and every teacher I know loves them so!
This little printable is perfect to go with a set of Flair pens.
They come in tons of sets, in tons of color 
so you can purchase either a large or small package!
Total Cost= $6.29 on Amazon or $11.45 on Amazon




    


Idea #3:
I saw this idea late one night on Pinterest
and knew I had to make some for folks in my office. 
Because sometimes, you just need chocolate, right?
I purchased the containers at Hobby Lobby for $2.99
and the candy at Wal-mart. 
This could also be done with seasonal candy
 (Valentine's Day, Halloween, Christmas)
but I made mine generic so it could last all year. 
I purchased 6 small bags of candy 
and that amount filled all 6 of my containers 
with a few left pieces of candy left over.
I also added a $5 bill so they could get a
Sonic or Starbucks drink when needed. 
Total Cost= $7.99 + cost of candy





Idea #4:
I love our mailman and decided I needed to create a little printable 
to add to some cookies so I could leave him a Christmas treat. 
I kept the printable fairly generic so you could add anything you'd like to it- 
candy, cookies, a gift card, etc. 
Total Cost= $4


Idea #5:
I love Gingerbread house kits and think they make a great gift for a family!
I purchased this one at Wal-mart for less than $9 and they 
had TONS of different versions- both big and small. 
Total Cost= $9



Note: 
I printed my tags on white cardstock- sometimes in wallet size and others in 4x6 
but they are all in JPG format so you can print them in any size you'd like!
You can find all of tags from this year and last year in the folder  HERE

Memory Verse: Week 51


I believe that Satan doesn’t want us in God’s word and will use any and every means possible to keep us from the truth and therefore we must be prepared and have a PLAN!

To work on hiding God's word in our hearts, 
this year I'm going to be posting a memory verse for each week
 along with a printable to print out and hang up. 


Here's the verse for week 51:


     
You can print out the verses in English and Spanish and the complete list in a folder  HERE


Friday, December 14, 2018

Paper Bows= Easy, Peasy!

I am a girl that loves bows- in all shapes and sizes.
And so when I saw a way to make bows using a page
 from a magazine I just had to try it.
And when I did and I found out how SUPER simple and fast it was-
I made a ton and figured I would share!


Here's what you'll need
(all of which you probably have in your house right this minute):


-a page from a magazine, a piece of scrapbook paper, a piece of wrapping paper or any other kind of paper you might have

-a pair of scissors (or a paper cutter)

-tape (regular Scotch tape or double sided  tape)

-a stapler (I used this type of stapler and it worked fabulously because I could open and close it without squishing the paper)

-a ruler

Step 1:
Use the ruler to mark the back of the page at 3/4 inch intervals and cut out 9 strips.
Set three strips aside as these will remain full-sized. Take three strips and cut 1 inch off of each strip and throw scraps away. Take two strips and cut 2 inches off of each and throw scraps away. Cut a three inch piece from the remaining strip to use for the center of the bow. When you finish cutting your strips will look like this:






Step 2:
Take each of the longer 8 strips and twist each one to form a loop at each end. Make sure that the side of the page that you want to show up is on the outside, not the inside. Staple each piece in the center after making the loops. Take the last piece- the smallest piece- and make it into a circle and tape it closed.







Step 3:
Lay the longer of the 3 strips over each other, spacing them apart. Staple them together in the center. Add the next three in the same manner, and secure with another staple. Repeat with the last two strips and staple one final time. Use a piece of tape rolled up (or use double sided tape) to secure the round loop in the center of the bow.





A few hints:
  • scrapbook paper makes a fluffier bow which I love
  • you can make a larger or smaller bow- just extend or shorten the length of your strips
  • using a stapler that opens and closes easily is helpful because it keeps you from crushing the loops



These are so easy peasy and so inexpensive and quick! I don't think I'll ever buy another bow again. Trust me, if you make one, you'll want to make another and another and another and another...

 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Journal + Devotional = Awesome 365 Devotional Journals

I love journals and I love devotional books. 
I love writing down my thoughts and I love going back through old journals 
to see what I was thinking and praying about at different seasons of my life. 
It is often through journals that I am able to see God's plans 
and hand-prints on difficult times in my life. 
I think journals are little scrapbooks of our lives- that often live on beyond us. 

I have three or four devotional books and start every single day reading at least one. 
They help me to focus on what truly is important and to think about 
what God is calling me to do that day. 
So when you put together a devotional book that includes space for journaling? 
That is perfection! 

Below are three GORGEOUS 365 devotional journals perfect for 2019. 
I love all three of them and am having a hard time deciding on my favorite. 
(Not done shopping? They would make a fabulous Christmas or Happy New Year gift!)
All three have beautiful covers but the true beauty is on the words inside!
Each of the dated pages has a short devotional and then a lined space below
 to write your thoughts or prayers.
They are the perfect way to start a day focusing 
on what is truly important- Jesus!


Description: We pray for peace. We beg for it from others. We make speeches about it. But in the end, the only peace most of us can control is that little portion we display for the world to see. If we are at peace, the chaos around us seems to calm down. Our peace affects others. And the giver of peace awaits to give us the gift that can change our world. It begins with a prayer. It begins with me.

What I Love About It:
  • The blue and green cover with gold foil accent is so pretty, serene and calming! 
  • Each page has a devotional and Bible passage to read
  • There are lines after each devotion to write your thoughts or prayers (I love lines!)
  • It has a lay-flat binding so it's easy to write on either side of the journal
  • The devotions in this journal are focused on peace and finding peace in our lives and in our hearts. It's visually calming and not busy at all.
  • The journal has a ribbon to mark your spot
  • Each day ends with a prayer
  • It has a pretty green closure band so you can keep it in your purse or bag without worrying the pages will get wrinkled

Who Should You Buy This For?: This devotional journal would be perfect for anyone you know who needs a little more peace in their life.

Where can you purchase it?





Description: From the small whisper of a snowflake to the large circumference of a baobab tree, all of nature is the creative expression of God. When we embrace His creative nature by taking the time to stop, notice, and connect, our hearts are encouraged and souls refreshed. Respond to the devotions, add your own creative writing, or keep track of prayers on the journaling lines.

What I Love About It:


  • The peacock artwork on the cover is gorgeous! I would definitely have picked it up in a store- it's truly beautiful!
  • Each page has a devotional and Bible passage to read
  • There are lines after each devotion to write your thoughts or prayers (I love lines!)
  • It has a lay-flat binding so it's easy to write on either side of the journal
  • The devotionals in this journal seem very sweet and almost old-fashioned. They focus on nature and how it's all created by God.
  • The journal has a ribbon to mark your spot
  • Each day ends with a prayer
  • It has a pretty turquoise closure band so you can keep it in your purse or bag without worrying the pages will get wrinkled

Who Should You Buy This For?: This devotional journal would be perfect for those who love being outdoors in nature. 

Where can you purchase it?



Description: When life gets busy, it’s easy to forget to spend time with God. This 365-day devotional journal offers encouraging meditations to help you spend a few moments turning your eyes on Jesus before your hectic day begins. After short devotions and Scripture for each day of the year, you will also find light journaling lines and ample space to record your thoughts, hopes, and prayers—just what you need to start each and every day with the reminder that God is always by your side.


What I Love About It:


  • The floral cover is so pretty! I would definitely have picked it up in a store- it's truly beautiful!
  • Each page has a devotional and instead of a Bible verse there is a song lyric written out at the beginning and a scripture reference at the end (not written out)
  • There are lines after each devotion to write your thoughts or prayers (I love lines!)
  • It has a lay-flat binding so it's easy to write on either side of the journal
  • The devotionals in this journal are my favorite of the three and are all over faith. 
  • The journal has a ribbon to mark your spot
  • Each day ends with a prayer
  • It has a pretty blue closure band so you can keep it in your purse or bag without worrying the pages will get wrinkled

Who Should You Buy This For?: This devotional journal would be perfect for anyone who loves worshiping the Lord through music.


Where can you purchase it?


Notice: Sweet Blessings was contacted by FlyBy Promotions to write this review. All three Devotionals were given to me by the Ellie Claire Gift and Paper Expressions company to review for my readers. All opinions are my own.

Ellie Claire produces beautifully crafted journals, devotionals, and other creative gift and paper expressions. These remarkable products are sold in such national accounts as Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, Cracker Barrel, Walmart, Sams, Costco, and LifeWay Stores. At the heart of Ellie Claire is a passion to share the unchanging truth of God’s love in irresistibly creative new ways, infusing into our gifts and books a fresh expression of faith.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

I Will Not Be Shaken

Are you tired this morning? Worn? Weary? Shaken?
Psalm 16:8 is a precious reminder to me of what I am to do when I feel that way…….
“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
He is at my right hand. Always.
When I feel lost, He is constant.
When I feel shaky, He is steady.
When I feel anxious, He is comforting.
When I feel scared, He is my security.
When I feel alone, He is with me.
When I feel broken, He is strong.
When I feel unable, He is able.
In the easy and in the hard and the HOLY.
He is at my right hand (and your). Always.