Outnumbered and Surrounded

by Lynn on October 9, 2017

Do you ever notice how much bad stuff is reported in the news, and hardly any good stuff? I’d like to think it’s because the media chooses to report the bad over the good, and not because there is just less good to report. But increasingly, I’m beginning to think that there really is less good in the world. It seems that evil is so commonplace now, much of it we hardly even notice anymore.

The Judeo-Christian values the majority of Americans held dear years ago are now being marginalized as extreme. Christians are especially targeted for name calling by those who not only think we’re wrong, but wish us dead. Young people are rejecting God and embracing socialism, while congressional members apply religious tests to exclude believers from public office. We need voices of truth, now more than ever to counteract those inverted messages—which is why it is so disconcerting when we lose one of those voices.

Nabeel Qureshi was a beloved Christian apologist, exceptional at speaking but even more gifted at presenting the truth in love. Raised as a Muslim before turning to Christ in college, his unique ministry provided insight for sharing the Gospel with people of other faiths. Nabeel traveled the world with Ravi Zacharias Ministries, touching the hearts of audiences who found him authentic and personable.

Last year Nabeel was diagnosed with stomach cancer. It was a painful blow to those in the apologetics/evangelical community, many of whom had worked with Nabeel. Countless other thousands like me, who had never met him but had been encouraged by his ministry, were praying and pleading with God to miraculously do the impossible. Nabeel was such a powerful witness and a voice of truth in this messed up world—surely God could spare his life. However, healing for Nabeel on this side of eternity was not part of God’s plan and the Lord took him home a few weeks ago at age 34. While I am happy that Nabeel is now with his Savior, death always leaves some destruction in its wake. I especially feel sorrow for his wife and young daughter, his parents and his sister. Like many others I grieved the loss and prayed for the family left behind.

All that week though, there was something gnawing at me. Along with the sadness, I felt a bit perturbed. I wasn’t mad at God, but I have to admit I was disappointed. From our human perspective, Nabeel’s death didn’t make a bit of sense, although in most cases whose death ever does? In my frustration, I blurted out to God what I was thinking. “Lord, it feels as though evil is winning—like the enemy is just taking us out one by one!”

There it is—the big lie—the one we hear when the enemy tries to convince us that we are losing.

Gratefully, the Holy Spirit reminds us of the truth before we can spend too much time wallowing in self pity. Just as those words fell out of my mouth, I immediately recalled one of my favorite stories in the Bible.

It is recounted in Second Kings, chapter 6. The king of Aram is at war with Israel, and he is frustrated that every time he plans an ambush, Israel’s troops avoid the area. After interrogating his own officers for possible saboteurs, the king learns that Israel’s prophet is the one thwarting all of his plans. It seems that God has been revealing the enemy’s strategy to Elisha who has been reporting the information to Israel’s king. Enraged by this, the king of Aram vows to put a stop to it by targeting Elisha.

“Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. 2 Kings 6:13-15, NIV

Clearly outnumbered, the situation looks grim. But Elisha recognizes that reality is not all that it appears to be, and encourages his servant.

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:17-17, NIV

After this vivid display of angelic forces, Elisha prays for the enemy soldiers to be struck with blindness. He then leads them into one of Israel’s cities. Once inside, Elisha prays for their eyes to be reopened where they realize they are now trapped. Although the enemy could have been easily slaughtered, Elisha advises the king of Israel to spare their lives.

“Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory. 2 Kings 6:22-23, NIV

Wow, what a turn of events. In this situation, Elisha extended some kindness to the enemy and was rewarded with an end to hostilities. And while the two kings probably didn’t become fast friends after this event, the king of Aram did stop invading and that was good for everybody. Not only did God protect his people, but he used the conflict to bring a measure of peace. He does the same for us today.

At times it may feel as though we are outnumbered and surrounded by the enemy, but there is more going on than we can see. God’s unseen army protects and defends us. When we get discouraged, it’s good to remember the calm assurance of Elisha—those who are with us are more than those who are with them.

On the journey toward Home,

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Women of Faith SistersLast week my twin and I attended Sisters: Celebrating the Art of Friendship, the latest conference sponsored by Women of Faith.

In 2015, Women of Faith completed the Loved Farewell Tour after 20 years of ministry. The event essentially retired the original speaker team and the large event format. Since then the company was sold and resold, suffering some setbacks and necessitating some changes in the way it would move forward. After some reformatting, Women of Faith is back on the road with the Sisters event.

The new tour is more accessible and less expensive than in the past and is held in churches rather than in arenas. In many ways it appears that Women of Faith has returned to its roots—featuring fewer speakers and more biblically-based messages. In the early years, speakers were well-seasoned Christians with plenty of life experience. None were particularly famous when they started, but all were gifted at sharing the wisdom they’d learned from walking with the Lord for many years.

Women of Faith SistersThe Sisters event features three of these well-seasoned women—Patsy Clairmont, Anita Renfroe, and Jan Silvious. Each speaker emphasized God’s provision of friendship, and how he uses those he places in our lives to uplift, encourage, and equip us to be all that God has in mind for us.

Patsy described how our friends can teach us how to appropriate the word of God into our lives, so that not only do we know Scripture but we learn how to live it out. God can speak truth through our friends in ways that we might not be open to from other people. These truths can bring us liberty in areas of our lives where we’ve settled for less than God would have for us.

Jan focused on how God uses our brokenness to fashion us into something of great value. Regardless of what we’ve been through, what has been done to us, or the consequences of our own poor choices, God can redeem and transform our lives.

The conference theme was the “art of friendship” focusing on how our friends help bring out the gifts God has given to us, which are demonstrated in the ways that we care for others and donate our time and talents to be the hands and feet of Jesus. In spite of our own brokenness, God uses us to minister to others.

Anita Renfroe Women of Faith SistersAnita illustrated this in three questions. What do I have in my hand? Like the staff Moses carried and used to bring water from a rock, something super ordinary can be extraordinary when God works through it (Exodus 17). What do I have in my house? Like Elijah inquiring about the widow’s small provision, God can make a miracle out of what we have if we surrender it to his use (1 Kings 17). What do I have that I can share? Like the boy who brought his lunch to preaching, God can use whatever we are willing to share to meet the needs of others (John 6). Anita also suggested that it was likely the boy’s mom who packed his lunch that fed the 5,000, so never discount the ordinary tasks that can be used by God!

Women of Faith SistersAfter the event, my sister and I had the opportunity to meet the new owners of Women of Faith. They are a personable husband and wife team committed to the original purpose of the organization. Their goal is to encourage and equip women to know and walk with Jesus. With a refocus on biblically-based teaching at the Sisters event, it appears that Women of Faith is headed in that direction.

Patsy summed up the evening’s message with just that type of encouragement—“You are more than you know, because our God is greater than we can imagine!” Amen to that!

On the journey toward Home,

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New Teacup Bird Flock Lands in Etsy Shop

by Lynn on August 1, 2017

Tea cup bird nests silk floral arrangements

My Etsy shop has added a new flock of teacup birds! This group features a wonderful assortment of repurposed vintage cups and saucers. Years ago I found a way to use broken and mis-matched sets, incorporating them into colorful silk floral arrangements. Many of the sets in this new group feature R.S. Prussia, Limoges, and Paragon pieces.

This elegant pink and red arrangement features a lovely pedestal cup adorned with delicate roses.

Pink carnations, fuchsia Sweet William, and small lime flowers complement the mauve gold beaded organza ribbon at the base of the nest.

A turquoise bird sits in a nest of blue hydrangeas, pearls, pink flowers, and lamb’s ear.

This flock includes colorful birds in vibrant shades of pink, yellow, violet, blue, and green.

The yellow, orange, and pink arrangement features hydrangea, Sweet William, maidenhair fern, and small lime colored flowers.

A delicate blue and white demitasse set features a pink bird surrounded by white astilbe and pearls.

This violet blue bird sits atop a nest of orange and violet hydrangea, purple Sweet William, and plum berries.

Tea cup bird nest silk floral arrangements

Each nest is anchored with a vibrant organza or French ribbon trim around the base. Reindeer moss, silk flowers, leaves, and berries surround a colorful bird. You can see the entire collection in my Etsy shop, at http://lizzieanddarcy.etsy.com, or you can learn how to make your own teacup bird nests in this previous post: DIY-How to Make a Tea Cup Bird Nest Silk Floral Arrangement

On the journey toward Home,

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Patriotic Oreo Pops

by Lynn on July 1, 2017

Patriotic Oreo popsTo celebrate the Fourth of July, I wanted to share these easy-to-make patriotic Oreo® pops. I originally saw them on Pinterest, and thought they’d be fun treats to bring to work.

For the ingredients you’ll need red, white, and blue chocolate melts, lollipop sticks, assorted sprinkles, and Oreo cookies. Additional supplies include wax paper, microwave-safe or disposable paper bowls, spoons, and a small plastic baggie. I purchased the chocolate melts, sticks, and sprinkles at my local cake and candy-making specialty shop, but the Wilton® brand is available at many retail outlets which are easy to find online. The remaining supplies can be found at your local grocery store.

The first step is to separate the Oreo cookies into two halves, by gently twisting the sides in opposite directions. A lollipop stick is then pressed into the cream half.

A small amount of white chocolate is melted in the microwave. I used 10-20 second intervals with stirring in between. A dab of chocolate is applied to the center of the cookie to cover the stick, and the non-cream half is gently placed on top.

Be sure not to press the halves together as this will cause the cookie to break. The pops are set aside for several minutes to allow the chocolate to cool and harden.

The next step is to dip them. Using about ½ pound of chocolate melts in a microwave-safe bowl, I heated them in 10-20 second intervals, stirring throughout. When the chocolate had a smooth and fluid consistency I dipped the pops, using a spoon to ensure that all the sides were covered. After allowing excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl, the pops were placed onto wax paper. Sprinkles were added before the chocolate cooled completely.

To apply an alternate color drizzle use a plastic baggie as a pastry bag, by transferring some melted chocolate to the bag and cutting off a small corner. Line up the pops and drizzle across all of them at the same time.

Patriotic Oreo popsThese were super easy and fun to make. And by alternating chocolate and sprinkle selections, these pops can be adapted to celebrate any holiday! Very versatile little treats, if I do say so myself!

On the journey toward Home,

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When God’s Answer is the One We Dread

June 21, 2017
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The month of June always brings my thoughts back to 2007. Up to that point, I had endured a few life-altering trials, but that year my family was broadsided by the most difficult challenge we’d ever faced. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer in late 2006, we earnestly prayed for her healing. In fact, […]

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Honoring Those Who Have Secured our Liberty

May 21, 2017
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Next week we will honor the men and women who gave their lives in defense of our great country. In the photograph above, older family members representing three branches of the armed services, take a moment to pose with my dad, age four. The year was 1944, and many families had loved ones fighting in […]

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DIY Victorian Style Vintage Easter Greetings

April 8, 2017
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Easter is a great time to make holiday crafts, especially when there are so many lovely vintage images available online to work with. Owning a few antique doily cards myself, I wanted to see if I could duplicate the vintage layered paper look with modern materials. I found some old Easter card images online and […]

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Wearing the Right Clothes

March 19, 2017
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What’s that old saying—clothes make the man? Our culture seems a bit preoccupied with clothes. Some people spend a lot of time and money being concerned about what they wear, while others are concerned about what their neighbor is wearing. Women especially tend to notice, have opinions about and often judge others on their choice […]

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New Vintage and Handmade Gifts are Available in my Etsy Shop!

February 26, 2017
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I’ve recently added some new items to my Etsy shop, The Drawing Room at Pemberley. Here is a sneak peak! This wreath features silk flowers in vibrant colors of blush pink, medium pink, white, and cream. Hydrangea, camellia, Dogwood, and peony form the wreath, while a white dove sits on a nest of green reindeer […]

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The Camellias are in Bloom at Descanso Gardens

January 22, 2017
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Winter is a great time to visit local gardens. The weather is cool and the camellias are in bloom. One of my favorite places is Descanso Gardens, located about 20 minutes north of Los Angeles. The property was originally purchased in the 1930’s by newspaper publisher Elias Manchester Boddy, who bought 165 acres of undeveloped […]

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