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

by Lynn on June 21, 2017

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, we begged God to intervene and prevent the outcome we all dreaded. Holding onto hope in the furnace of affliction is hard. We don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. We are tired and worn out, both physically and mentally. At times it seems that we’ll never get through, the struggle will never stop, and the pain will never end. We know that God hears our pleas and we know that he is able to rescue us from the turmoil we’re in. But what if he doesn’t? What if the answer to our prayer is the one we dread?

It can be hard to maintain hope when we are not delivered. But as we see throughout Scripture, sometimes God intervenes and sometimes he does not. Paul described a “thorn in the flesh” for which he prayed to be removed, but his deliverance was not part of God’s plan.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV

Paul’s attitude of obedience might seem odd to the world, but Christ-followers see the big picture when it comes to suffering. God often uses hardship to teach us things we can’t learn otherwise, to give us perspective as to what is important, to focus and make us more like Christ, and to work in and through us as a testimony to non-believers. The Bible tells us that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours, and so we’re never going to fully understand why he allows trouble to come our way or why he may not rescue us from such trouble.

Another example of bold faith under fire comes from the Old Testament book of Daniel, where his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are threatened with death unless they agree to worship an idol set up by the king. In obedience to God they refuse to bow and Nebuchadnezzar instructs they be thrown into a fiery furnace. Their response to the king is worth noting.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18, NIV

Daniel’s friends recognize that God is able to save them, but they also acknowledge that he may allow them to perish. Their faith being anchored in God and not in their circumstances enabled them to be bold even in the face of death.

So what can give us that same boldness when we face trials? It is remembering God’s faithfulness, and trusting in his goodness. It is choosing to remain faithful even if we are not delivered from our affliction. Even Christ himself was denied deliverance when he asked to be spared from the cup of wrath God laid upon him instead of us. He willingly endured the cross, and became the greatest example of obedience that we could ever see. As Christ-followers, we know that there is more going on than we are capable of understanding, and that any suffering in this world is a mere blip on the radar when compared to the eternity we will spend with our Savior.

A new release by the Christian band MercyMe has really resonated with me. Every time I’ve heard it on the radio, I relive the days of prayerful vigil, pleading with the Lord to heal my mom, and tearfully submitting to his will when he chose to take her home instead. To me, the song is a prayer of trust and a choice to place my hope in Christ whether I am delivered from my trial or allowed to endure it.

We can have peace in the midst of pain by remembering that God is good, even when our situation is bad.

On the journey toward Home,

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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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Christmas was a Rescue Mission

December 18, 2016
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Our human existence was never supposed to be this way. In the beginning we were perfect creations. We walked with God. We had everything we needed to be content and happy, and we were at peace with our Creator. But God didn’t want automatons who would blindly worship him, so he gave us a free […]

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