Monday, January 30, 2012

Welcome Neighbor! {Free Printable}

"Love your neighbor as yourself"

Although Bless Your Neighbor is a blog that goes beyond ideas about blessing your actually next door neighbor, my very first post was about just that. 
When I saw this printable from 30 Handmade Days, I just had to pass it along, because it would perfect to add to my Bless Your Neighbor Bundt Cake when you knock on the neighbor's door and say 
"Welcome to the Neighborhood!"

30 Handmade Days creates some of the best printables for loving on people.  
Like this Welcome to the Neighborhood card for your new friends!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Practicing Affirmation: A list of ideas on affirming others.

   “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, 
but a good word makes him glad”
Proverbs 12:25 
20 Ideas for Encouraging Others
By Sam Crabtree from Family Life  
Words matter. As soon as God created mankind, he engaged him verbally. Merely speaking with (not at) people can affirm their existence. You talk to me; therefore, in a sense, I am. Simply greeting someone who walks through a room can be affirming to the individual and uplifting to everyone in the environment.  If you have the life of Christ in you and you want to be a blessing to others, the following list might assist you to that end. 
1. Loan a young person your keys. Or give him his own key.
2. At a committee or board meeting, before moving on to the next agenda item, stop to commend those who worked on the previous item.
3. Write a personal letter or note card that an employee can take home or put in a personnel file. Keep a supply of such blank note cards in your desk for just such a purpose. E-mails will do, but they are less likely to be pinned up on workspace walls or put in a portfolio.
4. Commend the wisdom and helpfulness of a suggestion somebody has made, especially when the suggester has offered to be a part of a solution to a problem.
5. Explain that what inspired you to do some good thing was the other person’s example. “I brought coffee cake for the office because I see how much the staff enjoys it when you consistently do thoughtful things.”
6. Don’t talk down to people; talk up to them. Consider them better than you. “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). “You probably already know this, but …”
7. Just as God decisively chose Paul in Acts 9, tell your spouse, “I chose you, and I still do.”
8. Write to children. An enthusiastic and thankful mother of some youngsters wrote me after I had first written her young sons, thanking them for their hospitality in serving me a muffin when I visited their home for an interview related to child dedications at our church. To show the significance of my note (and stickers) sent to the boys, she quoted one of them as saying, “Tall men don’t usually send you letters.” It is hard to calculate the lasting effect of an affirmation given to a child.
9. Share a valuable secret of yours, making it known to the other person that very few others (if any) have been invited into this inner circle of those considered trustworthy.
10. Loan something of value—books, camping gear, a car, a cabin—as a signal of your willingness to take a risk, having noticed something in the other person that elevates your confidence in her trustworthiness.
11. Think of something that is normally not praised, because it is simply expected—like refilling the soap dispensers in the church restrooms. Customarily, those who have responsibilities for such things as refilling soap dispensers only hear from people when the dispensers are empty. Be the one to notice that they are not empty, and commend the faithfulness of the worker who serves others behind the scenes.
12. In the next birthday card or Christmas card you send, include a personal note commending some Christlike quality you observe in the recipient.
13. Commend someone for the (sensitivity, kindness, compassion, etc.) with which he treated a third party. You noticed, and so does God.
14. Quote someone positively in his presence. “I agree with Jacob here, who said … ”
15. Shannon Archer, a mother of several young children in our church, affirms her own children by affirming all children who demonstrate certain character qualities, saying within earshot of her children, “I’m so pleased with children who put away their things (or speak kindly to their siblings, or …)” when she sees one of them behaving in that very way. Talking this way affirms the child in question, explicitly elevates the principle being taught and applied, and holds out hope to other children who might be eavesdropping that if they demonstrate the same kind of character, they too will please Mommy.
16. Get up from your chair, go to another room, seek out a person, and simply say something like, “I just came to say ‘hi’ (or ‘good morning,’ or ‘have a great day,’ or ‘I appreciate you for …’).” Admittedly, in some relationships that may seem forced, but it will generally be welcomed as a light-hearted affirmation of a person’s existence.
17. Say, “I thank God for you.”
18. When asked to do a chore, consider saying something like, “Nothing would give me more pleasure right now than doing this for you.” Serving someone can be affirming of them.
19. Nominate someone for an office or post—based upon her integrity, dependability, or trustworthiness. 
20. Ask someone’s advice.
Adapted excerpt taken from Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree, © 2011, pages 149-155. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,
Sam Crabtree is a former public school teacher and has served as executive pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis since 1997. You can hear Sam talk more about the importance of affirming others in a recent FamilyLife Todayinterview.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Power of the Praying Mother: Printable Prayer Calendar

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, 
believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Mark 11:24

I used a calendar like this years ago to pray for my children.  At the time, they were toddlers and the only time I had alone was in the shower.  So I taped it to the outside clear glass of the shower facing me~ by the time I was clean, the kids had been covered in prayer!  Today my children are all young adults, and when I consider how they got to this point, I can tell you that my prayers have been answered!  There is no better way to love your kids than to pray for them, and no simpler way to get started~ you've heard of singing in the shower, but praying will change lives!  Inspired to Action created a calendar just like the one I used to have. You can see it below, and download it here.   

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Will You Be Mine? Perfect Valentine Printables

A hundred hearts would be too few
To carry all my love for you.
~Author Unknown

Valentines Day has my head swirling with hearts!  
And ready to plan this years RED DINNER.
Wanted to pass along a few of my favorite printables being offered on line 
from other bloggers for FREE.  They are simply LOVELY!
Prepare now to say "I Love You"!
Love notes from Silverbox Creative
Valentine and Coupons from How About Orange
Precious Super Hero Valentines from Zakka Life
Tweety Pie printables from Party Box Design
Valentine "BEE Mine" Printable from Pizzazzarie
Cute as a Button Valentines from 30 Handmade Days
"I Wheelie Like You" from 30 Handmade Days
Baggie topper for heart shaped candy or cookies from 30 Handmade Days

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mother/Daughter Baking: Snow Man Cupcakes

There may not be snow in Texas, but we still love the winter and all that goes with it.  Coconut and butter cream icing make a great substitute snow ball!  Emily and I made these cute little cupcakes when she was home over the break.

If we get a snow day this year, or you find a rainy, wet, Texas winter day has you stuck inside, these would be a fun activity for you and the kids!  Find the link to the directions Here.

We made the following modifications to the recipe:  
~Instead of the vanilla wafer ear muffs, we used jelly candy
~We put chocolate icing in a baggie and trimmed the corner to make a pastry bag to create the
~Instead of the mini M&Ms, we used upside down chocolate chips for the eyes
~Instead of sugar on the icing, we used coconut
Best part of the entire experience, may have been the end...
when Emily stuck it out and did the dishes!
It was at that moment that I realized my little girl was all grown up...
Pure JOY!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

From Japan with Love: A beautiful way to say thank you.

Have you been loved well by someone who brought love and courage to you when you needed it in the midst of a tragedy?
This is a beautiful way to express gratitude...
While you watch, say a prayer for the hearts of those who are still healing from this tragedy. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

One Word: Sweet, Simple Resolutions.

Have you made your New Years Resolutions?  
Did you know that long lists of commitments are out? 
And ONE WORD mantras are in? 
Instead of a list of things to "do," simply pick a theme and make it the filter for everything you do~ Infuse it in you decision-making, speak it over your day, ask yourself if you are applying it, keep it in front of you.  
Our family decided to choose one word to help us cast a vision for what we desired in 2012.  
 It is as simple as it sounds... 
I used my rolling alphabet stamp to put "One Word 2012" on a little shipping tag.
Everyone in the family chose a word and stamped it on their card.
Some of us, who wanted more specific context around our words, added bullet points on the back of the card that gave additional explanation to our word.

Emily's boyfriend, Will, was at the house the day we did this little project.  
He chose an awesome word:
At dinner one night this week, why not challenge the family to think and pray about 
their "One Word" resolutions?  It will make a great discussion. 
 And would you pray for me? That I would be diligent in my "one word" resolution....
~Pursue God through prayer
~Pursue people with great intention
~Pursue growth in writing and photography
If "One Word" is too simple and you want to go all in with a plan, you might try the app for you phone called Big Change. 
{I would love for you to let me know what "one word" you've chosen to stand as a resolution for you in 2012.  Would you share it in the comment section below?}
Don't have shipping tags or cute letter stamps?  
No excuse!  An index card and Sharpie marker work just fine!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year Thank-A-Thon: Free Printables

With so much giving and receiving during the holidays, it is always necessary to follow them with writing thank you notes.  A few years ago, our family began holding a "Thank-A-Thon" in early January as a way to tackle the job together, and challenge each other to think beyond the holidays.  Not only do we write notes for gifts we received, but we reflect on the people who have given us their time, encouragement and friendship throughout the year and write them, as well.
This year, I made little note cards using a Mac Pages template, 
and printed them on card stock.  
We addressed the cards and passed them around the table so every 
family member could write a little something.  
The value of showing gratitude to the people around you is one that I hope to model, even as my children are young adults.  Today, I realized that I could model that best, by writing each of my children and thanking them for spending time with us during the holidays.  As adults, they have choices, and I never want to take that for granted.  Oh, how grateful I was they chose to spend the holidays with us!   I used this precious printable from Jones Design Company, you can find it HERE.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Starting the New Year with Gratitude~ iPhone App.

One of my favorite reads for 2011 was a book my friend Beth introduced me to called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  {I mentioned Ann in previous posts here and here and here} Ann tells about the healing of her heart through gratitude.  Ann began to train her eyes to see all that she has to be thankful for and listed them in a little journal.  If you haven't read the book, I highly recommend it.  It will bless your heart and challenge you as a reader; Ann writes with depth and insight that requires chewing on every page before swallowing it!  

I recently learned that Ann has created an app for your phone that allows you to make your own list of things you're thankful for~ It is the perfect way to kick off the new year.  

You can find out more about it here.

This morning, I made an entry on the app when I saw Emily in the rocker by the fire.  I am so very grateful that my kids are home for the holidays.  I took a picture and added my words of gratitude.  This is what it looked like on my phone:

 Now that the packages are unwrapped from the tree, you have a way to keep opening gifts all year long~ Little gifts of thanks.  Each moment of gratitude recognized is a "gift."
I pray it helps us develop super power vision for quick blessing recognition!