10 Decorating Tips for Autumn

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

I love to add a few decorations for each season. Autumn is one of my favorite times to add some seasonal décor because of all the rich colors. Only a few additions will make a big difference. Here’s 10 tips for Fall Decorating.

1. Use a tablecloth with Autumn colors such as brown, rust, orange, or burgundy to bring color to your dining area.

2. Make or buy an Autumn centerpiece for your table. Here’s a post on How to Make a Simple Fall Centerpiece that even someone with two left thumbs can do.

3. Use pumpkins, gourds, and pinecones for decoration accents around the house.

4. Use candles and accent pieces with Autumn colors.

5. Glue different color leaves onto a poster board making a collage of color. Then frame it and hang it in a prominent place.

6. Take a hike through the woods and take photographs of the leaves changing colors. Blow up and hang the best photograph.

7. Cut holes in the top of gourds and place flowers in them for unique vases.

8. Attach dried cornhusks to porch posts or set them on either side of your front door.

9. Add a few fall colors to your flower arrangements.

10 Hang an Autumn wreath on the door.

Happy Autumn!!!

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Five Lessons Learned from This Summer

by Carole Brown

Seasons have a way of teaching us things we need to know, and this summer, I’ve certainly had many opportunities. Did I take heed and learn the lessons God 

little-boy-in-dandelions free

brought to my attention? I certainly hope so.

  • Pay attention to the children. They’re only little once and every minute counts when you have the opportunity to be with them. And who knows which one may be crying out for help in unspoken words? Encourage their endeavors, laugh often, criticize less, listen to the spoken and unspoken words from these “founts of wisdom, love a lot, and do what you can for them. It’s so very much worth it!

 

  • Pay attention to the world around you. My youngest grandson recently picked upgravel-rocks free a common ole gravel and gave it to me declaring it unique and lovely. Was it? In his eyes, yes. In my eyes? Yes, for two reasons. He gave it to me and the gift automatically transformed a common gravel into a thing of beauty. Remember how the sand feels on your bare feet? How long has it been since you’ve listened–really listened–to the world around you? Don’t lose these natural soothing sounds. Don’t forget to love the beauty that surrounds you–simple or magnificent. All of us can’t travel to exotic places, but beauty is found everywhere. 

 

  • Time flies.  As we grow older we realize what our youth didn’t: time certainly doesclock free fly. A few days ago, August started; now, today I’m catching glimpses of the end of the month. Sigh. We’ve had two vacations at the lake house, one vacation at the beach, one at camp, and a short trip to Gettysburg. Now, Grandsons have begun school, and we’re looking at Autumn! Don’t let any period of time pass you by without having memories to write down, share with others, pictures, or paste into scrapbooks. What were your most valuable moments? What words were spoken that will forever glow in your heart?

 

  • Some things only pass by us one time. I’m reminded often tosunrise free take advantage of playing with make believe with my grandson, to listen while my older ones still want to ask questions or tell me their observations. Do I think differently? Sometimes, but that’s not what it’s important. How can I neglect their trust now then expect their attention when they’ve grown up? Why would I want to sleep in another ten minutes when hubby wants to take that sunrise walk? Don’t lose focus that…sometimes we only get that one opportunity. 

 

  • Say less. I did one of those fun, but crazy, quizzes on Facebook the other day wherequiet free they determined (scientifically, I’m sure. Lol) what color I was. As I suspected, they described me as I already knew was my basic personality. One of the things mentioned was my desire to get along, and that’s true. I don’t like havoc and disturbance, problems and disagreements (although I’m realistic enough to know we’ll encounter them) in my life. I like making others happy. How do we do that? We can’t always, but sometimes, as I was reminded this summer, the less said, the better. We don’t always have to reply, we don’t always have to voice our opinion, and we certainly don’t always have to defend ourselves or what we believe (although I don’t believe in being a doormat either!). Sometimes we have to learn when the time is right and walk away. 

Were there more? Plenty! But if I can carry through on accepting and initiating these lessons, I will have improved my own life and possibly encouraged others to be better persons. 

How was your summer and did the season/events help you learn valuable lessons?

 

Keep Your Focus

by Carole Brown

In one of my recent devotionals I read recently, the topic was on endurance, and the way to endure was to focus. 

A runner must focus on the goal. He wants to finish his race which means he must tone his body and build his strength to endure to the end. If/when he finishes, he will have the satisfaction of gaining an earthly reward: greenery wreaths, plaques, money or ribbons.

But a Christian, to finish his race, must focus on Christ/God. Keeping our attention on him will make the hindrances seem less frightening. Focusing on God keeps our perspectives in line and correct. We want to finish our race knowing our reward will be the words: Well done, my good and faithful servant.  We know it is a never-ending, permanent, and glorious reward well sought after and certainly well worth striving for. 

Let us remember:

  • Know ye that they who run in an earthly race runs to receive a prize, but only one obtains it? But every man that strives for mastery in this heavenly race must be temperate in all things so that we all might obtain an incorruptible crown.  (paraphrased from KJV: I Corinthians 9:24-25)

racer run free

Run! Focus! Win!

How do you keep your focus on God?

 

Top 10 Tips for Starting the School Year Right

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Most children start back to school this month. Here are 10 tips to make the school year easier.

1. Start the school routine early. Most children stay up a little later during the summer. It takes at least a week or two for their bodies to get adjusted to the new sleep schedule. It will help them get a head start if you place them on that schedule at least a week before school starts.

2. Help your children decide a homework time. Children are more apt to follow through on homework assignments if they have a say in initiating it. Discuss with your child how much time he’ll need to do his homework, when’s the best time, and where he should work. Some children would rather do their homework as soon as they get home and get it out of the way, but other children need to unwind before they can concentrate on more work. Work with them instead of against their natural work habits.

3. Set up a homework station. Some children like to work out in the open where everybody is so they don’t feel isolated. Other children want privacy and quiet. Find out what’s best for your children.

4. Discuss extracurricular activities with your children. Most children are so overburdened with sports, dance, music, art, and other activities that they never have downtime just to play. Give your children limits about how many activities they can be involved in. Let them know they have decisions to make about which activities to participate in. They can’t do them all.

5. Schedule and limit TV, computer, video games, and other electronic devices. Let your children know that, during the school year, these activities will be limited. Tell them how much time they have on each device, and let them decide how to use that time.

6. Buy a number of easy and healthy breakfast items for your children. If they’re running late, they’re much more likely to eat breakfast if there’s a banana or breakfast food readily available.

7. Take your children to the grocery store and let them help you pick out items for their lunches. If your goal is for them to eat healthy, let them know that, and help them choose foods they’ll eat and not throw out.

8. Go school shopping. This is an exciting time. Make a day of it.

9. Visit the school your children will attend. If possible, try to meet the teacher.

10. Decide how your children will get to school. If they ride a bus, what time will the bus pick them up? If they walk, who will they walk with? Have they met the crossing guard? What route will they take? If you drive them, you might want to set up a car pool with other parents. Also give your children a secret password that you can use for anyone you might send to pick them up in an emergency.

10 Things to Do When Life Overwhelms You

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Everyone is busy these days, but there are times in our lives a major event happens that completely overwhelms and swallows our lives for a season. Whether it be an injury or illness, a major family event, a emotional crisis, a move or major life change, or a crisis at work, these changes can swallow up our lives and leave us feeling drained.

I am currently going through one of these seasons. My elderly mom has moved to another state, and I’m helping with the move. At the same time, my husband and I are building a new house in that state. My daughter is going through a major life event. If that’s not enough, I also have a summer children’s revival schedule going on and have a deadline with my publisher. My next book is due October 1st. So, I understand what you are going through.

Here are ten things to help you, and me, when life becomes overwhelming.

Remember this is a season. Sometimes taking a breath and regaining our perspective can help immensely. This major crisis is not the new normal for your life. You will get through it.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Peter was walking on water when he kept his eyes on Jesus, but when he focused on the waves and the storm, he sank. The larger the waves, the greater our focus needs to be on the One who commands the wind and the waves. One way to do this is to print out copies of a verse you’re holding onto and put in visible places everywhere.

Exercise: Before you say you don’t have time, I’m not telling you to spend hours at the gym, but even some exercise, like a brisk walk around the block, is beneficial. Exercise has been proven to defeat depression, offer mental clarity, and increase your energy. These are benefits you need during overwhelming times in your life.

Make a To Do List. Write down EVERYTHING you need to do. Then decide what you have to do now and what can wait. You are in crisis mode right now. You can’t do the things that can wait. You’ll get to those things after the crisis is over. For now, do only what you have to do.

Ask for help. This is hard to do, but it is essential to survive this season of your life. Friends, adult children, and your church may be able to help you with certain tasks. Also, if you can hire some temporary extra help to do daily tasks, do so. Housekeeping, laundry services, and delivery services are well worth the cost during overwhelming seasons.

Don’t take on any new projects. Even if its a project you want to do, say no. You’re no doesn’t have to be permanent, but for now, you can’t agree to do anything.

Take time for Self Care. Self care is what you do to make yourself feel better. You might enjoy reading a book, watching a movies, or doing a fun event. Whatever makes you feel good inside is something you need to take time to do. If you don’t have self care no matter how busy you are, you will end up burning out.

Get away from the situation. Sometimes getting away from a situation, even for a couple of hours, can help you feel refreshed.

Talk to a Friend. Venting to someone who will listen is vital during these overwhelming times. A good friend will let you vent when you need to, but when you are going into self-pity, she will encourage you out of it.

Be filled with the Spirit of God. The joy of the Lord is your strength, so go to the source of your strength to help you through this. Pray constantly asking God for strength, peace, and joy and allowing Him to fill you with His Spirit. Put you hand on your head and pray for yourself. This is last on the list, but it is the most important step to take.

Guest Author Sharyn Kopf – Are You Ready to Share Your Story

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Today I’m welcoming author, editor, and ghost writer Sharyn Kopf as my guest author. Sharyn didn’t discover her voice until she found a way to turn grief into hope. For her, that meant realizing it was okay to be sad about her singleness. In doing so, she was finally able to move past her grief and find hope in God.

It also meant writing about the heartaches and hopes of being an older single woman. She published her first novel, Spinstered, in 2014, and a companion nonfiction version titled Spinstered: Surviving Singleness After 40 in 2015. Book two, Inconceived, was finished in 2016, and she plans to release the final novel in the trilogy, Altared, over Labor Day weekend. Her work has also appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul and Splickety Love magazine.

Besides writing and speaking, Sharyn is an editor and marketing professional. She loves to connect with readers and singles on Facebook or email and has plans to start a monthly newsletter soon. In her spare time, she enjoys goofing off with her nieces and nephews, making—and eating!—the best fudge ever, long hikes through the woods, and playing the piano.

Are You Ready to Share Your Story?

by Sharyn Kopf

They say—and, to be honest, I’m not sure who “they” are, but I still quote them on occasion—that everyone has a story. And, really, it’s true. I have a story. You have one. We all do. But then what? Should you do something with it?

Let’s start with five questions you need to answer in deciding if you should turn your tale into a book:

  1. Why do I want to tell my story?
  2. Who is my audience?
  3. What do I want to say … and what do I need to say?
  4. Is this a story that can be told in a new way? Or is it something we’ve read before?
  5. Am I the one to write it?

Each question is important, but regardless of your answers to the first four, if you respond to the fifth with a no, that’s where I come in. I help people take their story from idea to manuscript.

My name is Sharyn Kopf, and I’m a writer/journalist and editor with over thirty years of experience. Besides writing for newspapers, magazines, radio and TV, I co-authored and edited an autobiography a few years ago, have edited numerous published manuscripts, and, so far, have written, edited and published four books of my own.

Whether it’s starting from scratch or using your notes, diaries and/or interviews, I would work with you until we have a completed manuscript. Here’s the basic process:

We’d begin with a phone call. At that time, we’d discuss your budget, come up with a plan, and determine your answers to those first four questions. This lets me know what kind of book you want to end up with.

Next, you would need to send me any materials you already have. Once I go through that, I’ll contact you about additional interviews, whether with you or with others connected to your story. Of course, if you don’t have anything, our next step would be setting up interviews.

Once the research is done and the information has been collected, I’d start writing. Throughout the process, I’d keep in contact, whether it’s sending you chapters, asking questions to fill in the blanks or keeping you updated on my progress. Your level of involvement, of course, would be up to you.

Once the manuscript is written, I would do one final round of edits. After that, I recommend you find another editor for another run-through. The more eyes you have on it, the better it will be!

Though my rates are reasonable, they do reflect the level of time and expertise that would go into the work. However, we can complete the project at whatever speed best fits your budget.

If you’re interested in contacting me about your story, please email Sharyn Kopf at sharynkopf@gmail.com.

Inconceived

Realizing you’re a spinster is one thing; understanding what that means and how to handle it is another. And it would seem Jolene, Uli and Catie still have a ways to go before they truly comprehend what God is trying to show them, not only in their desire to marry but in their longing to have children of their own.

As one relationship ends and another begins, Jolene Woods realizes she needs to finally deal with the guilt and regret of her past if she’s ever going to move on. So she embarks on a journey she hopes will bring forgiveness but may, in fact, only lead to more regret. Did the sins of her youth forever destroy her chance to be a mother?

Uli Odell has her own journey, though it’s more of an escape from the pain and embarrassment of a broken engagement. She ends up at her mother’s home in Iowa, separated from her friends and desperate for money. But there are some problems she just can’t run away from.

Though Catie’s heart is in a stronger place since she met God on a mountain three months ago, she still doesn’t have answers to many of her questions. Then the possibility of an unhealthy relationship and the reality of a life-altering medical diagnosis makes her wonder if she’s figured out anything at all.

As their lives head off in different directions, each of these friends will need God—and each other—to find their way to healing.

You find it at this link.

Life is Like a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

by Carole Brownpb n jelly sand free

One of my favorite memories is the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I devoured and that were a part of our growing-up dietary food.

Today, I don’t devour them as much, but truly they are a healthy combination, especially for active children and grownups. Even though the jelly has sugar, they are still nutritious. Here’s a hint of their benefits:

  • the combination of peanut butter and bread provides protein,
  • B vitamins,
  • iron and
  • zinc.
  • Peanut butter is also a good choice for healthy unsaturated fats.

Nice, huh?

They are:

  • a simple food to prepare
  • delicious
  • healthy

Just like the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I contend that simple pleasures in life are still the best.

  • As a child, I climbed the trees, stared into their lofty branches and wondered at the world. Today, I refrain from climbing the trees, but still stroll beneath them and enjoy staring into the tree tops.
  • As a child, I flung myself full bodied into a pile of fallen Autumn leaves. Today, I kick at them and crunch them beneath my feet, enjoying the sights and sounds of October.forest moose fog free
  • Then and now, I allow my imagination full rein as I gave at the fields and valleys soaked with mist and rays of early morning sunshine, and wonder what is and what can be.
  • Then I wondered what was ahead, but mostly enjoyed life as it came. Today, I marvel at what all life holds, the privileges I have, the pleasures that come my way, and the blessing of another day.

With simple pleasures, you don’t have to strain or put forth extraordinary power or strength or ability to create them. They are there for your enjoyment. God created most of them for humans in our world, and to take advantage of them both shows our appreciation of life and earth and all that God has given us and also gives us a few moments of rest, relaxation and peace of mind.

Today, I’m sitting on one of my porches, rocking, enjoying the cool air and reading a devotion. How will you remember this day?

What is the most enjoyable and/or memorable simple pleasure you can remember?

  • Time alone at a secluded cabin?
  • a special vacation with a friend or family?
  • A dinner out that was the highlight of your life?
  • A walk in the woods?

watch- free

 

Today, while there is still time, take a few minutes and enjoy one–or two–simple pleasures in your life.