Osmosis

Photo courtesy of lisasolonynko

Photo courtesy of lisasolonynko

I had the pleasure of attending my sister’s church while visiting my sister and her husband in Mississippi.  One sentence said by Pastor Rob Futral of Broadmoor Baptist caught my attention (not an exact quote, though I try to relay it accurately):

You don’t serve where there is plenty of help.  You serve where help is needed.

Osmosis. What he said can be characterized in one word, osmosis.  In living creatures, water travels from cells that have more water per amount of solute to cells that have less water per amount of solute in order to create equilibrium.  A human body works most efficiently when functions are in a state of equilibrium.  The same can be said of the body of Christ, the church.  All ministries need helpers, but some ministries are in current need of more volunteers than others, so people should flow to the ministries that need help.  This explanation is what Pastor Futral was talking about.

To take it home, follow the same path in regards to Bible Study.  Do not study the same passages over and over again.  Study passages you are unfamiliar with in order to grow.  When I struggle with a situation, I do not read verses about a different topic that I already have tucked away in my heart with clear knowledge; I look up verses to deal with that situation.  My spiritual cells know plenty about love, but what can I quote about service, for example?  The things I do not know is what I study to learn and apply in my life.  I know how to apply love, but I need to know how to apply service; so I study more about service that my spiritual cells can get closer to reaching equilibrium through osmosis.

Til’ next time,
Allison L. Goodman

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What are God’s Statutes?

God commands you to obey, but He gives you the Holy Spirit to help you obey his commandments. Photo Credit: GaborfromHungary; morguefile.com

God commands you to obey, but He gives you the Holy Spirit to help you obey his commandments.
Photo Credit: GaborfromHungary

A few weeks ago while reading the Bible, I was studying 1 Kings 6:1-13.  I stopped at verse 13 and wondered to myself “What are God’s statutes?”  God promises Solomon that He will fulfill with him the promise He made to his father, David, if Solomon “will walk in [his] statutes and obey [his] rules and keep all [his] commandments and walk in them” (1 Kings 6:12).  Then God further promises that He will live with Israel and will not forsake them.

Well, that sounded good to me, and I really wanted to follow God’s statutes as a way to honor Him for saving me, so I pursued the word statutes by referencing the concordance in the back of my ESV Bible.

References

Exodus 15:25-26 “…There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, saying, ‘If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.’”   

God’s Statutes: listen to God’s voice; do what God considers to be right; listen to his commandments; keep his statutes

Again, there is the command to “keep all his statutes.”  Why the redundancy?  What are the statutes?

Deuteronomy 6:1-9 “‘Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it,  that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.  Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.  “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

According to verse 1, God’s commandments are his rules and statutes – so pretty much anything God says in the Bible.  Commandments, rules, and statutes seem to be interchangeable according to this verse.

God’s Commandments (Rules and Statutes): love God with your heart, soul, and might

The above is the “commandment” (notice in verse one it says commandment not commandments).  The actions that follow are extra: have them in your heart; teach them to your children; do them; put them on your hand, write them on your door frames and on your gates.  These actions will naturally follow loving God (I have even written Bible references on my hand as a reminder a few times); however, the actual commandment is to love God totally.

Psalm 119:1-8  “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!  Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!  You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.  Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!  Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.  I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.  I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!”

God’s Statutes:  God’s law and testimonies; seek God entirely; commit no wrong; walk in God’s ways; fix your eyes on God’s commandments; God’s righteous rules

Ezekiel 36:26-27 “…I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

God’s Statutes: obey God’s rules

According to this verse, God is giving Ezekiel his Spirit to help him obey God’s statutes.  This gift is mirrored in the New Testament when God sends his Holy Spirit to those who believe in Jesus Christ’s resurrection:  “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).  God gives you the Holy Spirit to help you walk in His statutes, but you must make sure to be filled with the spirit daily (Ephesians 5:18).

God invites you to walk in his ways that you may prosper. Photo Credit: GaborfromHungary; morguefile.com

God invites you to walk in his ways that you may prosper.
Photo Credit: GaborfromHungary

In short, below is a list of what I have found the Bible to say are God’s statutes.

God’s Statutes:

  1. Love God (with your heart, soul, and might) – by loving God in such a way, everything else will follow.
  2. Listen to God’s voice and His commandments.
  3. Seek God entirely; focus on His commandments.
  4. Do what God considers to be right; walk in God’s ways.
  5. Obey God’s laws, testimonies, and righteous rules.
  6. Commit no wrong.

    Summary/Disclaimer

The purpose of this post is to simply group together what I have gleaned from the Bible about God’s statutes so that I may obey him – “that my ways may be steadfast in keeping [God’s] statutes” as David cried out – and blogged in hopes that it may help someone else, too (Psalm 119:5).  It is a sort of outline to clarify the topic of God’s wonderful statutes, which I believe are in place to help us and to mold us to be more like Him.  My intentions are not to add to or take away from God’s Word.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Special is What You Make It

My eyes slowly peel open as the jarring bleeps of the alarm clock resound in the recesses of my ears.  Reaching over to turn it off my arms contacts a crinkly-sounding object.  My mouth breaks into a side grin.  It’s Valentine’s Day.  I am wide awake now and I quickly sit up to see what is lying next to my pillow.  I think, Oooh!  Dark chocolate, my favorite!  I think a Thanks, Dad! to my loving father who is away at work.  Then I find Mom and thank her, wishing her a Happy Valentine’s Day and giving her a special hug, kiss, and “I love you.”

This anecdote describes a typical Valentine’s Day in the Boutwell house growing up.  Oftentimes, I would wake up and find a little goody on my bed.  It would be in different locations over the years: the foot of the bed, next to my pillow, on the edge of the bed where I would not roll over it, sometimes even under my pillow!  I think one time I even woke up with something in my hand — who knows if I grabbed it or if it was sneakily placed there!  Other years, I would get up and go the bathroom or eat breakfast and a love gift would be waiting for me when I got back to my bedroom.

Valentine’s Day was always made special by my parents.  Though I felt love from them every single day and we verbally expressed that love every single night, I always felt that love extra on Valentine’s Day.  Though I knew they loved me, I really knew they loved me on Valentine’s Day because they givingly demonstrated it.  Usually they would just give me and my sisters a bag of candy, but what made it so special is that they knew our tastes, and they would give each of us the same treat but in the particular kind of chocolate that was our favorite.  They took time to know us, and they loved us enough to think about what we would individually like instead of “buying for the masses.”  The differentiated thought made me notice how much they cared for me.  This knowledge still fills my heart with the warmth of their love more than the gifts themselves, which truly were just an outward representation of their love for us.

One year I remember thanking Mom for the Valentine’s gift, and she replied, “I didn’t buy that for you.  Your father did.”  I was slightly taken aback.  By this time, I was in college.  What appeared on my bed that day was a little bit more than what was usually there.  There was a white heart-shaped basket with a bag of candy in it.  I thought the basket was very sweet and really practical (I like practical gifts).  That Dad would give me a basket that he picked out himself was…endearing, for lack of an appropriate term.  I was so surprised and so thankful, and again my heart seemed to burst in love because of the love my dad was portraying through his thoughtfulness, sweetness, and generosity.  I viewed Valentine’s Day much differently after that, wondering if it was always he who was behind the gift-giving.  It also made me think back to my childhood years, and I wondered if the reason he treated us as his Valentines was so that we would feel love and not look for it elsewhere.

I think it was precisely because my parents gave us Valentine’s gifts that I was never very disappointed at not receiving a valentine from a (secret) admirer at school.  You may remember those cheap fake roses that various extracurricular clubs would sell as fundraisers: pink means crush, red means love, white means friendship.  Someone would deliver them in the middle of a class period; everyone would see who received a valentine!  I, like any other normal middle school girl, was disappointed at least once that a boy did not send me a fake flower.  But any disappointment I experienced was very short lived because I would think, I don’t need some boy to like me.  My parents love me, and I got a valentine from them.  Then I would smile and shove any other related thoughts from my mind and continue merrily about my day.  It was enough that my parents loved me.  (Besides, I had a whole bag of chocolate waiting for me at home which was far more enjoyable than a flower, and frequently I would find a little note or treat in my lunchbox that day from Mom, too!)  Seriously, I think I would have been more disappointed about lack of “a love interest,” or rather a “like interest,” at that age if my parents, particularly my dad, had not religiously given me valentines every year.

Many years down the road I was spending my first Valentine’s Day with my husband.  He surprised me by taking me to my favorite restaurant.  However, since my commute home from work was 30 minutes away, and then the location of the restaurant was another 20 minutes away from home, by the time we arrived the wait was going to be an hour and a half just for a seat.  So we left and went to a Mexican restaurant where we were seated immediately.  It was not the best food nor the most romantic location; it certainly was not my favorite place nor was it expensive – but it was moderately quiet, dimly lit, slow-paced, good service (most of which we would likely not have experienced at the other restaurant), and we had a grand time together!  It was a lovely Valentine’s Day.

That same year, I do not remember for what occasion, I served my husband a simple everyday meal on our new china complete with candlelight.  Someone close to me scoffed at the idea of something so simple; she thought we should be “doing something special, like going out to eat.”  I replied with a simple principle, one of my secrets to contentedness:

Special is what you make it.  Special can be anything.  It is what you choose to make it.

If it is going out to eat, that can be special.  If you make a special dinner and serve it on china, that can be special, too.

Special is what you make it.

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Bubble Ducky Baby Shower Invitation

The unique color combination, endearing feminine duckies, and the 3D bubbles make this invitation sparkle

the unique color combination, endearing feminine duckies, and the 3D bubbles make this invitation sparkle

Allison L. Goodman introduces her new baby shower invitation design and offers the PSD file as a free download.

Process

Occasionally I will make cards, programs, invitations, etc. for friends or family members since I enjoy employing my skills as a Media Specialist.  Recently, I had the opportunity to make a baby shower invitation for a good friend of mine, a talented artist by the name of Holly Fister.

A good designer listens to her clients, and she designs according to their requests.  Though Holly did not request a certain design, I solicited her for information about the baby’s nursery.  I wanted to incorporate the nursery color scheme and theme on the invitation.  Holly was decorating the nursery in coral and teal.  She told me she might be using an underwater theme, but she was unsure.  While we were talking she also mentioned that she was painting polka dots on the walls.

Instantly I knew the color scheme for the invitation and that I wanted to include circles in the design.  Just by asking two questions, a lot of guesswork was removed, and the knowledge gave me some ideas to work with.  I chose to subtly address the theme in a baby-friendly way so that even if Holly chose to forgo the underwater theme, the invitation will just look like a baby theme in general.

Shower - Baby - Bubble Ducky

Design

Although it does not spell a nice word, I typically follow an acronym (see the headings below) when designing a card.  The following four subsections dictates portions of my process in the creation of the card.

Contrast/Consistency

Color contrast is always easy to decipher.  The background is light with a dark font; following this rule makes the document easier to read for people with color blindness.  The bubbles are varying opacities of the same teal as the font.  Notice also the “registered” and “regrets” portions of the card; the bubble border further carries out the bubble theme while setting apart important blocks of information.

Repetition

Just like the bubbles are an example of consistency, they also follow the rule of repetition.  For a design to be strong, elements must repeat.  The bubbles are repeated in the two lower informational blocks, but notice also that the borders are the same in appearance, size, color.  This sameness tells the viewer’s brain that both blocks of information are equally important.  Color is a constant in this project as well.  I used only one font color to keep the eyes moving in a downward motion and to keep all information visually equal.

Alignment

Alignment is usually stronger when it is left- or right-aligned, as a general rule of thumb.  However, people often prefer centered alignment for its traditional appearance.  Sometimes center-alignment works out better design-wise as well.  For this invitation, I was going for a traditional look, and I also wanted to incorporate bubbles.  The easiest way to surround the text with bubbles was to center-align the text.

Notice the alignment of the bubbles.  They are not evenly dispersed or symmetric.  However, the two lowest bubbles on both the left and the right seem to be pointing toward the text in the middle, particularly the date and time of the event, which leads me to the final point of my analysis.

Position and Proximity

The position of the bubbles points to the most important information.  In addition, the date and time of the event are located in a paragraph of their own in the center of the document.  Because of this positioning, readers can easily find what they need to know with a quick glance in passing.

I divide the information into blocks for easy readability, too: the “Who” and “What” are positioned in the first block; the “When” lies in the middle; and the “Where” is located in the third block.  I have already mentioned the “registered” and “regrets” sections, but notice that they are at the bottom of the card: the least important of all of the information on the card, they are relegated to the bottom in the smallest font.  However, since they contain secondary information (a term I use to describe necessary information that is not the primary interest of the card), they are set off by borders.  Notice that the spacing in both sections is the exact same and that their even alignment gives both sections equal weight at a quick look.

Summary and Download

Before talking to Holly I was thinking about doing a stripe on the invitation that looked like a baby girl’s headband.  However, after speaking with Holly, my design took a completely different direction.  Asking a few questions, such as color scheme and theme, take a lot of the guesswork out of design, so I know I can deliver a product the person will like.  Furthermore, I followed the simple rules of Contrast/Consistency, Repetition, Alignment, and Position/Proximity.  Finally, the PhotoShop document (.psd) is available on my sister site for free download and use, as long as you operate according to the Creative Commons Non-Commercial Share-Alike License 4.0. Creative Commons License

Baby Ducky Invitation by Allison L. Goodman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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Green Soup

My husband had green onion soup once, and only his father has the recipe. Having failed to obtain the recipe by the time I wanted to cook the soup, I resorted to searching Pinterest (duh!) for a green onion soup recipe. Unfortunately, there were no recipes for Green Onion Soup that I could find, just French Onion Soup. So I chose one based on the Pioneer Woman’s recipe.

At the thought of having only onions as the source of nutritional value, I modified the recipe to include an additional green fruit and veggie – thus I was forced to drop the “Onion,” and the title became Green Soup. Enjoy the recipe.

Green Soup
1 stick of Butter
5 medium Green Onions, with stems
Chicken Broth
2 Avocados
3 Celery Stalks
2 tsp Garlic Powder
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Melt the butter on low in a Dutch oven while chopping the onions. Also chop approximately half of the onion stems (chop the other half and save for future seasoning by placing them in a ziplock bag and freezing them).

Stir fry the onions and stems in the pot.

Once the onions are done, add enough chicken broth that it almost covers the onions.

Chop 2 avocados and 3 celery stalks and add to the pot, along with the seasonings. Let it simmer for 30 minutes.

IMG_0833

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The Practically-Free Paci Clip

Learn to knit the Practically-Free Paci Clip with items you have on hand, and make it in less than one hour!

the practically-free paci clip is made from currently owned materials

the practically-free paci clip is made from currently owned materials

Every little bit of saving counts, that’s why my latest motto has been “Can I make it?” particularly from currently-owned materials.  A pacifier clip is one of those items that I so happily made at home without spending even one penny – all I needed was some yarn, a set of knitting needles, and a safety pin.  If you do not have yarn on hand, you can unravel an old sweater you do not wear any more.

When searching online, I could not find a simple knitting pattern for a paci clip; most of the patterns available were for crocheting.  I have never made a pattern before, but I thought it could not be hard to make a simple paci clip, so I set out to try it.  You will find my pattern for the paci clip below.

Please comment with how you used my paci clip pattern as I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to ask questions and to add constructive feedback as well!  I will do my best to answer all questions in a timely fashion.  You can sell what you make with the pattern, but do not sell the pattern.  You can even share it and modify it, just link back here and share-alike according to the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.  Thank you!

Creative Commons License
The Practically-Free Paci Clip by Allison L. Goodman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://allisonlboutwell.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/the-practically-free-paci-clip/.

Knitted Paci Clip

Skill Level

Beginner-Easy
Takes an hour or less to complete

Completed Size

1”x11”

Gauge

4 stitches = 1 inch in garter stitch

Materials

1 set of US 10 (6mm) knitting needles

Size 4 yarn

Instructions

Step 1.  Cast on 4 stitches.

Step 2.  Knit across the row.  Repeat for 54 rows (approximately 9 inches).

The Loop

Step 3.  The goal of this step is to start the loop.  You are going to close the two middle stitches by binding them off, while keeping the first and fourth stitches open.  The reason you leave the fourth stitch open is so that you can join the knitting back onto itself to form a loop.  You want the project to be one continual piece in order to maintain the integrity and strength of the object, which is very important when it comes to babies.

Knit 1.  Bind off the middle two stitches.  Knit 1.

Step 4.  Now you are going to create the loop by knitting only one stitch per row.

Knit 1.  Ignoring the other stitch, repeat for ~18 additional rows (2 inches).  At the end of two inches, make sure to have one stitch on the right needle and the other open stitch on the left needle.

Step 5.  Knit 1.  Congratulations!  You just finished the loop!

Finishing the Project

Step 6.  Weave in the yarn ends.

Step 7.  Securely attach a safety pin to the end of the clip opposite the loop.

Step 8.  Optional.  Sew on a button for decoration.

Congratulations!  You completed the Practically-Free Paci Clip!

I will be altering this pattern in a few of weeks to include instructions for how to make the Practically-Free Paci Clip using an actual paci/suspender clip instead of a safety pin.  A how-to video will also be included.

’Til next time,

Allison L. Goodman

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When Life Gives You Onions

Full grown onion in a bowl

full grown onion in a bowl

One day last week, I retrieved an onion from the refrigerator for a recipe I was making for supper, only to find out that it had started growing roots…in the refrigerator.  That got me thinking.

You know the phrase “If life gives you lemons, just make lemonade.”  I am going to amend that colloquial expression: “If life gives you onions, use the tears to grow a new plant.”

The following sections are titled with verbs for the reason that when you come across a situation, you should act.

Cry

When you are cutting onions, how many of you cry?  To be honest, I usually do not, but sometimes my eyes water.  If an unfortunate situation comes your way, feel free to cry it out.  God created humans to have emotions, and he gave our bodies the functions to exhibit them.  It is perfectly acceptable to show your emotions through shed tears.  The Psalmist writes in his third psalm, “To the LORD I cried out…” and you know what? “…he answered me from his holy hill” (NET*).  The Bible also says of God: “You keep track of my misery.  Put my tears in your leather container!  Are they not recorded in your scroll?” (Psalm 56:8).  He treasures your tears.  The onion might make you cry, but it tastes delicious in the meal that you are cooking.

Salvage

When I encountered the roots on the onion from my refrigerator, I cut off bottom portion of the onion and used the remainder which was still edible.  Look on the bright side and find the good in a situation.  Use the negative to do, experience, create, or think something positive in your life.  The Bible says in Romans 8:28 that “…we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”  The key to this verse is not the former, but the latter.  The promise only occurs if you “love God” and “are called according to his purpose.”  The onion may have grown roots, but part of it was salvageable for the meal!

Furthermore, while at first I thought the rooted part of the onion was not salvageable, I was wrong!  The onion is growing roots because it is wired to survive even in the most non-conducive of climates.  You may be in a desperate situation, but there is always a way out, a way to survive, and your situation will eventually get better.  That onion grew roots, so I planted it.  It was time for the negative in my situation to have a positive effect.  I may have lost a portion of an onion for flavoring; but I now have an onion plant growing in my kitchen that will provide me a minimum of three harvests (two from the green shoots, and one full grown onion).  The bad situation turned into a blessing which will be far more abundant than simply tossing the unusable parts.

Remove the Layers

Practically everyone in the United States knows, thanks to Shrek, that ogres are made like onions, and onions are made up of layers.

The onion makes us cry, but when we peel off layer after layer after layer, we get to the seed.  A lot of times, we pick up the onion ourself.  But if we peel off layer after layer we reach the center of the onion, the seed.  The seed creates new life.  Once you “…get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely…” (lies, worry, jealousy, complaints, impurity, shame, guilt), you can produce new shoots and new fruit, and “…run with endurance the race set out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).  Peel off the tear-inducing layers, and reveal the good seeds.  The Psalmist notes that “…[God’s] anger lasts only a brief moment, and his good favor restores one’s life.  One may experience sorrow during the night, but joy arrives in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

So, what do you find beneath the layers?  Seeds.  Not just one seed, but many seeds.  Many seeds that make new onion plants.  More tears to come, yes, but just like your onions grow stronger and stronger as you learn to handle them, you will get stronger as you handle your problems (which, truthfully but unfortunately, often become increasingly more difficult as well).

How to Grow Your Own Onions

my onion shoots, approximately one week old

my onion shoots, approximately one week old

I hope you found today’s topic encouraging because “Every scripture  is inspired by God  and useful for teaching, for reproof,  for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

If you want to grow your own onions, literally not figuratively, WikiHow has a great article on the topic.  I took the onion that was already growing roots from my fridge, and placed it on my windowsill in a container filled with Miracle Grow Potting Mix.  Within a few days two shoots sprang up from one onion!  They grow about a centimeter a day.

’Til next time,

Allison L. Goodman

*Scripture and/or notes quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C.  All rights reserved.

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