Photo by HLT  2012
Mere words can never quite describe a winter wonderland scene, where fresh falling snow turns all of the trees to white, from stately green.

Pine branches bow down, laden with snow; it seems they realize that God is sending this splendor to show His glory from the skies!

Bare-branches, too, are bowed over, like giant feathers - swinging to and fro. Slowly they sway in the winter wind, covered with pure- white snow . . .

Frost and fog add beauty to nature's wonderland! I gaze in awe; I cannot move; transfixed, I simply stand!

I stand amazed; it is too much - this beauty God has lent! My soul rejoices; I can't describe the beauty God has sent . . .

To be appreciated it must be viewed with eyes that look and see! Yet, even so, this can never compare to what God has in store for even you and me!

Poem By:
© 2008, Sharon Ann Ormsbee Maxwell

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Guest Author Susan: Are you living the American Dream?

Recently my high school aged nephew called me for a school project and asked me a number of questions, one of which was to define “the American Dream”.  After answering his questions, I hung up the phone and was honestly surprised and saddened by my own answers.

I told my nephew that the American dream USED TO BE to work hard, live hard and in all things give credit and praise to God. However, now it is to work less, play hard and to credit oneself. That the American society has taken a perspective of being a puppet to outside influences and circumstances, instead of taking responsibility for oneself, one’s actions, and one’s future.

This school project prompted me to look at my own life. Am I allowing myself to be a victim of circumstance, or am I setting goals and attaining them? If I am not attaining them, what can I do differently? Am I teaching my kids to be successful with the strengths they have been given and to turn their weaknesses into strengths? Am I encouraging others to reclaim and redefine what the American dream is?

So how about you? Are you living your own American Dream? Do you think you deserve it? As Zig Ziglar has said, “You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Sometimes believing in oneself is the hardest step of the journey. Even though we may not know each other, I know one thing for sure, you are worthy of living your own dream. It may take time, effort and believing in yourself in a way you never have before… but trust me, it is worth it. So where does one begin? While there are many aspects of attaining the American Dream, today we will look at two of them; namely, health and wealth.

1.     Health: Let’s face it. We have all heard the expression; if you have your health you have everything. How true this simple statement is. Yet, our healthcare system is a “sick” system. It is based on treating symptoms once you are ill. There is little taught about prevention. The byproduct of this system is that the incidence of heart disease, cancer and diabetes continues to rise (Source: Department of Health and Human Services, Health, U.S. 2010). This is further complicated by the decline of nutritional content of crops (Source: Davis D, Epp M, Riordan H. Changes in USDA food composition data for 43 garden crops, 1950-19999. Journal of American College of Nutrition Vol 12(6); 2004: 669-682).

So what is one to do? Do some homework. Learn about where your foods are coming from. Are they treated with pesticides, or filled with hormones, antibiotics, preservatives and additives? Some individuals think this is not a concern. But let’s put it in plain terms. If the meat you have ingested comes from a cow that has had hormones to increase its milk production, do you think that those hormones simply disappear before you ingest them? NO, they do not! If you are buying canned goods that have a shelf life of years due to preservatives… should you think, “Great, now I don’t have to buy another can for 2 years?” NO! Think about how the preservatives will affect your own health or the health of your children - for you truly are what you eat!

Learn about supplements. My husband and I did research 10 years ago looking for a supplement company whose products are worth digesting. We wanted to know that if we were going to spend money on supplements that they would better our health and actually be absorbed. After diligently researching the subject we found a company that we have since put our trust in for our health. I urge you to become an informed consumer. Genetics play a role but are not the end all in terms of your health. Look for a company that has PROOF that their products actually work. Contact the company and ask for clinical studies. Do supplement companies have to do clinical studies? No, but the companies that are worth digesting do! To begin your search click here.

2.     Wealth: Typically we think of wealth as how much money one has in their bank account. But define wealth for yourself. For some it may mean be being able to take your family on a yearly vacation, for others it may be having a car that starts on the initial try, or having money for retirement, or building a camp for kids with disabilities. Regardless of how you define wealth, do you have a way to attain it? In this day of financial uncertainty, many of us do not have a plan B. Some of us do not even have a plan A due to job loss, illness or unforeseen circumstances. I’d like to invite you to consider looking at a business opportunity that allows you to work from home on your own time. A company that has a history of integrity and is well established. Now is the time to start planning your future, instead of letting your boss define it for you.

Let this be the day that you start setting your goals so that you can attain your personal American Dream. Don’t let it wait ‘til tomorrow. Your dreams are too important to wait another day. First, define your own dream(s). Write down the steps you need to take in regard to your health and wealth to attain that dream. As Zig Ziglar said “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time” - so write down your goals and act diligently to attain them. Discipline leads to success. If this process is done on a regular basis, success will be achieved.
And your dreams will become your reality. 


About the Author: Susan Vander Pyl is a wife, mother, sister, daughter and friend. As a nurse she had the privilege of working with cancer patients. Currently she is working to increase people’s knowledge of disease prevention and educating people as to how changing brands can truly change your life. 

Love Verses from God's Word

Pslam 100:5
"For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation."

Mark 12:30
"Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength."

Romans 5:8
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Romans 8:38-39
"For I am convinced the neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers. Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”
Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God."

1 John 4:18-19
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us."

John 3:16
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

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God Loves Us

One of my favorite praise songs to reflect how God loves us: He L
How He Loves Us
By David Crowder Band

He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, 
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy. 
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, 
And I realize just how beautiful You are, 
And how great Your affections are for me. 

And oh, how He loves us so 
Oh how He loves us, 
How He loves us so 

He loves us, 
Oh how He loves us, 
Oh how He loves us, 
Oh how He loves. 

We are His portion and He is our prize 
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes 
If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking 

So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss 
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest 
I don't have time to maintain these regrets 
When I think about the way 

And oh, how He loves us 
Oh how He loves us, 
How He loves us so 

Yeah, He loves us, 
Oh how He loves us, 
Oh how He loves us, 
Oh how He loves.

 (If you would like to listen, scroll down to the other player and hit mute to listen to How He Loves-David Crowder Band)

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Thought this was cute and said so much.
Love this month and always!

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A Month of Love

February is the month that gets designated as the “Love Month”. Valentine’s Day is the day that people give presents to their loved ones to reflect how much they care.  Or, they write notes to convey why they love them so much.  So, why just one day of the year?  Why not all the time?

As I sit to write this entry I think about why some people don’t express to others how much they care about them more often. It can be hard for some and yet others do it all the time.  I was challenged by a few of my devotions lately to find time to be with family and friends and to really communicate with them how I care for them.  God calls us to Love one another. I love the verse in Romans 12:10 where it states: 
”Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Paul wrote this to the Church in Rome. What strikes me are the words devoted and honor. In a commentary by Matthew Henry he states:

“An affectionate love (Rom. 12:10): Be kindly affectioned one to another, with brotherly love, philostorgoi—it signifies not only love, but a readiness and inclination to love, the most genuine and free affection, kindness flowing out as from a spring. …This kind affection puts us on to express ourselves both in word and action with the greatest courtesy and obligingness that may be.—One to another. This may recommend the grace of love to us, that, as it is made our duty to love others, so it is as much their duty to love us. And what can be sweeter on this side of heaven than to love and be beloved? He that thus watereth shall be watered also himself.”

I am challenged and encouraged to demonstrate and “water” my love for my family, friends and even strangers.

This month I want to do my best to express not only in my words but my actions how much people mean to me, for you never know how it will impact that person or if it might be the last day you might see them. Make the most of every opportunity in this lifetime.

I have compiled a list of ways to do just that and I, too, am going to try some. I challenge you make the most of these moments and try to express Love this month. If you have any great ideas you have done in the past (or are going to do soon) please comment below and share them.  All comments are moderated before posting so if you want to comment but want to be anonymous please state that and I will post it that way.

Love this Month and always!


·      Turn a regular day into an All-About-You day just for your mate

·      Send a surprise gift to his/her workplace

·      Always kiss goodbye and goodnight

·      Boast about your mate and your relationship to mutual friends

·      Arrange for a babysitter so you can have an unexpected date night

·      Say how much you love each other even if you think it’s known

·      Write a short fairy tale using you and your mate as the characters (Once upon a time…”)

·      Cook your significant other’s’ favorite meal

·      A handmade gift or card

·      Buy their favorite snacks and drinks

·      Go to a movie of their choice

·      Put notes in places that only they will discover


·      Hug them, kiss them, and say, "I love you" every day, no matter what. Kids thrive on it and it's a daily fix we all need no matter what our age!

·      Spend time alone with each of your children. Go out to lunch, take a leisurely walk, or just hang out together letting them know you value them as individuals.

·      Hide some secret love notes where your spouse and kids are sure to find them.

·      Read "just one more book" even if it's late and you're tired. And don't forget to read to older children who already know how to read themselves. It's a great opportunity to snuggle.

·      Tell them how wonderful it is being their parent and how much you like the way they're growing up.

·      Let your children choose their own clothes. It shows you respect their decision-making ability. Besides, everyone will know you didn't dress them. You would never mix plaid and stripes!

·      Stop washing the dishes and talking on the phone and really listen when they are talking to you.

·      Slip little love notes, jokes, poems, and words of encouragement into your children's lunchboxes, backpacks, or next to their beds (if you leave before they wake up), just to let them know you're thinking about them all day long.

·      Let your children overhear you complimenting them to someone else.

·      Forget about yesterday. Start each day fresh. It's a new opportunity to have a better relationship with your children and to fall in love with them all over again.

·      Mark family game nights on your calendar so the entire family can be together. Put a different family member's name under each date, and have that person choose which game will be played that evening.

Family Members and Friends

·      Send a note of appreciation

·      Buy a cup of coffee

·      Drop off Groceries

·      Drop off a meal

·      Make a basket of their favorite snacks and put it on their porch with a note

·      Send them a link to a music video you guys used to love.

·      Post a picture of someone or something gorgeous on Facebook and tag it as a photo of them.

·      Give them a book you’ve already read, and inscribe it with a meaningful message.

·      Send them a text that reads, “Thought of you today, and it made me smile.” “I am thinking and praying for you today!”

·      Write a letter to your partner’s parents, complimenting them on bringing up such a fine person.

·      Write a note of thanks for the little things they might do to help you and your family.

·      Buy their favorite Candy or a gift certificate for Dinner

·      Make a Card.

·      Find their favorite childhood movie or show and order in on DVD for them.

Random Acts of Kindness

Pay for the person behind you in a Drive-Thru
Take someones cart back to the door
Help unload groceries
Hold the door open 

Some ideas from:

Bethany Kandel is the mother of two sons and the author of The Expert Parent: Everything You Need to Know From All the Experts in The Know (Pocket Books, 1997).

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