by Jodie Barrett on November 10th, 2017

Give-a-way and Soul Inspired Project

​1 Thessalonians 3:9 
For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God,
 
​Dreary. Rain was falling by the buckets with no end in sight. A special outdoor photography session had to be cancelled for a second time. The whole day looked like a wash and I was filled with JOY!

One look around the room and I could see four long, lazy bodies stretched out on the couch after a satisfying lunch. That lunch was prepared by many hands the day before at a family event and then my daughter helped set the table after we put on the finishing touches.

I sat in my chair, with a warm blanket across my lap and counted this very dreary day as a Son-shine moment. Many years ago while going through a very bleak season in my marriage I resolved that I could either stay stuck in the circumstances, overwhelmed with sadness, anger, and discontent, or I could look for the blessings in everyday and see the joy that was present even in the difficult. I named this process looking for Son-shine.

Each night while reflecting, journaling my prayers, and reading scripture I would draw a sun at the bottom of the page and record blessings. Some days it felt like looking for a needle in a haystack. One night I wrote next to my sun that I was grateful to hear my husband snore! Really, I did. It wasn’t the snoring that I was overjoyed about, but his mere presence. When I say this was a difficult time in our marriage I was being quite real and his snoring reminded me that we were still together, still married, and still pressing forward.

Have you ever been there? Are you there now? In a place where every day seems filled with storms?

You dread getting up out of bed. You want to run as far from your life as you can because it seems, well, hopeless. I was.

In Psalm 143 David proclaims, “I am losing all hope”. But he doesn’t stop there. He continues with the words that became my mantra:
“Come quickly, Lord, and answer me,    
for my depression deepens.
Don’t turn away from me, or I will die.
 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
    for I am trusting you.”

Psalm 143:7-8 (NLT)

When we face the darkest, most desperate of times we can be honest with God and ask for His help. Ask to see and hear Him every morning. Ask him to help you find the Son-shine moments all along the way.

Being intentional to search for His goodness each day will strengthen you and change your perspective. I can say this after of watching for the Son to break through the darkest days. The more I searched, the more aware of His blessings I became and everyday there is something to be grateful for.

Let me encourage you with this prayer:

Lord,
We live in a broken world and we need you. Every day we need to see you. Help us become aware of the blessings that you pour out every day. Let us hear of your unfailing love every morning. 

Amen
(Keep reading to enter our fabulous Give-A-Way!! You don't want to miss it!)

Collecting SONshine In a Jar 

Today I want to share a fun Everyday Thanksgiving Project with you.

Do you ever keep score? You know, within your relationships. Sadly, there have been times that I have.  Maybe I didn’t do it on purpose, but it seems that whenever I am in a conflict with someone, recounting any little hurtful thing they have said or done just pops up like an unwelcome weed!

And just like weeds in our garden can choke beautiful flowers, these emotional weeds can choke a good relationship.
 
But what if we changed our scorekeeping and instead of keeping a tally of hurtful things, we began to  count and collect thoughtful and kind and loving things. Or like our friend Jodie says: “SONshine”.
 
Jodie shared above,
“While walking through a difficult season in our marriage, I began counting SONshine moments each day. INTENTIONALLY looking for the small blessings during a hard time. In my prayer journal I would end my page by drawing a sun and listing my SONshine blessing that I was thankful for. One day it was hearing my husband snore— it was a really hard day but we were still together!”
 
I love this idea! And I am taking on this challenge! Will y’all join us?
 
SONshine In A Jar Project Steps:
​1. Find a large jar - one that will hold lots of SONshine!
2. Decorate as desired. 
3. Keep a pen and pieces of paper, or post it pad, next to your jar for easy access.
4. Place the jar in a prominent location, you will see each day.
5. Everyday, intentionally look for the blessings in your day.
6. Write your SONshine on a piece of paper, fold it up and place it in the jar.
7. Select a date  -  or multiple dates  -   for your family to get together and read the SONshine notes with each other.
 
Here's my SONshine jar our family will be using this year. 

​You can download this FREE printable to use in decorating your SONshine jar. 

1. Download to your computer
​2. Print on label (sticker) paper - I used white label paper
3. Cut out each design and decorate as desired!
Jodie and I would love to see your SONshine Jar! Share with us on social media and tag Sweet To The Soul and Faithfully Following, and use the hashtag #SONshineInAJar.

Blessings Soul Friends, 

Mary & Martha Gratitude Canister Give-A-Way

Oh goodness yall, I am so excited about our giveaway today!!!

How would you like to receive this Mary & Martha Gratitude Canister for FREE??!

eeek!

​Yes please!

​All you have to do to enter this drawing is leave us a comment below and share something you have been thankful for especially in a difficult time. 

That's it!
​We would love to see your comments encourage others, so comment on other's comments for extra entries. And invite your friends!  At the top of this blog post are buttons you can just click to share to social media and to your friends. 

We want to give a shout out and HUGE THANK YOU to friend and Mary & Martha consultant, Laura Blackburn.   You can visit Laura's Mary & Martha page at ​http://www.mymaryandmartha.com/Laurab  or connect with her on Facebook.  

 
Leave your comments and share through the weekend. A name will be picked at random Sunday night November 12, 2017, 10:00pn cst. 

​Today's blog is part of our #SoulInspired Scripture Reading Series : #EverydayThanksgiving

by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on November 7th, 2017

This month in our Soul Inspired "Everyday Thanksgiving" Journaling Kits, I included a fun chipboard flip book. 

​I've had so much fun already adding some of the journaling cards, etc from the kit to fill up my flipbook. And throughout the month I'll be sharing pics and processes with yall. 

​But first, I wanted to show you how I decorated my cover page. 

​In addition to the chipboard flipbook pages, you will also find a few old book pages in your Journaling Kit. These are what I used to decorate my cover. 

STEP ONE: 
  1. ​Tear book page in random sizes ( I used just one of the book pages)
  2. ​Select the chipboard page you want to serve as your cover. 
  3. Pour out a bit of gesso on a paper plate / scrap paper
  4. ​NOTE: I use gesso instead of ModPodge so I can use other mediums over the book pages
  5. ​Using a sponge applicator or sponge brush, "paint" a portion of the chipboard with gesso. Select a piece of the torn book page and "paint" one side with the gesso.
  6. ​Adhere the book page to the chipboard, gesso side down. Pressing to make sure it adheres well and there are no are bubbles. Don't worry that the page pieces overlap or extend off of the chipboard. 
  7. Repeat process with each piece of torn book paper. 
  8. ​When all pieces of the book page are adhered, "paint" the entire cover with a thin coat of gesso. 
Supplies: old book pages, chipboard page form, white or clear gesso, sponge applicator.

STEP TWO:
  1. ​Using a heat tool or hair dryer on low, make sure the book pages and gesso are day. 
  2. If there are any pieces lifting up from the chipboard, add more gesso to adhere the pieces. 
  3. Dry thoroughly. 
  4. ​Trim the book pages to the exact size/ shape of the chipboard piece. 
Supplies: heat tool, and scissors

STEP THREE:
We are going to "antique" the book pages. 
​I used the "Vintage Photo" color in Tim Holtz's new Distress Oxide ink pads. Feel free to use other colors of your choice. 
  1. Using a sponge applicator, I daubed the applicator on the ink pad, then daubed it on the book pages, using varying amount of pressure to create a mottled look and leaving some of the text on the pages showing through. 
  2. ​If you apply too much pigment, use a wipie to remove some of the ink. Wipies also work well to achieve a more blended look.
  3. ​I worked in small sections until I covered the whole cover. 
  4. Dry thoroughly with a heat tool or hair dryer on low. 
Supplies: Tim Holtx Distress Oxide ink pad in Vintage Photo, sponge applicator, baby wipe.

STEP FOUR:
​To add a little depth and accent design, I selected a stencil of leaves. 
  1. ​Place the leaf stencil in random directions and locations on cover. 
  2. ​Using a sponge applicator, daub it on the ink pad, then daub it on the stencil on the cover.
  3. ​I used more ink in these areas so the leaf pattern would be visible. 
  4. ​If you add too much ink or the leaf is too dark, use a wipie to remove some of the ink. 
  5. Repeat until you have added the number of leaves you desire. 
  6. ​Dry with a heat tool or hair dryer on low. 
Supplies: Tim Holtx Distress Oxide ink pad in Vintage Photo, sponge applicator, leaf stencil, baby wipe.

STEP FIVE:
  1. Personalize the cover to really make it yours. 
  2. ​On mine, I hand lettered the word "Thanksgiving" with my PrismaColor .05 marker. 
  3. ​Then, using a black ink pad, I used my medium sized block rubber stamp letters to add the word "journal" (My stamping skills need some work!)
  4. ​Decorate your cover and make it your own!
Supplies: black ink pad, block letter stamps, black permanent marker (PrismaColor)

STEP SIX:
  1. ​To finish up the flipbook cover. using the backside of the chipboard cover as a guide, punch the two holes through the book pages.
  2. ​Insert the binder rings from the kit, adding the other chipboard pieces and any other pieces, tags, etc to the inside. The rings can easily be opened and removed then added back as you add pieces to the inside of your flipbook.
  3. I hand lettered my name on one of the journaling kit tags and added the fabric from the kit to the binder ring as an accent. 

​I'll be sharing more pictures and info about what I add to my Thanksgiving Journal throughout the month, so be sure and follow Sweet To The Soul Shoppe on Facebook and Instagram so you don't miss a post! 

​I would love to see what you do with your flipbook! Share your pics on social media and tag Sweet To The Soul and use the hashtag #EverydayThanksgiving.  And I'd love for you to join me in our Soul Friends Bible Journaling Group on facebook as well. 


I hope you enjoyed this project process! 

​Bessings #SoulFriends
(this blog post may contain affiliate links for branded products used)

by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on September 11th, 2017

One Jar At A Time


A perfectly timed word or gesture from someone can be one of the most memorable gifts someone ever receives. It was for me.

At a very difficult time in my life when more people were pulling away than drawing near, I received the most simple thing in the mail – a birthday card. I’m not sure the sender knew just what it meant, I’m sure my little “thank you” didn’t quite sum up the impact. It was 13 years ago, and the thought still makes me smile.

I have wondered if they heard a whisper from God, a gentle nudging that I was in need of a kind word. I must admit that all too often I’m just too busy and absorbed in other things to notice those spirit nudges, or don’t do anything when I do hear them.

We live in a loud world, to hear the whisper of God’s voice we must be able to recognize His voice above all others. Recognizing God’s voice requires being familiar with His voice. Being familiar with God’s voice only happens when we spend time with Him.

To hear the quiet God whispers, we have to be listening for them, paying attention. And paying attention to those around us so we can notice when they are a little down, or not having a good day or just need a little encouragement.
 

​This month, as we are learning about being speakers of Gracious Words, we are reminded that it takes desire and purpose to speak with kindness and mercy. And today I want to share with you a way we can share Gracious Words – One Jar At A Time.

One Jar At A Time is an outreach ministry developed and implemented by our ministry partners Jodie and Donna over at Faithfully Following Ministries
 
“Our world needs joy! Will you join us on a mission to deliver joy, One Jar At A Time? Simply grab a jar and fill it with something that will brighten someone else’s day. Then deliver that jar with a smile and a request for the receiver to pass the jar to another person. It may seem like a small thing to do, but consider the small things that God uses to do mighty things….2 loaves and 5 fish to feed a multitude, not to mention one small boy to deliver that simple lunch. One simple delivery can let another person know that they are loved. Keep it simple! Use the things you have on hand or buy just a little extra of something at the store.  The possibilities are endless.”

So we are teaming up with Jodie and Donna to spread joy by gifting others with “Gracious Words – One Jar At a Time”

​Sometimes we just need to hear a word of encouragement or our hearts need to hear straight from God’s Word. So let’s fill some jars with Gracious Words and share them with our friends, family, co-workers or anyone you know to whom you can speak life and lift their hearts.

I’ve put together this printable of blank cards which you can print as many times as you need. Simply print, color, cut and add your own gracious words. Maybe an encouraging quote or a special scripture. Fill the jar up with encouragement! And add a few sweets to go with your sweet words.

Then give the gift of Gracious Words – One Jar At A Time.

​How to fill your jar:
1) Gather your jars – any size will do!
2) Download and save the printable file to your computer
3) Print on card stock for best results and print as many copies as you need!
4) Paint or color the cards then add your own gracious words. Consider scriptures or encouraging quotes.
5) Cut out each card.
6) Add the cards to your jar along with any little goodies you want to include.
7) Decorate the jar anyway you like and add the gift tag
8) Then gift your joy jar full of gracious words!

 

Looking for other ways to gift Gracious Words?


Host a One Jar At A Time get-together
This week I’m getting together with some friends to fill up several jars so we can gift gracious words to our friends and family. If you want to do the same, make as many copies of today’s printable as your group needs! Consider having your group fill their jars to gift to a special organization or group of individuals.
 
Send Gracious Words through the mail
Do you have some far away friends you would love to bless with your gracious words? Instead of filling an actual jar, just fill an envelope! Send them to someone who is separated from their family and needs to hear your gracious words of encouragement. Maybe even include their favorite goodie if you can – Jodie once sent a case of joy filled peanut butter overseas!
 
Pack Gracious Words in someone’s lunch
A great way to brighten someone’s day is a surprise note in their lunch or backpack or computer bag. Add a special note of encouragement to bless their busy day especially if they are facing a challenging class or project. What joy it will give to them to open their bag and find your beautiful gracious words.
 
Post Gracious Words around your home
When my girls were in high school, I would write out scripture and tape the cards to their bathroom mirror. I even do this to my own for memorization. A gracious note on the mirror is a great way for someone to start their day.
 
Send a friend a sweet card
It doesn’t have to be someone’s birthday to send them a card. Today we text more than talk and communicate more via social media than mail, it’s seems easier. So make someone feel even more special that you took the time to think about them and the extra time to write them a note and drop it in the mail. Use a post card or greeting card or use this Sweet Friendship printable to color and personalize for your friend.

What other ways can you think of to spread joy and bless someone with gracious words? We would love to hear from you so join the convo below. And post pictures of your Gracious Words & joyful One Jar At A Time gifts on social media and tag Sweet To The Soul and Faithfully Following, we would love to see and encourage others!


Blessings Soul Friends,
For more info about our Gracious Words study and resources, visit www.sweettothesoul.com/gracious-words

For more info about One Jar at a Time and Faithfully Following Ministries, visit www.faithfullyfollowingministies.org/one-jar-time

by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on September 5th, 2017

"Gracious words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
Proverbs 16:24
 
​Several years ago, when the Lord began nudging me into a ministry, Proverbs 16:24, “Gracious words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones”, was the scripture He gave me. This is what Sweet To The Soul would be about, inspiring women through God’s gracious words.

I specify “God’s” gracious words because Jana’s words are not always gracious.

In fact, my words can, sadly, be anything but gracious. But this was the scripture God had
planted as a seed in my heart almost 30 years ago.
 
​ 
Naturally, since this was my ministry scripture, when I began writing I naively thought this would be my first topic, but God still had much to teach me and I still had much to learn. It was more like a breaking than a teaching. You know, like a cowboy trying to break a wild mustang into submission. Something like that. I wasn’t exactly willing.

What I have written in our newest Bible Study is more devotional style as I share some of the teaching (breaking) moments in my own life. And these are hard to share. My vanity urges me not to share because I dare to think of the self-portrait I am painting here. In truth, these devotionals were written over the last 2-3 years. 
 
​So I would like to invite you to join me over the next 6 weeks as we take a look at what the Bible has to say about the impact of our words and how we can speak with kindness and mercy. 
Our discussion topics will be:
​* ​How Gracious Are My Words
* Choosing Mercy in the War of Our Words
* Working For Peace
​* Stopping the Dripping Rain of Negative Words
* Taming The Tongue
Take a peek inside the 70+ page Gracious Words Bible Study booklet.
Follow along here on our blog and on Facebook and Instagram for daily discussions and weekly blog posts. ​
In addition to the Gracious Words study booklet, we also have a fun Bible Journaling Kit filled with ​words & phrases, cards, color pages, tip-ins, tags, tabs, stickers and more!  All are printed and ready for you to color, cut, journal and let your soul be inspired! 
Take a peek inside the Gracious Words Bible Journaling kit.

​You can also download our daily scripture reading list for FREE and follow along on-line during September and October. 

​To get us started, I'd like to gift you this lock screen of our core scripture, Proverbs 16:24. Just download the image to your phone and set it as your wallpaper or lock screen.

​Blessings Soul Friends,
Today's blog post is part of our Soul Inspired series: Gracious Words


 
​Jana Kennedy-Spicer is a wife, mom and Nana who is passionate about inspiring and encouraging women on their daily walk with Christ. A woman rescued and repaired by the grace of God, she loves to share about the realness of God's love, redemption and faithfulness. Embarking on a new life journey, she is dedicated to using her blogging, Bible teaching, writing, photography, drawing, painting and graphic designs to bring glory to the Lord.

​Find out where Jana will be teaching next.

Check out our other Soul Inspired  series.

by Melissa Gross on May 19th, 2017



​When I married in 2001, I moved 5½ hours away from my family & friends to a town where I literally knew no one except Robbie, my new hubby! We immediately found a church home, and a few months later a tall, slightly-stooped elegant woman approached me and introduced herself as Faye Holt. Ms. Faye, along with her friend Ms. Ruthie, had recently begun a new small group that met in their homes once a week. The group was called M&Ms – Mentors & Moms – and Ms. Faye’s desire was to mentor and encourage younger women. She was 72-years-old, a widow with grown children heeding God’s call to begin a new ministry. She invited me to attend because she had learned that my family was hours away and she wanted to mother and encourage me.
 
Thus began a relationship that would have a profound impact on my life (and eventually my own ministry) as Ms. Faye became my mentor and friend.
 
A mentor is a wise and trusted counselor or teacher, someone who will invest in your life in a personal relationship. A mentor is not someone who is going to tell you what to do. Not only did Ms. Faye open her home and offer a safe place for young women to find encouragement and love and advice, she shared God’s Word every week and took time EVERY DAY to pray for each of the ladies she came to know through these times together. Even when Robbie and I moved out of the area, she continued to call regularly to check on us and ask how she could pray for us in her daily time with the Lord.
 
Mentoring is a powerful and personal way to walk in relationship with other women. M&Ms was a group of women walking together, with Ms. Faye & Ms. Ruthie helping and guiding each of us as we grew in our relationship with the Lord and learned to deal with life’s ups and downs as godly women.
 
Mentoring is also scriptural: Titus 2:3-5 (NKJV) says,
"​and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled"
​Many of us are familiar with these verses, but I was privileged to see this scripture lived out!

 
As time went by and Ms. Faye could no longer drive, I stopped by occasionally to take her out to lunch, hoping to be a blessing and encouragement to her. Every time I drove away after one of these outings, I felt renewed and refreshed and blessed because she was a natural encourager and never failed to ask about all that was going on in our lives, to compliment any achievement no matter how large or small, and to say a prayer asking God’s blessings on our endeavors.
 
​After a year of declining health and memory, Ms. Faye went to be with the Lord last fall. I remember the last time I talked with her on the phone – I knew she couldn’t truly identify who I was . . . but it didn’t matter! True to her mentoring nature, she asked how things were going in my life and ended the call with a prayer asking the Lord to continue to bless me and guide me as I continued my own quest to encourage other women to serve Him in their everyday lives.

​Maya Angelou once said, "I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

It’s true! I will never forget the feelings of love and acceptance and confidence and blessing that came from spending time with Ms. Faye, my inspiring mentor and friend!


Blessings Soul Friends,
Today's blog post is part of our Soul Inspired series Inspiring Women.
​And we have a special FREE printable to use for Bible Journaling or creative crafting.
​Just click on the link below - download - print - and journal!
​[ I printed my copy on clear label (sticker) paper and card stock. ]

DOWNLOAD PRINTABLE

 
   
​Melissa Gross feels the Lord calling her to lead and encourage women in their walk with the Lord. She is a teacher by passion and by training and has taught everything from Children’s Church to Ladies’ Bible Studies to the Young-at-Heart (elderly) Sunday School, from middle school technology classes to university level business courses. She is also an avid scrapbooker and has taught and coached in online and in-person scrapbooking, cardmaking, photo organization, mixed media, and illustrated Bible journaling classes. When she’s not teaching Bible Journaling workshops or gluing pretty pieces of paper together in her craft room, Melissa enjoys reading, cooking, blogging, and traveling. She lives in Texas with her best friend/husband, Robbie, and shares their everyday adventures and her latest scrapbooking and Bible Journaling projects on her blog: Daily Life – Bits & Pieces (www.melissagross.blogspot.com).





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