Sunday, January 24, 2010


A week ago I was blessed to attend a week long conference at my church. I have been to this conference before, but not alone and not without all my kids close by, so to be there by myself was a miracle and a blessing. My husband and I discussed this last year and agreed that this year I would go solo. He took a week’s vacation and I was off to spend time with the Lord, much needed time I might add.

This year has been one of the hardest years I have had since becoming a Christian a little over ten years ago. One thing that changed significantly was the time I spent with the Lord; this was due to some time constraints and largely due to confusing what the enemy was doing in my life for God. Be careful, the enemy comes as an angel of light and it will sound so good and so spiritual, but in reality he is planning your death! What I thought was the Lord speaking to me was the enemy and he knew he was orchestrating circumstances, so that when I needed the Lord the most my intimacy with Him would be at an all time low.

After recognizing this I repented and cried out to the Lord and told Him how much I missed Him and how much I wanted our intimacy back. He answered that prayer a hundred fold. I know He never left, but in confusion I did.

Anyway, back to the conference. I drove the two hours to our church, checked in and expectantly waited to meet my Daddy. I stayed with a lady from the church which was just the perfect place for me; she was kind and prayed for me Sunday just after orientation. During orientation I met a girl who lives about an hour from me and we sat next to each other and there we stayed all week.

Monday I woke up excited, I could hardly wait to see what the Lord had in store for me. I got ready and walked out of the house with my tea travel mug…it was going to be a GREAT day! When I got in the car it said 7:15 a.m., what? I did not have to leave until 8:15 a.m. I headed back in the house and put in a CD. It was Kutless’ Strong Tower. As I listened to Ready for You my spirit soared and I surrendered myself to Him to make His will be done.

Ready For You

Lord, You take my heart away with Your love
and I am willing to put on my faith in Your plan.

Come and take my life.
Make my soul refreshed in truth now.

I am ready for You.
Take my heart and make me new now.
I am ready for You
to come and fill my soul.

Cleanse all of my mind that is not of You.
Break me, teaching me how to find rest in Your hands.

Come and take my life.
Make my soul refreshed in truth now.

I am ready for You.
Take my heart and make me new now.
I am ready for You
to come and fill my soul.
To come and fill my soul.

Whatever it takes,
I'm needing to make Your will be done
and I'm letting go of my control,
for I see what You've done in me.

I am ready for You.
Take my heart and make me new now.
I am ready for You
to come and fill my soul.

Walking towards the church Monday morning I saw Dianne heading towards me and I said, “Hi Dianne.” She cupped her hands over her eyes and squinted and asked, “Who is it?” I said, “It’s Mari.” She grabbed my shoulders and turned me around to see the sun, it was bright and blinding. She said, “That was all I could see.” I replied, “That is what you should see when you look at me” and finished with Isaiah 60:1 “Arise shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord shines upon you.” As I walked into the church I began to cry because that was such a sweet gift from the Lord to start off my week with Him.

We assembled in the church at 8:30 and began with worship and were then notified that the heat was broken, it was a record cold snap for Georgia. Oh, that devil he’ll try anything to distract God’s children. Not happening! I wrapped up in everything I had and borrowed whatever I could get from my brother who works at the church.

As we finished for the day several of us started talking and before I knew it there were several of us going to a local pizza place for dinner. There was John, Roxanna and Michael (their son) now known as the Canadians, Marie and Kate (mother and daughter) now known as the Minnesotans, Kim (who lives close to me) now known as the Georgian (until we can come up with a better name) and me. We laughed and shared at dinner before heading back to church for a teaching on the Father’s Love and our first ministry session. It was a perfect day in the Lord.

I headed back to where I was staying full and grateful and expectant. I did my homework for the night and had a wonderful night’s sleep.

There is much more about my week that I will share, but this is about the fellowship that Father God provided for me last week. My heart was broken, I was lonely and very afraid when I got there and He surrounded me with generous, loving people that became like family in a very short time.

We said our goodbye’s Friday night after the celebration service and the Minnesotans came back with me and we talked late into the night. We gathered for breakfast before everyone headed off and took a picture (sadly without Kim) and then the Canadians came home with me - to my real house.

We ate cake that Isabella made the night before at her Keeper’s class, had lots of tea, ate Chinese food and just hung out…like family. It was a perfect end to my week. They headed back to church for another week long conference, so the kids and I were able to see them one last time last night for our final meal together (for now).

I am a different person than I was the week before the conference; God met me in some amazing ways. He changed me and He blessed me. He also used some Canadians, some Minnesotans and a Georgian to love on me. It was a wonderful week in the Lord and I am excited about the fruit I will bear from a life-changing experience.

Here is Kutless’ video – it is an amazing song:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I am who I AM says I am

I have shared my testimony here before. When it happened I wasn’t sure what happened then I thought the Lord healed me of life-long depression and He did…well, sort of…

About six months ago the Lord showed me that He did not heal me of depression that night, He healed my broken heart and I received His love for me which broke the power of many strongholds in my life. That was a powerful revelation. Anyway, in the last month He has shown me that I have formed my identity in this testimony, which on the surface may sound good, but IT’S NOT! I AM NOT my testimony!

I AM says that…

I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus
I am the apple of His eye
I am the daughter of the Most High God

So, the moral of this story is your identity is in Him and Him alone, not even in what He has done for you (no matter how good it is). If you do not have your identity secure in Him you can be sure that the devil will be knocking on your door to bring doubt, confusion and unbelief. If you are not sure who you are ask Him who created you!

Friday, January 22, 2010


Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Ephesians 3:20

God has been continually speaking to me and orchestrating circumstances as I seek Him in every area of my business. He is faithful to run this business and I show up and do the work He has me do. Recently I had an amazing experience of His faithfulness concerning Tea & Traditions. He called me to this business two years ago and has provided ever since. No money has had to come out of our personal account to pay any business expenses although we still have a sizeable loan that we are repaying.

God’s Faithfulness Manifested…

A friend lent me a book on New Year’s Eve called In His Steps by Charles Sheldon. It is an old book with a timeless message. In it a pastor, after a series of events, encourages his church to commit for one year not to make any decision or take any action without first asking the question, “What would Jesus do?” The book follows the stories of these people as they begin to practically and impractically live this out in their everyday lives.

All the people who made the pledge meet every week after service for prayer and support. One Sunday a newspaper editor communicates to everyone that he wishes for his paper to become a “Christian” paper, but he lacks the funds to do so. One of the members at the meeting is a very wealthy woman and has been looking for ways to use her money as she thinks Jesus would have.

While reading that part of the story I offered up a simple prayer to the Father, “Lord, would there be anyone whom you would use to help financially with Tea & Traditions?” That was Monday morning and there was a $500 check in the mail when Todd brought it in after work. I can not tell you how my faith soared!

There was a note inside that this was in response to praying about what to do with a receipt of a sum of money and the note said, “You were on God’s list”. The note specified that it was for my “ministry.” The note also said, "Keep spreading the good news."

We serve a faithful God, a God who hears the cry of our hearts. I was blessed by this gift and will bless others as I was blessed. I pray the givers of this gift will be encouraged in their faith as they were obedient to the Father as He answered His daughter’s prayer of faith.

I do not know what made me pray that prayer or what gave me the boldness to ask, but the bible says that we have not because we ask not. What are you believing God for? Be bold, ask your Daddy who wants to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.

Friday, January 8, 2010


This clock was a wedding present almost 10 years ago from my husband's grandparents. We used it for a long time on our mantel and then it ended up in the attic and I just could not part with because I love his grandparents so much. So, in comes spray paint, wooden appliques, scrapbook paper, a clock face stencil and glaze. The whole project took about half an hour (not including drying time). I love it and it will go well in our "new room".

I spray painted the clock in Krylon Blue Ocean Breeze then sanded the edges using an 80 grit sanding block and finished up with Ralph Lauren Smoke Glaze. If it sounds like I know what I'm talking about it's all wording I've picked up from Shanty2Chic, where you will find me spending a lot of time these days...that is until school starts and Tea & Traditions re-opens on Monday. You MUST visit Shanty2Chic they have recently posted their favorite projects and you will not be disappointed.

I'm sharing this as part of Shanty 2 Chic's link party, be sure to visit and get some AWESOME ideas.

Friday, January 1, 2010


This was my Christmas gift from Todd's parents, a Zojirushi bread maker. It has taunted me from the den since opening it Christmas morning. It sat on the floor mocking me and overwhelming me with all its features and large instruction manual, then Tami from Floating in Winter Creek threw in the lifesaver...a recipe. She emailed me because I had asked her opinion about bread makers before deciding on the model I should get and she was a huge help.

Tami emailed me out of the blue to find out if I got the bread maker and then sent me a recipe for Outback Steakhouse Honey Wheat Bushman Bread and she said this, "This is one of those recipes where the machine makes the dough, but you shape it yourself and bake it in your oven. And just wait until you smell this loaf!! All your intimidation will be pushed aside and you'll be baking like crazy!" Well, that was ALL I needed, a little encouragement! Tami, were you a cheerleader? You make a GREAT one...thanks!
Isabella helped pour the ingredients into the bread maker...complete with yeast well.
This was after the dough cycle was complete. Isn't it pretty?
Can't remember if this was before or after they rose. I'm not very good at shaping them, mostly because I don't like working with the dough. I'm putting all my faith in the yeast to make these babies rise into the loaves they were created to be. Crazy? We'll see.

Not bad for a first timer.

Straight out of the oven.

Eight beautiful loaves cooling.

Just like Outback, knife stuck in the top and all...that impressed Isabella. See our homemade whipped butter? Just a little butter, a little milk and a beater...VOILA...whipped butter!

The true test was cutting it open and it was...cooked! SUCCESS!!!

We dug in and it is everything Tami said it was!!! Try it, you will NOT be disappointed. Email me for the recipe, the one online has not been updated for PERFECTION!!!
Our second attempt is already in the bread maker. We are attempting whole wheat bread cooked in the breadmaker from start to finish.


This is the Louis IVI Sideboard from the Ballard Designs catalog. It is listed for $1,199 delivery charges not included.

Here is my version, $200 (already painted) from One of a Kind two years ago.

It has taken me my whole life to realize that beautiful furniture does not have to cost a lot of money. Of course mine would look even better accessorized like the catalog picture, but Ballard Designs catalog does not have four kids. Right now my bread maker is sitting on top of it and there is homeschool stuff in the bottom, one drawer is dedicated to tea samples and the other to coupon circulars and magazines. Life in the REAL world, my world!
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