Thursday, July 29, 2010

Promises

I don't typically read the Daily Bread, but for some reason, I happened to grab one at the start of Summer and I read way ahead.  Cause that's how I roll.  (I also read the last page of every book.) Apparently, I'd ripped out a page I liked, and stuck it in the front of my bible.  Then I promptly forgot all about it.

Last weekend was excruciating for me on nearly every level.  I also felt like I'd been given a specific encouragement in the form of a piece- no, a chunk, of hope, only to have God snatch it right out of my hands days later and stomp all over it. (Which I'm sure He didn't actually do.  I'm just saying what it felt like.) I was crushed, absolutely broken-hearted, and then to be perfectly honest, I got good and mad at Him. I think, (and I cringe right about here, but I'm keeping it real) I even told Adrain that I was "really pissed off at God."
 Anyhow, as we were heading home from church that night, I sat grinding my teeth in irritation.  Then, I flipped the cover of my bible open, looking for a scrap of paper for my grocery list, cause I'd had enough.  The torn-out page (from the upcoming August 21st daily bread) was staring right at me.  I quickly skimmed through it, only to stop and re-read the whole thing very slowly, as it whispered directly into my situation. Here's a portion of it:

"Have you ever felt that God doesn't keep His promises?... After God promised Abraham, "I will make you a great nation" 25 years elapsed before the birth of his son Isaac.... Through the ups and downs, God kept reminding Abraham of His promise to give him a child, while urging him to walk faithfully with Him and believe. When we claim one of God's promises in the Bible, whether it is for peace of mind, courage or provision of our needs, we place ourselves in His hands and on His schedule.  As we wait, it may at times seem as if the Lord has forgotten us. But trust embraces the reality that when we stand on a promise of God, He remains faithful.  The assurance is in our hearts, and the timing is in His hands."
  
I wait and it feels like my prayers are going no higher than the ceiling.  I force myself to practice faith that endures.  When my resolve crumbles into tiny pieces of despair, I'll remember that what I feel isn't always what I know.  So far, it hasn't been easy and I still don't know the outcomes of my situations- or if there even are any "outcomes" at this point.  But I'm going to hold on to His faithfulness- even when it  feels like He's not, and the assumed absence just about breaks my heart.

Are you waiting on something from God and feel like he might have forgotten about you?  I know He has not, nor will He ever forget about you! 

Hold on, and be encouraged.  You aren't alone!

Wanna read more?  The journey continues, here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I rememembered that I forgot, that I hate sewing.

This may surprise you a little bit, but I tend to throw myself passionately into my projects. (snicker) I was going to wait til next week, but I actually had a day with nothing planned, and thought, "Why put off til tomorrow, what I can tackle today?"  I'd like to title this one, "Keeping it real."I'd also like to point out, that it was right around this part of the project, that I declared how much I hated sewing and banished everyone from the house, including the neighborhood children who come over around snack time every day.  I'd like to say that I was nice about it too- but I'm not usually a liar. 
Have I ever mentioned that I detest making slipcovers?  I mean, I really loathe it. I always forget that I feel like that, until I'm about half way through.  I've made a few of them in my day.  Five to be exact.  Two were for couches about a week before I gave birth to my first child, and the other three were for this chair.  Pay careful attention to the loose fabric under the arm...
It's like magic isn't it?  Want to know my little secret?
These upholstery pins.  (You can purchase them at the fabric store, located in the upholstery aisle.) They look menacing, but once in, you can hardly find them. They do a great job of shaping and holding fabric in place.
See what I mean? Just blends right in.
This next series of photos works a little like time-lapse photography. However, I'd like you to please keep in mind that there were blood, sweat, and tears behind each photo.  And chocolate.  I admit, (shamefully) that there was chocolate. 
Imagine elevator music playing...
Now imagine me, collapsing on the floor, and begging my family for a drink with an umbrella in it. 
For some reason, they all ignored me. 
 (Me, pretending to be Scarlett O'Hara) "With God as my witness, I'll never sew anything else as long as I live!" (...she raises fist into the air...)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Tale of Two Tables.

It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.
Okay I'm just kidding... it was actually a pretty good day.  I listed my old kitchen table on Craig's list because it was big.  We're talking ten-people-with-the-leaf-in, big.  I needed smaller.  Like, 960-square-foot-house-size, smaller to be exact.  I found a pedestal table that I really liked at Ikea for $250.00.  But let's just be honest here.  Ikea is a great place for accessories, futons, first-time furniture purchases, and kid zoned areas, while not so much a great place, for quality, well-made, wooden tables that will stand up to homeschooling, science projects, pie making, and the like.  (Not that I'd ever dis Ikea.  Cause I happen to love it there.)

My table, once listed, sold for an amount I thought I'd never get, almost immediately.  As I talked with the woman purchasing my table, she told me about her table.  It happened to be a round pedestal table, with a leaf, made of solid oak.  Pretty much exactly what I was looking for.  She wanted $75.00 for it.  I figured that was a total steal considering what she paid me for my table.

However, the night my husband was to pick it up, she called and started in with a story that sounded shady from the start.  She was explaining how she had been cleaning it and a small crack had "suddenly happened" in the base, etc. I'd gotten so excited over the possibilities of sanding down her table, and painting it white, all for $75.00, that I was really disappointed!  I mean for heaven's sake, where else was I going to find that kind of deal? 
Later, that night, I sat down to watch the movie, Food Inc. with my man, (which is an entire other post all on it's own, for another day) and I found myself literally feeling angry- over a table, of all things!  Ridiculous, when you stop and consider that over half the world doesn't even get to eat their meals sitting at a table.  So, after considerable moping on my part, (which I'm not proud of, by the way) I came to realize that I was pining away for the "afternoon in the backyard" when in fact, there might be "a trip to the zoo" opportunity here.  (You may remember when Adrain used that analogy on me last month- I didn't like it very much at the time, but I'm learning to accept it.)  After a little self-scolding, I decided I needed to quit being angry over a table and let go and give this tiny detail over to God.  So I did.  I relaxed.  (Well, I mean, I relaxed as much as a person can relax when they are watching live footage of chicken houses, and corn fed cattle being butchered and processed.) 

At bedtime, I said a little prayer asking God for a table, (I know, it sounds ridiculous, but I'm just being honest) and decided to check out tables one last time, on Craig's list....  Guess what?  (You already know, don't you?)  I found the exact table I had been looking for, only this one happened to be listed at a mere $40.00.  We got it the next day.

And now it's all mine. My darling man sanded and painted and I dutifully cheered him on and gave him bites of chocolate and popsickles.  (Just doing my job.)  I did ask him if he'd like my help, or if he'd just rather me sit and look pretty.  He didn't seem to want my help, and I didn't fight that. I adore this table and it's price tag. I have Pottery Barn taste, but a garage sale budget.  We (as in Adrain) still have plans to gently distress it.  I'm learning to take the zoo option over the backyard, any day of the week, because God actually does care about the little things (like tables) in our lives. Did also I mention that I'm a slow learner?

**Oh, and my word of advice on painting wood, (since you asked the other day) is sand it really well!  If at all possible, take it down to the bare wood. Wipe it off with a wet cloth and let if dry completely.  Then, prime it with minimum of one coat, paint it with two coats, and if you distress it by sanding it here and there, put a coat of polyurethane over that unless it's not a high traffic item.  Make sure your paint is completely dry before moving to the next coat.  And if you plan to polyurethane over the finished coat, wait at least a week for the paint to fully cure. That's my man's tip right there, and you can trust him.  He doles out this advice for a living, and you got it for free. Lucky you. (Wink)**

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Love and Whirled Peas...

I don't know what it is, but I can't post pictures and not add my own running commentary.  It could have something to do with the fact that I can't keep my mouth shut.  Then again it could also have something to do with the fact that I talk to a seven and nine year old, day-in and day-out, all day, every day, about things like why our frog, is probably happier now that we released him back into the wild.  This is the sort of topic that can go on for days around here.
Also, I just wanted to photograph something that stood still.  And didn't talk back.
Or give me an opinion.  Or try to convince me that purple and white stripes do go with black and red ladybug dresses and gold ballet flats. 
Peas just kind of sit there where you put them.  And they don't make Star Wars light saber noises for hours on end with no sign of stopping.  Or karate chop pillows that I just fluffed, minutes before house showings.

I like that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bold Faith

I remember when I started making it known that I was newly pregnant with my first child, people would come up to me and begin to share stories about horrific pregnancies.  It was like they wanted me to be aware of what "could happen" while lamely assuring me that it "probably wouldn't happen to me."  Yeah.  I still haven't fully recovered.

I've been encountering some of the same kinds of people lately while we attempt to sell our home and live out genuine faith.  And they got me sidetracked and thinking that maybe nothing will actually happen.  Maybe God is about as big as an apple.  Maybe I shouldn't be asking for things that are too big and difficult, because surely a God the size of an apple couldn't do much anyway.  And besides, I didn't want to appear too passionate and somehow offend anyone.  But then... it hit me. 

I have never judged anyone because they didn't believe what I believed.  While I have never pushed my faith or beliefs on anyone, I've also never backed down from what I believe because I believe in a God that created those apples!  Not a God that is the size of one.  And I'm going to be authentic and passionate about God on this blog and everywhere else in my life because life is short. It can end at any moment. 

I got myself all fired up (which almost never happens to me, I swear- giggle) and I woke up in the middle of the night, thinking about the biblical story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who got themselves captured by a bunch of Babylonian hooligans, back in about 539 B.C. Then they got themselves thrown into a fiery furnace, by a crazy king that wanted them to worship his golden image. (Daniel 3) And God rescued them because of their bold faith.  Before they ever got thrown in, they told the king that "...the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know O king that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."  They were fully resigned to God's will, even if it meant being today's BBQ special, but they still boldly stood by what they believed.  As will I.

So as I enter this phase, I've boldly asked God for some specific things in my life.  And I am going to have bold faith (Luke 11:7-13) that the God who creates apples can do more than I can even imagine. (Ephesians 3:20) God could most certainly provide a cash buyer for our home.  God could easily work all the details out so that we are settled before the start of the school year.  And even if he does not... I'm going to follow Him passionately. 

Are you believing in a God the size of an apple, or are you believing in the creator of the apple? Is there something you need to have bold faith with?  Go ahead, release your passion and be bold!

He's a big God.

...read here for more of my continuing journey...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Getting my Pleated Poppy on!

I have recently fallen in love with the blog, "The Pleated Poppy."  I mean, the name alone, right?  She has inspired my wardrobe big time- which is really saying something, as lately I've been living in black yoga pants and a black tank top.  Sometimes I vary it, and put on black cropped pants, and a black tee shirt.  I also have the latter in navy, so when I really want to change things up, I go with that.  But if I'm feeling especially lazy, I surf my man's side of the closet for clothing that hangs to my knees.  Anyway, after seeing her "What I wore" posts, I realized I needed one of two things.  Clinton and Stacy to come and smack me upside the head and lock me in a 365 degree mirror, or to simply quit wearing black.  I've been struggling with some things in my personal life, and the black clothing has been unintentionally representational of my mood.  My plan is to wear color, coordinating shoes, and accessories every day this week- all without shopping anywhere but my very own closet.  And I'm starting with a white tank top that I tweaked. (Because white is the opposite of black.)  I was inspired by Lindsey's tutorial at The Pleated Poppy.
You should really brace yourselves, because from now on it's going to be "The Pleated Poppy this," and "The Pleated Poppy that."  When I love someone, I love them. You know?  Just in case you are too lazy to check out the link for Lindsey's tee shirt, I've broken down the process for you.  It's all part of my "anti-lazy-girl-black-wearing" campaign.  First, find a shirt you want to decorate. Then find a shirt you want to destroy.  Cut random free-handed circles in the shirt you want to destroy.  Take care not to mix up the two and destroy the shirt you intended to decorate.  Not that you would do something like that.  But I would, so I'm just saying.
This is the "Pinch shot."  Do you need more explanation than this?  Because I might be too lazy to type that.  I mean, I'm taking baby steps here...
Now sew what you pinched so that when you flip it over and open it up it looks like...
... this.  ooohh.  ahhhh.  (I know.)
And then when you set it on the shirt you are decorating, it will resemble this.  Now stitch it down and then tack down the edges of the circle randomly here and there so that it doesn't flap all over in the wind.  Unless you're into flapping in the wind.  Me- not so much.
Your end result should come out a little like this, and the beauty of this project is that imperfection is showcased in a lovely way, thus you really can't ruin it.

Unless you went with the wrong shirt.

And in that case, you're on your own. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cheap (in a good way) gifts and celebration ideas

Decorating for the fourth of July always sneaks up on my budget, so I don't end up doing much.  This year, however, I really needed  the house to feel festive in spite of budget crunches, because it feels so de-personalized with all of our pictures packed away in a box right now.  Plus, I thought it would boost morale around here. (giggle) So, I dragged out these two white-painted urns I'd been storing since Christmas, and fixed a block of leftover floral foam into the bottom of each one.  Then I purchased some inexpensive flags and stuck them in.  After that, I simply filled a bowl with gravel from our garden area, and sprinkled gravel over the tops.  I'm actually loving this look so much I'm wondering what else I can stick into these urns after July 4th!  (any ideas?)
Inside, I admit, I didn't do much.  But... I did buy a 50 cent pack of colored chalk, and got a little creative with my massive classroom chalkboard! 
Also, my BFF and two of my nieces all have their birthdays around the week of July 4th, so I needed a couple of cute and inexpensive gift ideas for them.  I scoured the Goodwill, and found a couple of frames. 
I thought you'd enjoy a close-up of the Hawaiian beauty in the pressed copper/tin backing.  I debated for a few minutes, on whether or not, I should deface this gorgeous (cough) item.  Gotcha!
I get by with a little help from my friends-  That is, a new can of spray paint!  I have fallen madly, deeply, truly in love with Krylon's Blue Ocean Breeze.  I'm considering painting my patio table with this color.  (Shhh.  Don't tell Adrain.)
First up, my creative and artistic little niece, Madison, is getting her own chalkboard.  (She's not going to care that the whole thing cost me around $7.00 to make, right?  Nah.)  I gave that big 'ol frame a couple of glossy coats of Blue Ocean Breeze and used some more of my leftover chalkboard spray paint (I swear a can lasts forever and a day) to create the back. 
I tied up a few coordinating pieces of chalk, because I know Madison is a girl that truly appreciates things that "go together."  (Darling little thing.)
Then I tied the whole thing up in a filmy blue bow, and placed a sweet little "M" flag into the center. 
You know, I just can't tell you how much I wish I'd had an auntie like me... Bwahhahahhahaha! (I actually had two of them...)
Next up, my delightful niece, Emma.  She's getting a hair barrette frame.  I've already outlined the process for  creating this, here.  Gone is the Hawaiian tin, and ugly brown paint.  In it's place, some lightly distressed Blue Ocean Breeze paint, and royal purple ribbons!
With a sweet green bow hair barrette. 
(All tied up with no where to go... )
Lastly, if you want a super inexpensive decor update, look no further than my new buddy Leen, the Graphics Queen.  She makes vinyl graphics that are out of this world, amazing, and oh-so-affordable too.  (You can view her shop, and many lovely creations, here!) I recently won a giveaway on the Lettered Cottage (Thank you so much Layla!) and Leen did some darling custom work for me.  I can't wait to use it!  She also sent me this letter "B," which I promptly adhered to a boring white dish for an instant transformation.  I. Am. In. Love. Is that wrong?
It looks like our love was meant to be, doesn't it?  The kind of love that lasts forever... (Insert Chicago song, "You're the Inspiration" here, please. Thanks.)
I literally had to sing that song before I could continue typing.  I'm not kidding.  It's not on my ipod, so I had to google it.

Here's a sneak peek at the custom work Leen's created for me!!  Adrain and I watched the movie Braveheart many years ago, and adapted a version of this saying from the movie, as our own.  It stuck.  Some people have a song, we have a saying.  Anyway.... I did the happiest of happy dances when I first laid eyes on it. (My kids just stared at me.  They don't even ask questions anymore.  Sad.)  Leen can make you anything, so be sure and tell her I sent you!  Oh, and just wait til you see what I plan to do with it, as soon as we move.  (Someday!) 

I so hope you've enjoyed my ideas for short cuts and decorating this week! Have a happy July 4th!