Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Not pleased with myself

If you are on my Facebook page or have been within 10 feet of me this month, you probably know two major things about me. 1. I have been busy to the point of exhaustion  2. I was put in charge of the large area decorations for my church's Vacation Bible School. You know these things because I have not exactly been handling them with peaceful grace. It has been more like with loud grumblings. Why? Because I have stress and control issues. I don't like being in charge because things go wrong, and in order to handle the idea that things go wrong, I make plans to compensate until I am literally sick with worry. Rocky called me out on it a couple weeks ago. He asked the hard question, "Why don't you trust yourself?" The ugly answer is because these things rarely turn out good enough to please me.

Galatians 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Oh....oh.....

I am a servant of Christ. He put this before me, and He will see me through it. Not only can I do what He needs me to do, but I can also do it joyfully. I don't need to be pleased with the finished product because it is not for me. It is for God and for the children who come into our church that week. If an old lady in the church doesn't like how it looks, if the pastor had something different in mind, or if (and much more likely) it isn't up to the impossible standard I set for myself, then the world will not end. If I do the best I can for God and to light up the imagination of the children, then the real standard has been met.
So, if you see me the next couple of weeks and I am grumbling or frazzled looking, do me a favor and ask me, "Are you remembering who needs to be pleased?"

On a side note, this has also given me an excuse to learn to makes these awesome 11 inch paper flowers. I love them, but could never justify making them until now. 


Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Wandering

You know that feeling when you step out of Walmart and you can't for the life of you remember where you parked? You just wander to where you usually park hoping to hear the car beep when you hit your lock button on the key fob. Then you remember that you parked by the other door, so you trek across the whole lot only to see that everyone in town who has a car the same make and color as you has come to Walmart today. If you are my kind of crazy, you next get a fleeting thought that maybe someone stole it, and when the police come to help you, and ask when the last time you remember seeing your car, you will have to say, "Just before I left the house". Right before that fear takes hold is usually when I find it, and hope no one saw me wandering around the parking lot, because heaven forbid a stranger see me act crazy. I save that kind of behavior for friends and family.
 
In church, you hear often that we need to focus more on God. I just had trouble focusing on a very large vehicle, and you want me to try and focus on the unseen? That, my friends, is a whole different kind of wandering. One of my favorite lines from Lord of the Rings is when Gandolf says, "Not all who wander are lost." I know Tolkien meant it differently, but I am so thankful for how it also applies within Christianity. 

In Matthew 18:12-14 the Bible says that when we wander from God, He drops everything to bring us back as a shepherd would a lost lamb. Verse 14 says, "In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish." How great is that! If we get distracted and don't remember how to get back, God will be there yelling at us "Hey! Over here!!!" Sometimes he may even send a friend to walk you over. It is such a comfort to know that even when I wander, I'm not lost to God.
Now, if we could only get Walmart to have valet parking, 

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Reading Lesson

This past week I was gently challenged to make an intentional effort to focus some of my writing on God, and to do so in a public way. I often do write down things that God has laid on my heart or a new (to me) insight, but rarely do I publish it to the blog. The question of "Why not?" was asked. My answer was a list of doubt filled questions. Who would want to read it? Who am I to tell people this stuff? What do I know in comparison to the others who are more qualified and better practiced in expressing things in a God honoring way? I'm nothing special.
This is me ignoring all of that.

"Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My father will love them, and we will come to them, and make our home with them."
John 14:23

I have spent a great deal of time not enjoying reading. Being dyslexic makes it a chore at times. Books assigned to read in school were awful. (Red Badge of Courage in 10th grade, really?) Trying to read the classic King James two column reference Bible was a nightmare. Page distractions, hyphenated words, and that awkward column down the middle filled with some sort of reference code designed to keep people like me from ever figuring it out (not really, but it feels that way at times)  

In my late 20''s I realized that my kid's reading level was about to pass my own, and I needed to be able to read what she was reading. This time it clicked, and I got hooked on a good read.

Some positive peer pressure shamed me into picking up Pride and Prejudice. It took me FOREVER to get through. The language was almost foreign. It stretched me like nothing had before. I had to watch the BBC series to really get some some of it. I was crazy proud when I finished. About a year later, I decided to read it again, and this time it took me less than a week to read it, and I caught so much more than before. I was use to the rhythm of it and had a lot less to look up. I picked it up again recently because I needed a familiar and beautiful read to quiet my busy mind. It went from being the biggest reading struggle of my life to being comfort food.
My biggest shame as a constantly failing person who wants to follow Christ is that I have not read through the Bible. Sure, I've hit most of it. I know all the highlights, and I've studied through several of the books, but I don't read it like I should at all.  Not even close. I still struggle. The begets are where my dreams of this feat usually die. It dawned on me that it is because I have never challenged myself to get through it like all the classic novels I have been pushing through these last few years.
The first time through will be hard. The second time through will be eye opening. The third time will make God's word home. I've been a Christian the vast majority of my life, but this is the first time I am excited by the idea of reading the entire Bible. It took me a full year to make it through one of Tolkien's works, so I'm afraid to set a timeline for me to finish this. Let's just say that when I do, you'll hear about it. Not out of pride for myself, but out of pride for what God will have seen me through.


If you also struggle with the usual format the Bible is printed in, you may want to look into this one. The ESV Reader Bible. It is written like any other book. No more red letters, breaks in lines every fourth word, or tiny distracting number everywhere. I'm sure it makes a terrible study Bible, but for straight reading, it may just be brilliant. It is on back order now so I must not be the only one who thought so.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

10 Things NOT to Donate

I spent the day helping set up for a garage sale to benefit my church's mission projects. For the most part, the items donated by church members were great. They were clean, in working order, and from this decade (mostly). However, there was another stack. This stack came from one county over where a school had attempted a similar sale only to have it rained out. They generously offered to let us have everything. It is while going through these things that I realized even though you should not look a gift horse in the mouth, if said horse has colic and a really bad limp, I think it is fair to question the motives of the giver.
With that I give you 10 things that you really should never donate

10. Home decor from a different century. I promise that no one is sitting around wishing they could find blue and mauve country kitchen valances. 
9. The free flip flops they give you when you have a pedicure
8. Well loved stuffed animals. As cute as they may have been new, at some point they become gross and creepy and need to go away
7. Clothes with holes. If you would throw it out, so would we
6. Clothes with stains, unintended paint splotches, and especially something that looks like your grandmother might have been buried in it. Please refer back to the second part of number 7.
5. Anything with duct tape holding it together. I kid you not, there was a hedge trimmer duct taped to a painter's poll. Your red neck inventions, no matter how genius, do not need to be donated.
4. A poorly framed picture of a dead cat (RIP Fluffers 1985-2005 you had a good run)
3. Anything and everything that might be considered a ladies unmentionable. 
2. Used men's underwear. This goes along with the last one, but I felt it needed it's own line to reinforce that nothing that has touched your bare behind needs to go to charity. EVER.     

*Drumroll*
The number 1 thing you should never ever under any circumstances put into a bag you are donating to charity is....
 A USED BAND-AID!


Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go shower and possible get my shots updated. 


PS: If you live in my town, come see the sale tomorrow. We threw out all the scary things and ended up with a lot of cool things. 8 to 3 Friday and Saturday at 1220 Laurelwood Trail, 30041
All of it goes to help our mission churches.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

You're a Wizard JD

It's not everyday that your young man turns eleven. That day came last month. Thanks to pinterest and a stash of parchment paper, I planned to make JD a Hogwarts acceptance letter for his birthday. It turned out pretty sweet. I applied the same basic style to make party invitations. For favors I made these easy snitches from this tutorial on Epbot.

Next, I wanted to make wands. I stumbled onto these bamboo chopsticks and decided that with a little bit of clay and paint could turn them into wands. The ones I found were much like these on Amazon.
This turned out to be so easy and awesome that I had to share a DIY post.
Cut off a chunk of clay and roll it into a ball warming it up with your hands to make it easier to shape into a handle.

Instead of wraping it around the chopstick, push the ball down on top shaping it downward. This will prevent fussing with smoothing a seam.

Now have fun with it. I twisted some, added subtle lines, a bold swirl, I even pressed tulle into one to form a snake like pattern. Use your imagination and any random thing you think might look good. You can redo it as many times as you want until you bake it.
I had a set of metal letter stamps, and used them to put JD's name on his to make it extra special. I couldn't resist making one  for myself as well.

Per the clay instructions, I baked them for a half hour at 275. When they cooled, I used a chocolatey brown to paint the whole thing. It took two coats to cover. At that stage they looked much like tootise rolls (or poop, depending on who you asked).
After the brown dried, I applied a layer of black paint, and then used a papertowel to wipe most of it off before the paint dried. The black paint settles into all those texture marks you made before and really brings out the details to make them look more like carved wood.
I used a short flower vase with marbles in the bottom as an easy place to let them dry. Plus, it looked cool. 

For an extra magical touch I used a little of this copper paste stuff that I had on hand. I used a paper towel to buff on just a tad, and only on the handle, to give it an slight shimmer.
The last step is to use a clear satin sealer to help the layers of paint all stay intact. 
The only hard part about all this was waiting on coats to dry. 

If you are feeling adventurous, Epbot has an expanded version of this, only her wands light up.
Extra tips:
Thin irregular lines that are not deep give the handle a more realistic wood look. 
Before you put it in the oven, grip the handle for a second. Careful not to do it too tight or you'll leave finger prints. You want it just enough to make it fit in your hand. Slight dimples where your thumb or forefinger might rest. It gives it an added feeling of it fitting to you.


Monday, February 16, 2015

I'm Back!

It has been a while since I've posted. Life in general has been exhausting. In spite of our trying to keep the family from becoming over scheduled, we managed to do just that for the past couple of months. There have been basketball games, concerts, and so, so much homework. The long weekend and end of the basketball season has given us all a chance to catch our breath. Then makes it possible for me to post my annual Valentine's recap.
We no longer try to celebrate the holiday. There is just no point to it. Our anniversary is next month, and that is really much more special. So, aside from putting together a little thing for JD to hand out in school. I ignored all things Valentine related. It was kind of nice. It was certainly cheaper and less frustrating.
We woke up Saturday morning with Rocky on day 3 of a migraine, the kind that makes you feel sick all over. Nix had sinus problems and had lost her voice. As our record goes, it was shaping up to be a good one. We had a pajama day, watched movies, and generally did nothing. I made dinner, and was starting to feel smug about missing out on the usual tragedy. Then it happened. My stomach turned on me. There was gastrointestinal distress that I will not paint a full picture of. Rocky was still trying to get over the headache, and needed sleep. As is our tradition, we slept in separate rooms so he could sleep and I could watch tv until I felt better.
The next day came. We both had jobs to do at church that morning, so we went to get ready. Thankfully, Rocky was feeling better. I, on the other hand, .... well, I wasn't able to leave the house. Nix was also feeling yucky still, so we had a Marvel marathon laying in bed for a good bit of the day. I only keep the church nursery twice a year (bi-annual baby fix), and I missed it. It was a light week, and they were covered, but now I"m going to have to find another way to get baby snuggles, and the cat is not being as helpful with this as I would like.
Later that night, a friend had a similar streak of bad luck that ended with her husband needing stitches. Someone accused me of sharing the curse, and as I was typing that we hadn't had any bloodshed this year, Rocky sliced open the back of a couple of fingers. There was blood. Lots of blood. One cut landed on the folds of a knuckle on his right hand. It took a good chunk of skin. It was gross. Because of the location and nature of the wound, it didn't want to stop bleeding and he couldn't patch it. When I put fresh bandages on it this morning it still looked new. It will not be healing quickly.
Rocky and the kids both have today off. The weather was suppose to be snow but it is just really depressing icy rain. Because of accidentally not taking enough vacation days last year, Rocky has tomorrow off too. We had planned on a really fun day out with just the two of us. Now we wait on the school board to decide if the ice to rain ratio is worth cancelling school over.
The good part about all of this is that we have all laughed a lot. Even when we weren't feeling well, we would declare things such as "It's not Valentine's until somebody bleeds!" I am warping my children. I apologize to their future spouses.
*UPDATE*
Schools are out and so is our power. This is shaping up to be a much more serious ice storm than we thought. The kids are camping out in the den by the fire. If not for the concern of all the trees creaking and transformers blowing, this would be kind of fun. 
Funny bit: the smoke detector beeps when the power is out. If you take the battery out, it beeps louder. Rocky is now in a fit of desperation trying to figure out how to disconnect it from whatever demon is powering the beep. It is now beeping faster and I am laughing harder. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Potion Master Box

I needed to put together a quick birthday present for one of Nix's friends this week. Being that she is a friend of my kid, this isn't your typical Sweet 16, so I got to have fun. A few years ago we made an epic zombie themed box of candy. I'm still kicking myself for not making more detailed pictures. I wrapped it in brown paper with cation tape and painted my hand red to leave"bloody" hand prints on it.

The crossover between that party and this one are low, so I recycled the idea but with a Harry Potter twist to suit the birthday girl.
I started with a simple wooden box from Hobby Lobby (cheap thanks to coupons). I could get all fancy and paint the box, but if it were me, I'd want the box raw so I could paint it myself. This girl comes from an artistic family (as did the last one), so raw it is.

For the contents I wandered around Target for candy that spoke to me, and followed it up with a trip to the English food section of our Publix. Here is what I ended up with and how I labeled them.


The two small glass jars were also from Hobby Lobby and also very inexpensive. I have just over $15 invested in this. 
If you look closely, you might notice a couple of non-Harry items in there. I thought a couple of nods to other British fantasy/ sci-fi would be fun. 

Here is a close up of the tea and the turkish delight.



The finished box inside.



And after wrapping. I googled a still shot of the book in the movie and did a fair recreation of the inscription to give it that added touch that no one but me will notice.


This was fun, and quick, but took a bit of creative thinking. There are a lot of themes this could get adapted to fit, and isn't really gender or age specific. The only catch is that you need to check for allergies before you buy the candy.