Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sea Shell Notebook

 I'm desperately trying to clean out things in the house that we're not using. I've determined not to buy new craft supplies of any kind until I use up most of what I already have. That's leading to a little frustration from time to time, but it's also made me be a little more creative with what is here.

That's where these adorable clam shell notebooks came from. We get stuffed clam shells from the grocery store quite frequently, so I have quite the collection of shells. They're so pretty that I hate to throw them out when I can do something with them.

Inside are card stock pages for writing, drawing or leaving little notes. I'm planning to make several of these for Walk On Art Street in September.

I soaked the shells in water for a few hours to soften them up a little. Then Danny drilled three holes in each shell for me. You can do it by hand with an awl, but it's very time consuming.

Fold an 8.5x11 inch piece of card stock in half lengthwise. Then trace around the outside of a shell to make your template. Cut just inside the line to make it a little bit smaller than the shell.

Mark the holes from the shell onto the template and punch.

Crease each page tightly on the fold so it will lay flat.

Choose a sturdy fiber (I used twine) and start lacing the shells and pages together. Start on the left, cross to the middle of the first pages, then the right side for the next set of pages, then back to the middle, repeating this pattern from one end to the other.

It will look like this.

 Then lace back through the other way, alternating holes. Back through one more time will let you hit all three holes in each set of pages.

Tie off each end with a tight knot.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Turning The World Upside Down

In Chapter 17 of Acts, the disciples have reached Thessalonica and are teaching in the Jewish synagogue. Paul is preaching the word of the Lord, that Jesus is the Christ, having suffered and died, only to rise from the dead. Jews, Greeks and women were all being convicted and converted. They didn’t just pass through town with their heads down, hiding their faith so no one could identify it. They were openly on fire with the need to share the Gospel. Can you name one time in the past week when you’ve been observed in that condition, let alone felt that way?

Verse five explains that the “Jews who believed not” were envious of Paul and Silas’ results, and conspired to attack the house of Jason where the men were staying. In verse six, we learn that the disciples were not there, so they brought Jason and his brethren before the city’s leaders to complain. What a tragic turn of events for these non-believing Jews. They have committed their life’s work to the church, and now Christians are infiltrating their people and undoing their teachings. They feel their loyalty to Caesar has been attacked by these preachers who say Jesus is the true King. They must believe that the disciples’ arrival spells nothing but doom for their beliefs and practices. They have heard about the changes happening in other towns as the word of God is spread throughout the people. They have been told about worship services and gatherings of Christians that must have compared to our modern revivals. And just imagine what would happen if numbers attending their own synagogues fell off as Christ moved into His new converts’ hearts. 

And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also. Acts 17:6

These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also!

“These people,” believers in the true and living God, were clearly present. Once just stories of what was happening outside their own city walls, the reality was now in their midst. The words of truth they were working so hard to deny were now in the ears of their own people. Now think about the early days following your salvation. Remember the fire, the passion, the need to tell others of the saving grace that had moved into your life. This was the fear of the Jewish leaders – that Jesus’ fire, passion and love would burrow into their community one believing heart at a time. It meant disrupting a way of life, going against tradition and thinking the clear thoughts of the truth of Jesus Christ.

Talk about upside down! Our world today cringes at the thought of changing their way of life when it is not their own idea. Tell them that Jesus is the Way, they explain that they’ve gotten by this long without Him. Try to show them that Christ is the Door, and they tune you out. They are living the life they have been told is perfect – live for yourself, enjoy the day and die happy. The Christian life doesn’t even enter into this picture … it is the exact opposite of the world’s concept. It is completely upside down!

That is the same fear that faced the Jewish leaders watching the disciples teaching their followers. They could clearly see the changes taking place. There was no mistaking the attitude adjustments as new Christians began to put God first, then others, then themselves – an upside down view from the world’s perspective. The “Me Generation” is now raising little “Me’s,” little girls who learn about spending money and wearing skimpy clothes instead of how to share the miraculous grace of God.

Today is our opportunity to take the world by storm and turn it upside down! We are in the middle of a lost and dying world every day – shopping, working, enjoying fellowship. How many of the people you interact with today will not be Christians? What are their concepts of a Christian life? Have they even heard the Gospel? More importantly, are they seeing Christ through your words, actions and attitudes?

I want to challenge you to do four very specials things in the upcoming weeks. The first is to take a look at the way you pray for your faith-life. It is our responsibility as Christian women to turn our world upside down. We start this life-changing work by jump-starting our own lives from within. Are you in a tired, old routine at church? Has it become a drag getting ready to go to the church house? Pray the whole day before the service – you can’t do this alone! Ask God to come into your heart anew and set off some spark you haven’t felt for a while. Pray for strength and motivation. Prepare your mind for the Word to be preached. Pray that God will work through the preacher, giving him the words he needs to fill the souls on those pews. Are you looking for something miraculous to happen, and are disappointed when it doesn’t? Maybe you need to be praying with an open heart and mind, with true belief in the power of the Lord.

Second, we are commanded in the Bible to be constantly growing in the Word. We can never stop searching the Bible, reading other women’s views on life and fellowshipping with other Christian women. If we let our lives become stagnant, decide that we’ve learned all there is to learn, we run out of joy to pass on to other women who are also searching. The younger women spoken of in Titus 2:4-5 might not ever hear the words that would turn their world upside down or see life-changing actions if we are not prepared to be examples of Christ’s teachings.

Third, I would ask you to find a younger woman in your church to be a Titus older woman for. I guarantee that there are girls of all ages, even girls in their 50s and 60s, who need a Christian mentor desperately at this moment in their lives. Is there someone who has just learned she is pregnant that would value your support and advice? Have you noticed a teenager who doesn’t join in with the crowd that might enjoy going out to lunch with you some weekend? Maybe a new church member feels like an outsider and would love an invitation for coffee and fellowship. Your interest and consideration can turn another Christian woman’s world upside down if you are willing to go outside your comfort zone and routine.

And lastly, I challenge you to refocus the way you step out into the world. Everyone you come into contact with, Christian or nonbeliever, should be fully aware of your passion for the Lord. The woman checking your groceries at the store this week may never receive a smile or a kind word while she is at work. She may wonder what is so different about you that makes you take time to ask how she is today. Most people may hurry by her, see her as a necessary checkpoint on their daily schedule, but to you, she must be a soul treasured by our God. Imagine hearing of a woman someday who turned the world upside down for God because another woman spoke to her in the checkout line about how much Christ loves her.

These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also! Are you one of them?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Sketch

Sometimes you want your sentiment to be the focal point your card. There might be some other patterns or small images, but the message itself if what you're trying to get across.

Try this sketch for just such a situation.

You'll want to choose a patterned paper and two or three solid colors. Begin with a matted background of solid colors.

Then add a circle of the patterned paper and some tiny embellishments.
For my card, I chose the card stock sticker phrase first, then matched it with a patterned paper and two solid colors of card stock.

The background is three layers because I wanted the black to be on the top, right underneath the phrase. Then I cut a circle of the patterned paper.

It is then accented with eight acrylic dots to fill in the simply spaces.

You can find this card, along with many other paper crafts and wood gifts in our Etsy shop. Come visit today to get some ideas and maybe a special gift.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Weekend Of Walking Worthy

At any given moment, you can find several pairs of shoes at our front door. There are outside shoes, boots, muck boots, flip flops - different footwear for different needs.

But the one thing they have in common is keeping your feet clean and dry while you're out walking. They may all look different and have different purposes, but they're all used the same way.

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:9-10

Make this a weekend of walking worthy. Paul even tells us exactly how to do that so there is no mystery or question. We are to please God, be fruitful in our work and keep learning about God and the things that delight Him.

Whatever footwear you put on this weekend, strive to walk worthy of the Lord. Pray that God will fill you with a desire to know more about Him and have the strength and endurance to keep on walking.

Friday, June 26, 2015

One Way To Organize Your Overwhelming Life

Whether you're a housewife, stay-at-home-mom or working woman, I'm sure you have an overwhelming life. Balancing God, husband, kids, house, work, family, hobbies and the rest of your everyday tasks can wear you down and confuse you to no end. Then you try to organize and plan for the day to come and you just want to jump back in bed and pull the covers over your head.

But what if you forget something? What will happen if that one thing doesn't get done? How can I get done what I need to and want to both? Will I go crazy in the meantime? Is there enough caffeine in the world to keep me going?

The answer begins with prayer and ends with an organized to-do list.

If you've known me or been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I love lists. I love writing them, thinking about them and, most importantly, crossing things off them. Sometimes I even add things I've already done just so I can cross them off. I. Love. Lists.

I have a list of my lists. Is that wrong? Hmm...

Now that I'm working on our Etsy shop from home and not working a full-time job anymore, I'm not sure how I used to get everything done. (The answer is that I didn't.) I also know that my brain gets overwhelmed very quickly, and when it does, I don't do anything. I shut down completely and don't accomplish anything. Add fibrofog to that, and lists are incredibly important to keeping me pressing on.

Having an organized to-do list is vitally important to making sure everything gets done, done efficiently and with time to spare. Let me show you how I do mine, and then you can modify yours to whatever works best in your own life. It will work for the home, a job, a family, outside activities and whatever else your life brings with it.

Start by asking yourself four questions and writing down the answers in this order:
What has to be done in the next hour?
What has to be done today?
What has to be done for tomorrow?
What one thing would you like to get done?

Here's an example from my own to-do list.

Quiet time
Write and schedule tomorrow's blog post
Write tomorrow's devotion
Make card for Etsy
Clean kitchen
Print out lettering for church bulletin board

One time through this pattern will take me 2-3 hours. It makes sure that I accomplish my Bible study, exercise, blog, devotion, Etsy, house and church activity in that order. And I don't have to think about what comes next because I planned it the day before and it's all ready to go.

Then, because I still have two-thirds of a day left, I can repeat this list for the next day. I can work ahead once I've accomplished the necessities for today. So I might get three blog posts, two devotions and two cards done in one day. Or it might be more depending on how long I write and how detailed the cards are.

This may sound a little obsessive, but it's what works for my mind. You can adjust it for your own personal preferences as you'd like. Just keep your list in chronological order: what needs to be done now, today, for tomorrow. This helps keep your day's activities in perspective, and you're less likely to rush later because you didn't get a grocery list made and you're already out running errands.

Right now I have about a week's worth of this list in my iPad. Because it's synced up to my phone, I can carry my list with me everywhere I go. This means I have a shopping list, grocery list, future craft plans list and much more at hand when I need it.

What list-making technique works best for you?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Blackberry Brown Sugar Streusel Cake

As I mentioned earlier this week, all of our blackberry bushes are in berry mode! Every day for a week I've been going out first thing in the morning to see how many bucket-fulls I can gather. I think I've found my true calling in life - berry picker!

I couldn't find a recipe I liked for my first bucket of blackberries, so I created my own. I love the combination of brown sugar and blackberries because they two ingredients compliment each other so well.

Serve this up with a big bowl of ice cream and you're all set. Hopefully you love it as much as we did.

Cake -
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter flavored Crisco
1 egg
3/4 cup almond milk
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups blackberries

Streusel topping -
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter (half a stick cut into tiny pieces)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. Mix brown sugar, Crisco, egg, milk, flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl until creamy.

3. Gently fold in the blackberries

4. Pour batter into baking dish.

5. Combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of batter.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pallet Wood Trays

In an effort to whittle down our enormous pile of pallet wood in the big garage, I asked Danny if he would help me put together a couple of trays. I wanted one for upstairs and one for downstairs, and I wanted something very rustic looking.

I'm so pleased with how our creations turned out!

This project required a few more tools than I know how to use, and Danny was excited to try something different. He measured out three pieces of pallet wood so the cross pieces would cover the nails. 

We were able to use the end pieces that were cut off to make the cross pieces, which utilized almost the entire slat of wood.

Doesn't it look pretty already?

Then we flipped it over to countersink the screws and attach the cross pieces.

This allowed us to use as few screws as possible while still keeping it solid. Then he drilled holes for the handles we would put on when the painting was done.

The Danny used the electric sander to even everything up. Then we did it a second time!

Then my favorite part - painting! I lightly sprayed the first one to give it a white-washed look ...

And the second one in a dark brown. This on is my favorite.

After letting them dry overnight, I put the handles back on.

Not only was this a great project to share with our guests when they come visit, I love anything that Danny and I make together. Wait until he sees the rest of my honey-do list!

Monday, June 22, 2015

What About When God Takes Things Away?

There is a power line that runs diagonally across our property. It stretches across many, many properties in our area, and the power company has a right-of-way underneath the lines.

After many years of not maintaining that area under the lines, they contacted us last week that they'd coming onto the property to trim. I appreciated knowing that in advance, even though they're very hard to miss.

After a few hours of cutting, we all realized that this was going to be a larger project than expected.

There are distance requirements that trees and other growth can be from the power lines, and we were well beyond that since they had neglected it for years. So here came the special machine that eats up the trees and branches as it goes, leaving a brown path in its wake.

From the house, it looked terrible and destructive. The trimmers were taking out foliage all the way up the ridge, following the path of the power lines. Where there were once green, lush trees, there was a dead, open space.

Not to mention that they had taken out my blackberry bushes. These are the ones I photographed for you a few days ago. I was devastated by how much they were taken and how I wouldn't get to harvest those berries. I had my heart set on climbing the ridge, harvest those berries and making some amazing new recipes.

I'm not ashamed to tell you that I cried as I watched the bushes torn out. Hard. Hot tears. Our land was being leveled because someone else hadn't done their part in taking care of it.

I prayed for hours that God would find a way to bring something good from this situation. I was finally able to leave our land in His hands, because it's not really ours anyway, and I came out of my prayer closet with peace.

When Danny got home, he explained that this clearing was actually a good thing. I didn't realize that the land underneath those ground-up limbs and leaves would grow back even more green and lush than it was a week ago. The flat land would be more beautiful and inviting because the overgrowth was cleared out. A year from now you won't even know anything was done - it will look natural and healthy again.

They were also taking out the sticker bushes that attack anyone trying to clean them out. They were even willing to take out a large section of them on the other side of the power lines so Danny wouldn't have to cut them by hand. The trimmers had the right machine for the job, saving hours and days of back-breaking labor in the hot sun. Danny was thrilled that they were open to helping him with the project.

And as a special gift to me, Danny took me on a walk through the forest area on the opposite side of the property from where they were working. As romantic as it was to traipse across our land and just talk, I was in for a surprise, too. In just a few minutes of walking, Danny pointed out dozens upon dozens of blackberry bushes that I didn't even know existed.

I had been so upset about and focused on the handful of berry bushes on the ridge that I had missed the amazing blessing God had for me in other places. And blessings in abundance. I praise the Lord for a husband who knows the desires of my heart and is willing to hold my hand and lead the way.

Instead of the few berries I would have gathered over a few days, I'm able to collect several cups a day over several weeks. Some of the bushes on this side of the ponds are almost done producing fruits, while others are just beginning to lose their flowers. I'll be picking berries for weeks!

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11

God knew what this week would bring, even if I didn't. And I don't have to know. I just have to have faith in the God who has already gone down the path before me. His thoughts toward me will always be of peace - never evil - and bringing me to the place He would have me be.

And blackberries. Lots of thoughts about blackberries.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Sketch

Sometimes you can look at the same papers and embellishments for hours and not see the most beautiful combinations. Instead you feel like throwing it all out and starting over.

Other times you suddenly see the beauty in the mess and love the results.

That's what happened with this sketch. Instead of making a card from a sketch, this week I sketched the card.

It's three blocks with your phrase in the middle. They can all be the same size or a mixture of sizes for something even more interesting.

Mat the background once or twice - it's entirely up to you.
For my card, I used two papers that I've used a hundred times for a hundred different cards, but this time they looked completely different.

I didn't use a mat, just the patterned paper as the background.

Then I used 3D glittered stickers as the top and bottom images, matted on pink marble paper and then on white.

In the middle is my hand-stamped phrase, and the perfect Scripture is tucked inside.

This card, along with many other paper crafts and wood gifts can be found in our Etsy shop. Come visit today for more ideas and some great gifts.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Weekend Of Comparison

If you spend any time at all with other sisters in Christ, you begin to compare yourself to them.

Wow, she reads 10 chapters of Scripture every day! I want to start doing that, too!

She writes devotions every day and gives them out to her church women. I wish I could do that.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if I was asked to speak at a ladies meeting like she has been?

She's so wonderful with her husband and children. If only I knew what her secret was, I'd be just like her.

Just like her...

God didn't call you to be just like another woman, no matter how spiritual or wonderful she might seem. He calls you to be like Christ.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. 1 Peter 2:21-25

Make this a weekend of comparison - but not with the people around you. Compare your life to the life Christ left as an example to you. He is the only mirror and benchmark we need to live holy, glorifying lives.

Follow in His steps, not anyone else's.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Drama Of Puppy Baths

 Puppy baths are a dramatic time in our home. Three puppies with three different personalities make it both fun and tiring, but the finished product is definitely worth it.

Bailey, our oldest dog, has to be extensively groomed before she can be bathed. She's part black lab and part chow, so she has a very thick under coat. While being groomed, Molly comes to offer support - until she falls asleep.

I can usually get at least a bag full of hair out of her before it's all said and done. She loves this part and will gladly turn and flip and do whatever I ask, just so I'll keep brushing her. I'm sure it feels nice to carry about a pound less hair all over.

Bailey is also the only one who will get into the tub by herself. If you let her know that it's time, she'll walk right in and wait for you.

Happiest. Dog. Ever.

This time, Molly had to be right next to the tub the entire time. She wanted to be in the middle of the action for some reason.

Sadie just turned 13 in April, and she's definitely feeling her age. I have to lift her and put her in the bathtub, which is difficult when she weighs so much. Please note the pitiful look on her face.

Also note that the face gets more pitiful when she's wet.

And she hates to be dried. I do the best I can with a couple of towels and then let her go. At least her ears and tail go back up!

Molly is my challenge. She doesn't like that it's so slippery, so next time I'm going to put a wet towel in the bottom of the tub so she's not slip sliding away.

Danny was able to get her in and cleaned up, but it still wasn't her favorite time of day. But all three are squeaky clean and ready for a new day. At least until it rains again and they get muddy again.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Salt And Light Shelf

Some of my favorite verses from the Sermon on the Mount are about salt and light. They speak of the testimony were are supposed to have when we go out into the world each day.

After studying this passage for several days, I wanted to have something by our front door that would remind everyone who comes and goes about seasoning the world around them and letting their light shine before men.

When we were given several wood pieces recently, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. This shelf now sits just to the left of the front door, the perfect place to be a reminder of Jesus' command to His followers.

To start, I typed the words into my computer's word processing program and sized them to fit between the pegs. Then I flipped the image ... 

... and printed it on wax paper. Click here for more detailed directions.

My favorite projects are the ones Danny and I do together, and I needed him for several parts of this one. Once they were transferred to the wood, Danny used a wood burning pen to trace over the ink letters, making it permanent in the shelf.

Then he cut a small square of wood just smaller than the width of the shelf. He drilled a hole in the top the exact size of the light bulb, then screwed it in.

From there, all I had to do was hot glue the salt shaker and light bulb stand to the top of the shelf.