Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fancy Framed Scripture

This is such an easy project I almost didn't post it. But I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. It is my goal to have Scripture in every room of my house-but not just generic "as for me and my house" verses. I wanted things that particularly pertained to our family. These verses are actually the theme for the women's Bible study I lead, but they are longtime favorites of mine.

Simple-CHEAP- supplies:

1. Frame-$0.95 from Walmart. Not clearance, regular price.

2. Scrapbook paper- hurry, they are 50% at Hobby Lobby through today-$0.59 for both.

3. Ribbon-again 50% off at the HL, isn't t it always? Could have used what I had on hand, but what fun would that be?$2

4. Buttons (optional) I love these little one color containers from Michael's. I used the red ones for my mobile. $1

Total cost: less than $5 if you purchase exactly what I did
Don't forget your trusty hot glue gun- isn't mine sad? But still very functional!

I was not going to blog about this, so I did not take photos of the first steps. I selected my Scripture and set it up in Word. (I copied and pasted directly from Biblegateway!) Play around a little- you will want to move your margins in so that you get it the right size. My computer actually shows it in actual size, so I just held my frame glass up to make sure it worked. Then I chopped a sheet of scrapbook paper to printer paper size and ran it through my printer. Easy!

I then glued a strip of ribbon across the top. You can't get too fancy, because it won't fit in the frame, but ribbon is flat enough. I folded it to the back and glued to make it look clean.

Popped it in the frame, and you could stop here, but why?

I wanted an extra 3D accent. This is the same flower I used for my notebook, but for your viewing pleasure I will explain it in further detail. Like my expensive tracing tools? Yes, that is a Tupperware lid and a prep cup from Walmart. Depending on the size of your flower, you need two circles: a larger one, and a slightly smaller one. You could also do all the same size, too.

Before I forget, I wanted my flowers to be double-sided. I glued the pink paper to the back of the dotted one before I cut my circles. You could purchase double sided paper, or just skip this step. That will leave some plain white areas, but it it still cute.

Then I hacked them out with my "fancy" scissors. I say hacked, because there is no need to be precise. Then fold them in half.

It is called a box top flower because you put them together like you would fold a cardboard box flaps to keep it closed. Once you get it together, put a small dot of glue in the "corners" to hold it together. Fluff the petals and glue a button in the middle!

I used the second ribbon to cut out some petals. I hotglued the finished flower in the corner and presto! A finished personalized Scripture verse. You can make one to match every room in your house.

It reminds me of Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."

Makes it a little easier, huh?

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

3 Year Blog-O-Versary and an Update

So, I was reading some of my blog posts from when I first started blogging (if you are ever interested my first post is here) and realized that Iwas much better about actually talking about my life in the beginning. That may or may not interest you, but it was really great to have those memories recorded. There was a number of things I had forgotten about (particularly this hilarious incident involving a strange cat) and I realized that this is a good place to see where I was growing. August is the month I started blogging, and believe it or not, this marks THREE years!

I also realized something else (you can look to your right on the blog and see this, but I will recap in case you are lazy and don't want to scroll around the page).

In 2008, I blogged 46 times. In 2009, it was 57. In 2010, 66. This year, 52 times (53 including this post). That may sound good, because each year it has increased. However, let me remind you that I blogged 46 times in the first 5 months! That means I averaged posting right around 2x a week in the first year, and only about 1x a week the next year.

Part of that is easy to explain. Joel deployed in September 2008, and initially I had more time for blogging. Then I started adding things to my schedule and it got crazy. It hasn't stopped. But this is important to me, so I am choosing to make it a priority. And also to record some of the smaller, but just-as-important-to-me happenings.

So, in the name of status updates here is what I have been doing:

1. Physical therapy. Three times a week. Every week. I love it-not kidding. It is relaxing to me to get to simply follow instructions for an hour and nothing else. It is a long, boring story but the short version is: my knee cap is out of place, and I have swelling in the tissue underneath it (and the bursae, for those of you who know what that means). It was causing me quite a bit of pain, and the therapy is really helping. I may have a tear in my meniscus (part of the knee that helps it to move freely), we will find out for sure when I have an MRI in September.

2. Joel is getting out. He will wear his uniform for the last time on August 30th *tear*, followed by about 7 weeks of leave. We have a multitude of praises: two years of commissary privileges, six month extension on health insurance, and last but not least, he will get both a lump sum and (small, but still praise-worthy) monthly payments.

3. He has decided to attend school to become a mechanic. I am thrilled, mostly because I really feel like the Lord is clearly leading in all of this. We still have miles to go before we sleep, but this is a big first step.

4. In other, less life-changing news: Jocelyn has learned how to ride her bike without training wheels! It took her about an hour-she is amazing! Now, every day she begs to ride it. PE-check!

5. I will be starting my second year leading our moms' group at church. I am still completely unqualified, thankfully I serve an amazing God who equips faithfully. I am anxious to focus more attention on that this year, I have tons of ideas and hope I can conjure up some follow-through.

6. We are getting ready to start first grade with Jocelyn. Nothing in my life daunts me quite like homeschooling-I still feel like I am just play-acting, not actually teaching. It is a learning process, and Carson is insistent on starting preschool, so I will probably dabble in that as well. I have almost all my curriculum lined up, I just need to get a schedule together.

That is definitely not "all" we are doing, there is plenty of couponing, and photo-booking, and blog-reading and I am dipping my toes into Pinterest (can anyone say "time-suck"?). Not so much cooking or cleaning. I hope to get something crafty going soon, I am kind of missing it. We are enjoying doing nothing with Joel, lots of 1/2 price floats at Sonic, and going to the movies, and the park-that kind of thing. It has been a good summer, however, I am looking forward to seeing what the next couple of months bring. And doing more blogging!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Happy Ending Starts in the Middle

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. She was beautiful, sweet, and kind. She grew up in a wonderful, loving family. She went to college and met a wonderful, kind, handsome man while at school. They both obtained degrees, and then had a wonderful wedding. They bought a picturesque home and always kept it clean. Not too long after they had beautiful, sweet, obedient children together and lived to a ripe, old age.

Doesn't that just sound like the perfect story? It is the, for many, the representation of what the "perfect" life would look like. I, personally, wouldn't know for sure-having never come close to anyone's ideal of perfection. However, even though it seems to have all the elements required for Utopia, it is a little boring.

It certainly isn't a story that I would want to read again and again. There is no climax, no action, no "hold-your-breath" moments. There is no angst, no cliff-hanger, nothing that leaves you yearning to find out how it all ends.

Because you don't really care. You are in no way invested in the characters, or the story. You can't identify with them-who lives such an idyllic life? You wouldn't really want to know them, or be friends with them-it would just make you jealous and insecure.

But why is this always what most of us claim to desire? Maybe this is what we really want, but somehow, I have reason to doubt the veracity of that.

And where is God in all of this anyway?

We serve an amazing God: author of wonders and miracles beyond our comprehension, the jaw-dropping, nail-biting kind. The Red Sea dividing, time-changing, food-multiplying kind. The climatic kind. The story-changing kind. If there is no antagonist, there can be no hero.

The stories that we really admire the most aren't the "perfect" kind. They are the ones of courage, faith, hope in the face of certain defeat. We devour tales of Ruth, Esther, Rahab, Corrie Ten Boom, Beth Moore. We delight in their success against the odds. We love the stories that shake us to tears, biting our lips until the conflict is resolved.

We love these heroines for the trials they have faced, for the imperfections they have, and for the faith that they cultivate. They, and so many others, have confronted seemingly insurmountable odds, and still they have persevered and arrived triumphant on the other side.

But we claim to not want that in our own lives. We want the fairytale; but we don't want to face any dragons. No evil stepmothers, or wicked witches, please. We want the ball gowns, and the palace, and of course, the handsome prince; but we would prefer to never deal with frogs, or poverty or -heaven forbid- any cleaning!

We want to be counted with the women of Hebrews 11, but we don't want to deal with barrenness, or death, or war, or famine.

We want the dream without the drama, the glamour without the gore. In essence, we want to skip the parts that make the story so meaningful.

What if we realized it is the hard parts that cause us to be drawn to these tales? What if our hard parts are what draw people to us? What if-just consider- it is my imperfections, my hard times, my trials, that allow the light of Christ to shine most brightly in my life?

"If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness."
2 Corinthians 11:30

"He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. " 2 Corinthians 12:9

Why do we want to skip the hard parts? Because we are selfish, and human and discontented. Because we are fearful and lack faith. I don't want to desire to go through life without trial or hardship. That is the illuminating part of the story-you really discover a character's motivation, their true worth, and what they are really made of, when they have to persevere through trials.

No one asks for hard times. But we need to recognize that the "testing of your faith develops perseverance" (James 1:2). And to live a life that says:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. "

There isn't really a happy ending if there hasn't been been some hard times in the interim between the beginning and the finish. It is that stark contrast that makes us appreciate the satisfaction of hard-won contentment. It is the comparison of dark to light that really helps us see that the happy ending is really only happy if there was a little sadness, a little hardship, a little unforeseeable obstacle, to make it all worthwhile. Really the happy ending starts before we can even see where this is all going...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pueblo Children's Musuem

We joined several of our friends on Tuesday for a trip to the Buell Children's Museum. We had never been before, and I was sure we would have a good time, just because we were with such good friends. However, I was surprised by how terrific the museum was! It is in the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center, and it was really art focused. That made it a huge hit with Josie!

They really out did themselves, I thought, with keeping to a central theme. The theme changes with the seasons, and while we were there it was "islands". I think it is great that they change things up-we will definitely want to return when there is a different one. This was a table that had been turned into a "fishing pond"- just simple magnetic fish puzzles with poles, but the number of puzzles and all the glittery streamers made it special.

This was a craft station where there were all the supplies to make a "treasure chest" out of a VCR tape case. I thought that was an ingenious way to recycle! I am not a crafty mom- I don't really plan craft projects for my kids. It was great to have all the things we needed to make fun projects already set out for us!

One of Carson's favorite things was just the little sand table. There was plenty of toys to use, but he preferred just pushing it up against the side to make a "castle". Again, this is something we don't have at home (and never will, if you know how I feel about sand!) that it was really fun to use.

I thought this was an adorable example of the museum's creativity. All the contributors' photos were from their childhood-too cute, since it is a children's museum! And I absolutely loved all the old photos.

There were supplies to make boats and float them in the little water table. Carson was fascinated endlessly, getting his boat to move by blowing on , and splashing the water. Such a simple activity, but I didn't have to buy the pieces, or worry about my floor getting flooded!

The art queen was in her element. She literally completed one of every project and there was about 12 different things to do! She made a cute visor-it looked like a watermelon.. I was so happy that she could be creative to her heart's content and I didn't have to clean up the mess!

Carson did a little painting-with coffee! Another super simple project, but it was fun to read the info they had tying coffee in with the island theme. I don't think the kids appreciated that part, but I thought it was interesting. It might have been a little more impressive to older kids.

Jocelyn made fast friends with one of the museum curators. The lady was so nice and followed Josie around helping her with the projects. She was very friendly and it gave me time to help Carson do some things.

Personally, my favorite part was this kinetic sculpture. It is hard to appreciate in a photo, but the balls did all kinds of whirling, and jumping and clanging- it was really fascinating. Any art that was in the museum had placards with information about the artists- and some even showed work from their childhoods! Another neat detail that tied it all together.

Jocelyn showing off her visor, tie-dyed hair flower, and "grass skirt". She brought home an armload of her crafts-and loved every minute of it!

This was a cool interactive science area where the kids could use tubes and blocks to build a ball ramp. I wish I had photographed the totally great cardboard palm trees- they were amazing! The kids used them lean their tubes against, it was neat to watch them try their theories to see what worked.

I would highly recommend a visit there- especially if your kids are between 2-8. There was so much to do; we were there for over three hours, and I am sure the kids would have stayed longer! It is small enough you can easily see your kids, I hate feeling like they are going to get lost (or worse). Everything was perfectly kid-friendly, and it was so inexpensive ($3 for kids and $4 for adults). I would much rather spend an afternoon there than at the movies!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Review: Desiring God

I won't lie. I am a fast reader. But this book took me a looong time to read. Well over a month. There were several things to consider when assessing why it took me so long. First, this is not a fast read kind of book .The subject matter is deep, and Piper is not a breezy, accessible to the masses kind of author. That is fine. I don't think that always choosing the literary equivalent of cotton candy is the best route,and it definitely does nothing to broaden the mind. So, keep in mind, that this is a book best read in a quiet place with plenty of time for reflection.

I don't have anything against challenging material. However, the second reason that it took so long is that I despise books with extensive footnotes. I have never read any book (barring textbooks) that had as many footnotes as this one. I felt like I spent more time on some pages trying to find my place after yet again squinting to read the smaller, numbered font at the bottom than I did actually processing the words! Piper is obviously well-read, but his continual quoting of other's works-whether to support or contrast his own- became distracting after a while. It is definitely worse in the first half of the book than the second. I am not one for reading legal treatises; I don't need him to "prove" himself and his views quite so vigorously. It may seem petty to dislike this aspect, but to me it really said something about the author. He also used extensive quotes from other authors (Jonathan Edwards, C.S. Lewis, and even quoted himself from other books he had written) and it felt like he was arguing his point when I wasn't even taking issue with what he said!

Lastly, I don't need to be entertained all the time. However, there is a fine line between "entertaining" one's readers at the expense of valuable content, and maintaining their interest. I was just not able to focus on some of what he was saying because it was too intellectual. A book written for the average person should use layman's terms, and a good bit of analogy to aid explanation. Piper often seemed more interested in showcasing his knowledge of early Bible scholars and formal church language than actually interpreting spiritual concepts for the everyman.

All that said, I do not discourage you at all from reading this book yourself. There is much that is profitable. I preferred the latter half of the book (once I moved past his dry, sometimes painful explanations) and out of all the chapters found the last two to be the best. He has very strong views on missions, and suffering, in the church. I felt that he gave me much to think about.

His major claim throughout the book is that a Christian's life is to be spent in pursuit of happiness in God, and through Him. He contends that modern Christianity posits that ours is to be a life of drudgery and monotonous service-if we pursue happiness it is heathen, we are to "deny ourselves and take up our crosses". He does see this to be the case, and links our pursuit of happiness to major areas of Christianity: marriage, money, missions, prayer and so on. We can find true happiness in the Creator of happiness if we only know where to look.

I think the biggest reason that this book did not appeal to me is that it was written in such a manner that the author firmly believes that the reader does not agree with (or know enough about) Piper's points and must be made to see the error of his ways. I agreed with much of what he had to say, and to have to labor under his assumptions that I was un-enlightened and backward in my thinking was a little frustrating. However, if you are willing to look past his negative approach, (a little odd for a book that is all about happiness and joy in Christian living) I believe you will be challenged, and if nothing else gain a greater respect for many of the great Christians who have, through out the centuries, created a beautiful history that does much to illuminate our paths today.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book, in exchange for my unbiased review, by the publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mini Doll Houses

My crafty sister comes up with the best ideas. She had the perfect project for the girls to do while the boys went to Medieval Times. Jocelyn loves to paint (although I don't know a 5 year-old girl that doesn't!) and she also loves dollhouses. Robyn had seen these CD rack dollhouses on Etsy and she figured out how to replicate them.

We purchased the CD holders at Michael's. With 40% off coupons they were only about $6! We also purchased a myriad of little wooden pieces to make the people, furniture and accessories. The total for each house was about $10 after all the pieces.

The painting was a huge hit! The houses offered lots of possibilities for customization. The girls definitely took advantage of that. Jocelyn's house was primarily pink-her current favorite color.

We let them paint all their own pieces. The variety of wooden things was amazing. We found the bowls and little bottles (I was thinking for milk- Jocelyn immediately said soda!). The pegs were just right for people-big ones for the adults, little ones for the kids.

My sister creating bedding. She really comes up with the best ideas!

We took the flat rectangles and some spools to make tables. It worked out beautifully.

We also used the rectangles with some little "muffin" peg pieces to make beds. One of my tiny contributions was making teeny pillows for the beds. They were so small! I stuffed them with parts of a cotton ball- I didn't even use an entire one for both pillows!

This is the one of the packages from the wooden pieces, just so you can have an idea.

The girls were so intent on their art. It was funny to see all the special little touches that they added to make each piece their own. They each re-created their own family with the peg people.

Gillyan's was a little more polished than Jocelyn's. She even added a little bald spot to the back of her dad doll's head! We rolled over laughing about that one.

Aren't they so cute? You can kind of see the little pieces I was talking about earlier. They were multi-purpose- the girls also made them into cupcakes and muffins. That is "Gillyan"- don't you like her stylish bob?

My sister used scrapbook paper for the custom carpet. That is the "TV" over in the corner.

The couches were a custom piece by Uncle Steve. Aunt Robyn covered them with paper. I think Jocelyn's whole house kind of looks like a piece of modern art.

The finished products! Jocelyn's house is full of color.

Gillyan's house is a little more put together- you can even see the tiny cupcakes on the table. It was an adorable project. I was surprised at how easy it was-it made me want to make my own! The girls loved being able to make their own design choices, and Jocelyn has played with it for hours since we brought it home. It is a great memento for Josie from our trip to North Carolina.


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