The Forgotten Art of Being Yourself

If you have been around a four-year old for any length of time, you soon come to realize their expertise in question asking…endless, relentless questions.  As an introvert, I am amazed at my extrovert daughter’s capacity to ask a barrage of questions over such a long period of time, only stopping for minutes at a time to “reload”.

Here are a few of the questions that stick out in my mind:

  • Why did my pet ants decide to go to heaven instead of making their tunnels?
  • How did I watch Ipad when I was in your tummy?
  • When is the cheeseball I planted outside going to grow into a cheeseball tree?

I can’t say I’m always attentive to these questions, with my answers often ranging from “I don’t know” to “why don’t you ask Daddy.”

However, there’s one question that would stop me in my tracks…

Can you imagine your child asking you “Mommy, am I enough…Am I smart enough?  Am I good enough?  Am I pretty enough?”  What would your answer be?

No doubt, you would stop what you are doing to reassure her she is more than enough – that you love her just the way she is and more than she can possibly imagine.

Now imagine how God would feel if we asked him the same question – “Am I enough?” 

Now, let’s stop and think about this for a minute.  If you are a parent, think how much you love your child and try to grasp the fact that God loves you exponentially more than that.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John3:1).”  

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When you look in the mirror in the morning what do you see?  Do you see a woman who isn’t ___(fill in the blank)___enough or do you see a woman with tremendous value because she is loved and cherished by her Creator.

God loves us more than we can possibly fathom, no matter how many times we yell at our kids or make snarky political comments on Facebook.  God is not waiting to love some future version of ourselves.  He is absolutely thrilled with you in this very minute.  He loves you just as you are –  fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139) and cheers you on daily.

Often social media is a barricade we can hide behind so the true world can’t see how unhinged we really are. The window we peer though into each other’s personas is rose-tinted.   No one shares their insecurity and fears about not being enough and the God-given peculiarities that make them uniquely them.  So we offer a cleaned up, whitewashed version of ourselves….at the very cost of being ourselves.

When we give a false impression of who we really are, we are saying that what we have to offer is not good enough.  “How God made me is not good enough.” 

However, authentic engagement means lowering your guard, allowing yourself to be vulnerable and attune to the fact that God loves you as you already are.

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God designed us in His image (Gen. 1) and God promises to abide in us.  To abide means “to remain, he to or follow.”  We are also called to abide in Him which means keeping his commandments which encompasses loving the Lord with our hearts, soul and minds and to love others as ourselves (Matthew 22).

 “For anyone who hears the word but does not carry it out is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror, and after observing himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like (John 1:24,25).  We are never more ourselves than we are abiding in Him by obeying His commandments and loving others.  When we withhold our true self from others, we limit what God wants to show others about who we really are – and how He works through us.

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To “be yourself” means you submit control to be who God created you to be by abiding in Him.  By abiding in Him we allow His light to shine in us to empower us to be whom He created us to be.  Just like a prism, the colors of the rainbow cannot be defused without a source of light directed into in.   We gleam hope from the one who infused hope into us.

Below are some of the mirrors in my home that I see everyday.  When you look in a mirror, who do you see?  I pray you see a woman dearly loved by her God.

‘Til Next Time,

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Writing Desk Makeover

When I stumbled on this antique writing desk, I knew it had incredible potential.  The previous owner has painted portions of it in gold acrylic paint.  This piece took a lot of sanding to repair some water damage on the top but the results are well worth the process.

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I’m pleasantly surprised with the outcome as it doesn’t look like the same table.  I also refinished and covered a chair to match.

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As mentioned, there was an incredible amount of sanding that had to be done on this piece before coating it in Zinnser’s Bullseye 123 water-based primer.  I painted it on and it was dry in 30 minutes.

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I then put on my first coat of blue paint.  I mixed a few colors I had to get just the right shade but it is almost identical to Behr’s Sonata Blue, except maybe a tad grayer.  After the first coat, I sanded the piece lightly with a fine grit sanding pad on my mouse sander.  Then, I added my last coat of blue with some floetrol mixed in to reduce brush strokes.

I thought this desk would be an ideal piece in someone’s living room or bedroom  as a small work space that was still inviting.  My friend Katie bought this piece for her bedroom to do just that.

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I also recovered the chair I painted to match, adding upholstery trim to give it an extra pop.  Miss Mustard Seed would be so proud!

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I couldn’t find a drawer liner I liked so I used this Waverly fabric instead.  I ironed it with lots of spray starch.  After cutting it to size, I attached it to the drawer with Elmer’s spray glue.

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What stands out to me about this project was the massive amount of sanding that had to be done before I started priming or painting. The top had some water stains and I had to let the desk sit in my garage a few weeks to make sure it was dried out.  Then, I put on my respirator and started sanding off the damage until I could see a fresh, even wood surface.  Here is a picture of said water damage and also how the surface looked when I finished.

I spent so much time sanding that I burned up my sander, but I knew there was no way around this excruciating task.  To achieve its beautiful finish, a process had to take place.  Rushing the process or skipping over steps would be a detriment to the finished product.  Although painful (especially to my sander), this was a step that had to be endured.

In my last post on Goal Setting, I stated that development is a necessary part of the process.  If you are waiting for God to work in your life for something you’ve always dreamed, know that He already is.  He has not forgotten you and your current phase in life.   Although difficult, your current waiting game  and stage of development is vital to see His plan come to fruition.

He knows what we need to learn and where we need to grow.  That often comes with some sanding but He also knows the end result is worthwhile.

If you have been waiting for God to bring about His Plans, know that the “when” is just as important as the “what”.  There is nothing worse than being where God wants you to be before you are truly ready.

Know this period of sanding is just for a time.  This too shall pass.  For this season, rely on what He has shown you and trust Him for He hasn’t yet.

‘Til Next Time,

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Intentional Goal Setting (Free Printable)

God has graced each one of us with unmistakable dreams, desires and plans for our lives.  He has interlaced those dreams with talents, blessings and spheres of influence unique to each and every one of us.  While God is totally in control, work and discipline on our part are still necessary to see our dreams come to fruition.

In the past, I felt it was my job to sit and wait for God to fulfill His plans for me – like maybe I wasn’t trusting Him if I tried to work towards those goals.  However, anything worth doing will involve a lot of preparation and character-building on my part – and I can’t think of anything more worthy of my time than following God’s Will.

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Goal-planning basically involves making a road map to where you know God is leading you.  The Lord wants us to actively participate in His plans for us by relying upon Him to fulfill our God-given dreams and aspirations.  Within the work lies the preparation, growth and character-building that will be necessary when His plans are fully realized.

Development is part of the process because God wants us to be ready for all He has planned.  As Tony Evans once said, “The worst thing you can have is to be somewhere God wants you to be and not be ready to be there.”  It’s through working towards our God-given goals that He prepares us for the task at hand.

Plan your work and work your plan.   One of my dreams is to be a writer but I’m not going to just wake up tomorrow morning and be an amazing author whose eloquent words just spill onto a blank page.  Not only does it take work to develop the necessary writing skills but also the character-building to be able to handle it when I get there.

Here are fool-proof steps to implement goals:

  1. As mentioned in my post When New Year’s Resolututions Don’t Work, fix your eyes on God and He will show you the goals for your future. There is no accident that you are in your current stage or situation.  It’s liberating to rest in knowing that God is fully aware of where you are at any moment.  Achieving goals has less to do with control and more to do with surrendering your present and future to Him.
  1. What fears pin themselves between you and your dreams? What is the basis for these fears?  For every fear that comes to mind, write down “I fear _____ because__________.”  This is a great exercise to understand what is holding you back.  Submit these feelings to God and learn from them.   When we alleviate these fears from our path, we clearly see the next stepping stone God has laid before us.  Allow your fears to be swept away by faith in your Creator, knowing this kind of fear is never from Him (2 Tim.1:7).  www-renovatedfaith-com-52
  1. Write down areas in which you would like to set goals. This can be any area you would like to improve or any ongoing commitment.  I’ve made a printable below to help with this process.  Here are examples of areas I’d like to focus on:

Helping my daughter to try new foods

Becoming a better writer

  1. After setting your focus area, it’s time to look ahead to see where you would like to be in 3 months.  I recommend setting quarterly goals and reassessing them after each quarter.  As Shana Shutte has said, “God’s revelation is limited and progressive – your goals may change.”  Like in Genesis 12 when God tells Abraham to “go to the land He will show him”, we don’t know the final destination.  God so often shows us to only the next step, whether it’s to build our faith or because we are simply not ready to know His full plans.  Here are some examples for goals in three months:

Focus Area:  Helping my daughter to eat more foods

Goal – What I Envision in Three Months: Less whining and table and she is trying food on a regular basis.

 

Focus Area: Becoming a better writer

Goal – What I Envision in Three Months: I’d like to have read a book on writing and have submitted something to a local Christian magazine.

Notice my goals are not very lofty and some are vague.  There’s a reason for that.  Be sure to be kind to yourself during this process.  Nothing sabotages your goals faster than the guilt and discouragement of setting unattainable goals.

  1. Write out action steps. Start with monthly and then narrow the focus down to weekly and then daily.  Record these baby steps in your calendar or planner.  For example, to get my daughter to try more foods, we are going to set up a sticker chart.  When she tries a new food she gets a sticker and when she fills up the whole chart, we are going to do something special.
  1. Now that you have a plan, you want to reassess and repeat the same process every three months.

Here is a link to a free download to help you make this process more streamlined.  The key to goal-planning with God’s purpose in mind is surrender.  When we stop to be intentional about following His plans for us, we glorify Him and have greater fulfillment in how we spend our time.

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If you think this post will help someone else, please share it!

Til’ Next Time,

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When New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work : Setting Godly Goals for the Upcoming Year

Do your eyes automatically roll  at the mere thought of setting another New Year’s resolution that will inevitably crash and burn before Valentine’s Day?   Whether we seek to fulfill our goals as a result of guilt or even pure intentions, most of the time we still run out of steam. This is why the concept of “New Year’s Resolutions” have a negative connotation – they are rarely accomplished.

What is the best way to accomplish goals?  On Pinterest, we can download any number of “goal-setting” printables to keep us focused in the year ahead.  However, I’ve realized that my difficulty in goal setting is not sticking to the goals but in the actual goals that I was setting.

When we allow God to infuse our goal-planning with His purposes and direction, we have hope in accomplishing our resolutions.  We can marvel at the possibilities of using our talents, gifts and skills in the way they were ultimately intended.  If we set goals that are purely self-seeking, they will never come to full fruition, because they are doomed from the start.

His plan promises to be better than ours.  God is the divine instigator of all of our future endeavors.    Isaiah 49:16 says we are engraved on the palms of His Hands.  Our Heavenly Father loves us too much to encourage us to strive after “goals” that will eventually be hurtful.   Imagine the frustration and disappointment in setting a goal that is self-seeking and therefore eventually destructive to ourselves…We must hold our every dream, goal and aspiration to the light of God’s will in order to see them clearly.

In college, my goal (although I didn’t always realize it) was to be successful and wealthy as an aerospace engineer, nevermind the fact that I was miserable and that my gifts were not well-aligned for that lifestyle or occupation.  I’m so thankful that He stepped in when my goals weren’t aligned with His best.

So how do we set the right goals?

  1. Take a step back to see yourself as He does. When we stop to “think” of the great sacrifice He made for us, we have no hesitation to give of ourselves, knowing that everything we have is ultimately really His.  As Timothy Keller writes in Every Good Endeavor, “If you see Jesus not as an example but as a Savior doing these things for you personally, then you will see how valuable you are to him.  Meditate on these things, and the truth will change your identity.  It will convince you of your real, inestimable value.  And ironically, when you see how much you are loved, your work will become far less selfish.”  Seeing our work in light of His sacrifice makes the concept of sacrifice second nature to us.  When we see our intrinsic value as dearly loved children that He was willing to sacrifice His only Son for, we have new clarity.
  1. Prayer is the simplest but most important step. Pray for guidance in setting goals, that He will show you every step of the way.   Ask Him how He wants you to use your time in the coming year and He will be faithful to guide you.  “In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord directs their steps (Proverbs 16:9).”  I’ve become frustrated in times He doesn’t show me the final destination but only the next step.  Looking back, though, seeing how far He wanted to bring me in so many areas, I know I wasn’t ready to know the final destination.  It would have seemed too daunting and He knew I was only ready to hear that next step.

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  1. Rely on His power in every step towards completion. Relying on His grace and strength is crucial and the outcome will be so much better.  Relying on God means praying, “God, I can’t do this without you…I need you to take it and use me in it, even in spite of my fears.”  I pray this often and God is so faithful to redeem my many shortcomings to honor Him.

Our lives seldom go the way we have planned…and that’s ok.  It can be difficult to redirect our thoughts from “where we thought we would be” to “where we go from here”.

Spend some time reading over the following verses and ask God what He has in store for the following year, even if it’s just the next step.  You will be pleasantly surprised to see how He so gracefully and intentionally directs your path.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”  Jeremiah 29:11-14

Be sure to subscribe to Renovated Faith for next week’s post on how to tackle and accomplish our God-given goals.

Til’ Next Time,

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God’s Reaction When We “Just Show Up”

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Hardly Pinterest-worthy is the picture above.  In my meager attempts to live a shiny, compartmentalized, ‘I’ve got it under control’ kind of life, I often forget what’s most important.

This post was going to include a recipe for Stove-top Potpourri and explain ways to get to know your neighbors during the holiday season, and it still is…sort of.   When trying out the recipe, God showed me in greater depths how he wants me to engage with Him and others.

After realizing I cut the orange “wrong”, and that my lemons were too moldy to use, I noticed a sad, crusty French fry from last night’s gourmet dinner on the stove.   Although some might see this picture as a Pinterest-fail, I was reminded that this is still a beautiful picture in God’s eyes.

In 1 John, the apostle starts out by saying, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest and we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us.”

The word manifest means “clear, obvious.”  With every sense, God wanted us to recognize the truth of who He is – that He sent His son out of His great love from us to deliver us from sin.  God made clear the truth of Christ by engaging us on every level.  He made his truth evident by sight, sound and even touch. 

When the disciples saw that Jesus filled their nets with fish, when the woman was healed after touching His robe and when a little girl was brought back from death upon Jesus only hearing her story, Jesus made it clear that He wants to engage with us on every level possible.  Notice that He didn’t wait until these people had their act together or got well, He engaged with them at the time of their greatest need.  God wants us to come to Him as we are.  He doesn’t care that we don’t have it all together (and no one does), He just wants us to show up and to seek to engage with Him.

The picture of my Stovetop Potpourri will never make it on the pages of a magazine, but it still counts.  I still “showed up.”  It brings glory to God in that He knows my heart’s intent to build relationships with my neighbors to hopefully be a vehicle for His love.   He doesn’t care that the process wasn’t perfect.  Your Heavenly Father doesn’t want you “clean yourself up” before presenting your requests to Him.  He wants to engage you in your greatest time of need and come as you are.  He is delighted when His children “just show up”!

The same can be said in how we engage with others.  A couple months ago, I didn’t take a rare opportunity to talk to my neighbor because my hair wasn’t done and I wasn’t wearing makeup.  Ironically, sometimes the things that we try to hide from others are the things that can form a bridge to connect on an interpersonal level.  Often when others see that we care more about them instead of maintaining appearances, it makes us more approachable and so much more real.  In making an effort to be transparent, perhaps our next conversation won’t be just be a quick exchange of pleasantries, but an opportunity to engage in real conversation.

God wants us to be transparent about the depths from which He has saved us.  Thankfully, He doesn’t want us to engage with him as a sterile, June Cleaver, ‘my lipstick is always on’ version of ourselves and neither do our neighbors.

God longs to engage your every sense in such a way that we are no longer focused on how we are perceived but only on how HE is perceived by others through us.  God does not require us to be perfect but He simply wants us to be presence.  He wants us to be real with others about the difficult and pain that life brings, knowing that God can heal our every wound and alleviate every fear.

As in 2 Corinthians 2:15, may we be the “pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”  The reality of ourselves might not always be pretty but there is an opportunity for others to see His love when the abundance of His all-sufficient love meets our insufficiency.  Don’t forget the power in just showing up.

 

Stove Top Potpourri Recipe

  • 1 orange
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 T. whole cloves
  • ¼ c. cranberries

Use this download to make your own labels for your neighbors.  I tied them with baker’s twine and my daughter and I had fun putting them in each neighbor’s mailbox!

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JOY Wreath Tutorial

Our women’s ministry at church had an event that included Christmas cookies, a hot cocoa bar and also some craft projects.  Guess who volunteered to be in charge of said crafts!?

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Every lady had the option to make a JOY wreath and customize it with various decor including berries, glitter feathers, snowflakes and polka dots!  The wreaths were a big hit and were a quick and easy project for a large group.

What You Need:

  • “Wood” Letters  – The cheapest I found were the 9″composite letters at Hobby Lobby at $2.38 each.  They go on sale every four few months so you can get them even cheaper.
  • 10″ Grapevine Wreath – I found them at Consumercrafts.com at $1.47 each.
  • Hot Glue Gun and several hot glue sticks
  • Fishing line
  • Spray Paint
  • Decorative Sprigs, Snowflakes, etc.
  • Optional: Vinyl stick-on polka dots – I got mine at amazon.com

The total cost was $7.00 and we just asked women pay $5.00 to offset the costs.

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After gathering my supplies, I spray painted the letters with flat white spray paint and sanded when needed.  After they dried for 48 hours, I started gluing the letters to the wreath.

Put your J face down and put a large amount of hot glue at the bottom. Place your wreath on top and press down firmly.

 

Do the same with the top of the Y. Add hot glue again and press the wreath down.  Make sure the J,O and Y are in a straight line before the glue cools completely.  It will take a few minutes for that much glue to cool.  Add more glue if needed to make sure the letters are attached well to the wreath.

 

While the glue continues to cool, put a big glob of  glue at the top back of the J on the X that is marked  Stick the knotted end of a small piece of fishing line into the glue.  Let it cool completely before you turn your wreath over.

 

Trim the end of your picks with the wire cutter and hot glue them into the wreath.

 

All 30 women had a great time making their wreaths and were able to each add their personal touch.  It was such a versatile and easy craft that anyone can do and we still managed to stay on budget.

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Another craft option at the event was the Nativity Ornaments from last week’s post.  Next week I’ll post a neighbor gift idea and some things God showed me about how to better engage with my neighbors.

‘Til Next Time,

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DIY Nativity Christmas Ornament

As I turn a sharp corner from the tasks of Thanksgiving, I’m met head-on by another rapidly growing to-do list.  My focus on Christmas cards, gift ideas, decorations, and teacher gifts so easily clouds my intention to focus on Christ this holiday season.

Why do I struggle most with finding time to spend with God during the holidays?   How ironic that the word “holiday” actually means “Holy Day” – a time set a side to remember and meditate on the gift of His Love that came in an unlikely manner to an unlovable people.

This year, my prayer is to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and to do away with anything that takes the spotlight off of Christ and His birth.  Maybe that means not doing Christmas cards this year or that many the people on my gift list get gift cards.  Maybe I buy my desserts this year (gasp!).  It’s ok to let some things go if it means having time to relish the joy  this season brings.

What are your biggest distractions?  What tasks do you need to distance yourself from this Christmas in order to grow closer to Him?  What items on your to-do list are life-draining and which are life-giving?  Ask the Holy Spirit to increase your awareness of God’s promised presence this Christmas season.

I like to surround myself with decor that reminds me of the true focus of this time of year – that over 2,000 years ago a baby was born to be a messenger of salvation and love to a lost world.  One such item is this Nativity Ornament.  It is such an easy craft to make with your kids but also a classy addition to your tree.

Here is what you need from any craft store:

4″ grapevine wreath

3/4 inch wood ball

White card stock

Silver glitter scrapbook paper

Gauze

1 inch piece of a dowel rod (1/2 inch diameter)

Silver glitter (optional)

twine or yarn (optional)

Hot Glue Gun

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First,  print and cut out the “Adore Him” banner on white card stock with this download.  Be careful to cut just inside the gray line of the banner

Next, use the same file to print the star stencil.  Cut out the star on card stock and use it as a stencil by tracing it on the back of the silver glitter scrapbook paper.  Cut out your star.

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Adhere your star to the top of the wreath with hot glue.  Then, add a small amount of hot glue to the back of the banner and attach it to the star.

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Now, take the round ball and hot glue it to the dowel rod piece like so.  (I cut off a small piece of dowel rod with a trim saw.)  Use plenty of hot glue and don’t worry if it is visible because we will cover that part with the gauze.

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Cut two four-inch squares of gauze and fold them over to make a rectangle.  Hot glue the baby in the middle, positioned so the gauze just covers the glue on the neck.  Wrap the gauze around Baby Jesus and secure it with more hot glue.

At this point you can sprinkle some glitter over the outside of the swaddle.  The glitter will get stuck in the gauze well enough that you don’t need glue.

Use a generous amount of hot glue to secure it to the wreath.  Finally, add a piece of twine at the top or just a hook and it’s ready for the tree!

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Now, you have a cute nativity ornament to help you to remember the present of His presence this holiday season.

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Be sure to subscribe to the blog as next week we will make the JOY wreath below!

 

‘Til Next Time,

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Do your Words Bless or Backfire?

When we post a comment on social media, it’s permanent.  It is indelibly stamped onto some recess of the internet, available for anyone to see at any point in time.  The same can be said of the words we speak.  However, our words are not just passively recordable, but they have an eternal effect on others and ourselves with ripple effects lasting into eternity.

Words are hurtful.  We have all been on the receiving end of this truth, knowing that a hurtful word can penetrate a soul deeper than any sharp object.  Our words have the profound ability to affect and influence people for the good and bad.

James 3:4-5, 8-10 states, “Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.  So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things…. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth comes blessing and cursing.”

James says that it is full of deadly poison, as its venom can easily strike and maim anyone in its path.    Our words are a windows into our hearts.  Matthew 15:18 says “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.”

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As I read the James passage, verse 10 stuck out to me – “with it we bless our Lord and Father and with it we curse people.”  God didn’t design an instrument of praise to also be an instrument of harm.

Our words must be consistently aligned with the truth of God’s Word.  Controlling and redirecting our words is vital for building up others.  It’s not enough to bless others on social media while cursing them in private. 

2 Timothy 2:20-21 states, “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use some for dishonorable.  Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

Here Paul is telling Timothy how to be a person God uses.  It has little to do with biblical training, church attendance or even your gifts.  It has everything to do with your willingness to seek God and cleanse yourself from sin.

God uses people that pursue Him and flee sin.

Imagine sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner and the hostess comes to the table with a large crystal bowl of what looks like cornbread stuffing.  Instead of putting it on the table, she proceeds to put it on the floor next to the dog’s water dish, where the dog comes over to eat his canned dog food.    As the bowl has been made dirty by the dog food, is it now better suited for scraps for the dog or for dressing on the table?  It’s a gross analogy but it goes to show how a vessel meant for honorable purposes can quickly be allocated for dishonorable purposes once it has become dirty.

With the same mouth we bless God and curse men and then wonder why He doesn’t want to use us?  (I speak to myself more than anyone else.)  Just as a the crystal bowl was made dirty by the dog food, so are our mouths made dirty are not as useful to God.

Fortunately, just because a bowl is dirty doesn’t mean it can’t be used again.  It simply must be cleaned.  If we want to be useful vessels of honor, we must cleanse ourselves of sin by confessing it to Him.

Our words have a boomerang affect.  What comes out of our mouth ultimately affects others into eternity.  Our words play a role in how God uses us.

Fortunately, when we used our words to reflect His goodness to others, God will continue to use us.  As we know that our words have tremendous power, we can harness this power to encourage others.

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Kind words cost us nothing but their effects may be eternal.  One kind word can change someone’s entire day, week or even lifetime.  As a habit, when you see something beautiful about someone, speak it.  Proverbs 16:24 says that “Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul.”

Make a point to never suppress an encouraging thought. May our lips be tight when we are tempted to speak critically and may they be loose when we see good in someone.   Let’s pray the tremendous power of our words are used to build up others so they may see their true Source.  If our words are a window into our hearts, may others see nothing but the light of God’s Love.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it so it hopefully encourages someone else.

‘Til Next Time,

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In God We Trust

So many reactions to this election swing between the two pendulums of fatalism and panic.  While one person dismisses our role in voting, feeling that God’s sovereignty deems it as irrelevant, another supports the idea that an individual simply cannot be a Christian if he or she does not vote for a certain candidate.

Matt Morton, our teaching pastor at Grace Bible Church’s Creekside Campus in College Station, Texas spoke on the role of God and government yesterday.  It provides a lot of clarity to the above views and gave me a peace about what lies before us this Tuesday and in the years ahead.

Please find some time to listen to the sermon at the link below.  God blessed me through these words and I pray they give you peace and comfort in these chaotic times.

http://www.grace-bible.org/resources/sermons/god-and-government-creekside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Gel Stain Wood

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“Paint Remover” is not in my DIY vocabulary. I can think of few activities more miserable than applying a noxious chemical onto a piece of furniture in an effort to scrape off every bit of old paint or stain. Sometimes it is necessary, but more often, you don’t have to strip a piece of furniture to refinish it.

Gel stain allows you to cover almost any painted surface (including laminate and metal).  It’s easy to get the look of a dark, rich stain on a painted piece of furniture as long as you know the right process.

Here is what you need:

Mouse Sander (a must-have)
Fine(320) and rough(180) sanding pads
Zinsser Bullseye 123 water-based primer
Minwax Gel Stain in walnut or hickory
Peanut butter shade of latex paint (I used Behr Honey Bear)
White latex paint
Floetrol (optional)
Minwax Polyurethane in satin
Rags and brushes
(You can find all of the above at Home Depot or Lowe’s.  I got my mouse sander here for $15)

I eyed these two “beauties” on a Facebook page. Knowing they were solid wood and in good shape, I knew they had serious potential.

You can see a funky inlay pattern and also some deep-set water stains. I decided to do my favorite combination of a dark stained top and white bottom.

Prep Work

As with any piece, the first step is to make sure it is structurally sound. I tightened all the bolts underneath and would have added wood glue or wood epoxy if needed. Nobody likes wobbly furniture.

Sand

Next, I sanded….I sanded like I have never sanded before with one of my rough sanding pads in order to get rid of the water damage and to even out the inlay design. I then wiped the table with a slightly damp rag.

A Fresh Start

To prime, I used Zinsser Bullseye 123 and painted one coat on the tables.  There are no ads at Renovatedfaith.com, but I really like this product. It settles very well for a primer, leaving few brush strokes, and it dries fast with very little odor. Although it is water-based, it still blocks out the old stain. Always sand beforehand to be safe.

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Spindles

I like to get the most difficult painting tasks out of the way first, so I decided to work on the legs next. I added Floetrol to my paint (according to the directions on the back) which makes the paint settle better, leaving fewer brush strokes. Normally, this isn’t a big deal because you can sand out obvious brush strokes but any kind of woodwork with spindles is not easy to sand. Because Floetrol also thins the paint some, it took me 4 to 5 coats of paint on the legs. If you aren’t a stickler about brush strokes, the Floetrol is not a must.

Base Coat for Staining

Now that I was ready to refinish the top, I decided to tape off the bottom with trash bags so as to not get any paint on the bottom portion of the tables. (This is the point that you would fill holes on the top. Always prime first before filling holes because you can see them better.)

Then apply a layer of your peanut butter colored paint. This time I used Behr Honey Behr in Latex Satin. This shade, although hideous, will serve as the base for your stain. Where part of the brush strokes are slightly translucent (like the grain pattern in stained wood) you will see a little of this shade peak through. It took one thick coat of this.  Notice I didn’t cover it very well but that’s ok – the surface will take on a completely different look regardless.

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Sand the top and then wipe it with a damp rag. This makes the surface slightly less smooth and gives your brush some drag when you use the cover stain. That will give you the wood grain look.

Congratulations – you are officially done with sanding portion of this project!

Gel-Stain

Now is the fun part – applying the gel stain! I used Minwax Gel Stain in Hickory. Walnut is also really pretty. Now brush on the gel stain in the same direction. Your goal at this point is to cover every bit of the top with a good coat of gel stain. It doesn’t dry very fast so you have a few minutes to work with it.

Now that the top is covered in gel stain, apply long even strokes in the same direction. You cannot screw this part up!

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If you want your stain darker, add some more gel stain. The key is to work in the same direction to resemble wood grain. This is actually the same process many high-end furniture retailers use because different cuts of hardwood can have different shades. Therefore, to have continuity in their final product, a gel-stain is used.

Here is how the top looked after one coat:

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After a 24 hour dry time, you can add another coat of gel stain if you want it darker like I did.

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Let your final coat of gel stain dry 24 hours. Then apply a coat of polyurethane. Add another coat after 24 hours for extra insurance.   On our coffee table, I used this same process and applied 6, yes 6, coats of poly because I knew we would be leaving cold glasses on it all the time. It was well-worth the extra effort as it still looks amazing, as you can see below.

These coffee tables made a major transformation and I’m happy with the results!

I love my “project time” as it is restful and recharging in so many ways. As a time for me to zone out from the chaos that life brings, I often find myself reflecting on how God has transformed me just like whatever furniture piece I am working on.


As I brushed the gel stain onto each table, I noticed how effortlessly the new stain covered, making a new surface instantaneously. The thick stain seeped into every nook and cranny embracing and covering every bit of the old raw surface. I watched as it restored the dated, worn-out wood to something fresh and new.

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This is a beautiful picture of how God restores us to become who He always meant for us to be. When we come to accept Christ as our Savior, He wraps us in a robe of righteousness so we will no longer see the old stain of sin.

Looking at the new surface, I no longer saw water stains and scuff marks, I saw a pristine reflection of myself in the surface. God is always faithful to make us into something beautiful, transformed and useful for His purposes when we seek Him. We often long to fix our broken places but in reality His grace fully covers them, like they never existed in the first place.

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You might also like my post on how to build and finished your own Turned-Leg Coffee Table.

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If you enjoyed this tutorial, please share!

‘Til Next Time,

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