What Are You Consumed With?

Nothing would put me to sleep faster than reading through Leviticus.  Every New Year, I would start my “Read Through the Bible in a Year” plan and was pretty consistent for the first couple months.  However, it never failed that once I reached Leviticus, I got bogged down with the rules, ceremonies and offerings that seem all too foreign to my lifestyle.

Fortunately, this year was different.  To hopefully pique my interest in Leviticus, I decided to do a little research online and surprisingly, I got far more than I bargained for.

As I tried to envision life as a 30-something Israelite woman, the first couple chapters came to life for me.  Her morning started very differently from mine….

“This morning my husband rose at dawn to choose the morning’s sacrifice – unfortunately this particular lamb was one of my daughter’s favorites.  We own lots of livestock but we strive to select only animals that are perfect, or as close as possible, because that is what the burnt offering requires.

As my husband stands in line at the outer temple, Israelites from far and wide make their way to the end of the line at the tabernacle.   Surrounded by the site, smell and sounds of young animals led to slaughter, he dreads these trips, but he faithfully goes morning and evening.   When reaching the front of the line, each person must lay his hand on the head of the animal in order to identify with it – to help us remember the price of our sinfulness.  There is nothing more heart-wrenching than seeing a lamb innocently sacrificed for your own sinfulness.”

As I read through Leviticus 1 with fresh eyes, I came to realize that this was an everyday occurrence for a Jewish family as Moses led them through the wilderness.  The male in the family would not only go once a day to sacrifice an animal, but twice a day usually, and even three times on the Sabbath and special occasions.  There were various other kinds of sacrifices but the burnt offering was most common.

 “If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the Lord.  You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you.  You are to slaughter the young bull before the Lord, and then Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar at the entrance to the tent of meeting. … It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.” – Leviticus 1:3-5,9b

As grueling as these repeated trips to the tabernacle must have been, the Israelites knew the burnt offerings were a means to avoid God’s wrath and obtain favor as the offering itself was a fragrant offering to the Lord. Their sacrifice symbolized their faith in God and intention to love Him with all their heart, soul mind, and strength. They also served a reminder of the high cost of their sin and their constant need for forgiveness.

The Israelite of that day should have seen that a better method of atonement for their sin was coming.  They saw how the death of Isaac was prevented by the sacrifice of the ram, and could see their salvation would be carried out is some greater way in the future…but how?

It is written in John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”  Now the animal sacrifice is obsolete because Jesus Christ was the ultimate unblemished sacrifice for our sin once for all.  We no longer need to make daily trips to the tabernacle because Jesus is the perfect sacrifice once we come into a saving relationship with Him.

The burnt offering is obsolete, but its application towards our worship is not.  The burnt offerings were unique from many of the other types of offering, because the whole animal was consumed on the altar as opposed to only the part of the sacrifice.

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Romans 12:1 states, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”  Under the New covenant, Christian service in church and community is compared to a sacrifice as we focus to worship Him in how we live our lives.  As the burnt offering was a TOTAL sacrifice, our lives as a whole should be focused on Him.

God wants all of us.  He designed us to be consumed with Him.  When false idols compete with our time, resources and attention, we worship them in a sense.   The problem with false idols is that our hearts, minds and bodies were only designed to worship one thing – God.  When we put stock in the worship of false gods, it will damage us in one form or another.  Timothy Keller said in Every Good Endeavor, “Our bodies are not designed to handle sin.”

The “false god” I struggle with most is food.  Too often I go to food for comfort or to celebrate small personal victories – things I should go to God for.  So many times, instead of me consuming food, I allow it to consume me.   If I continued in this behavior, the repetitive nature of my sin would eventually lead to an unhealthy lifestyle not only physically but spiritually and emotionally.  God wants to be our “all in all” and that’s how He designed us – We are most fulfilled when we are consumed with Him.  To be consumed with God means that He is our source of strength, comfort and joy.

The Israelites struggled regularly with the sin of worshiping other gods.  Before Moses could even get down Mt. Sinai with the 10 commandments, they were already making offerings to their golden calf.  Time and time again they proved to be unfaithful to His law. He knew man would need constant reminders to keep them focused on Him, which is partly why the burnt offerings were required so frequently.

What are you worshiping?  What do you find your thoughts, time and attention consumed with?  Fortunately, we have complete access to the Holy Spirit who resides in us.  We can’t just resolve to be better, like an empty New Year’s Resolution, but we have the power of God Himself to call upon when we are struggling in order to avoid false idols in our lives.

We no longer make daily trips to sacrifice a perfect lamb from our flock, because the ultimate sacrifice is made.  Our debt was paid in Jesus Christ.  May we rest in knowing that He is the only one that is worthy of our praise as we were designed to be devoted to Him.  Nothing else can compare to the joy and fulfillment of living a life consumed with Him.

 

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DIY Vanity Transformation

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After living in a tiny house and sharing a small vanity with my husband, I knew I wanted a place of my own to get ready in the mornings.  Seeing the perfect location in front of a window in our master bedroom, I was excited to put a classy new vanity in front of it with the morning light streaming in.    As much as I don’t like putting on makeup, I knew sitting at this vanity would make it much more tolerable.

Now that I had built up my own expectations of this glamorous vanity table, it was time to go shopping where I find all my favorite treasures…a used furniture store.  Other than saving money, I wanted to make this piece my own.  This project took a few weeks.  As I sanded, wiped, painted and then repeated this process, my thoughts couldn’t help but to meditate on some specific ways God works in our lives much like I was working on the desk.

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He Sees Us

Upon seeing this desk at the consignment shop among the many other pieces, I knew it would be perfect as a vanity table, a piece I would truly enjoy and call my own for years to come.  I had a much better purpose for this old desk and knew it had incredible potential, but it would need a serious makeover.

In the same way, God sees us through our brokenness.  In spite of the dated molding, shiny laminate surface, burnt orange stain and weird smell, I loved that sad old desk and knew I needed as my own.  Who knew something destined for a trash heap would be one of my greatest treasures.  The same could be said of us.   Because of the stain of our sin, we deserve the trash heap but God cleans us up, transforms us and prepares a perfect place for us in His Home. 

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He Redeems Us

The definition of “redeem” is “to regain possession of something in exchange for payment.”  I bought this desk for $40 and the stool for $10.  In order to transform this desk, I had to first buy it.  There was a price to be paid, even for a dirty old desk.

The same can be said of us – we are but damaged goods in need of transformation. Our sin was so much filthier than an old piece of furniture, but a much higher price would need to be paid to give us a right standing before a perfectly holy God.  God knew no amount of good works would ever be able to rectify our sinful condition so he did the extraordinary.  He pulled us out of the ruble and God had to pay the ultimate price – His one and only son.   God rescued us from sin just like I rescued the desk from its awful fate. 

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He Transforms Us

God doesn’t stop there.  Upon rescuing us, He begins an amazing process of transformation because He loves us too much to just leave us alone. Upon coming to know Christ, an amazing process of renovation begins.  I wasn’t about to bring this desk into our newly decorated bedroom and use it in its current state.  Over a period of time and in several steps, a transformation had to occur.

To achieve my vision for this desk, if it was cleaned, sanded, primed, painted and new hardware was added.  Several of those steps had to be repeated to be effective and each step had to be fully finished before proceeding to the next.  When God brings us into His family, He continues to transform us to be more and more like Him through the process of sanctification.  He renews us daily knowing that sometimes the sanding of life’s trials can be difficult.  However, we are much more content and satisfied when we allow Him to work in us to fulfill the specific plans He has for us.  He breaths in us life, beauty and purpose that we never knew was possible.

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Process and Source List

  1. I took off the hardware and filled holes with a generous amount of Elmer’s wood filler. I then drilled new holes for the new hardware.  I also replaced some old molding with new molding from Lowe’s by using Liquid Nails for wood.
  2. After letting the filler dry for 48 hours, I started the sanding process. I used my mouse sander to sand with rough sandpaper to remove that laminate gloss and I just sanded the legs as best as I could by hand.
  3. After wiping with a damp cloth, I primed the whole piece with Zinnser 123 water based primer and let it dry 4 hours. (It dries fast but not as fast as other primers.  This is helpful because it leaves a smoother finish).
  4. I sanded again with smoother sand paper on my mouse sander and sanded the legs by hand.
  5. After wiping with a damp cloth again, I used the Home Depot brand 6 inch rollers (“Best” with the green line) because it gives you a really smooth finish. I applied two coats of Behr Blue Fox in a satin finish with Floetrol (added according to the instructions on the back).  This helps the paint to settle better, leaving fewer brush strokes.
  6. This is the key for a really smooth – I LIGHTLY sanded yet again but with 320 sandpaper. After wiping down the desk and vacuuming the room, I applied one more coat. (Make sure fans and the AC is off to avoid dust particles in the air from settling on the paint surface.)
  7. After letting the piece dry for 2 days, I added the new hardware (amazon.com) and the glass top. Who knew the desk could look so different!?!

small butterfly frame

I thought my DIY butterfly frame was a perfect accessory for my vanity.  I posted here about how I made it and what butterflies mean to me.

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This is a sneak peak of my Master Bedroom transformation that I’ll be posting soon!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like these as well:

Light and Airy Master Bathroom

Made Over, Inside and Out

 

Be sure to leave a comment below.  I love to hear your feedback!

‘Til Next Time,

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“Inconvenienced” By God

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To escape the hot Texas sun, my daughter and I have spent a lot of time in the pool this summer.    Morgan has made major strides with swimming and no longer sees it as pure torture.  I am relieved that she finally enjoys something she was so scared of last summer.

While swimming with her one day, I suddenly saw a huge water bug in the pool that was at least 2 inches long.  I didn’t think much of it until a few minutes later when I noticed it perched on Morgan’s arm floaty.  I quickly brushed it off without her noticing.   We swam a few minutes more before I realized how unsuccessful I was at getting rid of the bug as it was now in Morgan’s hair!  From behind her, I quietly and stealthily grabbed the nasty bug when she flinched and yelled, “Ouch, why did you pull my hair, Mama?!?”  Fortunately, she never caught on to what I was really doing.

I know my daughter pretty well, and had she realized a huge bug was caught in her hair, she would have never stepped foot in the pool again.  As Morgan saw it, I inconvenienced her by pulling her hair but in reality, I saved her from something I knew would upset her and derail her progress in swimming.

The same situation has happened countless times in my relationship with God.   What I have often seen as an inconvenience, was merely the ripple effect of God’s protection from a hurt or tragedy that only He could have saved me from.

Looking back, there are many instances where I thought I knew what was best for me.  Hindsight is truly 20/20 and I’m thankful God didn’t give me what I prayed He would.  He knows that sometimes what we desire most is the very thing that will destroy us.  Thankfully God is faithful to intervene in the lives of His children to show them a better way, His way.

Maybe it was the boyfriend who broke up with you in high school who you KNEW you would marry.  Maybe it was the not so budget-friendly dream house that slipped through your fingers at the last minute.  Because of His great love for us, there are times God has to drag us kicking and screaming to protect us from less than His best.   And what is best for Him is always best for us.  Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes his steps.”

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In Genesis 37, Joseph was a young Israelite with many brothers who were jealous of Him.  His brothers decided to deal with Joseph once and for all by throwing him in a pit and leaving him to die.  It was then that a group of Ishmaelites came by that his brothers decided to sell him as a slave for less than $100 today.  He was placed in the house of an Egyptian master named Potiphar and everything that Joseph touched, God blessed.

Potiphar’s wife had different plans for Joseph, however.  She accused him of coming onto her and Joseph was placed in prison.  Genesis 39:21 states, “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sign of the keeper of the prison.”  Before long, Joseph was running the prison and became an interpreter of dreams for the prisoners.  After two years passed, Pharaoh had some dreams he could not make sense of and Joseph was actually called upon out of the prison.  He not only interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams but made Pharaoh aware of the dangerous famines approaching Egypt and the devastation that was ahead if they did not prepare accordingly.

As governor of Egypt, Joseph was put in charge of gathering food.  Instead of allowing his family to perish in the famine, Joseph welcomed them into Egypt along with all the other Israelites.  Joseph’s misfortune was a necessary inconvenience in comparison to blessings that came forth.  Through it, Joseph became governor of Egypt, saved the lives of the Egyptians from the famines and most importantly He was the tool God used to preserve the Israelite line by relocating them.

Often God uses tragedy to accomplish rich blessings beyond our comprehension and no one understands this better than Jesus Christ.  Sin separates us from a relationship with God and the penalty for any sin is death (Romans 3:23).  Jesus knew His death was the only remedy to deal with our sin problem, so  God’s one and only son became a human being and freely died in our place (Romans 5:6-8; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18). He was punished for our sin so that we can receive God’s forgiveness. Then God raised Jesus from the dead, conquering sin and death for us.

Because He voluntarily endured pure torture on the cross, God now offers us eternal life as an absolutely free gift to anyone who trusts in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). That is the meaning of the word “grace.” God gives us His forgiveness and His favor as a free gift, based on what Jesus has done for us. If you believe in Jesus, that He died for your sins and rose from the dead, then you can know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:11-13).

Maybe God has you on what seems to be a perilous path, maybe you feel like there is no end to this phase of life or you are enduring a trial that seems pointless.  Know that God works all things for our good and that there is a purpose life’s hardships (Romans 8:28-29).   When you have a relationship with Him, what we  perceive as an inconvenience is often his active role in protecting us and growing us to be more like Him.  When we commit to follow Him, God protects us from less than his best.  May our lives be overflowing with the “inconvenience” of God’s protection.

What are the ways God has protected you and how is He protecting you even now from greater hardships?

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Curing The Comparison Trap

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Wearing a stylish workout ensemble, she drops off her four well-behaved children at preschool.   She smiles, says hello and hops back in her SUV hoping to get in a run before going to work and leading her Bible study that evening.

As I park the car, I slap on my hat, tucking my naturally frizzy hair underneath, hoping no one notices I’m not wearing any makeup.  It’s about that time that my daughter spirals into a panic saying she can’t possibly go to school today because her socks “feel funny.”  After dealing with the sock dilemma and getting Morgan to class, I drive off thinking about that mom and why I can’t seem to get my act together.

This is not a new struggle for me.  Whether it’s the mom at my daughter’s preschool last week or the cover of Seventeen magazine when I was a teenager, the problem is still the same.   Comparison can be a struggle at any age, but I have become increasingly aware of its ability to steal my joy as a mom.

Why Comparison is a Trap

In Galatians 6:4, Paul writes to the Galatians, “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.”  The pride Paul mentions here is in reference to one’s confidence in their standing before God.  Comparison is a subtle but effective tool that satan uses to redirect God’s people from their necessary focus.  Here are the three major pitfalls of the comparison trap:

  1. Inferiority– On one hand, it can lead to feeling inferior to the object of our comparison, which leads to a lack of confidence in our identity in Christ.
  1. Superiority – On the flip side, comparison can make us feel superior and lead to pride.   Sadly, my feelings of inferiority towards “super mom” in the parking lot, ultimately turn into disparaging thoughts about her to make myself feel better.
  1. Self-Reflection – When we become TOO introspective about our need to compare, we can fall into an equally perilous trap. Often times, I found myself struggling with comparison over and over again only to realize I was focusing on myself instead of God.  This is a form of conforming to human standards(my own, in this case) instead of God’s standards.

The Cure for Comparison   

As you have heard, comparison is the thief of all joy.  It is impossible to be content and jealous simultaneously, as jealousy is so consuming.   That’s why climbing out of the contentment trap is incredibly freeing!

As mentioned in my post The Ministry of Motherhood, God used the Parable of the Talents to show how God rewards the use of his gifts.  Our focus shouldn’t be on comparing gifts and talents with others, but on how we are putting those gifts to use.  God rewards those who are faithful with the gifts they are given.  It’s not about what you have but what you do with what you have.  When our minds are clouded of thoughts of comparison, we are distracted from using our gifts.  Ironically, this deprives the world of the blessings of our own unique God-given gifts.

“Super moms” only exist in the realm of social media and our own “snapshot” perceptions of others.  Our struggle with comparison is deflated when we come to the realization that we aren’t making comparisons to reality.  Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram are great, but they give an illusion of effortless perfection.   From the magazine on your coffee table to your friends’ Instagram photos, it can be difficult to delineate what is real and what is contrived.  This is where our perspective plays a role, not of others or ourselves, but of God.

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What we need is not repeated self-assurance, but to look to Him, affirming that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). It is not enough to merely look at ourselves in self-reflection.  Jen Wilkin says it best in a recent post:  “Our primary problem as Christian women is not that we lack self worth.  We lack awe.”   When we focus on God, our struggle with comparison dissipates.  We come to realize that everything and everyone pales in comparison to the surpassing greatness of our God.

The good news is that there is hope for us moms.  By spending regular time with Him and remembering our role in His plan, we afford our children the directional marker of the unfathomable riches of His grace.  By focusing on Him,  we can extend His very own love and grace to them.  The greatest catalyst to your child’s spiritual growth is your own.

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Isaiah 30:21 states, “Whether you look to the left or the right there will be a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’”  This verse always reminds me of a horse with blinders.  When we stare in any direction long enough, we will ultimately follow that path.   We have to keep our eyes on Him in order to follow Him well.  That means spending time in the Bible getting to know Him better and the providence of His plans.

Any time we compare ourselves to one another, it is a distraction from our true directional focus.  The habit of comparison flies in the face of our identity and role as conduits of God’s love and grace to a lost and dying world.  It compromises our ability to rely on His power and allow His power to bless others through us.

 

I would love to hear any feedback and insights.  Thank you for reading!

His,

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DIY Craft Desk

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My grandma is the “original DIYer” and the inspiration for the design of my craft desk.  She’s a unique combination of Ana White, Joanna Gaines and Miss Mustard Seed, all in one.  While running a high-end drapery business out of her home, it was not uncommon to find her building and painting furniture to accommodate her stylish but thrifty needs.

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When I received two small bookcases from her, I decided they would be perfect to use as part of my craft desk.  Remembering she had made some furniture out of  hollow-core doors, it gave me the idea to use a paneled door for the desk top.

A cheap door with some character was a necessity for this project so I headed to my source for DIY treasures…Restore.  If you haven’t visited your local Restore, you are missing out.  Basically, businesses and individuals donate building supplies to Restore in order to benefit Habitat for Humanity.  The products are sold to the public for a minimum amount.  I got this door for $6!

door before

After filling the knob holes in the door with wood filler, I let it dry a couple days before sanding smooth.  Then, I covered the door in a fresh coat of white paint.   After a light sanding, I set the door on top of the two bookcases and just like that, I had a craft desk with plenty of surface space.

The two-shelf bookcases are 32″ high so any similar bookcases would work.  One option could be these at $36 for two.   If you are concerned about painting laminate bookcases, don’t be!  Use this tutorial at LiveLoveDIY.  I have done it many times and the brush strokes actually resemble wood grain texture, making them look more like solid wood bookcases.

top of deskAfter ordering a piece of glass from our local glass dealer, I simply set it on the desk.  The weight of the glass keeps it in place.  Be sure to tell them that it will be used for a desk top so they make the glass the correct thickness.

For aesthetic and practical reasons, I absolutely love the glass finish on this desk.  For one thing, the panels add character and dimension.  The glass top is so convenient as I don’t ever have to be concerned with the moisture from a cold drink and cleaning up spills is super easy.  I got super glue on it the other day and I was able to scrape it off easily.

Also, the glass protects it from heat so I can use my glue gun to my heart’s content without being careful of a wood surface.  It is even a great surface for repotting my African violets(also a hobby of my grandmas), as I wipe it with cleaner when I’m done.

The added benefit of glass is the ability to write on the surface with dry erase markers.  It’s convenient to be able to jot down a reminder, or even my weekly memory verse.  Morgan definitely likes this feature as well.

 

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Premier Prints fabrics offers a wide variety of fabrics in coordinating colors so I was able to coordinate the fabric from the monogrammed wall art to the fabric on the bins.  The fabric bins at the bottom right are just diaper boxes that I covered and added ribbon.  In true Miss Mustard Seed style, I made a pleated seat cover for my stool.

Much like my grandma, Lucille Heitzman, my desk is multifaceted.  I use it to work on projects, write, pay bills, and play games with Morgan.  I absolutely love this setup and the fact that I am using my grandmother’s bookcases makes it more special to me.

Mo at desk

For the sake of transparency, here is how my craft table looked before I straightened up to take pictures.  As you can see it is well-used!   Morgan is drawing me a picture with dry erase markers.

You’ll see that many of my posts include a Before, After and Reality shot.  That’s because life’s real beauty isn’t measured by an “After” picture but in the happenings of everyday life, as messy as they seem.

Thanks for visiting and I’d love to here your thoughts on my craft desk!

 

‘Til Next Time-

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The Ministry of Motherhood: Reclaiming the Value the World Says it Lacks

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One day my daughter Morgan told me she had a big surprise for me.  She opened her little hands and revealed three of the biggest rhinestones in her “treasure chest”.  “They are for you Mommy!” she exclaimed as she just beamed with delight.  I put them in my jewelry box and gushed over them as if they were real gemstones.  As she got more rhinestones out of her craft box to bring to me, I realized that to Morgan these gifts were not just acrylic rhinestones that cost less than a dollar at any craft store.  On the contrary…these were her most prized possessions and she was giving them to me!

Since I was young I have heard the parable of the talents, however, I missed an important aspect.  In Matthew 25:14-30, a man entrusts talents to 3 different servants.  “To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.”

The first two servants were faithful and doubled their talents, so they both received the very same reward (vv. 21, 23). Although one came back with 10 talents and the other came back with 4, they were both given the same reward from their master….Why is that?  

The passage illustrates that God is much more concerned about how faithful we are with what He has given us than our perceived sphere of influence.  The Christian who is faithful in his or her area of service, though it may seem smaller in human terms,  will get the same reward as the person who is also faithful with a “larger” ministry.   In other words a businessman who strives to honor God in his business dealings will receive a greater reward than a mega-church pastor that is serving half-heartedly.

Often times as a stay at home mom, I feel like my influence in God’s kingdom is pretty benign.  I have come to realize that while I deeply desire to make a BIG influence in God’s Kingdom, I find myself using the world’s definition of “big”.   I forget to focus on what God sees as valuable.   The world values the bright, shiny “flash in the pan” ministry idea, but God values the kind of patience and faithfulness of a mom who raises children to honor Him – much like fanning a small flame until it is ready to burn bright into eternity.   Motherhood is not fast or easy but done in a way that glorifies God,  it has a profound eternal effect in God’s Kingdom.

It can be so easy to visualize what we THINK God has planned for our lives only to see that God might want to use us in a completely different way.  The apostle Paul is a perfect example.  He was raised to be a Hebrew among Hebrews and studied under the famous pharisee Gamaliel.  He was one of the most prestigious Pharisees of his day.  After his conversion, I can see how Paul might have thought his ministry would be to the Jews because of His background.  However, that is not what God had in mind.  God gave Him the opportunity to minister to the Gentiles, and Paul was faithful to follow, writing 14 books of the New Testament (if you include Hebrews).

There are days that my only opportunities to honor God are through housework or parenting.  However, it is not about what you are doing but the fact that you are faithful and using the opportunities He gives you.  Colossians 3:23 states, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”  If I am scrubbing a toilet and doing housework to honor Him, this has more weight than gold in His spiritual economy.  

 God wants us to give Him our best- whatever that may be.  My pastor’s opportunity on a Sunday is to preach to a congregation, but my opportunity on a Sunday might be to be a Godly example to my daughter as we get ready for church.  Our audiences are different but what is important is being faithful with the role God gives us.

As I look back, I realize the most difficult phases in my life were necessary times of preparation that were necessary in order to be ready for the next phase.  The ministry opportunities you have now will be different than the ones in the future, so make the most of this opportunity.  The lessons you are learning are probably critical to the next phase.

If you are a mom, whether of one child or ten, you are in the trenches of ministry and you have the opportunity now to make an eternal impact.   Andy Stanley  once wrote, “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.”  Know that God has you in this season for a purpose and he has NOT forgotten about you.  He sees every nose you wipe and every diaper you change and, ironically, your service is a fragrant offering to Him.

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In Matthew 26, a woman breaks open an alabaster flask of precious perfume to rub on Jesus’ feet.  This perfume bottle could only be broken open once and probably costed a year’s wages.   More than likely, it was her most valued possession.  She gave Jesus her best as soon as she had the chance.  She didn’t leave the jar of perfume on a shelf to save it for a more lavish get-together.  If she had waited, she would have missed the opportunity altogether.

The woman took that opportunity to give the Lord her best in the same way Morgan gave me her best “jewels”.   It’s not about the world’s value of what we give Him, but taking the opportunities we have to be faithful to Him.  One day in heaven, God will reward such works with precious jewels that we will be able to throw at His feet.

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When the Fear of Failure Distracts You From God’s Call

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My only child starts Kindergarten in a couple short months.  Excited to start this new adventure, she will be spending most of her day with new friends, a new classroom and a new teacher.  As I will miss her being home during the day, I know this will be a good transition for her – it’s what she needs.   Although, it will be hard to let go of her still small hand on that first day, I realize that this is a new phase of life for me as well.  Having to let go of her hand means that, for a least part of my day, I get my hand back.

To be honest, that terrifies me.  For the last 5 years, I have been Morgan’s mom, caretaker and advocate (aka Mama Bear), during some very rough times.   I will always assume those roles even when she is grown, although they might look a little different.

People are always quick to ask how I will spend “all my free time”.  One person asked if I had thought about “getting a job in the real world”.   As much as I’d like to share more about these fun interactions, I digress.

As I have prayed about how to spend my time when she starts school, I have been encouraged by sweet friends but most of all have prayed that God would show me where He wants to use me.    In true Karin fashion, I’d love for him to give me a detailed agenda, flowchart and even a promotional video about what the future holds.  That’s not what I’m getting though.  As I pray about it, God keeps answering with two words: “Just write”.    I ask Him why I am writing or what it will lead to, and his response is always the same:  “Just write.”  I’ve even “informed” God (the Creator of the UNIVERSE) that this could be a very wasteful use of my time but again He gently, mercifully tells me the same… “just write.”

In Genesis 12, Abraham was confronted with a similar command but on a much grander scale.  Abraham and his family, lead by his father Terah,  were initially from Ur, an idolatrous country, and later settled in Haran on the way to Canaan. Haran was known as a city of pagan worship and it was there God commended Abraham, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  And I will make of you a great name and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”

Abraham was comfortable in Haran.  By that point, he had an established way of life, financial stability and his family was there.  I know multiple questions would have swirled through my mind: “Where is this place you want me to go?, How will I know its “the” place?, Will it take a long time?, Will others be cooperative on the way there?”  I can’t imagine Abraham’s friends would have thought his new monotheistic calling would have brought him much “success”.  God didn’t tell Abraham what land or its location, but God tells Abraham to “go” and he follows with an implicit faith.

John Wayne once said, “Courage is being scared to death…and saddling up anyway.”  I’m sure Abraham had fears as it would have been so much easier to conform to his comfortable status-quo.  By following God’s command he had to swim against the stream in every area of his life.   Yet, He responded by faith and immediately left everything to follow God’s plan.

Abraham’s departure started a chain of reactions, causing Abraham to be known as the Father of the Faithful, not Terah.  If Abraham would get out of Ur, God promised his calling had a purpose: his obedience would bring great blessing.   Abraham’s departure was an unparalleled act of faith.  What others perceived of his life falling apart, was actually God’s plans falling into place.

Staying in Haran would mean following in his earthly father’s footsteps – never making it to Haran and dying there while serving false gods.  His heavenly Father’s plan was full of promise and blessings.  If we follow God, He will not fail to deliver on His promises.

Sometimes God puts an insanely uncomfortable calling in the lives of His children.  We can try to avoid it at all costs, but the calling is always there.   At times, I have put so much energy in trying to postpone or sidestep his calling to write.  It would have  been so much easier to surrender to His will in the first place.   My questions are similar to those Abraham might have had: “Where are you taking me?  Why are we headed there?  Will others support me?”

Most often, my fear of failure is my greatest obstacle in trusting God. The thick irony is that the only way to avoid true failure in life is to trust God.  Trusting God means walking out in faith as only a real risk tests the quality of a belief.

Often times the calling God puts on our hearts is so huge that we are in disbelief.  That’s about the time God’s bread crumbs show up.  God’s bread crumbs are those little hints and nudges of encouragement left by the Holy Spirit that make one realize “Maybe this really is God’s calling for me.”  They are those random instances where God thrusts you in a situation you thought you couldn’t handle.  Soon, you realize He never intended you to.  He simply wants you to take that step in faith and let Him take care of the rest…

 

Is there an area of your life where you fear failure?  Is this possibly a call God has put on your heart?  What is your first step of faith in answering this call?

 

 

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Light and Airy Master Bath Makeover

Of all the rooms in our house that needed a makeover, the master bath was the worst.  Underneath that purple-hued, mauve paint and brass towel bars was a room crying out for renovation. I knew this would be my “sanctuary” at the end of the day so I wanted it to be light, airy and peaceful.

fullvanity

This isn’t just bad photography.  After staring at the sad state of our bathroom for months, I knew I couldn’t procrastinate any longer.   Notice the taupe cabinets, trim and door that had just a tint of mauve to coordinate  with the mauve walls.

horizontal before

Our house was built in the 1996, the same year this mirror and fixture were installed.  Is it me or does this picture make anyone else nervous?  It reminds me of one of those pics going around the internet where a ghost decided to reveal itself.  I think the light fixture is just as scary though.

The first task was to paint all the cabinetry, door and trim.  This was quite an undertaking but using Floetrol in my paint (Behr semigloss in pure white) helped the paint to settle well for a smooth finish.  I used this roller which is the best I have found for trim and cabinetry. Look for the roller with green lines.

lighting before

I procrastinated on this project because I knew I had possibly met my match – the shower frame!  The 20-year-old shower had horrible corrosion and no matter how much I cleaned it, that nasty shower frame still looked as gross as the first day I saw it.

Our ideal solution was to replace the shower completely with a frameless shower but we needed room in our budget for the countless other projects on our my list.    Making the shower painless to look at was my objective and I think I achieved it.  To attain this lofty goal, I reached for one of my favorite tools in my DIY arsenal – spray paint!  Yes, I decided I would spray paint the shower frame.   It only cost $80, which included spray paint and blue painters tape, but it was pretty work intensive.

shower

 

After committing to the idea, I removed all the old caulk (fun times!) and taped off with newspaper all the glass and surrounding tile.  I did not tape or cover the shower floor because any spray paint will be really easy to scrub up with soap and water, right?   WRONG!

The difficult part of this project is that you MUST cover every single square inch of your bathroom with tape, newspaper, old sheets, etc.  What you don’t cover will have a fine black powder adhered to the surface.  This is a great project to do right before you replace your flooring, like we did.

After covering and taping everything but the shower frame, I put on my respirator and started spraying the frame with automotive primer. (You have to have a respirator for this project and open all windows.  The smell dissipates quickly but its intense during the process.)

The primer wasn’t completely necessary but I wanted good adhesion to the corroded parts of the frame.  Then, I sprayed with three coats of Rustoleum Universal spray paint in Oil-Rubbed Bronze.  24 hours later I took down the sheets that I could, but I waited a full 48 hours before taking the tape off around the frame.

Be sure to score the frame edge with an exacto-knife before you take off the tape.  There were a couple places I had to touch up with spray paint remover as the spray paint got everywhere but overall it turned out better than I thought.  We will eventually get a frameless shower but this will work for now.  Rebar and Kallie seem happy with it.

vanity side view

The next task at hand was to paint the mauvish-brown trim and walls.  For the walls, I decided on Behr Ozone in Satin to achieve a relaxed, spa-like feel.

over tub

After contemplating what to hang on the wall over the bathtub, I knew whatever I displayed should be relaxing and enjoyable for the end of a long day.    Although a flat screen tv was very tempting, I decided to frame some verses that meant a lot to Jeremy and I.  We each picked two and I wrote more about what these verses mean to us and the process in a previous post.

after wall

We replaced the builder-grade mirror with two framed mirrors to give the area more interest.  The light fixtures, faucets and new knobs in satin nickel made the space more sophisticated. Notice how much better the shower looks bellow.

before after

Did I mention we built a door too?  Actually Jeremy built and hung it and I finished it with two coats of Gel stain in Minwax Walnut.  It was a nice alternative to taupe bifold doors with brass knobs.

door

I had a lot of fun accessorizing.  I made some basic white curtains out of sheets from Walmart (cheapest sheer material you will ever find).  I also enjoyed decorating with some apothecary jars and old silver of my mom’s.  It is amazing what a little silver polish can do!

As I mentioned, the framed wall verses mean a lot to me.  I picked this verse in particular because it is the heartbeat of my blog.  No matter how many or few read it, I want every word, picture and project to reflect the renovation He has done in my life.  He has fully transformed me from the inside out and I’m so thankful for His great love for us.

single pic

pinterest lead bathroom

So what do you think? Do you like it? I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out, and more importantly, it did not break the bank. And now that I have the bathroom done, I can start working on the bedroom again. Hopefully I will have another reveal for you soon.

If you like this reveal, you might also enjoy my Landscape Makeover.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I always appreciate your visits and sweet comments. Have a great day!

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Source List:

  • Mirrors – Target.com
  • Light Fixtures – Lowes
  • Pictures Frames – Target
  • Sink Fixtures – Home Depot

 

 

My “Little” Sin

Last night, I forgot to put cooking spray on the baking sheet for Morgan’s favorite food – tater tots.  This caused them to stick to the pan, making little holes in the surface of each.  This was a horrible transgression in the eyes of my very picky 5-year-old daughter. Naturally, she started crying as she was already sick, hungry, and had determined her tater tots were no longer edible

As I fixed her something else to eat, she leaned over to feed them to our already-stuffed dog, Kallie.  You know where this is headed…after cleaning up an unbelievable amount of dog vomit, Jeremy walked over to console Morgan and slipped on the wet floor where I had just cleaned!  After a few minutes questioning my life path, I realized all the chaos was a result of breaking a little rule in our household: “Thou shalt spray all tater tot pans with cooking spray.”

Sin often has the same correlation.  2 Samuel 11 shows us how small sins can be a “gateway drug” to much larger ones because sin always breeds more sin.  The passage explains that after a big victory over the Syrians, King David decided to stay home when the rest of the kings would customarily go to battle.  That was his first mistake in that He wasn’t where God wanted him.  Then, as he was lounging around the house, he saw Bathsheba bathing.  Seeing her is one thing but the Hebrew word suggests that he “examined” her.

If David had stayed in step with God’s Will, he would never have seen Bathsheba in the first place.  His lust and abuse of power lead to sleeping with Bathsheba, whom soon become pregnant.  Instead of fessing up, he felt the need to “fix” the situation by requesting that her husband Uriah be put on the front lines of battle.  Not only was he placed at the forefront of the most heated battle, but David also gave instructions for the rest of the army to pull away so Uriah would surely be killed.    When his plan to kill Uriah succeeded, he immediately married Bathsheba.

The story of David and Bathsheba illustrates that all sin should be avoided at any cost.  The Bible shows that some sins are greater than others but small sins make us vulnerable to larger sins by design.  This is the case when David neglected to go out with his army.  Stepping out of God’s Will made him vulnerable to sin and ultimately the murder of a loyal soldier.  Sin at its core is always consuming and leaves us wanting more or something it can never provide.

Carelessness with sin includes the way we approach the sins of others.   Our Christian sub-culture has a habit of rationalizing the economy of sin, often posting on Facebook about the large sins while simultaneously wallowing in the small ones.  Unfortunately, I’m equally guilty.  Often times I think I overlook the “small” sins in my life but the reality is that all sin has the same penalty, no matter the size.  All sin is deadly.

On the contrary, the truths of God’s Word satisfy our soul like nothing else can.  We are drawn towards sin because of our sinful nature, but we often think we can achieve through sin what only our God can provide.  For example, in high school I had low self-esteem, a poor body image and wanted to feel validation and self-worth.  However, I sought the wrong sources for validation.  I thought I could achieve it through looking a certain way and “dieted” to the point I was obsessed with losing weight.   This fixation soon spiraled into something ugly   I desired validation but I looked for it in how others perceived me and my own self-image instead of the only source of my validation – Jesus Christ. Except God doesn’t only give us validation; He gives us something far greater – Redemption!

lewis quote

We are most contented and satisfied when we walk in God’s ways.  C.S. Lewis once said “ Look for Christ and you will find Him. And with Him, everything else.”  God wants nothing more for us to follow Him because of His extravagant love.  This is where our hope lies, where our humanity meets his divinity.

It’s difficult to comprehend the full weight of his love, compassion and grace that He has bestowed on His children – that He would send His only son to die for us individually.  For those who trust in Him as Savior, He gives the right to be children of God.  I am learning that when I am careless with my sin, it belittles the overwhelming sacrifice He paid for me on the cross.   Sin damages our relationships with Christ, strains our ability to abide in Him and even decreases our effectiveness in ministry.  Sin always leads to chaos and pain.

In spite of David’s sin, He was still referred to as “a man after God’s own heart” in 1 Samuel 13:14.  Even though David screwed up, He continued to seek the Lord.  David knew God was his only true source of love, satisfaction and contentment, that everything else would fall short.  Sin only distracts us from walking with Him as should. The only one who can truly satisfy the human heart is the one who made it.

cherry pic

Filling the Void

before wall

After removing a brass towel bar and painting the bathroom, I contemplated what to hang on the wall over the master bathtub.  I knew whatever I displayed should be relaxing and enjoyable for the end of a long day.    Although a flat screen TV was very tempting, I decided to frame some verses that meant a lot to Jeremy and I.  We each picked two.

These verses are special to us because they are not just informative words on a page but they serve as directional markers on a map, pivot points that show us how to find our true North.  The world and even our hearts can be very deceiving, but one thing holds true – no matter your country, social status or salary, the Word of God pierces our hearts the way nothing else can or does.

Along with countless others, these truths represent defining moments in our lives where God illuminated His Truth to us.  We carry them with us, not just on the wall of our bathroom but on the wall of our hearts to know the depth, height and breadth of a loving God who actively leads His children along life’s perilous journey.

When my heart betrays me, I find solace in the truth of His Word that is alive and active, sharper than any double edged sword.  God continually works in the hearts and minds of His children through the truth of His Word.  Not just initially as a book laid on the coffee table of eternity, but God perpetually uses His Word in the DAILY lives of His children to guide them as a shepherd watches his sheep.

When I look at these transparent frames, I know these verses are not just words on a page to merely be read.  Their purpose is to be embraced – they are to be trusted, knowing the Author will catch me every time I fall.  One thing I know for sure…”My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – Psalm 73:26

after wall