F 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… More
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.
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!
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.
After 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.
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.
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-
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
- Mirrors – Target.com
- Light Fixtures – Lowes
- Pictures Frames – Target
- Sink Fixtures – Home Depot
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!
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.
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
Several tools can be beneficial when you find yourself struggling with worry or anxiety. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, anxiety is something we have all experienced at one time or another as it is a universal emotional. However, it is often experienced but seldom discussed. When you are battling with this fear, it is important to access our greatest weapon – God’s Word. Sometimes this concept can seem too simple but overwhelming all at the same time.
Whether you have occasional worries or regularly struggle with anxiety, here are some tips that can help:
Whether it’s a best friend, a parent, your spouse or a doctor, it is important to tell someone you trust. When I struggled a few years ago, I came to a turning point when my friend Rebecca asked me to dinner. At Chick-fil-a one evening, I spilled it all to her – the whole awful, messy truth. As embarrassed as I was, she completely understood and gave me good advice. That was a big turning point for me, because my humiliation of dealing with anxiety was just creating more anxiety.
C.S. Lewis once said “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also harder to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.” Telling someone else means you no longer feel you have to carry the burden alone. God worked through her that evening to help me take an important step towards embracing His Word and the freedom only it can provide.
You Can’t Do It Alone:
I learned the hard way that I could not fight this battle on my own because I would lose every time. Realizing it was not my battle to fight, my rally cry became Exodus 14:14, which says “The Lord your God will fight for you. You need only to be still.”
My old habits of repressing these emotions and distracting myself did not deal with the real issue at hand. I finally rested in the fact that He had to do the fighting and my job was to remain close to Him and His Word. (Disclaimer: So many times, when I just get over my own stubbornness and embrace whatever God is telling me, I realize that it affords me so much more joy and freedom than doing things on my own. Often, I think we associate God’s Word with the drudgery of rule-following, but really it produces just the opposite – freedom from the very things that are weighing us down.)
Tackle Repetitive Thoughts
This is where the rubber meets the road for overcoming fearful thoughts, because we have to put Scripture into practice. Every single time you worry or have an anxious thought, you have to extinguish it with God’s Truth. Worry and anxiety are habitual, so it is important to stop the cycle with the only thing that really can. Here are a few tools that will help:
Worry Box – I have noticed that anxiety is most often a side effect of not trusting God in some aspect of my life. For example, when my daughter went through a rare autoimmune disease, I was constantly worried about the results of her next weekly blood draw. To remedy my worry, I would take a step back and prayerfully entrust my concerns to God. The problem occurred when not 15 minutes later, I found myself worried about the same concern all over again.
A friend helped me to see that when I prayed, I was not laying my prayers at his feet and leaving them there. I was praying but not trusting him enough to handle the situation. Faith means we leave our requests at his feet, not to pick them up over and over again. I really struggled with this and the following exercise helped me immensely!
First, every single time you worry, write down that worry on a small piece of paper. Then, write down a verse or truth that counters that fear. In worrying about my daughter’s disease, I’d write down Jeremiah 29:11, which reminded me to rest in the truth that He loves her more than I do and He is going to take care of her. (By the way, my daughter is in complete remission from her disease!).
Once you write down the prayer request and a verse, pray about that worry, entrusting it to God. Then, fold up the paper and put it in a small box. When you find yourself tempted to worry about the same concern again, remember that “it’s in the box”. In other words, you already prayed about it and trusted it to God. The box was nothing but a physical representation to help me remember that I already laid my request at his feet and it was not to be picked up again. Although there was nothing spiritually significant about the box, it was a good reminder to trust God with my worries and LEAVE them with him. (I found that a Tazo tea box taken apart and re-taped makes a great Worry Box.)
Journal Anxious Thoughts – You can apply the same concept with a journal and it’s much more convenient when you are on the go. When you feel anxious about something, simply write down that thought and a Scripture reference before you pray. Then you have a visual reminder that you already trusted God with that request and you have no reason to fear!
I know what you must be thinking…“Seriously?!? Are you joking? Do you really expect me to take the time to write down every single anxious thought I have.” That was my immediate mental response when my friend told me to try it. To my surprise, it worked as it helped me to be accountable to every thought. The more I recorded my worries in order to counter them with God’s truth, the easier it got and the more freedom I experienced from worry and anxiety.
Control your Brain’s Background Noise
I don’t know about men, but most women think in more than one layer at a time. For example, I can be engaged in a conversation with my mom, while my background thoughts are simultaneously engaged in worry and anxiety about a completely different topic. God created women’s brains to be multi-faceted, because He knew we needed to be well-equipped to multitask. However, He didn’t intend for His daughters to be immersed in fear and anxiety while going about their God-given roles.
What worked for me was to drown out those background thoughts with new thoughts. For example, if I found myself worrying while emptying the dishwasher, I’d read over a Bible verse on an index card and say it to myself over and over again. Another tactic was to sing a song or listen to Christian music. While our brains are amazing, they can only be occupied with so many conscience thoughts at once. So, I basically forced my brain to be filled with something else than worry. It even helps mundane tasks, like emptying the dishwasher, to go much faster.
Surround Yourself with God’s Promises
As I mentioned in the last post, butterflies were a reminder for me of God’s promise of His overwhelming love and ability to transform me. Because I’m often quick to forget his faithfulness, I made a couple reminders of butterflies around the house to help me remember his ability to overcome my every struggle and transform me to be more like Him.
To make some DIY framed art, I spray painted some old frames with Rustoleum Universal in Satin Nickel, my favorite silver spray paint. Then, I framed some fabric (Premiere Prints Barber Village Blue) that already had butterflies. To make the butterflies pop, I filled them in with a navy paint pen. Also I bought a cute frame at Michael’s for my make-up table. I cut a piece of canvas drop cloth the same size of the frame and stuck on some self-adhesive lace butterflies I found in the scrapbook section. Throughout the day I see these frames and I am reminded about the Lord’s immense love for me and His willingness to transform me to be more like Him.
Lysa Terkeurst once wrote that one of her greatest weapons against anxiety was Jesus’ name because the word itself carries so much power. One night I found myself with anxious thoughts swirling through my head. No matter what I did, I couldn’t fall asleep and I tried everything! I decided to give her advice a try and started whispering His name over and over. The next thing I knew it was morning. This worked for me night after night and I still do this at bedtime when I have a lot on my mind.
Whatever you are struggling with, know that it will not last forever, that God has a plan, and He will see it to completion. God is powerful enough to create the earth so He is surely powerful enough to overcome any fears that are weighing you down, not matter how overwhelming. Genesis 18:14 states, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
Until a couple years ago, I struggled with anxiety off and on from the time I was a little girl. These are the tools that were helpful to me when I finally decided to let God fight my battle. God gave His Word the power to overcome any anxious thought, worry or fear. He wants nothing more to give you freedom from this stronghold. Of course, I still have worries and fears at times, but through the power of His Word, I was finally able to rest in Him. Turn your burdens over to Him, because He never intended you to carry them in the first place.
Verses about Fear and Anxiety:
2 Timothy 1:7
1 John 4:18
1 Peter 5:6-7
Few know how much I have struggled with anxiety in the past. This secret monster seems to rear its ugly head whenever I go through a lot of change or a transition in life. Two years ago, I went through my most horrific experience with anxiety to the point that my heart would race and I had insomnia. Experiencing these physical side effects made me realize that it was time I fully dealt with this all-consuming emotion. My usual coping mechanisms of distraction and repression were only making matters worse.
Within the Christian realm, anxiety is often not a fashionable topic of conversation, however, it is one of the most prevalent struggles for Christians today. Only three months ago, I sat around my Bible study group of several strong, seemingly unshakable women and shared about my past issues with worry and anxiety. To my dismay, over half the women in the group admitted to having severe struggles with anxiety at some point of their lives, to the point it would manifest itself in debilitating physical symptoms. It lead me to wonder if anxiety is so prevalent among Christians, why is it often swept under the rug?
I believe there are two main answers to this question, both equally dangerous. Often we look at “worry” as something we just all do. In fact, it is assumed that every good mother worries. However, the Bible is clear in saying “Do NOT worry”. In other words, “worry is non-optional”, as it will only add trouble to our day (Matthew 6). Unfortunately, I feel like I have down-played this sin of worry in my own life, only to allow it to spiral out of control. John Piper once said that “The root cause of anxiety is a failure to trust all that God has promised us in Jesus”. If we don’t trust God with the small things, we eventually open ourselves up to distrust God with the big things. Our distrust relinquishes our thoughts and emotions to focus on ourselves and the result is inevitably fear. The alternative is to draw near to Him, knowing that He has full control and cares for us more than we can comprehend. This is when we can experience the peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:6-7).
The other reason I feel the problem of anxiety often goes unaddressed is that so few people will admit they struggle with it. When I have struggled in the past, I didn’t want others to know because I was afraid someone would think I was crazy. I was afraid that if I told someone how much my thoughts were consumed with worry, it would discredit me and my ability to do my job properly.
Worry or anxiety left unchecked will manifest itself in an array of physical symptoms including sore muscles, headaches, insomnia, racing heartbeat and stomach issues, just to name a few. However, what can be more detrimental is the emotional and spiritual upset that anxiety can produce. At the very least, it will rob you from the blessings God wants you to enjoy and a steady mindset that allows you to be open to the God-given opportunities around you. When you allow worry to go unchecked, it will inevitably snowball.
Researchers have found that when we have a thought, it makes a neurological connection in our brain. When we think the same thought over and over again, the connection becomes deeper much like a trench that is widened with every swipe of a bulldozer. With every repetition of the same thought, that neurological connection is stronger, especially if the thought is connected to an emotion. Therefore, problems arise when the thought is associated with fear or anxiety. When we worry, we think the same anxious thought over and over and the trench is made ever deeper in our brain. With each repeating thought, the fear becomes more consuming as this thought is more prevalent and easily accessed. Before we know it, a small worry can snowball into tremendous fear as this connection is already augmented in our brain. This is why worry can be so difficult to overcome and why a very small (almost undetectable) thought can result in a panic attack for some. Therefore, small worries can quickly become overwhelming if this process isn’t stopped and reversed.
To remedy this problem, psychologists suggest to think a positive thought every time the initial worry comes to mind. This will work eventually but you have to have a positive thought for every negative thought to undo this neurological connection and “backfill the trench” completely. For professional worriers like myself, this could take a while.
However God gave us a short cut! God’s Word is so powerful that it is exponentially more effective than mere positive thinking. Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The Bible is not simply a history book or large devotional but it is the actual inspired Word of the very creator of the Universe, who breathed life into each one of us. So surely, it is powerful enough to help us with anxious thoughts. When we confront Satan’s lies with God’s Word, it refills this trench much more quickly and completely until our negative thoughts are completely filled with the truth of God’s Word. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthian 10:5) Isn’t it amazing that through God’s Word we take captive every anxious thought and make it obedient to Him?. This means we don’t just harness our worries to keep them from building, but we completely transform our anxious thoughts into thoughts that honor Him.
I know what you’re thinking … “That sounds great Karin, but you have no idea how strong my fears have become.” I’m here to tell you that I get it and I realize how horrific anxiety can be. At times it can be like a swirling tornado of fear that you feel like you can’t escape – simply because you can’t run from your own self. Fortunately, through relying on God and meditating on His Word, He will provide us with a way out.
When you feel a fearful thought coming on, your first step should be to go to God’s Word. When I struggled two years ago, I summoned the courage to share about it in a Bible study group for mom’s. To my dismay, another young mom in the group named Katy came to me afterwards and said she was struggling with the exact same thing. She said that when we feel anxious we could stop and pray for one another and we each did just that. She also sent me a list of verses that she had written out on cards that were especially helpful to her. She said when she felt an anxious thought come on, she would stop and recite one of the verses on the list. Here is the very list she emailed to me that day and now I pass them on to you:
Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Psalm 34:4 – I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
2 Timothy 1:7- For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.
Phil 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Jeremiah 29:11- For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Isiah 40:31 – But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
1 Thes 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
.Exodus 14:14 – The Lord your God will fight for you, you need only to be still.
The verse that stuck out to me most was Exodus 14:14 It made me realize that my only job was to sit at His feet and seek Him – that He would fight the battle for me. So, when I had an anxious thought, I pulled out my verse card and read this verse, sometimes out loud. When I couldn’t sleep at night, I repeated this verse over and over again and it helped like nothing else before. I could see that there was power in praying God’s Word and that He was having victory over my anxiety.
What’s fascinating about this list of verses is that Katy had used this same list to combat her fearful thoughts. She had gotten the list from another friend in our Bible study group who had used the same list for the same reason, before she passed them onto Katy. Sharing my struggle with others made me realize I was not alone – that others had struggled as I did and came out on the other side stronger than before. God orchestrated the situation perfectly. He put us in the same group at various times to support each other when we needed it most.
During this time of anxiety, I grew exponentially more than any other time in my life. The experience allowed me to realize the power of God’s Word and the depth of His love for me. In my hour of need, He not only didn’t leave my side but He made sure I had constant reminders of His love for me.
That November, I saw a strange number of butterflies outside, which seemed odd for the beginning of winter. Every time I went outside, one seemed to cross my path. Whether I was driving or went outside with Morgan, they were everywhere, popping up in the times I needed a distraction the most. When I was inside, I was still seeing butterflies at various times on TV, on a sign at store, on a thank you note, etc. Eventually, I realized God was trying to tell me something. God was trying to communicate that He loved me enough to transform my thoughts, just as he transforms a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. I realized that this process of transforming my thoughts was just that….it was transforming me as a person. I learned that exposure to the truth of God’s Word always results in change – transformative change that allows you to be more like Him. When God sends His Word out, He promises it will never return void. He always sends it out to accomplish something (Isaiah 55:11). It was not overnight, but through this process of praying Scripture and repeating His Word in my head, I began to see a light at the end of the tunnel – a new freedom and trust that allowed me to have a better view of His love for me.
If you are struggling with anxiety on any level, know that you are not alone. Feel free to email me so I can pray for you at Karin.email@example.com. Part 2 of this post will describe strategies to help us to hold His Word at the forefront of our minds when anxiety strikes.
Upon moving into our house last year, I knew that we would have to take some considerable steps to add curb appeal to our home. The landscaping was messy, overgrown, impractical and just not our style. I got a few bids from local landscapers which made me decide to implement my own budget-friendly plan. Enjoy these 10 easy steps to a seamless and affordable landscape makeover!
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Demo
This was a project that had to be tackled in several steps as we had to clear out all the underbrush and small trees (except one crepe myrtle) in the front yard. None of the small trees were in good shape and were in an odd location, right in front of the view of the front door. The function of landscaping is to complement your home, making it open and inviting. If any aspect overwhelms or distracts from your home, it has to go! Notice how much more light comes in by losing the small trees.
2. Time to Touch Up
While plants were not in my way, I took this opportunity to paint the trim of our house. The brick color has an orange tone, which I’m not super excited about, so I wanted to direct the eye away from those warm tones. The previous yellow/cream color was only adding to those orange hues but the white paint made it very crisp and cool as shown above. I used Sherwin Williams Pure White in Superpaint. I usually save money by using Behr but on a project like this where you are painting so much overhead, my arms were grateful for not having to do an extra coat or two! (Sherwin Williams has great coupons once you join their email list.)
3. Make A Plan on Paper
Next, and I cannot emphasize this enough, make sure to get every aspect of your plan on paper. It is so much easier to make changes on paper than it is to move plants already in the ground. Be sure to look on Pinterest and in your area for ideas.
Since the walkway and face of our house includes lots of straight lines and sharp, right angles, I knew I wanted to make our beds curvy to add more interest. Use large plants in the back and smaller plants up front. As you get plans on paper, think more about the shapes of plants (For example: tall and grassy verses a small round shrub) you would like for your plan than the particular plant types- you can fill that in later. Look for large voids against your house and fill those with tall shrubs or a trellis.
I used an old hose to plan out the edge of the flowerbed and spent a lot of time getting it just right. Once I was happy of the shape of the new beds, I used spray paint to outline the border. There were a couple times I changed my mind after using the spray paint, which was not a big deal. I just used my foot to wipe the old line out of the grass and sprayed a new line.
4. Pick your Plants
Now, research the plants that would work best for your landscape design and region. Use plants that you see thriving in your area as you know these will be a wise addition to your landscape. Be sure to take note of the size your plants will reach at maturity or know that you can prune them back if you need to. For example, I used several dwarf yaupon, (shown above) which can become small trees if you let them just grow, but my plan is to prune them every year to keep them small and round. Pick trees that will not grow too large or just make sure to put them far enough away from the house. The crepe myrtle I picked is a smaller variety. Also, email your local extension office for questions about plants. They are happy to answer specific questions and often times they have a list of what plants do well in your location.
Also, avoid planting a large plant or tree directly in front of the vertical lines of either side of your house as covering these lines of delineation will make your home look smaller. Notice the new crape myrtle tree’s trunk is to the left of the house.
5. Maximize Color
Use lots of color to add curb appeal and incorporate colors that coordinate with one another. Maximize your opportunities for color by using flowering shrubs such as azaleas and rhododendrons, which come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. These are good background plants because they flower most of the year, and can be pruned into a rounded shape or a hedge. Unfortunately, because of the alkaline soil of our area in College Station, Texas, azaleas will not grow here…at all. So, my solution is using Drift Roses that I will keep pruned back because they will grow just about anywhere with very little maintenance. Drift roses are very disease resistant, heat resistant roses that are a cross between a miniature rose and a ground cover rose. The Peach Drift Rose(below) is also more shade resistant and will bloom most of the year. Aren’t the color combinations amazing?!?
6. Where to Buy Your Plants
The big box stores can be great for finding cheap plants but in ours, only about 1/3 of the plants they sell will actually grow in our alkaline soil. Big box stores don’t take a lot of care to pick plants that will do well in each store’s region. Often, private nurseries in your area will only sell plants that will grow in your particular area and zone. If in doubt, be sure to ask someone at a local nursery. I googled nurseries in our area and stumbled upon a wholesale nursery called Circle D that sells to the public on Saturday mornings. It had by far the best selection of plants that all grow in our area for a fraction of the cost. I was actually able to buy the exact same plants that would have been three times the price a landscaper was going to charge me.
7. Prep the Bed and Plant!
Once I brought all my plants home, I then spaced them all out exactly how I wanted them and took pictures with my phone to refer back to when I was time to plant. Then, we brought in 5 yards of Landscape Mix (dirt with compost) and we used that to build up the beds. We literally dumped the soil on top of the grass as we knew our beds were high enough that the grass would never be able to grow through. Buy dirt by the bulk and have it delivered as it is much cheaper than buying bags. We used the remaining dirt to fill holes in the backyard.
Once Jeremy and I added the soil to the beds, I began to plant. Start with the biggest plants first and be sure to ask for help with planting large plants, unlike I did. Then, plant from the back to the front, taking care to step in the bed as little as possible to keep the soil loose as plant roots don’t like soil that has been packed down.
8. Extra Touches
I ran soaker hoses and fertilized with Osmocote. Then, I added a few touches of my own for extra curb appeal!
First was the stone bird bath. It was actually left by the former owners in the backyard. It had chipped paint and had definitely seen better days. I sprayed it with a Clorox/water solution and scraped the paint that was peeling with a wire brush. Then I let it dry out in our garage for at least a week. When it was dried out, I sprayed it with Rustoleum Universal Flat Soft Iron. I’m really happy with how it turned out!
As I mentioned, I knew I needed to fill the mass of blank space on the side of the house. I bought three trellises from Lowe’s and just attached them with lots of black cable ties – easy peasy! I liked the look of the two end pieces being lower in a more cathedral look, so that’s how I attached them to one another and then just buried the bottom of the two side trellises deeper. This plan was MUCH cheaper than buying one large 6-foot-wide trellis.
I also made a garden hose holder using this tutorial from Shanty2Chic. I figure if you can’t hide something that is ugly, you might as well make it cute! I bought the finial and post cap from Home Depot and bought the hose hanger from Walmart. After spray painting it with Rustoleum Black Semigloss, I buried it, added a hose and voila! The whole hose holder cost $26.00.
I also enjoyed making the wreath and topiaries. I got the topiary balls on sale at Joanne’s and bought plastic planters. For the stems, I wired some sticks from the backyard together and painted them brown with craft paint.
9. Newspaper Mulch.
Next I added a thick layer of newspaper over the soaker hoses. Newspaper is great for controlling weeds as it smothers existing weeds and prevents weed seeds from germinating. It also helps the bed to retain moisture and attracts worms which is great for the soil. Add a thick layer and wet it down to prevent the wind from blowing it away. Then add two to three layers of black mulch. Adding newspaper is definitely worth the extra step and its free!
10. Rock Border
We had help with the mulch and rocks because of a service project at Texas A&M University called Big Event. A group from the Association of Pediatric Cancer at Texas A&M covered our beds with mulch and meticulously placed the rocks along the edges.
My favorite aspect of this project is one particular plant called a Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow plant. I needed something to cover the gas meter(yes, I painted it too) and I planted this right in front. It’s not a very common plant, but it is special to me because my grandmother had one in her garden. What’s unique about this plant is that once it blooms, the flowers are deep purple the first day, lavender the next day and then fade to white the third day. She was careful to explain to me that the plant signifies the three days that Christ hung on the cross. The darkness of the purple represents the depth of our sin but then by the last day the white flower signifies the purification, forgiveness and new life that can only come from Jesus’ death and resurrection. When we accept this act of unselfish love, we can enjoy eternal life with Him. Here is my Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow plant that reminds me of grandmother and the Legacy she left for the rest of our family.
My grandmother had a green thumb and everything she touched would bloom and thrive. I think she would have been pleased with my new flower beds. Hopefully with these tips, you will have an amazing yard you can be proud of Anyone can have amazing curb appeal without having to spend a lot on landscaping.
As a stay at home mom, I’m often tempted to believe the lie that I’m not capable of making a big impact in God’s Kingdom. I was wallowing in this assumption on my way to Walmart with Morgan one morning. When I got there, I kept seeing the same Indian woman over and over. I almost ran into her with my cart accidentally, because it seemed every turn I took, she was there. This was shortly after the Paris attacks so couldn’t help but wonder how it made her feel. I must have seen her at least eight different times to the point that we chuckled and smiled at one another the last couple times. It was then I realized this wasn’t a coincidence (actually, I’m not sure if there really is such a thing) and I knew it was my job to pray for her…to pray for her salvation and whatever she might be dealing with at the time. So, as we walked back to the car, I prayed for her, knowing that there is tremendous power in prayer. 1 John 5:14-15, states “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” Therefore, God tells us that ANYTHING that we pray that is in accordance with His Will, will come to pass.
My parents live in our neighborhood and I had to drop something off at their house one morning. I noticed an Indian woman walking down the sidewalk. She was wearing a coral top, button-down top, black pants and a head covering. I said hello and walked up the driveway. Not 5 minutes later, I was back at our house. At the same point on the sidewalk I noticed an Asian woman wearing the exact same colored, button-down top and pants walking down the exact same point of the sidewalk at our house. I thought, “That’s a weird coincidence” and realized that maybe I was supposed to pray for these two women. James 5:16 says that “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”. Because of what He did on the cross for me, I am righteous in His sight and my prayers are backed by His power – the very same power that created the heavens and the earth.
I may never know the eternal outcome of those prayers, but I do know that if I would have been too hurried about my to-do list, I would have missed seeing them altogether. God wants us to be still enough to notice “coincidences”. For, if He knows the very number of hairs on our heads and stars in the sky, then He is working behind the scenes in more intricate ways than we can ever fathom. I am now convinced that such coincidences are God’s way of inviting you to play participate in the eternal.
Often I get so preoccupied with my to do list or trying to become efficient and effective for His Kingdom that I forget to watch for “coincidences” and listen to what the Holy Spirit is really trying to tell me. Our American culture is not conducive to concept of stillness. As I type this, there is a phone sitting next to me that is like crack cocaine for someone as myself with a short attention span. Our world feeds us layer upon layer of distraction and our American culture tells us that if your life is not hurried and overcommitted, you have no life at all. What’s interesting to note is that Jesus was usually busy but He was never hurried. He always gave proper attention to what the Father gave Him in that moment. He was never too hurried to talk to the women at the well or have the little children sit at His feet.
What’s ironic is that by human terms, Jesus was never really efficient or effective in doing ministry. If He was, he might not have sent a small band of inadequate men to evangelize the entire world. Also, Christ’s main ministry was most successful after His death. My point is this – God does not limit himself to human plans, efforts and concepts. As high as the heavens are from the earth, so are His thoughts than our thoughts and His ways than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). So it is a much better use of time and energy to sit and wait for our Father’s instructions than rush ahead of God’s Will.
It is ironic that stillness is the ultimate time-saver. What God can accomplish through us in 10 minutes of prayers is more than we can do on our own in a lifetime. I’m so very thankful that God does not work in human terms and His ways are perfect. I’m also grateful that God does not call the qualified, but he qualifies the called. Our most important job is not to plot how we can be effective for ministry, as that is a great recipe for getting in the way of God’s perfect plans. But our role is to sit at His feet, to be still and know that He is God. When we are still enough, we begin to become in-tune with how God is continually working around us, we come to how God has intricately positioned us in His plan. Our highest calling and greatest role in life is as children who sit at His feet and listen attentively. When we are hurried and preoccupied with our to-do lists, we might miss out on being a part of how God is working around us and most importantly, how He wants to work through us.