God’s Reaction When We “Just Show Up”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Stove Top Potpourri Recipe

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

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

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JOY Wreath Tutorial

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

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

What You Need:

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

‘Til Next Time,

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DIY Nativity Christmas Ornament

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what you need from any craft store:

4″ grapevine wreath

3/4 inch wood ball

White card stock

Silver glitter scrapbook paper

Gauze

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

Silver glitter (optional)

twine or yarn (optional)

Hot Glue Gun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

‘Til Next Time,

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Do your Words Bless or Backfire?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God uses people that pursue Him and flee sin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Til Next Time,

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In God We Trust

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Gel Stain Wood

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

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

Here is what you need:

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

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

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

Prep Work

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

Sand

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

A Fresh Start

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

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Spindles

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

Base Coat for Staining

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

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

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

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

Gel-Stain

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

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

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

Here is how the top looked after one coat:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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If you enjoyed this tutorial, please share!

‘Til Next Time,

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Sit A Spell : The Value of Spending Time With The One Who Made It

As a young girl from southeast Texas, I knew the art of sitting on a porch swing with sweet tea.  I would talk with my grandfather…or sometimes just sit, watching the birds at the feeder.  I can still feel the cool breeze on my cheeks.  Most of the time I just enjoyed his presence in that old swing where time seemed to stand still.  No agenda.  No to-do list.  I would just sit.  Little did I know, he enjoyed this time with me even more than I did.

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As I flash forward to my current self, I am surrounded by lists, tasks and a mind swimming with new projects to work on.  Back then, time was once a shallow pool I could wade in, but now it was a rushing rapid and I am struggling to just hold on for dear life.

So many times I have quoted, “Be still and know that I am God” without spending time to truly understand the context of this verse.  Psalm 46 is one of three chapters showing appreciation to God for delivering Jerusalem from the Assyrians in battle.  Psalm 46:10 is actually directed more towards the attackers of Jerusalem by saying “Cease striving against Me.  You can’t win against my plans. I AM God.”    This verse has tremendous application for the church also.  So many times I find myself in rebellion, either passively or actively, against God’s plans.

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I’ve seen this more-so in how I spend my time.  As a strong Type-A, I have a daily to-do list with certain tasks I “must” accomplish every day (or that’s my intention, at least).  At the end of each day, I try to look at what I can check off in order to better plan for the next.  Often times, I noticed that my most urgent task was often saved until very last or even left undone – my time with God.

Why was this?  I knew my time with Him was important but my list clearly showed that I deemed other items more important, or at least more urgent.  Maybe I felt like getting other tasks accomplished was more fulfilling because I could better see immediate effects.   Whatever the case may be, I was striving against the time I needed to spend with God, in favor of other items on my list.

Somehow I got in my hand that I was accomplishing more by taking care of other tasks on my list.  However, my preoccupation with my to-do list was preventing me from doing the one thing that I needed most – spending regular time with Him in prayer and the study of His Word.

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S.D. Gordan once said, “The greatest thing anyone can do for God and for man is to pray.  You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than prayer until you have prayed.  Prayer is striking up the winning blow.  Service is gathering up the results.” In other words, if you want your time to be effective, make sure you have prayed and spent time with God.  If we want to be effective – truly effective in life – we will pray first.

There is no other time management strategy more successful than spending regular time with God – sitting with Him in prayer and meditating on His Word.  I can see a distinct difference in the days where I have not been still with Him.  Those days are always more stressful and tasks just seem to take longer.  On the days I do spend time with Him, I have comfort knowing He is in control of whatever the day brings.

When we allow other tasks to come before time with our God, we get in our own way and strive against our own productivity.  We are most productive when we are still before our Maker, spending time with Him. 

When I pick up my daughter Morgan from kindergarten each day, I can’t wait to see her, to hear about her day and to spend time with my girl.  One afternoon in the carpool line, as my hands clinched the steering wheel in excitement to see her, it dawned at me that although God knows us intimately, He has the same excitement when we spend time with Him.

As God’s Child, He loves you more than you can fathom.    Like my grandfather sat with me on the porch swing, He longs to spend time with you, to hear about your day, what’s on your mind and He desires to put your heart at ease.  If we want to make the most of our time, we will be still in the presence of the One who made it.

‘Til Next Time,

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A Christian Reaction to the Debates

No amount of fact checking can alleviate the level of malicious, back-biting remarks on both sides.   Truths are stretched.  Relationships are fractured.  Feelings are hurt.  Worst of all, faith is unraveled….  I speak not of the televised debates between candidates, as those pale in comparison to the harsh comments between many Christians on social media.

All too often, disagreements are no longer dealt with on a face-to-face basis but on the pages of Facebook.  It’s the only place where you can bash someone’s views one moment and post a funny cat video the next.

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Unfortunately, it seems many feel social media gives them a certain amount of anonymity, as a place where one can make comments they might never say in real life – whether it be a public forum, one’s workplace or a local Starbucks.  Ironically though, Facebook acquires a greater audience than any of those places put together.

When we hurt others at the expense of proclaiming our political message, we distort the message of the Gospel of Christ.

I’m  guilty of the same.  Upon seeing someone’s comment I didn’t agree with, I felt the need to “set them straight”.  Before I knew it, I was embroiled in my own debate that, although forwarded my own prideful argument, sacrificed my main cause – the cause of Christ.

God Can Use Anyone

After my rash comments, I wondered what had come over me and arrived at one conclusion – fear.

This election is historical as there have never been two more disliked candidates in our nation’s history.  No matter your political background, the implications of either candidate becoming elected can be, well….terrifying.  It leaves one wondering the state of our country, political system and safety as a whole.

One thing is sure though…no matter who is elected on November 8th, God will still remain on His throne.  No matter the outcome, He can still use anyone to carry out His Will in spite of who tries to thwart His plans.

Scripture cites several examples of God using unfaithful individuals to bring about His Will.  King Cyrus is one such example.  After the Babylonian Captivity, he ensures the Jews return to their land and even helps them to fund the rebuilding of the Temple. Isaiah 44 clearly states that although he was a pagan king, God used him to bless His people.

Another example is when God used King Nebuchadnezzar, but for a completely different reason (Jeremiah 25).  God used this idol-worshiping king as an instrument of divine judgement to destroy Jerusalem and placed them in the Babylonian Captivity as a result of their consistent rebellion.

My point is this– God is God.  A leader’s spiritual allegiance does not limit God’s capacity to use him.  God is not limited by our actions or the agents of His Will.

Hope and of Change

The agonizing rhetoric of last night’s debate can lead one to feelings of dismay and apathy.  However, our only hope of change is our God.  We have a role in this election, not only to pray for whom our ballot is cast but to pray for God’s Will though the next administration.  Perhaps our prayers will be the vehicle He uses to bring about a blessing on this country.

While God can clearly use a non-believer, He would much prefer that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would conform to His Word as a faithful follower of Him.  All things are possible.

Look at Paul who referred to himself as the “chief of all sinners”.  He actually reveled in killing Christians until one fateful day on the Damascus Road when Paul put His faith in Christ for the forgiveness of His sin.  Paul is now known as the apostle who wrote the greatest number of New Testament books.

If God can change Paul, there is hope of change for our leaders.  While God can clearly work through disobedient individuals, He would much prefer working through them with their participation as followers of Him.

Our Reaction

Fear cannot be the driving force behind our conversations and actions regarding the election.   Our role is to be a light to others in a dark world.  John 1:4-5 states, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  No darkness can ever overcome the light of Jesus Christ and that light resides in us.

Through the power of prayer, we have a red phone on our desk to the ruler of the universe.  Although we may not feel our vote is heard, our prayers are heard by a much higher authority that the office of the POTUS.  Not only should we pray for clarity for our vote, but also for the candidate elected, whether we voted for them or not.

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In Isaiah 43:1, God reassures His people by saying, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you.  I have called you by name and you are mine.”  Little did they know that God would soon use the pagan King Cyrus to deliver them from captivity.

Although our light may feel small, it has the power to illuminate the path for those who don’t know Him yet.  While anticipating the future of the “red, white and blue”, we cannot forget where our Hope lies.  As the song says, it is where “our blood ran red but our sin was washed white.”  Our only hope resides in the cross of Christ.

 

When Food Was My Best Friend: How I Overcame Emotional Eating

The object of my affection was always there…three times a day, every day.  Unlike the ability to throw out the last pack of cigarettes, there was always another meal coming.  So many times, I found not only was I consuming food, but it was consuming me.

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Is Food Addiction Really A “Thing?”

My struggle with emotional eating didn’t happen overnight.  I got into the habit of rewarding myself with a snack or cheering myself up on a bad day with a bowl of ice cream.  Sometimes I would even use food as an excuse to take a break from a difficult task, saying to myself, “A girl’s gotta eat, right?”  These actions seemed harmless enough at the time, but before I knew it, food was my comforter, not God.

Food had become my best friend.

While there’s no doubt that food is good and God created food for our nourishment and enjoyment, a problem occurs when we take pleasure in food more than we delight in Him.  God is the only one that can truly satisfy our hearts.  He is the provider and sustainer of our emotional well-being so when we seek to satisfy ourselves with something other than Him, we inevitably end up with a bigger mess on our hands (What Are You Consumed With?).

James writes to Jewish Christians about the dangers of temptation in James 1:13-18.  He says, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when is in is accomplished, it brings forth death.  Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”

Upon entering into a relationship with Christ, one has eternal life with Him, but that doesn’t mean that the ways of the enemy are no longer corruptive and damaging.  When we succumb to temptation, we trade the blessings of obedience for the affliction of the world.  Like fishing, the bait is enticing but it only leads to destruction.

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God did not design our bodies to handle sin well.  If I ate ravenously upon any moment of emotional discomfort, my health would decline rapidly, not to mention what it would do to my spiritual walk with Him.

Why Is It So Hard?

There were times that I thought I would never overcome my battle with emotional eating.  The cravings were so strong that I could hardly think rational thoughts.  For those of you struggling, I know what it means to feel the sheer force of this addiction.  I get it…

The way to overcome is “to be dead to sin and alive in Christ” by knowing that the power in you is greater than the power of your addiction (Romans 6:11).  This is not just a psychological exercise but know that the One who is in you is greater than the one in the world.  We have to fully know and own that truth if we are going to overcome this battle.  The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness (Rom. 8:26) and relying on Him when temptation comes is crucial.  We must take our every thought captive and redirect it in obedience to Him (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Just Start

My biggest struggle in overcoming this stronghold was that it overwhelmed me.  Lysa Terkeurst once said “As I took positive steps, the Lord strengthened my heart day by day.  One good decision turned into two, turned into three and eventually into victory.  Just Start!”

Do not be overwhelmed with the task of overcoming this entire stronghold in your life.  Just focus on allowing God to help you defeat the next temptation.   The first time will be the hardest.  The next time will be a little easier and so forth.  Before you know it, a few small steps will become a thousand miles.

When I could see that God was giving me the strength to overcome this stronghold, I gained a new momentum that could only be from Him.  Now my emotional and physical cravings for food are not nearly as strong as they once were.

With every temptation, we have a choice:

Will we succumb to temptation, allowing it to strengthen the stronghold it already has over our lives?

Or…Will we allow God to do an amazing work in us as a result of this temptation?  (James 1:4)

Since relinquishing this addiction to Him one temptation at a time, He has grown and blessed me in ways I never knew were possible.

The verse I remember when tempted to go to food for comfort is Psalm 63:3, because the life that God promises in obedience is far better than the destruction that sin disguises.  When we look to Him for satisfaction, we find that he not only meets our every need, but surpasses every expectation.

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‘Til Next Time,

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DIY Custom Curtain Rods

The curtain rods in our new house looked like something out of a 1960 Sears catalog and they had to go.  Knowing I had 16 windows to buy for, I realized the cost would add up fast for something so simple.  Since I wanted to spend more money on curtains, paint and accessories, I decided to figure out a way to make my own rods.

We moved into our house a year ago knowing we had lots of projects ahead.  Every room was crying out for a makeover, but honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Making curtain rods was another opportunity to put our own touch on a house we love so much.

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What You Will Need:

Electrical Conduit (I used ½ inch which is actually ¾ in. in diameter)

Cabinet Knobs

Pipe Cutter

Spray Paint (I used Rustoleum Universal in Oil Rubbed Bronze)

Curtain Brackets

Electrical Tape

Super Glue (Gel is best for this)

4” screws with a Flat Head

Hot Glue (optional)

Rod Connectors for Bay Window Rods (optional)

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First, go to the electrical section in your favorite home improvement store for electrical conduit.  I had thought about using wood dowels, but you would see the wood grain when it was spray painted.  PVC was another option, but it was too flexible, which is why electrical conduit was the perfect choice.

Electrical conduit is my new best friend.  Not only is it durable, and easy to cut, but it is also extremely cheap.  An 8’ piece of 1/2” electrical conduit will run you less than $3.00!  Be sure to pick conduit that is straight as some can be a little bent.

The best deal I found on curtain rod brackets were at Home Depot.  Make sure your bracket will fit your rod diameter.  These worked nicely with the ½” conduit.

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Assuming you already have curtains, measure for your brackets to match your curtain length (don’t forget to account for the height of the rings and clips if you use them).   I needed new curtains in the whole house so I put the brackets where I wanted the rods before even making the curtains.  I bought 110” curtains at Target because I decided that re-hemming Target curtains was cheaper and easier than making new ones from scratch.

Measure the desired width of your rod and add at least 4 to 6 inches so it extends a couple inches past your window on both sides.  In several cases, I extended my rods over a foot on each side of my windows.  I did this to make the window look larger than it actually is.

Notice how small this window is but it looks much larger when I extended the curtains out as far as they would go.  It also lets more light in which is always a good thing!

Mark the new rod size with a pencil so you know where to cut.  To cut the rod, you simply tighten the pipe cutter so the round blade is in line with the line you marked.  Tighten it just enough that you can still rotate it around the rod with some tension.  Keep rotating the pipe cutter around the rod until it gets loose again, tighten slightly and continue to spin it.  Do this until the groove in the rod is deep enough that the end pops off at the cut.

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Be sure to check around to see if you can borrow a pipe cutter.  They are not very expensive but I bought one for myself, only to find out my husband already has one and my dad has two.

Now it’s time to work on the knobs.  For the bay window in the kitchen, I wanted the look of these round glass finials at Restoration Hardware but wasn’t about to pay $50 a pair, especially when I would need so many.   So, I stumbled upon 30mm Glass Cabinet Knobs at Amazon for just over $1 each.  Jackpot!

Next, super glue the head of the screw to the bottom of the knob.  Trust me, it works!

I used an ample amount of super glue and used an egg carton to hold them in place as they dried.  As they dry, you will see some white residue from the glue on the base of the knob but the paint will cover that.   Let the finials dry 48 hours to be on the safe side.

Now it’s time to paint.  We saved this step until now so we didn’t ruin the paint finish when cutting the rod or gluing the knobs.

My favorite spray paint is Rustoleum Universal and I used Oil-Rubbed Bronze.    Read the directions on the can.  They are serious about those recoat times!

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At the same time you paint your rod, you will also want to spray paint your finials (cabinet knobs) and any other hardware.  If I had to do this over again, I would have painted the brackets too so they are exactly the same color.

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For the curtains in the dining room, I some orange knobs I found really cheap on Amazon.  Then, I just spray painted the entire knob.  For the glass knobs, I just taped off the glass sphere with blue painter’s tape before painting.

After the paint has have dried overnight, I wrapped electrical tape around the screw so it would fit snugly into the end of the conduit.  Be sure to wrap at least 2 rows of tape around screw.  This will take some trial and error as you find the right amount of tape so the finial end fits. I just kept adding tape until it was tight enough. Secure it with hot glue if that helps.

 

For the bay window rod, I used these connectors which happened to fit my curtain rods.

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Below is our master bedroom curtain rod, the tie-backs for the breakfast area bay window and the rod for my daughter’s room.

 

After attaching the finials to the rods, I hung my curtains.  I repeated this project for all 16 windows in our house and estimate that I saved a minimum of $500 if I bought all Target curtain rods.  Each rod with finials and hardware cost me about $5.

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Soon on the blog, I will share my secret on how I faked pinch-pleat curtains with pleater tape, binder rings and paper clips.

If you like this post, please share it on social media.  You might also like:

Made Over, Inside and Out – China Cabinet Makeover

DIY Vanity Transformation

‘Til Next Time,

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