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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If you feel this post would be helpful to others, share it on social media.   Feel free to comment below with your thoughts and insights.

‘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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How To Be A Woman God Uses, Part 2: Worship

Worship is more than singing on Sunday.  It’s the life we live the rest of the week.” As 20th Century Christians in the Western world, offering sacrifices on an altar is not exactly on our daily to-do list.  The  thought of preparing for the grain offering by spending hours a day stone-grinding grain is completely foreign to me.  However, the Levitical law gives us a visual representation of how our lives are to be living sacrifices.  As it says in Romans 12, our lives are to be holy and pleasing to God – this is our true spiritual act of worship.

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In addition to seeing God as our Provider, the grain offering illustrates how we should worship Him.  Even as New Testament believers, God is particular about how we approach Him. In the time of Moses, the Israelites “accessed” God through the tabernacles, sacrifices and the priests.

Since then, the veil in the Holy of Holies has been torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51).  Upon knowing Christ, the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts for eternity.  Not only is there no more separation between us and the Father, but the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob actually lives within us!  The mere thought of God actually residing in the hearts of His people would have blown the mind of any Israelite in Moses’ day.

Unlike the Israelites, we are under the New Covenant, however, God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Although the Levitical offerings are obsolete, He is still the object of our worship.  Today, worship is using our God-given gifts to honor Him and to serve others on a daily basis, not just Sundays, because our lives are a living sacrifice unto God.  The grain offering gives us several clues as to what our worship should look like.

Consistency in Worship

The grain offering was given after every burnt offering, which would have been every morning, every evening and three times on the Sabbath.  As He did with the Israelites, God wants our worship to be consistent, a regular part of our lives.  Going to church on Sunday is great but we should spend time each day in the Word in order to know Him better.  Jen Wilkin said, “The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.”  In studying His Word, we have a greater glimpse into the character and greatness of our God, who is so worthy of our praise.

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In John 6:48, Jesus declared He was the bread (grain) of life.  Just like we need daily physical nourishment, we need daily spiritual nourishment as well.  We get that nourishment by spending time in His Word.

Imagine owning a car that requires gas every day.  When we don’t fill up our tanks daily, we are simply running on fumes.  I learned the hard way that I cannot worship God effectively if I am not spending consistent time in His Word and in prayer.  Consistent worship requires a consistent relationship. 

Our Participation

The grain offering differed from the burnt offering in that the Israelite making the sacrifice could actually play a role in offering the grain on the altar.   (With the burnt offering, only the priests were allowed to place the animal on the altar.)  The sacrificer could not add to the grain offering but was encouraged to participate in it.  In other words, God never saw the efforts of the offerer as part of the actual sacrifice.  The offering was the grain itself and that was a pleasing aroma to God.   However, God wanted the individual to participate in the offering.

God reminds us in this special distinction that although we have nothing to give God of ourselves, He wants us to participate in worship.  He gave the sacrificer freedom to offer the grain cooked, uncooked, in flour with oil, plain, etc.  In today’s terms, you could offer the grain in the form of donuts, cookies, cinnamon rolls, etc.

God gave us freedom in worship, as we don’t all worship the same way or possess the same gifts.  God takes joy in seeing us use our particular gifts and resources to praise Him.

As 1 Corinthians 10:31 states, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of the Lord.”  Worship can be anything we do to bring honor to Him.  I love painting furniture and writing and experience joy when I do these things for His glory.

My husband is a civil engineer and loves what he does.  He actually enjoys listening to podcasts about new developments within his field.  God wired Jeremy to enjoy His work and God takes pleasure in seeing that.  How amazing is it that God takes joy in watching His children do the things He was created us to enjoy.

A Loose Grip

The Israelites knew that once they reached the hot, dry climate of Canaan, any crops would have been a result of God’s blessings, not the Israelites farming ability (or lack thereof).  He was teaching them that there was nothing they could give God that didn’t first come from His Hand.  Isn’t that the case with every blessing in life?

Everything that we own is ultimately from the Father and as it says in James 1:17 that “Every good and perfect gift comes from above.”  Knowing that our every blessing comes from above, we have to hold our hands loosely, not clutching our talents, time and resources as to save for ourselves.  Instead, we must willingly offer them to the Lord as an offering to Him.

In realizing our resources are ultimately God’s, we should give Him our best.  Often we give our worn out old things to God while keeping the best for ourselves.  True disciples are willing to sacrifice in order to follow Christ by becoming a living sacrifice.

Sacrificial worship is costly as represented by the expensive frankincense added to the grain offering.  It’s true that while most Christians give, not all Christians give sacrificially, in such a way that we rely daily on Him to provide for our needs – for our “daily bread.”

As 20th Century Americans, this is not a familiar concept to us as we are surrounded by contingency plans.  The Israelite farmers had to look to God for protection from drought, pests and so forth.  From insurance policies to apps to find your phone, we are confined by margins of safety.  There is nothing wrong with this lifestyle, but I believe we don’t trust in God, because often we don’t see our real need.

Being a woman God uses means worshiping in a way that honors Him.  We learn most about sacrificial worship by the woman who cheerfully gave her last coins (Mk 12:42) and the woman who broke her alabaster jar of expensive perfume at the feet of Jesus.   They saw the big picture – not only that the sacrifice they paid was well worth the price, but that God faithfully provides for His own.

 

I’d love any comments or feedback on today’s post about worship!  Don’t miss the other two posts on Leviticus 1 and 2:

What Are You Consumed With?

How To Be A Woman God Uses, Part 1

Next week will be quite a departure from Leviticus!  I will show you how I made DIY curtain rods for every room in our home.  🙂

‘Til Next Time,

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How To Be A Woman God Uses, Part 1

Unfortunately, it seems that I seek God most when life is difficult.  When life eases up, so does my faith. I realized recently that I follow the Lord most faithfully when trials come but my dependence on the Lord quickly slips below mediocrity when life is going my way.

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I read an article last week that described Beth Moore as a woman “who God uses”, not because she is well-known or has written a lot of books but she is faithful to seek Him and does what He says.  I thought about this description and how much I want it to be true of me one day.  A woman God uses is one that follows Him faithfully.

God reminded the Israelites of their regular need for Him through the grain offering:

“When anyone brings a grain offering as an offering to the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour.  He shall pour oil on it and put frankincense on it and bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests. And he shall take from it a handful of the fine flour and oil, with all of its frankincense, and the priest shall burn this as its memorial portion on the altar, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.  But the rest of the grain offering shall be for Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the Lord’s food offerings.”  Leviticus 2:1-3

The grain offering was always performed right after the burnt offering that we learned about in “What Are You Consumed With?”  Unlike the burnt offering, the grain sacrifice had to be grain and it went through a strenuous process to become finely ground.  Imagine  taking hours to grind grain finely with a stone on a daily basis.

Also, there was no blood involved in the sacrifice because while the burnt offering related to remission from sin, the grain offering was symbolic of God as their Sustainer.  The burnt offering had to be offered first because man’s contribution to God is only acceptable on the basis of atonement.  Man has nothing to give God until He has received atonement from the Lamb of God.

Grains comprised most of the Israelites’ meals while they had been in Egypt, but now grain was a very rare commodity.   What’s important to keep in mind is that while in Egypt the Israelites were primarily semi-nomadic herders.  Farming was not their primary livelihood and the small amount of grain they farmed grew very easily in the moist, rich Egyptian soil.  It would always lead to a bountiful harvest with little effort on their part.

They realized that when they get to Canaan, they will no longer live in tents, but in houses and they would be tied to the land.  Farming would be their main source of revenue.   Therefore, their grain crops were necessary for their survival.

As they were making their way through the desert, they had no way to buy or grow grain, so what grain were they to use?   God was faithfully supplying them with manna to eat, but the law specifically called for grain, not manna.  The grain the Israelites used for their grain offering was the precious grain they brought over from Egypt to use as seed for their new crops in Canaan. 

God’s people were accustomed to the humid climate and rich soil of Egypt.  Imagine kneeling down to scoop up some moist rich soil and seeing the hole fill with water.  This was not the case in Canaan.  The climate in Canaan was much like Texas in the summer – hot, dry and rain was unpredictable.  They knew the seed they were sacrificing for the grain offering was the seed set aside to ensure their survival in Canaan.

This was a huge act of faith.

Their only hope of survival was to rely on God.  The grain offering was a reminder that God was not only Israel’s Creator but their Sustainer.  The great danger was that they would arrive in Canaan and forget where they came from and why.  The daily provision of Israel’s physical need and their prosperity was tied to their obedience.  God was teaching them that He is their Provider and Sustainer by forcing them to rely on Him.

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God’s involvement doesn’t stop there.  He wanted them to remain faithful in the Promised Land as well.  They would have to learn that although the rains of Canaan were unreliable, God would always be faithful to supply their every need.

The same applies to me.

I so often pull close to God during my desert times in life as I am thirsty for relief that only He can give.  When I am in the midst of a trial, I am most aware of my need for Him and huddle up under His Wing through prayer, the study of His Word and an overall reliance on Him.  These are the times I lean into Him the hardest.

What about the times when life’s pressures ease up and things go our way?  Does our need for God lessen in these times?  I’ve found I am less aware of my need for him in the “good times” when in reality my need for Him is unchanged.  He is just as essential to me today as any other day.

God promises His faithful blessings to Israel if they obey Him.  “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.  All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God…” – Deuteronomy 21:1-2

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Once again, the burnt offering reminds us of God’s once-for-all atonement for our sin in Jesus, the Lamb of God.  After our sin is atoned for, the grain offering reminds us of God’s desire to provide for us on a daily basis.  John 6:35 states, “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’.”

As I type, there is a sticky note on my laptop that says “Pray First”. I have such a bent towards doing things without relying on Him that it is my reminder to always pray before I write my blog posts.  Without constant dependence on Him, I have nothing to write…or at least nothing worth reading.

The times of dependence on myself instead of Him come most often when things are going well in my life.  God wants us to seek Him with the same veracity when things go well, as when we are in turmoil.  In order to position ourselves to hear God and be used by Him, we have to rely on Him …not just in the bad times, not just in the good times but for all time.

You don’t miss this song from Lauren Daigle – “Lord, I Need You”.  Also, I’d love to hear any comments or ways God has been faithful to you!

His,

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What Are You Consumed With?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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