Thursday, August 30, 2012

Polka Dot Nails

I have issues with painting my nails.  I am inpatient, so waiting for nails to dry is like Chinese water torture to me.  I sit perfectly still for half an hour, get up, and immediately get a smudge or chip.  I suppose that if I bought higher quality nail polish and not the real cheap stuff things would be different.  But I just cannot justify spending $8 on a bottle of nail polish at this stage in life.  So, I'll stick with what I have. 

I've seen all these cute ideas on pinterest for nails, especially ones that require a nail art pen.
Beauty Department Flag Nails   

(Source unknown)

I was going to buy a nail art pen but they are $7 at Target and we are in the "save for a house and pay off our debt" phase in life, and even though $7 isn't a lot, I want a house more than I want a nail art pen to make perfect polka dots.  So, here's the secret to getting polka dots without a nail art pen:

(photo from photo dictionary)

I painted my nails white (it took 3 coats but my cheapo nail polish isn't the greatest).  Then I poured some pink polish onto some wax paper and used a toothpick to make my pink dots.  It's no professional pinterest-worthy manicure, but it will suffice. 

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Office Makeover

I have been in my current office at work for nearly a year and finally got to the point where it was driving me crazy.  The walls were a horrid white/cream color --a color I affectionately called "the color I am before I pass out".  I have 2 fluorescent white lights over my desk and 2 recessed lights in the front of my office that had yellow bulbs; the lighting is weird because there are 2 different colors of light, and portions of the room aren't lit and are mostly shadow.

If you spend enough time in a space eventually it starts to wear on you, and you need to make it your own.  I got a couple of quotes from different companies to paint it but it was significantly cheaper for me to paint it myself considering my hourly wage is way less than what these people were asking.  I got the approval from the powers that be and started looking at samples.

**Here's a tip:  if you're trying out different colors in a room with weird lighting, paint a large piece of poster board the color you are thinking and then once it's dry you can move the poster all around the room to see what the color looks like in different light. **

Picking a color for this room was hard because A) the lighting is weird, B) my desk/cabinets are this horrid 1990's mauve pink color that is hideous and hard to match (at first I wanted a grey color but up against the pink it was turning purple!), and C) my carpet is burgundy.  I feel like I am trapped in a 1991 movie set.

After dismissing a couple of colors that looked great on the sample card, but horrible on my wall, I chose a lovely olive/taupe color.  It's amazing how much difference a new paint color can make in a room!

Here's pics of my computer space.  There were holes in the wall from where some horrible mauve shelves were that I took down; I patched them but the holes were so big they didn't cover well, so I put come cork board up over them.

The big yellow chicken is a gift from one of the Kindergarten students I used to work with when I worked at an afterschool program.  I got lots of art love there, but the chicken was definitely one of my favorites!  As is the mermaid beside it--she's fancy :).  They are both laminated and are a sweet reminders of the kiddos I used to work with.

Here's a pic of the side view.  I snagged a poster from home I've had forever to add a pop of color, and the other is a DIY art piece (tutorial to come!)

Ah, the pink cabinets in their full glory! 

Here is a good pic of the burgundy carpet.  And pink cabinets.  Really, for what I have to work with, the place looks pretty darn good!

A few picture frames, a bulletin board re-do, and a glass jar of dum-dums complete my space.  I do love a good makeover!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cradle Faith: Acting it out

Photo Credit

Do you ever have trouble having faith that God is going to do something?  I think in today's world, it's so easy to play it safe with God.  To say that God could do something, versus saying that He will do something.  To tag the "if it be your will" on the end of our prayers, to give God an easy out in case He doesn't come through. 

So often I do not believe God to be Big.  And more often than that, I do not believe Him to be good.  Most crises of faith come down to the point that we don't believe that God is good to us. 

In Genesis, when God promised a child to Abraham, it tells us that Abraham believed God.  Even though he and his wife had been childless for so many years, as soon as God told Abraham they would indeed have a child together, Abraham believed.  Did you know that Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years after that promise was made before their son Isaac was born?  Twenty five years.  And yet it tells us that Abraham believed God.  Of course, we know that eventually Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands and as a result Ishmael was born.  But, if the Bible speaks of Abraham believing and it being credited to him as righteousness, I have to believe that Abraham didn't ever stop believing. 

In my head, I imagine Abraham being told by God that He would have a baby and immediately going out and preparing for it.  Maybe that very night he built a cradle for the child that was promised.  In James, it talks about how we must back up our faith with what we do.  James references Abraham as someone whose faith was perfected through his actions.  For years I have used the term "cradle faith" to describe this kind of faith; the faith that agrees with God and acts on it.  Faith that acts on God's word, even when circumstances are saying something contrary to His promise.  Faith that immediately goes out and buys a crib and stocks up on bibs and blankets as soon as the promise is given.

I remember in my twenties really struggling with being single, but being pushed by the Spirit within me to not only hope that I would get married, but to live like it was a certainty.  So as a result of that, I prepared myself.  I acted on the faith that my getting married was an absolute certainty.  Because even though my getting married wasn't something God promised in Scripture, it was something that I felt through the Spirit was something that would indeed happen.  It took longer than I thought (doesn't every college girl assume she'll be engaged before she's done with college?), but I did get married.  And my oh my, was the man God brought me worth the wait.

I find myself in another season of life where I am being called to cradle faith.  My husband and I are at the point where we want to have children.  Everyone around us is getting pregnant and having babies, and I have baby fever like nobody's business.  I have some conditions that affect fertility, and even though we are not making getting pregnant our main goal right now, my husband and I are at the point where we just don't know when or if it's going to happen.  I turned 30 this year, and my husband will be 36 in a couple of months.  We definitely are not spring chickens.  And sometimes making a baby isn't easy.  And I will confess that many days lately I have been eaten up with fear about it; even starting to grieve the fact that we may not be able to have kids when that is absolutely not a certainty, or even a solid idea at this point. 

I have felt God tugging at my heart lately to have faith that we will have babies--the "live it out as though it is 100% going to happen faith".  At first I didn't heed it because I thought the urge to have faith came as a result of my own desires and was fabricated by me, and not by Him.  When I am in constant prayer about something and the same thought keeps rolling through my brain, eventually I get a clue that God may be trying to tell me something (I'm a little too true to my hair color sometimes!)  God is calling me to live in faith.  Faith differs from hope because faith demands action.  So, I need to start living as though babies are a certainty, trusting God to do what He does.

Have you ever seen the movie "Facing the Giants"?  I love this quote from it:

Mr. Bridges: “Grant, I heard a story about two farmers who desperately needed rain. And both of them prayed for rain. But only one of them went out and prepared his fields to receive it. Which one do you think trusted God to send the rain?”

Coach Taylor: The one that prepared his fields for it.”

Mr. Bridges: “Which one are you? God will send the rain when He’s ready. And you need to prepare your field to receive it.”

God is calling me to prepare my fields.  To do what I can, and leave the results up to God.  And for goodness sakes, my type-A let's-have-everything-planned-out-and-make-things-happen self needs to chill out.  To stop making plans and back up plans, but to simply live as though a certain future is a certainty.  To honor God in everything that I do, and leave the rest up to Him.  He knows my heart, He desires to bless me. 

I never intended to write about this particular journey in any sort of public format.  But I feel God telling me to share it.  To be brave enough to speak it, trusting that God will fulfill this vision He has cast for us.  So, here we go.  I want to have babies.  I am trusting God to make it happen.  Nothing is impossible with Him.  Prepare to see him work.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

DIY Shape Box: The Perfect DIY Gift for Little People!

I absolutely love making gifts, especially for kids.  Most kids I know have toys coming out of their ears, so I like to either get them books (because books are always a good gift), or something crafty because it's eventually used up and mom and dad can toss it and not have something else cluttering up their house.

Here is a little something I made for a little 3 year old recently:

I bought an empty playmobile container at my church's yard sale last year for about a dollar.  If you can't find something similar at a thrift store/yard sale, you can buy empty containers that are similar at Walmart (look in the fishing tackle section), or at a craft store (make sure to use a coupon!).

I traced a template of the front with scrap newspaper and then used it to cut out a cover from a sheet of scrapbook paper.  I Mod-Podged it on, and then gave it another coat and let that dry.  I then attached thick sticker's on the front, just to jazz it up some.

I am an avid scrapbooker, so I always have scraps of cardstock on hand.  I used some punches to punch out paper squares, circles, triangles, rectangles, and stars to fill the compartments inside.  Now my little friend can create all sorts of art work and learn his shapes all at the same time.

You could also make some templates of things (trains, ships, houses, etc) on paper with a marker that use the shapes that your recipient could fill in with the shapes from the box.  This was a fun project to make (though I did have to break the punching up a bit because my hand was cramping!)  

I love gifts that help little people learn and be creative; plus it's homemade with love!  Happy crafting!

Linking this up this week at:

Living Well Wednesdays 
Grace at Home 
Whatever Goes Wednesday 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Silly Sheep

Photo Credit
My husband and I volunteer with the Middle School Ministry at our church and this past Sunday we talked about Psalm 23 and how Jesus is our Shepherd and we are his sheep.  There is so much good stuff in Psalm 23 that I think we often overlook or don't see simply because we know the verses by heart and think it's just about not being scared to death of death or something.  Psalm 23 is soothing; it helps me calm down by reminding me that, despite what circumstances and their lies may be screaming, I am being well cared for.

My favorite part is verse 2, "He makes me lie down in green pastures."  Sometimes I think my Shepherd has to beat me over the head with his staff and nearly put me in a choke hold before I calm down, lie down, and trust Him.

I am a type A to the extreme.  I love things organized and clutter free.  My closet is color coordinated.  My label maker is one of my favorite possessions.  I make lists about what to make lists about.  I'm a lot like Monica from "Friends", only not quite so neurotic.

All that to say, I really like to have things all laid out and planned for; AKA, I like to be able to control things.  I clean when I get stressed because if my world is spinning out of control and out of my hands, I can still have a say in how my sock drawer looks, gosh darn it!  Life is seldom something you can plan for.  It throws curveballs and fastballs more often than not.  I have to (re)learn again and again to let go and trust my Shepherd.  To stop forcing my plan and my way when that plan could be leading me straight off a cliff or into the mouth of a lion.

My husband started a new job this week (praises!).  It's an exciting time as we enter this new season of having more money while also trying to pay off loans and debt and buy a house and get ready for the next stages of life.  My plan for how this all would go is already thrown off a bit.  I find myself freaking out and forgetting to trust that God has his eye on me; He knows all these things that hit me as frustrating, horrible, unexpected glitches in the plan.  Oh, but His plan is still on track, and it's better than mine!  Who am I to stay that Jesus doesn't have color coordinated and well labeled files on every aspect of my life? 

Often he hits me upside the head with truth and real perspective (usually through the wise and loving words of my husband).  So what if things don't happen the way I had planned for?  The Bible says that God has good things planned for me; that His intentions are good, that He is always there and never forgets about me.  I believe the Bible.  I am who it says I am.  I can have what it says I can have.  I can do what it says I can do.

Today, may you be reminded to trust in the Good Shepherd.  To stop being a stubborn, wiggly sheep; but one who hears his gentle voice and hearkens to it.  May the Shepherd not have to beat some sense in us today! :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Book review: Kisses from Katie

I just finished reading "Kisses from Katie" this week.  Have you heard of it?

It's the story of Katie Davis, and how she left her home in suburban America to live in Uganda, devoting herself to the people there and eventually adopting 14 orphaned Ugandan children.  It is a fantastic story of what God can do through those who choose to really follow Him.  Here's part of the blurb from Barnes and Noble:

"What would cause an eighteen-year-old senior class president and homecoming queen from Nashville, Tennessee, to disobey and disappoint her parents by forgoing college, break her little brother’s heart, lose all but a handful of her friends (because they think she has gone off the deep end), and break up with the love of her life, all so she could move to Uganda, where she knew only one person and didn’t even speak the language? 

A passion to follow Jesus.

Katie Davis left over Christmas break of her senior year for a short mission trip to Uganda and her life was turned completely inside out. She found herself so moved by the people of Uganda and the needs she saw that she knew her calling was to return and care for them. Katie, a charismatic and articulate young woman, is in the process of adopting thirteen children in Uganda and has established a ministry, Amazima, that feeds and sends hundreds more to school while teaching them the Word of Jesus Christ."

I loved this book.  Katie's story is incredible powerful, not because she is living in another country but because she dared to follow God's will that took her out of her comfort zone.  I wonder how often we don't do things Jesus wants us to because it requires going places that scare us.  Are we really so scared to be uncomfortable?  I know I am at times.  God is so faithful to us when we are in His will, though.  I loved the countless stories in this book that pointed to that. 

It's interesting that I would read it while also doing Beth Moore's study on James.  James' theme is" If you aren't living it, you don't believe it."  God is definitely stirring His spirit within me to show my faith through my acts; to do what he says and go out and feed the hungry, heal the sick, comfort the suffering.  I definitely encourage you to read this book--it will encourage and challenge you!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Zuchinni Bread Recipe

One of the reasons I love summer is because of all the good fruits and vegetables that come in season.  Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables; I love them sauteed, steamed, and of course, in zucchini bread!

My sweet landlord/neighbor has a garden and has been gifting us with produce all summer.  He came to the door yesterday bearing gifts from his garden, including three of these puppies:

I saw this and immediately thought of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and wondered what sort of toxic ooze lays beneath my landlord's garden that makes his vegetables so freakishly large.

I mean seriously, I have huge feet, and look at this sucker in comparison!

In honesty, I don't know why he doesn't pick them before they get this big.  They don't taste as good when they're that large.  But, who knows.  Beggars can't be choosy.

As we were leaving in a few days to go on vacation, I decided to shred them all up and freeze so that I can enjoy zucchini bread all year long, and not just in the summer.

Here is a picture of my counter top after the massacre.

All ready to freeze!  And then to bake, and devour!  Here is my mama's zucchini bread recipe.  If you have never tried zucchini bread and think the very idea sounds disgusting, you need to try it!  You can't taste the zucchini at all; it just serves to keep the bread nice and moist (which means this bread will also mold really quickly if you store it and don't eat it quickly!  Either devour it soon, keep it in the fridge, or store in smaller containers not all together).  Get ready to enjoy some cinnamony goodness!

Mom's Zucchini Bread
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 cups flour (I've used both white and wheat and got good results both ways)
3 cups zucchini, shredded
1 cup oil
3 eggs
3 tsp vanilla
3 tsp cinnamon

Combine sugars, oil, and eggs.  Blend.
Add zucchini and vanilla.  
Add flour and spices.  Blend well.
Pour into 2 greased loaf pans.
Bake at 325 for 45-60 minutess.
Let cool in pan, then remove and enjoy!

Linking up at Grace at Home

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Love and Marriage

My husband and I just celebrated our 2 year anniversary.  Marriage has been one of those things that feels as if it just started yesterday, and at the same time I feel like we've been married forever.  Our beans and rice budget means there is no romantic expensive dinner or lavish gifts to celebrate.  But my sweet man did get me these yellow daisies.  "Don't you think daisies are the friendliest flower?" asked Kathleen Kelly in "You've Got Mail".  Why, yes, I do.  Even friendlier when they come from the one you love most. 

 A friend and I were talking about marriage a few nights back and she said that often people would ask her if marriage is hard.  She always replies that marriage isn't hard, but life sure is. 

It's been a hard past year or two for me. Usually throughout seasons in life I can identify a part of God that stands out to me; a part of His character that He's teaching me about during that particular time. I couldn't say that there's been an overwhelming "theme" to these past months. Which isn't to say I haven't learned a lot. I've learned over these past couple of years that He's wise and trustworthy and greatly desires us to grow up.

I've learned that He's big--how often I commit the sin of not giving Him credit for who He is! I've been drawn to Old Testament stories a lot this year, and have been reminded that the God who parted the sea and brought dead bones to life is the same God I serve. And he still does miracles. Different miracles; same God.

I've learned that attitude affects EVERYTHING. How I wish someone had taught me the importance of this years ago!! I thought I knew it; after all, "Have a good attitude" is a mantra we all grow up with.  But I have found that having a good attitude isn't a default setting for me. I have to intentionally and proactively set my mind to what I want it to think. Emotions flow from thoughts, and God has taught me to not ride those thoughts but to stop them (so hard for us girls who think it's our female right to dress up every thought until it's bigger than truth!).  I've learned that I am in control. I have the power to determine what I think. Such a simple thought but putting it into action has resulted in amazing changes.

I've learned that there's nothing like being in a committed, loving relationship to make you realize what a schmuck and jerk you really are. I can hide my flaws from everyone else, but a relationship like marriage serves to hold up the mirror we so often leave at home and show you all your ugly parts. But you're still loved despite all's amazing. I think God wanted community to be like that. Honesty that doesn't hide flaws but love that makes you want to rid yourself of them, not for you, but for them...and Him.

Lastly, I've learned that even though Jesus desires oneness with me, He never meant for that to replace my growing up--making decisions, being proactive, and not just waiting for God to direct my every quarter inch move. How often we hide behind Jesus and refuse to confront things ourselves out of comfort or fear that we rationalize and excuse as waiting on God. As my friend Ashley told me once, "It's time to put on your big girl panties!" Life is hard and people are difficult. God is good no matter what. Maybe life is beautiful sometimes...maybe sometimes it isn't. I hope it's not the beauty of life but the truth of God I cling to.