To Give...and Keep Giving

We had a great Christmas. We decided to play it low key. Simple decorations. Simple food.

Lots of family. And laughs. And rest.

Another thing that we were intentional about this year was giving. I prayed for the Lord to give us some ways to give. And He did. He gave us opportunities to give in ways we hadn't before. He gave us opportunities to give in ways that made me uncomfortable.

But I gave in to it. And I experienced true joy in a way I haven't before.

And I thought that was it.

Until last night.

Last night I received an email explaining how a situation has taken an unexpected turn. A situation that was not ideal to start has become more fragile.

And I want to help. I want to make it better.

And I can't. But I know WHO can.

And she is asking for prayer. She is reaching out in a way that she may not have a week ago.

She is vulnerable and hurting.

And I know Someone who heals. And holds. And brings peace.

I put myself out there and I thought I was done (though I hesitantly asked for more opportunity).

And this is where true giving begins.


Christmas Ramblings

I overdid Thanksgiving. I planned too many projects. Too much food. Too many activities. There, I said it. We were exhausted by the end of the week. Yes, it was pretty. And tasty. And I think the kids had a good time.

But I wouldn't know, because I was decorating. And cleaning. And cooking. And cleaning. And more cooking. And even more cleaning...you get the idea.

So we decided (I say we. I really mean my sweet hubby gently encouraged me...) to NOT do that to our Christmas. We are already very busy.

We are preparing for our Christmas Eve services/performances. 5 out of 7 of us are participating, so that means extra time at church and less sleep. But lots of fun.

The kids' schedules are crazy right now with end of the semester activities. I know you moms can relate...

Decorating for Christmas was interesting this year...as I was unloading the Christmas decorations, I realized we had thrown away all of our stocking holders last year. They were old and breaking. I had spent the last few years super-glueing them back together. So apparently, last year, I was done with it. And I threw them away.
After some debating, we decided to keep our eyes open for some inexpensive replacements. With 7 stockings, this is a hard task.
I finally found some for 50% off and bought them. As soon as I left the store, I felt regret. It was $95. $95! For stocking holders (okay, and new stockings too because they were pretty)!

I took them back the next day for a refund. I spent $2 at the dollar store, shopped my yard and storage room, and came up with this.

I used ornament hangers to hang the stockings from the garland that I've had for 7 years.

And I felt much better.
My prayer this season has been to keep my eyes on what's important to Him. We can use that $95 for other things...and pass along blessings to someone else.

I am almost done Christmas shopping. I was deliberate and thoughtful. I spent 2 weeks working on it. I can't wait to see my kids' faces on Christmas morning. It's magical.
But I wasn't excessive. There are gifts they won't get. We have been preparing them and their expectations to hopefully avoid any let down.

At the same time, we are open to opportunities to serve others. We are planning some ways to help the kids think of others as well.

I have found myself crying as I'm listening to Christmas music. Christmas songs I've heard for years are more meaningful as I'm sensitive to what He's saying to me. I know we've all heard "Jesus is the reason for the season".
And He REALLY IS. What He did was such a miracle. Such a gift. I don't ever want to lose that emotion. That wonder over what He did for ME. For YOU. For so many who still don't know.
My prayer for you is that this season would be full of wonder for you. That it would be full of peace and joy.

I hope we can all slow down. Spend less money. Spend more time. Give of ourselves. Witness joy. Savor this season.
May we all remember Who and why and what we're celebrating.


Easy, Inexpensive Home Decor

I think being on recuperation duty for the last 3 weeks combined with guests coming over this weekend has made me a little nest crazy.

My bare walls and lack of decor have gotten to me. So, I've been searching the house, the garage, the outdoors and Goodwill for inexpensive ways to perk up our living areas.

We repainted our dining nook a few months ago. We went from a dark, burnt orange to a light, neutral. We haven't had any window coverings for this space and the new wall color left them screaming "dress me!!". I "shopped" my house and found the perfect window coverings.

Thanks to this post, some ribbon and safety pins, some window drapes from my bathroom became window valances.

The curtains from my bedroom are a perfect replacement for the not-so-attractive-half-broken vertical blinds on our sliding glass door.

Yes, now my bedroom windows are screaming at me. At least they're not screaming at everyone who walks in our front door...
Several months ago, I "borrowed" my pictures from our stairwell in order to make a gallery wall in our entry. We have had bare nails and walls since then. I put my creative juices to work.
I shopped Goodwill (that word looks funny to me now...Goodwill Goodwill Goodwill) and found some wooden "art". I so wish I had taken before pics, but I didn't (bad blogger!). I had 2 identical, rectangular shapes and one larger, squarish one.
I used paint stripper, water and some elbow grease to remove the original art. Then I spray primed them. I painted them off-black (this was when I realized I should be taking pictures)

Then free-handed some creamy white swirly-flowery things.

After they had dried really well, I distressed and scraped the whole thing to make it more faded and soft.
I found 2 matted pictures in our storage room. I removed the art, cut a couple of pieces of fabric and framed them.

This is the end result.

I am pretty pleased with it! Especially the price tag *wink*
I have several other little projects I've been working on that I will share after Thanksgiving. Hope you have a great one!!


Candlestick Transformation

I'm working on my tablescape for Thanksgiving...I have a great tablecloth that I'm excited to use. It's kind of busy, so I'm wanting more simple items for the centerpiece and place settings.

I found these candlesticks for $1.50 each at goodwill the other day.

I liked the shape and the height, but they were not the color I was going for.
I brought them home and went to work.
I started by spraying them with some nickel-colored spray paint I found in the garage.

Then, I created a glaze by watering-down some black paint I already had. I painted it on,

then wiped it off to bring down the shine and get the "older" look I wanted. Here, you can see one candlestick finished next to the shinier one.

Here is the end result!

Easy, quick, "new" candlesticks for $3 and an hour (including drying) of time!


Thankful Banner

This post got me thinking the other day. I thought "I can do that...I think."

My problem was I didn't have "word art" like Mary suggested. Or a working printer. Or white cardstock. Or twine.


I did have some empty diaper boxes. And some paint. And some yarn.

So, I cut up the diaper boxes and made do with what I had.

This is how it turned out.

I am pretty pleased with it! It has a completely different look than Mary's, but I think it fits with the feel of our home.

What do you think?


It's Here!

If you've been reading my blog for a little while (or if you know me in person *wink*), you know that I am married to an amazing man, who happens to be a worship pastor (among other things)...

Last spring, we recorded our first ever choir worship album. It released this past week!

Yay!! It was so exciting to see my hubby's name on the cover. And the picture of our amazing choir. I love it!
You can check it out here


What He's Teaching Me

The Lord is taking me through a process right now...

Processing things from long ago, before I ever knew Him...

Some things are painful. Some things I'd rather forget.

It's made me question, "Why, Lord? Why did those things occur? Where were You?"

In a time of prayer and worship this week, He answered me.

"Right there. I was right there. I knew you even then."

My response was embarrassment. "What? You were there? You KNOW? You saw?"

"Yes, I saw. I loved you then. And I love you now, KNOWING."

What I'm realizing is that our relationship didn't start in 1996, like I've always thought. This was when I came to know Him. But, He already knew me.

It may anger some, the fact that God will witness tragedy. He will witness abuse. He will witness injustice. But, I trust in Him. I know that people are people and people sin. This world isn't perfect. We have free will and sometimes that means that people are people and people sin.

I am comforted by the fact that He was near. Even in the midst of my sin. Even in the midst of the hurtful sins of others. He was near. He has always been near. He knows about all of my junk and He still loves me. He still pursues me. This amazes me.

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart."
Jeremiah 1:5


Pie Safe {reinvented}

I got to work on this fun pie safe this week...

My client asked for a whitewash treatment to coordinate with some of the existing furniture in her home. I had played around with dry brushing before on this piece, but I had never actually done an entire piece in whitewash before. So I researched and, through some trial and error, reached a pretty easy and fun process.
It went something like this:
1. Sand the entire piece to the bare wood
2. Wipe off the dust
3. Dilute paint with paint thinner--about a 1 part thinner to 4 parts paint ratio
4. Brush on paint, pretty solidly (is that a real term?), with the grain of the wood
5. Wipe off with a wet rag (this is the hardest part of the process. I had to make sure to wipe in pretty, straight lines without any goopy or messy areas. It would dry and show every little swipe mark!)
6. Let dry
7. Repeat steps 4-6 until the desired color is reached (this was 3 coats for me)
8. Distress
9. Wipe off dust
10. Seal with a coat of Polyacrylic.


Antique Dresser {reinvented}

A few weeks ago, we had some friends visiting from out of town. They came to bring their daughter to the New Life School of Worship.

While they were here, they found this dresser.

They thought it might have potential for their daughter's apartment. I agreed! Then, I made a silly mistake. I knew they were leaving the next day so I said "I think I can finish it tonight so you can see it before you leave."
What was I thinking? Well, I have not had a ton of experience stripping paint. I just had no idea how much work it was going to be. It had 3 coats of oil-based paint on it, plus the original stain underneath.

Needless to say, I didn't finish it that night! Thankfully they were very patient with me and didn't fault me for my over-promise. My "team" (that would be me, my husband and my mom) worked on it for 3 days and finally got it down to the bare wood. It looked like a new dresser!

I put a coat of stain on and let it sit for a day. Then, the next morning, I fell off a horse. I was on my back for 3 days. Then we went to the retreat. Then we went to Austin. So, finally this week I got her done. And here she is!

I didn't forget the hardware...my client is going to install some antique pulls herself

The transformation is so stunning (if I do say so myself)! I just can't believe what she came from!
Once again, the before

And the after!


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