Monday, December 17, 2012

Prayers for Sandy Hook Elementary School

A few days have passed since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, and I'm sad to report that social media seems to have all but moved on. The day of the shooting, my Facebook news feed was 99% filled with comments on the tragedy; today - we're back to what people are having for dinner, and what their newly made gingerbread house looks like.

And I can't say I blame anyone - what else are we to do? Once the initial shock wears off, people want to try and make sense of what happened...and when we can't, we are forced to seemingly move on, simply by default. But I do know we are all still thinking about it - how could we not be?

I don't have anything prophetic to say about the horrific event. I'm not here to take stance on gun control or mental health (although I, like most, have opinions on both). The piece of truth that I've been trying to focus on is that the Bible tells us that life on earth is not life in heaven (Revelation 21: 1-8). Sadly, we have been led to believe that if we try hard enough, control people enough, and "take what's ours" while we can, we can obtain heaven on earth - at least for a little while. In reality, no amount of gun control or mental health attention will attain a heaven on earth culture or experience. And while I do support doing what we can with the information we have, I also hold fast to the truth that even our very best collective efforts will always leave us wanting more - more peace, more comfort, more shalom. 

And all of that which we want more of is supplied, but it's in heaven - and Christians only get a glimpse of that while here on earth, by the grace of God through Jesus. 

My church published a few biblical responses to the shooting that are for more articulate than I could ever be:
A Pastor’s Response To The Sandy Hook School Shooting

Giving it Grace: I mentioned Revelation 21:1-8. It is by God's sweet grace that we have this to look forward to:
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away'. And He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.' And He said, 'Write, for these words are faithful and true.' Then He said to me, 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death'.”

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Satan's Three Lies

This fall, I had the opportunity to participation in a program through my church called Redemption Group. Redemption Group is an 8 week intensive program that is comparable to what some might call "group therapy" (minus the baloney about "turning inward to find your true self"). The program consists of a weekend intensive, followed by 8 weeks of teaching and group discussion time once a week, accompanied by a book called - you guessed it - Redemption.

I had all sorts of expectations about what the experience might or might not be like. The one thing I was certain of going into the group was that I only had a marginal amount of "work" to do on my life, and so I planned to just sit out the ride and help the other people in the group work on their lives.

And glory be to God, I could not have been more wrong.

Giving it Grace: God had a lot planned for me, but He had to show me a lot first - about my past, how I viewed my past, and how I view myself (and God) now because of the first two. It got worse before it got better, but I'm really thankful I stuck it out. In the end, I can't imagine having not gone through it!

After a particularly hard week, I basically "gave up" on God. I went to group bitter, and decided that God and I were not talking, and I was just going to show up so that I wouldn't get in trouble. I defiantly decided that in my stand-off with God, I was going to block out all thoughts about myself and Him, and only focus on what the other women had to share. Shame on me for not listening better to them all along. Yet, in my defiance, God was still faithful. I was listening to the other women talk, it became clear to me that us Christian women (and probably most men) spend more of our time falling prey to the same three lies from Satan:

  • Lie #1: That God cannot both be good AND sovereign. Satan tells us that God is good, but not totally in control...or that God is totally in control, but not always good. He uses that lie to get us to doubt God, when the only thing we can do to bring God joy is to TRUST Him. The truth is, God is both sovereign and good. What often distorts truth is that we have our own ideas of what "good" is.
  • Lie #2: Some/any justification of feeling prideful:  I learned early on that pride is the mother of all sins, giving birth to little mini-sins like control, anxiety, fear, absence of prayer, having idols, idleness laziness, etc...the list goes on and on. What's really sneaky is that Satan makes his lies sound like our very own thoughts, so it's hard to know that it's even him lying to us! The truth is, God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.
  • Lie #3: That somehow, for some reason, you are "different" than the others. I group "feeling alone" into this, because the assumption there is that everyone else has someone, but you are different in that you are alone. The main way I saw this lie play out in the group was the idea that "my sin is different because I have a reason or justification for it, so thus I am different than you and I don't need to repent." This lie, in my opinion, builds off the other two. A compound lie, if you will...Satan gets bored with just one lie apparently, and thus builds them on top of each other. The truth is, our past may explain us but it doesn't define us; God defines us.
This is an incredibly short reflection on the whole experience, but I wanted to share the three lies that became so clear to me. I keep seeing them manifest in my own life so clearly now that they've been pointed out to me. If you have any interest in reading the book, I got a  lot out of it and the discussion it promoted between Kyle and I. Check it out here (and don't be alarmed by the startling cover!)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Photos are back!

I didn't have the energy to re-edit some of the photos that had been lost, so please forgive the iPhone pics from some of the more recent posts. And I learned my lesson: host my photos directly from my computer, not another website!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I was cleaning up my Google account and deleted some photos albums that I thought I no longer needed. Turns out, those albums were linked to the blog - oops! Photos will be back (eventually) :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Great I Am

(Sorry for the poor picture quality. This post originally had edited photos, but then the site hosting those got deleted, so I had to re-upload the originals from my phone. I couldn't bring myself to make time to re-edit all the photos!)

After the encouragement boost I got from trying this chalkboard project, I decided that I could certainly tackle another (easier) craft I've been wanting to try for a while as well. It's a combination of inspiration I got from these wonderful pieces of art:
Click here for original project
Click here for original project
Click here for original project
Step 1) I started with spray mount, modge podge, a blank canvas, a foam brush, and a Bible:


Step 2) I (sheepishly) tore out the pages from the book of Exodus that I wanted to
use, and spread them out over the canvas to create a visual of what pages I wanted where:

Step 3) I then removed the papers to the side, sprayed my canvas with spray mount, and then carefully placed the papers back on the canvas. I then wrapped the excess around the backside of the canvas, and cut off the fringe:

Step 4) Next, I added a few remaining pages to the front side to create a "scattered" look. I secured these addition pages using the spray mount:

Step 5) I then went over the pages (including the back edges) with 2 layers of Modge Podge, letting the canvas dry overnight in between to prevent the pages from getting soggier than necessary. A little sogginess is unavoidable because the Modge Podge is wet, but if you spread out your Modge Podging, you can prevent total saturation:

Step 6) I used vinyl letters (from Hobby Lobby) to mark where I didn't want paint to go. I used acrylic paint to cover the canvas. I only did one layer of paint, because I wanted the Bible pages to still show through a little:

Step 7) When the paint was dry, I slowly peeled off my letters, and was left with my finished product!
Finished product!
It's home for right now.

Giving it grace: Why "I Am"? In the book of Exodus, God sends Moses to free the Isrealites, God's people, from slavery. In response to this command from God, Moses asks God, "who do I tell them sent me?". God's response to Moses' questioning gives me chills every time I read it. God doesn't give Moses some elaborate answer, He simply says, "tell them 'I Am' has sent you to them." That's it - God is simply "I Am", and He doesn't even need to say anything more. It's not "I am God", or "I am the creator of the universe", or even "I am in charge - tell them I'm in charge!". Nope - just "I Am". Period. Every time I start to get all uppity with God because I don't like His plan or I don't understand His timing, I love to come back to this powerful reminder of how big God is - and thus how big His grace is. I love how small it makes me feel on this earth, knowing how big and powerful God is, and how He, the Great I Am, can handle my every little need perfectly because He knows my needs best - as He created me, and my needs! And so, I leave you with this song, because it's the song my little craft always makes me think of (you'll know why at about 2:35):

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chalkboard Project

(Sorry for the poor picture quality. This post originally had edited photos, but then the site hosting those got deleted, so I had to re-upload the originals from my phone. I couldn't bring myself to make time to re-edit all the photos!)

I've been seeing a lot of chalkboard projects floating around on Pinterest (like this one here) for a while, and I decided that I finally wanted to try my hand at making my own! I consider this project an actual "craft" because it involves more than three steps (referring to the silly differentiation I made here).

Step 1) Purchase large picture frames. I picked these two up at the Goodwill by my house. After much debating, I ended up getting two for a whopping $20 total. The frames were in great condition, and the glass wasn't all musty or scratched.

(I could NOT get this picture to rotate correctly, sorry!)
Step 2) Take the frames apart. For the yellow frame, this involved taking the back covering off. This was good news, in my opinion, because it pretty much guaranteed me that the little staples holding the back of the picture in would not be already manipulated to the point of breaking off just from me touching them. I have no idea how to get those staples in once they come out, so I was relieved to know I was probably getting fresh staples that had never been bent.

Step 3) Sand the frames down to be primed and painted. Kyle was excited to use our little sanding mouse to help with this part. We bought the sanding mouse a long time ago with a wedding gift card and haven't been able to use it yet. It worked great!

Step 4) Prepare the glass. I followed these instructions here on how to prep the glass for painting. First I used Goo Gone to remove the price tag sticker, and then washed the glass clean with Windex. Then, I used some fine grit sandpaper to buff the glass. This isn't pictured, but it's just like it sounds - put the sand paper on the glass and "sand". No real visible particles will come off the glass, but the sandpaper will create a dust residue, so use a wet rag or cloth to wipe it clean when done. 

Step 5) Paint the glass. This part was scary! I've never worked with chalkboard paint before, so I had to research what kind to get. After much research, it seemed that spray paint goes on smoother but doesn't last as long, whereas paint from the can goes on rougher but lasts way longer (so I wont have to add more coats as often). I decided to use paint from a can because I want to be able to design and erase multiple times before I have to add more coats.

The paint goes on just like regular paint. I don't know why this was so shocking to me, but for some reason it just seems magical - the whole idea of paint that makes a chalkboard.

I used a medium sized polyester roller I had left over from when we painted the walls. I also tried using a mini-foam roller we had on hand, and it seemed to just slide across the glass instead of rolling. Something about the polyester roller made the roller actually roll across the glass - which is what I wanted.

I read on-line that the paint will look "bubbly" when it first goes on, and that's okay. It gets less bubbly as it dries and more coats are added. You can see here the bubbly effect:

When the first coat dried, it was much more smooth. You can see here that there were some imperfections, including a fuzzy from the roller that dried in the paint and I had to yank it out with a pair of tweezers (far right).

It was all covered up as additional coats were added. I did three coats total, letting them dry 24 hours each time.

Step 6) This step can be done at any time, really. As I was letting the glass dry, I started adding coats of white paint to the frames. The primer coat is shown below. I added three more coats of white paint to the frames (just some semi-gloss indoor white paint we had left over).

Step 7) Put the dried glass back into the white frame and voila - all done! I followed the instructions I found on-line and ran a piece of chalk sideways over the entire exposed chalkboard surface to "buffer" the surface. Decorate! I found these free printables on-line and decided it wouldn't be too hard to replicate onto the chalkboard. Not my best artwork ever, but I'm still pretty pleased!

Giving it grace: This project was fun because Kyle got to help me with it, and he too was curious to see how the chalkboard paint worked. It was also fun because this craft was way out of my comfort many steps! BUT - it's fun to try new things, and even though it's not Etsy worthy, I still really enjoy it! I'm thankful for this season in our lives where we have the time, money, and energy to try, explore and experience things that aren't crucial to our livelihood, but are still fruitful and make good memories :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fall Fudge Making

 While we're much enjoying our Indian summer here in Seattle, fall is definitely here! We've been having fun with the change in seasons (despite my hatred of the cold, fall is my favorite season!).

My mom, sister and I got together to try our hand at my mom's fudge recipe. It was a really fun afternoon, and the fudge turned out amazing!

Giving it grace: Growing up, making fudge was something my mom did every year around the holidays. It was always an exciting event, as it meant Christmas was near! I never remember her looking at a recipe card while making the fudge, and sure enough - she showed up at my house with just the ingredients, and the recipe was in her head! I can barely follow instructions to make a salad without a recipe card, let alone memorize the ingredients  proportions, and cooking instructions. Watching my mom direct us on how to make the fudge simply from memory made me excited to try and memorize the recipe myself someday, and pass it on to my kids as well. Getting the recipe "right" is not nearly as important as getting it close to being right, and adding in a little love (or some extra sugar - same thing right?) along the way. By the end of the afternoon, we had two great batches of fudge (Kyle and I are still working on ours, and it's been almost a month!), one shockingly painful boiling butter burn (me), and many good memories!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Celebrating 90 years!

My dear Grandpa Bob turned 90 this month. Ninety. That's a lot of LIFE! To celebrate, we all gathered up at my grandparents place at Warm Beach. Here are some pictures from the party:

Memory Boards 
Uncle Dan manning the BBQ

The boys playing in the nook under the house. That place is FILLED
with bugs, but apparently when you're 7 that just doesn't matter...

Baby Avery just enjoying her stuffed bear!

Girl cousins with the birthday boy!

Whole group photo: Watsons, Bishops, Rileys,
Hansens, Olivers and Walters

Gramps giving his bride a smooth

90 Birthday Cupcakes

Very happy grandpa :)

Right after Tor said "hurry up - those candles aren't going
to blow themselves out!"

View of the beach cabin from the mudflats.  
Getting ready for some fun on the flats!

Kyle's first time on the mudflats. He quickly
 ditched the sandals...

View of the flats

Little Avery just having a blast!

Little mud tushy

Never too young to enjoy the mudflats :)

Kyle searching for baby luck

The imfamous King Titan 

Pic with King Titan

Boys playing in the mud

Boys sinking in the mud! 
Dad on the flats!

Bro pic on the flats

View of the beach cabin (on the beach, right),
big cabin  (up on top the hill, white), and
house (orange behind the white)

One last view of the flats and all our foot prints

Kyle loved the flats!

Gramps on his 90th birthday with his best friend :)

Giving it grace: When looking at the big group picture, I cannot help but think of Genesis 1:28: "And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." That command was originally for Adam and Eve, but has remained true as God's command for all Christians ever since. I look at that picture of all the families that have come onto this earth as a result of my Grandma Bob and Grandma Pat, and more so - all the lives they have touched and I'm just in awe of the legacy they have built.
Our current culture constantly warns us against aging, as evidenced by the thousands of products available to slow and reverse the effects of aging. I was curious what the Bible said about aging (because I was pretty sure that God designed aging, and thus probably wasn't against it), and here is the best verse I found to sum up God's stance on aging: "Gray hair is a crown of glory, it is gained in a righteous life" (Proverbs 16:31). My grandpa has aged well in God's eyes, to say the least. At 90 years old, he worked many years giving service to our country; has a house and a plot of land to show for it; a legacy of children, grand-children, and great-grand-children; and his bride of 65 years, still by his side. What a wonderful witness of God's grace upon His people! 

Love you grandpa!