A Griswold Family

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Ellen Griswold: “Clark, I think it would be best for everybody if they all just went home…before things get any worse.”

Clark Griswold: “WORSE?! How can things get any worse?! Take a look around you, Ellen! We’re at the threshold of Hell!!”

-National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

 

Thanksgiving is over…just like that! And in the rush of it all did I truly give thanks? I finally have a chance to sit back and breathe, contemplating what happened this holiday. I filled up on buttery mashed potatoes, warm rolls, and delicious pumpkin pie…multiple times..and I relaxed with family and friends. To wrap it all up I went Black Friday shopping, making new memories with my best friend Abby. Though as fun as it is, Thanksgiving truly is about giving thanks.

I could’ve had a totally different time this holiday, certain family members could have been missing from the table, money could have been tighter than it is leaving our tables bare, and I could have stayed home and slept in, missing out on Friday deals, or more importantly, time with my dear friend. Part of not taking things for granted is recognizing how blessed we truly are. Understanding that we could have been born anywhere, at any time, and yet we were placed here, surrounded by friends and family that God thought best for us to have. He makes no mistakes.

For some, Thanksgiving can be tense or depressing. Sometimes getting the family all together is a nightmare that leads to arguments and brawls. How can God be so sure about this fit? Is this mismatch of people really made to get along? I believe they are. Problems go farther than simple differences in personality. For example, a question like, ” Jon, when are you going to get a girlfriend?” Though spoken in jest, can cause a defensive reaction. Surrounded by the family, Jon may feel pressure at being called out as the only one of age who isn’t married. He will take the “joke” as a stab. The question brought something more pressing to the surface, feelings of inadequacy at not living up to the family’s expectations. Self-esteem, acceptance, and worth can be brought up in an instant. The mood changes as does the conversation topic and a more guarded Jon suddenly wants to be alone.

Every family has these moments and every family sometimes feels mismatched. Lock yourself in a room with your greatest friends for a week and you will discover that everyone is mismatched to some degree. We are all unique individuals after all, though tied together by commonalities and bonds we are still distinctly different. Look at Jesus’s disciples. They were like his earthly family, his closest friends. Thomas doubted, Judas was greedy, Peter was often quick to react, Matthew was like the black sheep of the bunch, having been a tax collector when the others were fishermen. It seemed like a dysfunctional mix, but Jesus saw something in them all that they did not. Something that made them brothers. They longed for something more.

Though they may have had moments that would’ve turned Clark Griswold’s head, they all shared something that united them….Jesus. Without him, you never would have seen these 12 men together all slouched around a table passing around bread and wine. The disciples would have never held out their hands to Matthew, but because Jesus did, they looked past their differences and accepted the new addition. Was it easy? No, I’m sure Matthew had to earn their trust and respect, just as they had to with each other. But with Jesus as the cornerstone, their family worked.

Today, many families don’t have that cornerstone to unite them. Satan has reeked havoc in the minds and hearts of families, tearing them apart and uprooting the next generation along with them. Children are witnessing “dysfunctional families” more than they witness “unbreakable” ones. But this isn’t a surprise. Society as a whole is discarding faith in Jesus and belief in the Holy Spirit. Though I’ve said it before, it remains the truth, a war is taking place and we are a part of it whether we like it or not. We choose a side even as we indecisively watch. There’s no fence, no middle ground, no lukewarm. There is only belief in Jesus, or not.

My closest family are Christian. I can’t say that fixes things…it doesn’t make things easy, and I am reminded every holiday how uniquely different we all are. Everyone comes together, we cram into a small house, laughing and grumbling and talking about many topics…and then it comes time to pray, we all stop and are one. One voice calling out to one Savior, thanking Him for every minute of this crazy thing called life. I’m thankful for that above all else, that man who died for me and taught me what family is all about.

“Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned, family Christmas.”

-Clark Griswold

My Hometown

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“Follow your dreams,

reach for the stars…

but never forget where you came from.”

-Audrea Harvey

When I think of Marion many things flood my mind. I remember the days when it was small and quiet. The churches were filled and every holiday brought a festive cheer over the town. I remember playing with the neighborhood kids who have all grown and spending many nights with dear friends around a bonfire, telling ghost stories that mixed with the sound of crickets. The Popcorn festival and parade that brought everyone together for a few days of fair rides, food, and recognition.

I could keep listing the memories of my hometown, its unique qualities such as the Palace Theatre pictured above. Though appearing like any palace on the outside, walking in you would be transported to another place, with a dark blue sky, twinkling stars, and moving clouds, surrounded by buildings to look as though you were in a courtyard. I’ve been there many times and never stop gaping at its beauty.

Or President Harding’s home and memorial. I pass both daily into town, the memorial is a popular spot for wedding and prom pictures, and his home is frequented by kids on field trips. Marion is simply rich in history….and yet, many don’t even know it exists.

It all started as Jacob’s Well. Marion was a camping ground for troops during the War of 1812. One night Jacob Foos, a fellow soldier surveying the land became very thirsty so he began digging until a spring of water welled up. This well is still here today! The name, Jacob’s Well, stuck till the founding of Marion in 1822 when it was named after General Francis Marion.

Marion now is known for its crime, drugs, and hopelessness. Many of its once-booming companies are left abandoned, it’s no longer a stopping ground but now a place to rush through. The place of refreshing has taken on the identity of its new name, Marion, which literally means “rebellious.” I say all this because, in order for my hometown to change, we must first reflect on its history. We have to know where we came from to know where we are going. We have to remember the mistakes we have made in order to avoid repeating them in the future.

It takes more than a church plant to change a town…it takes God. Marion County has over 200 churches in 400 sq mi of land. Many of which are located in or near town. I truly believe that if we stood united, reached out to our community and re-lit our fire for God, those 200 plus churches would easily transform this town and the entire county.

Revivals are lit in the land of desperate hunger. And that hunger for something more is so prevalent in today’s society. Somethings gotta give! The tension is mounting and our hearts are growing more discontented by the year. Evil seems to be taking over, and yet, miracles are happening, hope is catching, and Christians are rising up and fighting back the darkness.

I don’t know where you grew up. Maybe your town has always been flourishing, or maybe you have never known a time when your town was wealthy and secure. Regardless of where you are, you’re surrounded by hungry people. Some may not know it while others are inwardly screaming for it. And you may just be the only one to point them to Jesus. Maybe God is calling you to be the first to start this revival. Don’t know how to start? Just be love. Love and kindness are contagious, love everyone you meet..look them in the eyes, lend a helping hand…a smile…recognize people for who they are, not who they aren’t. That is how it all begins. And when people start to notice that you carry something different they will soon ask you, “what makes you different?” And at that, you tell them about Jesus.

God is at work here in Marion. I see Him at our church, He is reaching out to take back what satan stole from this land. He is restoring hearts and broken families. Businesses are coming back and hope is in the air. It’s going to take a lot of work and sacrifice, but with God anything is possible. As my pastor likes to say, “Marion’s best days are ahead!”

What a privilege to be a part of this town…my hometown.

The Mystery Blogger Award

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Hey fellow bloggers!! Last week I was nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award! All thanks to lifewithlilred, whose blog covers a large variety of topics from fashion to awesome holiday crafts and treats, check out her page and I’m sure you will find a category you love!

The Rules:

  • Put the award logo on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank whoever nominated you and post a link to their blog
  • Mention the creator of the award and leave a link to their blog
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  • Nominate 10-20 other bloggers-let them know via blog comment
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions, including a funny one
  • Share links to your best blog post(s)

Fun Facts:

1. I’ve never left the country and I love Jesus, so one of my dreams is to go to Israel and visit the very places I’ve only read stories about. I want to walk where he walked!

2. I love singing. I grew up singing in the worship band at church, and I still do to this day. I might just have met my husband in the church band also…

3. I’m an oldie at heart, my favorite shows are M*A*S*H and STAR TREK, the original series.

Q & A:

1. How do you pamper yourself? A hot bath with honey and cinnamon always feels good. Honey is good for the skin and cinnamon draws out toxins…at least that’s what I’ve heard.  

2. What is your favorite holiday? Although I love fall and dressing up for Halloween, I’d say Christmas is my favorite holiday. Nothing beats giving gifts to my friends and family and remembering Jesus’ Birthday.

3. What was your favorite childhood toy? Beanie Babies. I still have about a hundred shoved in a tote somewhere.

4. What is your favorite way to kill time when your feeling bored? Read a good story. I’ve read and re-read the Harry Potter series. Love a good STAR TREK novel also.

5. Which celebrity would you choose to go out to lunch with? Alan Alda. I love his personality and wit. Since I’ve read his books I know there would be plenty to talk about. I don’t know much about today’s celebs.

6. Bonus Question: Would you rather not shower for a week or wear the same outfit for two weeks? Same outfit for sure! I don’t see a lot of people throughout the week so no one would notice if I was wearing the same outfit. If I didn’t shower it would be obvious! My hair would be gross.

My Nominees (I’m only doing three):

 

My Questions for you:

  1. If you could go on any vacation today, where would you go?
  2. You just finished writing your life story, and you’re asked to summarize it into one message or motto, what do you say?
  3. What’s something that makes you laugh every time?
  4. You step into a time machine and can travel to any era or historical event, where do you go?
  5. What dream would you pursue if you were given endless time and resources to acquire it?
  6. Bonus Question: You’re running from zombies and come across three fast food restaurants to lock yourself in for the remainder of the apocalypse, do you choose McDonald’s, Arby’s, or Taco Bell?

 

Thank you again lifewithlilred for nominating me for this award! God bless you and your blog! And congrats to all nominated bloggers, keep doing what you’re doing!

This Award was created by Okoto Enigma.

 

 

 

Reckless Love

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“There’s no shadow you won’t light up

Mountain you won’t climb up, 

Coming after me

There’s no wall you won’t kick down

Lie you won’t tear down

Coming after me.”

-“Reckless Love” -Cory Asbury (Bethel Music)

Do you remember the feeling of falling in love? As a teen, it can “feel” pretty overwhelming. You actively pursue your love interest, memorizing their features, what they like and dislike. Every moment with them makes your heart skip and your face cramps from smiling so much. It feels like your love has no limits, you would do anything for him/her to show them you love them. And beneath all the emotions and hormones, you believe that you will love that person forever…..until you discover that they don’t want your forever. Pain like nothing else, as if your heart burst into a million pieces, leaves you feeling like the world is at its end. The future you had envisioned disappears along with the one you couldn’t stop thinking about.

In time, you accept the loss, you let go of your pain and realize that the world isn’t ending. You think of that person less and less until it’s as if they came from a different time, a different life. You fall out of love, the one thing you believed was impossible.

If only we knew we were loved by one who never stops loving. Pursued by one who never stops pursuing. Many of us don’t realize that we are in the greatest love story ever told, in fact, we are the bride in this great story. An infinite all-powerful God, romancing a fallen world….what reckless love.

He adores us even as His heart is breaking, His love has no boundaries, no conditions. We simply can’t escape it. And yet no one knows rejection like He does…the world has proven time and again that it’s not a faithful bride. God came to the earth through His Son Jesus, to be with us, and we killed Him. And what did He give us in return? Did He abandon us and fall out of love with us? No, He surrendered His son on the cross and in doing so, He paid the ransom we couldn’t pay and gave us so many blessings that we’re still discovering!

I’m reminded of the story of Hosea and Gomer. God told Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman to symbolize the unfaithfulness of Israel towards God. So Hosea marries Gomer and she soon returns to the life of an adulterer, sleeping with other men besides her husband. This life leads to Gomer being taken as a slave.

I can imagine this being Gomer’s all-time low. What man would love her after what she has done? Standing on a step with a price on her head, no longer a woman but something to be used. And then she spots him, Hosea, the only man who called her wife, pushing his way through the crowd toward her, ready to buy her back.

God told Hosea, just as I love my people Israel, you must love your wife again…

What reckless love.

No matter what you have done, God is always there ready to take you back. And He doesn’t come to buy you with coins but with His only Son Jesus, who is willing to take your place, to pay the ultimate price for you. I promise you, no human can make you whole, no husband or wife can fulfil your every need and desire for love. Only God can satisfy your soul, and He does so not because He has to, but because He wants to. We are wanted, desired, sought after by God…. that, is reckless love.

“Then Jesus told this parable: Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep!”

Luke 15:3-6

Through It All

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“Through it all, my eyes are on you, and it is well with me…”

-“It is Well” by Bethel Music

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in God. I’ve had my doubts about His Goodness, but not about His existence. I simply can’t imagine not believing, nor waking up to His presence. He has been as fixed as the sun, a constant reality regardless of those who have tried to say otherwise. Once you have experienced and felt His presence, you can’t go back to a world without Him. A world devoid of any lasting meaning apart from Him. He was my friend when I felt insecure and misunderstood, and it was through Him I set my dreams.

I wish I could tell you that the Christian life is easy, but the truth is it’s the harder paths that are worth travelling. They are the paths that promise reward, adventure, and personal growth which only happens through the facing and overcoming of challenges. It’s this path that the Bible describes as “narrow” that few walk down, but their destiny is Heaven and they never walk it alone.

Loneliness, fear, anger, depression…can seem like impossible giants in this life. From a distance, they can appear more manageable than in those moments when they are wrapped around you weighing you down like so many bricks. Sometimes it starts out as a small burden, a single stone placed in your heart that begins to multiply with each day or experience. I find myself doing this…I turn from God and get swept up in life and satan attacks. He is like a wolf, always circling, patient and calculated. He waits for that moment of weakness and makes his move.  That is why he is the lowliest of creatures, he fights in the shadows because he fears the light. In the light, his tricks are revealed and his cover blown. We face an enemy who can only try and deceive us, our biggest battle is this- “Do we listen?”

What I am about to share with you is a piece of my story. Maybe you are the one who is broken, feeling like no one will ever truly know you. How can God fill me? Make me whole again? you ask. The answer; one day at a time.

I grew up in an upper-middle-class school, though far from town and located amidst farmer fields, the students there were hardly the country type. Sports and popularity were everything, as well as how “rich” you were. I was a shy girl who liked hanging with boys and picking up bugs. I started off having trouble finding good friends. As the years passed I had lost many “friends” and had been bullied off by students and teachers alike. I began doubting myself, my abilities to communicate, and this grew with each passing grade. I never got to sing a solo in choir, and one time when I won a pie-selling contest my mom had to put up with angry parents saying that I didn’t deserve to win because I was open enrolled. Once middle school came, life was unbearable. Teachers belittled and called me names and the students pretended as though I wasn’t there. I had to sit at the boy table at lunch and couldn’t wait to go home. I didn’t know this at the time, but I was deeply affected by those experiences. Satan was on a mission to destroy my identity.

Thankfully, life turned around and just in time. I was put in a different school and found the best friends I could ever ask for. I learned to speak and laugh and couldn’t wait to go to school. Math was still difficult but I wasn’t treated differently because of it. Teachers loved me and I was hard pressed to find any student who treated me bad.

Notice how my life changed. We are often moulded and influenced by our surroundings and circumstances, often it’s unavoidable. Was it the end of my heartache? No, life always seems to have a way of building you up and tearing you down. We must learn to focus on something constant or we will be pulled along the tides of life, and become swallowed by our emotions. God has been my constant help, my comforter, and my friend. He makes the storms of life bearable and even beautiful. Everything He touches suddenly has meaning and purpose. And he restores all that was lost tenfold.

So no matter what you are going through, no matter what has happened in your past. You don’t have to carry that burden anymore. It’s not the end of your story. God was with you in every moment. I prayed to Him often in those lonely days..I felt loved and accepted by Him even when outwardly I was alone. He is the closest friend you’ll ever have, he knows your heart and who you truly are. He speaks life-giving words over you, drowning out the hurtful things that life has tried to brand you with. He’s beside you always. Through it all, you’re never alone.

That is why I can say, “it is well with my soul.”

 

 

Less Is More

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The main goal of a repurposing business is to do less and reap more. You want your profit margins to increase, and your spending of time and money to decrease. Some large items will pay off, but most things (especially just starting out) will take much time and energy and won’t bring in the profit you were expecting. Granted, you could make more by setting up in some rich town but you still have to spend money in getting to that location, and extra wear and tear will happen to your items along the way. If you have enough to fill a booth at a market, there is generally a booth fee, plus you will need a truck, trailer, chairs, tables, money for gas and for buyers that need change. And you have to be prepared for those who will try and talk you down on your prices. Come to an event like this knowing what the lowest you will take is and still make a profit. I keep a list of all the expenses per item and from there figure out a price.

Before going to flea markets and craft shows you need to start off small and smart. Find things free as often as possible. Yes, that means be prepared to dig. Trash day is great, so many people throw out things that could be fixed and sold, or even just cleaned up and re-painted. Yard sales aren’t bad either if you know what to look for. Never get your items at an antique store or high-end flea market. They are most likely selling their items at the retail price. You want to try for win-win scenarios and use the money to build up your business and spread your name. Also, you must strive for excellence. Having easier items to begin with, will make this goal more attainable. You can’t really screw up on painting but you could on items that involve a lot more work and detail.

Notice what sells, I started off pouring so much time into something that wasn’t selling fast. I had to discover what it was that people wanted, and what people would buy from me and reshift my efforts accordingly. I’ve sold more small items that took less time than large items that took me days. People are just more willing to buy smaller lighter items than something so big they would have to make room for it. If you are creating something big, make sure it has a function. This will increase your chances of selling something large. For example, don’t make an old door into wall art, put a bench on it and some coat hangers and you have made it functional. Turn the door into a shelf or end table and suddenly art has become something more valuable.

Just be flexible, learning to change and mould to meet the desires of your buyers. Be unique and try new things, there are a lot of people repurposing and selling antiques, do something they haven’t done. Pinterest is great starting out, you want to know what’s popular, but in the long run, you don’t want to be a copycat. You can change the style of an item and make it unique and fresh. Whatever you like online think of simple ways to add to that item, or change that item. Make it yours.

Hope this helps! God bless you and the work of your hands!

Stoke the Flame

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“His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself.” 

-Revelation 19:12

I’ve always loved bonfires. My friends and I would keep busy feeding it with leaves and sticks until the yard was spotless. After that we would find other things to put in the flames, watching the ever-changing intensity and colors dance across the items and reflect on our warm faces. The fire isn’t concerned with the temperature of the world around it, burning just as bright whether it’s 90 degrees or 20. However, a windy night could be too dangerous to light a flame, and a rainy one would put it out before it ever began. But with the right conditions and constant fuel, a fire could stay burning forever.

Is it a literal fire that John the Apostle saw in Jesus’ eyes? Or could it have been the only words he had to describe the look in his eyes? Perhaps it was both, symbolic and real. The book of Revelation is filled with such descriptions that could be taken either way. It was a vision, after all, revealing things that we may not fully understand in this reality. The image this paints for us though can be very real and applicable today. I have read in books many times the line, “..with fire in his eyes…” It’s meaning generally signifying a call to action, a fury, or an unquenchable passion.  Those words call out something in us too, an inner boldness that has been in us since creation.

In Biblical times, that boldness had to be brought out of every able-bodied man on the fields of battle. A fiery passion and fearlessness are what drove the Israelites as they conquered armies larger than their own. It was a fiery zealousness that rose in Jesus as he upturned the money tables and chased away the profiteers. The very reason he had come was to reconcile mankind to God, and it angered him to see men aiding in this separation and making a profit of it.

We all have a fire, a light that dispels darkness. As children of God, we are called to be a light, a burning flame, a lamp in a dark world. Our light is not for our sake alone, that we may see what lies ahead. It is a transforming light that should spread and conquer wherever we go. That flame within us is the Holy Spirit partnered with the desires of our soul. The closer we draw to God, the more we mirror His heart and passions.

How strong is your flame? Is it barely flickering or just glowing embers? What do you need to do to bring it back to life? Everyone has to stoke the flame every now and then. It is hard work, but not as hard as re-lighting it again. The only way we stoke our flame is by being in the presence of God and encountering the passions He has placed on our lives as Christians, and as children with unique destinies and callings. I feel a fire in my eyes when people are abused and when satan deceives people into feeling worthless and victimized. A zealousness for God rises in me when I come across people who feel forever separated from His love, as if our sins are somehow more powerful than His love for us. The religious spirit deadens the flame till it can be controlled and tamed. The flame becomes a candle, “this little light of mine” when it was never made to be contained or controlled.

The religious spirit is zealous about control and order. He’s the one who circles the fire in our souls like a hawk, pouring water on any flame that reaches for more. Our passions should be burning and growing. Our love should mirror Christ’s love, and our fire should be free. Free to burn for Him. This is why fires burn and spread so easily in places where people are hungry for more, their wood is dry and it quickly catches when they hear about Jesus. In places that are under the strict control of the religious spirit, or heavily deceived by satan, fires are harder to spread, everyone’s wood has been so watered down that it takes transforming miracles to see a revival.

Before we set out to change the world, let Him change you. Stoke the fires in your heart so that people will long for what you carry. Shine bright and brighter still so that the people who guard their candle lights would see that there is so much more. They have known Jesus as the lamb, now they must know him as the lion. As the one whose eyes are like flames of fire…Stoke the flame. Burn for him.

My heart is ablaze
with the flame of triumph
my soul alight
with this fire of success
an eternal inferno
rages within me
and when you peer into my eyes
then you will see
the fire burning within.

…The fire burning within my eyes. 

-Allen Steble

 

The Art of Distressing

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Many of you have probably been inside a primitive craft shop at one point or another, and have spotted furniture that was made to look worn and distressed. The fact is, the distressed “used” look is becoming quite popular. The dings and scratches add character and age to things that were new and perfect before. It’s the antiquated look that is catching people’s eye. So if you generally like to fix furniture up, you may want to drop it down the stairs a few times for good measure, because distressed wood furniture is on the rise.

I believe this love of “distressing” comes from the desire to have something unique. Something that has a story to tell. When we come across true antiques, we wonder at all the people who may have used such items. I have an old wooden school desk from the 40’s that still has gum stuck to the underside. If I really look I can spot some names etched in the wood from students who apparently didn’t find their class very interesting. Some items though, tell a more serious story, such as the Army tools and gear that carry the damage of war. Regardless of the item, every antique has seen a world many of us have not. For those who remember such times, these items are nostalgic, for those who haven’t, these items are a reminder of a legacy that shouldn’t be forgotten. A different America, and world that we live in today.

So, to the art of distressing, how do we successfully add age to items that are more modern or even somebody else’s trash? The method I use is very simple.

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First wash or dust off the item you intend to use. Here is the “before” picture of the chairs listed above. I found these at a flea market, however, I encourage you to find your items for free whenever possible, even if the items are slightly broken. After cleaning we repair any damage that affects the functionality of the chairs. I had to use wood glue on these and let them dry overnight. Once repaired make sure everything is how you want it. Test the chairs and make sure nothing was left out.

Now it’s time to paint, this step is important! Make sure to get a paint that sticks to the wood nicely and doesn’t peel. This can make the distressing step difficult as you simply want to wear down the paint, not make it peel back. Semi-gloss should be fine. You can spray or hand paint your furniture, I brushed mine on because it adds to the antique feel of the chair. Once your paint has dried it’s time to distress.

Have sanding blocks/paper ready, medium grit and look at your furniture piece. Where would distressing occur? Are there any corners or edges that would get banged up after much use? Once you have decided where to distress your item and how much you want it to look distressed, you can begin sanding. Sand till varying degrees of wood show, make your marks random and different.

When finished dust your work off and spray sealer on it. I use Rust-Oleum semi-gloss clear. This will make the wood appear darker and will hide any scuffs that occur from sanding paint. For example, I noticed when sanding black paint, white spots can appear where you wore the color away, sealer has always worked to get rid of those spots for me. After that, you’re finished! Every item will be different and present different challenges, but distressing wood should be the same, it’s always easier to damage something than it is to fix it. Also, there are many ways to distress than just using sanders, I’ve heard of people dragging things behind their car, or beating them with chains. If you distress things a lot you will discover what way works best and looks best! Good luck and have fun!

The Refuge

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How important is prayer? It seems that prayer is losing its potency in our culture. Mass shootings, murder, suicide…where is God? Now, we see that even churches aren’t safe from the world’s sin. But again I ask you, how important is prayer? Before you answer, I want to ask one more question, what have you been praying for? Now, if you are full of doubt in prayer but willing to accept a truth that is painful, keep reading. However, if you don’t believe in prayer and these three points listed below then please, seek God and have Him walk you through healing…because something happened in your life that made prayer seem impossible or powerless and until you believe in it again, you won’t be able to study it with an open mind. My three points are, what I believe to be truths, supported biblically and demonstrated in my life, they are as follows:

  1. God works through us
  2. Prayer releases power
  3. We carry power and authority

So what do you pray for? What do you pray for as a church? I know for me, I pray mostly about those in my life, situations that are close to me and are on my heart. I might pray a quick prayer for the rest of the world and pray a little longer when I hear something on the news that is troubling or disastrous. As a church, we pray for members of the body who are sick or need a breakthrough. We pray for the surrounding community and for the lost. But rarely have I heard this prayer, “Lord, protect our church from the lies of the enemy, from any form of harm he intends to send against us, God, if anyone intends harm towards us, I declare that their hearts be transformed and their eyes opened to the truth and the great love of Jesus, amen.”

Most prayers sound quite different, we pray for the lost that they would come through our doors, we ask God for a servants heart, we pray for specific members of the body that they would be restored and delivered from evil only after something manifests itself in their lives visibly. I have seen churches completely consumed with self-righteousness that they don’t feel the need for protection, and churches so set on servanthood that they neglect the health and safety of the body, leaving no one fit to protect the gate from the wolves.

My uncle used to have a large yard. He would mow it as my aunt would tend to the garden. Every day he would sit on his deck and survey his land for unwelcome guests. It wouldn’t be long before he would spot a groundhog waddling towards his garden, digging and eating all the while. My uncle would instantly take action, he would grab his rifle and put the creature out of commission. My uncle killed a lot of vermin in his life, and his garden and yard remained peaceful and safe whilst he was there.

Who protects the church from satan’s tricks? Who has discernment in your church to alert the body to danger? Who carries the rifle, and makes the tough decisions regarding the safety of the flock? Who, deals with the wolves?

Oh, how important prayer is…how often do I blame God for something in my life…and then see the truth, I didn’t pray for those things! How can God bless me and answer a prayer that I never uttered? And if I did speak of it, did I really ask? Did I contend for it? Did I believe in it? As Christians, we have become so desensitized to the violence of the world, so used to satan triumphing that we have forgotten who we are! We pray with a sense of hopelessness, a begging for change, forgetting that we might just be the answer to our prayers! God wants to use us to change the world, He has given us the Holy Spirit and the authority to take back this fallen place. But we can’t do that until we remember who we are again. We need to wake up and put a foot down. We need to pray with authority, believing that our words have power and speak into things before they happen. Pray for your church! Bind up evil spirits before they set foot upon your stair. Speak life over the country, don’t speak curses! Don’t aide in the world’s destruction, but in its renewal. Prayer is important, but I dare take it farther…it is VITAL!

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, I will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

The Joys of Resin

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Items you will need:

  1. Resin
  2. Molds
  3. Measuring cups/stir sticks
  4. Lamp or drink straw
  5. Covered/ventilated work surface
  6. gloves
  7. Items for mold
  8. Sandpaper/blocks
  9. Vaseline
  10. Glaze (optional)

Making bracelets out of resin was one of the first projects I started to broaden my range creatively. I was working on large antique items at the time and felt the need to have something smaller and vibrant to sell. I went to Hobby Lobby and found a plastic bracelet mold and a resin set. You want to make sure to get a decent quality of resin, as well as have mixing/measuring cups and stir sticks that are disposable. I use Alumilite Amazing Clear Casting Kit. 

You can choose any item you wish to put into your molds, as long as they are dry. If you wish to press plants or food items they must be properly dried out, otherwise, your resin may refuse to set and your items could become discolored. Once you have your items ready and workplace set-up, you can begin.

Start by lining your molds lightly with vaseline, this will make the bracelet more removable without damaging your mold. Make sure you wear your gloves once you start dealing with the resin as it could irritate your skin. When I get some on me, I immediately go and wash it off with dish soap and warm water. Follow directions on the proper mixing of the resin, however as long as you mix equal parts of both A and B bottles slowly without removing your stir stick, you should be fine, and won’t get too many bubbles.

Mixing is a slow process that can take a few minutes, the mixture should clear when it is thoroughly mixed. If some bubbles remain, don’t worry, you can attempt to pop them against the side of your mold if you have large bubbles, small ones will have to rise to the surface. Once ready you may pour your resin into the mold half way so that there is room to add your items. Remember that the best side of your bracelet will be the mold set side, not the side you will have to sand, design your bracelet accordingly.

When finished adding your items, top off the mold with more resin so that the top looks smooth. From here you can put a warm light over your mold to bring any bubbles to the surface. I always use a drinking straw and blow quickly onto the mold if I see bubbles close to the surface, the carbon dioxide will make the bubbles pop. Be careful if you try this approach!

Your resin should begin to set quickly, if any items in your mold surface due to air you can push them back down into the mold with your stir stick, however, this will get harder as the resin sets. If you properly mixed your resin the setting process shouldn’t take more than a day or so. If the surface still feels tacky, give it another day to set. Sometimes I have waited up to 3 days due to either imprecise mixing or temperature changes since I make them in my garage.

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After they are set, you can bend them out of your mold and get them wet and soapy. That way you can sand them without risk of breathing in particles. Just sand the bottoms and sides till they are smooth and to your liking. Then if you wish you can seal them, I use Sculpey Gloss Glaze, it adds an extra shine and covers any scratches or imperfections. Unfortunately, some bracelets may need another layer of resin brushed on them if the imperfections are too great, such as bubbles that made holes.

I hope this helps anyone who is interested, I know there is much to learn about resin, but as a beginner, this is what I have personally found to be effective. God bless and have fun!