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.

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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!