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

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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!

Hope Song Creations

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“She thought she could take the ashes and make a masterpiece, but the pieces broke in her hands, she could do nothing. But the Creator, the one who formed her and knew how to bring beauty from ashes, took the broken pieces and formed a dream. One that gave meaning to the ashes and brought forth a purpose that could never die.”

 

It’s been awhile since I have blogged. Life likes to surprise you and take you down roads you never thought you would go down. But God is always in the lead, pointing and guiding us even through the most confusing of times. He will always lead you beside still meadows if you let Him. Sometimes you have to be willing to go through the brambles and weeds to find the sweet spots. The beautiful gardens God prepares just for us. I must say I’ve gone through those thorny messy moments, many times. But this time, a dream was at the end.

It all started after trying to find a job. I worked third shift at a retail store for about a year and found the job too demanding. I hardly saw my husband, let alone prepared dinner for him. My life had become mediocre, a cycle of eating, sleeping, and working. And the pay wasn’t enough for my troubles. I left and applied at multiple places to no avail. I finally chose something I thought I would enjoy, and at the heart of it, I did. I love children, and at this job, it was my privilege to care for and teach children from infants to 5th graders. I soon realized that even here, much was required of me, and I felt trapped in that I couldn’t do anything that would have a lasting impact. You see I wanted to make a difference somewhere, I couldn’t live with spending most of my time stocking shelves or with having to run circles around a room full of kids.

It had become all work, it was draining and I found myself having to discipline more than simply loving on the kids. I really loved those kids. We had them from sun up to sun down and got to watch them grow up before our eyes. We worked long hours for very little pay and no overtime. And the kids came from many backgrounds, but most came from single parents who had to work long hours themselves. Again it became a cycle, a means to an end…..I was let go.

I had never been fired before. I had a particularly stressful week in a class of 12 two-year-olds and due to exhaustion and stress, I simply couldn’t just go with the flow anymore. I was let go because I said I couldn’t handle them on my own. I had proven myself time and time again, passing all their testing and in-class observations but in a moment of supreme stress I threw my hands in the air and that was that. And a chapter was turned in a moment. Never was it so hard to say goodbye, and partly this was because I didn’t even get to. All those kids I had come to love as if they were my own. And I had to leave their lives without a hug or explanation.  I am not blaming the place I worked at…every child care facility is set up in such a way because the state sets the bar high. In the past, that bar would have felt attainable, but today, with so much brokenness in families, every child needs special care and direction, the teacher to student ratios just don’t fit the demands.

I must say I cried awhile. I had planned on putting in a two weeks notice and getting to slowly say goodbye on my own time. I wanted to tell them how much I loved them and that I believed in them. I wanted to say a proper goodbye, and bless them as they entered a new year and class…as I said, life has a way of surprising you. You decide some paths and others you fall down, slipping and sliding. But through the brambles, I saw a glimmer of hope and God awakened a dream that same night. I now own a business called Hope Song Creations.

I grew up loving antiques and watching all the TV shows. The past has always fascinated me, not that I wanted to go back in time but that I wanted to remember their legacies, what they fought for, the lessons learned and wisdom gained by our past relatives. Our culture today is so bent on erasing it all, but this is equally being met by those who are seeking to preserve the past. A lot of old things are being made new again, from old clothing styles to fixing up antiques and giving them new life and function in today’s society.

I started finding antiques and learning what I could do to make them functional and appealing again. I set up shop in my garage, and with each new project, I learned more and bought more tools. Never had I used anything but a hand drill. Now I use it all, grinders, circular saws, axes, hand saws, jig saws…the list goes on. But like any starting business, it’s been difficult. I must find the right avenues, take the right turns and discover what it is that people really want.

This year is winding down though, winter is rolling in and what was difficult before has doubled now. But God has a plan in all of this, and It is my joy to blog again and to share what I have learned so far. So this is the first of many more Hope Song Creation blogs, for anyone who is interested in antiques, repurposing, or starting a business. God bless you all, and never give up on your dreams!

Know Thy Enemy

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“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the spider to the fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around, the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in.”
“O no, no,” said the little fly, “for I’ve often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed.”

-Mary Howitt

It started as a sudden jolt of fear, as I recognized the silhouette of a small hairy spider on the wall across my room. I stared for a while at its small frame, knowing that its size would greatly increase with proximity.  I slid out of bed and snuck towards it, my imagination going wild, adrenaline kicking in. I gasped as I finally took it in fully. Shiny black eyes pointed at me. It’s front legs poised to pounce, its jaws moving hungrily. I ran for a newspaper, but in fear grabbed a bowl instead. Returning to the scene I raised the bowl and found that I couldn’t move. Spider: 1 Adult Human: 0.

What happened next? After some time, I finally got the nerve to see past my fear and capture the little beastie. My fear turned to victory as I held the bowl in my hands, watching the spider try and strike, completely powerless in the sealed bowl. I saw clearly that it was afraid of me, more than I was of it. That what I thought was hungry chewing was actually shaking and shivering terror.

This story is not unlike an elephant afraid of a mouse, or a child too afraid to sit on the lap of the easter bunny. Why are we so afraid? We have rational fears that make sense, but what of the irrational fears? The Phobias…

I fear spiders but nothing gets my blood pumping like wasps. Their angry slanted eyes and buzzing make my hair raise. My husband though is a different story, he swats them away like they are nothing more than overzealous butterflies. The outcome? To my surprise, he never gets stung. It’s like the wasps respect him, while it seems when I walk out the door it’s an air raid. Surely the problem isn’t the wasps, but my fear. I give them power over me by fearing them.

I know it may seem silly but as children of God, filled with power, we can easily give our power away. We see this with satan all the time. He is a bug on the floor, but he uses fear to make himself appear large and undefeatable. It’s his pleasure to scare us giants into submission. He loves making God appear weak and his children appear weaker. Why does he deceive through fear? To fear is to distrust God. A family divided cannot stand, he wants the children of God to rebel against their father, to turn from him. If he can cut us off from God, we are made vulnerable and then like any spider with prey in its web, he comes in for the kill, wrapping us in as many lies as he can till all we can see is distorted by the silk covering our eyes. If you didn’t know it, it could be pretty comfortable wrapped in a web. You could easily mistake a cage for a bed and live in that dream very nicely for quite some time…

But with the film over your eyes, you wouldn’t notice the approaching doom, the life draining from you as each day passes. You weren’t made to be anything less than a child of God. What satan offers you is counterfeit and supremely evil. He comes to kill steal and destroy, but he appears to you looking like everything you ever wanted. He is the ultimate con man.

It’s time the church wakes up to who the devil really is. It’s time the church seeks discernment and faces the hard truth. There is an enemy out there, he hides in the dark and entices you with lies. He can easily work his way into your families, and into your church. The church is not off limits to demons, it’s not like playing tag in school and designating a tree as a ‘safe zone.’ We have to take ground for the kingdom of God, it isn’t given to us freely. Everything, every inch must be fought for and maintained. It really is a war we are dealing with here, the definition of a war- a conflict between two opposing sides.

Know thy enemy. Don’t fear thy enemy. God has decided the outcome, he defeated satan and the power of death. The battle has never been between God and satan, there is no match there….satan is merely a fallen angel. No angel or army of angels can defeat God. In simply speaking he created everything we see today, as well as the galaxies that will forever be beyond fathom. Why then are we fighting someone who is defeated? because satan has always been at war with us, from the beginning of man, when he tricked Adam and Eve, he has declared war on us. And as children of God, made in His likeness, we are to taste the victory of defeating our enemy. To become who God made us, we must pick up our crosses and take back the world.

 

The Secret Key

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“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 

– Matthew 16:19

First, I’d like to point out that there is no “secret” key per se, to those who believe, all that was once hidden and shrouded in mystery has either been given to us, revealed to us, or left waiting to be found by us. God doesn’t hide things from us, but for us. He is a God of mystery but He is also good. We must remember that Christ spoke in parables so that only those who believed would hear and understand. He didn’t do it to cause confusion or make it difficult for those truly hungry for Him.

“So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world.”‘ – Matthew 13:35

It is the mystery left waiting for us to discover that keeps us hungry, the more that is revealed to us the hungrier we get. We are reminded with each new discovery that God is infinitely vast, not just in wisdom but in love. Again I must liken our relationship with God to that of a husband and wife. It is through communication and intimacy that couples grow closer together and so it is with God, it really is all about relationship.

The Bible is a great place to start, for all those who long for more of God, His Word is where we should all return to in both times of joy and during the varying storms of life. It is through the Word that we learn to recognize God’s voice and guidance amidst the other voices that try to sway us. It’s the Word which displays the character of Jesus which we are to mirror in our daily lives. Since we have received the Holy Spirit, the Word becomes an even deeper well of life that we get to drink from. I truly believe that if you let the Holy Spirit speak to you while you read the Bible, you will continually learn and grow in wisdom through it. You could read a chapter a million times and God will never fail to teach you more about Him.

It might seem intimidating, can we truly know God and yet not know Him fully? Honestly I can spend a lifetime learning about my husband and yet never fully know him…only God understands us all fully, even the parts of us we don’t even understand, He created us and it’s His right and will to know His creation. Nothing escapes His notice. Although I may never know my husband fully like God, I will know what stirs his heart; his passions, his dreams, what makes him smile, and what he would give his life for. You see when you are in a close relationship with someone you cannot hide your heart from them, and why would you want to? If you love someone you reveal yourself to them in ways you wouldn’t reveal to others. Love requires sacrifice and it starts by revealing your heart, sharing your dreams, and, quite honestly, being vulnerable. And so the answer to the question, can we truly know God and yet still have much to learn? Yes, we have seen through the Bible and through our personal relationship with Him the deepest desires of His heart.

What does the heart of God reveal?

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

“….God is love.” -1 John 4:8

Out of all the great displays of love I have received, from handmade gifts to tender kisses, to a mother’s embrace or a father’s encouragement….none of it compares to when God gave His Son for me…it was the greatest act of love, it was the first…He died for me before I even existed, before I was even a thought in my parents minds. Do you know why you exist? Do you truly know? It wasn’t by chance or because God just decided to create you on a whim…you and I were in the heart of God from the beginning…it wasn’t enough that we were just an idea…God wanted us to exist.

I’m not a mother yet, but as time passes I find myself imagining the sound of a child’s laughter, I smile at the thought of what they will look like, and who they will grow to be. As I do dishes I look out the window and imagine my husband playing in the yard with our son. I think to myself, I can’t wait for them to be…will they like it here, will Aaron and I make good parents? I feel my excitement grow and look forward to the many memories we will share as a family. Surely these are the kind of thoughts God had of us before we came to be..

The Secret Key=Relationship

Relationship is the key to God’s heart. It is the key to the mysteries of God. It is the key to greater works through the Holy Spirit. It’s in the seeking that we find, and for those who seek God earnestly, there is much to be found.

Beautifully Broken

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“Life is so ironic. It takes sadness to know what happiness is, noise to appreciate silence, and absence to value presence.” (weebly.com)

He had cancer…it had advanced to its final stage and there was nothing that could be done. I remember him in a wheelchair, bald from chemo, and yet always smiling. I was only a child and it was the first time in my life I saw God answer my prayers. Yes, he had answered them when I was afraid of coming storms or test results. But this was different, the doctors said he had only a month left, not enough to say goodbye. I prayed for him, asking God for time, and he kept living.. 2 months, 3 months…6 months went by, and then one peaceful evening he said goodbye, surrounded by his family, they said it was like he simply fell asleep.

When I remember this man I don’t feel sad, although I do wonder how things would have turned out if I would’ve prayed bigger, could he have been healed completely? All I know is that there comes a time in everyone’s life in which we must say goodbye. It is the one unavoidable truth, often feared and spoken of in whispers, as though the grim reaper was bending ear to hear. To a Christian though, death should hold no fear…so when I think of this man, I am filled with peace because I know that with every end, there is a new beginning. Heaven is the prize at our journeys end.

The truth is, it is during hardships that who we really are breaks through. So many people hide behind a false smile, burying their passions, hurt, and emotions deep within, believing that vulnerability is weakness, when in reality, we are all vulnerable and it takes true courage to admit it to ourselves and others. We can’t pretend away our brokenness, or sweep it under the rug.

There is beauty in our brokenness. We all need beauty in our lives, God made the world beautiful for a reason, with flowers of every color and fragrance, waterfalls, sunsets of red, orange, yellow and purple. Was God just showing off when he crafted the wings of a butterfly? Or just being creative when he decided that there should be seasons? I don’t think so..our God is righteous, pure, and beautiful, and so, being created in His image we too crave beauty in our lives. When it comes to physical beauty, we see through its fleetingness that God wants us to dig deeper into the heart of what true beauty is. Beauty is a matter of the heart.

Just as we are called to be joyful in all circumstances we are also called to find the beauty in every circumstance. Beauty and joy are correlated, as one can’t be experienced without the other. Just think of what brings a smile to your face….babies, nature, movies, art…the list goes on. You know what tops them all? Jesus giving his life for us….I find that beautiful.Is it also heartbreaking? yes, the pain he suffered was meant for us…a piece of us breaks when we realize all our savior did for us…..what is beautiful is his love. Sometimes beauty is the things we just can’t put into words, those moments of awe. Jesus loved us more than anyone has ever loved us….beautifully broken for us. What is more beautiful that love put to action?

God has been allowing me to see things through a different lense lately. The closer I draw to Him the more I see all the beauty around me. It is so important to stop and smell the roses sometimes…to simply walk with our God and be alone with Him. I think He created nature to do just that, to be a temple of peace and beauty that we can escape into at any time. Even Jesus went off into the wilderness at times to be with His father. I know life can be busy, the city lights often draw us in, and the daily chores can divert our attention. But the time we spend with God is irreplacable. And in those moments when we are too busy to go off and be with Him, ask Him to come along, He isn’t just in the wilderness but beside you, in your very heart. Being constantly aware of His presence will fill you with beauty and peace. If there is beauty in brokenness, there is beauty to be found in everything. Just open your eyes, and let Him show you.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” -Ecclesiastes 3:11

Kota

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“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, and filling an emptiness we didn’t even know we had.” 

Meet Kota, she is an Alaskan Malamute mix from the local shelter. She came from a home I know very little about. I just couldn’t keep my eyes off her…she looked so out-of-place, so beautiful..and sad. “She’s only 2 years old”, they said, “the only problem is, she is afraid of men.” The home she came from either consisted of just females, or of a male that was abusive, and so she was afraid. My husband and I visited her, giving her treats.. but she only felt safe around me. I was losing hope. I prayed to God, “Lord, if she is meant to be with us, please help her overcome her fear.” The last time we visited…she LOVED Aaron, it was a prayer come true.

Having a big dog (she’s 90 pounds), is quite the new experience for me, as well as adopting. She needed re-potty trained, and she has fears and uncertainties that we are still discovering and working through. Completely different than bringing home a puppy, who has never felt fear, pain, or abandonment by previous owners. But it is so worth it. Having Kota brings joy to our lives….in fact her name means happiness. And everyday I am discovering what parenting will be like. True a baby is far more work and responsibility than caring for a dog, but after three years without a pet (besides guinea pigs) I feel myself sliding back into my motherly nurturing self. I had a dog when I was growing up and quite honestly loved him like a child. I know there may be parents reading this who will disagree with me, and that’s okay, I haven’t had a child myself yet…I know that my love for them will be tenfold…but for a lonely teen girl with no siblings and growing up feeling misunderstood…my dog filled all those voids in my heart.

Hence the reason behind the quote above, God seemed to know that there would be those who would need the unfailing love of a dog, the loyalty and friendship that never changes through time or circumstance. They simply live to please and bring joy to people. Maybe that’s why I am so drawn to animals, I have been hurt by many people in this life, but never have I been hurt by an animal. Sure, my cat might have scratched me from time to time, but emotionally I have always felt accepted. I remember the many times I cried and my cat or dog was right there by my side to comfort me. The fact is, I believe that God can be found in all shapes and sizes. When we don’t reflect him well, someone or something else must. Why? because of who He is. God is just so great and so good that we can’t possibly cover Him up. The truth always comes through, we can deny its existence but the truth remains. The Bible even touches on this fact in regards to worship, “…if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40) Creation will always speak the truth and reflect the creator, even when we fail to.

I firmly believe that every pet deserves a loving home, and volunteering at the shelter I get to see the very human emotions that they go through upon abandonment. Bringing Kota home, she was overjoyed!..after getting her settled in we decided to take her for a ride and get her used to the car. The joy of leaving the shelter the first time she hopped in our car was replaced with the fear of going back. It took a few minutes of reassuring her to finally get her in the car, but after a fun ride to the pet store and to get ice cream, I am proud to say that even this fear has been squashed.

So what’s it like adopting a dog?

It is fun and exciting…and heartening to see the transformations take place within them as they experience the love of a family again. It is where they belong after all…just as God intended.

Kota is home to stay…

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