Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hand-Painted Wood Sign

 This was a whole new venture for me...so I thought I'd share what I learned!

Last year I decided to paint my laundry room. My husband got a new job and we no longer had to move, so within a week of him moving back home, I had LOTS of plans for our house. 
And first on the list was the laundry room. 

Our laundry room is also a heated back porch that was added on to the house a while back, so one wall is still old siding. This is the AWESOME shade of green our house was at one point in time...


We found this lovely shade behind one of the shelves we took down. That sucker was nailed, screwed, and glued to the wall well enough to withstand any tornado that threatened it. It was lots of fun trying to take it down. Just ask my hubby!

All I did to the room was paint the walls, remove a couple shelves and rearrange some things. I bought a new hamper and rug and that was good enough. Of course, I had grand plans of moving the washer and dryer to another wall and having my hubby build some shelves around them with a counter on top...that was a year ago...

Here it is all painted and put back together.
Nothing fancy, but it's a little prettier. 

Going back to the old shelf that we pried off the wall...
Once we got it down and I saw it, I knew I could use it for something. I didn't know what yet, but something would come to me. I liked how it was beat up and old looking, but not like the new stuff you can buy that is made to look "old".

It sat in the garage for a while until it came to me. Our dear friends, Marcie and Dennis, that have the farm we like to hang out at were building a new house and I wanted to make Marcie something for a house-warming gift. I finally decided to make some kind of wall decor with the shelf. I knew of a Bible verse that was special to their family and I happened to have yellow paint left from the laundry room (Marcie's favorite color) and with that I had a plan.

I always saw these cute homemade signs on Pinterest that people would make with fancy machines that cut out letters or shapes. Or they were super talented and could just paint it free-hand. Well I had neither of those abilities, so I researched other ways to make wood signs. I found a few different methods and decided to try two. 

First I had to print out my verse in the fonts I wanted to use. It took a few tries printing out the right sizes and making up my mind on the fonts, but finally I had something I liked. 

The next step was to shade the back of the words. I borrowed a graphite pencil from my daughter's drawing kit and used that for the shading. It worked a little better than a regular pencil, but you could still use a pencil. 

Before I made the large sign, I wanted to practice. My front porch is always a disaster after school but this year we installed hooks for all the children to hang their coats and bags. So I made name signs to place above each hook so everyone had a designated space.

I shaded the backside of each letter on all of the words and names.

It was A LOT of shading....

After all the words and names were shaded, I laid the paper face-up on the wood I was using. Once it was where I wanted it, I taped in place. 
Then I took a pencil and traced each letter, pushing pretty hard, in order to transfer the shading on the back to the wood.

Once everything was traced, I carefully pulled the paper off and this is how it looked. 

Now this is where my two projects differed. I had two methods I wanted to try: painting or coloring.
The easier of the two was coloring. I bought bright colored Sharpies and tried coloring in the letters on the names for the porch. 

It was rather easy and the colors were pretty, but you could definitely tell it was colored with marker.
One other negative about this method (This is will give away how long ago I meant to blog about this....) is that I did these a year ago and they are now very faded and don't look good at all. 

The other method was to paint the letters. This made me nervous because I'm not a painter. I don't feel like I have control over the brush and I'm kind of a perfectionist with this stuff and I knew I'd mess up. But I knew I had to try it on the big board because it would look better. 

The next step for the wall hanging was to prep the shelf. I wiped it down, sanded it, wiped it again, spackled all the holes, primed it twice and gave it two coats of yellow on both sides. 

I then placed my words, taped them down, and began to trace them.

After getting it all traced, the next step is to let it sit around your house for 4 months and do nothing. Okay, not really, but that's what I did. In my defense, I was very pregnant and very over anything that wasn't a necessity to my or my family's survival. So sat it did until a few weeks ago when my newborn slept through the night for the first time. I had so much energy that day I decided to conquer my painting fear and just do it. 

I used acrylic paint and a tiny paint brush, all of which I got pretty cheap from Hobby Lobby. The nice thing about acrylic paint is that it cleans up easy with water, so if I did make a bad mistake it was relatively easy to fix. The only tip I can give you for hand painting the letters is slow and steady. I took my time and just tried as best as I could to stay within the lines. I did have to do two coats on most of the colors, but the second coat was much easier and faster than the first.

That's about it! It was a long process (even without the 4 month procrastination) and it took patience, but it was worth it. It barely cost me any money and it was made by my hands which makes it even more special. It was supposed to be a Christmas gift...then Christmas came and went. Then it was going to be a gift when they moved into the house...that came and went. So it ended up being a Merry ChristmasBirthdayMoveInJustBecauseILoveYou gift in the middle of the summer. 

Now that I've tried painting, I'm not as afraid of it anymore. I am even thinking about making something for myself that is similar...but first I need to find another old shelf...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

I Got My Hindsight Checked...It Was 20/20: Part Two

I should really have learned by now NOT to put in writing when I will be posting my next blog. If you read Part One, you know that this was supposed to be posted "tomorrow". Well, as you can see, "tomorrow" turned into six months later. 
I'm also learning that blogging regularly is not my strong suit...

Six months. 
So many things can happen in six months. 
I'm beginning to wonder if God planned for me to be a huge blogging procrastinator so that I'd have more time and experiences to reflect on and help shed light on a situation. 
I suppose I'll ask him someday.

I do think he planned for me to write this today. My life has been...a bit chaotic in the last two months, which I'll get to later, (Don't worry, it's a good chaotic!) and my quiet times have fallen by the way side. In all honesty, it's been months since I sat down with God and just had time with Him. For the last few days I kept feeling the nudge and finally today I answered. I woke up early, grabbed my Bible and Jesus Calling, made some coffee and took up residence in my "happy place". I opened up Jesus Calling to today's date and stopped short. 

At the top of the page I had written "D&C 2013".

It was like someone smacked me.
Oh my gosh, is that today?!
How did I miss that??
Did I really forget that two years ago today, I lost my baby?

Of course, I didn't forget. You can never forget something like that. But in the chaos, I didn't realize that these were the days two years ago that I found out my baby was gone. 
What kind of chaos would cause you to forget that, you ask?

This kind. :)

It is my great pleasure to introduce you to Bennett John Moring. 
He was born on May18, 2015 and, despite some hiccups, was perfect in every way.

So, as you can see, the last 8 weeks have been a good chaotic. An amazing chaotic. The best chaotic I could ever ask for. But in the chaos...I did forget what day it was.

I find it NO coincidence that God was telling me to come to him the last few days. And it is NO coincidence that today is the day I finally obeyed. He didn't want me to miss it. I also had decided to begin a Bible study by Angela Thomas called Stronger:Finding Hope In Fragile Places.

 I had started it in May of 2014 but never finished, and a visit with a friend yesterday reminded me of it so I decided to re-start it. 
It's all about God's awesome strength and learning to live in that strength. Again, it's NO coincidence that as I re-read Day One in the study, I was able to look back at the last two years and see how God's strength was what got me through it all. 
How can you NOT believe in God??

I left off last time at January of 2014, hoping for a better year. 
In February came the next marriage hurdle. It was our anniversary weekend and we were attending the Love and Respect Conference. Basically, through us learning and conversing with each other we found out we had more hard things to face and work through. It was a huge reality check for me. And we had just worked through the issue from October. Oy. But thankfully we were both committed to making our marriage work and we were able to heal and move on, despite not living together because of my husband's job. 

Once again, just when things were looking up, tragedy struck again. In April we found out that my husband's brother was having an affair. Devastating doesn't even begin to cover it. It tore our family apart. My sister-in-law had become my best friend and watching her go through all the pain and loss was so hard. And trying to understand what was going on with his brother was very hard and confusing. It was many, many months of hurt feelings, misunderstandings, not talking...it put pressure on other relationships in the family as well. Ultimately, he decided to stay with the other woman and they ended up getting divorced, which was so sad to watch. We kept praying they could reconcile, but it wasn't meant to be. All of our lives have been changed forever because of this and while it's been hard to accept, my husband and I had to make hard choices that were to the benefit of our little family unit. We still love both parties as family, but our priority has to be our marriage and children. If you want to read about my SIL's journey through divorce and being a single mom, check out her blog - Mommy Diaries.

I can definitely say that watching all of that happen over the last year has strengthened our marriage ten-fold. Now when he leaves his dirty socks on the floor or doesn't pick up after himself, I still get annoyed, but I'm not as quick to pick a fight over it. He is a hard working, loving man that does everything he can for me and his children...and that makes me fall in love with him over and over again.

At Hubby's surprise 30th birthday party!

And now, the story begins to look up.
(And all the people said AMEN!)

In August of 2014, my hubby found a job that is 10 minutes from our house. It was a stretch financially, but our one prayer had been for God to put our family back together and this job would accomplish that. So we accepted and just trusted God with the finances. Hubby moved back home and has thrived at his new job! 

Amazingly, in August I also got pregnant. 
Funny how that happens when you LIVE with your husband....

I'm not going to lie, it was pretty stressful until I hit about 20 weeks. I was always anxious at doctor appointments or with any little pain that came along. The morning sickness was pretty bad, too. But once we hit 20 weeks, we were pretty confident everything would be okay and we announced it to the world. 

Photo and Card by Heather @ Moreygirl.com

Fast forward to May of this year and this little guy showed up!

That was another trying experience...but I'll share that another day.

 I've learned a lot over the last couple years. You always say that family is the most important thing, but after going through major life trials like a miscarriage, family separation, marriage troubles, and a hurtful divorce in the family, it truly makes you rethink your priorities.

I know for a fact that I could not have gotten through it without Jesus Christ. I dove into my Bible and soaked up everything I could. I made devotions a priority because I needed them to be able to face the day. I wrote down every verse that I thought would help me and then I worked on memorizing them. When I would start to feel anxious or angry or depressed (and I don't use that word lightly) I would recite a verse over and over in my head:

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."  Romans 12:12  

 One time, I started having an anxiety attack over something that had happened. I grabbed my journal and fell to my knees right there and just started reading out loud every verse I had written down. Over and over until I felt like I could breath again. I cried it out, said a prayer asking God to help me, dried my tears, got up and went back to my day.

I couldn't have gotten through it without God. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. God has a purpose for everything...good or bad. Sometimes we get to find out that reason and sometimes we don't. But no matter what He is in control. 

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song."  Psalm 28:7

We all have trials. We all have pain. But we don't have to suffer alone.

"For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you."  Isaiah 41:13 (this is one of my favorites)

He hears your cries just like he hears mine. And I use present tense because I'm not out of the woods. There is a saying that if you aren't in a storm, you are either coming out of one or going into one. Right now I'm coming out...but I know there will be more down the road. Of course I would never choose to have the bad experiences I've had, but I do choose to learn from them. I have been repeatedly assured that no matter what comes my way, I can count on my Savior to help me through it. 

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."  James 1:2-3

My world. <3

Monday, January 12, 2015

I Got My Hindsight Checked...It Was 20/20: Part One

Via Pinterest

According to my blog, I posted a whopping 6 posts last year. 
I can hear you now "Wow!...Overachiever!...She's really got her act together!"
Hahahaha, I know! I'm so awesome! (Insert sarcastic eye-roll here)

Blogs are great for many reasons: you can share knowledge of things you learn, teach skills, share life experiences. But personally, writing a blog is also great for being able to look back at your past and remember. Before starting this post, I went back and read my first blog for 2014. If you would like to read it, click here. I briefly stated that 2013 was a very rough year and I had learned to lean on God to help carry me through the hard times. I also said I had hope for the new year, that things would start to look up. 

Well, as they say...hindsight is 20/20.

Unfortunately, things did not look up. In fact, the hits just kept coming. 2014 was almost equally as bad a year as 2013. I don't regret having hope last January, because without hope, where would we be? I have Jesus, so I will always have hope. But sometimes God has different plans for our lives than we do.

It's taken me until now to be able to sit down and write about all of these things...but I'm ready.
So let's do this. 

 In July of 2013 I had a miscarriage. It was a very thought-out, prayed-over, and planned pregnancy, so when we lost it, it was devastating. I was 16 weeks when I started having some complications and we found out the baby was gone. The baby measured only about 12 weeks, so for 4 weeks I walked around not knowing what had happened. I struggled so much with God over that. Why would he let me go four weeks thinking everything was ok, making plans, announcing it to almost everyone...when it was already gone? I had a lot of anger over the fact that I waited and prayed over even getting pregnant for a long time and truly felt like it was the right thing...how could I have been so wrong? I ended up needing to have a D&C. That was an awful experience...sitting in a waiting room forever...then a hospital room...I remember waking up afterwards in recovery and there was a baby crying in another part of the room. It just kept crying and all I wanted was for it to shut up. It was like torture. That summer is pretty much a blur. I spent most of my days sitting on my front porch either staring out the window or scrolling through Pinterest. I had taught myself to crochet right before the hospital visit, so I threw myself into crocheting anything. Somehow I made it through the summer and school was about to start so I willed myself to start functioning again.

This was my summer "happy place" and still is my favorite place to sit and read or do devotions.
In August, my husband found a new job in a new town about an hour and half away from where we were currently living. He had been looking for a new job for a couple years so when this job presented itself we couldn't say no. It was a great opportunity so we put our house up for sale. He moved to the new town and was staying with friends, while the kids and I stayed behind to sell the house. We ended up living apart for 10 months.

Longest. 10. Months. EVER.

Visiting Daddy on a weekend and being silly. :)
Enter another period of questioning God and not understanding why. Why did he make this job SO perfect and everything seem like it was falling into place...except that our house wouldn't sell? Why couldn't there have been a job in our area? Why make us move? For 10 months I watched other people sell houses, build houses, move to new ones and we were stuck. In the midst of that 10 months of not living together, we had some larger hurdles to overcome in our marriage. It's not easy being happily married and not living in the same household! In October of 2013, on a Tuesday, we hit our first major hurdle. About 30 minutes after this hurdle presented itself, I found out my best friend's father had died suddenly and tragically. It was a terrible day I'll never forget. 

Before you get too depressed reading this, I will say even though it didn't seem like it, God was there. Before all of these bad things had happened, I had made plans with my other best friend to go to a Beth Moore conference. (If you haven't heard of her, click the link and be amazed by this ministry. That woman is truly touched by God.) The conference was the weekend after that Tuesday, which I truly believe was NOT a coincidence. Directly following the conference were the services for my friend's dad. I attended that conference a very broken woman, unsure of how to get past my struggles and be strong for my friend who was going through a devastating period in her life. I had a night of insomnia where I laid in a hotel room begging God to just give me sleep. I had nothing else, why would he take my rest from me too? Why?? What did I do to you, Lord?? That night I completely surrendered to Him. I had nothing and I was no one without Him. I had absolutely no clue what the future held and I was done trying to figure it out. I gave my journey in life over to him. 
The next day at the conference, something amazing happened. I sat there listening to the amazing teachings of Beth Moore, ugly-cried my way through the worship time, and still felt unmoved. During a break, I silently sat next to my friend. Just sitting. All the seats around us cleared out as other women went to stretch their legs or use the restroom. As I sat there, a woman walked down the row in front of me, stopped and turned to me. I wish I could tell you verbatim what she said...but I was so in shock that I hardly knew what was happening. She proceeded to tell me that all morning she had felt like God was telling her to come talk to me. She didn't know why or what I was dealing with, but she knew she was supposed to tell me that God heard my prayers and that he had an amazing journey for me. She told me that he loved me and he heard me. I just started bawling...and so did my friend. I hugged this stranger so tight and just cried and said thank you and I never saw her again.

10,000 women learning and worshiping together with Beth Moore.
It wasn't the answers I was looking for. It wasn't a detailed map of my future. But it WAS a clear message that told me He was still with me and he was listening to me. It was exactly what I needed. It gave me the strength to put aside my own personal struggles for the next three days as I helped my friend and her family through the terrible loss they had suffered. 

 Now we are at January 2014 and the post I reference at the beginning. See why I was ready for that year to be over? And why I was clinging to the hope of a better year? It was all I had!

It was an extremely hard year and I swear on my life that Jesus is the only one that got me through it. It had been almost a decade since I had been in a place of complete dependence on Him. And that is not an easy place to go back to. 

Hopefully this isn't too dismal and "Debbie-downer" for anyone reading this. If it is, then your life must be pretty awesome to not have trials that truly test who you are as a person and a Christian. 
I decided to break this into a two-part blog post since there is so much to get through. I pray that if you are struggling through a rough time in life, these posts might give you some hope to hold on to for tomorrow. It took me a year and a half to be able to write down that I had a miscarriage...but I finally did it. And tomorrow's post will probably be harder to write. But I want people to know they are not alone, and if anything, tell just one person that Jesus is there for you. 

I hope you'll come back for "the rest of the story."