A Matthew 5 Kind of People

My soul is allergic to small talk.  It seems false to me.  I understand it’s the socially acceptable way to interact in most casual settings, but there is something in me starving for more each time I’m in one of those “how’s it going” kind of conversations.  Several years ago, I met a young woman who within the first 3 minutes of conversation shared with me her struggle with mental health, and how she met Jesus while in a padded cell after attempting suicide.  I looked straight into her wild blue eyes, gripped her hand and said, “I really, really like you.”4

This broken world needs more honest people like that.

No, I’m not encouraging us to throw-up every detail of our lives, on every person who asks us how we are enjoying the weather; that’s just awkward for the sake of awkward.  But there are ordained moments when people need to see and hear real life stories, they need to know they are not the only ragamuffin walking around in need of a Savior.  God didn’t delete broken stories from the Bible, instead He told them, He left them in print so that humanities’ great need would be obvious.  Maybe there’s a lesson there?

I stood in my bathroom flat ironing my hair, a torturous process which takes an hour from start to finish.  Kev has learned if there is somewhere we need to be at 6:30 that will require my hair to be tamed, he better tell me we need to be there at 6:00.  It’s the only way we will be on time.  I pulled the last section of hair through the flat-iron, fogged my head in spray, and we headed out the door to a work dinner….a place where speaking fluent small talk is the only requirement for entering.

As we walked to our table, I was seated next to a woman who spoke with just enough confidence to make me think she wasn’t  actually confident at all.  That’s not judgement, but rather the simple ability to read in someone else the very thing yours truly has wrestled with a time or two, or 3 or a million.  As our ten top table slowly paired off into smaller conversations, she and I found ourselves matched up in “small talk discussion”.

She talked about her work and her kids, she pulled her phone from her purse and shared pictures of a recent trip.  I smiled, noticing how all her daughters looked exactly like her.  She shared something simple about one of the photographs.   I responded sympathetically saying, “That must have been so hard for you.”

That one-sentence response apparently signaled to her it was safe to abandon the small talk, and climb on board to a bigger ship meant for deeper waters.  We talked and shared real struggles over the next hour, and none of them had anything to do with the weather.corner iphoto 1kneeiphoto

This world needs more people willing to travel into deep waters with them.  We need each other.

The next day Kev ran into her at work and she said, “I want to tell you something I mean as a compliment.  I really loved talking to your wife, but she wasn’t at all what I thought she would be.”  Kevin laughed, and later told me what she said.  I kind of laughed, a little, but have since thought so much about her words.  My hunch is she expected pleasantries and small talk, but thankfully we both had an opportunity to share more…and it was good for both of us.  Regardless of what she expected that evening, I did nothing while sitting next to her at dinner but listen, and then encourage her that she wasn’t alone in her struggle.

This hurting world needs us to tell people they aren’t the only ones that can’t get it all together, and more importantly, it needs to hear the reason we have hope in spite of the mess.dotted3candle 2 iphoto

I quit the ministry of writing and teaching 14 times last week, about twice a day.  That’s actually a good week.  Sometimes it’s 14 times a day.  My friend Doug called in the midst of that week and asked me write a few posts for their team at Tiny Hands.  Despite the reality I had just quit an hour earlier in my head, I told him yes because the One in me is stronger than discouragement ever will be.  He wins every time.

I confessed to this friend of mine, this guy who has become more like a father, “Yeah, I’ll do it, but you should know I’m a train wreck.”  He laughed and said, “Perfect.  You and I are exactly who the gospel was intended for…the broken, the hurting, and the ones hanging on day to day.  We have an awesome God Amy.”

This broken world needs more people like that.  More people who will vulnerably share their brokenness, in order to share the One who was broken for all of us.

Jesus didn’t come for the self-righteous.  He came for a vagabond group of Matthew 5 kind of people, people like you and me who struggle everyday.  The wisest of Pharisees were unable to proclaim the hope that 12 ordinary, broken, down on their luck, uneducated, everyday kind of men were able to ignite all over the world and to the ends of the earth.

Today’s world needs more people just like that.

Decorating with Maps: an easy project

bathroom map Every time I see a room using a map as decoration, my eye is immediately drawn to it.  No matter the room.  I think they are so very cool, especially in a boy’s room.  pottery barndecor padorange baskettwin bedspottery barn map playroomclassroom chci HGTV bedroomsweird doll my same mapIt turns out, I own the wall map you see pictured above in these last two photos.  I bought it two years ago when we decided to homeschool.  I had such grand disillusions of how I would daily reference the life size map during our geography studies.  And now two years later, still rolled up in the tube they shipped it in, while my children are in a school where someone else is teaching them, I pulled the map out to create wall art for Thomas’ room.

Sounds about right.

I figure, if God is going to use Thomas to conquer kingdoms, maybe the kid should have a map on his wall to study those lands he will one day conquer.

Thomas already has a great room for a little man:

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I didn’t want to change anything major, just add to a few walls. Here’s what I did:

I purchased three large canvas’ to apply the maps to:blank canvas

I used basic, black acrylic paint to paint around all the edges.painted edgeNext, I cut each piece of the map down to fit the size of the canvas.  I was hoping to place each part of the map in it’s proper place allowing the maps to fit together like a puzzle.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it work due to space limitations (no big deal, the end result is still cool).

map to size cutting map(Please note my scissors read, “Do not use me for paper”.  This means I’m about to get a talkin’ to.)

Then using Mod Podge, I attached each piece of the map to the canvas’.  I sealed the top with one more coat of Mod Podge.

And on the wall they went, opposite the little warrior’s bed.3 maps 2Lastly, I hung my newest painting on another wall in his room.  I’m starting a new series of paintings, “Lambs and Lions”, great art for any child’s room, girl or boy.  Email me if you are interested.ram

The Land of Promise

orchidThe alarm clock slowly illuminates the room with light from a bulb.  False light.  It’s intent is to convince my REM sleeping body the sun is actually rising at 5:30 in the morning.  And then come the birds chirping.  Fake birds.  Most people awaken to a beeping alarm, but not us, we prefer false light and fake birds.

I shuffle through morning’s monotony.  Pour the coffee and cereal.  Tickle the bare feet of sleeping babies who are no longer babies, and whisper rise and shine songs as they stretch wide their arms.Coffee photoshop

4 pics photoMatt Lauer reports all that is uncertain and scary in the world.  The images and reports scroll the news channels.  I hear the word ISIS and my stomach flips with nausea.  But ISIS is worlds away, or at least that’s what Mr. Lauer assures us each morning as we brush our teeth.  All that, is happening over there, and then there’s the everyday happening right here in front of me.  This world here.  Where there are soccer practices and meals to fix, looming surgeries and melanomas that try and scare, family struggles and relationships to nurture.  There is shepherding and loving to be done in this world too, and sometimes fear feels like a flood.

The morning marches on.Ella in haze1

pink purse in lightMy oldest asked to sit with new friends at lunch, but they told her they were saving the seat for someone else.  She stares at the cereal she’s eating and asks what I think she should do.  I give her Sunday School answers, but deep down I just want to cry right along with her.

The tender soul caught in the middle says she asked a kid on the playground who always plays alone if he had any friends.  He said no.  She told him she would be his friend and that Jesus loves him.  I pack her lunch and bite my lip to resist the tears as she talks.  She said he replied, “Thanks”, but wandered back to playing by himself anyways.  I can tell she’s unsure how to settle the situation in her mind.  I am too, and I’m 30 years older than she is.smilepleasecaroline smile

I watch the clock as I spread peanut butter on bread and we press on, rushing to not be late.

The kids grab bags and head to the door.  My keys and coffee-to-go in hand.  The youngest can’t find his other shoe.  There is one missing every morning.  Every single morning.  Statistically speaking this should be impossible, yet we defy the laws of probability every morning with one missing shoe.  We both rummage through the pile at the door.  He finds it behind backpacks and then laughs.  I muster up only a smirk, and on the road we go.lilly pads photoKneel

Fly free prayer photoAs the speedometer increases, my pulse decreases.  We settle into dark leather and more conversation on the drive to school, and if I let it, this world will convince me to settle into dry and desert living as well.  But there is living water flowing right in front of me, and it scandalously promises to trump the monotonous ordinary with sublime victory if only I’ll believe.

Each one of us stands on the banks of the Jordan with a choice everyday.

They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land.  They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.  But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.   The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”  Numbers 13:26-29

The real sun rises up over trees that line the road.  We wait for a green light and I can feel the promise of it’s warmth on my face.  The Jordan is at flood stage during the time of the harvest, and don’t I know it.  When the world seems its most insane and threatening, when the everyday worries attempt to swallow us up, God says, just step one foot to the waters edge.photoRSwine photo

huggingWe come to the last stoplight before the left turn into school, this cues our prayers.  Each of us girls lay down our daily needs, we ask for help with what’s right in front of us, and that’s good.  There’s nothing wrong with that, except there is a small part of me that prays it in defeat.  This touch of doubt in my mind that lives will never change, this part of me whispering that the Desert of Paran is probably as good as it’s gonna get this side of heaven.

But then the five year old prays.  He says one sentence.  One.  Sentence.

“God, give me the power to conquer kingdoms.  Amen.”

His sisters’ bowed heads jolt up and their eyes flash with confusion.  They smile at the randomness of what their brother just prayed, but I can hardly catch my breath at the truth God just roared through our prayer time.

So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’” Joshua 1:10-11

Wake up church!  Have we forgotten who called us out of bondage?  Have we forgotten the signs and wonders He performed?  Have we forgotten that He has withheld nothing from us since the day of salvation?  Are we praying prayers of victory and belief, or ones of fear and doubt?  His desire is that we walk straight from bondage to the Promise Land, straight from lost to full freedom in His Son.  Desert living is not part of the plan, no matter our circumstances.  No matter our circumstances.

This isn’t prosperity gospel teaching, or a pep-talk to pump up the weary, this is Gospel truth.  This is unspeakable joy despite this world.

Are we living in defeat when we have been handed victory in the land of Promise?

So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them.  Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.  The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.  Joshua 3: 14-17

Despite our circumstances, despite this world, will we step one foot into the water’s edge?  Will we believe Him and pray in victory?  Will we live in the land of promise or settle in the desert?

He asks for one step of faith into the Jordan’s raging flood waters.

Believe Him and take the step.

How to Antique a Mirror

full bed and headboardWhy look into a perfectly new mirror, when you can look into an old one?  That’s the question Kev is asking me as he takes apart our properly functioning new mirrors, so I can pour chemicals all over the back to make them look old.  The answer to that question is the same reason I choose to purchase jeans with holes in them, despite the fact there are jeans on the rack without holes.  Sometimes patina, aged, and distressed, tells a better story than perfectly polished (the same is true in life by the way, but that’s a different post).

We spent most of Labor Day experiencing traditional labor day fun.  We all lounged by the pool, Kev and I talking while the kids perfected the art of diving board flips, as well as giving their mother a nervous breakdown.Ella flippingjumpAnd when the boys left for golf, I left to go play in my garage with antiquing mirror solution.  It was a win/win day for everyone.

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I have actually researched this process a lot, and for quite sometime, but had yet to begin experimenting.  I have long admired the use of these mirrors in design.  They can absolutely make a room.bedroom headboardfauxology antiqued mirror screen This one in particular from Amy Howard is fantastic.  She too makes an antiquing solution, but I have not tried her line.  I do know her process includes moving the product around on the mirror for 30ish minutes, which immediately makes me bored.  Having said that, I’m sure you can get great results, everything that dear woman does is pretty awesome.:Amy Howard lauradayliving folding mirror contemporary black fireplace

Like all things, I learned there is an art to this process and the more you practice, the better your result.  Obviously.  But you’ve got to know where to begin in order to practice, and that’s really what I want to share with you today.

Melanie Royals, of Royal Design Studio and Modello Designs, has three extremely helpful how to videos walking you through the process of basic patination for mirrors.  Of all other “How to” articles and videos I stumbled across, these are far and away the best.  I’m also pleased she uses a “safer” product than muriatic acid, which is what most other tutorials suggest using, and kind of terrifies me to my soul.  Melanie’s tutorials use Antique Mirror Patina Solution, a product which gives much better control over your results.

Here are Step 1, 2, and 3 of Melanie’s tutorials:

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Admittedly, I was loosely experimenting with my mirror and did not always follow her instructions.  What I actually was doing was trying out several different methods all on the same mirror.  So my end result is not necessarily what I would consider ideal, but I knew that going into it.  I didn’t start with my favorite mirror, I started with one that has been in our attic for two years.  I learned what to do and what not to do, and in short, the moral of the story is do what Melanie tells you to do.  I’m going to have bracelets made which read, “DWMTYTD”, just incase I forget.  Her way worked best.

I also attempted applying a gold foil after I was done with the patination.  The jury is still out on whether or not that is going to work, though I love the idea of having the gold showing through.  gold And it does show through, though you can’t see it in this picture.  There are several flawed spots on the mirror, and certainly the antiquing is heavier than I would prefer, but it’s not bad for a first try.  heavy antiquingI have big plans in the works for this stuff, and will certainly share results as I go.  Happy Tuesday to you all.