Thursday, July 29

Guest Bath Makeover


My grandparents will be moving out of their house in October of this year, and WE will be moving in! We have, however, already began some renovations/re-decorating. I have just completed the very first room: The guest bath off of the mud room.

Inspiration piece for this room: The mirror.

Budget for this room: About $65 (paint included)

(I apologize ahead of time for the AWFUL pictures! My camera is pretty bad!)

Here is the view walking into this tiny guest bath. (The weird shadows on that wall are from my camera...) The first thing I did was paint the (already existing) gold oval mirror a bohemian looking shade of red. That pretty much inspired the rest of the room. After seeing the outcome of the mirror, I was feeling an ethnic vibe- so I ran with it!

Next, I painted the walls a soothing gray (with Behr's "Purpoise") ... and I caulked and re-painted the door and trim (with Behr's "Toasted Marshmallow")

I also replaced the gold door handle with a new bronze one. (Yes, I noticed that white paint after taking this picture- it has since been scraped off :)

The plants were puchased at TJ Maxx. They are disguising some unattractive piping behind the sink. :)

This is a view looking in the mirror. There were originally 3 towel racks in this TINY bathroom- TOO MANY! So, I left the one by the sink, and this solitary hook on the adjacent wall- convenient for hanging a purse if you are a guest- hence GUEST bath. ;)

Also pictured above the hook are the golden-rod colored wall hangings. This wall needed something to cover the electric box- which was NOT in the center of the wall... so I knew I needed a duet of decorative pieces to create some symmetry. I made these wall hangings from 6 place mats I found on the clearance rack at World Market (for $1.98 each!) I simply hot-glued them together. They were a GREAT BUY, and ended up adding a nice addition of color & texture to the space!

I purchased the art work hanging above the toilet at TJ Max (love that place!) Although you can only see 2, there are actually 3 hanging up there. (This room is SO TINY I couldn't get the picture far enough away to get a full length shot.)

I love how the contrast of the gray walls against the white trim really brought out the beauty of the existing stone tile floor.

I misted all of the gold hardware (and the door hinges) with a hammered bronze spray paint. I purposely left some imperfections to enhance the "antique, bohemian" feel of the room.

I took this shot standing on the toilet. (Told you it was small!)

The gold faucet was a subject of disagreement. My mom and Nick think I should change it, while my sister and I liked the worn, antique appearance. I did not want a traditional suburban look in this bathroom- so I left the faucet in an attempt to avoid a matchy-matchy appearance. It stays- at least for now! :)

I LOVE decorating! I really enjoyed completing the first room in my new house. Well, 1 down, 10 to go!

Monday, July 26

6 Things I'm Lovin These Days

VS Honeysuckle & White Patchouli Fragrant Moisture Mist. Mmmmm.... smells so clean and fresh. I love that it's a moisture mist instead a harsher perfume. I like light scents. Nothing fruity, floral or "foody". (I know, I'm not your average chick) I'm more about earthy smells. Got this on the 75% off shelf along with a shower gel, both for under $10! And, I didn't pay anything because I had a $10 off birthday coupon. Yay me! Love those kind of shopping trips!

My scissors! (that's one of those hard to spell words for me... anyone else?) I bought all of these scissors last week at Hobby Lobby.
We were doing the blanket project with the SH girls, and after scrounging up a few pairs from around mom's house, I knew that each girl would need their own for the project... or it would be CHAOS! So, I figured hey, wouldn't it be great to have a pair of scissors in every room of the house?! I mean, you can NEVER find scissors when ya need them right? Or at least around here we can't... so I'm thinking, green ones in the kitchen... black ones in the garage... pink for my bathroom & craft room... and so on!

I'm scissor happy.

I'm just lovin' big right-hand rings lately. They are so "in". I'm gettin' quite a little collection. My favorite place to buy: Forever 21. Their prices CAN NOT be beat when it comes to accessories. I think the average that I pay (full price) is about $5. SWEET!

Stewed Tomatoes

My ingredient of choice lately. I don' know why I'm so hooked on these things. I guess it's because they make a 3 or 4 ingredient casserole taste like you put SO much more effort into it! (:

My new CROCS!
I bought these with some birthday money (first pair ever) and boy, I understand the big fuss now! They are LIGHT as a feather, can be hosed off, and I can slip em' on over my socks if I need to run outside. Love it!

I was recently introduced to Scentsy, and I can't wait to order more! I love that you can switch out the scents. They come in wax "bricks", you break em' up and the melt in the top of your warmer (shown), which is heated by a light bulb. A lot safer than traditional candles with a wick & flame.

Favorite Scents: Satin Sheets & French Kiss!

What are some of your favorite things this summer???

Friday, July 23

Cowboy Stew

Cowboy Stew!!!

A family favorite of ours... We serve this a lot at family dinners & parties, and we ALWAYS make this up ahead of time for camping trips!! Don'tcha just LOVE one dish dinners?!

Warning: there are NO measurements in this recipe! (I rarely measure things out unless I'm baking.) But, here's what I put in it...

Ground Beef, browned & drained
Green Bell Peppers, finely chopped & sauteed
Yellow Onion, finely chopped & sauteed
Garlic Cloves, finely minced & sauteed
Kidney Beans or Ranch-Style beans
Canned Corn, drained a little
Stewed Tomatoes with juice, chopped up

Season to taste with...

Chili Powder
Garlic Powder
Ranch Dressing


Wednesday, July 21

Abortion is Murder... There Are No Exceptions

A heavy topic, once again...

I have recently been examining various controversial and ethically challenging situations that we currently face as a society...  Abortion is murder. I think the vast majority of people reading this post would agree. But, what about the tough situations? What about when mother and child's life both hang in the balance... and a choice has to be made. Doug Phillips wrote a very thought provoking and Biblically sound article on this topic. To read it, click HERE. There are answers in Scripture to EVERY ethical problem we have, EVERY confusing situation, and EVERY circumstance in life... if we will only accept God's Word as the final authority.

There are many Christians who are greatly confused about the definition of abortion. It is not only taking the life of an UNWANTED unborn child, it is also performed unknowingly on a regular basis. What does the Bible say about birth control? Does your birth control contain abortifacient factors? Did you even know that was possible? If you don't really understand the simple science of it read:  They Never Told Us That Birth Control May Be Killing Our Unborn Babies. Are you scared to read this? Do your unborn children a huge favor and read this. You might save their lives.

Also, here is an interesting article by Geoffrey Botkin about the history of the "pill", and it's moral applications:
How the Pill has Altered Our Moral Conscience

I understand for some people this is a scary topic. Perhaps you think ignorance is bliss... you are afraid you may uncover a truth too painful for you to accept... too difficult for you to live by. My friend, I plead with you! Open your heart and consider these articles as you read them.

Ignorance is not bliss. It's just ignorance.... and ignorance of God's statutes will reap destruction.

Friday, July 16

Fleece Blankets and My Personal Testimony

Over the past 2 weeks our SH girls have been working on making no-sew fleece blankets. We've been talking about doing this easy project for awhile, and finally got up enough funds to go buy the fabric!

Here's how we made them:

1 yard printed fabric
1 yard solid coordinating fabric
(we couldn't afford anymore fabric than this since we have 11 girls, but it made a nice little "lap blanket")

1. I pinned the 2 pieces of fabric together ahead of time, making sure all the edges were even and any "bolt hems" or whatever trimmed off.
2. I cut out 3x1 inch strips of cardboard for each girl to use as a guide for cutting strips around the entire perimeter of the blanket.
3. Once the strips were cut, the girls double knotted the strips together to connect the 2 fabrics, and the pins were removed.

-we found that in order to double knot each row of strips, we had to cut them a tad bit longer than the guide. Some girls opted to just tie every other one, creating a different look for the edges... Some girls also decided to leave 2 opposite sides untied/uncut, so they flip it inside out. One girl even made hers into a sleeping bag of sorts. Their creativity was running freely, so I just let them go! :)

(I have seen people sew inside the perimeter after knotting the strips, but I think the blankets stay together just fine without that, and I really wanted the girls to feel like they had done the entire project themselves.)

***Pictures have been removed - my apologies!!***


When I arrived Tuesday, I realized I had forgotten the hand outs I intended to talk about... AND my Bible! I searched all through the storage closets of the church dining room- and couldn't find a Bible. (I forgot my church sanctuary key as well.) So... I had to think up something LAST MINUTE to talk to them about in group, and I decided to give them my personal testimony.

Here it is...

I born into a Christian home. My parents brought me to church faithfully, and taught me about the Lord from a very young age. When my sister Courtney was born, I was three years old. I decided I wanted to be a "big girl" and sleep in my own room once my baby sister arrived- that is, as long as mom let her crib be in MY ROOM! I was so excited about having my very own "live baby doll"! It didn't take long for mom to figure out that I was crawling into the baby's crib to "keep her company". At first, she was a little concerned that I would hurt the baby, but after watching us carefully for a few weeks, she realized that I was very aware and cautious around "baby". So, she let Courtney and I begin sharing a room- a sleeping arrangement that would last for years to come! (:

Mom says, early in the mornings, she would often hear my voice drifting through the baby monitor that was sitting on her nightstand. She would turn up the volume, and smile as she listened to me telling a 3-month-old about Daniel and the lions... and Noah's big ark... and how Jesus died for our sins because He loves us. -I'm not altogether sure I knew what I was talking about at the ripe old age of three and a half... but Mom and Dad had planted some of God's Word in my heart with Bible stories, and I decided it was my responsibility to witness to Courtney. I was just trying to get her saved. :)

So, my knowledge of God and His Son predates my earliest memories... but the first time I can remember REALLY accepting the Lord as MY Savior... well, that was when I was five.

Here's what brought it about...

When I was five I developed severe stomach pains. After realizing that I was not "putting on", my parents brought me to the doctor to see what was up. The doctor informed them that I had a hernia. (A small tear in the tissue lining my stomach.) He said the only fix, was to perform surgery. When my parents explained to me what "surgery" was, I was TERRIFIED! My mom reassured me that I wouldn't feel a thing, but I was still so distressed that someone was going to use a knife to cut into my stomach. So, I decided to pray for God to heal me. I had heard of such things when various people testified in church. So, I KNEW it was possible. Why not? My most vivid memory of this time was me wrapped up in a blanket, rolling around  in pain on our carpeted living room floor. With tears streaming down my face, and painful groans, I pleaded with God to heal my stomach so I wouldn't need surgery. I told Him that I believed in Him and His Son, and that I wanted Him to come into my heart and be MY GOD.

I don't remember when the pain stopped, but it did. I don't really remember anything else, but my mom tells me this is what happened next:

We went to a different doctor for a check up the day before my scheduled surgery. After examining me, with a look of confusion, he looked up and said, I think there's been some mistake... she has no hernia! My parents left the doctor not really knowing what to think. "Maybe that doctor doesn't know what he's talking about... maybe we should go back to the original one before tomorrow..." they discussed. Right about then, I popped my head up from the back seat and said with a grin, "Don't worry! God healed me!" With that, I went back to humming and playing. My parents just looked at each in shock.

They later found out that I was, in fact, healed! No hernia! That experience strengthened my faith incredibly! I remember that un-corrupted feeling I had as a child towards God. The absolute confidence that He could and WOULD do anything for me. That anyone who doubted just didn't understand who they were dealing with. As we get older, we tend to complicate our trust in God... thinking that we are "unworthy"... or thinking that it "isn't God's will" to heal us or help us. While God's answer to our prayers is sometimes different than what we desire, I think it's important that we don't mix up our inadequacy with God's omnipotence. If we were worthy, or somehow thought we were "earning" our healing, God wouldn't really get the glory, now would He? That is something a child doesn't stuggle with mentally. I think that's why Jesus said we must "have faith as a little child."

I was a typical "church kid" for the rest of my childhood... never getting into much trouble... wanting to please my parents. I even started teaching the 3-4 year olds Sunday School class when I was 12. I loved the Lord. I did. But, somewhere along the way, my heart began to wander. By the age of 13, I REALLY wanted my ticket into the "cool kids group". I found myself becoming a follower rather than a leader, and imitating girls who I believed to be "popular". I lost some of my confidence and began criticizing the way God created me. I had no intention of becoming an atheist by any means. I still firmly believed in God and the Bible. I knew His way was best... but, I started down the road of compromise, convincing myself that I could be "cool", and still be a Christian- at least on the inside.

That's about when my parents brought me to a Basic Seminar through the Institute in Basic Life Principles. I'd have to say I listened about half the time while sitting in the sessions. All of it made a lot of sense to me, and I wanted to please God, but the worldly young people in my church youth group were pulling on me strongly. I'm positive that after leaving that conference, I would have pushed those principles I was learning into the back of my head, again focusing on my social status. But, my parents had different plans. My wise father saw that my heart was wandering and that I was dangerously teetering on the edge of a very steep spiritual decline.

After our session one night, my parents brought me into the book sales area of the conference. All of the tables were manned by young people who were dressed modestly and possessed a glowing countenance and enthusiasm I had never seen on a young person before. My parents begin discussing the ATI home school curriculem (through IBLP) with one of the girls as I listened. It was apparent they had already been doing some research by their conversation. I had already been homeschooled for most of my life, but upon meeting these young people, I was convinced I DID NOT want to be in this program! Being in their presence made me feel a little uncomfortable... a little "naked"... like something very important was missing on my end. It wasn't a pleasant feeling. Oh, they were the nicest kids I'd ever met, to be sure. But, I had a sinking feeling that I was about to be taken out of the "driver's seat" of my young teenage life, and I wasn't giving it up without a fight.

Of course, my parents did what they thought was best for our family- despite my objections, and I'm oh so glad they did. This was a huge TURNING POINT for me spiritually. ATI proved to be more of a "life change" for us, rather than JUST a curriculem. In order to begin the program, we were required to go through the Admissions Seminar and the Advanced Seminar, where we learned to do family "wisdom search" in the mornings. I would have to say, this solitary activity was THE MOST instrumental change that our family made. "Wisdom Seach", or "Rhema Search" as some call it went like this: We got up as a family before my Dad went to work (which was sometimes before the crack of dawn) and sat down at our kitchen table to do a devotion. We each took turns praying aloud, (something I had NEVER done before!) then we read our daily Proverbs and Psalms. We usually read 2 or 5 verses each, going around the table. This way, there was no chance for someone to not participate. After reading, we each brought out a scripture or "rhema" that God had given us from the chapter. Something that "spoke" to us, or that we needed to work on. Some of us took notes as well.

I can not begin to tell you the extraordinary work that God begin doing in our family through this excercise. There were tears, there was a lot of repenting to one another, there was laughter... our family was being closely knit together once again, and my heart turned to my father.

Malachi 4:6 "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers..."

Along with wisom search, our family begin praying aloud together each night, and we started the curriculem which was a thematic teaching unit, each booklet of which was based on a verse from the Beatitudes & a relevant character quality. The core of our study booklet each month began in Scripture, lead into character development, then branched out into all subjects. The result of introducing this program into our lives was, that we were now in the Word and praying EVERY DAY as a family. It provided my parents almost constant opportunities to teach us more about God and His statues. Looking back on these changes we made in our household, they seem so incredibly simple. But, God's way IS simple. And SO productive!

A few months after beginning all of these new activities, we were in Knoxville, TN at the annual ATI conference where I attended a class for girls my age on feminine modesty. The emphasis on the "heart issues" producing the outward modesty really convicted me. I knew I needed a heart "makeover". That night in my dormitory while the rest of my family was asleep, I fell to my knees and repented to God for straying from His love and grace. I sobbed as I asked Him to show me more clearly His plan for my life. I remember His Spirit sweeping over me so strongly, that I could hardly remain quiet. I didn't want to wake my sister, but I let the Lord bless me.

At the age of 5, I accepted Him for the first time. At the age of 14, with a deeper understanding of the cost of serving God and the consequences of serving the world , I re-dedicated my life to Him. There have been mountains and valleys in my life since, but after this night, I never stopped depending on the Lord to pick me up when I stumble, and to give me the delights of my heart as He said He would.

I now know that true joy and true acceptance is through Him, and Him alone.

Tuesday, July 13

Nick's Family Reunion

Here are some pictures of our weekend!

Friday morning we hopped on a plane to Nashville where Nick's parents picked us up...
(Benjamin did pretty good on his first flight. He slept most of the time, and drinking his bottle constantly helped his ears.)

From Nashville, we drove 2 hours to the small town of Dawson Springs, KY. We stayed with Nick's cousin Kelly and her husband Rick. Here are some pictures of where we stayed:

Here is their beautiful home!

View from the back deck

This was the view outside our window. LOVE rolling hills!

The dock on their lake...

Where Nick did some fishing... :)

Here's our nephew Caleb with the little bluegill he caught.
He said it was about 3 or 4 lbs. ;)

Here's the barn overlooking the lake.

Benjamin and the calf

Rick showed us around the farm on his Polaris.

Peeking around the barn door...

On Saturday, we drove an hour into Indiana for the family reunion with the rest of the bunch. It was great to meet everyone- we had a lot of fun. I misplaced my camera while we were there, (and thankfully found it in my luggage when we arrived at home) but, I don't have any pictures of the reunion. Still a bit tired from that quick trip- but, had a good weekend!

Thursday, July 8

Is God's "Rulebook" Enough For Us?

If we come up with our own “rulebook” apart from Scripture, and attempt to hold people to it/judge people by it… are we in danger of becoming like so many other groups of people, who have created their own religion?

For example: the Mormon people claim to worship the same God that we do. What’s the difference? Where did they get off track? Perhaps it was a great leader whom they respected so much; that they started holding his writings and teachings in equal standing with the Bible. Maybe their original intentions were good. Maybe they just thought it was godly to honor the traditions of the men who went before them.

But wait, what about Scripture? What about God’s Word?

Do we take the time to evaluate every single thing we do and believe in; with the Holy Bible (which is the inspired Word of God?)

If we were on a desert island with nothing to go by but the Bible- no previous world views to contend with, no cultural influence, no presumptions about religion… what would we do? What would we act like? What would we dress like? The key is realizing that the Bible actually IS the only thing we have to go by.

Through the ages, mankind has added to God’s principles in one way or another in an effort to “polish” their religion; or, (God forbid), in an attempt to gain power over God’s people. The end result is not true religion. Now, I seriously doubt that God will condemn you for trying to go above and beyond with your dress standards… etc. That is, if you have the correct motive. God does, after all, look at the HEART. But, trying to hold other Christians to your own measuring stick? Now that, I believe, is dangerous stuff.

What’s our Measuring Stick…?

I have met people who believe that whatever their pastor says is the law. That kind of thinking really scares me… because there is so much room for fault when an imperfect man is in a position of power. It’s as if Satan preys on those in power; delighting when he can lead them away from God’s boundaries and causes them, in turn, to lead others astray. We as humans, seem to be prone to falling into idolatry. It is so very easy to begin worshipping a man, rather than God. If we begin using other sources as our measuring stick other than the Word of God, we begin a downward spiral through an ever disintegrating foundation.

Where do we draw the line...?

Let’s pretend that one pastor says, “I think everybody should wear blue hats. That’s the only way to get to heaven!” But another pastor disagrees and says, “No, I think red gloves should do the trick. That’s what will distinguish us as God’s people!” Who’s right?

There is “safety in a multitude of counselors” you say? Alright… let’s say there are 15 ministers. 12 of them believe in the blue hats uniform, and 3 of them don’t agree there should be a uniform at all. Would you go along with the majority? What if the 12 say to the 3: “You will lose out with God if you do not respect the decision of the majority of the brethren to wear blue hats! If you don’t comply, we will dis-fellowship you!”

Sounds silly right? Maybe that’s because it is...

Nowhere in Scripture are men given the right to decide who is “in or out” of Christ’s Body of Believers. And Scripture is very clear about not making up our own rules and “adding” to the Word of God. If we don’t use the Bible as our source of wisdom and direction… if we start following men… where does it end?
Who do we please?

Although I do believe we should carefully examine the men we choose to follow, in order to make sure they will not lead us astray… I am not advocating a spirit of rebellion. I’m pointing out that we need to have God’s Word set on a MUCH higher pedestal than man’s opinion! Trust me. God knows if you have rebellion in your heart. And, if you do, it will probably make its appearance in your home long before it shows up at church.

Here are a few verses, which lead me to believe in “Sola Scriptura”:

Proverbs 30:5-6 “Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him. Add thou not unto His words; lest He reprove thee and thou be found a liar."

Acts 17:11 "Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so."

Matthew 15:3 “And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?””

 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”


Delving deeper into the subject of the authority of church leadership:Respect and submission to our God-given authority is vitally important according to the Word of God. Having said that, not all authorities are created equal! For example: God's authority over us completely supersedes any earthly authority. God is our ULTIMATE AUTHORITY, but He has also placed over us earthly lords.

When we first enter this world, we are subject to our parents. Being under the authority of your father is an umbrella of protection that God has installed for your youth. If you are a woman, that authority transfers to your husband when you get married.

Children honoring their father and mother, and wives submitting to their husbands are the 2 main earthly authoritative positions that Scripture discusses. There are numerous Scriptures regarding both of these "chains of command" that God set up. He MUST have thought they were very important, because He repeated Himself quite often on the importance of these orders.

The authority of church leadership is a subject spoken of much less often in Scripture. Probably the most common verses used for this topic are:

~ Hebrews 13:5 "Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the outcome of their life, imitate their faith."

~ Hebrews 13:7a “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account…”

The writer actually chooses two special words in the latter verse. This is the only time this particular word for "submit" is used in the New Testament. It does not mean "rank under" as the other words for submit used in Scripture do. Rather, it means to yield, or withdraw. That is a little different. As you consider the elders, the outcome of their lives and how they lead you through teaching the Scripture, are you willing to withdraw or to yield to the truth that they present? That is not the same as standing under, in a military sense.

 And then the word "obey'' has in its foundation again a special word. It does not mean to accept orders. Rather, it means to be persuaded. Consider what these godly men say, be willing to be persuaded, but clearly, they must demonstrate the truth that God has them to speak. Do not merely take blind orders; but be persuaded.

A true man of God will persuade you to submit to God, not himself.

 The husband/father of a household is the “priest” of his household, which means he is responsible for leading his family spiritually. (A wife is never to obey her pastor over her husband! Wives are commanded twice in Scripture (Eph. 5:22 and Col. 3:18) to submit to their "own husband". Meaning, not to another woman's husband. That includes a pastor; as he would either be single or married to someone else.) 

If a man prays to God for guidance, I believe God will lead and guide him to a church assembly which fits his family’s needs, provides a place for them to be active workers in the kingdom, and aids/encourages them in spiritual growth.

I’ve come to realize what a treasure a true shepherd is. Having a pastor who has the spirit of a servant rather than that of a master is a HUGE BLESSING! If you have one, be grateful!

 Thank God for the righteous authorities in your life! They have a tough job, and are worthy of our prayers!