welcome signs.

I finally finished painting the front door, and I love how it looks. This was one of those projects that took forever to complete, partly because I stripped it first, and partly because I only felt like I could paint it when I was going to be spending a large amount of time at home (since I needed to remove the door locks). But, its finally done, and I'm so happy with it. This photo was taken last night, before I finished re-installing the dead bolt.

One of the things I wanted to fix, was finding a new solution for old mail slot. Harvey and Dakota always barked and sometimes bit at the door when the mailman dropped mail through it (he is, after all, a stranger that keeps approaching the house when I'm not home), so a few years ago, Robbie helped me install a mailbox outside. The mail slot remained - but I wanted to find a way to remove it and cover the holes on either side of the door, and add some personality at the same time.

I made these signs using a thin piece of wood I bought at Michaels. The original piece was 3 inches by 2 feet and only a couple dollars, so it was just as inexpensive as anything I could find at a hardware store. I especially wanted these signs to have a pretty thin profile.

I cut the single piece of wood in half, then painted each sign. To add each quote, I printed it in the size and font I wanted, then used carbon paper to transfer the words onto the wood. Then, I traced over the words with a black permanent marker.

I wanted something welcoming for the outside:

From wherever you are, enter and be welcome.
- Albert Camus

And for the inside, something to remind me to live fully:

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
- Helen Keller

Linking to Saturday Night Special at Funky Junk.

project inspiration (vol 2).

I've started to come to peace with the fact that I have way more ideas and inspiration than time or money to actually do them. Still, that doesn't keep me from collecting them!

Doily canvas bags from Not Lost Just Undiscovered - My friend Kate made these bags with another friend - how cute are they? She found the idea here.

Jute table runner from Tara Dennis - I want to make this for the dresser in my living room...once I get around to refinishing it (it's on the list)! I'm just trying to figure out if I can make it without sewing anything, or if I can convince my mom or dad to do it for me.

Beadboard ceiling from House of Smiths - I really want to do this in my bathroom - the only thing that's holding me back is the need to create cut-outs for the vents and lights. And the fact that installing it is clearly a two person job. And the whole time thing.

Coin art from Bower Power - I'm thinking this would be a great thing to do in the dining room with some of those coins that I brought back from Russia. If I can find them.

Winnie the Pooh plate from Martha Shmartha - Love this, but I can't imagine how long it must have taken put all of that vinyl on! I'm wondering about doing something similar, but with letter stamps and a smaller quote. They wouldn't be even, but that could be part of the charm. And I can think of some other fun quotes and images to use, like these:

What would I do, I said to Pooh, if it wasn't for you? And Pooh said, True.
- A. A. Milne

Oh, the places you’ll go.
- Dr. Seuss

It's kind of fun to do the impossible.
- Walt Disney


I've spent a good part of today talking to my CASA girls and their families, learning more of their stories. Its overwhelming, honestly. I'm such a practical person - I see a need and want to figure out how to meet it, but their needs are so much bigger than that. There are material needs, of course, but there are emotional needs, too. And, of course, biggest of all - they need Jesus.

I'm overwhelmed, sometimes, by the loss in their lives. I'm so much more aware of the gifts that I've been given, the things I take for granted. (This past weekend, I called my mom, just because I felt the need to say, thanks for loving me, no strings attached).

I know where to start. I know that I can check in with them, and encourage them, and advocate and intercede for them. I can push for positive influences in their lives, and challenge those around them to step up.

But, I really think that God is going to ask me for more - I'm just not sure yet what that is.

Come ye unwanted and find affection
Come all ye weary, come and lay down your head
There are no strangers, there are no outcasts
There are no orphans of God
So many fallen, but hallelujah
There are no orphans of God
- Orphans of God, Avalon
Tonight, as I think through about these things, this song is a precious reminder that even when the world abandons us, God never does.

when God breaks through.

I've known Vince for 4 years, since he started dating my sister, Katie. And I've been praying for him for 4 years - praying that he would really know Christ, that he would surrender his life to him. I just thought that somehow, when he made the decision, it would be the beginning of a lot of spiritual changes for my family - that my sister would seek a deeper relationship with God, that my nephews Jacob and Cameron and my niece Ally would also make that decision. I can remember so many times, on my knees both figuratively and literally, begging God to save my family.

But sometimes, when you pray for something long enough, even though you keep praying for it, you stop expecting it to be right around every corner. You still pray, with desperation, but maybe not so much with expectation.

Until God breaks through, in a way that only he can. And I think he delights in reminding us that he still moves mountains.

"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
~ Zephaniah 3:17

I hope that I never forget even one detail of the night I saw Vince meet Christ. I want to remember being at the district youth group retreat, hearing the speaker give an altar call, praying for Ally and yet being caught off guard when she went forward. I sat there with tears coming faster than I could even attempt to wipe them away, praying desperately for her and yet not being able to think any coherent thoughts, just emotions and short phrases. I watched as Vince walked from backstage to stand beside her, and I immediately thought of all those in my family who had yet to meet Christ. And I kept watching, and crying, and praying, until the speaker asked those who needed to surrender something to Christ to put their hands up, and Vince raised his.

There are so many moments of that night that are so clear in my memory - standing for worship only to hit my knees with my face to the ground. Grasping Kristin's hand because I needed something to hold on to, and hearing her pray for Ally and Vince, prayers that echoed my heart in words I couldn't have formed just then. Holding Ally and telling her just how much I love her and have been praying for her. Turning around to the sound booth to search for my brother's face, only to see him standing in worship with his hands and face lifted toward heaven. And later, seeking him out because I needed to hug someone who understood just what I was feeling. Finally being able to tell Vince just how long I had been praying for him. And falling asleep with a headache from so many joyful tears, bursting with gratitude to God for what he had done.

"Every believer is God’s miracle."
~ Phillip James Bailey

God is always working, even when we can't see it. Our prayers are always answered, even when the answer or the timing isn't what we would have chosen. God is still in the business of holding back the waters, tearing down the walls, and calling people to himself.

And when God breaks through - well, that's something worth experiencing.

trusting in his timing.

In January 2009, I had minor outpatient surgery. It was a non-issue, really, more of a nuisance in terms of dealing with doctor visits and scheduling. Recovery was really easy, as far as surgeries go - I was out shopping with my mother the very next day.

A couple months ago, the same symptom that flagged the intial problem, started to reoccur. After talking with my doctor, she's scheduled me for further tests and referred me back to my specialist again.

I'm not nervous or worried at all. Instead, my reaction surprised me - I was really, really frustrated. Angry even. So angry, in fact, that I had to be extremely careful not to bite anyone's head off, because even the smallest thing was annoying me.

A large part of my frustration, I knew, was in the timing. Last year's surgery came the month before I went to Russia, and now we're less than six weeks away from our trip to Africa. Add to that, August is going to be an extremely busy month - in addition to all the preparations for Gabon, I'll also be traveling to Maryland twice - once for Kelli's graduation, and once for Katie and Vince's wedding reception. I just didn't want to add one more thing to a schedule that already felt pretty maxed out.

I know that my life is in God's hands. I alternately rest in that and cling to it with a death grip, depending on the situation. But, thanks to the well-timed words of a friend, I was reminded of something pretty important - that the timing of my life is also in God's hands. He is never surprised or caught off-guard - in fact, every day of my life was mapped out before I was even born (Psalm 139:16).

Sometimes, maybe, trust is instinctual, but I think more often its a conscious choice. So I'm choosing to trust.

looking forward to august.

You thought of us before the world began to breathe
And you knew our names before we came to be
You saw the very day we'd fall away from you
And how desperately we need to be redeemed

Lord Jesus come lead us
We're desperate for your touch

Oh Great and Mighty One, with one desire we come
That you would reign, that you would reign in us
We're offering up our lives, a living sacrifice
That you would reign, that you would reign in us

(Reign In Us, Starfield)

the power of your name.

It's been a while since I've posted a new favorite song:

It resonates with me that the world we live in, is the one we've created rather than the one God intended for us. And yet, he still moves to fix the mess we've created, and in the way that only he can, he sometimes uses us to do it.

Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.
James 1:27, The Message