Thursday, January 16, 2014

A wreath + a fun tutorial

I love black and white stripes.  Probably a little too much.

As I thought about it, there are a lot of black and white stripes in my house:

{Target crock, from two years ago}

And I just bought eight knobs for an armoire that are black and white striped.  I love how classic they feel and how they go with anything.  They are charming and a little vintage but bold and modern.  Basically everything I love together in one stripey-adorable-contrasty-way.

I made a wreath for our kitchen.  And of course, it was black and white stripes.  It actually took me awhile to come to this conclusion but once I did, it was like the seas parted and I knew it would be *perfect* in the space I had planned.

So, I wrapped some yarn around a straw wreath form.  For hours & hours.  It took me longer than expected.  But it's easy, inexpensive and striking-- so hey, it's a win!  I didn't include a tutorial for this part because it's basically holding and wrapping and most people have made a yarn wreath by now and know the jist of it.

But I did try something new this time.  I figured out how to make pom poms and stuck a bunch in the middle.

I adore the whimsy of the poms.  They are so fun and cute, and again, easy and inexpensive.

I made a quick video tutorial for you to see:

They take about 3 minutes to make.

If you need more details, this is an awesome and very detailed tutorial on pom poms. The only thing I do differently is use my fingers instead of the cardboard. I like them this way because you don't need any fancy equipment.  Just your hand, scissors and yarn.  The poms I made come out to about 1.5" in diameter.  But wrap the yarn around more or less fingers for a bigger or smaller pom.

Also, if you want a long string to hang them by, just make sure the string you use to tie the middle is long (you can always cut it off later if you change your mind or need it shorter).

I ended up having so much fun with pom poms that I added them to many Christmas gifts this year instead of bows.  I found that they looked good on the men's gifts with the cabin-ey wrap I had.

But there is all sorts of uses for poms (garland, anyone?).  So give it a whirl and see what you come up with. If you are on Instagram, tag me in your pom posts :)

With love and poms,

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pursuing Peace


I need more of it in my life. 

2013 was one of the most magical and exciting years of our lives but also one of the most stressful and chaotic. We lived in the city until June, when we moved out to the country.  Still close to the city but out far enough that we have our own oasis.  

We had searched and searched and knew in our heart of hearts what we wanted in a house but honestly, we knew what we wanted just didn't exist. Turns out though, sometimes God gives you dreams just to prove that HE CAN. It's a loooong wonderful story of God's BIG plan and a giant leap of faith; someday I will share it here.  

Ever since I've moved to my house in the country, I have understood a new kind of peace.  A peace in the quiet.  A peace in nature.  A peace in not coming and going so much.  A peace in living more simply.  BUT nothing is ever EVER perfect this side of Heaven.  And that has also become so evident to me this past year.

With great blessing comes great responsibility.  And sometimes, the burden of responsibility can zap the joy out of a wonderful blessing if you let it.  Take children for example, no one would deny that children are a beautiful blessing.  But I don't think there's a mom in the world that hasn't felt the strain, the tug, the grief, the hardship, the responsibility that is children.  And more often than not, it can be easy to let the responsibility of children cloud the joy that you have for them.  So we must fight against this.  

I adore our house and the adventure God has us on.  I look out my window every. single. day simply amazed.  God is sooo good and He is SO good to give us more than we could have ever asked or imagined.  Problem is, as much as the country scenery reminds me of God's blessing everyday, I still struggle with peace in a big way.  

I have a million and one thoughts going through my mind each hour.  Mostly negative, sometimes neutral, rarely lovely.  Can you relate?

I also struggle with anxiety.  Ever since my daughter, Haven, was born my anxiety has been an ever-present burden each day.  It doesn't keep me from living my life.  But it keeps me from enjoying it too many days than I would like.  
So, when you combine a "constant thinker" with anxiety and with the responsibility of a whole new life in the country... there are many days I wonder if I made the right choice.  Or if my husband and I were crazy and read God's cues wrong in every way.  In other words: I feel the need for peace.  To rest and know that God is God and that I am NOT.   

That is why my word for 2014 is peace.  Last year, my word was abide and I believe I learned a lot about coming close to God and letting Him abide in me for change in my life.  This year, I still want to abide but I want to focus on peace.  

The Bible says that, as believers, God freely offers us peace.  

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 5:1  

If we have accepted Jesus, we can experience a peace that nothing else in this world can offer.

However, the Bible doesn't say we will never have trouble.  In fact, Jesus himself says we will.  BUT the amazing and wonderful and crazy thing about God is that He ALWAYS. Every single time. Offers us His peace.  That's a promise.

Problem is?  

I have to accept His peace to know it.

That means, laying down my burdens and picking up His peace.  

It means going to the Word instead of my friends for approval.  For peace. 

It means, in faith, taking my thoughts captive and throwing out the record player of negativity.

It means when my day has fallen apart and I'm sitting on the floor sobbing, that God is there in that moment, hand extended, offering His peace.  

What do I have to do then?  Grab it.  

It doesn't mean God will change all of my problems right in that moment (if ever).  It doesn't mean I won't ever fear, mourn or feel pain, these things are natural and good at times. But it does mean I have His power from the holy spirit to have a direction-change.  To see things from a different set of eyes.  To move forward in trust and with the peace that offers.

This weekend, I sat and pondered God's sovereignty in my life.  Have I experienced hardship?  You bet.  Have I had days I thought I would never recover from?  Yes, many.

But God has always brought good from those problems.  He has always loved me through it, pushed me through it, and yes, even carried me through it.  Peace.  

It may have been years later, or in some cases, it won't be until Heaven when I experience the understanding of WHY He allowed some things in my life or the lives of other's I love.  But He has been faithful, over and over, and so I can know I can trust Him.  

Though I know this, there have been days that I have done it all on my own and didn't go to Him for peace. I later blamed Him for not bringing me the peace He says He will.  But it was only recently that I realized peace is a two-way street.  The Word says to "seek peace and pursue it" (1 Peter 3:11).  

How can I do that?  By guarding my thoughts, my heart.  By knowing scripture so I have something to think on when the enemy strikes.  I can't just sit around expecting God to bestow peace upon me.  He *might* do that.  But more often than not, He asks us to seek Him and His peace.    

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." Matthew 6:25-34

God's love for us should bring us peace.  When we know He loves us and is always caring for us, there isn't more that we really have to know to be comforted.  

And when you know that peace, there is a supernatural comfort despite the chaos around you.  I have experienced this on days when I have continually allowed God to take my problems instead of holding onto them for dear life trying to "work them out" or "fix them" or just not letting go because I'm scared to death that they are teaching me something and if I let go I will cease to learn.  It doesn't mean I never work through negative things in my life, it means there's a mental decision to let God be in control of them, and that I will trust whatever comes of them.  

Last week, I spent awhile searching for verses about peace.  I had a lovely hour finding verses and writing them down.  My kids weren't napping like I thought they would but I plugged through anyway while they played in their rooms.  All was well.  

And then, all at once, my kids were melting down, I got a huge headache, Judah gave Haven a fat lip, Haven hit the off button on my computer right when I was in the middle of something and I was really starting to feel frustration and exasperation rear their ugly heads.  

That was the turning point.  Would I choose the feelings and frustrations arising in me.  Or would I turn from them and pursue peace?

Then my son came over to me crying.  He was sad because I had to take away something he was really looking forward to because of the two blocks he purposely threw at his sister's face.  I held him while he cried about it and I said, "Let's take a deep breath together".  And over and over we sat there taking deep breaths. Eventually, Haven joined in too.  I was holding both kids.  

Peace was starting to come over me.  Then I said, "I know you are sad about not being able to have the hot cocoa party this afternoon, but the way you treated your sister was unkind and hurtful and we can't do that.  However, let's not let that ruin our day.  God offers us peace in each moment.  Let's try to find it this afternoon instead of dwelling on not getting cocoa today."  He calmed down after awhile.  And then we talked about what we could do to make our day the best it could be without the cocoa.  We went and did a large floor puzzle together for quite awhile and really enjoyed it.  

And you know what?  That hard several minutes turned into the best part of my day.  Because God clearly gave me an opportunity to practice what I had learned.  To step out of the moment, take a deep breath, meditate on God's peace, and walk in it.  

The walking in it part is where faith comes in.  We can "know" all about God's peace and never experience it, if in the moment when it's hardest, we don't push out our thoughts/troubles/fear and usher in the peace only Christ can offer.  

I  want to get better at this, but I have learned the best way to combat constant negative thoughts or a plaguing fear, is to, right in the moment, speak a scripture verse (out loud if I can).  There is extra power in our spoken word because of the faith it takes to speak (we often only speak what we truly believe).  

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3 

"For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." Romans 8:6

I may have learned some tools for peace along the way but I am sure I will write this post and then go blow it in this area.  I don't know everything there is to know about holding onto God's peace.  It takes time to understand God's offer of peace and to turn to it in times of trouble.  It's something I want to always seek to grow in but will probably never master in this life.  Regardless, I want this year to be marked by a growth in peace.  Not because "good" things happened to us (though I pray they do!) but because through whatever comes in 2014, I sought God, His love, His word, and His peace.  

For encouragement, I wanted to share this amazing example of peace.  I've really been reminded how far reaching and abundant God's peace is lately.  I follow a mom on Instagram (@cpray) who lost her husband in 2012.  She has three little kids.  You would never know by her posts that she is a young widow.  She SHINES brightly for Jesus and is always giving Him the glory. It's truly amazing.  Go find her and see what I mean.  It's heart-wrenching, but in the ashes, God has done marvelous things including bringing her a supernatural peace.  I'm sure there are days God's grace indwelled this peace within her and I'm also sure there are days she must fight for peace.  

So how about you?  Has there every been an event or season in your life when you have sought and received God's peace in a huge way?  Have you ever had a time where you just couldn't seem to find God's peace?

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

In peace,