Blooming Pencil: Something New

IMG_0734   Here in Michigan, we are right in the middle of spring. Some things have bloomed, but we still have lots of plants and trees in the bud stage.

Weirdly, it reminds me how much I like fall. Fall sometimes feels like a metaphor for the changes God is planning in my life. The leaves are beautiful, I have enjoyed them for many months, but they are falling off the trees. I always remind myself that there will not be room for anything new until the old is gone. The landscape eventually turns to winter bleakness, and I wait it out….till the time when the bright, shiny new buds start popping out.

You can count on new leaves and flowers every spring, just like you can count on God bringing you new relationships, jobs, kids, homes, lessons, passions, and even challenges. It is easier to allow the old to fade away if I remember that the exciting and long awaited new will be here soon.

So, it is spring, and the new is here. Pay attention to what is brings to you….

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Here, God promises to bring His children out of Babylon. Not only did He bring them out, but He made a way for them through the wilderness, and gave them what they needed to survive the journey.

To remind myself that He will do something new in my life when I feel Him taking things away from me, I made a pencil with a spring bud that turns into a full bloom. Each time I use it, I remember that God not only brings new things into my life, He makes the way for me, and gives me what I need to get where He is asking me to go.

Here is what you need:

  • pencil with eraser
  • 5″ circle of fabric for the bud/bloom (I traced a soup mug and cut out the circle)
  • 1 yard 1 1/4″ wide green ribbon
  • 1 quilt pin (use wire cutters to cut the pin to about 1/2″)
  • hot glue gun and glue
  • scissors
  • pencil

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What you do:

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1. Glue the fabric circle to the top of the pencil, in 4 spots (think north, south, east, west).

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2. Fold or pleat the rest of the fabric, glueing it around the top of the pencil.  There is your spring flower bud.

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3. Cut a square of ribbon, and glue it into a point. This will be a leaf. Make two.

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4. Glue the end of the ribbon to the pencil, so it covers the bottom edge of your bud.

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5. Wrap the ribbon tightly around the pencil, moving it downward, and glueing every other wrap, to hold it in place. As you work downward, glue a leaf to the pencil, and wrap/glue the ribbon over it. Glue both leaves to the pencil/stem.

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6. Cut the ribbon when you want to stop wrapping. I stopped a couple inches above the point, so I could sharpen it and use it for awhile. Fold the end of the ribbon under and glue it. Then glue the end of the ribbon to the pencil.

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7. When you want your bud to bloom, press the bud flat. Stick your short pin through the fabric into the pencil eraser. This will hold the blossom open and make it look like a flower.

“Be joyful in hope,” Romans 12:12

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The Lord’s Prayer

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Several weeks ago, my job was relocated to New Jersey. Without me. Unemployment does not suit me, for many reasons, but I know that my God is the God who provides.

Today, feeling like my conversations lately with God are mostly about me asking for His help, I asked for some guidance. Immediately, He gave me the Lord’s Prayer. As I started praying through it, I realized, though I had heard it and had spoken it a zillion times, I was finding it the perfect prayer for my current trial.

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Not only did I think about what the prayer means, I made a quick tag book of it, to remind me when I need reminding.

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Here is what you need for a tag book like this:

  • 5 white paper tags, mine are 5 1/4″ x 2 5/8″
  • 3 watercolor pencils, colors of your choice. I used lime green, teal, and blue
  • a couple baby wipes (you don’t need great ones with baby oil, just get them at the dollar store), or a damp sponge
  • 12″ piece of ribbon
  • fine point black permanent marker
  • pencil and white eraser

Here is what you do:

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1. Color in one side of the tag, using the watercolor pencils. Perfection is not needed! Do all 5 tags.

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2. Rub the color with a baby wipe or damp sponge. How cool is that? This technique makes great backgrounds and is so easy. Do all 5 tags.

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3. Using the marker, write or print a verse on each tag, 9-13.  If it helps, write the verse in pencil before tracing with the marker. Do all 5 tags.

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4. String the ribbon through all 5 holes, and knot above the tags.

The backs of the tags are blank. On them, you can write specific prayers or notes that you want to remember.

My thoughts on this prayer and how it relates to me, and how it is perfect for my current situation:

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  • I am praying to my Father, who lovingly and personally, listens to my prayers. Even when I ask for a job every single day.
  • He surpasses everything on earth. Giving me a job is not hard for him.
  • A study of the word “hallowed” (hagiazo), tells us the name of God is the opposite of common. It is made holy. His name is set apart.

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  • May His perfect will be done here on earth and in my life, as it is done in Heaven. That is exactly what I want… His perfect will, not my imperfect will.

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  • I must trust Him every day.
  • I will ask Him to give me what I need for today, just like He gave the Israelites manna in the wilderness each day. I don’t need to have today, what I will need tomorrow. And I will trust Him to provide each day, in His perfect timing. My new job will come on the day of His planning.
  • I will be growing my faith in His provision, and not worrying. He is my sustainer and provider.

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  • Father, help me not to be selfish, to remember that what You forgive of mine is greater than anything You ask me to forgive of others.

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  • A word study of the word “temptation” (peirasmos) shows us Jesus was talking about a trial with a beneficial purpose or effect, a trial from God. That is exactly where I am right now.
  • I need to depend on God for deliverance from the evil one and his lies. It is not true that nobody wants to hire me, that I will never find a job that is right for me, that I am worthless.

Out of frustration, I found comfort in the Lord’s Prayer today. I hope you do too. Does the Lord’s Prayer fit your current situation?

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

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But If Not

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Last week, I read a short except written by Margaret Feinberg from her new book Fight Back With Joy. She told a brief story referencing a couple verses in Daniel, and it made an impression on me.

In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were faced with a decision: would they obey the Babylonian king and the law to bow down to his golden idol, or would they be thrown into the furnace as punishment for breaking the law? Their beliefs were strong.
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The important words there are “But if not”. The three boys were telling the king that their God could pluck them right out of the fiery furnace, but if He chose not to do that, they would still not worship another god.
Their belief in God was absolute. They had no doubt that their God could save them from the furnace, and if that did not happen, they did not care, they still believed that God was Almighty.
Sometimes I need a reminder of God’s absolute might. I know it, of course, but there are times when I put myself in charge. Yeah. I’m not really in charge, and life is a lot easier if I remember that God can pluck me right out of the fiery furnace. I sure can’t do that myself.
So, here is my visual reminder. It started as a scrap of wood and now tells the story of the unwavering faith of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego.
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To make one, you need:

  • a piece of wood: mine is 4″ x 7″ and thick enough to stand on its own. You can use any scrap of wood, unfinished or already painted. You could easily do it on any surface: paper, terra cotta, tin, etc. The pattern is easy to adapt.

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  • acrylic paints, 5 colors of your choice, these are mine:

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  • a medium flat paintbrush, a liner brush
  • a black permanent marker (optional)
  • pencil with an unused eraser
  • hair dryer (optional)
  • palette or paper plate, water container
  • ruler

Here is what you do:

1. Paint the front and sides of the block white. Let it dry, or use your hair dryer to hurry the drying. Hold it no closer to the surface than about 10″ for best results.

2. Paint the sides of the block one of your colors. Let dry. Paint the back of the block another color. Let everything dry.

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3. Measure and draw an outside border of about 1″. Make your pencil marks light. Measure and mark a 1/4″ border inside the 1″ border.

4. Paint the inside rectangle and the outside border in colors of your choice. Let dry.

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5. Squeeze a little paint out onto the palette. Dip the pencil eraser into the paint and print on the outer border. Continue until it is polka dotted.

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6. Make black and white checks on the 1/4″ border. If it is easier to use a marker for this, use your permanent marker instead of your liner brush.

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7. Using either the liner brush or the black marker, print or write in the center: but if not. You can freehand this or print it on your computer/printer, transfer it and paint it.

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8. On the back side, using your marker, write Daniel 3: 17-18.

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Every time you look at your piece of art, you will be reminded that if God does not save you from the scary furnace, you know that it is not because He can’t. It is because He has a better plan. You believe that.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 (NLT)

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THRIVE Swag

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I have chosen THRIVE as my word for 2015. I am feeling like I have been just barely surviving, and I know God has more planned for me than this. I also desire more for myself. I will be studying this word and praying about this word and how I can live it, throughout the year.

The first verse God has provided, has given me kind of a logo for the year. Trees will be my visual reminder of thriving.

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After doing word searches, I have written these 2 verses from a personal view:

“Blessed is Kim who is secure in the Lord and whose security is in the Lord. For she will be like a fruit bearing tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not experience the heat when it comes, but its leaves will be flourishing, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought, nor cease to yield fruit.”

To have a visual reminder of this, I made a decoupage swag and hung it over the door that leads out of the house. I will see it every day on my way out.

To make one you need:

fabric

140 lb watercolor paper

Decoupage medium like Mod Podge (matte or gloss or sparkle or whatever finish you like)

wide flat brush

scissors

hole punch

Sharpie marker (color to match or coordinate with fabric)

6 jump rings and pliers (you can also skip these and tie the pieces together with ribbon or embroidery floss)

ribbon

copy machine or printer

Try this:

1. Choose a fabric with a repeating design like a medallion. Decoupage 6 medallions to 140 lb. watercolor paper.

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Go here for a tutorial on basic decoupage techniques.

2. Cut out the dry medallions. Use a hole punch to punch a hole at the top and bottom of each medallion.

3. Print out the word THRIVE. Use a copy machine/printer to make the following letters to the size needed to go under the medallions.

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Transfer the letters to watercolor paper. Go here for a tutorial on transferring patterns. Draw desired patterns on each letter with Sharpie marker. Cut out each letter. Punch a hole at the top of each letter.

4. Use a jump ring to attach a letter to hang under each medallion. (or ribbon or floss)

5. Cut one ribbon long enough to hold all of the medallions. Cut 6 shorter ribbons to tie the medallions/letters to the swag ribbon.

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6. Once assembled, tie to a curtain rod, or use push pins to attach to to the wall, or paperclips to attach to the top of a lampshade.  Hang your swag wherever you will see it a lot.

Of course, you should change the color scheme, design, and word to be what you need, if THRIVE is not your choice.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5-6),

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Decoupage Book Cover

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This is my 2015 Planner that I am working in for Documented Faith. It is a plain black moleskine planner. As you can see, I covered it with fabric, decoupaged it on.  If you have never decoupaged, or have never had a successful decoupage experience, see this decoupage tutorial for tips.

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First thing I did, was cut off the elastic band on the planner.

Because my planner is black and my fabric has a lot of white, I painted the planner white before I decoupaged. If I had not done that, the color of my fabric would have been dull when it dried.

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Put waxed paper pieces inside the front and back covers to keep the pages from getting wet. Brush Mod Podge over the cover, press the fabric over it and smooth it out. Brush at least 3 coats of Mod Podge on top of the fabric. When it is all dry, trim off the extra fabric around the edges.

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I am planning for my planner (haha) to grow fat and full of everything I do and see in 2015, Without the elastic that I cut off, I am not sure I can hold it together. So, I glued a ribbon inside each cover. When I tie a bow, it becomes a nice, neat package.

This is a simple and colorful book covering technique that you can do on any book, hard or soft cover.

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This is a soft cover Bible with two fabrics on it. The polk dot is layered over the floral.

Colors and styles of fabric are infinite, find one you like and give it a try!

Let your light shine before others (Matthew 5:16),
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His Name

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If I were to say to you that the reason we celebrate Christmas sometimes gets lost in the craziness of the holiday… that would be an understatement, right? So I am not going to say that. That is a given. It is pretty hard to skip the presents, decorations, parties, and cookies that come with Christmas, especially if you have kids.

In light of that, I am trying this year to find some meaningful takeaways that I can keep after Christmas…not counting a depleted bank account and exhaustion.

This verse in Isaiah popped right into my mind. It is a prophesy from the Old Testament. For us, it is not a prophesy, but a reality in our lives. Everyday. Not just looking toward Christmas or during our Christmas day celebration, but every day.

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A name is not always just a name. Sometimes a name is a mark of individuality, or it tells about reputation. It can indicate a specific character or make a statement about a person. The child in Isaiah 9:6 who grew up to be the salvation of the world, has many names: Jesus, The Christ, Messiah, the Lamb, the Light of the World, Emmanuel…you probably know several more. And here are four more names. Let’s look at the importance of them. I did word studies on them, hoping that looking them up in the original Hebrew might give us some cultural insight.

 

Wonderful Counselor

Wonderful: God’s annointed continuing the marvelous acts of God

Counselor: one who advises, and gives good advice

 

Mighty God

Mighty: a strong, upright man. In the context of battle, it means proven warrior. In the context of a king, it means the strength of His kingdom.

God: Supernatural provision and power. This name is often used with another: God Almighty, the God of Israel, etc.

 

Everlasting Father

Everlasting: eternity, no beginning and no end, forever

Father:  A title of respect…teacher, advisor, protector. Position of status, worthy of honor. Sometimes describes the adopted relationship. Of course, when we become followers of Jesus, we are adopted right into the kingdom of God. Side note: How interesting that Father is the very first word in my Hebrew concordance.

 

Prince of Peace

Prince: Captain, chief, ruler, governor, principal, commander, leader, judge

Peace: Safe, well, happy, health, prosperity, welfare, tranquility, unharmed. Completeness, to be whole. A harmonious state of the soul and mind.

How is this verse and what it is teaching us usable in our every day lives?

  •  Having a day that is a mess, confusing, crazy, don’t know what to do or where to go? Jesus gives good advice. Ask Him.
  • Feeling beat up, picked on, too small to tackle it on your own? Jesus is a proven warrior who will go before you in the battle. His strength is as big as the Kingdom of God. Invite Him.
  • Need a reminder of who you are? Your importance? How much you are loved? Jesus is your Father, your teacher, your protector. Forever. You are a daughter of the King. Draw close to Him.
  • Life is absolutely crazy, can’t get caught up, you feel lost, upset, worried over something or everything? Feel like your life is missing something? Can’t sleep because of it? Jesus completes you. Walk with Him.

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I made these tags as a reminder of the message in Isaiah 9:6. This week, I also made them with a delightful group of Moms. I took a ton of pictures of their tags, and then my camera card broke in two as I was transferring the pods. BAH! I only recovered a couple.

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My four tags are made on formica chips. They could be cardboard, plastic, paper, whatever you have. I covered one side with scrapbooking paper…and the other side with ivory cardstock. I wanted to be able to write the things that inspired me about these 4 names of Jesus, on the back.

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I printed out the 4 names of Jesus from the verse, on ivory cardstock. We glued one to each of our tags. We even had doe brass hearts with which to embellish. It was fun to see how each person in class combined the papers, and strips and hearts.

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Now we each have our tags strung on ribbons. I use mine a bible bookmark. The ladies in class had definite ideas of where to keep theirs so they would be visible and remind them of this life application from the word of God.

Go boldly to the very throne of God (Hebrews 4:16)

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I.O.U.

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Have you ever heard this? ” You don’t owe him a thing.” Or, “I don’t owe you anything, you can just forget it!”

Maybe, like me, you have even said that once or twice. After reading these verses, I will think before I open my mouth to say it again.

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That woman who drove right into the last parking place even though she could see you were turning in, on the day you were really in a hurry? Do you owe her a piece of your mind, or do you owe her a smile and a hello?

That guy at work that talks bad about you to everyone, asks you to help him on a task. You don’t owe him anything. Or, do you owe him some time and some grace?

Definitely a reason not to react to someone who bugs you, but to stop for a beat, and then respond with the love you owe her.

I did this page in my bible with a black micron pen.

Be kind and compassionate to one another…. (Ephesians 4:32),

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Joy and Strength

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I like Nehemiah. I like his book, it’s maybe my favorite. Every time I read through it, I find something encouraging. Reading through Chapter 8 today, I was encouraged about a topic that has been a tough one for me the last couple of years: corporate worship.

In Chapter 8, the people of Jerusalem are coming off a tough year. They rebuilt the destroyed walls of their city in 52 days…every one of them worked nearly non stop…the politicians, the priests, the skilled artisans, even girls pitched in. They did not have backhoes or cranes, they did it by hand. Their lives were threatened during it. They had to work and stand guard with swords at the same time. It was physically hard and mentally exhausting.

But they are done in chapter 8, and this is a day set aside for God. Ezra came to preach. Everyone able to understand, showed up. When Ezra opened the book to read, they all stood up. They stood up out of respect for God and His word, and out of respect for Ezra. They stood up because in that day, servants stood before their masters to receive instruction. By standing, they were ready to move out immediately to begin what they were charged to do.

Ezra read from daybreak to noon. Remember, they were all standing. He brought priests to explain to the crowd what he was reading, while he was reading it.

The people began to weep…not because Ezra was going over the scheduled hour and 15 minutes, and dinner was in the oven at home. They wept because their hearts were tender and they understood how they had broken God’s laws and grieved Him. I understand this feeling of not being able to be the Kim that God has made me to be, not being able to follow all of God’s commands, and grieving the Holy Spirit in the process. It is easy to mourn my guilt.

But Nehemiah stepped in. He reminded them it was a day set aside for God, a sabbath, holy day set aside for celebrating with joy and praise for all God had done for them. Nehemiah and Ezra told them to get rid of their heavy heartedness and to testify to the joy they have in God.

They ate and drank and shared what they had with people who had none, so those people could have joy too. They remembered the joy of being favored by God and living in His grace. They remembered first hand what it means to be God’s chosen, to be provisioned and protected by God Almighty. Nehemiah and Ezra helped them to shake off the funk, forget about their shortcomings for the day, and praise God with joy.

Nehemiah teaches us an important thing in chapter 8. We have joy in being God’s chosen. Expressing that joy corporately, magnifies it. It is good for us, and on the day we set aside for God each week, we should praise God with joy and celebration. Praising God with joy gives us hope, makes us remember what it means to belong to our God, brings to mind how He blesses us. It pushes away they guilt and remorse, and makes our connection to Him stronger.

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The joy of the Lord is our strength!

I invite you to print out the piece from verse 10 up at the top. Size it and print it on white card stock. If you want it heavier, print it on 90 lb. watercolor paper, or print it on card stock and glue it to watercolor paper or poster board. Get creative if you want to add a background or a ribbon. Use it as a bookmark, pin it to your bulletin board. Shrink it and make it into a pin to wear. Go for it. And when you feel guilt for not praying enough (or whatever triggers your “I’m not worthy!” complex), get it out and remember that you have amazing joy in just being chosen and belonging to the One True God. I’ll bet it will trigger the remembrance of tons of blessings.

Let Him fill your heart with joy (Psalm 28:7),

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