September 20, 2017

Forgiveness – Matthew West

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~  Listen while you read, please!  ~

It’s the hardest thing to give away and the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve
It’s the opposite of how you feel when the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word—”forgiveness”

It flies in the face of all your pride, it moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free”

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Help me now to do the impossible…forgiveness

It’ll clear the bitterness away, it can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed by what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you—Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible—forgiveness
I want to finally set it free so show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me—forgiveness

~  Matthew West  ~

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

It’s the hardest thing to give away and the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve
It’s the opposite of how you feel when the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word—”forgiveness”

Sisters, do you want the most of what God has planned for you?  Do you want to feel the FULL expression of God’s love?  Then you have to step out in faith and forgive. This song by Matthew West came to mind last night after praying for a choir member who is going to see his dying, aged father this weekend for the first time in over 30 years.  He is going to forgive his father, and seeking forgiveness himself.  This song would not leave my mind all night, so I figured God put it heavily on my heart and mind because he needed me to share it with you all—and also make sure my own plate is clean.

It flies in the face of all your pride, it moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’—Forgiveness

Some of you may feel offended or irritated that I would suggest that to feel the full measure of God’s love that you would need to forgive others.  You might be thinking right now of a person who you should forgive but don’t want to.  You know of someone that justifiably deserves your anger for all of the wrong committed against you, right?  I don’t know what you’re going through.  That’s true…I don’t.  (But God does.)

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Help me now to do the impossible…forgiveness

You see, God does understand.  He sees your life.  He sees you’re hurt.  He knows the pain that has been brought on you by others.  But He says to lay your cares on Him, to let Him avenge your wrongs—He is faithful to do those things for you, because He loves you.  He also knows that when you don’t forgive someone, the person it really hurts is YOU.  The anger, the emotion, the pain – it keeps you in bondage. When you don’t give that person over to God to deal with, you remain a captive to the hurt you feel.  The circumstance has power of you, not the other way around.  And, in case this hasn’t crossed your mind lately, when was the last time you hurt God?

It’ll clear the bitterness away, it can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed by what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you—Forgiveness

Was it yesterday that you sinned against God?  Have you even made it this far into the day before you’ve done something that could separate you eternally from the presence of Jesus?  Do you really understand the power of God’s love and forgiveness toward you?  In 1 John 1:9, the Bible says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” God can (and will) forgive us daily.  If you’ve truly felt the full measure of God’s forgiveness—why not extend that to someone else?

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible—forgiveness
I want to finally set it free so show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me—forgiveness

You know, no one said forgiveness is easy.  And you may not forgive others because you don’t fully realize what it feels to be forgiven.  You may not accept the gift that forgiveness is.  But God is here to help you—to help you accept your own forgiveness, and to help you forgive another.  Try it today…and experience freedom from the bondage of hurt!

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Let’s pray:  Dear Lord, thank You for Your abundant forgiveness.  Please help me to forgive others as You have forgiven me.  Help me to extend the same healing power to others as I have received.  Where I am resistant, help me change.  Break down the bondage of unbelief.  Free me from the need to get revenge.  Help me to trust that You will vindicate me.  Help me to see others how Your mercy sees them.  Help me to love those who have hurt me.  Forgive me where I have hurt others and hurt You. Help me to walk in freedom!  In Your Son’s name, Amen.

Away in a Manger

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If you were to ask me what my favorite Christmas carol/song would be, my first instinct would be to say “Away in a Manger”, by Mahalia Jackson.  (THAT version – it MUST be Mahalia!)  When I was in middle school my family moved to Nashville from Ohio, where we had literally lived around the corner from my grandparents.  Each year at Christmas break we would travel back to Ohio to spend two weeks with my grandparents and extended family.  I loved those times, we had too many people in too small of a house, but it was always a time of laughter, movies, cards, a TON of food and music – LOTS of music. One particular compilation album my grandparents owned included “Away in a Manger” by Mahalia Jackson.  I had never heard anyone sing like her!  What I didn’t realize then was that she had been an incredible gospel singer – and when she sang about Jesus, sisters, you were having worship! She sang “Away in a Manger” like she was singing in the presence of God.  Even at a young age, that song affected me at such a spiritual and emotional level that it still brings me to tears and worship – every time I hear it.

Fast forward to me as a college student, and the compilation album has been lost.  This track of Mahalia’s is nowhere to be found. No record, no tape (this shows you how old I am…), no CD of hers had it available, and I couldn’t find it on iTunes. I searched for this song for YEARS, sisters, no exaggeration.  Then one year, my closest friend at the time gave me a Christmas gift. “It’s not much,” she said, “but it was all I could get for you.”  I opened it to find….. a CD with the Christmas music of Mahalia Jackson and Nat King Cole – with “Away in a Manger” included.  SHE FOUND IT!! It was the one thing that mattered the most to me and she presented it to me in her true humble fashion. The best gift I had ever been given.  Well, by a person….

The best gift I have ever been given is the gift of Jesus.  And He, in turn, gives the best gifts!  James 1:17 says; “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit when we receive Christ as our Lord (Acts 2:38).  Romans 12:6-8 tells us that we are all given gifts in order to strengthen the body of Christ.   We are also given grace (thank You, Lord!): “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Perhaps you are like me. You have searched for years for the thing that would make you happy, but have never found it.  It is Jesus. Just like that song ushered (and still ushers) me into the Presence of God.  That Savior, born away in a manger, brings us boldly into the Presence of a God that loves you and wants to shower you with gifts – gifts that no one (but He!) could ever give you. Won’t you receive His gifts today?

I LOVE THIS SONG!!!  I hope you enjoy it, too. When she sings: “I love thee, Lord Jesus! I ask thee to stay close by me forever, and love me, I pray,” it brings me to tears every time.  “I DO love You, Lord Jesus. Thank you for loving me!  Stay close.”

 

Merry Christmas!  May God bless you abundantly with His good and perfect gifts!

Away in a Manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down hHs sweet head. The stars in the sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes; I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky and stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay close by me forever and love me I pray; bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, and take us to heaven to live with Thee there.

Come On, Ring Those Bells

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Everybody likes to take a holiday
Everybody likes to take a rest
Spending time together with the family
Sharing lots of love and happiness.
Come on, ring those bells, light the Christmas tree,
Jesus is the King born for you and me.
Come on, ring those bells, everybody say,
Jesus, we remember this is Your birthday.

Celebrations come because of something good.
Celebrations we love to recall
Mary had a Baby boy in Bethlehem
The greatest celebration of all.
Come on, ring those bells, light the Christmas tree,
Jesus is the King born for you and me.
Come on, ring those bells, everybody say,
Jesus, we remember this is Your birthday.

Come On, Ring Those Bells ~ Evie Tornquist

*  * * * *

Isn’t it true—everybody loves to take a holiday, a rest from our normal busy schedules of life. Even our five year old granddaughter said after the Thanksgiving weekend, “We go back to school tomorrow!?”  She loves preschool, but she was loving the relaxed time with the family too.

That weekend we also celebrated “something good,” or should I say “something(s) good.” We had three family birthdays between the end of October and Thanksgiving that we hadn’t had time to celebrate, so all four celebrations were packed into one day. It was a full and fun day!

The greatest celebration of all, though, is to celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus. Why is the birth of a little baby in a dusty, smelly stable so important that we should celebrate? The answer is in this carol—Jesus is the King born for you and me !

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David,
and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and of His kingdom there will be no end.
Luke 1:32-33

Jesus came for you and me! He came to rule and reign in our individual lives so that we can be reborn into new life—a living relationship for all eternity with God. I do believe that is worth ringing the bells and lighting the Christmas tree!  I do want everyone to say, “Happy birthday, Jesus!  We remember this is Your birthday.”

Let’s make a point of teaching our children and our grandchildren that Christmas isn’t about the gifts under the tree.   More importantly, it’s about God’s gift—Jesus as King and Savior—to us.

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because He has come and has redeemed His people.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us….
Luke 1:68-69

Then let’s teach them that they can give the gift of themselves to God as they submit their lives to Jesus.

His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation.
Luke 1:50

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.
One generation will commend Your works to another;
they will tell of Your mighty acts…
They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
Psalms 146:3-7

Come on and ring those bells with me, and light your Christmas tree!
JESUS IS OUR REASON TO CELEBRATE!

Glorious Living w/ Coach Megan: Finding Forgiveness and Freedom from Guilt

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Dear Coach Megan,

I am really struggling with letting go of feelings of guilt I have had over things I did a long time ago. I am hoping that you can give me some direction on how to let go of this guilt that is keeping me locked up inside. I know God needs me free from this so that I can truly live free and forgiven for his glory. Thanks in advance for any guidance you can give! ~S.J.

Thank you so much for your questions, S.J!

I remember when my kids were little and they would fall and scrape their knee on the playground. They would come running towards me at full speed, tears in their eyes for me to kiss it and make them feel better. It always worked, every time….a big hug and lots of love always made the sting of a scrape feel that much better. A few moments later, they would run off again, to play in the sun without a care in the world. The same is true when we take our bruised and broken lives to God…. He forgives and forgets, and it ALWAYS works! AND…when we trust in Him, He takes away all the guilt.

Luke 5:20

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

Please, dear friend, do not stay stuck in the ditch of guilt! God has so much bigger and better plans for you that cannot be fulfilled to their fullest until you let yourself be FREE and transformed! I have some practical steps for you today that I pray will help you grow in Christlike maturity and bring all your guilt to our forgiving God for good! Grab a journal, print this out, and get ready to work through all the guilt that is holding you captive so you can finally be set free!

1. Find the source of your guilt

  • Examine why you feel guilty
  • Determine if your guilt is true or false
  • Use Scripture as the ONLY standard for determining true guilt

Psalm 51:6

Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

2. Own the responsibility for your sin

  • Agree with God that you are guilty of sinning
  • Ask God to reveal your personal sin patterns
  • Make restitution to those you have sinned against

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

3. Realize and believe that God means what He says
  • Thank God for the gift of His Son, who paid for your forgiveness
  • Thank God for His unending forgiveness, even if you don’t feel forgiven
  • Choose to believe what God says

Ephesians 1:7

 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

4. Stop and give up for good dwelling on the past

  • Give up holding on to past pain
  • Give up self-condemnation
  • Give up refusing to forgive others

Isaiah 43:18

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.

5. Invest time in renewing your mind

  • Memorize scriptures that reinforce God’s forgiveness
  • Remember that in Christ, you are a “new creation” {2 Corinthians 5:17}
  • Learn to see yourself as a valuable child of God

Ephesians 4:22-23

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self,
which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds;

6. Verify satan’s lies to God’s truth when satan accuses

  • Learn to discern the difference between the Holy Spirit’s voice and that of satan
  • Answer satan’s accusations with truth from Scripture
  • Verbalize a personal prayer receiving God’s forgiveness

Isaiah 54:17

“No weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

7. Exchange your life for the life of Christ

  • Understand you cannot live the Christian life in your own strength
  • Allow Christ to transform you and live out His character through you
  • Continue to nurture the Holy Spirit’s presence through personal prayer and Bible study

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
The life I now live in the body,
I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

8. When you obey Him, God brings your feelings in line with the facts

  • Know that God is a God of second chances
  • Know that your feelings won’t change immediately
  • Know that feelings usually follow thinking

Psalm 32:1-2

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them 
and in whose spirit is no deceit.

Dear God,

We ask You to give us the discernment to know when we are feeling false guilt instead of true guilt. Please Lord, have Your Spirit convict us when we are headed the wrong way so that we will get on the right path and be in line with Your will. We also pray that we will always be sensitive to the convicting touch of the Holy Spirit’s hand. Thank You that we are forgiven and set free through the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross. We pray these things in Your holy name, amen <3

Blessings,

Coach Megan 🙂

Glorious Living w/ Coach Megan: Christ’s Ambassadors

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2 Corinthians 5:20 and 21

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

*********************

 Merriam-Webster’s definition of Ambassador:

1: an official envoy; especially: a diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment
2a: an authorized representative or messenger, b: an unofficial representative <traveling abroad as ambassadors of goodwill>

Being a Christ follower, I am who people look to in order to see what Christianity is like. If you are a Christ follower, you are, too. Our eternal home is in Heaven, and our job as ambassadors of Christ is to show people how amazing it’ll be through the way we live our life and how we interact with others…showing the love of Christ.

Why are we ambassadors? Jesus has instructed us to do so, in the Great Commission. In Mark 6:15 Jesus tell us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” That is all the reason we need, right? So then why is it so HARD to just do it??? Fear of rejection? Afraid you won’t have all the answers? Why?

We are commissioned to NOT keep the good news to ourselves – it should be contagious! In Matthew 10:27,  Jesus tells us “What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!” If you are called to do something by the Lord and you choose to ignore that calling, not only are you not receiving the full blessing of God, but think of all the lives who are also not receiving it! God put you on this earth for a specific reason and puts you in the different seasons and places you are in for His purpose to be done on the earth. If you are not seeking Him to guide you through this life, to give you the boldness to be His ambassador, just think of the many lives you are not affecting!

Before we can be ambassadors, we need to know the person we are representing. Think about it…if you took a job as an ambassador of a country you knew nothing about and had never been to, you wouldn’t be able to do a very good job of representing it, right? It makes sense then that in order for us to do a good job of representing Christ to an unbelieving world, we need to first spend time getting to know Him. This means that we need to be spending time with Him on a regular basis—reading His Word, spending time in prayer, and growing closer to Him. He is craving this relationship with you…. all relationships need work. Are you doing your part?

Being an ambassador of Christ means being “like Christ” and having a servant’s heart. We need to strive to:

  • Be kind and compassionate.
  • Challenge what is wrong.
  • Speak out for truth.
  • Be joyful.
  • Refuse to conform to society’s standards.
  • Have self-control.
  • Do things only to please God, not man.
  • Be spontaneous and creative.
  • Think of others rather than yourself.
  • Live out life in all its fullness.

We must have integrity in our words and actions. Integrity means that what you say, what you profess to believe, and what you actually do, match up. This is certainly an intentional process. For us to be effective ambassadors of Christ, we can’t go around claiming to love God and then not show that we love Him by our actions. Actions speak louder than words, right? It is imperative that our actions back the Word of God that we are professing. We are not perfect, we are human…but we can strive to do our best, intentionally, everyday for His Glory!

We must love people without any agenda. We don’t love people so that they will become Christians. We show love to them because they are God’s creation and sometimes, as a result of that, they will eventually come to accept Christ. We shouldn’t give up on loving them if after a few months it has had no visible spiritual impact. Loving people doesn’t mean doing good deeds begrudgingly for them because we feel as Christians that is what we should be doing. If that is the case, we are acting out of duty, not love.  Sometimes it can be hard, but we need to remember the example of Jesus. Many of the people He showed love to turned their back on him (such as the time he healed ten lepers, but only one came back to thank Him). We are working for a heavenly reward, not an earthly one…and that must remain at the front of our minds and hearts.

We must encourage people not to want to stay “on the outside looking in.”  This means making them want to be a part of the Christian community we are a part of. In Romans 11:14, Paul says “I want somehow to make the people of Israel [the non-believing Jews] jealous of what you Gentiles [the early Christians] have.”  If people see contentment, joy, and genuine passion when they look to us they are going to be curious. If all they see is people with the same doom and gloom as the godless world around them, they won’t be interested. Would you?

We must be openly honest about our faith, not hiding it when it is inconvenient. In Matthew 5:15, Jesus says “No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” Because sharing your faith isn’t just about your words, it’s about actions, too. Here is a question to honestly ask yourself: If someone was watching your life 24/7 “Big Brother” style, how long would it take for them to realize you were a Christian? Would it be evident through the way you live your life, or would it take them until you went to church on Sunday to make the connection?

Hmmmmmm? OUCH!

Being an ambassador of Christ means being his hands and feet to a world that desperately needs God.

1 Corinthians 12:27 says that “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” You have probably heard the Casting Crowns song, If We Are the Body, which has a really challenging chorus for those of us who profess to be trying to be ambassadors of Christ.

“If we are the body,

Why aren’t His arms reaching, why aren’t His hands healing,

Why aren’t His words teaching, why aren’t His feet going,

Why is His love not showing them there is a way?”

If we REALLY are serious about being ambassadors of Christ, we need to reach out to the world through being Christ’s hands and feet.

Being an ambassador is what we have been called to do. It is not optional to the Christian life.

Ephesians 6:19 and 20

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 

 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Blessings,

Coach Megan 🙂

Saturdays with Shandy: Christmas Edition! Last Minute Gifts for Your Girls

Christmas is a few short days away! If you’re in need of some easy, inexpensive, handmade gifts for the girls in your life – whether little or all grown-up! – then you’ve come to the right place! This round-up includes nine awesome gifts that any girl would love to get!

*Note: You can find all nine ideas on our “Saturdays with Shandy” board on Pinterest!

Did someone say scrapbook paper?!?!

paper crafts

  1. The adorable DIY Dry Erase Board from Leah Marie V is so cute, and so useful! The shabby chic DIY flowers give it an extra feminine touch. You can use this for a hundred different things, and customize it with scrapbook paper that fits the style of the person you’re creating it for. This would be great to leave notes for your family, or to jot down what you need to pick up at the grocery store!
  2. The Scrapbook Clipboard from KaeliElyse would be a great gift for any girl on your list, and would come in handy on a daily basis! Just like the dry erase board, you can customize this with your choice of scrapbook paper!
  3. Aren’t these pens super fun? I found them at Chocolate on My Cranium! You can make these to match the clipboard! Or make all three a matching set! What a great gift that would be!

What girl doesn’t love hair accessories and nail polish?!

beauty

  1. This Headband Organizer from Lyssa Beth (tutorial found at Make It My Own) would be great for any girl with a love of hair accessories! The best part? You can put all kinds of barrettes, ponytail holders, bobby pins, and clips in the inside! I am definitely making this for my daughter!
  2. How cute is this play on words?! For Your Mistle Toes! Such a creative idea from Carissa Miss, and she has a free printable!
  3. Make those ugly bobby pins cute with this tutorial from Colour Me Everywhere! A simple, inexpensive, and fantastic stocking stuffer!

And the last three fabulous gift ideas…

gift ideas

  1. How amazing are these Coffee Cozies from The Sitting Tree?! I can think of at least a dozen people I could give these to, and I know they would be LOVED! I’m going to knit one for myself, too!
  2. Shhhh! Don’t tell my daughter, but she’s getting one of these Friendship Bracelet Kits from Tater Tots and Jello for Christmas! I loved making friendship bracelets as a kid, and now my daughter loves them, too!
  3. I received a personalized hand sanitizer bottle for Christmas one year, and I absolutely loved it! I can tell you these would be a big hit with your child’s teacher! You can also use soap bottles! Either way, put a classy monogram inside, and this would be a welcome gift for anyone’s home! Be sure to check out the tutorial at The Idea Room!

I have to go and get busy making all of these wonderful handmade gifts (and a few for myself!) I hope you found some of these ideas to be excellent as well! There’s nothing like handmade for the holidays! Thanks for joining us for Saturdays with Shandy: Christmas Edition! It’s been a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to get started on our next series!

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, and may you be blessed abundantly in the new year!

Love & {Christmas} Blessings,

Shandy

Be sure to visit Shandy’s personal blog Aprons ‘n Pearls for crafts, recipes, homekeeping tips & more!

Saturdays with Shandy: Christmas Edition! Prim Christmas Stitcheries

Hand embroidery, particularly primitive hand stitching,  is one of the easiest craft projects there are. It’s very forgiving, and is meant to be imperfect. It’s also very rewarding, because in a very short time, you can create something beautiful for your home, or to give as a gift. You can really take creative license with hand embroidery, and there are many different styles you can create… everything from modern to vintage to primitive designs (like we’re doing today!) and anything from pictures to quotes to stitching names and words in your own handwriting!

Believe me when I tell you that even someone who has no craft experience can do this! I wasn’t taught any specific technique when venturing into prim stitcheries, but instead taught myself. I saw a pricey stitchery in a catalog, looked at it and thought, “I can do this!” I went to the craft store and bought some inexpensive materials, then I just sat down and started stitching – knotted the end of the embroidery floss and began running the threaded needle under and over until my project was complete!

I like to put my stitcheries in frames when complete. I buy inexpensive black picture frames, and use sandpaper to distress them. Usually, I remove the glass so the fabric is exposed (like the one on the left) but there is one stitchery I made (shown on the right) where I created a “photo mat” by folding the muslin and tea-staining the middle darker than the border.

stitcheries

I also create “labels” to affix to stackable boxes (another project I like to do!) or to attach as tags on gifts.

labels

At Christmastime, I display many stitcheries… ornaments, table runners, magnets, framed pieces…  there’s nothing like a handmade Christmas!

have yourself a merry little christmas

I hope this has given you some ideas of your own! Or maybe you’ve seen something here you’d like to create! Start with something simple if you’ve never made a stitchery before.

{Last week, we learned how to make “tea-stained” fabric in preparation for this week’s project. If you missed it, you can find the tutorial HERE.}

Round up the following supplies:

  • muslin
  • embroidery floss
  • embroidery needle
  • embroidery hoop
  • scissors
  • sharpened pencil

Basic directions:

  1. To get started, lightly sketch your design onto the muslin with the pencil. You’ll be stitching over the pencil marks, so don’t worry that they’ll show.
  2. Then, place the fabric into the embroidery hoop so that the area where you are starting is in the middle of the hoop and taut.
  3. Thread the color of embroidery floss you’re working with first through your needle and knot it at the end.
  4. Starting on the backside of your fabric, use simple back stitching to complete your project. (Our very own Shauna did a post on embroidery a while back, and shared THIS picture with us to give us a visual on how to back-stitch. You come up from underneath the fabric on the odd numbers, and go back down through the top on the even numbers. Piece of cake!) *See notes below.
  5. When complete, or to change colors, knot your embroidery floss (which must now be on the back of your fabric) and cut off the ends.
  • Note: Space evenly and pull gently, but not allowing the embroidery floss to be loose… you want it to be snug on the fabric, but not so tight that it’s wrinkling or puckering the fabric.
  • Note: On curved lines, you may need to make the stitches a bit smaller so the curve forms nicely.

Happy stitching!

Love & Blessings,

Shandy

Be sure to visit Shandy’s personal blog Aprons ‘n Pearls for crafts, recipes, homekeeping tips & more!



Our next Women’s Online Bible Study,

“Crazy Love,” by Francis Chan,

begins January 6, 2013.

To sign up for this Online Bible Study, click HERE and follow the instructions. You will also be given a link to where you can purchase the book for this Bible study. We’re looking forward to learning about this “Crazy Love” with you!

Saturdays with Shandy: Christmas Edition! Distressed Wooden Sign

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! If you joined us during our last six weeks, your house is sparkling clean and organized! The hard work is behind us; now it’s time to have fun! For the next five weeks, we will meet here every Saturday for tutorials on homemade Christmas gifts, crafts, and decorating! Turn up the Christmas music, and let’s get started!

This week, we are making distressed wooden signs. I’ve been making signs for years, and they are wildly popular! You can make them in any size and color you want, and with any name or quote you’d like! The versatility makes them not only beautiful decor, but wonderful gifts as well… and inexpensive, too!

Materials:

  • wood (reclaimed wood, pallets, or pre-cut wood from a home improvement store)
  • base color paint (color of your choice) I used a barn red acrylic paint from the craft store. Only $1.19, yay!
  • lettering paint (color of your choice) I used black acrylic paint from the craft store.
  • paint brush
  • stencil sponge (spouncer)
  • paper plates
  • letter stencils
  • fine grit sandpaper
  • sawtooth picture hangers (1 or 2 depending on size of sign. Nails are included.)
  • hammer
  • hair dryer
  • newspaper or paper bags

Instructions:

  1. Put your piece of wood on top of newspaper to protect your table. Make sure it is free of dust and DRY. If it’s too rough, you will need to sand it down a bit, and then wipe away the dust.
  2. Shake your base color paint and squirt a good amount on a paper plate (you may want to double up the plates.)
  3. Using a dry paint brush, paint the top and sides of the sign. The key is thin layers! You don’t want drips or dollops.
  4. Allow to dry. I’m impatient, so I use a hairdryer on low to dry the paint. It only takes a minute or two this way.
  5. Paint a second thin coat on the sign, and dry.
  6. Lay out your stencils… planning is important! You don’t want to run out of room with a letter or two to go! For this reason, it’s good to know what you want your sign to say BEFORE you buy your wood.
  7. Shake your lettering paint and squirt a small amount on a new paper plate.
  8. Press your spouncer in the paint, then press it down on a clean part of the plate. Again, you don’t want to put too much paint on your sign, and you don’t want your paint to seep under the stencil.
  9. Place your stencil on the wood, and holding it perfectly still, in an up and down motion, use your spouncer to paint each letter. You will need to use the hair dryer to dry each letter before moving on to the next one, and when removing your stencil from the wet paint, carefully lift it UP. Do not slide it off.
  10. Continue stenciling your letters until your name or phrase is complete.
  11. When the sign is completely dry, take the fine grit sandpaper to distress the sign, especially the edges and at random spots on the front of the sign. The goal is to make it look aged and the letters somewhat faded.
  12. Using a soft cloth, remove any trace of dust from the sign, then nail the picture hangers onto the back of the sign… either one in the middle, or one on each end. Your sign is now ready to hang, or to give away as a gift!

*Not for outdoor use.

Love and Blessings,

Shandy

You can visit Shandy’s personal blog at Aprons-n-Pearls.blogspot.com

GCH:POTs (Parents of Teens)- Glorifying God by Fulfilling Your “This I Must Do” Dream!

 

Greetings again, POTs!

Over the past few days, we have been exploring the first 2 of 3 purposes God has for your teen’s life… Do you remember what they are?

  1. To love God by belonging to Christ
  2. To love God by loving others

So… that leads us to what we will be unpacking together today, the third purpose:

To glorify God by fulfilling your “This I must do” dream

We are all here on this earth to glorify God by doing the one big thing that God has so divinely commissioned you, and you alone, to do to help fulfill His purposes here on earth to build His kingdom. This specific, unique, and significant purpose directs you to pursue your God-designed life mission with pure joy and to deliver God-inspired life message to those you are eager to serve.

This purpose is God’s personalized gift to you… specifically YOU! It is a dream that reflects your passionate ache and divine urge…. You’re heart’s desire. This fascination was planted in your soul by God before you were even born… how awesome is THAT!?!? It is what drives your life… what you feel you MUST do. It is what you are called to do… what you feel you can’t NOT do! What is YOUR “must do” dream?

What you must understand is that it is up to each and every one of us to decide if we will actually take on this huge commitment to make this eternal contribution that is obviously impossible without God’s help. It is our choice.

THIS is the exact focus of the time we are going to spend together here for the next few weeks. I understand that you probably know inside YOU, as an adult, what this dream is in your life. Maybe you are fulfilling it or maybe you have gotten side tracked. Maybe it’s too big for you to even fit into your head right now. THAT is not my concern at the moment. Whatever you have done with your dream isn’t my focus…. I am concerned with making sure that you do everything you can to help this be realized for your teenager! In the process, you will probably find that your dream comes to surface and could even take off as well. Wouldn’t that be amazing for God’s kingdom?

Throughout the Bible, God gives us example after example of planting such “must-do” assignments in the hearts of people. Remember Noah? He HAD to build an ark before the great flood (Genesis 6:13-21). Moses HAD to go to Pharaoh and demand the release of God’s people (Exodus 3:10,20). Paul HAD to proclaim the good news to the Gentiles (Galatians 1:13-16) and Samuel HAD to anoint David king in spite of ensuing turmoil (1 Samuel 16:12-13). There are countless more of these moments in the Bible where God commissioned ordinary people to do extraordinary things that took a lifetime to see final completion or where God called ordinary people to complete impossible tasks that defined and shaped the rest of their lives.

Why would you or your teen be an exception to that pattern of the ordinary person being used by God to do the extraordinary? God is glorified when we’re stretched beyond our personal ability to complete an impossible task! God needs His people to live their dreams out loud and I am here to guide you through this so that you can in turn help your teenager SOAR!

Over the weekend, spend some time in prayer asking God to reignite the passion for your dream He so divinely placed in your heart. Seek God and on this and ask Him to begin to show you how He needs you to begin to plant these seeds in your child. Be ready to dive right in on Monday with me here on this blog!

Let’s pray:

Thank you Lord for creating us each so uniquely to fulfill Your purposes here on earth, Every situation and circumstance of our life is divinely orchestrated by You for Your purposes to be fulfilled and we are so thankful to be able to live this out loud for Your kingdom. Help us to be passionate for our dreams once again, Lord, so that we can bring this to life for our teenagers. Help us live BOLDLY for You and your kingdom. Amen <3

Blessings to you and yours,

Megan

megan@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

https://www.facebook.com/megan.smidt

Sign up for one of our Online Bible Study or Fellowship Groups for Women and Teen Girls here:

http://girlfriendscoffeehour.com/sign-up-for-girlfriends-coffee-hour-online-bible-studies/

GCH:POTs (Parents of Teens)- Love God by Loving Others

Hi POTs!

Yesterday I posted about the first of 3 purposes for your teen’s life… To love God by belonging to Christ. So, today we will explore the second purpose:

To love God by loving others

 

It is so easy for us, as adults, to get distracted by the millions of fiery darts that get thrown our way every day… and I KNOW you know what I mean! You start your day in the Word, you give your day to the Lord, you say your “amens” and the next thing you know….. You are discouraged left and right from all the distractions satan throws at you to get you off track. Can you imagine trying to stay focused on what God has for you as a teenager… Not yet equipped with some of the skills necessary to navigate those fiery darts?

 

Matthew 22:39

Jesus added, “A second (commandment) is like equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

All of us, as Christ followers, have the purpose to love God by living each day, with love, in order to fulfill the responsibilities, daily tasks, and major roles that God has so divinely assigned to each of us as individuals.

This includes honoring God by serving with Christ-like love in all your life domains:

  • Personal
  • Family
  • Relationships
  • School
  • Job
  • Ministry
  • Community
  • ____________(other)

 

What does that look like? Well, it means that we all are commanded to trust the Lord for the strength and power needed to fulfill our commitments and meet the challenges that propel our day in all of these areas.

If we are not walking in step with God throughout our day we will certainly be knocked off course. It is so important that our teens see us walk this out. When you get thrown a distraction, how do you handle it? What are you modeling for your teen? I would like for you to go to the Lord in prayer today and ask Him to show you the areas where you might be struggling in this area and ask Him to give you HIS eyes to see where you need Him most. This should give you better insight into how to approach this with your teen. If you can relate to them where you struggle, they are more likely to listen and learn with you. Please let God into those areas where you are struggling so that He can help you break free and keep those distractions where they belong…. Out of your way!

I pray that by this point, your teen has been able to open up with you about some areas where they are struggling. Please keep an open heart and mind as they share with you. I would love to hear how this is going and please know that I am right here with you every step of the way!

Tomorrow we will discuss the third purpose, To Glorify God by fulfilling your “This I must do” dream… and I pray it is a blessing to you and your household.

Let’s pray:

Dear Lord, I thank you so much for what You have been showing us this week as we have been seeking your wisdom and guidance as we help mold our teens’ hearts and souls. Keep strengthening us, Lord and keep us open to what You have for our family through this journey. Help us to see our relationship with our teens with a new perspective and keep us focused on what You have for us. We thank you for this provision, Father. In Your Son’s name we pray, amen <3

Blessings to you and yours,

Megan

megan@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

https://www.facebook.com/megan.smidt

Sign up for one of our Online Bible Study or Fellowship Groups for Women and Teen Girls here:

http://girlfriendscoffeehour.com/sign-up-for-girlfriends-coffee-hour-online-bible-studies/