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Wednesday, September 26

Waxing Poetic Wednesday: Theme in Yellow



Theme in Yellow

BY CARL SANDBURG
I SPOT the hills
With yellow balls in autumn.
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle round me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o'-lantern
With terrible teeth
And the children know
I am fooling.




Every Wednesday, I indulge my English Lit minor by sharing an inspirational poem. Share your favorite poem, it could end up on a future Waxing Poetic Wednesday!

Monday, September 24

Living for God As Courageous Teens, A Book Review

"Teenagers are our future." How many times have you heard that? Last week I read this post on Simple Mom that challenged that statement:
"The problem is not that the statement is wrong… teenagers really are the future leaders of our organizations. The problem with the statement is that it’s incomplete. Teenagers are our future, but they are also our present. And the view that only sees their value in the future is short-sighted.
When we shift our thinking from “what could teenagers accomplish in the future” to “what do they offer in the present,” we begin to look at them in a very different light."
 I highly recommend you read the entire article if you are a teen, have a teen, work with teens, or know a teen. You'll be challenged and encouraged.

The theme verse for our youth group is 1 Timothy 4:12: "Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."In a concise package, that's really what we want for our teens.

So when Handlebar Publishing sent me a copy of Living For God As Courageous Teens to review, I jumped at the chance. One of the authors of Courageous Teens is Michael Catt, the executive producer of the film Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants.


The book uses examples of Biblical characters who demonstrated courage to challenge and encourage teens to take steps of courage in four areas- Faith, Leadership, Priorities, and Influence. The topics covered include courage to "face an uncertain future,""lead on all levels,""face persecution,""face criticism," and "stir up the fire." It concludes with a resolution, similar to the resolution signed by the men in the movie Courageous.

With the recent topics we've studied in youth group, and what I've been learning personally, this paragraph struck me as the author discussed Abraham's choice to obey God when called to leave his family and home to follow God to "the land that I will show you" (Genesis 12:1).
"We need to be identified as followers of Christ, not by the clothes we wear, the stuff we have, or the car we drive. Life should not be about stuff, it should be about the Savior...When God called Abraham, Abraham moved. He didn't ask for details, look for perks, or negotiate. He just got up and got going. God's call is not a vacation; it's our vocation. It's time to get going. We can't sit on the sidelines any longer. We must hear God and follow hard after Him" (pg. 15).
This book includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter, so it works well for a small group or individual reading. I believe the teens who read this book will be challenged to follow God even when it's hard, seek His purpose for their life, dream big, and do the things God has called them to do.


If you are a teen, work with teens, or have ever been a teen, you can answer this question in the comments: In what area of your life right now do you especially need courage? What gives you courage?

Friday, September 21

Looking Ahead to October

Whew! I'm trying to catch my breath after our trip to Florida for my SIL's wedding, followed by a day at Epcot and a day at the beach, then home to pack like crazy so that we can move TOMORROW.

One of many pictures from Epcot
On top of that, some great things are coming soon on the blog in October! Like I mentioned, this October I'm doing another fashion series, but this time with a twist. I'm going to wear only ten items of clothes for the whole month, 31 days. The purpose is twofold:

  1. To fast from my materialistic tendencies and get to the root of why I buy, and change my focus from outward to inward, confidence and satisfaction from God and not stuff. 
  2. To raise awareness for human trafficking and ethical fashion, focusing on simple changes anyone can make to fight slavery, today.

I'll be introducing you to several wonderful companies that are actively changing the world through the clothes they sell, AND there will be giveaways! Woot!

I'll tell you lots more about it later, but I'm very excited about the way God's directed this series so far and is bringing it together. I think great things will happen!


Wednesday, September 19

Waxing Poetic Wednesday: Ode to the West Wind


Ode to the West Wind, V

by Percy Bysshe Shelly

Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:

What if my leaves are falling like its own!

The tumult of thy mighty harmonies


Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,

Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,

My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!


Drive my dead thoughts over the universe

Like wither’d leaves to quicken a new birth!

And, by the incantation of this verse,


Scatter, as from an unextinguish’d hearth

Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!

Be through my lips to unawaken’d earth


The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?


Source: pinterest.com via Emily on Pinterest





Friday, September 14

How to Make an Inexpensive Wedding Photo Booth

Photo booths provide reception entertainment for wedding guests, as well as a favor to take home. While many photo booth rental companies exist, brides can cut costs by creating their own, like this one made from plywood with vintage wallpaper, or a simple fabric backdrop, like this one. Here's how the bride and I made an inexpensive photo booth last August. 



You will need: 
  • Wrapping paper, $3-$5 (be sure to pick matte paper, not shiny, so camera flashes won't reflect)
  • Elmer's Glue
  • Two cardboard tri-fold display boards (those self-standing boards you use for school projects, you can find them at Hobby Lobby or Walmart for $4)
  • Assorted picture frames (we got them from Goodwill for $2-$5 each)
  • Chalkboard spray paint, $5
  • Short brads or nails
  • Hammer
  • Photos of the couple
  • Duct tape
  • Masking tape
  • Box cutter

Part 1: The Backdrop

Lay the tri-fold display boards flat on the ground, end to end. Use the duct tape to tape them securely together. Flip them over, and tape the other side. Now, when standing on end, the cardboard should be about six feet high. 

Cover the front side with wrapping paper, just like you would apply wallpaper, being sure to match the pattern. Now you have this: 

Built in my in-law's basement :)
Next, select the largest picture frame for the center of the backdrop. Arrange it on the front side of the back drop, and carefully mark where it needs to line up. Then, flip the backdrop over, so that the wrapping paper side is on the ground. Slide the frame underneath, and to the best of your ability, line it up with the marks you made.

Take the short brads, and hammer them through the cardboard from the back into the frame. If you're tempted to skip the nails and use hot glue to attach the frame, don't. I tried that, but the paper isn't strong enough to hold up the frame, and it will tear. Use nails or brads that are just long enough to go through the cardboard and into the frame, without going through the frame.


Now you have this:


Lay the backdrop on the ground again, this time face up. Use the box cutter to carefully cut out the inside of the frame. If your box cutter is dull, like mine was, you might have to flip it over and cut it from the back side too. That leaves you with this: 


Now it's time for some embellishments!

Part 2: The Chalkboard Frame

Select one of your picture frames to be the chalkboard. Make sure it has a flat piece of glass in front. Tape off the edges with masking tape. Spray it with chalkboard paint, following the instructions on the can. Make sure to cure the dry chalkboard by rubbing a piece of chalk over the entire surface, and then wiping it off. That way, you'll be able to re-use the chalkboard in the future. 


Finish it off by writing the couple's names and wedding date. Then, attach it to the back drop with brads or short nail, just like you did the main picture frame. Instead of laying the cardboard face down though, stand the backdrop up and have someone hold the frame in place while you hammer. 

Part 3: The Extra Photographs

Remove the backs and glass from all of the remaining frames. They need to be as light as possible, so that they don't make the backdrop too top-heavy. Glue the photos of the couple into them, arrange them on the front of the backdrop, and have someone hold them in place while you secure them from the back with just one or two nails. Then you have this: 


A few things I would do differently: As you can see in the picture above, the paper bubbled where the duct tape is. I recommend using a paste or watered down elmer's glue and paint brush to apply the wrapping paper, not a glue stick, because glue sticks don't stick well to duct tape. 

I would also use a little glue to secure the picture frames on the front, because transporting the frame can knock them loose. 

Assign someone the job of taking photos for the photo booth, but allow everyone to take pictures with their phones also.

Here's some ideas for poses:

The Kissing Pose: 

The pastor and his wife
The 3D Pose: 




First Family Portrait:


There you have it! Happy photo taking!


Wednesday, September 12

Waxing Poetic Wednesday: The Road Not Taken



A quintessential fall poem, one of my favorites, that I'm sure you'll recognize. What path are you taking?



The Road Not Taken

BY ROBERT FROST
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Every Wednesday, I indulge my English Lit minor by sharing an inspirational poem. Share your favorite poem, it could end up on a future Waxing Poetic Wednesday!


Monday, September 10

It's Time to Break Up

It started with a tension, a feeling that God was going to do something, soon. Then I read the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker, which tore me up. Then two weeks in a row I heard sermons on James 1:27, which I talked about some in my post, the inconvenience of true religion. Then last night at youth group, what was the lesson about?

Money. The love of money, in fact. Talk about a gut check. We read and discussed these convicting passages:

Matthew 6:19-21
Luke 6:20
Acts 5:1-6
James 1:9-11

Matthew 6:19-21 really stood out to me:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Maybe you're like me, thinking "I don't love money that much." Well, our lesson had a handy little quiz that shattered that illusion pretty fast.
  • If you had to give up all your stuff today, could you do it? 
  • If you lost or gave up all your stuff, how would it make you feel? 
And then the real kickers. On a scale from 1-6,
  • If you lost a twenty dollar bill, how upset would you be? 
  • When something newer and better comes out, how much do you want it?
  • How much do you feel success is determined by money?
  • How much do you depend on money?
  • How much do you like or enjoy having money?
My honest answers were not pretty. I couldn't give up everything I had...I'd really want to keep my make up at least.  How much do I depend on money? I'd give it a 5. Let's flip that question around, how much do I depend on God's provision for me, verses depending on money? Probably a 2, if the amount I stress out over money is any evidence. How much do I like or enjoy having money? I enjoy seeing the numbers for my bank account go up. Shopping and buying stuff makes me happy, even if it is brief. So I honestly derive quite a bit of enjoyment from money, and that's just sad. There are lasting, worthwhile, beneficial, and just plain better things to find joy in. 

This morning, I watched this video as the Bloom Book Club discussed chapter 3 of Seven. I thought it was crazy when Jen and her family were going to give away 7 things a day for a month for a total of 210 things, it sounded like a lot. But they ended up giving away more than one thousand, and not even missing them. 


Where you treasure is, there your heart will be also. 

Something's gotta change. I've got to change. Not just for simplicity's sake. Not just for my peace of mind or to relieve my conscience. Not just because we're moving to a smaller place.

We had a great discussion at youth group, and it's interesting how much the teens, even as young as twelve, honestly admitted to loving money, even though most of them don't have jobs or a steady income. I don't want to see them getting sucked into the "I want it" and "I deserve it" consumerism mentality. If I'm going to be a good example to them, I've got to change.

I've got to break up with my stuff.

And I've got an idea. What if I fasted? For one month. Deprived myself to drive me to my only true satisfaction in life, my loving heavenly Father. Weaned away from false promises of joy, how would my life change? How would I change?

So I want to fast, not from food, or even from TV, like I have in the past. A clothing fast, in which I'll wear ten items of clothing, and only ten, for one month. (Underwear doesn't count though. There must be unlimited underwear!).

So that means something like three bottoms, four tops, a dress, a jacket, and a pair of shoes. No accessories. No scarves (gasp!). And no shopping.

And what will I gain? I hope that I'd gain insight into why I buy as many clothes as I do. What do I hope to get from them? Confidence? Happiness? Self-esteem? All of the above.

Deprived of the shopping crutch, I want to learn to lean on my Savior. 

I haven't worked through the specifics yet, like what exactly I'll wear, but I think October will be the perfect month for it. It will also be a great segway into sharing what I've learned about fair trade and ethically made clothing. 

I challenge you to ask yourself the quiz questions above. If the Holy Spirit convicts you in an area, I pray that you won't try to drown out His voice. 

Friday, September 7

What I'm Loving Lately

1. The Girls With Glasses Show. I just now discovered this "talk show for smart and classy girls." I love their feminine style, silliness, and the fact that they love shopping at Goodwill! (They were totally in Phoenix for the Goodwill videos, and it's possible that I've shopped at the same one!) Check out their channel on youtube, or follow their blog. Here's a sample of the cuteness and wit you'll find:



2. Harry Potter (Books 1-7). I've been gradually reading the Harry Potter books over the last year, borrowing two at a time from my sister-in-law in California. I read 4 and 5 in May, and a couple weeks ago, I just couldn't wait any longer for the next book. So I bought book 6 at Barnes and Noble, and read it in less than a week. Well, even though I knew we were going to CA shortly, I couldn't wait to see how it ended. So I bought book 7. I read it in 24 hours, staying up most of the night, and crying the whole way through it. These books are the best I've ever read. Better than Chronicles of Narnia, and even Lord of the Rings, which is saying a lot. Seriously, the best I've ever read.

3. Deleted Harry Potter Scenes on Youtube. I've been a bit depressed since finishing the books and seeing all the movies, feeling a little sad that it's all over. So I turned to youtube to watch interviews with the actors, actresses, and J.K. Rowling. That's been fun, but I was especially excited to see deleted scenes from the movies. I'm sure you can find these on the DVDs, but it's convenient to watch them on youtube.

Like I mentioned on Facebook this morning, while watching the movies with Brian (who hasn't read the books) my SIL and I were trying to explain the Horcruxes and other background information that the movie left out. We had a hard time explaining it while the movie was going on, and come to find out, some of the deleted scenes would have illuminated it quite nicely. Some I can understand why they cut, but some of the deleted scenes from some of the earlier movies included some of my favorite parts from the books that didn't make it into the movie. For example, starting at 2:17 through the end in this one:

Poor Neville!

4. Vanilla Chai Tea. Brian brought me some from work, one of his co-workers didn't like it and wanted to get rid of it. It's amazing, and smells SO good. Now that I'm talking about it, after I finish this I'm going to go make myself a cup.

5. Rain and candles. It POURED today, all morning, and now at noon it's still drizzling. Our street was completely flooded. Some people were supposed to come look at the house we're renting today, but I think they decided not to come because of the rain. I burned a candle to make the house smell nice, and it's very cosy!

What are you loving lately? 


Thursday, September 6

Last Minute Vacay, the Calm Before the Storm

At last minute, Brian and I decided to spend Labor Day weekend in California with my sister-in-law. We were feeling the pressure of all we needed to do before moving, plus the stress of finding a place to move to, so we took our last opportunity for a quick get-away.

Saturday we went to Seal Beach and had Mexican food twice.

I looked like a snowflake!




We also watched Harry Potter 6, since I just finished the books.

Sunday, Andrea painted my nails.


We watched Harry Potter 7 Part 1, and we tried to go to the Getty, but they ran out of parking. So instead, we went to Santa Monica, and drove for at least half an hour before we found parking there. It was worth it!



 The pier!

Man with a tiny dog in his murse.


Then we went to church. I wish I'd taken pictures, it was breathtakingly beautiful inside, but I felt like it would be sacrilegious. The music was beautiful, and the sermon just happened to be on the same passage as last week's at my church: James 1:27. Then we went out to dinner with Andrea's newlywed friends at BJ's.


After incredibly delicious pizza, we ordered the Pizzooki Party Sampler, with triple chocolate, white chocolate macadamia nut, peanut butter, and red velvet cookies with chocolate and vanilla ice cream on top. Heavenly!

Then we watched Harry Potter 7 Part 2, and went to bed.

Monday, we went to our favorite restaurant in Cali, Schooner or Later, for brunch. Looked at all of Andrea's pictures from her Europe trip, packed up, and hit the road.


For the first time ever, we didn't hit traffic leaving LA or coming into Phoenix! 

As always, the time went by too fast, but it was perfectly relaxing and wonderful. 

Now the storm has hit us, a storm of stuff to do before we can move, stuff to do on the house and cars for our landlord, furniture to fix up before we move, a desk to sell, packing, programs for my other SIL's wedding, packing, stuff to do for church, cleaning, cars and hotels to reserve for the wedding, packing, a dress to find for the wedding, downsizing, lease to sign, laundry, projects, and so much more. Not to mention blogging, and all the things I want to plan for the coming months.

I mentioned to Brian that while we were in Cali, I fell asleep right away and stayed asleep every night, but here, I toss and turn for hours. His theory: I didn't worry or stress while in Cali. I think he's right, all I thought about were the one or two fun things we were going to do the next day. Here, my mind is in a constant swirl of to-do lists. 

It will pass. We'll get through it somehow, and I will survive!

Monday, September 3

Soundtrack to My Life

So, I just realized the irony of my last post, about child labor, during labor day weekend. That wasn't planned, I promise.

Sometimes music can embody a season of life better than just words on their own. Now that summer has officially passed, I'm reflecting on the interesting season it was. I finished college in May, and spent the summer wrestling with myself and searching, searching for purpose and a plan going forward, asking myself the question, What's next? This song played on the radio multiple times a day, and even though I'm not a big Thousand Foot Krutch fan, I do really love this song.



Lyrics:

Vs 1/ I’m just the boy inside the man,
Not exactly who you think I am,
Tryin’ to trace my steps back here
Again, so many times/
I’m just a speck inside your hand,
You came and made me who I am,
I remember where it all began,
So clearly/
I feel a million miles away,
Still you connect me in your way,
And you create in me,
Somethin’ I would have never seen,
When I could only see the floor,
You made my window a door,
So when they say they don’t believe,
I hope that they see you in me/

Pre Ch/ After all the lights go down,
I’m just the words, you are the Sound, …
A strange type of chemistry,
How you’ve become a part of me/
And when I, sit alone at night,
Your thoughts burn through me,
Like a fire, ...you’re the only one,
Who knows, who, I really am/

Ch/ We all want to be somebody,
We just need a taste of who we are,
We all want to be somebody,
We’re willing to go, but not that far/

Vs 2/ We’re all see through, just like glass,
And we can shatter just as fast,
That light’s been burned out for a while,
I still see it every time I pass/
It was lost in the corners of my mind,
Behind a box of reasons why,
I never doubted it was there,
It just took a little time to find/
And even when/

Pre Ch/ After all the lights go down,
I’m just the words, you are the Sound, …
A strange type of chemistry,
How you’ve become a part of me/
And when I, sit alone at night,
Your thoughts burn through me,
Like a fire, ...you’re the only one,
Who knows, who, I really am/

Ch/ We all want to be somebody,
We just need a taste of who we are,
We all want to be somebody,
We’re willing to go, but not that far/(X2)

Outro/ I’m just the boy inside the man,
Not exactly who you think I am,
Tryin’ to trace my steps back here
Again, so many times/
When I could only see the floor,
You made my window a door,
So when they say they don’t believe,
I hope that they see you in me/



And now, for fall I'm already claiming this Switchfoot song. There's a tension building inside me, and I strongly feel that something is coming. God is doing something, I'm just not sure what my role is.



Lyrics:
I am the sea on a moonless night
Calling falling, slipping tides
I am the leaky, dripping pipes
The endless, aching drops of light
I am the raindrop falling down
Always longing for the deeper ground
I am the broken, breaking seas
Even my blood finds ways to bleed

Even the rivers ways to run
Even the rain to reach the sun
Even my thirsty streams
Even in my dreams

I am restless
I'm looking lor you

I am restless
I run like the ocean to lind your shore
I'm looking for you

I am the thorn stuck in your side
I am the one that you left behind
I am the dried doubt in eyes
Looking for the well that won't run dry

Running for the other side
The world that I've always been denied
Running hard for the infinite
With the tears of saints and hypocrites

Oh, blood of black and white and grey
Death in life and night in day
One by one by one
We let our rivers run

I can hear you breathing
I can hear you leading
More than just a feeling

I can feel you you reaching
Pushing through the ceiling
Til' the final healing
I'm looking for you

Until the sea of glass we meet
At last completed and complete
Where tide and tear and pain subside
Laughter drinks them dry

I'll be waiting
Anticipating
All that I aim for
What I was made for

With every heartbeat
All of my blood bleeds
Running inside me
Looking for you

I can feel you breathing
I can feel you leading
More than just a feeling


Mmmhmm. I love that song.

So, what songs have been inspiring you lately?