Sunday, November 27, 2011

Share Your Story Sunday #3--Dana from Make Them Wonder

This week on Share Your Story Sunday is Dana from Make Them Wonder. Dana is not only an incredible crafter (I mean, have you seen her recent Thanksgiving post? I love the "string of blessings"-- genius!), but she openly shares her love for the Lord as well. I read Dana's testimony on her blog a while ago and was absolutely blown away! I am so excited for you all to hear it! Makes my heart smile :)




I'm honored that Bonnie asked me to share my testimony today. I love that she sees the importance of using every avenue available to spread God's love! 

My story involves the artwork that hangs in my house. In our living room there is a gallery wall composed of my dad's art combined with several other things. Well, friends, there's one piece in particular that is a gift from above.

My dad became really ill 5 years ago this month. He contracted HSV Encephalitis. This is a nasty virus that typically manifests as cold sores or shingles. Instead of traveling down his bloodstream in typical fashion, the virus in his body traveled upward and attacked his brain. We went from thinking he had the flu, to rushing him to the ER because he was hallucinating and didn't know who we were. Several days passed and it was unclear if he was going to pull out of this or not. Many, many prayers were prayed and we had to trust that God was in control of this situation. Friends, he was only 58 years old. Way too young to depart from our lives!

Let me back up a bit. I was sitting in Ladies Bible Class on the Wednesday before my father became ill. I was listening to the lesson when suddenly an idea popped into my head. "Dad needs to draw a cross!" This "idea" was almost audible and it lit an excitement that bubbled through my body. In retrospect, I know that this "idea" was not of me, yet was actually the Holy Spirit speaking directly to my heart. I had always known my father had a God-given talent of drawing, but sadly he did not use this talent often. I craved his artwork, so when this idea popped into my head, I thought, "This will be perfect! A piece of art that can be passed down throughout generations of our family." Little did I know, this was only a tiny piece of what lay ahead.

I couldn't wait to get home and give him a call. I wanted to ask if he'd be willing to draw this cross, but I couldn't quite work out the details. I couldn't decide if I should pick a cross from my collection for him to draw or if I should encourage him to design his own. For some reason, the pieces were not falling into place. Things got even more fuzzy when I actually made the phone call and didn't get to speak with him because he was feeling bad.

The next several days were very touch and go. It took a plethora of tests to figure out what was wrong with him. He had been striped of so many capabilities and he was in severe pain. He couldn't even speak our names. The doctor told us, "If he makes it through the next few days, he will have very limited speech, as well as, fine motor skills."" WHAT???," I'm thinking. "Why would God tell me he needed to draw a cross if it's never going to happen?" It saddened me to realize that this piece of legacy would not come to fruition. Oh ye of little faith...

I left the hospital that day to go to lunch with my mom and brother. Mind you, I had walked this same way dozens of times already, but something caught my attention this time. As I walked out the door, I looked back over my shoulder only to be greeted with a wall full of crosses hanging in the gift shop. It's as if God was saying, "Don't question me! Here is the cross you've been searching for." I suddenly was gifted with hope.

My dad was in the hospital for 28 days. These were the longest 28 days of my life. In the beginning, I  witnessed my dad begging to die. Literally, he would rock back and forth and say, "Take me, Jesus. Take me, Jesus." Honestly, if it was his time to go, he would have been gone. He was completely ready. Finally, the anti-viral medicine began to stop further damage. He had huge language deficits. The neurologist would hold up a pen and ask him what it was called. My dad could not answer. Then he would point to me and ask him my name. Again, he could not answer. The good news was that his fine motor skills were 100% functioning. I even brought him coloring books and asked him to color. Once I saw his abilities, I knew God was going to use this to provide amazing art one day down the road! Patience was the key here. We had numerous conversations and about 98% of them didn't make any sense. Several weeks in, he began to know my name again. This was a very sweet gift.

On day 26, I decided to take him down to the gift shop. I stood him in front of the wall of crosses and told him, "God told me you are supposed to draw one of these crosses someday. Do you see any you'd like to draw?" I had no idea if he actually understood what I was saying to him, but he lifted his hand and pointed to one. I went back the next day and he pointed to the same one again! I purchased it later that day and brought it home for when the time was right.

    The actual cross my dad pointed to in the gift shop.

While we were thrilled to be leaving the hospital, this was a terrifying time. We were taking home my dad who was now, my dad functioning with a brain injury. We were thrown to the wolves! There was no direction given by the professionals. We were forced to pray our way through this new way of life. My dad was facing extreme frustration and tried several times to leave without telling us. In his limited use of words, he expressed feeling like too much of a burden on my mom and I and thought we'd be better off without him. It was in this time of deep despair that I shared with him, once again, what the Holy Spirit had placed on my heart. The next day he indicated that he was willing to give it a try.

As he began to draw, he shared with me that initially he was scared he wouldn't be able to draw like normal. He stated, "I didn't think I could do it anymore, but I think I'm better now than I used to be!" Chills ran through my body as the realization set in that God is the only one who could make this happen.

My dad was forced to go on disability because there was no way he could function in his previous job. He was stripped of his "normalcy" and now his art was to become his primary focus. Can I tell you just how amazing this was? The doctors stated there wasn't a better therapy for his brain recovery than drawing. It forces his brain to stay active and think in higher functioning patterns. My dad shares that when he's drawing he often forgets his limitations and frustrations and states this is the time when he feels closest to God.

Here are several of his other pieces.

My husband at the age of 2.

This is one of the few pieces of art he drew for me before his illness. He gave it to me as a wedding present.


House warming present. This tree is at the entrance of our neighborhood. (Post illness)

Family portrait (post illness)

His most recent gift to my daughter in honor of her Baptism! (post illness)

He tried his hand at painting, as seen in 2 of the above pieces, but quickly realized he should stick to pencil drawings since he's colorblind!! Picking colors is a tad bit difficult when you don't know what they really look like. He painted a picture of my niece, one time, and her hair was green. My mom had to tell him he might want to work on that a bit before he gave it to my brother! Oh yeah, and did I mention he has macular degeneration in one of his eyes? That's right, he has a small spot that makes him see wavy lines and will supposedly turn into a blindspot over time. Now, can you believe he produces this level of art?! It's God I tell ya, it's God!

So to wrap up this really long post, it's my prayer that our testimony and his artwork has been a blessing upon your life today. If this has touched you in any way, please retell his story. I don't think it was intended to be forgotten!
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If you would like to share your story on Share Your Story Sunday, please contact me
I would love to hear from you :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Candle Redo

Hey friends! How was your Thanksgiving?! I didn't get to go home (Florida), but I got to spend time with my "other family" (Crystal, my roomie's family). I am so thankful for both of my families! The Lord has blessed me with SO much! :) 

This is a post I wrote for Crafting a Green World, but I wanted to share it on my blog as well. You will probably see several posts copied from there--hope you all don't mind! They will be worded differently and such, but are basically the same concept :) So, here we go:


Christmas candles have been around for what seems like forever (I tried googling when they were created, but all they wanted to talk about was Christmas lights. Boo.) I always thought the Christmas candles were super creepy though (especially the ones with red bulbs!). Overall, they just look cheap to me. How do I transform most cheap things? With other cheap things--toilet paper rolls!

What you will need: 

1. Toilet paper rolls (I used 3-4 rolls for 1 candle cover) 

2. Hot glue gun/hot glue sticks

3. Spray paint—I used red.. you know, because it's Christmas-y and stuff. 

4. Scissors 

5. Wax paper 

6. Christmas candles (I got mine from the Dollar Store)

How to do it: 

1. Cut your toilet paper rolls. I cut mine into 1/2 inch pieces.

2. Plan your pattern and lay it out. This is what my pattern looked like:


3. Hot glue the toilet paper pieces together. I found that it was easiest if you glued them into "flowers" first:


4. Then, glue the "flowers" together. Three of the "flowers" will form one side (just like I laid out in my pattern picture above). Eventually, you will form four sides. You're basically going to box in the Christmas candle with the four sides.

5. Time for spray paint! This is tricky because of all the different sides of each toilet paper piece. I probably looked like a fool, but I put the four sides on the ground and circled around them to make sure I got every inch. 


Aren't they pretty!?

6. Once the paint has completely dried, hot glue the sections together to form your "box" around the candle. I didn't want my sides to overlap, so I glued them together on the very edge of each section. I tried to take a picture to show this but I don't know if I did very well:


7. Once all that glue is dry, it's time to cut the wax paper. Cut enough wax paper to cover the inside of your "box." Once I put the wax paper inside, I put a little bit of hot glue in each corner of the box to make it form to the box. Adding the hot glue will keep it from being all rolled up like so:


8. Once the glue was dry, I cut around the top design. If you want to, though, you can keep it square. Here's a tip though-- if you want to keep it square at the top, make sure you put the straight edge of the wax paper at the top, and cut the excess from the bottom. Let's just say the reason I cut around the top design is because I didn't think of putting the straight edge at the top. Sad day. But hey, I went with it. And it looks pretty good, if I do say so myself :) You could even make these into little table lamps with actual bulbs and such. 



With the light on:


Am I starting to scare you all with the amount of toilet paper projects I'm doing? Because I'm kind of scaring myself.

Looking for more toilet paper projects? Check them out here!

Linking up at these amazing parties
and
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Thursday, November 24, 2011

So Thankful!



Just wanted to take a minute before everything gets crazy around here and say Happy Thanksgiving! I am so thankful that God gave me the desire and the opportunity to start this blog-- it has been such a blessing for me in this season of my life. Even more, I am so thankful for you guys! Your comments, emails, etc. have been so encouraging! Basically, thanks for being awesome and totally cool!

I don't get to go home (Florida) and be with my family this year so this will be a very different Thanksgiving, but if anything, the Lord has shown me just how much I love and cherish them in my life. Enjoy your family and friends this year and appreciate every moment you have with them!

I was going to post a tutorial today, but it just didn't seem right, so I scheduled it to post tomorrow. You will definitely want to check back-- it's another toilet paper roll project!! Speaking of tomorrow, I will be working.... on Black Friday.... at a retail store. Pray for me. Seriously. Oh and check back on Sunday as well for Share Your Story Sunday. This week Dana from Make Them Wonder is sharing her story! I am so excited for you guys to read it! :)

One last thing:



Bahahahaha. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Quick Christmas Gift!

Last Friday was my best friend, roommate, and blog assistant's birthday. Crystal loves music (as you can tell from her blog). She's one of those people that can seriously play pretty much any instrument she decides to pick up. Her main instrument is drums, though. I know-- could she get any cooler? I mean, really. Anyway... I wanted to make her a gift for her birthday that was personal because her other gift was a gift card for Toms. I love gift cards, but they don't provide the personal, meaningful touch that I love.

When looking for a gift to make, I saw this on Etsy. I loved the idea, but I wanted to make it more Crystal (modern, edgy, etc.) This is what I came up with:


This project is SO easy to do. There are three simple steps:
1. Write the music term of your choice in a text document (I used Microsoft Word) over and over again. I obviously used the word drums, but you can put "music" if you want something general. 
2. Print and cut out the musical instrument of your choice. I used my Silhouette machine to cut out an amazing drum set that I bought through their online store. Again, if you want something general, you can print and cut out a treble clef.
3. Put it in a picture frame. I used a frame that I bought at a yard sale. I love the detail of it!
See, I told you it was easy! And, I used materials I already had around the house. Some close ups:



What do you think? 
Christmas is almost a month away and this is a cute, quick, and inexpensive project!

Linking up at these amazing parties
and
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

DIY Ideas for Christmas!

So... I feel like I've been a bad blogger this week, but I'm just trying to get used to writing for my blog and Crafting a Green World. Speaking of which, my first post is up today! It's another toilet paper project-- I'm obsessed, people! I'll be transferring it to my blog next week so keep an eye out :)

Although I have no original inspiration left in my soul (okay.. that's a bit dramatic, but I feel inspirationally drained after this week), I do have 10 amazing DIY Ideas from Pinterest for you all to drool over!

(Side note: if you would like to pin these ideas to Pinterest, please click on the picture and go to the original pin. It's not really fair to the original owner if you pin it under my blog site.. know what I mean? I just want to give credit to the right person!)

Snowflakes using toilet paper rolls:



An adorable button wreath:



Scrabble Christmas ornaments:



Noel Christmas ornaments:
(these are from Anthropologie, but I know you could totally DIY them)



Doilies in the window-- genius:


I cannot get over how beautiful these are:



These Christmas trees are so cute:



Christmas card wreath:



Branch + Christmas ornaments = love:



This isn't decor or anything.. but it's too cute not to post:



I hope to complete at least some of these soon! Hope you all are inspired :) 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Share Your Story Sunday #2--My Story

I knew I wanted to share my story (after all, I was the one that started this series!) but I didn’t know exactly what I should share about. I don’t have what people would consider a “dramatic story”—I was raised in a Christian home and my parents have helped me become the God-loving girl that I am today. Often times, though, I feel like my testimony is boring—but that is simply not true! The Lord saved me from my sin—there is nothing boring about that!

I want to share a little something the Lord has been teaching me lately. I need to make this clear that this is something I truly struggle with.. and in no way am I saying that I have mastered this issue in my life. But, I’m learning.

I’m so embarrassed to even post this picture, but this is me being real and open with you guys. This was me at Christmas of 2007 (after my first semester of college):



Since then, I’ve lost over 50 pounds through changing my eating habits and exercising. I’ve always struggled with my weight. Many different factors have attributed to me being overweight, but I can admit that some of it was pure laziness. That’s not what I want to talk about though. When I first started losing weight, I wanted to change for me—no one else—I was just so unhappy, uncomfortable, and unhealthy. I wanted to feel better about myself. My best friend (and roomie now!), Crystal, encouraged me to start caring about myself, and that it was okay to care.

After losing all that weight, though, I still struggle with my body image. I thought that once I lost the weight, I would be confident, my personality would magically change, and I would be this awesome, happy girl. Why is it that 50 pounds could not change my mindset? 50 pounds could not change my heart and the way I felt about myself. Losing 50 pounds could not make me feel beautiful.

This is what I have to work on telling myself every day: God has made me beautiful. I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). I cannot look at myself in the mirror according to the world’s standards because, let’s face it ladies, we will never be as perfect as that fake-computer-modified girl on that magazine. But, if I look at myself through God’s eyes, I have so much worth! God sent His only son, Jesus, to die for me on the cross for all of my sins. God thinks I am worth that.  He thinks you are worth that.. and He loves us. So much!

What I want to encourage you all today with is to find your worth in Christ, rather than the world. You can change your weight, your clothes, and your makeup—but if your insides still whisper to you, “you’re ugly,” what do you do?

Look to the One who made you:

1 Samuel 16:7 “…People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Peter 3:3-4 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

I love you all and hope you know how beautiful you are.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Finally Finished!

Remember this ugly thing that I found for $8 at a yard sale?




Well, I finally finished it (for now, at least). My roomie, Crystal, and I had to be very thrifty with this project. We painted the frame black, but then we were at a stand-still. We threw away the cushions because they were filled with animal hair and I just couldn't do it. But foam and pillows are so expensive... it was heartbreaking to our poor selves! Plus, even if we could afford the foam, my sewing skills are so very sad that I couldn't make a cover for them. So.. we got creative.

At a yard sale we saw a crib mattress for $1 and thought, "that looks like it would fit".. and for $1, it was worth at least bringing it home to try it. It wasn't like a cloth mattress, it was like vinyl-ish (waterproof) too, so we could clean it up and such. We got it home and it fit! Yessss. Is it a perfect fit? No. Was it $1? Yes. Any more questions? haha :) Crystal poked holes in the mattress so we could avoid getting that air bubble that pops you up when you sit down.. do you know what I'm talking about?


Anyway... we bought a fitted sheet for it for about $10 because like I said... no sewing skills, people. We also bought sheet tightening straps ($5 at Walmart) to make the sheet fit tighter. 

Then, we were going to buy pillows for the back cushions, but again, our poor selves had a reality check at the store. $25-30 for one pillow.. seriously? Again, time to get creative. Hm... that's about the length of a body pillow. So.. we bought a body pillow ($9 at Walmart) and a cover ($9 at Walmart) that matches our other couch perfectly. 

It was looking a little plain, so we went to Hobby Lobby in hopes of finding the cheapest pillows possible. Pillow forms (normally $6.99) were 30% off that day and then we found these already made pillow covers for $3.99 each. For two pillows the total was $18.84... yay!

So... let's do a grand total for everything we got:

Paint: $10
Crib Mattress: $1
Fitted Sheet: $10
Sheet Tightening Straps: $5
Body Pillow: $9
Body Pillow Cover: $9
Pillow Forms & Pillow Covers: $19

Total: $63.00

Considering we were going to spend $50 on two pillows for the back cushions at first, I think we did an excellent job! Oh.. I guess you want to see the pictures, right?







(Please forgive the folded marks on the pillows/body pillow-- I got too excited about taking the pictures!)

Is it exactly what I envisioned? No, but it's what my budget can handle right now and it's cute and comfy! And, if we ever want to redo it again (you know.. if we ever just have like.. a ton of money lying around to just waste), I won't feel bad about scrapping what we have because it was cheap.

What do you guys think?! Hope you're having a terrific Tuesday! 
I'm going to snuggle up on my new couch! :)

Linking up at these amazing parties!

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Share Your Story Sunday #1

Hey guys! Sorry no projects this week-- had one of those projects that I just had to walk away from for a little while because no matter what I did to it, it still looked... ugly. Does that ever happen to anyone else? (please say yes!).

Despite all of that, I am so happy today because I am starting a new series called "Share Your Story Sunday." Many times I feel like we "stage" our lives on our blogs like we stage our pictures-- only putting the pretty things out for people to see (I say we because I am guilty of the same thing). The truth is, though, life isn't like that. We are not perfect. I am not perfect. For me, my relationship with the Lord is a huge part of my story and He is my strength in everything I do. He has changed my life and I want my "readers" to know that. So, specifically, I want this series to be a time where Christians share their personal story of how God has changed their life. I want to invite friends and other bloggers/readers to share their story. Please don't view this as me trying to shove my religion down your throat or anything like that. I just want to share and for others to have the opportunity to share their story-- an unedited, unstaged, truthful, real story.

So.. with all of that said, my friend Savannah will be sharing her story today about her addiction to cutting.


Most people try to avoid any kind of pain the best way they can. Naturally, pain hurts and we don't want it to be inflicted on us. With that being said, I will admit that it was the total opposite for me. For ten years of my life my closest friends were a box cutter and a razor blade. 

Growing up my parents were drug addicts and alcoholics, and I had to take care of myself. I was always told not to tell anyone the things that happened because I would be taken away to a bad place. Everything that happened to me, and that went on around me, was “normal” for me and so that was all that I knew. I didn't necessarily know that what was going on was “bad,” I just knew not to tell anyone.

My father had a stroke that left him disabled when I was nine years old and then my mother started having an affair when I was about eleven. I choose to live with my mother and her boyfriend and in that time the drug use got worse. My mother would take me to drug houses with her and leave me there. I was always placed in dangerous situations and experienced many things that no child should ever have to experience. I was abandoned and abused, but I wanted to be with my mother no matter what.

Eventually, things didn't work out with my mother and her boyfriend so we moved in with my father and grandmother where things only continued to get worse. My father became addicted to these drugs as well and my grandmother was addicted to prescription medicine, so it was one big drug house and they did anything they had to do to get their next high.

Things finally changed one day when my parents got into a fight and I watched both of them slit their wrists in attempt to commit suicide. They were taken to the hospital and I was taken to foster care. I didn't understand why they would cut themselves and I knew it had to hurt. The life that I knew had just been turned upside down and emotionally I was hurting. One day I wanted to know what it felt like when my parents cut themselves, so I tried it and to my surprise I liked it. It was almost as if that physical pain made the emotional pain that I was feeling go away. From that day on every time I got upset or angry I would cut.

The cutting only got worse and of course the group home that I was in did not deal with kids who cut, so I was taken from one group home to another and then eventually put in a residential treatment center where I stayed for eight months. While I was in the program, I learned that if I just hid my cuts they would think I was all better...and it worked. I completed my treatment program and when I was 15 my older brother got custody of me. 

I was still very depressed and just a wreck emotionally. I was still cutting, but nobody knew. I became friends with my guidance counselor at school and she made me a part of her family and took me to church with her every week. I didn't really like going to church, but I liked being with her and her family, so I went. About 3 years ago, my pastor was preaching a sermon about addictions and how we try to fill our lives up with so much junk, but we can never be satisfied because only Jesus can satisfy us. It was that day that I knew that I needed to get help because cutting had seriously taken over my life. I had a box cutter or a razor blade hidden everywhere and I always had one on me because I never knew when I was going to need to cut. I was having to go get stitches and staples because I was cutting so deep and I knew I needed help, but was scared because everyone thought that I already quit cutting.

I ended up meeting with my pastor and he helped me get the help that I needed. I gave my life to the Lord and September of 2009 was the last time that I cut myself. It has been a huge process because like any addiction you are always going to be tempted in some way. It's been a little over two years since I cut and there are still days every now and then that all I want to do is cut because that is what I did for ten years.

Romans 8:28 tells us that "God works ALL things together for the good of those who love Him"... And that is what He has done in my life. I am 24 now and He has taken all of the stuff that I went though as a child and has given me victory over that. I have a speaking and mentoring ministry now called Cutting Edge Ministries... I am still in the works of getting it advertised and really up and going, but it has been an amazing thing so far. The Lord has allowed to me go to youth groups to speak, Women's events, etc. I was also able to share about my addiction to cutting on the radio and even on a T.V. Talk show. Through my speaking events, I have been able to help other people who are struggling with cutting or another addiction. Some people just need someone to talk to and encourage and I am able to do that through the ministry that God has given me. I know that God's plans are far greater than mine and I am excited to see what He has in store for me. 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with cutting or another addiction you are welcome to contact me through email.

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I know that Savannah would love to hear from you all, so please feel free to contact her if you have any questions. You can contact her if you are interested in having her speak at a conference or event as well! I am so grateful for Savannah and she has become like a sister to me. I knew her when she was still cutting, and to see how she has changed just absolutely makes my heart smile. I am so proud of her! 

I hope you guys have enjoyed hearing from Savannah and will join me on Sundays for "Share Your Story Sunday." If you are interested in sharing your story, please contact me!

Hope you all are having an awesome Sunday!
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