Life in all its fullness

I’m kinda on this kick where I’m REALLY into de-stressing my life.  De-cluttering my life, De-overcommitment-ing my life (not a real word).  Basically taking some serious time to look at all the small and great details of my life, and pray over them, asking God, “Do I really need this in my life?  Is THIS what you want me doing right now?” Sometimes God calls us to do stuff.  Good stuff, fun stuff, God stuff – whatever.

But then sometimes we find ourselves doing too much stuff.

I know I’m doing too much stuff when I stop really listening to his voice.  If I am running around all day, from one thing to the next, trying to be somewhere on time, letting someone down by being late, feeling as if there aren’t enough hours in my day to get stuff accomplished, I know I’ve stopped listening and I’m no longer hearing God’s voice super clearly.  I think I know how to run my own life even though it’s riddled with stress.

God is not at the center of stress.  He is at the center of peace.  God is a God of peace and he doesn’t abide in stress.  He just doesn’t live there.  So if I’m choosing to live there – I’m choosing NOT to live or abide with him.  It’s not like he ever leaves me, but when I walk away from him towards stress and overcommitment land, I can’t hear his voice so good when he speaks to me, because I’m not close to him.  Recently, I’ve felt him leading me back to him, back to peace.

Yesterday I was running late.  I was trying to get the kids ready for preschool, I slept in (my favorite treat to myself) and one thing led to the next where I found myself trying to rush out the door.  I had the whole car packed with all three kids (a task in itself), my keys, purse and water, and then I realized I hadn’t made a latte.  I know, first world problem, but I had the almond milk in the fridge and I figured since I was already late, I may as well enjoy my late drive to preschool with a latte in hand – I’m trying to relax more even in the stressful moments and not worry about the little details, like being on time;-)  I had already opened the garage door to head out when I made the split decision to go back inside.

Now, normal Rebekah would have left the garage door open with my kids, keys and purse in the car because normal Rebekah believes she lives in a pretty friendly neighborhood.  BUT, I heard a different voice.  The still, small, very, very, quite voice in the back of my head said, “shut the garage door.”  That’s it.  I have learned to listen to this still, small, very, very, quiet voice.

I shut the garage door.

I left the kids to sing and entertain themselves in relative safety while I ran inside to make a quick latte.

Within 30 seconds, my husband says from upstairs, “there’s someone coming to the door, let me answer it” in a serious voice.  I THOUGHT he said, “there’s a burglar coming to the door let me answer it.” I REALLY heard burglar.  So I stayed where I was and listened intently slash told Jesus I was concerned.  The guy sounded sketchy and was asking if so-and-so were home, and pretended he was sorta a contractor or something.  When my husband asked him the address he was looking for, he couldn’t even answer the question.  He had been standing across our street, staring at our house “talking” on a cel phone while his bud was skateboarding up and down our neighborhood streets.  They had a bunch of random stuff in the back of their truck, a kids bike, a table saw – an array of looked to be stolen goods.  I know it’s like, innocent until proven guilty, but I felt like the guy coming to our door was not up to any good.

It was at this moment that I said to the Lord, “Thank you Jesus for making the suggestion to close the garage door.”  My three babies were all strapped into their car seats in an unlocked car with my keys and purse on the passenger seat.  And yet they were perfectly safe because God recommended I do something as simple as close the garage door.  I was so glad I was listening.

Sometimes the enemy plans stuff to harm us, and sometimes God says, “nope.”

I believe this is because we pray and ask him.  We seek him for his will, ask him for his provision and protection.

There have been times where the enemy had plans to harm me, and God said, “nope” and I didn’t listen.  I was too busy.  I thought I knew how to run my life.  I wasn’t as interested in God’s suggestions.  I look back in regret that I didn’t listen to his voice.

It’s not that I wouldn’t hear him, I would only half listen.

I used to run at night.  My parents always told me not to run at night.  But being 17 and in high school, I did it anyway.  One night in particular, I could hear a voice almost YELLING, “do not go running tonight , especially in that tiny little tank top.” I remember it was only around 6:30 pm but it was dark and there was a light drizzle.  I said, “fine, fine, I’ll go put on a long sleeve shirt.” But as I continued to run, although more clothed, the voice persisted, “do not go running tonight, go home.”  It kept insisting, I couldn’t shake it.  I finally said, “Hey voice, I KNOW what I’m doing in my life, I KNOW I live in a safe place, nothing bad will ever happen to me! Relax! I’ve got this.”

So I went running that night with intention.

And I was attacked.

It was on a normally busy street, but I was completely alone, in the dark between streetlights.  A man came up behind me.  I only heard three footsteps before he grabbed me by the waist tight with both arms.  At first I thought it was a friend joking.  I can’t explain the fear and absolute clear understanding that I COULD NOT help myself when I realized it was not a friend and that there was not a soul around to help me.

I remember looking up to the night sky and realizing only God could help me.  He was the only one who saw.

I screamed to him twice, with everything inside of me.  I screamed for him to help me.

And He did.

He saved me that night.

He rescued me.

The man let go and looked like he was hit in the face with a bat.  He stumbled around confused, with his face towards the ground.  I didn’t wait to see if he was alright, with adrenaline pulsing through my veins I sprinted all the way home to my front door where I collapsed in the foyer of my house.  I still say an angel hit him in the face with a 2×4, but that’s just my own idea;-)

It took me months to feel okay by myself even in the safety of my own house.  I don’t believe God wanted me to have that terrifying experience or even have to walk through the aftermath of it.  I believe he was trying to keep me from that danger all together.  But I didn’t listen.  I thought I knew better, I was literally running my own life.

And even though I didn’t listen completely to his voice, he still protected me.  That my friends is God’s true grace.

Despite the bad press God gets in this world, He actually wants good for us.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  So God is speaking this to a repentant Israel in this passage, but it applies to us as well.

It’s the enemy who wants to opposite.  In John 10:10, Jesus tells us, “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy.  My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”  Jesus actually desires for us to have life, and have it to the full.  In fact that is precisely the reason he went to the cross, on his own will.  How incredible.

When I think about this, I juxtapose it against my own idea of what I think God wants for me: working for him, being perfect, getting it all right, earning his love and grace.

It doesn’t line up.  I am STILL, after being a Christ follower for almost 30 years trying to get it into my head who God really is, and what he REALLY wants for me and from me.

I don’t think God wants us experiencing even a tenth or a millionth of the pain and frustration we experience, it’s just that I don’t think we are really listening to his guidance on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s his voice telling us to forgive someone, to really forgive and hand the pain and hurt over to him. Other times it’s his voice reminding us to slow down and jut trust him, or to not be completely selfish and give some of what we have to others in need.

He speaks all kinds of stuff- and what he says to me, might not be the same message he’s giving you.

This is why he calls us to a personal relationship with him.  Not an “I go to church on Sunday and hear what the preacher says” kind of thing.  Don’t get me wrong, God speaks through the preacher, but God has more detailed, more intimate stuff to share with you.  Most of it probably revolves around how much he loves you and wants good stuff for you life.  Some of it might be conviction to give up something you’re holding onto that’s not good for you.

I don’t know exactly what he wants to speak to you – but if you listen, I can promise with my own life learned experience, that you will have more of what Jesus said he wants for you, to have “life in all its fullness.”

Who doesn’t want that?  Isn’t that what we’re all striving after anyway?

As always, thanks so much for reading.

The Craft to Contain All Other Crafts

Let me just start this post by stating: I should be doing laundry.  Sometimes in life, we should be doing something, but there a moments I believe, it’s good to let yourself do something else for awhile.  A mini vacation from life’s should-do’s!

I also probably should have made lunch, but on a whim I decided I wanted to drive a crazy number of hours all the way to Santa Cruz and buy pizza at Pleasure Point Pizza.  I then realized that whim was a bit much, we didn’t even have jackets in the car, so scaling it back a bit I decided to splurge on In-N-Out instead.   In-N-Out is just one of the many reasons living in the Sunshine state is wonderful.

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My kids could not have been happier over their grilled cheese and fries with ketchup.

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And, Micky Mouse Clubhouse.  Life is so good as a little person in our house right now.

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Look at the toys-on-toys going on here.  Random pillows on the floor from another room?  We’ve got that.

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Toys all up in he-ah!IMG_6218

So in addition to laundry I should also be cleaning…  but instead – mini-life vacation to the rescue!

Today I have absolutely nothing to share that is amazing from my heart, but only a simple solution to a problem I encountered when my kids started bringing home their work from preschool and kids church.  I’ve had an entire grocery bag FULL of art, and school crafts piling up since September.  I don’t like clutter, so I’m not really into the fridge idea.  I did however want my kids to feel like every piece of artwork was special and important to all of us in the family. Who doesn’t like an audience for hard work, right?

So I prayed for a solution.  Sounds silly, I don’t care what it sounds like, that’s what I did.

And, surprise surprise – I got an answer.  Now, God did not speak to me like, “DO THIS CRAFT TO CONTAIN ALL OHER CRAFTS, thus sayest…”.  That did not happen.  I just prayed something like, “Snap God, look at all this work the kids did, it’s still sitting here in my pantry making me feel bad like it should be up or something, and they are going to keep bringing home cooler and cooler work – what am I going to do?  You know how haphazard I am with the crafts!”

So when an idea popped into my head, and it felt simple enough I was like, “yep, that be my answer.”

So, I introduce to you, the Craft to Contain All Other Crafts.

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I actually learned about a Christmas version (posted at the bottom) of this at a Mops meeting and I just modified it a bit.  I feel like all the credit of this craft rests upon our fearless craft leader from Mops named, Carly. Thank you Carly.  She makes signs, they are amazing, you can see them at Sweetly Spoken Signs.

I like this craft because it is:

  1. easy enough
  2. versatile based on decor preferences
  3. easy to change out the art/crafts

Here’s what you need to accomplish this one:

  1. 2 pieces of wood from a lumber store (I know, this sounds taxing, but it’s not THAT hard)  You need 2 pieces of 1×4: it measures 1 x 3 1/2 but I’m assuming they round up?  They come in lengths of 6 feet at my store, so with two, I had my husband cut each one into three sections of 2 feet each. If you are nice at the lumber store, they will cut if for you.
  2. clothes pins (you will need 48 if you follow the steps exactly)
  3. craft paper: like scrapbook paper, or even wrapping paper, newspaper, it’s up to you
  4. elmer’s-like glue (regular old glue)
  5. glue-gun and glue sticks (the dollar store totally sells both of these)
  6. mod podge
  7. white craft paint
  8. two paint brushes (small for the mod podge, larger for the white paint – mine are from the dollar store)
  9. some twine or ribbon if you prefer

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Everything but the wood and elmer’s like glue is shown in this fancy burlap background photo

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Here’s a bin I keep my craft stuff in, see how often I do crafts?  It’s really that I’ve just done the one… in varied forms.

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For Christmas, my weakness is plaid.  I can’t get enough of plaid.IMG_6240

And antique looking santa Christmas card stuff.

Here is what you are making (x 6 if you like)

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Nice right?

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Here’s two of them together.  With the supplies I listed, you will have six total.  Scale back on the supplies if you want only a few.  I have three kids, two are dedicated to each kid.
IMG_5632And here’s what they look like on the wall.

You can start one of two ways, depending on your feelings.  At step 1, and then 2 or reverse it.

Step 1: I recommend starting with the wood.  Go outside.  Cut two foot strips (if you haven’t already), or whatever length you prefer.  Then dust them off with your hand or an old towel, you don’t want wood chip pieces painted on your board.  Then give each board a light coat of white paint.  Cover it ONLY once lightly if you want the farmhouse look, or beach-house look. The wood grain peeking through in spots is pretty cute, plus it saves time. Be sure to cover the sides (the cut ends) as well, otherwise it will look unfinished.  It dries in about 20 minuets.

While it’s drying, head back inside and begin step 2!

Step 2: Select the craft paper you want to use, and how much.  I glued 8 clothespins to each board.  So I selected 3 papers for each board.  Two papers were represented three times, the one just two.  You can make the pattern however you like, abc,abc,ab as I did or use four papers for abcd,abcd, or even abcdefgh if you want to use 8 papers.  Your’e choice.

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Cut out all your paper for ALL your boards, each paper the size of your clothespin.

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I did each paper selection twice, so my son’s boards are the same, and so are each of my daughters.  I have two “sets” of the same three boards.

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Enough math.

Step 3: Once you’ve finished cutting and arranging all your clothespin patterns, glue the strips onto each of the clothespins with simple white glue.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  If you cut a larger piece then needed, once it’s dry you can go back and trim them up if you like. IMG_6267

IMG_6259Step 4: Once these are completely dry, bust out the Mod Podge.

IMG_5622 IMG_6268Paint a light coat of Mod Podge over each of the clothespins.  Let them dry.  This gives them a more finished and slightly glossy look.  Set them aside to dry.

Step 5: Go retrieve your dry wood.  Set all your boards on a large flat surface (like a kitchen counter) that is close to an electrical outlet.  It is time to hot glue.  Prior to gluing, space your clothespins out evenly.

IMG_6263Mine are three fingers apart.  I also have super ginormous hands, so if you don’t, perhaps just eye the spacing.  Take your time, pull away any hot glue hairs before they have time to form.

Step 6: The hanger.  Gather your twine or ribbon to set a loop on the back so you can hang them.  Prior to flipping your boards, make sure ALL the hot glue has had time to dry.

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Once dry, flip your board and eye the center of the board, go about two inches on either side to create a loop .  Measure it out and cut your twine.  I used hot glue to adhere my twine.  So far this has worked.  I also used a lot so that it would hopefully never fall off the wall and splatter everywhere.  If you can think of a better way to hang your Craft to Contain All Crafts, by all means, go for it.

Step 7: Let your glue dry then get to filling those clothespins with crafts!

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IMG_5629 IMG_5628 IMG_6253 IMG_6251Below are some pictures of how I modified this for Christmas.  I used a LOT more clothespins, and Christmas paper.  Here is how they display.

FULL disclosure:  If you have EVER sent me a Christmas Photo card, you can be sure that I’ve saved it.  I don’t keep A TON of random sentimental things, I do however collect these, and plan to one day put them in book.  That being said, up for dibs on my display is a random display of last years beauties, which we kept up on the wall until March this year, because I like seeing all my friends and their beautiful children and animals.  What can I say?

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Without Christmas photo cards, so empty and sad.

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Up close and personal

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Filled with cards!IMG_6226IMG_6227

Happy crafting!

As always, thanks for reading!