Monday, June 13, 2016


 Yesterday our nation was attacked.  A gunman killed 50 people. 

 From CNN: ' The deadliest terror attack since 9/11 followed a clarion call (strongly expressed demand/request for action) by ISIS to its supporters in the United States to launch attacks during Ramadan, the Islamic Holy Month, which started last week.' 

The culprit: ISIS  
The victims: The LGBT community

We are at war!  And it's on our homeland turf.  What are we to do about this?  How do we overcome this?  There is so much hate.  So much intolerance.  And as a Christian, I feel I need to speak up.  Although I don't have the words to eloquently speak into this.  But the Bible does.  And appropriately, the words from the book of 1 John jumped off the page at me this morning.  I have found that the only way to overcome this evil is in the perfect love of Christ!  Please, read this scripture!  

1 John 3:
11For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,b if the world hates you. 14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

1 John 4:
7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19We love because he first loved us. 20Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.21And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

1 John 5:
1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

I guess what I am reminded of when I read this scripture is that as a Christian, I am called to love everyone.  Period.  No exceptions.  So that means even loving the ISIS man that wreaked havoc on the LGBT community.  If we have the heart of God in us, we would desire that all peoples and nations and communities would come to Him!  And to become VICTORS of this world of hate. 

My summary of this scripture:

From chapter 3:  Love even though the world will hate you. If I choose hate, I am a murderer.  Jesus is my perfect example and I need to pursue perfect love.

From chapter 4: God loved us first even in our broken, sinful state.  God is LOVE.  As Christians, having known God, we should also love one another (and that is how we will know if God lives in us.)  Rely on the love God has for us.  And that love is fearless and with that love, we love each other. 

From chapter 5: Everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well.  Whether that child be ISIS or homosexual or a selfish, impatient, broken and battered and angry, privileged white woman living out of her own self-righteousness (that last one would be me).

As a follower of Jesus, I get so angry when headlines about Christians include hateful descriptions.  If we are truly following Jesus' example, we would only hate evil but never people.  Do I agree with Muslims' beliefs?  No.  Do I encourage or condone homosexual activity?  No.  Do I pray for the lost who haven't found victory in Jesus?  Yes. In spite of our differences, they matter to God and Jesus died for us all!  I didn't do anything to deserve salvation and that's the same for every human being.  We are all broken.  We are all sinners.  And those of us that have accepted the salvation that Jesus gave up his life for need to love and fight for and pray to the means that others would know His love too.

So lets pray for this love to manifest itself into the ISIS community and the LGBT community and the Christian community that GOD would be glorified and His victories multiplied.  Let's combat this evil and use it to share the perfect love represented in Jesus Christ, that Savior of the world!  

Saturday, January 2, 2016

small bedroom tricks you've never tried!

We have a small bedroom.  And I know that most of my friends and family also have small bedrooms.  Very few of them are residing in their gigantic dream houses.  And knowing that there are many in similar houses with smallish bedrooms, my hope is that this helps you figure out how to live in a more organized, clutter-free space!

Our bedroom is always the last place that I work on!  It's a (very!) small bedroom and we don't spend much extra time in there.  Over the years, we figured out what wasn't working in this small room.  Here is one principle we have learned that changed the functionality of our room the most....

It's simple: If you have a small room, DON'T have too much furniture!  This is our bedroom in its entirety!  It's as streamlined as we could possibly get and it functions well!

Where is all of our stuff?  And how did we manage this?!  These 'small bedroom tips' of mine have been gleaned from my own errors and common mistakes of my clients.  Hope you can learn from them, too!

One thing that should probably go if you have a small bedroom are any extra chairs.  Do you have a little corner designated as a seating area in your small little room?!  More than likely, you aren't going to sit in a comfortable chair if it's crammed in the space.  Plus, if there's only one chair, you're less likely to sit in your room alone and if you are, you can lounge on the bed!  Get rid of that awkward 'just for looks' chair/seating area!

Do you have a bench for those pretty pillows to rest on while you sleep?  Is it taking too much room?  Out with it!  The pillows will be just fine on the floor for the night!

Do you have a dresser?  Is it always neat and organized?  Or does it collect piles of laundry, random jewelry, and even bills?  Ours did and I'm a neat freak!  But again, the only time I was in my room was to go back to sleep!  It wasn't the time that I was most likely to put laundry away or file bills!  So it continued to collect random items!  But how, you must wonder, do you do away with a dresser?

Figure out how to consolidate!  We have very small closets so getting rid of a dresser without figuring out another option was out of the question.  So we sold our dresser and bed for more than the amount that this new Ikea bed cost (woohoo!). This bed has two large storage drawers on each side.  The side closest to the headboard has most of our off-season clothes in it.  The other drawer to the foot of the bed has our everyday clothes.  We also sold our pretty-much-useless-side-tables and purchased cheap, small  Ikea dressers that we use for them instead.  (And even with how cheap they are, they work great!!) They hold our 'undergarments' and such!

Another practical tip: if you don't have room for it, don't have too much of it!  We have plenty of clothes but not tons and you know what?  It's much easier to manage!  Keep the clothes on hand that you actually wear and enjoy, but donate the ones that you haven't worn in awhile.  I had heard a tip on this before: In your closet, hang the hangers up backwards and every time you wear something from a hanger, turn it the right-side around.  (So after you wash an item, put the hanger on the rod the natural way.)  Whatever hangers are still backwards three months from now should be tossed out... special occasion clothes excluded because those aren't everyday clothes:)

So here is our room before we figured some of these things out!  (Not pictured, a chair in the corner, an unusually tidy dresser top and another dresser to the far left.)  It wasn't working for us!
Here are some current photos of our small bedroom functioning better than ever before:

Someday soon, I plan to put a rug down and jazz up the wall a bit. 

So remember the cheap side table/nightstands I mentioned? Check out this in-between of the bedroom: 

 Notice the cheap nightstands?  They are the RAST Pine Drawer Chests that will set you back $34 a piece from Ikea! Even their name (RAST!) is yuck! But we weren't going to leave them looking so sad.  I sanded and then stained them with an espresso color stain and ploy-ed them to be smoother.  I replaced the ugly-as-sin wood knobs and voila!  All better!



Next to come: a new ceiling fan!  With our occasional, uncomfortable Michigan summers, we really would like to have a ceiling fan.  But if they're in our general price range, they are ugly.  So eventually, a new fan and can lights in the room is what we desire.  For now, we just don't look at it if we don't have to!  But here it is in all it's glory:

We've had this arrangement for a couple years now and it has been great!  I don't miss having a large dresser one bit and the bed storage functions so well! As do the side tables/dressers. At the time, we didn't have money in the budget for a headboard.  So our headboard for now is a barndoor from my dear uncle and aunt!

 The bedspread we have is Target Threshold (can't go wrong with that namebrand!) and the white down comforter was, of all places, Aldis!  It's soft and fluffy enough so it works for now!  Plus, we have four kids and I'm not about to have a $200 down-comforter on my bed!  Maybe someday though!

Love me some pillows!  Target, Home Goods, and Ikea!

The curtains are my favorite!!  Target does it again!

Some of my necklaces have made their way onto this mirror (whereas they usually laid on a dresser at the end of the day).  But it's fine with me! 
I found this mirror at a sale for $10 and painted it gray.  Score!

Ok, and do you want to see something that is very embarassing?  A way-before picture?  This is what our room was like when we first got married.

Ok, deep breath.... can hardly bring myself to share it!

Here it is!

Not my cup o' tea!  Not anymore, anyways!  It was a gloomy shade of gray and we didn't like anything about it. And yet, it took me so long to get around to it!  Since then, we've repainted the walls, the floors, and the window trim.  We don't have any original anything in this space!  Which is a very good thing!

What do you think?  Have you made these same errors?  I hope this post was helpful!  Get rid of what doesn't fit (regarding furniture and clothes!) or what doesn't get used! Paint if you're unhappy with the color of the room and buy what you like with the money you've made from what you've sold!  We almost always sell one item before replacing it with something else! It used to be for the sole fact that we couldn't afford not to but even now, it's just the minimalist way!

Thursday, December 31, 2015


I love to reflect and analyze.  Sometimes, it's not the very best thing for me because I can get stuck in that place whether it's something of a victory or a failure.  But today being the last day of 2015, I will reflect on things.

Overall, it was a great year.  Here we all are, our family of six.  We've stayed alive, we've been healthy, all of our needs have been met and many desires as well.  If we have been lacking in anything, it's been our own fault.  We have SO much to be thankful for!

This morning, my devotions were based on one 'little' word: mine.  It's actually quite a big word!  What comes to your mind when you think 'mine'?!  Some of what comes to my mind is family, relationships, work, careers, free time....

What didn't come to mind, unfortunately, was God.

When Jesus came to earth, He laid aside everything!  His glory, His possessions, His comfort, His rights.  Even, occasionally, His opinions.  He laid aside His body and He even gave up His life!!

But something that He did not, WOULD not, give up was His right to call God his Father.

And that is the only thing that I can rightfully call MINE!  Everything else is HIS!  And rightfully so.  He loves my kids even more than I do.  They are HIS and he can take better care of them than we can!  He is concerned with my relationships even more so than I am.  He is mindful of our work, careers, finances.... it's all His and He works for our good.  He is aware of our desires; He wants us to experience joy that only He can give!  He has ownership and control over it all. The only thing that I can claim as MINE is God as my Father.  That is a constant.  Nothing can take that away from me (Romans 8:38-39).

Beth Moore has a great way of stating this: 'In the midst of so much we cannot have, God says to His children, 'Forsake lesser things and have as much as you want of Me.' Remember John 3:34 says that God gives His Spirit without measure.  While God is the owner and possessor of all things, He freely invites us to be as possessive over Him as we desire.  He is my God.  And your God.  He's the only thing we can share lavishly without ever lessening our own supply.'  Isn't that brilliant?!!

So in light of being an adopted child of God (Romans 8:14-17), I hope that will change my perspective during 2016.

I am selfish!  I have a tight grip on my husband, my kids, my life and my happiness.  But just as Jesus did, I need to lay down these things and cling to the one thing that is mine that will never change: God as my Father, Christ as my Savior, and the Holy Spirit as my Advocate.

I don't know how exactly, but I hope that I can carry on with this concept of what is truly mine in the next year.  I hope that I'll be reminded of this when I'm feeling selfish.  When I inwardly or outwardly insist on what I want, what I think I need, when I can't think clearly because I'm so caught up in MYSELF!  I hope and pray today that I can be caught up in God!  God leading and directing me as wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, servant.... No matter what 2016 may hold.  No matter what I may have to 'give up' that wasn't mine in the first place.

On a previous 'reflection post' of the New Year, I wanted to be more intentional.  Being intentional is so important because if we aren't, things can slip.  Well this year, I hope I can intentionally remember that God is mine and He will give as much of Himself to me as I want.  And that offer is good for anyone that will accept Him and I should be making that known!  I know that myself and others could definitely use more of His power and authority and love and grace in my life every. single. day.

So here's to a Happy New Year of un-apologetically claiming God as my Father!

(If you haven't taken the step in your life to call God your own Father, message me or someone you know that can help you take that step!  It'll be the best thing you will ever do!  If He isn't yours yet, then the sad truth is you have nothing to call 'mine'.  Struggle with this and make a decision to follow Christ!  John 14:6)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Our Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course!

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love that Jordan (my Carpenter) is such an imaginative, spontaneous, and creative guy!  He puts his mind to something and it happens!  One of his favorite shows is America Ninja Warrior.  He loves that people put so much dedication into training and have so much to show for it in the end.  That they accomplish these crazy extreme obstacles based mostly on upper body strength.  Jordan has become very educated on food and diet and exercise (through hours of podcasts each day) and it's transformed the way we take care of ourselves around here... mostly by eating a low-sugar diet. And he's also become more passionate about weight-lifting.  With the last season of America Ninja Warrior in swing, Jordan started work on our very own warrior course!  First things first, he brought home a swing set someone had offered him to be used for the main support system.  

And.... he brought it to the backyard with the lawn mower!  

Here's the free play set in all of it's glory!  (Stay tuned.... next summer we'll be painting it up so it's more attractive!)

Next, more frame pieces.... 
The height of this structure is 13ft.
Next, some beams to connect the two together.  He also added holes for the pegs (like a peg wall), a salmon ladder, and some rings!  The rings are adjustable so the whole family can benefit from them.
Jordan took the balls from our bocce ball set and drilled holes through them.  Can you guess what these are for?!

 And he's always figuring out better ways to do things: He hooked up this hook part onto his drill to more easily spin and set the balls into place.

See what I mean?  (Imagine the drill is spinning and the hook is twisting the eye bolt into place. Pure genius!)

We bought rope and braided it ourselves with a strange kind of braid, a speed rope braid.
Jordan added more height to the salmon ladder since he quickly mastered it and needed more of a challenge.  

(Next year we plan to set the tramp into the ground)

 Jordan added many more holes on the peg wall so that he can work on his stamina of going up, across, down and even down/up the angled boards to the far side.

And then there are the monkey/pull up bars!  Easy peasy, right?!  Not for me, they TWIST!   There are also straps lining the opposite of the cannonballs.

It's a bit camouflaged so hopefully it's not an eyesore to the neighbors!

So far, our obstacle course has peg walls, a 12 ft rope, rings, salmon ladder, monkey/pull up bars, straps, and cannonballs.  We hope to add a rock wall for the kids next spring, a slack line, and also a warped wall, of course!  If you have an obstacle course yourself, we'd love to see it!  There isn't much inspiration out there for this kind of thing outside of a gym!  What do you think?!