Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Moral Authority - but not what you think...

This is going to wander all over, but you have to start somewhere to get it out. The catalyst is some thinkings a friend has casually mentioned over the past few weeks and the wonderful randomness on how they have changed the course of my thoughts.

Maybe it started innocently with a comment about christian song-writers ability to shape personal theology. Certainly it is born out of a season with deep relational pain, unmet expectations, self-doubt, self-pity (because the former certainly invites the latter) and what felt like several slaps in the face. This morning it culminates in the term "moral authority", calling bullshit and (I hope) grace.

Growing up in the thick of Christianese I learned that once you screwed up you lost the right to talk about Jesus. This sounds flippant and it isn't meant to be so. It was life changing for my family over and over again. When I was very young both my parents worked for Jimmy Swaggart. From there my father went to work for PTL. Followed by several other not-so-transparent Christian organizations. In every case his employment ended far prior to the famous scandals, but I learned what gigantic ass-hats believers can be. I don't remember any deep shock when our family heard on the news that these icons of American Christian Culture had crashed and burned.  We knew what things looked like behind the scenes. (And honestly I cringe with when I see Steve Furtick's name hit the news; because from experience where there is smoke there is fire.)

And when these scandals hit you disassociated yourself as quickly as possible. And yes, there is legitimate reason for not wanting to be painted with the same brush. It felt like Hypocrisy was the catch-word of Christian counter culture throughout the 90's (and perhaps even now? I'm kind of out of touch.)

During this same time frame Sandi Patty was found to have had an affair and divorced. Later Amy Grant. If preachers and pastors who screwed the pooch were expected to step down and shut up, what about popular artists and Christian Pop Culture Icons?

Fast forward 15-20 long years. I was revisiting all my favorite Christian song writers, and while sitting in the bath one evening decided to share some of my favorite songs with my husband. Here I am sitting cross legged,  head resting on my arms folded on the side of the tub, transported in deep appreciation as we listened to "Lover" by Derek Webb. (My husband doesn't listen to much Christian music.) I start telling him how amazing this album is, calling out the church for its love of money, and superficial desires.... blah blah blah. I pull up Derek Webb on my smart phone and guess who had an affair and got divorced last year? I know I am too old to be traumatized by the weakness of artists I have never met - but I felt cheated. How could I love and be changed by something written by someone who so blatantly failed their professed beliefs? It stewed underneath for two days. I didn't realize that was what I was feeling/thinking - just felt that disappointment that kind of makes everything golden seem kinda dusty and cheap.

I didn't realize I was being a self-righteous, indignant, judgmental poopy-head! I didn't realize I was forcing Truth to wear the clothing of my disdain. Who cares what the truth-sharer did? And I got to thinking about how God has shared His truth through the scripture. Go ahead and tell me about all the perfect people that God used. All the truth speakers that never screwed up. All the prophets, apostles, writers of the Bible that never directly disobeyed, took unplanned voyages in big fish, felt guilty hearing a chicken or hearing a story about pet sheep. I realized how often I hold the sins others have committed against God against them (as though I have any right to deny forgiveness that He has bestowed.) Time for me to ask for forgiveness myself.

And then, BAM! I hold the same inconsistencies against myself. I refuse to forgive myself for the same bullshit reasons I hold on to judgments against other people. Doing so allows me to wallow in the self-pity mentioned above and to focus on the wrongs others have done against me instead of letting them go. AND it provides an "out" for me when I want to hide from the truths the Spirit is laying on my heart. And this is where I call bullshit on the devil's lies. He seeks to kill, steal and destroy. But Jesus says, "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture." The Gate. Jesus is the Gate. Not the wall. The thief comes to destroy but Jesus is the gate - and we come in and go out and find good pasture. He doesn't keep us locked inside living on carefully doled out portions based on the faithfulness of our service. And when we enter a season of dry earth, and we doubt the goodness of our father, and we make poor choices attempting to meet our own needs, and we choose to feed from the leftovers instead of the pasture, - He doesn't lock us up. Refusing forgiveness or restoration. The thief does that. The thief comes in to kill (relationships) steal (joy) and destroy (peace of mind) - add your own parenthetical results of his lies. The Savior opens the gate onto pasture and we have the chance every morning to go out and find that sweet fresh grass again, even if we couldn't find it yesterday. 

Moral authority. Who has that? (Sunday school answer - "JESUS".) Who else? Um, no one. Ok. When have you ever had moral authority? Tell me the last time you walked blamelessly. (Not the last time you ACTED like you walked blamelessly.) OK. Now. Guess what? You are completely and 100% forgiven for not eating good grass yesterday. You are forgiven for straying into other pastures. You are forgiven for trying to hide in the sheep pen instead of trusting the Shepherd to protect you. Your relationship with Jesus has not changed. Ya, I don't get it either.

This is the startling, unexplainable, baffling, shocking, foolishness of the Gospel. This is what I just can't quite accept about Grace. But what I can wrap my mind around is that Truth is Truth no matter how you dress her up. And no one is forbidden to speak Truth - whether they deserve to or not. She is still Truth even when you don't believe. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Pallet Table - Part One (The inspiration and the shop work.)

Oh Pinterest, my bane and my delight.

I am blessed to have several amazing and patient men in my life - both of whom appear here frequently. Add to that two lovely men-in-training helpers and my pinterest hobbies become a family event.

A few weeks ago I saw this amazing table on pinterest.

Let me mention several things here - First, the above picture is from an Etsy shop called triple7recycled. It is awesome. You will get completely sucked in if you visit. This also means the people who built this table know what they are doing and probably sat down and planned it all out, etc. Me... not so much.

Second, I often have "eyes bigger than stomach" syndrome when it comes to projects. The fact that my husband humors me (and will run around on a Saturday afternoon helping me collect pallets etc.) just encourages my sometimes unrealistic creative streak. (Here is an example of where it worked out well!) 

So, Zeke spent some time one Saturday helping me pull apart some pallets in my father's shop.

And a few weeks later I show up on a weekday and beg for help to figure out how to create our own fantastic piece of pallet furniture. My dad has a great space for working on projects and several amazing power tools I am kind of afraid to use. (I know perfectly well how to use a radial arm saw, etc. but if there is a man around willing to do it for me, I will gladly step aside. Yes, yes, woman power and all that - but sometimes the greatest example of power is allowing someone better suited to the task to accomplish it faster and better than I can. In this case my "mom-brain" hasn't seem to have gone away so I am happy to leave dangerous power tool usage to someone else.) 

So, here I am with a stack of torn up pallets and a picture. No plans. No measurements. Only a rough idea of what I want to accomplish and a whole lot of motivation.  

Internet to the rescue. We found a blog that gave another person's experience creating a table from pallets and away we go.

We discussed which angle we wanted to use and decided on 45 degrees (primarily because it made the math easier and required less adjustment of the table saw.) This turned out to be a great plan because the frame joints are 45 degree angles so this just makes the whole process a bit easier.

I prefer the pieces that were more weathered and had more character but we also had to find pieces less warped and cracked and this was a bit harder. Our next pallet project I will do a little more planning ahead of time. (Eh, maybe I will, but let's be honest - I don't generally create around planning.)

Pieces needed to be sanded.

And pieced together (just laid in place to make sure we had the pattern right.)

We chose to use some scrap 2x4 for the frame. 

At this point our work day ended and I packed up the pieces to take them home, finish sanding them, stain them and work on putting them together. 


We haven't gotten the table put together yet. Unfortunately one of the 2x4's for the frame is badly enough warped that we aren't sure we will be able to get it to line up. Will update you as the project progresses!

When my impulse was improved upon and implemented awesomely.

So, I get a burr under my saddle from time to time. Especially if I think I can take an awesome idea and make it work for even less money. I also love one-of-a-kind creations and prefer authentic pieces of art work over prints.

My husband also has a Mr. PSE (Problem Solver Extraordinaire) syndrome and sometimes my creative thriftiness and his engineering mind used to working on a shoe string budget coalesce into brilliance.

We were hunting for pallets to use on another project I was dreaming up and tossed several into the back of our minivan.

Several evenings later we decided to assess the wood we had found and Mark pulled out a fantastic small pallet that we had tossed in because we liked the look of the wood. I wish I had the forethought to show you the before, but here is the in process.

 He and Zeke hand sanded all the little splinters and points out of the pallet and it became this wonderful shelf.
Which now hangs in our downstairs bathroom so if you come visit you will see it though at the moment it looks more like this.
In fairness, I want to claim credit for this awesome idea, but my husband was the one who saw the potential and executed the plan. I have a good partner in crime. 

Bottle Wrapping Again

Maybe it is just  that I want to hoard empty bottles of various shapes and sizes? My closet is becoming full of them.

This time I tried something different. Traditionally they wrap around and around and around like these.

I like wrapped bottles and there are a wide variety of inspirations out there but I wanted to try something different.

This time I started in the middle of the bottle creating a circular pattern.

I love the way this looks. Starting the pattern was tedious. Again, the industrial double sided tape is amazing.

Then I had to figure out how to wrap around the rest of the bottle. I opted for a back and forth pattern like this:

I like the pattern but the edges are rough and loose. I will need to go back with super glue and tack them down. It would be fun to PLAN a bottle like this with those loops big enough to use as a chain to crochet or weave a pattern through.

I finished wrapping the bottle. The back and forth around the circle took longer than the circle itself did. 

So now I just need to figure out how to finish off these loose edges. (Super glue?) and also I am considering adding loose glitter that will stick to any remaining double sided tape edges that may collect dust otherwise. I will update to let you know how it turns out. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My day in pictures 3-4-15

First things first, littlest people need food!

Then little people can swing while kitcheny things happen.

Like sweet potatoes and eggs and turkey.

Then assess the house for the zillion-ish projects to be done.

Went to get poster board for my son.

And worked on a table project.

Of course I also worked from home on my "paid" job, and made dinner, and took care of kids, and answered a zillion questions and about 2 dozen other things. But, I forgot to take pictures of those. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Super secret project

I have a huge multi-media project that I am slowly, ever so slowly working on. Bless my patient husband who allows me space, time and help to get these projects done. In this case I am saving aluminum cans so that I can flatten them and use them for the "super secret project". It is super secret because I won't explain it to my kids. They always have 2 cents to put in about what I am working on, and I often just don't want to/need to/care to hear it. Let the artist alone to do her thing for goodness sake!

A piece of the project
One of the posters I had at my house before I married has been quoted by my husband many times over. I will admit I love new things just as much as the next girl, but learning to repurpose, renew and recreate has given me great joy and a lot of really cools things!

Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do

And finally, in the middle of all of this fun recreating and trying new things, I still live in a regular house with a "regular" *snerk snerk* family. We leave stuff all over the place, we have stacks of stuff that need to go to the attic or get left at the top of the stairs until dispersed. We have walls that need painting and pillows on the floor. And today, instead of adding these to my to-do list, I am just going to enjoy the blessing of really "living" in a home with a family that is healthy, happy and together.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The completion of "the big N"

Very exited to have finally finished this on 1/29. All in all I probably had 10 hours end, but most of that was done in 30 min chunks since a hot glue gun and an infant don't mix well. The only cost I had in it, besides time, was the spray paint. (And honestly, I loved that part! I have been spray painting all kinds of things!) I am quite pleased with the finished product. 
The Big N
It now hangs above our new buffet table with another of my recent projects, The shelf above the buffet was salvaged out of a dumpster - well, more accurately the wood was. I sanded it, rubbed it with stain to match the buffet top and used shelving brackets from Ikea ($4 ea.) to create the first of our reclaimed shelves. All in I think there is perhaps $10 (brackets, stain and sandpaper) and about an hour of labor. You will be seeing more of these around our house.

Of note as well is the blue seated chair which we picked up for $5 at a thrift store. I haven't yet decided whether I want to repaint the seat base. Thoughts?

Below are two other little projects. Diffusers are expensive to buy in the stores, and since I just recently purchased my first round of essential oils, I thought I would make my own. These bottles were $2 a piece from Walmart. I am brain scrounging items around my house I might use for more, but I loved these two little bottles. Bamboo skewers are the reeds. I used baby oil (which I found a site online that said I could) for a base, but am not pleased with it, so there will be modifications made when I can figure out what I prefer. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Big N

Do you ever feel like Pinterest ruins your life? Ok, maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but it certainly inspires me to add to the chaos of our home instead of decreasing it (no matter how many "how to get organized" articles/tips I pin!). And I have a bad habit of looking at a picture, thinking "I can do that" and not thinking through the whole process.

Separate but related thought... the first 1.5 yrs of our marriage, I didn't really craft much (work, kids, pregnant, infant, etc.) so my poor husband had no idea what he was getting himself into. *grin*

Today's Pinterest Project of DOOM:

OK - first the blogger said this was quick and easy - second she used a large wooden letter she got from Michael's. Third, in my mind this letter was large... not 9". 

So, here was my idea (because I didn't want to pay for a letter or drive to get one, etc)

We had a huge cardboard insert from the box for the hot water heater we replaced and so I cut 4 large N's out of the box and hot glued them together and then spray painted them.

I have been collecting sticks for another project that hasn't even really gotten started yet and Zeke and I have been spray painting them. So we used those to start this project. Gold, silver, white, black and clear.

I started gluing the sticks to the board last week.

A few thoughts:

Obviously sticks are not all the same size nor are they straight.

Also, since I put 4 pieces of cardboard together for stability, it created unfinished sides. I thought about many different ways of finishing off the sides and finally decided to try putting sticks on the sides as well. We will see how that works.

It is hard to tell whether I like this or not because I don't have enough done to step away and take the long look at it.

But at least I had this guy for company.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Kitchen Adventures - Setting the scene and last night's excitement

Since I have become a  SAHM I find myself seeking excitement. I mean, let's face it, 5 month olds are not the peak of intellectual engagement. (More on the SAHM transition in a future post.) One of the ways I do this is in the kitchen.

But I have a few problems.

First, my family is not very, shall we say, excited about culinary adventures. They are plain chicken with rice type folk. (Shortly after we married I tried making Eggs with Hollandaise which everyone in my family refused to eat. I don't think most of them even tried - and let me tell you, I make a pretty good Hollandaise sauce so they are just WEIRD.) I really love to bake, and about half the time the kids are fully on board. (I will post about Pretzel Night which is a family favorite!) The other half I end up giving away or throwing away. (Which for a mama on a budget is physically painful.) 

Last night I tried two new recipes.

Adventure #1
I am trying different cookie recipes hoping take some premade dough with us up North for Christmas. My son, Zeke (almost 12) was helping me pick out recipes on Pinterest and I found this one for Butter Cookies. We made the "Sand Cookies" (at first my son was not certain he wanted anything to do with cookies with sand in the name, and then he told me a story about someone who really did cook with sand in Egypt or somewhere. Almost 12 year olds are full of half learned half "fill in the blank" stories which are somewhere between amusing and annoying on the "mom has a limited band width" scale.)

These were AWESOME cookies. I give them an A+ for yumminess (but an F for good for you-ness). One other thing of note is that I don't have a mixer or a hand blender so I do all by hand.) So, here is where the cookies get exciting - since I moved in I cannot find many of my extraneous kitchen items (handblender) - like my frosting tips. So I decided to try to recreate using a ziploc bag with a whole in the corner. (the smudgy one is where I dropped my phone trying to take a picture.)

This would have worked and I think I could have gotten the hang of it except:

So I just gave up because this was happening on the counters at the same time:
All that includes pork chops, mashed potatoes, and my second adventure. (And our dog Pila who thankfully was not on the counters.)

And they tasted great. The remainder of the dough is in the fridge. I will edit with how the dough did in the fridge once we have gotten actual tips to make the cookies pretty or I decide on a plan B. Kids liked these as did husband.

Adventure #2
My friend KB posted a picture on FB of her Moravian Sugar Cake, When I worked as a Baker at the Fresh Market (many many moons ago) we used to sell these and I loved them, so I wanted to try out her recipe. 
I love making dough with yeast and this recipe required a boiled potatoe as well (hence we had mashed potatoes last night b/c if you are going to boil one you might as well boil a pot full.)

Well, I made the dough per the recipe. It looked gorgeous.

And then I put it in a pan that was too small. (Ok, how often do you make sure you use exactly the right size pan? Always? Oh... oh well.)
And I made the topping. And the dough rose. And I punched it down and put topping on and put it in the oven.

The topping on a Moravian Sugar Cake largely consists of - SUGAR. So, when the dough rose and the butter/sugar mix flowed off the pan, and the chef who was upstairs playing with baby and didn't think about the fall out got back downstairs, the mixture was on the lower heating element and smoking like a champ.

The cake was done so I took it out - but the rush of fresh air into the oven and whatever other perfect combination of events meant that I caught the oven on fire for the first time in my life. (oops!) I yelled for my hubs, our oldest daughter thoughtfully took TC from his arms because he was going to come fight fire with baby, and he came down the stairs. Fire extinguisher of course not handy, but I had been thinking enough to close the oven door which greatly decreased air and my husband leaned against it locking the seal and fire died. House full of smoke. Yahdah. 

But cake came out delicious (though so far only my oldest and I have eaten any.)

Two things of note: first - because I had it in a smaller pan it was thicker than it should have been which means the dough on the bottom did not get as saturated as it should have for a traditional cake. I am ok with this because the dough itself is quiet yummy. Second, while it was hot I did poke several holes in it with a knife which allowed hot buttery sugar and cinnamon to flow into cake. I have no complaints. As is typical of my life, my results don't look like the picture in the manual.

I am ok with that! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Home Made Modge Podge

So I have a big project spanning several canvases that I am S.L.O.W.L.Y working on. The background is all collaged but I cannot afford to go out and buy tons of modge podge for the project. Pinterest has about 7,000 different pins for diy modge podge so I thought I would give it a go.

I wish I could find the original blog I found the recipe on - but I appear to have lost it.

These were the ingredients:
1.5 Cu Flour
.25 Cu Sugar
.25 Tsp Olive Oil
1 Cu Water

Mix ingredients together on the stove at low heat. From some bloggy research I did I found the oil is for sheen and spreadability. Here is the way it looked when I pulled it off the stove:

The blogs all say to find a tightly sealable container. But I also want to be able to apply it quickly and easily and to be able to shake the mixture back up (since water/flour mixtures tend to separate over time.) I chose a cheap condiment bottle. Also, I wanted my glue to have some opacity to it. I added a little bit of paint (from a sample container from Lowes) that I knew would match the room I intend to place the art in.

Here is my set up. (The can of coke is optional and not recommended.)
I used the condiment bottle to add the paste to the canvas and a thick brush to spread it around. I wanted to collage pages from the Bible (sacrilegious I know) so I went to the local thrift store and found several different bibles with different texture pages. 
Interestingly I found that thinner pages (that are more like tissue paper) didn't adhere as well. Over all the homemade paste seemed to work pretty well. Like any modge podge project I would like to go over the canvas again to seal the edges and then after all painting etc is done, use clear finishing spray to protect the whole project. 
Here is my canvas two weeks later: (My lovely assistant held the canvas for me.)
This is my lovely assistant:

Overall I give this diy effort an A. I am pleased with the outcome and will be using this on my larger project (stay tuned!)