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Simple Summer Fun

I’ve discovered that the best summer toys are the simplest ones. These tubs, for example, are awesome.

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I can’t even begin to tell you all of the different ways the boys have used them.  Last year, it was a baby pool, Justus to splash around in, a private pool for him where he could stay safe (away from the big boys’ crazy pool splashing) but still have some water fun.

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This year, those tubs have been boats in the bigger pool (as seen above,) surf boards,

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turtle shells,

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a water ride,

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a lounger,

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and generally a place to have one’s own space away from whatever is going on.  Brilliant.  I absolutely got my money’s worth out of these beauties. And the boys never seem to grow tired of them!

Another spectacular summer toy are these thrift store finds (or you can get them at the dollar store, too.) Three words for you: plastic condiments squirters! Not only do they work perfectly as water guns, but they are excellent tools for water art!

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Or just take them apart to see how they work, examine them, and fill them up with water before dumping it.

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I love seeing how simple objects transform into so any different things! Isn’t a child’s imagination the greatest? Watching them dream and explore the world around them…absolutely one of my favorite things about being a mom.

And don’t get me started on the fun that can be had with pillows…

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Great IS His Faithfulness

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed you’re not sure how you’re going to keep it together? I had a moment like that…or a few of them recently as I decluttered my house to get it ready to sell, chase three boys around, balance swim lessons and t-ball schedules with grocery shopping and laundry (which, by the way, I didn’t do so hot at last week as we had an underwear crisis!)  And as a friend commented on facebook recently, it sometimes seems that as soon as you get through a whole mess of things, you’re inundated with twice as much — cause that’s life!

This verse of “Great is Thy Faithfulness” was just what I needed.

“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!”

Oh the idea of a peace that endures and never fails comforts my heart! The reminder that God’s sweet presence cheers and guides me is the reassurance I need.  His promise to provide strength and hope for each new day with new blessings, even if they’re in disguise (as the Laura Story song goes.) I just love it when Jesus comforts me with reminders of his faithfulness at the moment we need it most, don’t you?  And though my situation hasn’t changed at all, I feel confident that I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.  Great is His faithfulness.

 

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One Man’s Trash…

For all my DIY friends out there, this one’s for you.

One of my great loves in life is coffee, another is being creative.  I love to paint, draw, and imagine what junk could look like with some help.  I don’t do it nearly as often as I’d like, but I do get the chance and I should make the time for it.

I haven’t done much furniture redo, but what I have done, I’ve really enjoyed.  A lot.  Last fall, I needed a new dresser and so I started scouring the buy/sell/trade sites locally.  I didn’t want to pay a lot, I was hoping for a project, and it needed to be solid, since we move often, I can’t take chances with rickety things.  I was also planning a big house-wide furniture swap out too, and it needed to be done before Christmas in order to fit a couple of new, bigger Christmas gifts the big boys were going to receive.  Because of dresser shapes and sizes, the boys needed my old dresser, Justus needed theirs, leaving me with…a need for a dresser.  One day, I found this beauty and got it for $30.  Solid wood, read: very heavy, and in near perfect condition!

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Not my style, but it fit the space perfectly, was exactly what I was looking for, and had gobs of potential, so I nabbed it. And I knew exactly what I would do to it.  That was last fall.  A month ago, I got to work.  Knowing I’m moving in the fall is a great motivator for getting things done.  I hate bringing unfinished projects with me to a new assignment.  And speaking of unfinished projects, I needed to get a move on a new desk I found on the side of the road last spring.  This little guy was so sad with a “FREE” sign on him, that I had to bring him home and give him a new home.  Isn’t he cute?

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That’s right, a free desk, with vintage sewing machine and notions included (though unwanted.)  I picked a day, hired babysitters (a brother-sister team that the boys…and I…adore, win-win for all of us!) and I set to work on BOTH projects.  Why do one DIY project when you could do two at once?

Here are a couple of in-progress shots:

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I got both pieces painted that day…mostly.  I had a few spots to touch up, but it was the start I needed.  I worked on one project in my bedroom (the hubby was away for the week, so I could leave it completely messy and blocking everything without worrying about him tripping and breaking that cute neck of his) and I worked on the desk in my “studio.”  Then the desk sat there for about a week while I finished up the dresser.  The big problem was the hardware:

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Yuck.  Ugly.  Outdated.  Monstrosities.  I couldn’t’ put those on my drawers, so I went looking for hardware and found nothing I loved or wanted to fork over the big bucks for (hardware is expensive!)  So, I got my trusty black spray paint out and decided these would have to do.  And, I actually LOVE how they turned out.  Perfect, just what I wanted and didn’t realize!  Ta da…the finished product!

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Gotta say, I think it turned out rather fabulously.  I love it.  Just as I pictured it in my head.

But what about that desk, you ask? Well, I had seen something YEARS ago in a magazine of a drop leaf table with a vintage travel poster glued on leaf hanging down and have always loved the idea. But instead of a poster, I wanted maps.  After I got the desk, I sent out a mass plea for old maps and my friends came through for me!  I had tons of maps to choose from.  So thank you!  And with lots of prayer and mod podge, (this really should have been a 2 person job, it would have been much less panic inducing,) here is the finished product!

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Pretty sure this is my favorite piece I’ve ever redone.  I absolutely love it.  Free maps, free desk, and just the cost of paint has turned a boring old desk into fabulousness!  We absolutely love it.  The top flips open and eventually it’ll be hideaway storage once hubby helps with it.  And I’d like to add some more maps to the back of it but I can’t quite decide.  I can’t wait to see it in our new house.

So, two weeks, two big DIY furniture redo projects, 3 boys, a hubby away and the help of two fabulous teenagers.  I can’t wait to find my next steal of a deal to turn into treasure!

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Ruth Part 6:

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Got your cup ready?  A cup for some grace and one for some coffee?  (I love coffee…have I mentioned that?)  So how does the story end? Happily. Boaz falls in love with Ruth, Ruth falls in love with Boaz and proposes to him by taking a nap by his feet…you know, a typical romance…it’s a long story. And at some point we’ll get there. But for now, we’ll just be happy that they do indeed get hitched.

And want to know something cool? Check out the genealogy in Matthew 1 and it’ll reveal that Rahab (check out her story here!) was Boaz’s mom, which means that she was Ruth’s mother-in-law. Who cares, you ask? Well, I just think it’s neat that in God’s wisdom, He gave Ruth not only Naomi to love and guide her in her newly adopted land, but also a mother-in-law who also once been a foreigner going through the same thing, having adopted Israel and trusted God as her own personal God.  Whether Rahab was around to meet Ruth is a mystery, but her unique perspective and experience definitely influenced Boaz’s integrity, honor, and perspective.

“Ruth, like Rahab reached out to God in hope and faith and were identified with Jesus in his ancestral line, even though they came from Gentile heathen nations.” (Chosen Women of the Bible, p.41)

Come on, that’s so cool!

When we reach out to God in hope and faith, He will always be there for us, arms open wide to welcome us in love.

Ruth’s story is one of love, devotion, hard work, romance, sorrow, second chances, determination, family, respect, and even ordinary choices. But it’s first and foremost a story of a woman’s faith in God. A woman not unlike any of us today. “Woman’s faith is the vehicle to bring her to God, when she trusts in His goodness rather than her own worthiness” (Chosen Women of the Bible, p42.)

Are you ready to hop in that vehicle and drive closer to God? Are you ready to trust in His goodness?  If you need help getting the car started, I’d be happy to chat with you! Send me an email or comment below.

And while you’re driving towards God, stop for a coffee and be happily caffeinated on your way.

(Ruth)

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Ruth Part 5: Let’s Talk Faith

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Let’s stop for a moment and talk about faith. We keep mentioning Ruth’s faith in God. But what is Faith?

“Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1)

Ruth was confident that God would provide in her new life, she trusted in God’s promise of never leaving her.  That’s faith.  She didn’t know and she couldn’t see and yet she trusted and hoped.

How do we get faith?

“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17.)

Ruth heard about the one true God through her husband’s family. Sometimes faith comes from being encouraged through fellowship with believers, sometimes it comes by digging deeper into God’s Word, and sometimes it comes through prayer and communion with our Lord.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6)

When things get rough, and we bring those worries and struggles to God, he is so pleased that we have put our faith in Him by asking for help. We believe He loves us, cares for us, and will be there to help us along the way. And just like He brought Ruth through her struggle and sorrow, He will never leave us.

Do you need an extra dose of grace this morning? There’s no secret formula, cast your cares on him and trust that He’s got it under control.  That mustard seed of faith will be nurtured, you’ll feel strengthened and renewed.  I can promise this because I’ve experienced it.  And so did Ruth.

(Ruth)

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Ruth Part 4: Wait, Work is a…Blessing?

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Grab your cup, the grace is flowing!

Ruth faced the unknown but knew who was going before her…wow.

I think we’ve all had times in our lives when we’ve been walking down the road but not knowing why or knowing how we’ll manage. I know I have. And I know that the Lord was leading the way, going before me preparing things, my job was to walk by faith, to trust and step out of my comfort zone.  God is a God who cares, loves, goes before, prepares the way, walks beside, comforts, provides, and no matter what, is always faithful.

Back in Bethlehem, Ruth begins her new life. Out of respect for her Naomi, she goes out in search of work, looking to find favor with someone and gather grain. She didn’t wait for Naomi to come up with a plan, she took the initiative to create a better life for not only herself but also her mother-in-law.

Deuteronomy 24:19 explains God’s instructions for providing for the poor. “When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless in you in all the work of your hands.” The culture of the day didn’t have jobs that women could apply for, they were completely dependent. But, God provided for them, a plan allowing them to work and have enough.

So, Ruth heads out to a field and arrives at a one belonging to Boaz.  She begins to glean, working hard and steadily, finding favor with Boaz.  In fact, Boaz tells her not to glean in any other field, and assures her of her safety.  What a blessing!   After all, she’s a foreign woman out in a field full of men so the promise of safety would be an answer to prayer!  Not to mention she was allowed to work steadily, to follow along after the girls that worked the field and glean after them.  And as a bonus – he invited her to drink from the water jars as well.  Jackpot!  A safe, secure, and prosperous work environment!

You see, he’d heard of Ruth.  Heard how she wouldn’t leave her mother-in-law, heard about all of her hard work, and her courage in living with an unknown people.

He was impressed with this young woman.  So much so that he even invited her to eat with the harvesters, offering her what everyone else was eating and inviting her to eat until she was satisfied.  And after she ate and returned to gleaning the fields, he gave orders to his workers, “Even if she gathers among the sheaves, don’t embarrass her. Rather, pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her” (Ruth 2:15,16.)  Not only was Boaz impressed by all that he had heard of her actions, he was also impressed with her in person.

She didn’t whine about how hard she had to work, and how demeaning it was to be the lowliest person there.  She stayed humble and did what needed to be done.  She wasn’t brash or mouthy, she honored her host in her speech.  She was grateful for the opportunity to work and to provide for herself and Naomi.

Alistair Begg puts it this way, ““Everything that God gives us and every opportunity of obtaining what we need is an undeserved expression of God’s favor.”

Work is a blessing. (Even though it doesn’t always feel like it!)

God was honoring her choice to put her faith in Him by supplying for her needs.  How awesome is that!

(Ruth)

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Fourth of July Fun!

Because it’s July 4th, we’ve been reading and learning a lot about America in my house.  There are so absolutely FABULOUS books out there on the subject for kids (which I’ll include in a list at the end.)  We read about different symbols of America like the bald eagle, the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty, and the American Flag and how they stand for freedom, hope, and independence.  We learned about George Washington and then we had made some fun stuff. Mostly Diego and I made most of the projects, but the whole gang got in on at least one of them.

Here’s Diego’s George Washington..

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Seriously, now cute is that?!  We had so much fun making GW, that we also made a bald eagle, which is quite possibly Diego’s favorite symbol of America.

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I love his expression–proud, excited, and trying not to smile.  That kid cracks me up.  Next up we made the American flag.  This was a project for the whole gang.  After they cut out the stripes (but not Justus, I’m not sure I’ll ever trust that boy with scissors,) we glued and glued the stripes to our paper. 13 stripes for 13 old states (or colonies) as Diego would say.

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Yes, I let Justus have the glue stick.  Yes, he’s trying out the glue on his finger.  Yes, I lost my mind. Which will be more evident in the next step: painting our “stars” using a q-tip.

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The boys worked so hard on their flags! The big boys got theirs in rows (following a guide I had done for them) and Justus sort of just free-handed it. They definitely had a blast and were so proud of their artwork.

We also watched the “America Rocks” series of songs by Schoolhouse Rock, which happens to be a big time favorite of mine (yes, I know the words by heart!) And we also watched the “First Fourth of July” episode on a series called, “Liberty’s Kids,” another great source to reinforce what we’d learned.  It was so much fun to see Diego recognize George Washington as one of the characters. And we did simple things too, like listened to Whitney Houston belt out “The Star Spangled Banner” (to which Diego said, “Hey, they play that at ball games!”) and versions of “America the Beautiful” and “My Country Tis of Thee.”

And for the first time, I’m planning on taking Diego to see fireworks (after all, you can’t watch School House Rock’s “Fireworks” and then not go see some!) Plus a few more fun activities like fireworks painting and making red white and blue choc covered strawberries.

Have some fun of your own this 4th of July.  Happy 4th of July!

 

Awesome Books and DVD’s About America (with links to Amazon)

A Picture Book of George Washington by David A. Adler, John Wallner, Alexandra Wallner

George Washington and the General’s Dog (Step-Into-Reading, Step 3) by Frank Murphy and Richard Walz (a favorite!)

The Story of the Statue of Liberty by Betsy Maestro, Giulio Maestro

The Bald Eagle (American Symbols) by Norman Pearl, Matthew Skeens

The Liberty Bell (American Symbols) by Mary Firestone, Matthew Skeens

America Is… by Louise Borden, Stacey Schuett

We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States by David Catrow

Stars and Stripes: The Story of the American Flag by Sarah L. Thomson

Liberty’s Kids – The Complete Series ~ Walter Cronkite

Schoolhouse Rock- 30th Anniversary by Schoolhouse Rock  (DVD)