Saturday, April 30, 2011


One thing about living in a temporary apartment is that it really is a work in progress... always. One room I am still not satisfied with is our bedroom. My imagination pictures something much more fresh and delicate. Perhaps you remember the furniture redo back in January? That was certainly a step in the right direction. I also stumbled across this pillow from an acquaintance's blog, and was inspired.

So, last Friday on my day off I hit Goodwill and bought a pile of white linens - cream colored bedsheets, organic cotton; off-white flannel pillowcase; sheer valence; white embroidered valence; cream muslin curtain with ruffle. I had some cream colored lace at home that I threw into the bunch, and I also picked up some scraps at Wal-mart of a thin white cotton, and a tannish linen for less than a dollar total. I bought  three good-sized pillows at Goodwill (and disinfected them thoroughly), and used some stuffing I already had. Altogether I spent almost $15.

lace with lace rosettes
The rosettes were fun to make, and super easy. I took a strip of fabric, tucked the ends in and then circled    the fabric around the center, pinning as I went. The lace ones I only tacked to the pillow, but for the heavy linen and cotton I stitched the rosettes together as individual pieces and then tacked them to the pillow so that they would be more secure.

ruffled curtain
This pillow really made itself. I loved the curtain as a scrap of fabric, hated the curtain as what it was intended. I didn't play around with it long, before the ruffle fell diagonally down the center. 

Underneath this pillow and the following two are the pillows I bought. Because they were dark in color I had to cover them first with the sheet.
pillow covered in the bed sheets, with rosettes of assorted materials

Two of the pillows I got were the same size, so I made my pillows similar in look. I love the lace rosettes.
The two "matching pillows" were my variety on the inspiration. I love the array of materials. My middle, pointer fingers and right hand thumb are numb from sticking a needle into the stiff pillow over and over.

Embroidered valence - simple and sweet
This pillow was a snap. All I had to do was stitch three ends of the valence together and slide the pillow in.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


This week has been Spring Break for Maura and Michael, so that's meant ten hour days for me, and lots of fun things to do! Yesterday we went to the YMCA and swam (indoor... though it's warm enough for outdoor, here). I don't have any pictures or anything really interesting, but Michael's little friend Jack came with us to the pool, and he was so funny. I thought I'd share what he said when he first started trying to swim after a dry winter. He wasn't the strongest swimmer, but made up for it with effort. I told him to kick his legs harder, and blow bubbles into the water when his face was under. He tried. Then stood up and exclaimed, "I just can't even breathe under there!"

The lifeguard and I chuckled a bit. :) No, buddy, you can't breathe underwater.

Friday, April 22, 2011

"There is an Endless Kingdom to be Inhabited"

Is it right that we have to see a loved one perish while life still seems so full of opportunity? Is it right that little babies are born at barely two pounds and given less than a 30% chance of surviving? Is it right that sweet, loving women are emotionally and physically abused daily, with no obvious chance for escape? That thousands are without homes because of "natural disasters"?

I had planned to do a 3-day Easter post on Jesus as our great High Priest. The Lord has taught me much about that over the last several weeks and months, and I wanted to pass it along (though of course it is nothing new). Yet, presently, there seems other more pressing things on my heart.

Am I resounding gong constantly talking about suffering and pain?

Like most cities, Charlotte has it's group of homeless that stand on the street corners with signs, begging for money or food. My heart clenches with guilt and sadness when I see them, because I know no human being deserves to live in rags, and never know what being full feels like.

Does anyone else want to cry out with me "This isn't right!!!"

So my thoughts this Good Friday are somber. With sin such a reality, how could they not be?

But in less than three days I will be singing praises that Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!

And it is because I will be singing those praises that the present afflictions of my heart, and the hearts of those around me can be comforted.

Christ died. In that death he took the weight of sin upon Himself. Practically, this means that we are free from slavery to sin. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1). Then, in His resurrection He conquered sin.

This is not just the sins we commit, or the good things we've left undone. Sin has not just effected our actions.

Sin is death. Sin is pain. Sin is suffering. Sin hurts.

So if Christ has conquerer sin, why do I still cry for the hurt people in this world?

The Holy Spirit-inspired writer of Hebrews puts it this way, "...At present we do not see everything in subjection to Him. But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory an honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone." (2:8b-9) It's as if he's saying, "Right now things aren't how they should be, but Jesus tasted death for us all... so it's going to get better!"

After all, God originally created and intended for a sinless creation. He hates sin, and all that it brings to His creation. This is not how He intended things to be, and so He made a way to make it right again.

That's while I'll be singing Alleluia on Resurrection Sunday. Because God made it right through His Son. Though we still feel the sting of pain, of death, it is not what always will be.

I like how Christian puts it in John Bunyan's famous Pilgrim's Progress,

"There is an endless kingdom to be inhabited, and everlasting life to be given us, that we may inhabit that kingdom forever. There are crowns of glory to be given us, and garments that will make us shine like the sun in the firmament of Heaven. There shall be no more crying, nor sorrow; for He that is owner of the place will wipe all tears from our eyes. There we shall be with seraphim and cherubim - creatures that will dazzle our eyes to look on them. There also we shall meet with thousands and ten thousands that have gone before us to that place; none of them are hurtful, but are loving and holy, everyone walking in the sight of God, and standing in His presence with acceptance forever.... And the Lord, the Governor of the country, hath recorded in this Book if we be truly willing to have it, He will bestow it upon us freely."

Good Friday, of all days, should make us long for that heavenly kingdom more and more.

 Life is not as it should be, 
but as God continues His plan of redemption through Jesus Christ, 
all will be made right.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Creatures of Nature

Maura and Michael's first day of Spring Break was Wednesday, so we took the opportunity to do the long-awaited "whole Greenway" bike ride. They have been bugging me to do this since I first took them to the Greenway, but I knew that it would be more than an after school activity, so I promised we'd do it for Spring Break. 

Wednesday was a perfect day to ride 10 miles. It was warm (80) but uncharacteristically cloudy, so we didn't sweat, or get dehydrated. :) Spring is in full swing down here in the Carolinas. In fact, it feels more like summer to me. The trees are already heavy with green leaves, the daffodils are long gone, and the birds sing before 6 am. Pollen is still everywhere though.

We saw SO MANY lil creatures today. We took our time, and were quick to stop anytime any of us spotted something extraordinary. My personal favorite:

This little turtle, only about as round as a golf ball, I spotted while we were going over one of the bridges. I don't know how my eye caught him. He is so small. I did find it fascinating to compare the careful oversight Mother Duck gave to her three little ones, and the total independence of this tiny turtle. Interesting how the different species were designed.

Not So Cute Mr. Frog. There was a time, believe it or not, when I was completely engrossed with frogs. There was a small swamp near our house, and the summer I was ten, I spent my days capturing and releasing frogs of all sizes.

Can you count all the turtles? 7 in all!
See the pretty Green Heron?

Caterpillar on Michael's Cheetos-covered fingers

Favorite picture from the day
Does anyone know what these flowers are called? They are absolutely stunning.

Wild Strawberries
There were also some neat things to see on the Greenway, like the tree roots that grow right through the asphalt:

We treated ourselves to Yoforia after our long bike ride. Yum-O. It just gets better every time I have it.


Monday, April 18, 2011

A New Camera!

Are you ever convicted that you fail to trust in God's goodness, even with the littlest things in life?

Well, I must admit I was pretty upset when my camera came up missing last week. Nearly cried. Talked about it all week. Then talked bad about the loser of a person who probably stole it. Then mumbled about all the memories I was going to miss in the next several months, since I wouldn't be able to replace it until, at soonest, my birthday at the end of June. Waa-waa-waa, woe is me.

Well, God proves His goodness even in little things! My sweet, generous friend, Carolyn happened to have a digital camera she's been trying to find a new home for. She gave it to me without thinking twice! The battery was totally dead, and it didn't have a memory card, but those were slight problems in the grand scheme of things.

Did a little rummaging around and found Daniel's old camera (yes, I know, I could have used that. I actually completely forgot about it until after Carolyn gave me hers), with a memory card inside of it. Perfect fit!

As for the battery? Turns out Carolyn's camera is just a newer version of mine. All the hardware I still have from my camera works just fine on hers!

God is good, all the time! Is what I burst out singing. LoL. I know, I'm such a little kid sometimes.

Btw, I had an awfully fun time going through that old memory card of Daniel's. College trip to NYC, a summer doing youth ministry in Tampa, a couple of dates with an ex-girlfriend (deleted those), and these:

Joe & Dan in the good ol' days

:-D :-D :-D

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Gospel Coalition Unfolded

or something like unfolded. Basically, I'm just going to tell you about the week!

I have never been to a conference so jam-packed with events. There was a Pre-conference Conference, a Conference, and a Post-conference Conference. There were sessions during lunch breaks, and during dinner breaks. One session started at 7:30am, and the last sermon of the day finished at 9pm, with a concert to follow. Though we would have loved to soak in every bit offered, our bodies and minds simply couldn't. So we took some time to walk around Chicago, usually during lunch and dinner time, and stretch our legs and breathe in fresh air. We only ate at a chain restaurant once the entire trip, which is very exciting and big deal for us. :) We had yummy Rueben sandwiches at a real Chicago deli, thin crust pizza on Michigan Ave, toasted sandwiches at Potbelly's and Curry Chicken in China Town. We walked a lot, and talked while we walked, which was something we both enjoyed. Sure, we talk at home, but we enjoyed the opportunity to be with each other and share our hearts uninterrupted.

Daniel has, since I've known him, talked about church planting. He's especially been tugged recently to pursue it, so we attended a lot of the sessions geared toward that end. The first was part of the Pre-Conference Conference, titled "God-Given Growth: A Pre-Conference on Church Planting." Several pastors who had either church planted or revitalized an existing church shared their stories, and what God did to grow their churches significantly. They talked about the necessity of preaching - and not just preaching, but preaching God's Word. This is more important than strategy (good for my visionary, planner husband to hear :) ). They also talked about the fact that not every pastor is called to church planting, the difficulties of it, and the strengths necessary, and how then to determine if and when you are called. All good stuff to think about for us. Along those same lines a panel discussion on What a Local Church Should Look Like was helpful, too. But our favorite was the Post-Conference conference, Christ + City. More on what we learned from that in a later post, Lord willing.

We also listened to a panel discussion on what teaching Christ in the Old Testament has taught certain pastors. Alistar Begg, Mark Dever and Phil Ryken were part of this discussion.

"Corporate Worship" as the conference called it, was lead once a day by Keith and Kristyn Getty and their fabulous band. The song for the conference was By Faith. We sang a lot of other titles, too, including several from their latest CD Awake the Dawn (Which you can buy for $10 on their website, or for $13 at the Gospel Coalition.... hmmm). This was one of the best parts of the conference, honestly. The music is rich, the lyrics are powerful and Kristyn's voice is flawless. (And so loud I can't hear myself, which is great, too).

The Conference started with two sermons by Al Mohler and Tim Keller. When D.A. Carson came up on stage to announce Keller he said, "Now the next speaker is... Tim Keller." The entire room was silent. I think for a brief moment everyone stopped breathing! Carson gave us all a look and said, "Well, I think an good 'ooh-ooh-ooh!' could be said in a holy way!"

But, joking aside, Keller's sermon was the best we've heard. Daniel claims going to the conference just to hear that sermon would have been worth it. The text was Exodus 14 the climax of the Exodus account, where the Israelite's pass over the Red Sea on dry ground, and then the entire Egyptian army is swept up in a current, as the Lord folds the sea back together. Using the obvious slavery and bondage of the Israelites to depict our own slavery to sin, Keller used the "Getting Out" title to draw on our need for freedom. Ultimately this is freedom from sin and death. Keller pointed out, "If sin and death are conquered, all the rest of the mess is just like flea bites." Incredibly, in Exodus 14, God leads the Israelites out of Egypt, rescues them from slavery, kills their enemies, and THEN gives them the Law. Unlike any other religion, Christianity stands unique: There is not a process to be saved. Our works are not necessary to secure our freedom. "We are not saved by the quality of our faith, we are saved by the Object of our faith." and then, given the Law to obey, out of love, and not fear. That's freedom. That's grace. That's the Gospel.

Another highly enjoyed lecture was from Mark Driscoll on Spirit-Filled Ministry. He took us through the entire book of Luke and read every verse that speaks of the Holy Spirit. He then, in typical Driscoll style, "yelled at us because he loves us" for not letting the Holy Spirit work in our ministries by ignoring Satan, not living joyfully, focusing on what we're against rather than what we're for, and many other things. He ended with a convicting statement, "I don't care if you're preaching to the remnant. I don't care if your church is young. I don't care if you're going through a hard time! We cannot say the tomb is empty and be satisfied with fruitlessness." AMEN!

Carson got us Excited about Melchizedek, too. Hopefully more on that next weekend, for Easter.

We especially enjoyed a panel discussion on How to Teach Children and Youth the Gospel with Russel Moore, David Helm and Kimberly Thornbury. Great, great stuff! More on that later, too?

I hate long rambling posts with no pictures... sorry. I had hoped to snap away all week, but discovered my camera was missing Tuesday morning. Seems I left it in the O'Hare airport while waiting for Daniel Monday afternoon. I'm not really sure how it happened, but I've given it up as lost. The pictures on it from my weekend in Cleveland with my sister are what make me saddest. The camera is replaceable, the pictures are not. :(

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Gospel Coalition

Today, tomorrow and Thursday Daniel and I are excited to be spending our time in Chicago for the Gospel Coalition. Lord willing there will be posts to follow about our time here, but for now: Just check out the list of speakers and the schedule, and BE JEALOUS. :-P

Today was fantastic. Everything is in some way edifying, and the conference topic of preaching Christ from the Old Testament makes the entire experience incredibly redemption-minded, which is exactly what we love best.

In addition to three jam-packed days of Jesus we get to spend our evenings with friends here in Chicago, and visit a few places in the Windy City. Should be a great week!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Favorite Things Recently


The Apple Genuis Bar

Silly Bandz

morning walks

hard boiled eggs

looking through old pictures

dogwood trees in full-bloom