Thursday, December 27, 2012

African Flowers!

What started out as an innocent day of yarn organizing turned into an explosion of African Flowers.  I  had come to the sad realization that until I used up all of my yarn I would not allow myself to purchase any more yarn, I came to the same conclusion with my kitchen pantry.  So I thought about what I could do with all of these different yarns, each one was purchased to make a different project that I probably started and took apart or just didn't finish, I'm a closet starter non-finisher.  There. Now that is out in the open. So I thought about what to make and thought these colors would all look great together on a blanket.  But I needed something that would be instant gratification because I had the itch to make something.  So I went to my trusty Pinterest board and got to lookin'.  First pin on my board was an African Flower baby blanket.

I thought, this could be fun.  I would be trying a new pattern and it could be done pretty quick.  I found great directions to the African Flower tutorial here. So with a basket of yarn in tow, I went to my mom's and parked myself in front of the Hallmark channel.  I was hoping that A Princess for Christmas would be on so I could watch Katie McGrath be someone other than Morgana Pendragon.  And yes I can name most Hallmark movies.

Making the flowers was fun.  It was turning them into hexagons that made things a little crazy.  I had to take them a part several times but I think it worked out.   Putting them together was a lot of work and I did not plan it out well.   Note to self don't watch TV when putting things together.  I ended up sewing the wrong side together instead of the right side (that sounds confusing I know).  Then I realized that I was going to have to figure out how to make a half hexagon.  That wasn't part of my plan either.  But you can find a tutorial for it here.

It took me about six days and I finished it up today!  It still needs to be blocked and I will redo the border.  It's not the best work I've done, but I am in love with the color. I have plenty of yarn left over to try again.  There are a couple of things I would do different next time.  For starters I would plan it out.   I would put the project down during the climactic scenes of Merlin.   I would also do an invisible stitch to join the pieces so that the blanket was flat as opposed to rigid. And I would make sure that the right side was the right side.   Practice makes perfect. 

 It also has a special place in my heart.  I prayed a lot while making this blanket.  It may sound cliche but I prayed for the children of Africa.  I prayed for the orphaned babies and abandoned children.  I have been reading some adoption blogs recently and have been blessed to hear different adoption stories, some wonderful and some heartbreaking.  There are so many babies in orphanages either abandoned or who have lost their parents due to AIDS or genocide and my heart breaks.  So every little flower on this blanket is a prayer for safety, protection and Love.  That whoever is caring for them that they could just love on those babies.  That angels would play with them while they were isolated in their cribs.   I prayed for the parents that had to give their babies up.  And prayed for their future homes and families, that God was just putting all of those things in motions for those children to be loved and cared for. I prayed for easy transitions and traveling mercies.  I prayed all these things while kissing my babies a couple of more times before bed.  I prayed that babies without father's would seek the one true Father, for He does not abandon.  I pray that someone could love them.  I hope you can pray for them too. 

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 
~John 15:7

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Peace for the Seeker

I read something on Facebook that really upset me today.  So much so that I was ready to pack my family up and move to a cabin in Montana.  You know it was serious because I hate the cold. I started to get myself all riled up when a song popped into my head...

I lift up my eyes to the heavens Cause I know where my help comes from
I will set my mind upon You, Jesus
My Savior, God's only Son
There is peace for the seeker
Blessed hope from the Lord
There is love without measure
For all who trust in the Lord 

Praise God for that song because it immediately took me out of that doom and gloom cloud I was just about to pitch my tent in.   My heart then began to ache for all those who don't have this Peace.  This free gift from God.  Something so easily attainable.  "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."~ John 14:27

Without peace, people live in fear, some turn to fanaticism.   Fear leads to tyranny, whether social or spiritual.  When I watch the news or read the paper or just speak to friends, I'm easily sucked into the anxiety that this world lives in...war, guns, death, famine.  Then I'm reminded of Jesus' Words... "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come."~ Matthew 24:6   I am once again reminded to be at peace. 

I think of all the things that I "think" bring me peace, a long run on a beautiful day or a quiet house with no fighting children.  And when I think of those things, I'm reminded that those are all just "moments" of peace, worldly peace.  In a while the children will be fighting, there won't be enough money and I'm back to eating ice cream straight out of the gallon.  But the gift of peace is constant.  When the children are yelling I ask the Lord to fill me with His peace.  When money runs out I'm reminded that He is the great provider.  When I'm eating the ice cream I say "thanks for that." Whether I chose to accept His precious gift is a whole other story. 

If you're in a place today, full of anxiety, hopelessness or fear, my prayer is that you lift your eyes up to heaven, because He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Mary did you know?


     I love this time of year.  Not so much for the gift giving part, you can do that any time of the year.  I also could do without the cold, although last nights snowfall was lovely.  I love this time of year for what it represents, “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 NKJV
The Savior of the world would be born on this day.  The bread of life would be born in the town of bread (Bethlehem) and the prophesy would be fulfilled. 

      This year is the first year our oldest who is now five was really looking forward to Christmas, mostly for the gift part, but still it was exciting to see him finally learn the days of the week and understand what a month is.  He woke up every day and crossed off his calendar in preparation for the "big day".  "Mom, I'm excited because Christmas is just two days away."

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."` John 1:14

      Christmas also reminds me to look at my children through different eyes.  I try to look at them through the eyes of Mary.  As a mother I want to raise my children to be like Jesus, but I struggle with being the example myself.  What was it like to raise Jesus Himself?  What must it have felt like to be the mother of God?  To kiss his face?  To hold His hand? To want to protect Him from bruising his knees? To behold his glory?  To see Him die on the cross for those generations of sinners not yet born? To know that He came to save her too.

      My prayer today is to love my children more.  Not just to raise them to be like Jesus but to treat them as if they are Jesus.  Maybe then will they be like Jesus.  Maybe then will I be like Jesus.

      Thank you Mary for taking care of My Lord.  Merry Christmas to you all and God bless you.  Below is one of my favorite songs.  It's a song I could appreciate only after becoming a mother.  I hope you enjoy the lyrics as much as I do

Mary Did You Know
~Mark Lowry

Mary did you know that your baby boy would some day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man?

Mary did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Oh Mary did you know

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.

The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?

Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding is the great I am

S. Vanessa

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pickin' ain't easy and ain't Perfect

Do you ever watch "American Pickers" or go on those blogs that show this amazing transformation of a piece of garbage and just wish you could do that or think that you can? Well I do.  And even though I said I was going to take a break from furniture I sort of didn't.

I tend to bite off more than I can chew and that was the case this past weekend.  Driving through the neighborhood I found, what I thought was this amazing old hutch and couldn't believe someone was actually throwing it away.  I drove by it and thought "Nah".  The closer I got to home the more I wanted it and convinced myself that this would be the piece that changed it all. So I went back to get it and stuffed that crazy object into the back of the minivan with the help of my sidekick, Mom.  As soon as I drove away I began to suffer from "pickers remorse".  I'm not sure if that's an actual condition but that's definitely what I had. 

When I saw this piece I was so excited to bring it back to life.  Then I realized that there was a reason someone threw it out.  It was GARBAGE!!!  Turns out it was made of MDF wood and plastic and badly damaged and it smelled.  SWEET! Now what? 
 There was no way I was going to keep this in my mom's garage until next spring when bulk pickup came back around. So I did the next best thing.  I got my hand saw.  I was going to have some fun with this. Then, the battery died. So I did something even better than use my saw. I kicked it to death. It was so damaged it died within seconds.  Pickin' party over.

Next day I decided I needed to stick to my original plan of  making myself a hat and scarf.  Now that I'm over my fear of circular saws I needed to get over my fear of the circular needle. I went over it with Eve who assured me that it wouldn't be hard.  But after a couple of tries I was about to give up and just make a hat on regular needles when my friend Brett made a great point to me.  She reminded me that we are always trying to teach our children to just go for it and not worry if what they are making isn't perfect the first time.  Yet we don't try things for fear of it not coming out perfect. That was the little push I needed to finish my hat. I needed to practice what I preached.
That little statement lead me to reflect on my relationship with God. There are so many days when I wake up doing all the right things.  Then one little missed step, one small trial and I completely give up and feel like I'm not good enough to continue.  I'm not perfect and never will be in this life but I thank God for Jesus who is because it is through Him that I have the confidence to try again.

After taking that hat apart about 5 times I decided to press on. I caught up on most of Psych Season 6 and had some fun.  It's a little big, okay really big,  but it's almost perfect.  And I made it. You can find the pattern here if you're interested.
Have a blessed weekend.  I'm off to make a matching scarf.  Go make something.  Don't forget to give yourself some grace, maybe a push and press on!

S. Vanessa

Purpose of the Mystery

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship[a] of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;[b] 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.~Ephesians 3:8-13

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Trestle table!

I would like to apologize for skipping last week.  I really did want to post my progress on the Trestle table but I was so busy.  I can't really tell you what I was busy doing because frankly I don't recall.  I do know that I was too busy to get gas.  This afternoon, after I had strapped the boys in their seats I went to start my car, as I usually do when I need to go somewhere, and low and behold, it did not start.  I immediately diagnosed my car as needing an alternator.  Did you know I was a mechanic too?  Well, chaos ensued in our household and then my husband insulted me with the idea that I might not have any gas in the soccer van.  Of all the... I always have gas... I pay attention to what goes on around me...I'm not careless... 2 hours later... maybe I don't have gas.  Thank goodness for my mom who saved the day with...yup you guessed it... GAS! Sorry Marty. 

Now. What was I talking about?  Oh, right.  The trestle table.  Let me tell you about this table.  There were points during this project when I was in tears.   You see, there were angles involved in this bad boy. All I remember about angles is sine cosine tangent.  And what I remember most is that I failed that class.  You know the one with that ugly green textbook (for all you new yorkers).  I also don't have a miter saw. But I did find this great video that showed me how to cut using a carpenter square on   However, something went wrong because I lost about 2 inches in height on the table.  It probably has to do with me doing it at a wrong angle, causing the legs to be too wide.  Lesson learned.
 Now it's time to put the table top and get this ball rolling.  It wasn't wobbling. I added some extra reinforcements. Perfect! Or so I thought.
 I get the darn thing inside and wouldn't you know... I can fit my hand under one leg!!!!
 So of course that must mean that the floor isn't leveled.  Nope. Not quite.  But I battled on and just put a little piece of wood under it.  Perfect!

Then it was time to paint it. I went with Minwax wood finish in Dark Walnut.  And you know what I learned?  That finishing stinks.  No really. It does.  So the table was banished back out to the patio.  What's with the weird rectangle?
I had originally toyed with the idea of making the whole table top a chalkboard.  It eliminates paper waste right? No scrap paper.  Just write on the table.  But then the thought of touching a blackboard with my whole arm just almost made me lose my mind.  You know what I'm talking about.  My ears are aching from the thought.  My friend Mari suggested that I put the chalkboard in the middle and I thought it was brilliant.  I know you all think I'm super smart, but I get most of my ideas from other people.  Call me Steve Jobs.

 While I'm working diligently to get this table ready there is a whole lot going on behind me.  J is productive making his own little chalkboards.  And C, well, he is prepping himself for some trouble.

The table gets finished and put back in it's new home.  We officially have a home school room as per J's wishes.  I thank God for the blessing of having a spare room that we could even have this in.

 I do love the way this came out and I can't wait to try them out tomorrow.  I have to thank the ladies over at Shanty2Chic and Ana White for the plans and ideas.  Can't wait to see what else you have in store for me.  Maybe I'll make the farm table for Natalie.  Or maybe I'll just take a break and make a scarf and hat.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The cubbies are here! And a child's prayer

Happy Thursday! The weekend is almost here.  But then in the words of Lady Grantham, "What is a weekend?"  I've been re-watching all the episodes from Season 1 Downton Abbey this week. I must be prepared for Season 3 which is just a couple of months away. Check the trailer out here.

But I do feel like weekends don't really exist. We do just as much running around on Saturdays and Sundays as we do during the week and Hubby is always in work mode.  I vow to slow down.  Maybe starting tomorrow.  There is too much to do today.

In the mist of all the busy, Hubby and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary.  I feel blessed.  We didn't do anything extravagant.  We watched an episode of Psych together, which has become our favorite show and thing to do these days.  I'm so blessed to have this life.  There are so many other roads I could have taken.  But this is where I want to be.  This is where I have always wanted to be, even through all the crazy.  But more importantly this is where God has called me to be.

Back to why you checked in with me today.  The cubbies are here!  And thanks to some help from BBJ we were able to get them done quicker.  And by quicker I mean 2 weeks instead of a month.

Don't worry everyone.  The lock is on and that battery is off.  He knows the drill (no pun intended).  Ear plugs in.  Stand by the stairs.
He did learn to use a drill to make his birdhouse this week.  And thank you to Natalie for pointing out the lack of goggles.  Luckily no one was hurt and we wear them full time.

 So what do you think?
BBC was in the middle of shouting "Mommy!!! This is AMAZING!!! You're the best mom in the whole wide world!"

If you like the cubbies you can find the plans hereYou may have noticed that unlike the plans, ours don't have wheels on them.  I didn't put them on for 2 reasons.  The first is that BBJ is learning to write and I wanted to have his feet firmly on the ground, since he chose this for his "homeschool room" I wanted to make sure it was functional.  I love the multipurposeness (is that a word) of these seats.  It actually freed up a bookcase in the boys room which is great because it was getting too crowded in there.  When BBJ saw them all set up he said to me, "Wait a minute.  This is a seat and a place for my books? That is so cool!" I love that kid.  The second reason I didn't put the wheels on is that they will turn into a deadly weapon with BBC around.  I can picture us in the ER with missing toes.  So maybe next spring when BBJ is a little taller and BBC has calmed down a bit I will put them on.  

On a different note I wanted to share with you what BBJ prayed for this morning.  A couple of days ago BBC broke my glasses in half. True story.  Luckily I had a couple of pairs of contacts left to hold me over until a get a new pair of glasses.  

But I have been complaining about wishing I could see better.  Well this morning during grace BBJ asked God "to open mommy's eyes" meaning for me to see without my glasses (as in a miraculous healing because I have the vision of a wombat).  I was floored and moved because it had so many meanings to me. And to think that this came from the heart of a child proves God's love and existence so much more.   But yes, I want the Lord to open my eyes.  Open my eyes to His will around me.  Open my eyes to the needs of others and how I can help them and pray for them.

My prayer today is for the Lord to open the eyes of all those that don't know Him and his goodness. My prayer is for my country, especially during this election year.  That the Lord open our eyes and that we as a nation bring Him back into the fold and make Him the center instead of walking away from Him.  No good ever comes from turning your back on God. 

This week let's keep our country and family in prayer. 

S. Vanessa 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Greatest Gift

This past weekend I had the honor and privilege of doing a reading at my dear friend Christy's wedding.  I was asked to read the ever beautiful 1 Corinthians 13, you know the one, "love is patient, love is kind." 
Now soak this image in.  It's very rare that my hair is brushed, I have on make-up and I'm in a dress all at the same time.

I reread this chapter this morning out of my NKJV bible and love when the Lord reveals something new to me right when I think I've learned it all (which happens to be a lot so I need to get over myself).  v4"Love suffers long and is kind".  I stared at the verse for what felt like an eternity.  But  I stared at v5 even longer, "does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil." 

Guilty on all charges.

Why do I think that because I love and am loved that I will not suffer or be the root of someone elses suffering? And who am I to be complaining? No one in the history of the world suffered more than Jesus Christ.  When I think of His physical suffering on the cross it turns my stomach and brings me to tears.  And as a mother I am drawn to the image of Mary watching her son.  Oh how she must have suffered.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16

Until this weekend I thought I knew what love was.  My husband always says "love is an action" and I always say, "yea,yea I know".  But I'm convicted and reminded that I am not truly practicing that agape love.  

"does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil."

I can behave very rudely, I seek my own, I am easily provoked and yes, I have thought evil things.  I am a sinner.

I was with faced with what love really is.  Love is being kind through the hurt.  Love is forgiveness.  Love is reconciliation.  Love is getting over our hurts and our selfish wants.  Love requires faith.  Faith that God will work all those things out in His perfect time.   If I truly love, the way Jesus did on that cross, I can avoid causing suffering.  I have to let go of the hurts and give out the love, as hard as that is.  

My goal this week is to LOVE.  The way Christ loves the church, His bride.  And that brings me back to my beautiful friends.  May the Lord bless them.  May they seek Him always.  May they learn to forgive and reconcile. May they speak in love to each other.  And may they love each other all the days of their lives.  

Love is friendships that last a lifetime 
Don't let the pretty dresses fool you.  We keeps it gangsta.  Not really.  Okay sometimes.  Only when we have to.

Love is taking a picture with your hair a mess and make-up worn off for your love.  It's also a sign of a great wedding! Remember when I told you having it all together was rare?

Love is working through the struggles and being able to laugh at them and make more memories. I love you M and J!

"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three: but the greatest of these is love. "
~ 1 Corinthians  

What's your goal for this week? 

S. Vanessa

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

That perfect cut

I'm so thankful this morning for power.  Last night we had tornado warnings and wind advisories.  And to answer your question, no, we do not live in Kansas or Tornado Alley.  We live in New York. It's been crazy.  I'm listening to the lovely sounds of backup generators and chain saws while sipping my decaf/caf cup of Bustelo.

I thought by now I would have my trestle table and cubby seats complete from Ana White and Shanty2Chic but I have been super overwhelmed and busy with homeschooling, which, by the way, has been going well.  The tough one is my 2 year old who needs to be kept busy ALL the time.  Monday we experienced our first crayon stuck up the nose.  That's always fun.

That's BBJ on the left and BBC on the right.  Now you know what I'm working with!

So although I haven't finished my project something major happened.  I conquered my fear of the handsaw, ALL BY MYSELF.  As my friend Layla pointed out, I should have practiced with the kids on how to call 9-1-1.  Thankfully that did not have to happen.  But I did give them a safety lesson for the day:

Always hopscotch with your safety goggles on.  Safety first!

Then there was this nugget to getting the perfect square:
 Can you guess what this is?  It's a quilting square! sorry guys.  I don't know what was going on this day. I'm not sure if I was tired, my carpenter square was off, or I was rushing to beat the rain.  I'm going to blame it on the carpenter square.  So I ran in the house and grabbed this.  I love when things are multifunctional.

Part of my problem this day was that I was thinking too much.  I had a lot going on, mostly having to do with people that were not even my family.  So I had to ask, "Lord, what are you telling me with all of this?"  Then I realized that that wood, with all it's imperfections and knots was me, and I was busy making crooked cuts.  I was trying to make those straight lines and cuts on my own, and I was making a mess of things (Andrea reminded me that we, as in me too, are messy crazy people).  But I needed that perfect edge and a grid to make me straight.  That perfect edge was my Lord and that grid was my Bible.  What did the Word have to say?  
               He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.~ John 15:2

I needed to be pruned bad.  And then I read this from Sally Clarkson and realized I needed a new life verse:
            Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you,  so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.~ 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

So, although I didn't finish my table, I was blessed with an answer I had been looking for.  It's okay to lead a quiet life.  A quiet life yields more fruit, at least in this season of my life.  I needed to refocus on the important things and start cutting out the unnecessary and the things that were not bearing fruit. 

My encouragement for you today is to lead a quiet life and let God make the cuts and straighten out those crazy lines. 

Be blessed, 
S. Vanessa

Sunday, September 9, 2012

She's baaaaack!

I'm so sorry that I have allowed 9 whole months to go by and nothing from me.  Well, a lot has happened during that time, we moved, my boys got a little taller, I got a little older and (just under) slightly wiser. Careers have changed and our first year of homeschooling has begun.

I have not done as many projects as I would have liked to have done this year but stay tuned because I have several in the works thanks to Ana White.  And thanks to Pinterest I'll be busy all year.

I did, however, accomplish something cool several months back.  I built my first chicken coop! whoop whoop. It was for a good friend. Nothing fancy. And by nothing fancy I mean it came with directions and didn't involve a carpenter square or a saw.  It came in a box, so there was no thinking involved, just a drill and some crazy kids on a hot summer day. But believe me, this little thing was fancy!  PS...don't put a hot cast iron pan on the shingled roof of this coop, it will melt and get stuck, and possibly take three men to pull it off.  So I've heard.

Oh, and I meet some really cool chicks this weekend at our local fair.These little ladies are so cute.  They are known as Silkies.  As the young lady at the fair told me "they are the lap dogs of chickens". Who would have thunk it?

I also got this cool guitar from the  hubby for my birthday.  I've only picked it up twice so far but as soon as a I get a spare moment I'm going to learn some nice chords to lull these chicks to sleep.  
Like the dress? It was my mom's.  It was worn for my retro birthday party, thrown by my lovely and amazing friends Andrea and Eve.
So much has happened and so many things have changed this year, some good, some bad, but all allowed by God.   It is comforting to know that there is a constant in my life, especially when friends come and go and children grow.  That constant is the Lord's love and I'm grateful everyday for that. 

I'll see you soon.  I have a plan in the works today so hopefully I will be posting it soon. 

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
    For His mercy endures forever.
~Psalm 136:1