November DIY Fabric Coasters and Camera Strap

Well the month is already more than half way over but at least I’m getting this out before the last day of November!!

Since I’m sharing two DIY’s I’ll waste no time and jump right in!

The first DIY features these sweet little machine-sewn fabric coasters. If you’re not a sewing gal (or guy) but happen to have a sewing machine tucked away pull it out and don’t sweat a thing. These coasters are so easy to create that my twelve year old daughter took over and finished them up!!

For one coaster you will need:

Sewing machine/threaded in any color

Scissors

Sewing pins

A stick to push finished corners into place

4 different colors of fabric

Iron

Begin by cutting your fabric into 5 inch squares. Use whatever colors you’d like but create some type of pattern similar to my picture below…so for the fronts of your coaster you’ll want 2 matching colors and then another 2 matching colors, one solid color for the backside, and lastly another color which will be hidden on the inside as a liner piece.

Fold those front four squares in half and then take an iron over all six pieces once you are at this point.

Now it’s time to layer; pretty sides face-up on all layers. You’ll want your inner (hidden) piece on bottom, then comes the backside piece and then the top pieces need to be layered in a woven pattern with the cut edges facing out. Probably best if you just check out pics to get the idea!😉Once everything is lined up neatly pin it all the way around like the photo above, and then sew all the way around the square about a half inch from the edge (removing pins right before you get to them). Make sure you back stitch at the start of sewing and then back stitch when you’ve made it all the way around the square and back to the starting point.

Cut off any extra thread and turn the material inside out. With a dull pointed stick (or closed writing pen) poke the inside of each of the corners so there’s no bulky excess fabric within. (See photo above)

Now you can iron over the front and back sides to give a flat and tidy finish.

That’s it!! Super simple!!

Now while you already have the sewing machine out why not put together a classy, personalized camera strap?!!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Sewing machine/threaded in any color

Fabric cut to 8 x 44 inches (length can be customized to your preference)

Sheet of leather (found on Amazon or in craft stores)

Metal hooks and rings

Scissors

Embroidery thread/needle

Iron

To start, be sure your fabric is ironed smoothly and fold it in half with the inside facing out. Pin along the long open side and sew about a half inch from the edge, removing pins as you come to them; only sew down the long edge, leaving the short ends un-sewn. See photos below. Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and at the end. Cut off any excess thread.

Once you are finished sewing along the edge you’re ready to turn your neck strap inside out.

For the leather sheet you’re going to cut a piece in the shape of a bow. It’s easiest if you draw half of the bow on paper first, fold it in half and then cut. Then follow up by tracing your cutout onto the leather sheet and cutting that out, you’ll need to do this twice (one for each end of your neck strap). Follow photos below.

After you have the leather sheet cut out it’s time to put everything together.

Put the leather through the ring, then lay the fabric end on top of the leather, fold the leather over (tucking the fabric ends inside).

Start the embroidery thread (about 30 inches long) on the inside part of the leather so all of the work is hidden to give a neat and clean look. Be sure the end of the thread is double knot tied and begin hand-weaving the embroidery thread through the front and back of the leather piece; work all the way around the edge like the photos below.

Once you make it around, double knot and carefully cut the end piece off, and then repeat this entire process on the other strap end. Attach the metal clips to the key rings, and then clip those onto your camera’s strap holder clips.

That’s all there is to it!!

The coasters or the camera strap (maybe even both!!) would make great Christmas gifts or any-time-of-the-year gifts!

As usual if you end up doing these DIYs I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Blessings!!

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” —Psalm 31:24

Disappointed But Not Hopeless

Y’all I was gonna try and avoid this post and publish this month’s DIY instead — but every time I try to write something else my thoughts take over — can’t avoid reality so I guess this is meant to be. I’m just being honest and hopefully something can be gained from where I’m going with this post.

During the middle of the night, recently, I woke up abruptly, this feeling of ‘unrest and overwhelm’ flooded my mind.

I won’t get terribly political (I hope) but here was some of what was rallying around up there: ‘for crying out-loud my husband works in the oil field, Biden seeks to replace oil with renewable energy…how will that impact our means of providing??…And popularizing abortion — an ugly option that isn’t a part of God’s plan. If you don’t want a baby, don’t have sex…Rape? Convict the criminal, not the innocent baby…there’s always adoption or the Witt residence. The desire to abolish the death penalty for a hardcore criminal but yet give the green flag go for an unborn human to receive the death penalty?? Come on. Call me crazy but I’ll never understand any reason or logic in that. Ever.’

**I’ve heard too many stories of doctors telling mamas their unborn child will be born with defects only to later give birth to a completely whole and healthy baby who grows up to do amazing things...And when the doctor happens to be right, well you go on and love that baby and every breath of their life just the same way Jesus does..

Sometimes it’s battle of the mind field running my life and I just need God to drop a truth-bomb. Because I know those thoughts obviously portray opinion, judgement and disgust.

Here’s what I have to remember: I’m not perfect, nor are my thoughts. I’m desperately in need of saving grace as much as anyone else.

In the quiet hours of the night, minus my busy mind, the Holy Spirit cut in — reminding me of a verse I haven’t read or heard in a very long while:

This verse, with such faultless timing, comes from 2 Chronicles chapter 7 when King Solomon and the people (Israel) had just finished worshiping God at a freshly built temple (a place to worship God) dedicated to Him.

Solomon sends the people home and later the Lord appears to him setting ground rules (including the above verse). He was the leader of what was known to be a stubborn nation and if Solomon followed God’s plan, blessing would come…if not, a nation (Israel) would come to ruin.

Eventually sin ensued and most of the kingdom was lost (see chapter 12). Solomon had lost his way to idols in the form of power, riches, and sexuality and as a result Israel suffered.

I can’t help but notice how applicable this verse is even now, all these years later. That’s the beautiful thing about scripture — it never fades out.

God wants our attention. He wants our hearts. He wants our repentance.

God wants the same requests of us that He asked over Solomon along with Israel.

Our leadership is corrupt. We, as sinful people, are problematic. None of us are perfect.

BUT…

We’ve all been given the same fair opportunity and we all live under the same God-willing expectation:

To humble ourselves. To pray. To seek God’s face. To turn from our wicked ways.

Just as recorded in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Perhaps when we do so, God will hear from Heaven and heal our land…united as one.

Will we act in obedience to God’s direction or push it off just as Solomon did with a trail of destruction dragging behind?

I can only do my part…take up self-control, admit fault, seek forgiveness, cling to God, and aim to do better through His perfection, which is where I’m at right now.

I don’t want to live in anger or disgust and I can only overcome that negative mindset because of God’s goodness, mercy, and grace with grounded faith as I commune with Him.

By my example and others who are on the same page, I pray that a testimony would show to those watching and that a contagious result would follow for His purpose.

I pray that we (as a nation) truly would encourage one another and work toward a turn around — with God as our ultimate leader and hope for healing. Only by His way will we move forward.

Tips on Becoming a ‘semi’ Minimalist, etc. (part 2 of 2)

Cont. from part 1 ‘Throughout the process of eliminating debt I began to feel a weight lifted with every bill paid off…and I wanted “more”….more of that feeling, so I began to purge belongings.

Over the years (and especially during that time of paying off financial debt) my relationship with Jesus was growing and as I read scripture like, ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,’ I realized that ‘stuff’ and following Jesus don’t go hand in hand.

It’s a lot of maintenance to keep stuff:

  • It breaks and if you’re that attached you find yourself glueing parts back together that will never be the same in the end anyways.
  • It needs dusted.
  • It multiplies and takes up space, creating clutter.
  • It gets outdated.

I started weeding out belongings first by telling my mom to get rid of all that junk of mine she had at her house from when I was growing up. I figured if I hadn’t missed it over all these years chances are I wouldn’t and had no use for it anymore. So it went away without me thinking twice about it..except the baseball cards..I still have the darn baseball cards.

In my own home I went through and got rid of anything that seemed cheap or cheesy. Things I hadn’t used in months could go too.

This is something I still do at least twice a year (purging) and usually just one room at a time.

I want to be able to appreciate my decor, not be overwhelmed by the sight or burdened by the upkeep. Less is more in this case. It allows you to focus and enjoy your blessings.

To sell, toss, or donate once I decide I don’t want it anymore??…

Anything that has some value I sell on my mom’s Facebook account. Anything that is broken or stained I throw away. Anything that is still nice looking and usable (but I don’t want to mess with selling) I donate to second-hand stores.

MY ADVICE: Take inventory!

Get rid of things you have too much of!

For example our family of five has seven bath towels in our home. There’s no need for more than what you need or will use.

Saucepans: 1 large, 2 medium, 2 small

Skillets: 1 large, 1 medium, 1 small

Large soup pots: 1 tall, 1 short

We don’t need a dozen towels, pots or pans, coffee mugs, mixing bowls, etc when chances are we’re only going to use so many at one time.

I feel like blankets are another thing that accumulates easily in our house. Instead of four-plus blankets the kids are now each allowed only two. There’s no reason for more than that. We keep a few in storage for guests and from time to time I make sure the blanket area hasn’t surpassed its allotted number, apparently that’s a popular gift we receive.

I’m also trying to be more attentive to buying quality items as well...(thanks Nathan)!

For the longest time I was buying plastic containers and then when spaghetti sauce or something similar would stain the dish I would get annoyed by how gross they looked so I would throw them out and buy new. Now I’ve purchased glass containers with dark lids to store those types of foods; and plastics are still used but only for foods that won’t stain.

I try to decorate with simple, practical things that serve a purpose and echo the word ‘timeless’…by doing this I’m saving money in not trying to keep up with the latest trends.

Financially we have our necessity bills only: house payment, electric, insurance, and phones…thanks to Covid an internet bill until the kids aren’t at a chance of needing it, and then I’ll waste no time canceling it!!! Can’t wait!!

Using a budget and set amount in cash envelopes (for groceries, fuel, animals, and fun money) each pay check has allowed us to grow our savings account.

For phones we use a tracfone (Straightalk) at $45 a month with unlimited texting and talk and 25 GB of high speed internet.

We don’t do home internet (typically) or cable etc. because we don’t have time for it or an interest. Instead we lift weights (at home), play card games, read, play catch outside, or get creative for entertainment and family memories.

I understand many people enjoy tv programs etc. and that’s fine, do what works for you!!!

I know groceries can get expensive so to save on cost in that area we eat a lot of chicken and use turkey burger instead of beef (sorry cattlemen, I’m saddened by this too). Steaks? — ya well the only ones we ever see are the ones you poke in the ground.

We eat very clean and healthy…lots of fruits and veggies and manage to feed two gluten free people (which isn’t a cheap option) all while maintaining a $400 a month grocery budget. That amount covers not just food items but toilet paper, soaps, other bathroom essentials, etc.

No soda pop or Little Debbie snacks make their way into this home unless grandparents have spoiled their grandkids..that’s the only exception!❤️

I use the Walmart grocery app to order groceries that way I have more control of my spending habits in that way.

The animal’s food budget is $50 a month: feeding three rabbits, five chickens, two kittens, and three small dogs.

When purchasing material items I try to keep in mind a few questions — Is it good quality? Does it serve a purpose? Do I have a place for it? Is it going to end up in storage or a donate pile soon?

Y’all, the bottom line is that none of this is perfected by us; just a few weeks ago during my quarantine I went to our storage room (curse those anyways!!!) to where many unused items had collected and although it was easy to take them to the second hand store or toss some of them, I wondered how in the world we even had all of that and where had it nested beforehand??

Purging and organizing is an ongoing process. It takes time and self control to take these steps, and even encouragement from others!

Organizing…like items should stay together and never overpopulate their space.

Keepsakes…my kids are each allowed a large tub and can keep (as they’re growing up) anything meaningful in there (stuffed animals, awards, crafts). Sometimes if they’ve grown tired of something they’ll toss it to place something new in there, never overflowing their box. I use a wooden hope chest with the same process for myself.

When it comes to memorabilia or hand-me-downs from loved ones (especially those who’ve passed) it can be tough to make a call on ‘keep or toss’. If that piece means so much to you because it truly helps you feel closer to your loved one then by all means ABSOLUTELY KEEP IT!!! But if it doesn’t mean anything to you and you’re only hanging on to it for their sake, let it go. It’s not your beloved “memory-treasure” of them.

None of those things will bring our loved one’s back unfortunately.

Stuff is just simply that…stuff!! It’s never as good as our memories…those are the true keepers.

So while considering materialistic things and deciding what stays or goes remember that our memories and relationships deserve the most attention. Those can be built to last, they won’t fall apart if you mutually cover them in love, they grow more cherished with age, and they are the true and most important gift that keeps giving!!

Guys, if you’ve made it this far chances are you’re passionate or interested about this just like me. This post is waaayyy too long, but I hope you’ve found it helpful.

Message me with your own tips, advice or questions!!!

In the meantime, Happy Purging!!

Take me to part 1 Becoming a (semi) Minimalist

Reopening my Etsy Shop on Day 11 of Quarantine

Last week I wrote about my run-in with (or exposure to) Rona which threw me into a 14-day home quarantine.

So far I’ve managed to dodge the bullet and I’m at day 11 still feeling well; no symptoms means no getting tested. Been there, done that with my nursing home hair job as they have to test employees once a month and trust me if you haven’t been tested there is absolutely nothing flattering about someone shoving a six-plus-inch stick up your nose. I don’t think it actually goes six inches or whatever up there BUT nevertheless my brain feels like it wants to sneeze each time afterwards!!

Anyway quarantine hasn’t been bad but I’m also a homebody so I don’t mind, plus it’s cooled off a bit my way so I’m good staying indoors. My homeschooled girl, Mc, on the other hand is chomping at the bit to get out of the house and go somewhere… ‘like to grandma’s or (her friend) Quency’s’…I hear that at least three times a day!!

So what have I been up to during my time of quarantine you might ask?

Well I’ve organized the pantry, created a simple laundry system for my way-too-small laundry area, re-situated the baskets and their contents in our linen closet, cleaned out and tidied the basement storage room, sanitized surfaces a half a dozen times each day…

Y’all I’m feeling well accomplished!!

That basement storage room was no small task! Boxes of clothes, boxes of junk, boxes of nothing, bags of this and that…stuff collects and builds quickly and I’m not a fan.

When I get out of hock (actually quarantine has been wonderful) my first outing will be to the second hand store to drop off this mess of collections. Technically it’s all still good stuff, it’s just things I’ve grown tired of or the kids have outgrown etc….In a future post I plan to write about getting rid of things and not feeling bad about it, and really just getting to the point of minimal-izing (I might have made that word up).

Sorry mom if anything’s in there that you’ve given to me over the years.

Minimalism is something I’m hugely passionate about!!….But it wasn’t always that way…so if you’ve ever felt in the same boat, take heart, there is hope! I’ll be sharing (in an upcoming post) some of the things that have helped me to throw out “stuff” without feeling like I’m throwing my heart out with them!! Stay tuned for that one!!

OK so in my title I mentioned that I am re-opening my Etsy shop….

I’ll explain. Along with deep cleaning in the basement storage room I had to look my jewelry making supplies right in the eye because they share the same space. I felt like it was taunting me….‘what a waste of money…think of the possibilities…Christmas is right around the corner…’

Sooooo two days ago I took the initiative to clean up that space, hammer out a few pieces of metal, and relist some of my items on my Etsy shop.

Rustic Looks Etsy Shop

I actually plan to open an Instagram account as well which is scary — actually terrifying to me. I like simple and practical so the idea of having a few more social media platforms to operate is somewhat intimidating to me.

However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned during 2020 it’s that life is so unpredictable and with that neither of my jobs (substitute teacher or nursing home hair stylist) are providing a stable income. I’ve decided I’m going to make an effort to get a bit more serious about jewelry making and other odds and ends that I may list on Etsy to create a little extra cash flow on my end. Aside from Instagram I’ll advertise on Pinterest as well. That’s one I use already but not necessarily for the benefit of advertising so that’ll be an adventure in itself too!

As I write this post so many motivating Bible verses come to mind but there’s one I want to settle on and highlight:

Romans 15:13

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

That verse encourages me to do what I feel called to do but also (and most importantly) to just simply trust that God is in control no matter what.

The things we dive into, get involved with, create or take interest in may very well flop — they quite literally may. We’ve seen, and hopefully learned, in 2020 that plans change and uncertainty exist — yet even then God is ALWAYS strong, dependable, and His love is steadfast. He never wanes. Ever.

It’s okay and healthy to have the mindset of motivation as we want to release from what might feel like a gripping year BUT ‘motivation that is moved by Him who leads’ is what will bring us through.

As I venture out to re-open my Etsy shop I want my motivation to be stirred and moved by God. I want to listen and follow His lead. I want even Rustic Looks Etsy Shop to bring glory to Him.

Thanks for reading! Take care!

Rustic Looks Etsy Shop

**Feel free to browse Rustic Looks and share on your social media avenues. Adding new items frequently.

**We give 10% of all sales to charity.

Day 4 of Quarantine

Well hello there!

First off allow me to explain the title to this post. Yes I’m in a fourteen day quarantine, homebound for the next week and a half. I was exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid recently therefore I have to do the “stay-home” procedure — ordered by our local health department.

As of now I’m feeling alright so I may end up getting out of the woods without a hitch. I do have a high chance of ending up positive so we’re trying to take necessary precautions here in the Witt household. Sanitizing like crazy, social distancing from my family, even masking up in my own home.

It’s such an uncanny feeling.

Here’s a selfie of Nate and I — social distance rule breaking…(Nate’s being a smart aleck with the mask FYI)

I even got shunned to the living room with a twin size mattress while Nate gets the king size bed and our room. I’m still trying to figure out how that makes sense so please don’t judge us.

I’ll explain the no-couch situation some day in a future post…

A few random facts & thoughts:

1. I’ve noticed our ceiling fans and light fixtures REALLY need dusted….but maybe that should wait, don’t want to agitate the lungs by chance…

2. The lady from the health department suggested I have a bathroom separate from the family so I wasted zero time and kicked the girls right out of theirs and took it over as my own!

3. Having my very own bathroom is really nice!!!! I never imagined I would enjoy it this much!!!

4. Sometimes I find myself in the bathroom taking mask breaks.

5. Wednesday morning’s conversation with my husband:

Me (in a muffled voice behind my mask): Hey Nate could you let Max out?

Nathan (whining): Aaaahhhh!!! I have to be a mom and a dad!!

Me: uhh….When did you turn into a mom?

Nathan: Well I have to let the dogs out and make food by myself now!

….Not sure when those two duties ever fell under the “mom-only” category!!?

6. Black Rifle Pumpkin coffee is magical when you mix it with Caramel Macchiato creamer.

7. A research statistic shows 70% of people who tested positive for Covid were faithfully wearing a mask…..so am I producing Rona for myself as I sport my mask within my home?…hmmm…

8. I kinda want to get Rona just to get it done and over with.

9. A close friend of mine texted this the other day, “once you get out of jail (or vacation depending how you look at it) we should get together.”

…Yes please!!!

And this is exactly where I want to turn for a devotional reflection today.

You see, my friend’s words have coated my heart with peace and a goal because the reality is that I have the choice in how I want to view this time.

Jail or vacation…what will my perspective be of it?

And the answer I’m choosing is not to view it as jail, not to count the negatives (and there definitely are some) but rather to focus on the REAL “positives”….like me getting my own bathroom, because that’s been cool.

Lol, no on a serious note though there’s true good in this time of being confined to the house.

As with anything, I can sit (stuck in quarantine) and still praise God because He is good and faithful when I consider that then who am I to even begin to complain. He is who He is, no matter my situation or condition. My circumstances (or yours) don’t ever change who God is.

That truth alone is so soothing to my mind and heart.

Check out some of Paul’s words in the New Testament:

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ…I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly. (Ephesians 1:3, 16)

Because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear. (Philippians 1:14)

You guys!! Paul was writing those words while literally under house arrest in Rome for preaching Jesus’ name and falling into some religious disputes over it…and yet look at his remarkable encouragement!!

Those words weren’t recorded just to fill up space but rather to fulfill a purpose. I think the beauty and importance in Paul’s frame of mind is that we have the choice to adopt that same mindset for our very own.

Y’all we’re living in some tough times, where we could ALL benefit from a positive perspective. Just the idea of the election and the shape of our nation seems so eerie and off to me this time (regardless of who wins)…like unsettling.

I’m so thankful Jesus is my partner; because of my faith my heart feels prepared.

I can’t imagine life without Him and I hurt for those who don’t have their hope placed in Christ. It’s a mystery to me how people do life without God as their source of guidance and protection. With that I can count it as gain that He is in control and the ultimate leader no matter which way our country heads. I don’t have to worry over the outcome. He is the calm to the crazy.

Side note: Having said that, I’ve done my research and I’m confident in who I’m voting for!! Likewise, I want to encourage you to study up and be sure to vote! I don’t care how mouthy either candidate gets in debating — one has some better morals and values and it doesn’t take much digging to find out who.

This isn’t meant to sound like a political post but rather to encourage in undeniably wild times.

Friends, fear and negative thinking don’t have to be a part of our daily routine. There is magnificent hope when we’re fixed on Jesus — when a mess swirls around us or the unexpected takes up residency within our own homes, work, or lives —even then, we can choose to be optimistic by relying on Jesus!

Though this world is troubled, He is still in control and seated on the throne.

John 16:33 says this: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

When we turn to God we find stability, security, and support to wipe away the mundane parts of life that long to overwhelm us.

A positive mentality, focused on Christ and His words of truth, ‘trumps’ the disorder and unforeseen in our lives — every single time.

Scripture proves itself so. The answers to our problems and the encouragement needed are written and found there-in. Join me by opening your Bible each day and pouring comfort and hope into your heart…it’s just what the Great Physician ordered for each of us. How will you respond?

Take care,

Alicia

DIY Reusable Outdoor Pumpkins

Happy Fall y’all!! I know I’ve mentioned a time or twenty that I LOVE the Autumn season — not just because I like how that word sounds (because I REALLY do) but because it’s so darn beautiful. The golden tones crowning the tops of trees, cooler evenings, and the wisping and whirling of leaves as they gracefully fall to the ground in a collection of warm colors. It’s a beauty that quickly comes and goes so it’s a sweet reminder of the truth that we must not take time for granted.

Along with Autumn I also love to penny pinch so today we’re going to jump right into this month’s DIY — decorative wood pumpkins!!

That’s right..wood pumpkins! And I will tell you that for the past two years I have yet to purchase a pumpkin because of these charming little gems. Don’t get me wrong if there was a pumpkin patch in the area where I live I’d be all over the Fall stereotype of selecting the perfect pumpkin to take home and adorn my front step but Walmart hardly counts so alas I’m choosing to use wood pumpkins instead…year after year after year…

If you’re interested, let’s get started!

Supplies needed:

4×4 cut at various lengths (4” to 10” pieces recommended) **garden timbers work well also

Drill

Acrylic paint or outdoor paint and brush

Stick for the stems (about 2”)

Fabric (thin burlap rope) to tie around the stem (cut to approximately 1” by 7”)

Outdoor clear spray sealer (for added durability)

Directions:

First you will cut your pumpkins to your desired length.

Then drill a hole at the top (in the center) for the stem about a half inch deep; be sure it is drilled to the size of the stick’s circumference that you are using. It’s also time to paint the pumpkin (or you can leave it the natural wood color).

Once the paint is dry glue the stem into the hole at the top and then tie your fabric piece around the stem to finish it off.

**For added protection from weathering you can spray a coat of outdoor clear sealer over your pumpkins before placing them outdoors for the Fall season each year.

That’s it folks!! Easy breezy!

And now I’m off to enjoy a weekend away with a bestie so I’m gonna keep this post real short and sweet!!

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Use the (Clipper) Guard…

Oh boy I’m almost ashamed to write this — but last Thursday was, as usual, hair day at the nursing home for me. I showed up physically prepared but for some reason my haircuts on the residents weren’t going smoothly. It was, as some say, literally a bad hair day.

Friends, I knew it was bad when an elderly, frail man took a seat and I began buzzing what little hair was there. While free-handing with my little clippers and no attached guard I got a bit too close and scalped the poor fella!! …Just a little area but scalped nevertheless.

Most are probably familiar with clipper guards but if not I’ll quickly elaborate. Guards are used as an attachment on clippers and quite handy when you’re cutting the hair real short. They act as sort of a safety method and help control how long or short the haircut will be…that is if you choose to use them…

Immediately after my haircut-foul my mind raced to the fact that we don’t have to do life on the edge, nor solo, or at risk — instead God acts as our guard.

Check out these verses; the first one uses the word ‘guard’ and the other ones strongly imply it’s importance.

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” —2 Thessalonians 3:3

“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.” —Psalm 3:3-5

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” —Psalm 32:7

The following Sunday when our pastor gave his message I sat in awe as his words on healthy boundaries poured over my heart. It was so similar to where my mind had been focused in light of concentrating on that one simple yet profound word: guard.

God longs to guard our minds and our hearts over fears, hurt, and failures but we must be willing to attach to Him. Just like I have a choice in using or not using the guard on my haircutting clippers (taking the chance of styling a bad hair day if I refuse to use one) we have one of the most important choices each and every day…will we attach to God as our guard or risk going alone?

The beautiful thing is that even when we choose against His guard and end up in regret it’s still never too late…

Remember I mentioned my neglect of using the clipper guard on my little old man, well I was thankfully able to blend over the hair and cover up my mistake to the point the haircut looked normal.

Consider the idea that at times we try and do life without God yet once we become aware of our egotism and call upon Him He is quick to come to the rescue, saving us from ourselves and stepping in as our guard. Every. Single. Time…no questions asked. Surely the best form of God’s guard shows up through Jesus (in the act of the cross) saving us from the punishment of our sins as we choose to trust and believe.

Because He loves us that much.

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.’ —Isaiah 54:10

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” —John 3:16

16 Marriage Tips by Nate and Alicia

Tomorrow, September 25, puts Nate and I at number sixteen for our anniversary years so I thought it’d be fun to create a blog post offering sixteen marriage tips or pieces of advice. And I got Nate in on it too!!

Newlyweds, kids or no kids, empty nesters — hope these tips are helpful!

They’re listed in no specific order by the way.

1. Discuss your own love language with one another and speak each other’s as well. Super important!!!

Which of these makes you feel loved by your spouse and which one makes your spouse feel loved — Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, or Physical Touch

2. Do projects together.

Whether it’s just hanging up shelves or building a she-shed for your lady, create and work alongside one another. It’s awesome to be able to step back and admire your work later on.

3. Put your spouse’s needs before kiddos.

I know this is a hard one but if you think about it you and your lovey came before your kids…

So (for example) when entering the house from work greet each other with a hello and kiss first and foremost and then move on to the kids. From this one act your kiddos will see that your marriage is healthy, in order, and that you two are the bosses. It will also help them feel that they’re in a safe zone and well taken care of. Kids thrive off of peace and orderly conduct.

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.’ — Ephesians 5:22-24

4. Laugh. Don’t be too serious.

This was a text between Nate and I one time which isn’t out of the normal. We can be serious but I’m 40% sure that we’re silly a majority of the time.

5. Have date nights. (copyrighted by Nate)

Seriously your children need to know and witness that mom and dad are happily married, healthy, and in love. Set an example by doing little dates, even if those dates can only happen at home.

Drink a cup of coffee in the mornings, workout, take a walk, rub each other’s feet (I “stink” at doing this one)

Make little points to be connecting with one another so your children can see this happening.

6. Take care of one another in helpful ways.

Examples: Whoever has time be the one to make breakfasts, help with dish duty, wash or vacuum the other one’s car, switch laundry over or fold clothes, sweep/mop, etc.

I promise if you make a habit of chiming in on these little chores your spouse will notice!

7. Encourage with notes or texts. Give compliments.

Recently one morning I went into the bathroom and found this sweet note Nate had hung on the mirror. He came up with the idea on his own…and I probably skipped putting on blush that day!!

8. Thank your spouse.

When you notice or appreciate the good they do (or them helping out) don’t take those moments for granted. Let your spouse know your appreciation.

*Side-note: Nate and I attended a marriage conference last year and the couple who were speaking told us that after doing a recent study it showed that ‘men actually feel most loved and appreciated when their spouse simply and genuinely acknowledges their good work and then thanks them.’

9. Team work.

Make the bed together, cook/bake together, clean together, do yard work together, budget together, etc.

Don’t miss that word — “together”.

10. Respect one another so you both feel loved.

Value one another’s opinions/advice. Be supportive of emotions and concerns.

Nate suggested to remember “happy wife, happy life” …I’m gonna rename this though because I think it needs to be two-way so I’m going with “happy spouse, happy house”.

11. Communicate well.

Listen to each other. Ask questions. Seek marriage counseling if needed.

12. Entertain one another’s interests.

They say opposites attract. If your spouse enjoys things that don’t quite appeal to you do them anyway!! …garage saleing, hunting, golfing, shopping, etc.

13. Start a new hobby TOGETHER.

…frisbee golf, Nate said clogging (where you do some folk dancing, I think he’s just being a nerd but now he’s google searching it as I’m writing) learn an instrument, etc.

14. For the Christian couple do a Bible study, just the two of you alone or in a small group through a church setting.

And if you’re not Christians go check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

15. Always say I love you before bed or when leaving each other for work or wherever.

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,” —Ephesians 4:26

16. And yes I’m gonna go here — I don’t care if physical touch is a love language of yours or not — MAKE LOVE!!

No extra commentary needed for this one.

Well except that the Bible even says to:

“Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” — 1 Corinthians 7:5

All of these tips take patience and practice. This list is not exhaustive and definitely not perfected by us, but it’s things Nate and I strive to accomplish. By doing these things we build our relationship and also help our three attentive mockers know what to look for one day in a future spouse.

I love you Nathan! Thank you for encouraging me as a writer, wife, and mother! You (and our faith in Jesus) are my favorite piece to sixteen years of marriage!!

Choosing Positive Thinking

One of the benefits of following Christ is that we get to take on the perspective and mind of Him.

Those unfortunate circumstances we experience throughout life we can choose to dwell in the yuck or counteract with truth of what God would say over them.

For me this is what that might look like

Growing up with a mom who has epilepsy I could choose to focus on how scared I was every time she’d have a seizure when I was a kid — but instead I’m learning that in my adult life I have compassion and understanding for others as a result.

The multiple situations of sexual abuse in my childhood years — I’m reminded of the many times I’ve now been able to connect with other girls and women who have experienced the same nonsense; conversation has formed a bond between us.

Participating in the party scene as a teen and in my early twenties is such a regret of mine but I love how I can look back and see how God grabbed my attention and changed my life, turned me to Him and has given me several opportunities to speak my story out these days and turn the glory to Him.

Negative thoughts are exhausting but the good news is we can actually get to a point where we adopt and desire a positive mindset no matter the circumstances. And I feel like as Christians we’re blessed with a clearer opportunity to do so, more so than someone who’s not following Jesus. Those who don’t know the freedom offered through God do not understand “true release” from the burden.

I have a best friend who is a volleyball coach —

one of her player’s parents mocks her, ridicules her, and degrades her weekly — accusing her of being a poor coach.

When I see my sweet friend I see a woman of strength and perseverance. Someone with dedication and commitment and a huge heart for the Lord. The only way and reason she pushes through is because her hope is placed in Christ. She chooses to believe His word of truth over the lies of someone else’s sin.

Maybe there’s a negative thought pattern, a festering lie, or mental battle taking root in your life — to overcome fill up on what Jesus says is true about you and take on His mindset to knock down the negatives.

Romans 12:2 says:

‘Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.’

God’s word tells and shows us that we are able to overcome, Romans 12:2 is just one example of many.

We can make the choice to surround ourselves in healthy Christian friendships, daily prayer and scripture. Listen to worship music. Seek out a good Christian counselor if needed…Renewal of the mind in a positive Christ-like way is sure to inhabit our thoughts once we make a desired habit of doing these things regularly.

Negative scenes are bound to play out this side of heaven, but when we fully navigate with ‘Christ in us’ our thought patterns won’t align with the chaos.

Do yourself a favor today and tomorrow and every day following — be thankful, respectful and sensible of the life God has breathed in you — and waste no more time feeding Satan’s senseless antics.

…I’ll be doing the same.

September’s DIY: Acorns & Pumpkins

Well I about jumped the gun in August to share this DIY but with self-control decided an Autumn-inspired post should hold off until at least September and now here we are nearly half way through the month so I need to get this out!! …If y’all haven’t noticed time management is not my strong suit!!

Today we’ll walk through the steps to making plump fabric pumpkins and charming little acorns. Both of these are to be used indoors and next month I’ll feature a post creating DIY outdoor pumpkins.

My favorite part of these crafts is the fact that they’re inexpensive, easy to create, reusable, and customizable.

We’ll start on pumpkins first:

You’ll need—

Fabric (your choice, one color for the pumpkin and a suitable color(s) to use for a leaf or two.

Scissors

Dry beans

Pillow stuffing

Needle

Embroidery thread (required so it’s durable)

A stick for the stem

Craft glue

First you’ll want to trace a circle, at least the size of a 7 inch plate or larger, and then cut it out.

Next you will cut about a 20 inch piece of embroidery thread (depending on the size of your circle) — tie a double or triple knot at the end of the thread and then weave it in and out of the outer edge of the circle. See photo below.

**If your thread seems to short for your circle simply cinch up your threaded circle (as you work your way all the way around) to allow for more thread to work with. Place beans in the bottom once you’ve made it this far.

Fill it generously with pillow stuffing and now you’ll tie off your thread and knot it a few times.

Once it’s knotted that long string can be cut close (but not too close to the knot) …apparently I didn’t get a pic of that!!

You will take a long piece of the thread at this point, knot the end and push the needle and thread through the top of the pumpkin then pull it through the middle of the underneath side. See steps in photos below.

Now you’re going to create the lines that a real pumpkin has so we will evenly space the thread to create those lines and you will basically loop the thread from the underneath of the pumpkin, over the side of it and back through the top..repeating until you have the desired amount of lines that you think looks right. I think I can best explain through photos. Follow along below.

You can tie your thread off at the bottom and push the needle up through the bottom of the pumpkin and out the side and then cut that thread to hide it inside of your pumpkin. A few examples below:

To finish we’ll add a stem and some leaves using glue.

ALL DONE…now if you want to add cute little acorns for some extra Fall flair follow the instructions below!

Acorn supplies:

Fabric

Scissors

Acorn tops (great time to send the kids on a scavenger hunt!)

Wooden ball with hollowed out center (about the size of a quarter)

First trace a circle at 3 1/2 inches across and cut out.

Next center the wooden ball in the center of the fabric and pull up the fabric to cover the ball. You will then poke the fabric through the hole at one end of the wooden ball, working the fabric into the holes in sections helps give a clean look. I used a screw driver to push the fabric in. See photos below:

Now we quickly finish up by beading glue around the inside edge of the acorn top and then lightly pushing it overtop of the tucked in fabric.

That’s it!! Super easy and pairs up great with the fabric pumpkins!

Of course some scripture needs to “fall” into place somewhere in this post so in keeping with the approaching season I want to share a scripture that’s one of my favorites and one of the first ones I memorized.

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” —Luke 10:2

…notice the rhyming there, that’s what makes it an easier one to memorize!

Love this verse because it’s a reminder that those who are believers have work to do…the “harvest” represents unbelievers and the “workers” are Christians which God has called to share His gospel message, His care, and His love with those who don’t know Him for His purpose!!

Are you making a conscious effort to further His kingdom and glorify Him?

How can we as Christians continue to work in the harvesting?