the walls between us.

A dear sweet friend of mine recently wrote a lovely post about all the things about church going that have changed over the years and how she missed some of the things that were long gone...or different. 

She wrote it my head it conjured up lots of yellow sunshine, picnics on the lawn. Laughter and true Joy.  Being with your family and worshiping God together.   

It got me thinking.  It got me a little jealous.  Her post was lovely...interwoven with wonderful memories of attending church with her family...of a remembering a safe and warm place.  My heart aches just a little at someone having those kind of memories...both of family church attendance and of having a down right lovely traditional church experience.  

It got me thinking about how I have never had a traditional church experience that was remotely lovely.  And it reminded me a little about why I get so nervous inviting folks to the kinds of churches that get ME excited for the Lord.  

Let me explain.  I grew up in the Bible belt.
There are churches on every corner...and churches in between those churches.  Many of them full of people who "go to church" but are not really part of the church.  Some go faithfully every Sunday and some only on Easter and Christmas. 
I did not grow up with my family going to church.  I have been in a church exactly one time with my parents...the day I married Doug.  I DID beg and plead to go to church with friends growing up and managed to visit several churches in our area that way. 

And let me tell you...every visit was the same.  Some say it would be best for each church to offer the same experience.  Well this is true of the places I visited.  I would go with a friend and I would stick out every time.  I was the one who never knew when to sit or stand.  Who knew none of the hymns.  Who did not have on a new dress.  Who did not know where to go or what to do and when.  

And with more than one glance or another I was made aware of all of this.  I was made to be aware that God had a set of rules that you had to follow and THEN He would have you.  First you have to sit in a hard, ninety degree angled pew.  Then you had to know the hymns and when to stand and how to be...and oh yeah, go buy a new dress and bring your parents next time. 
Dozens of church going experiences in my neck of the woods let me know that this is what I can expect of God:
me.  wall.  wall. wall. wall. wall. wall. wall. wall. wall.  God.
And good luck getting through those walls.

It wasn't until I started going to college in Radford and fate (yes, fate) brought me to New Horizons.  The second I walked in the door I knew something was different.  People were in jeans.  There were drums and guitars.  The pastor hugged me and was not dressed in anything fancier than I was.  You could drink coffee and have your breakfast as the sermon started.  The joy and energy of the worship team was palpable and contagious.  People stood and sat at their own accordance during worship...whatever you felt led to do.  Some folks would be on their knees...some would move to the back to worship...some would sit and some would stand.  And not an eye would be rolled.  Doctors showed up in scrubs...workers in their students in the pj's.  And it was all OK.  Kids were laughing and having fun with their friends.  God was Joy.

There were no requirements.  Just Love.  

And you know what...God was still respected and revered.  He was still honored and Loved above all.  
I attended that church for several years and learned that this is what God is like:

No wall.  No rules.  No need to be good enough first.  I was good enough.  As I am.

But even now it makes me nervous to bring people to church.  Because I am still drawn to the type of church New Horizons is.  I attend a church much like it now.  I have brought people to churches that I love and been judged as I stood there beside them...could feel them praying for my salvation before the end of the service.  I have taken folks to church with me only to receive an email or letter or call later confirming their worry over my soul.  

Their argument being (essentially)..."how can God and a drum set really coexist?  I mean come on Crystal...the gospel doesn't permit relaxation or comfy chairs.  I'll be praying for you."        

Ugh.  I agree with the statement that the Gospel should be the same no matter what church doors you walk through.  I also believe that you have to have hundreds of different kinds of churches to appeal to the hundreds of ways that God speaks to us all.  Some hear God in a wooden pew and in the comfort of knowing when to sit and stand and knowing every word in the songbook.  Some hear God on a mountain or in a field of wildflowers.  And that should all be OK. 

I hear God in a comfy chair, with jeans on, singing at the top of my lungs cause the music is loud enough to drown me out...being infected by the passion of the worship leader and feeling the resounding Joy of the pastor.  
And if a sweet lady walked in, in a new dress and Sunday best hat, I would say 
"Welcome, Jesus loves you." 

And leave it at that.

the point {of life?}

In my...ever so humble opinion...the point of life is to know I can do better...all the while growing closer to the One who makes it all possible.  

To consistently learn and grow and improve and BE better.  To every day, in some tiny way, DESERVE the blessings that I have been given.  Though I know and understand that a thousand lives where I live a hundred years each and spend 24hours a day doing "good" could never even come close to me "earning my blessings".  I just want, in my small human way, to show that I am grateful and thankful.  

I'm a fan of things that rock you...that shake me up and mess up my pretty world.  And I'm not talking about drugs or alcohol or crazy parties...I'm talking knowledge, information, know how.  And I don't mean "knowing it all".

Give me a good book...or documentary or factual story.  Anything that will change me for the take me closer to being the person God has in mind for me to be. 

I could give you a thousand examples of this in my life...little things that I have learned that have turned me this way and that...that have changed habits, or decisions or what I read or listen to.  All instances where I suddenly KNOW better...therefore (in my opinion) I expect myself to DO better.  Knowledge has led to all sorts of changes in my life...getting saved made me clean up my music (even if most of it was "good" in the first place)...knowledge of business practices keeps me out of some stores...information about certain businesses will lead me to certain brands and not others. 

And before you say it...I don't just take information at face value...I do my research, find (what I think to be) the truths and act accordingly to how I feel led to change.

Research on fast foods keeps me away from fast food.  Reports about restaurant quality will keep me OUT of certain restaurants.  I sanitize almost everything  my kids touch in my hope of saving them from a germ or two. 

My most recent big bulb moment involves our choices about the foods we purchase.  For some time now we have bought organic...mostly milk, yogurt and some other things here and there.  Honestly I did it mostly to avoid all the "extras" that get pumped into animals.  Lately my thoughts have turned...I have a drive to buy organic for more than just what is put into the food....but the treatment of the food before it is food. 

Don't get me wrong...I totally believe that animals are here for our eating.  I have no qualms eating beef or chicken or anything else that lives and breathes.   

But I am feeling less and less ok about eating things that were mistreated before they came to the market.  This kind of thinking has been on my radar for sometime...but I was without the push to change and DO better.  Then we watched Food Inc. 

Done and done.  I officially know better.  Don't watch that movie unless you want to change how you look at each purchase that you make in the store.  One part that really stuck with me was when a huge chicken supplier wouldn't allow cameras on their their pens...I can stop wondering...what don't they want me to see?... and do I want to support a company that isn't transparent in its practices?

Since watching we have made some changes...slowly but surely moving toward a larger organic lifestyle.  I don't want to make a million changes all at once...cause that is a recipe for failure...instead we are going slow.  Starting with most of our meat.  Now if it were just me...that would be another story...I could live on granola and yogurt and peanut butter and fruit and fresh bread forever.  Being 100% organic would be EASY for just me.  

I was in the grocery store today to buy bacon to make with waffles.  
And I could not bring myself to buy any of the bacon there because none of it was organic.  I couldn't stop thinking about the movie and clips from it.  I've been having the same trouble with chicken, beef, etc. 

I was annoyed.  I wanted to buy my bacon and go home.  Not buy the rest of my groceries...get in my car AND go to Whole Foods.  But I did.  Because I KNOW better.  And I felt like my convenience and saving of a dime was not worth compromising on something that I am feeling more strongly about every day.  I'm learning more and more that convenience and ease is often at the cost of more than I am willing to compromise.

So I got in my car and drove to Whole Foods.  And paid $2 more than I would have at the other store.  
Honestly...the whole time I was driving there and shopping and paying...I was thinking to myself "Stupid granola crunching conscience". 

But it was organic...from pigs raised on a farm where they see the sun and are treated with respect.  And I got some other things that I needed while I was there it wasn't a complete loss.    

My point I what's the point of learning and growing if it doesn't change us? 

I'm not at all saying that my choices are always right or best and that you should take up my opinion as a substitute for your own...and this is NOT a judgement on anyone who eats ALL non-organic or whatever...

but I hope we can all strive to wake up each day and learn a little we can do a little better.  

At least that is my goal. :)

20 minute crafter. how to make a wreath with fresh greens.

I can't take credit for knowing how to do this.  I have to tip my hat to four long years of "Art Club" in high school.  Yes, I was in the art club.  I even held offices.  And if you like that...I was also in the Ecology club.  Held offices there too.  That's right.  I'm good with it. 

We made these wreaths every year as a fund raiser.  Super easy.  And takes less than 20 minutes once you have your greens.   
Here is what you need:
a straw form wreath (any size 12in is about $2 at Michaels)
greenery.  evergreens work the best...pine, magnolia, boxwood, holly.
"helper" is optional.
greening/floral pins.  I think I got these at Joanns for about $2.

First, get your "helper" to trim your hedges and save the clippings.
Grab a few springs of greens, with the wreath laying on the ground, place them on top of the wreath...not the inner ring or outer one...the middle. a greening pin around the bulk of your sprigs...about two inches from the ends...
...smoosh it down...
...continue around the wreath...layering each bunch onto the other by a few inches...go all the way around...
...then repeat the same process on the inner part of the wreath...and then on the outer ring...
...and you're done.  I prefer this simple look...but you could add other things...birds, nests, feathers...whatever makes you happy...this wreath will last for weeks. :)
I hung it by wrapping a ribbon around the wreath and attaching the ribbon to the screen door hardware...but you could use a wreath hanger if you are fancy like that.
In case you were wondering...this is what that little sign on the door says.  We live in the Bible belt and in a neighborhood of kids who are rude to us unless they are selling something and people seem to ring the doorbell ONLY when my kids are sleeping. 

And somehow...even though there is a sign right inside my house that asks people to remove their shoes...somehow a lot of people thinks this DOESN'T apply to them.  This is my way of assuring them that it does indeed apply to them. :)

Happy wreath making...even if you wait until Christmas to do it. :)

me and my {big} dreams

This post may be my most vulnerable yet. 
Because when it is all said and done...this post could leave me looking foolish and silly. 

But I don't think that is where it will end. 
I have been praying for a long time about how to use my blog and talents in a way that is bigger than a way that will allow God to show up and through and over my blog.

What is the point of having God given talents if they are not used for God given glory?
So I prayed.  And prayed.  And prayed.  
And slowly pieces have fallen together.
First the charity...Nothing But Nets. 
Can you imagine not being able to keep disease carrying bugs off of YOUR baby?

Then what to do...what to do...pray, pray, pray. 
 Then one of my favorite customers sent me a link to THIS PATTERN. 

Yes, that will do. 
Then it all started to come together... plan...
To make a quilt. 
Out of entirely donated fabrics and materials.
(Because I really want God to show up here easy would it be to buy it all myself and say "look what I bought!"...but I want to be able to praise God saying "Look what HE provided!".

So once that quilt is made...(with fabric donations that have already started!!!!!)...I plan to hold a can buy a net for $10...each net is an entry...each net is a family safe from malaria, one of the largest killers of children in Africa...and you can enter as many times as you please! 
I am praying for big things...will you pray with me? 
I am praying for God to do bigger things than I can hope for. 
Than I can imagine. 
I want you to help me spread the word about the raffle...when the time comes...will you help me?

I am praying for big things.  Big big things.
This pillow is just my practice for the pattern...this will be in the shop momentarily.

I plan to give you peeks along the share the fabrics as they show you my squares as I make let you be part of the process.  

I am putting this out I can't back out.  
So I don't doubt in the dark what I know God has said in the light. 

And there has already been dark...before the first fabric donation came in I had just enough time to I supposed to do this...should this dumb or worthless?

And then I got an email from my first donor. 
Big. fat. happy tears.  
It was like an email from God saying...yes, dummy, you ARE supposed to be doing this. :) 

So will you get excited with me...and pray and share and buy a net and save some lives? 

please.  and thank you.  I know you and your awesome selves will come through.


20 minute crafter. { x3}

Hi friends.  I hope you can forgive today's craft...technically it is not a twenty minute craft...but I DID do it in an that would have been the time that I would have used to do the 20 minute crafter post...but well...I wanted to do these instead. :) Ok?  So hopefully you are still inspired to craft...even if you only have a little bit of time to do so...
Don't you love my new sunshiney curtains?
I started with these...on clearance from Target.  Ok...but not all all funky...and a little too short for my liking.  
 So I cut off the tab tops...this made it easy to keep the line straight. :)
Then...taking three different fabrics that made me happy...I cut them all the same length...but cut them different widths.  Sewed the different widths together...sewed them onto the curtain...and sewed the tab tops back on...and here we go. :) Here is a before and after. :)
  Now we will have sunshine when there is no sun. :)
I LOVE them.  I am thinking all the curtains in my house need a makeover now.
Cause what part of my house couldn't use some artificial {fabric} sunshine?

Hope you were still inspired...even if it took 20 minutes times three. :) 

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