Friday, November 30, 2012

Character Building

  "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."
- Helen Keller
We all go through trials and sufferings that could be used to build character, but I think the response you have to those trials is what determines whether you take full advantage of the opportunity. You can decide if you will struggle against it and let it turn you bitter, or if you will humbly submit and let it produce more of the sweetness of Christ in your spirit. 

I am afraid I tend much more towards bitterness in my trials. This is very silly because my trials are not large or overwhelming. I live in America and my trials are certainly not worth comparing to the suffering and torment of Christians in other countries, where they may be persecuted, imprisoned and tortured for their faith. As of yet, my freedom has not been taken away, but America isn't completely free of persecution, and I know it will continue to get worse in the future. If I'm so incompliant in trivial struggles, how will I respond to the greater persecution that is certainly coming?
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
–Romans 5:3-5
 Do you rejoice in your sufferings? It's certainly not natural to our flesh to rejoice in our pain and discomfort, however, remember that we are not rejoicing because of the suffering itself, but because of what the suffering produces. Suffering gives us endurance, endurance builds character, character gives us hope - and what a wonderful thing is hope! - and our hope will not disappoint us because our hope is in the Lord! His love has been poured into our hearts (I love the picture that gives me, of my empty, sad heart being filled to overflowing with His awesome love!) and the Holy Spirit inhabits us. 

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."
                                                                    - Romans 8:18

Next time I have an opportunity to suffer and build endurance, character and hope, I want to keep my heart from bitterness and grumbling, and welcome the trial with meekness. My flesh might feel that the pain is unendurable, and I know I won't be able to rely on my own strength, but through Christ's strength, I will endure patiently.

'But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.'
-2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chalk Paint Adventures

I've been wanting a new nightstand for Sarah's and my room. We'd been using one of those wobbly round table with the three screw-in legs that were popular a long time ago ever since just after they became unpopular. We picked ours up at a yard sale for $5 and it's been wearing an ill-fitting yellow skirt for a while. It's definitely time for a change.

We have a lot of wood furniture in our room, but I decided wanted something vintage and distressed, in a light cream color. After scouring Goodwills and gasping at the shocking prices on some fabulous pieces at HomeGoods, I finally decided that I should DIY, or rather, do it myself.

At first I was looking into tutorials on vintage styles with latex paint, but then I found Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ at a vintage shop just around the corner from my house. Everything I read about it online made me more eager to try it! Extremely low VOC's, no prepping necessary (no sanding, no priming), quick dry time, and created to achieve the exact look I want! Then I found this post over at Perfectly Imperfect and I was sold.

I stopped by the stockist to buy my paint, and they were out of cream, so I bought some Old White and Arles to mix into my own cream. I also bought some Duck Egg Blue to paint a little shelf for the kitchen. Mom suggested it as a good practice project for me, and it was! Here's the before and after:

I jumped right in and just slapped it on; I didn't plan, scheme, test or over-think it, and I think it was a great first project! I painted it outside because I wasn't sure how it would smell, although I knew it should be fine, since it's low VOC paint. It was kinda cool outside, but it worked fine. The paint has almost no odor that I can detect, but the wax is kind of smelly, so I'm glad I stayed outside. The wax was also solidified, I don't know if it's supposed to be or not, but I didn't notice any problems with it, either. I put on one fairly thin coat of Duck Egg Blue, then waxed with the clear, and added a little dark wax on top. You can tell from the picture that I wasn't very consistent in painting style, but I didn't try to correct anything. This shelf will be stacked with recipe books most of the time anyway. This quick project took me 3 hours one afternoon!

I've already mixed up my own cream (one part Arles, 3 parts Old White) and tried it on a cheap old bookcase from Goodwill. Due to photographer error (I thought my camera was set to AV but it was actually on Manual) there are no before photos (well, there are, but they are blinding pure whiteness due to excessive overexposure) but some after photos may be coming soon, along with some photos of my next Chalk Paint project - painting the nightstand! Many other projects are also being schemed. I'm definitely addicted!

A new Chalk Paint fan,

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Finding Purpose

It's something everyone is searching for - the answer to the age-old question: what am I doing here? Why do I exist? What am I supposed to do? Without a reason to live, life has no luster. It's like simply floating in the middle of the sea, no raft, no paddle, in the middle of the night, with no idea what direction to go. 

As Christians, the answer really is obvious, but often seems a little trite; our purpose is to glorify God. Yes, I know that I am here to bring glory to God, to obey Him and serve Him, but what does that mean? Does it mean that I have to become a missionary? Spend all my free time in soup kitchens? Take an entire weekend just to hand out tracts at the mall? Am I worthless if I'm not doing something like that? No, of course not!

I know the truth, but how often I need reminding! You can bring glory to God in ANY situation - anywhere, anytime, every second. It doesn't matter if you work a boring desk job, spend your whole day doing housework or whatever else your typical daily tasks might be; you can bring Him glory every moment of every day. The God of the universe can bring glory to Himself through your humble, day-to-day life.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
-1 Corinthians 10:31 

When I stress about my life, and try to figure out what God's plan for my future is, I lose my focus on Him. I feel depressed, frustrated and hopeless. I can't be in control of what will happen, and I can't force my life to go the way I wish. The good news is that God has the best plan for my life here, and He is in control. That gives me such joy and contentment. It's so relieving to know that all I have to do is trust Him, simply living each day, and follow Him wherever He leads me! 

...walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
-1 Thessalonians 2:12b

It's so simple, it almost seems too easy, somewhat like the simplicity of salvation. It's so overwhelming and awe-inspiring that He loves us enough that He died to save us, and it cost us NOTHING! While we were still sinners He died for us, and all we have to do is accept His gift, and He creates a clean heart inside of us, and brings our dead spirits to life. His steadfast love, mercy and grace to us is unfathomable!

"I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly."
-John 10:10b

And so, I'm simply living for His glory, and looking forward to eternity with Him. I know that this short life on earth is temporary, and its end only means the beginning of my eternal life with my Savior. No sorrows, no worries and no frustrations; only His love and glory, living in the light of His presence and worshiping Him forever! Keep your eyes on Jesus and eternity with Him, and your life will never lack purpose, joy or contentment.