2011 Reflections

As 2010 came to a close, I was sure there could never be a year that would come close to being as amazing as it was. Then 2011 came. I feel as though I want to say again that there could not possibly be a better year! Somehow I have a feeling that my naivety will prove me wrong, and as God continues to grow my family in all ways, he will continue to amaze us with his goodness, faithfulness and love.

Tonight I sit in our basement with the world juniors playing in the background (Canada winning of course) and I reflect on this past year. After managing gymnastics clubs, taking three years of bible school, an internship, and being on staff at a church, no year has so changed my life as this one has and I want to take a moment to give some glory to God.

Here are my top three dates of 2011

1. May 20, 2011 we were blessed with our little boy!

2. June 5, 2011 we celebrated our first anniversary!

3. March 1, 2011 we got possession of our first house!

In some ways, I have had a quieter year than others, as today marks a whole year that I have been off work to “stay home”. It’s true, I’ve never spent more time at home, but I have also never had to function on so little sleep before! Now that Caleb is 7 months old, I get a good amount of sleep, but there were sometimes this year I wondered if I’d make it through. It’s crazy how fast those seasons pass by. They feel like forever in the moment, and then they’re done. And I’m left wondering how it’s possible for a year to go by so quickly.

As an individual, I’ve conquered some of my fears. I’ve always been ashamed of my attempts at creative works. I felt as though my sisters excelled much more than I did at drawing, painting, colouring and crafts. No matter what I did I felt as though it looked like a little child made it. Then I discovered Pinterest, and other avenues to aid in inspiring some creativity in me. I started discovering my “niche”. Mod Podge has quickly become a dear friend and I’ve learned to look around at what I can repurpose before going out to buy it. I’m growing more as a person just from opening up my heart to try something new. I hope that I’ll be ready to be a fun and crafty mom by the time my kids are old enough to appreciate doing them!

Becoming a mom has changed my heart, and I can’t remember how I viewed the world before. Watching my little man grow so quickly in such a short time has been both scary and wonderful. Every new stage is full of wonder and excitement for him. His smiles gets bigger and brighter with each passing day. I’m trying to learn to lift my concerns about his life instantly to the Lord. Caleb has so much to conquer. As I see his little body scooting around the house I ask God if Caleb can please always say no to drugs. Can he please always stay faithful to his future wife and family? Can he burn with a passion for the Lord that changes the world? These questions will only be answered as the years go by. I hope that 2012 sees my husband and I investing sacrificially into our marriage and our family.

Here are a few pictures of our year and the exciting journey we’ve been on!

Our little boy at 20 weeks!

My wonderful husband’s 23rd birthday (March 23), right after we moved into our new home!

Ready to have Caleb! I thought he’d never come! (May)

Our munchkin came! May 20, 2011 at 4:50 a.m. Our lives have never been the same since!

Our babymoon trip! It was like a honeymoon with our new baby! It was a wonderful road trip with our little guy, making memories that we will never forget! (August)

My sister Nicole graduated in June!

My sister in law graduated in June as well!

Caleb started to show his wonderful, smiley personality! (Summer)

Caleb’s Great Grandpa Switzer dedicated him to the Lord at church on August 21.

Many milestones have been reached by our little guy, and I was especially proud of him when he started sitting up! Such a handsome boy, if I do say so myself!

We celebrated Caleb’s six month birthday in November!

Exclusively breastfeeding came to an end and we’ve enjoyed watching Caleb discover new foods and join us at the table for meals!

Most recently we celebrated Christmas with Caleb and enjoyed watching him play with his new toys and spread love, joy and hope wherever we take him! We could not have imagined what a blessing he would be!

I thank God for everything he has brought us through this year. I thank him for my husband and my son, for our house and for his provision. I can’t wait to see what 2012 brings for our family!

May the Lord bless you immensely with joy, love, peace, increased faith and hope as you serve him. May you fall deeply in love with the one who created you and may you discover new depths to your relationship with Christ that surpass all your wildest dreams!

Happy New Year to you and all those you hold dear to your heart!!!

 

High Five For Friday – Birthday Edition!

I’m linking up with Lauren at From My Grey Desk. Come join in and post your weeks highlights!

So today is Friday, but it’s also my birthday, yay! This is pretty much the craziest week ever for me, since my husband has been on holidays, we’ve had many get togethers with family, celebrated lots, and opened many gifts! And this week closes off with my birthday, so limiting myself to five highlights will be hard! But here we go!

1. Watching Caleb opening gifts was priceless! He figured out how to pull tissue paper out and reach in for the gift! It was so cute!

2. Sleeping in!!! There is no picture for this, as you probably wouldn’t want to see me in bed. I’ve got extra sleep from staying with family that took Caleb in the morning, or my husband and I trade-off in the mornings! It’s been so nice!

3. Our boxing week sale find at Superstore! $24 for a new bed set. A change just freshens everything up! 

4. Redecorating our bedroom and putting up my jewelery organizer! The room is a work in progress, which I will blog about soon, since it’s been a fun project! And I will also post soon about how I made this jewelery organizer from an old shutter. Using it has been great, I’ve definitely utilized my jewelery better since being able to see it well. 

5. My Swiffer Vac – I can’t say it’s my favourite gift because I have got so many wonderful things, but it is definitely a great practical gift to have received! I love it because it’s cordless and I can just zip it around the floor quickly and easily!

Can I have a number 6? No? Ok well I guess it is my “high five”, but I know that today is going to be a great day celebrating my birthday with my boys. I don’t know what’s going on, since tonight’s a surprise, but I am enjoying the attention!

Have a wonderful weekend! Happy New Year!

 

Update on some repurposing projects

Christmas has come and gone, so I can now put up some pictures on some of my finished projects. I hope you are feeling inspired. I know that as the new year is quickly approaching, we are really feeling the urge to “get organized”. We are currently rearranging/redecorating our bedroom, and I’ve finished my shutter project (although it’s not what I originally intended it to be), and I’ll hopefully blog about that soon!

Here was the final product of my mom’s coasters!


I somehow forgot to take a picture of the two sets side by side! I did a light coloured set and a dark coloured set. It was the same paper, just reverse colours so they could either match or correspond.

To learn more about this project, click here.

Another gift that I worked on was the bath salts. I picked up a cool old bottle and cork at Value Village and layered the bath salts in there.

I think this is a more decorative way to display the bath salts, compared to the baby jar. However these kinds of jars can be few and far between!

This is what it looked like when I gave it to my sister-in-law. To learn more about the bath salts project, click here.

Finally, here is a project that I did not blog about, and in the end it failed. I made a set of three cinnamon stick candle holders. Unfortunately there was grease or some kind of oily residue on two of the holders and after a few days the cinnamon sticks fell off. The large one still worked and I was able to give it away, but I felt that the set of three was the ideal.

 

These projects were all lots of fun and fulfilling to make! Once you start allowing creativity to flow through you, it just starts coming in greater ways. I am starting to surprise myself with some of my reusing ideas, and it started with looking at other people’s ideas and opening my mind to thinking outside the box of purchasing new items.

Thanks for reading this update. I appreciate all your messages, emails and comments! I’ve loved reading some of the things that you are repurposing. If you are working on a project, or have an idea, share it with us here!

High Five for Friday!

The girls at a two blogs that I simply adore following were asking people to link up with their five best moments from this week. You can join in at From My Grey Desk.

Well there were lots of awesome moments for me, and it’s the Friday before Christmas, so everything just seems extra beautiful, sparkly and romantic!

1. It’s our engagement anniversary! We got engaged two years ago today in a crazy blizzard in Kipling, Saskatchewan. I love celebrating this little anniversary since it was the start of a whirlwind that hasn’t slowed down much (a wedding five months later, a baby 11 months later, buying a house, and more)!

2. My sisters and I all went out for breakfast this week! My mom stayed home with my son and my nephew so we could go out. We hadn’t all been together like that in so long. It was fabulous laughing so hard my stomach ached!

3. Seeing friends and family who have been away! My brother-in-law and sister-in-law came home for the holidays! We had a family supper on Tuesday and then had just Jesse and Lisa over on Wednesday before their surprise welcome home party. I love them both very much. I’ve never had a brother, so Jesse is very special to me, and Lisa is a wonderful woman who I admire a lot! So glad to have time with them. *disclaimer* I had just had Caleb in this photo below, I still look pretty rough!

I got to see three great friends from my high school/youth group days. Kendall, Lyndsie and Shelby Bachtold (just missing Marni!) stopped by and got to see Caleb and visit. It was so nice!!!

4. Editing this blog, finding a new name for my site and redesigning it! It’s still a work in progress but I’m so excited about how it’s coming together! Read more about it here!

5. Finishing up some of my Christmas shopping by myself while drinking a David’s tea Chocolate Chili Chai Tea Latte!

Happy Friday, Merry Christmas and have a safe and wonderful weekend everyone!!!

The Twelve Days of Purpose: Day Eight “Part One of the Final Project”

For the last few days I am going to be working on a larger project that is intertwined with our family purpose statement. I am taking an old shutter that my in-laws gave me, repainting it, putting coat hooks on it and then doing three blocks of artwork that incorporate a summary of our purpose statement, or the whole statement itself. This may of course change a little if I get other inspiration.

Unfortunately I have to admit, I over committed to these daily blog post. Not in general, but just a few days before Christmas! So I will resume it in full force next week!

Today I want to talk about purpose statements and give you some thoughts surrounding ours. I would LOVE to hear if your family has some kind of statement and to get some ideas from you!

Let’s look again at the definition of purpose. As a noun (refresher: person, place or thing) it means:

“The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.”

As a verb, or an action it means:

“Have as one’s intention or objective”

From the simple definition we can see that there are two folds to your purpose. Purpose is figuring out exactly who you are and why you are here, but it is also acting firmly on the objective that you have set.

Here are some things that our family holds as important. All of these things are principles that we would want to fit within an all-encompassing summarized statement. This isn’t the be all and end all of what’s important to us, this is mainly to help us process what values we hold dear.

  1. We believe that our number one purpose is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and endeavor to fulfill the destiny that he has for us. (Mark 12:30)
  2. We believe that strong families are the foundation of a strong nation. We value our commitment to marriage, and then our commitment to loving and nurturing our children. (Malachi 2:15-16 Joshua 24:15)
  3. We believe God has created us and given us gifts to help each other and to help others. We value serving in our church family and serving those around us with needs ultimately to lead them to Christ and show Jesus’ love. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)
  4. We believe that we are to be leaders in the area of honour and integrity to the world around us. (Psalm 26:11-12)
  5. We believe in protecting our home, to “set nothing wicked before our eyes” and to “guard our hearts and minds”. (Psalm 101:3, Proverbs 4:23)

So that is our start! We’re still praying about anything else that needs to be in it. Now to come up with a statement that covers all that!

Please share your thoughts on purpose on a personal or family level to encourage others to explore their own purpose!

The Twelve Days of Purpose – Day Seven “Coffee Tin Makeover”

My husband and I seem to go through a lot of Tim Horton’s coffee! I always blame it on the fact that we have lots of people over and we’re throwing on extra pots – but we do seem to fly through a lot! I’ve been saving these coffee tins knowing they’d be good for something eventually. Well I finally thought of a project for them! Containers for my baking supplies. I made two today. I am hoping to make a few more, most likely after Christmas since I feel like a have a million projects on the go!

First I took this coffee tin, cleaned out all of the grounds and removed the lid and label. Don’t worry if there is remaining glue residue on the container.

I chose a vintage looking piece of scrapbook paper. The pattern reminded me of wall paper in old houses. Then I Mod Podged it to the tin and let it dry.

While that was drying my wonderful husband went out in the cold to our garage and spray painted the lids white for me. This shot was him just touching something up while they were sitting in our living room.

After it dried I glued on and Mod Podged over a label I printed off the computer.

These are the two I completed yesterday. I still have a few tins, and a lot more baking ingredients I need containers for! As you can see in the picture the paper bubbled slightly. It actually gives it a cool vintage effect, although I will add more Mod Podge to the bottom of the paper next time.

Here’s a closer up shot of the flour tin.

Since Day Seven is a Sunday, and I was exhausted from the busy day we had before, I was thinking about resting in God’s purposes.  Some of these little projects have involved work, and today’s involved changing the look of the tin to use it for a new purpose. Sometimes God isn’t wanting us to do or change anything, except wait quietly on him. Sometimes change in our lives come because of non emotional choices that we stay committed to. The verse below says if commit our way to the Lord and trust in him, he will act.

Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for him to act.(Psalm 37:3-5, 7a)

May you walk in God’s will this week from a place a rest and peace in Christ!


The Twelve Days of Purpose: Day Six “Mom’s Gift”

My mom agreed not to read this blog post! I’m going to show you the gift that I’m working on for her. I won’t be able to put a picture of the final product yet, but I will when I can!

Last post I gave a link to The Small Things Blog. Well I have to admit I’m a little obsessed with it. However, I had no idea that the tile coasters I had taken off Pinterest was also from her blog! So I will probably add fuel to my sisters heckling fire that I am indeed enthralled with Kate’s blog. She is such a truly creative person, and has a wonderful heart for Jesus! My mom had mentioned to me that she wanted some nice coasters for her house.

So here is part one of my tile coasters.

I wrote before that my husband recently tiled our back entrance. We got an amazing deal at Home Depot on these tiles, each one was approximately 70 cents. My husband took one of our left over tiles to work and he was able to cut it into nine squares to repurpose for coasters.

This was my test tile. I took my tile and put about a teaspoon of Mod Podge on it and spread it around and then placed my cut out square of scrapbook paper on it. Then I Mod Podged over that and let it dry.

These are the colours I’m using for my mom’s coasters. There will be four of each, she can mix and match to have corresponding or matching ones.

After the Mod Podge dried I spray painted the coaster with Clear Semi Gloss Spray Paint.

This test coaster is almost done! All that needs to happen now is for me to put on the self adhesive rubber feet to stop the tile from scratching surfaces. Once all the ones I am making for my mom are done, I will stack them and tie them up in sets of four with ribbon. I’ll put up the finished product when it’s done!

Click to see Kate’s DIY Tile Coaster’s here!

My attempt to save money and add personality has had me put a lot of thought into gifts this year. I’ve had to listen really closely for little cues from people to see what is needed or desired. The Lord has also given each person specials gifts that have the ability to enrich our lives greatly.

1 Corinthians 12: 7 – 11 says

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

It’s so awesome to think how specifically and uniquely God has assigned a gift to us! That is true thought. He knows us so perfectly inside and out and knows what gift will best suits us to bless those around us. And the purpose of the gift is stated so clearly in verse seven. It’s so that we can help each other. Still confused about part of your purpose? Well, if God is giving us a gift so that we can help each other, obviously we are designed to help each other! What does that look like for you? Ask the Lord, He’ll tell you!

Is God revealing purpose to you? Store it all up and get ready because soon we’ll be writing our purpose statements!

And…we’re half way to day twelve! Thank for reading!

The Twelve Days of Purpose: Day Five “Recycled Necklace Headband”

Kate from The Small Things Blog has awesome hair tutorials that I have been loving lately! I saw the one “How to Wear a Headband” and knew that I needed a cute headband! Today’s repurposing has come from a tangled old necklace and a black headband.

There was a flower jumbled in this necklace, but I slid it off. If you look through your jewelery there are probably many little things that you don’t use or that can be recycled to dress up a plain headband.

I thought this would simply be a project of gluing, but I quickly found out that the flower was too heavy to be glued on. I first decided where on the headband I wanted the flower, and I settled on three-quarters of the way around.

I took some black thread and weaved it through the petals and around the head band until it was securely attached. Then I used a glue gun to seal the thread. because the flower have two layers to it, you can’t see the thread at all now.

Ok this is hard to see, but you’re supposed to notice a smooth attachment. The glue gun really cleaned the look of the thread up nicely.

I was really happy with how the headband turn out (not happy with my hairs volume though at the time of the pictures. If you want advice on wearing a headband or other hair styles, check out Kate’s awesome tutorials).

This was a fun and simple project that cost me almost nothing! I have a brown headband that I’m going to dress up with some sort of fabric accessory at some point soon!

 

I hope that these little projects are inspiring you that we as humans can make something out of almost anything. God is so much greater than us, He can take our lives that seem meaningless and use them for something meaningful. Today I want to encourage you with this Psalm about purpose. Next week I will be sharing with you about what I believe my purpose is, sort of a “purpose statement”, and I hope that you will be able to think of one too. For now, read this verse and be encouraged that God WILL fulfill his purpose in you, and will rescue you from where you are at. Take time to rest in His presence this weekend and let His peace fill your heart.

Psalm 57:1-3 (emphasis mine)

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy!
      I look to you for protection.
   I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings
      until the danger passes by.
 I cry out to God Most High
      to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.
 He will send help from heaven to rescue me,
      disgracing those who hound me.
   My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness

 

The Twelve Days of Purpose: Day Four “Cupboard Clean Up”

My first late post. Sorry to all my readers. Yesterday turned very busy and when I got into bed at 11:30 p.m. I could not make myself blog, sleep was all I could do! So here it is first thing this morning. Day Five should still be coming this evening!

Today’s repurposing surrounds cleaning up one of those spots in your house that drive you crazy. Your home might look neat and organized from the outside, or like you have it all together, but we all have those zones full of chaos. I call them “mental breakdown zones” because I literally feel like I’m going crazy when I see how I’ve let it get out of control. One of those spots for us is under our bathroom sink. It is very tiny, I’d say one foot deep by two feet wide. I think I got into the habit of just fitting as much random stuff as I could, and then shutting the door quickly (my baking pans cupboard is like that too, I need to get to all my “zones” soon).

I’m embarrassed, but here come some pictures!

My intentions were good in the beginning with that basket there to hold stuff, but as you can see it got out of control.

I pulled everything out and separated it into three groups.

  1. Garbage
  2. Keep, but put where it actually belongs (example, random make up and hair products go in our bedroom)
  3. Actually to be kept in the bathroom

I wiped the cupboard out. Ahh, it felt good to start right over. We can be obsessive about certain areas of our house or certain closets, but this one really had become a sanity breaker for me. Because of our personalities, some of the best gifts for my husband and I are simply “organizational surprises”. I might come home from something and he’s reorganized the bedroom, or I might have reorganized the fridge. So I knew that this project was going to relieve some of Andrew’s stress and make him happy. I guess we’re organizational nerds (who aren’t always actually organized).

I chose a smaller long and skinny basket and limited all our bottles to fitting into there, besides the mouthwash. I was astonished at how much stuff in there before was not needed in the bathroom or was just simply almost finished and needed to be thrown away!

I was reading in Matthew 23:25-26 after repurposing of this space and read Jesus’ words to the pharisees.

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.”

More than clean and organized cupboards, we need clean and purified hearts. I know in my life I have zones in my heart that are full of garbage: greed, hate, jealousy. I also have areas of my heart where I have worked on and where God has been changing me. It’s a process we can’t become discouraged in. It’s like our homes, there will always be work to do. We will never have our heart completely cleaned out and Christlike. We’ll need to continue to maintain the secret places of our hearts where only God can see who we truly are.

The good news is we can pray like the psalmist did “create in me a clean heart oh God” and He will do it!

Happy organizing!

The Twelve Days of Purpose: Day Three “Bath Salts”

Oh baby food jars. With two babies in the house, they are quickly over running the place. With so much potential to dress them up to hold all sort of items, I couldn’t resist using them for this easy homemade Christmas present. The basic recipe for Homemade Bath Salts was taken from Martha Stewart.

For this batch I used:

3 cups kosher sea salt

1 1/2 cups Epsom salt

1/2 cup baking soda

a few drops of essential oils (I used a body shop oil I already had)

a few drops of food colouring

I mixed up the batch and made two separate colours to layer the jars. It’s hard to see the colours, but one is pink with red specks and the other is light green with dark green specks. I wish I would have had peppermint extract because these look like fun crushed candy canes!

I used about 4 teaspoons of each colour per layer.

My photos are not doing the paper justice. There two layers of paper covering the glue part from the baby food layer. The paper is a light green and a pink, that goes with the salts. I used stickers to spell “relax” and decorated the lid with a twisted napkin, some curly ribbon, and a gift bow on top.

I’m really happy with how these turned out. My sister and I churned out about ten of these, most of which still need to be decorated. It is a great use for our baby food jars, and a cute gift to give!

 

The word that came to mind with this project was “refresh”. Taking the time to refresh an object can be rewarding when you see the money you have saved and the beauty of the end result. Taking time to refresh people is also important. There are many ways that you can do this. The key though, is generosity. Being generous isn’t just with your finances, it can be with your words, your time and with little blessings. Proverbs 11:25 says:

The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Part of everyone’s God-given purpose is to “love your neighbor as yourself”. Take time to pour into someone tomorrow. Maybe it’s giving someone something like these relaxing bath salts. That could be refreshing to them on multiple levels!

The Twelve Days of Purpose: Day Two “Gift Bag”

Today’s project unfortunately got a little rushed. There are so many variations on this though, I hope you won’t let my quick version ruin it for you. I’ll give a bullet point list at the end of some variation ideas on giving a shopping bag greater purpose.

 

I started out by taking a David’s Tea bag I got at the mall. There are many stores in malls that give you nicer bags like these. This is the season where you’ll be receiving lots of them, and you’ll be needing gift bags too!

Using my decorative scissors, I cut out some scrap-book paper to cover the words of David’s Tea and glued it on.

I wanted to use these cool letters I had since they had a blue tinge that went with the blue of the bag. Unfortunately I didn’t have many letters left, so I spelt “live”. This is where the variations and ideas become endless on personalizing these bags.

My scrap-book paper was patterned with tiny versions of those paper flower punch outs, so I accented the bag with the paper punch outs. In my picture the glue is still drying so you can see a glare. My glue dried clear.

I’m not thrilled with the end result, just because I ran out time during my son’s nap and I had to get ready for the Christmas party at our house. I threw some tissue paper in to see what it would look like. I think it’s cute simple, or as dressed up as you want it to be. You also could turn a large bag (say from American Eagle) into a personalized reusable shopping bag for your mall excursions!

Here is my list of variations:

  • Incorporate a photo into the design
  • Personalize the words depending on the occasion (birthday, anniversary, Christmas)
  • Write a fun message or a Bible verse right on the bag to the person receiving it
  • Hole punch the top near the handles and add ribbon to curl or a bow to tie
  • Use stickers, letters, patterns, paper cut outs and punches to make this your very own!

 

So on this day two of purpose I’ve been thinking about outward appearances. We can be so quick to judge someone or disregard the potential in them. I might cast them off as something that has already served it’s purpose (like a shopping bag), but all they need is love, encouragement and someone to believe they are worth more.

1 Samuel 16:7b says

“The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

God isn’t finished with anyone. Until we die, we are still a body holding an immeasurable amount of purpose and potential that the Lord is just begging us to allow Him to unleash. If we’ll be a willing vessel, the Lord will not hesitate to use us!

 

What is your purpose? If you know, comment below and encourage others. If you don’t, why don’t you take this twelve day journey with me to ask the Lord what His purposes for your life are? Your life is worth far more than anything else. If we can take random objects, clean them up and use them for more “noble” purposes that what they were intended, imagine how much more God can do that with you!