My photo
We are a family of fifteen: eight already with Jesus and seven in desperate need of Him. This is the story God is writing in our lives. Proverbs 16:9

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


This child.  In my mind's eye, I see her little face and big blue eyes in their 2 pound, 4 oz. form.  I remember her flipping about in scant amounts of amniotic fluid, astounding even the most stoic of a sonogram technician.  And then, I see her now.  There is one thing about her particular personality that moves me ~ when she smiles, she really smiles.  When she disagrees, I know it.  When she laughs or speaks, it is intentional.  And when she runs, she runs like this.

There have been times I have wanted to run like her, but I have no strength to do it.  I have no energy to get the heck up and go--- or press on when the weights of this temporal, unredeemed life press in and hold me down.  Even my exercise induced asthma gives me a physical reminder of what may hold me back.  Most of the time though, I stall because I am trying to run with my eyes focused on the spot where I stand.  It may be fear, guilt, regret, sin, pride, or numbers of things that keep my eyes turned down or even closed.  When I want to go somewhere, that is never helpful to me.  It just isn't.  I need to see what is ahead to run ahead.

At this moment, little Miss was heading toward the bubble maker.  It was scattering bubbles in the air, and it made her so excited.  She had been on the slide, but the bubble contraption got her attention and it, coupled with the newness of discovering something fantastic, made her take off in a clear direction.  And as she ran, bubbles flew in the air, kissed her face, and floated away into the blues of the sky.

When I run, it greatly depends on what I am running toward that changes the way that I run ~ or if I run at all.  Let's say I was running toward a big, hairy spider.  Well, I just wouldn't move.  I would back up, actually.  If it was something good, like chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream and ganache, I would run.  If it was in the direction of the above little girl smiling back at me, I could  really move.

These days, that are shorter than I'd like but longer than I can handle sometimes force me to remember why and to where I am running.  It used to be that I would dangle in front of me lists of things to do.  They were good things, mind you.  Even kind, loving things.  I used to think of myself in terms of what I would complete in a day.  All of those things are important and I certainly feel the consequences sometimes of my incompleteness.  But all of those things are far less important than what they imply about life and the purposes behind them.

What really matters is the Person at the end of the road that smiles when He sees me coming.  I know myself and I know He knows me, and that makes me marvel at the way He loves me.  He has loved me so much that He would finish the race for me and bid me come and walk in the way paved for me.  That is the only way He could say that His yolk is easy and His burden is light to weary travelers.  Like my last post said, I have to rest to see Him and be reminded of these truths.  As He said, "It is Finished†".  I want to know more of what this means.  And the more I believe this is true, I hope to run with endurance.  I can look at my Ellie and the way she laughs and plays and be inspired by her childlike joy.

Today, I confess I am frozen.  But I am compelled to submit myself again to repent of the sin that clings so closely, rest, and ask God to lift my head to the truth ~looking to Jesus~ at the end of the road that will keep me moving (see Hebrews 12:1-2).  I am thankful for the cloud of witnesses that cheers me on, for teaching that grounds me in grace, and fellow sojourners (and Ellie) that join me on the way.

Restoration and Rest

There are not that many places to attempt such a thing in a house with five, active kiddos.  Yet, I have been determined to make our bedroom a much needed retreat for both Micah and me.  I seem to always be moving.  A friend of mine asked me recently if I exercise.  My answer, I never stop exercising!  It is resting, that I find most difficult.

I have always had an easier time adding personal touches to the other rooms in my house but my bedroom seems to always be on the back burner.  It is the room everything is stored when company comes over and I run out of time to de-clutter, store properly, or organize.

As a starting point, I took inventory of what I have on hand.  Then, I brought in a few things from other rooms to see if they'd work better.  At the end of the evaluation, I decided I need to make the furniture pieces more cohesive.  I really like an overall, dichromatic look.  It is less complicated to my brain and makes me able to appreciate one or two colors as they stand out against each other.

I have several pieces that are more ~espresso~ in color.  Then, I have the pieces below:

These are my dresser and one of the nightstands.  They were my aunt's from back when she was in college.  They have beautiful design, strong bones, and ample storage.  Their finish was nice; like a dark, honey oak but again, I was hoping to unify the color palatte.  It came from American Drew in my hometown.  As a young girl, I remember passing the factory building many times a week as it sat almost directly across from my 1st-4th Grade school.  Let's be honest, they just don't make furniture like they used to.  A vintage aesthetic is one I really gravitate to with all the beveling, detail, and such.  I could get a piece like this new-ish, but it would cost $$$.  I also really like breathing new life into old pieces anyway and that feeds the artist in me.

I have painted several pieces of furniture over the years with varying results.  Clearly, painted furniture can be precarious.  There is a lot of sanding that needs to take place in order to make the wood more suited to hold paint well and not chip.  I have tried to simply paint a piece but it does chip.  Last fall, I started a piece using an oil based primer.  That worked really well and so far, the finish has held up against lots of bangs and bumps, crayons and cleanings.

I had heard several comments about chalk paint over social internet sites.  I had tried to make chalk paint using non-sanded grout mixed with acrylic paint on a wood surface for the big boys' rooms.  That was a no-go for me.  The finish isn't great and the paint comes off every time I clean it.  But then, I stumbled across Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  First of all, the gal who invented it is just fascinating to watch.  And by the way, it isn't really chalk paint, like chalk-board paint.  There are several instructional videos on youtube that she hosts, highlighting the use of her paints and soft waxes.  She is an artist in her own right.  Y'all watch her and you'll see.

After enjoying her tutorials so much and appreciating her "get on with it" attitude about painting, I decided it was worth a try.  There are only a few business in the US that carry her paints.  I found a local gal that sells it, loaded everyone up in the van, and ventured there last week.  Her shop displayed the paint and pieces she had done in Annie Sloan style.  I was so impressed by the finish.  The pieces felt velvety--- and seemed to hold up well.  Many times, when I see distressed furniture particularly, it has a rough, chipped feel.  This wasn't true at all with the furniture on display.  Even the distressed areas are finished and maintain smoothness.

I was also a little reluctant because of the price.  One quart was around $35 and the soft wax, $26.  The saleslady assured me that it would go a long way.  I know a good primer can be upwards of $30 and paint has greatly increased in price over the last several years, but I still wasn't sure the coverage would be good enough to not warrant another trip and another quart.  Then if it didn't live up to the hype, I would have to spend more on products to fix what hadn't worked (I speak here from previous failure and experience;)).  I was willing to give it a chance, though.

I started by cleaning the pieces.  I decided to do both the dresser and nightstand.  I used dish soap and water to scrub it down and make sure no oils were left on the surfaces.

I did not sand it.  Not one bit.  I did remove the drawers and pull the pieces out from the walls.  With low VOC, I did not even take them out of my bedroom.  An open window and the cool, spring-like air did absolutely suffice.

At the suggestion of dear Annie herself, I left all the hardware.  Then, the painting began.  I did the bazillion drawers first.  I purchased an Annie brush for the painting with an oval design that cut down on the work.  It was well worth the money.  The first coat covered well but I did decide to add a second.  Handles and all, it took about two-and-a-half hours to cover both pieces.  I only used just over half a quart for everything.  That was amazing to me.

After letting everything dry for 24 hours, I put on the first layer of soft wax.  I had watched several info-videos about exactly how to go about this.  There is a Annie Sloan brand of brushes that will apply a thin coat but they are pricey.  They say (whoever they are) you can also apply it with a cloth.  I found an old paint brush in good shape in my garage and decided to give it a whirl.  It did just fine.  After brushing on a small amount of the wax, I worked it into the paint and hardware.  A lint-free cloth was suggested for smoothing it in, but I had trouble finding such a thing in the varnish aisle.  Cheesecloth was too thin and the other alternative did shed.  I had recently cut up some old undershirts and those worked just perfectly for me.  This was the most time consuming part of the whole process.

Another 24 hours later, I began to distress the piece.  I sanded some of the edges, detail, and parts of the handles where some of the metal could show through.  I did minimal distressing.  Then, I vacuumed to remove any paint dust, and re-applied the wax.  After another good buff with a cloth, I was finished!  Even the clean-up was easy.  Both the paint and the wax cleaned out of the brushes beautifully with warm water and dish soap.

The next day, I could tell where I needed to buff more as places on both the wood and hardware felt just a bit gummy.  But as I had been assured, the piece was lovely!  Both to the touch and to the eye.

It is amazing to me what a fresh finish can do to the look and feel of something.  There is something calming to me about purposeful color, especially in the room where I get some much needed R&R with Micah.

Speaking of a place to rest, Micah and I attended the Liberate Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, FL in February.  It was three days of just he and I, being fed and surrounded by teachers proclaiming Good News.  When we weren't at the conference, we got to visit with friends who were gracious enough to allow us to stay in their home.  It was such a blessing.  It takes getting away sometimes to adequately reflect and relax.  I was reminded how good it is for me to "Be still" as the Psalms often exhort.  I am a bit of a melancholy, writer, introvert anyway (if you haven't already noticed) and I really need the time to refocus;)  With my bedroom complete for the most part, I am thankful for a space that expresses my desire to unwind in such a lovely way away from the Florida sunshine.

These days, it is a blessing to have a space conducive to resting.  Life is so so busy.  The bottom line for me, if I am to run about in any direction, I need to first rest.  When I sit and remember what is real, what is true, what is finished, the realities of why I move again make sense.

Now, if I can just keep the laundry in my bedroom put away...

FYI... I recently read an article that discouraged the use of alliteration.  I don't care.  So there.  Now I am rhyming.