I Haven't Vanished! :)

Just wanted to say I'm spending time with my hubby this week and will be back to the normal blogging schedule next Wednesday. We're having all sorts of fun...

More pictures to come! I miss all of you blogging friends! Hope you are having a lovely week!


First Sale!

Many of you already saw on Facebook and were so sweet to congratulate me, but I wanted to announce the big news officially on my blog as well...

Guideposts bought one of my short stories for their upcoming Christmas collection, A Cup of Christmas Cheer!

I can't tell you how excited I am to work with the excellent folks at Guideposts and to be part of this collection. Now I just have to finish writing the story! :) Wish me luck!


DIY Project Week 15: Fixing a Multi-Strand Necklace

I don't know about you, but when a favorite piece of jewelry breaks, I have a little memorial service in my heart. There's nothing worse than the feeling of your favorite necklace sliding down your neck in what feels like movie theater slow motion as the clasp breaks.

Such was the case with this little beauty. I bought this necklace from Heart of the Bride, an organization similar to Back to Africa, that helps empower women in Africa by giving them a trade. I absolutely love the color of these beads, and what's neat is that women in Africa not only made the necklace, but the beads themselves--and out of paper, no less.

For months and months now, this necklace has been lying in my projects-needing-help pile. Do you have jewelry like this? You aren't quite willing to give it up, but you can't wear it anymore?

Here's an easy way to fix a broken clasp on a multi-strand necklace.

First, you want to clip off the old clasp. Try to retain as much of the string as possible, because you may be able to use the string/nylon it was originally strung on, making your job much easier in the end. That's what I was able to do.

You may have to take off a few beads from the ends of the strands so you have enough string to work with.

Now that you've clipped the old clasp off, slide on a crimper bead. You'll also need a crimper tool in order to do this correctly.

Continue crimping each strand onto the new clasp, one at a time, until you've finished all the strands. This can get tedious, but I promise the end result will be worth it!


And tada! You're finished! Now you can remember what you loved about your necklace in the first place. :)

Have you ever had a necklace break on you? Hopefully this will help you know how to fix it!


Not for a Moment

Heard this song yesterday and thought it was so appropriate for all that's going on in the world right now. Not for a moment are we forsaken. Be encouraged today.


DIY Week 14: Repurposed Glitter Flats

First off, my apologies for posting this blog so late in the afternoon. I had to make a run to the store for more glitter because I couldn't find mine! Now that's an emergency if I've ever heard of one.

I don't know about you, but I'll take any excuse to play with glitter. When I saw some people on Pinterest using Mod Podge to spray glitter onto high heels, I thought, why couldn't I do the same thing with a pair of flats?

So I dug through my closet to find some flats that had begun showing signs of wear.These were the lucky winners, an old pair of Gap flats from the Audrey Hepburn collection several years ago (remember that? LOVED that collection).

Then, I took some Aleene's Clear Gel Tacky Glue I had lying around the house, and used a sponge brush to sort of paint the glue glob on the shoe. I decided to do this project in sections: front, left, and right. I didn't wait for each section to dry (although I'm sure that would be a good idea-- I'm not patient enough!). Instead, I just made sure I fully covered one section before moving on to the next.

Once I spread the glue, I sprinkled the glitter on, then gently shook off the excess.

And whala! Happy shoes!

Here are some things to remember:
  • This is going to leave a mess. Be sure you put down a plastic bag or some newspaper to catch the falling glitter.

  • More glue is not always better. I learned this the hard way, as you can see from the goopy-ness of the following picture. If you make a mistake like this one, though, this project is really low stakes because you are just dealing with glue and glitter... easy to clean up! Just take your brush, brush off the excess glue, and tap more glitter on to cover up the problem.

  • I chose black glitter because my shoes are black. You can choose a contrasting color if you want, but just realize that you're going to have to pay close attention to the glue application.  Using the same color helps cover up mess-ups.
  • I also used a fine glitter rather than the chunky glitter you often see used in crafts to give these more of a store-bought look. You can find fine glitter at any craft store... just be sure you pay attention to the size of the glitter pieces in the bottle.
And that's all there is to it! What do you think? Do you have a run-down pair of shoes at home you could jazz up?


Where Are We Getting Validation?

Today, Robin Jones Gunn posted the following quote on her Facebook: "Faith is seeing light with your heart, when all your eyes see is darkness."

Wow. So beautiful, and so true.

Only halfway through the week, and I've already gotten some very good news as well as some not-great news regarding my writing. Do you ever have weeks like that, where suddenly all the answers you've been waiting for seem to come at once? 

It's amazing how often we confuse things going our way with validation. Have you noticed that? This idea challenged me as I read Jesus Calling yesterday. The passage said when our will and God's will are in sync, we tend to feel in control of our lives, and I would take that a step further by saying we also tend to see our circumstances as validation of our calling.

The problem with that response is that, while circumstances can certainly be encouraging or discouraging, they do not substantiate, nor create, nor validate our calling.

Only God can do that.

Things not working out the way you wanted them to does not mean God has forgotten about you, changed His mind about His promise, or has stopped loving you deeply. It just means that for whatever reason, your desires have gotten out of sync. The good news is, Proverbs says when we delight ourselves in the Lord, He gives us the desires of our hearts, so that our desires come to meld with his own. I think one of the biggest times we feel this conflict is when we begin to look for validation outside of God alone.

I was so excited yesterday when I received good news. More on that to come soon, I promise! I felt like everything was falling into place, and God was reminding me why He put me on this writing journey in the first place. And maybe He was doing just that. But then today, when a very nice not-right-for-us-now rejection came, those feelings of affirmation vanished as they were once again replaced by "keep waiting."

We often ask how to sustain our hearts and minds during the waiting game. 

But I think we're asking the wrong question. 

I think a better question would be how to look toward God alone for validation, regardless of what is going on.

Circumstances change. Contracts are signed, stories are rejected, and there's a lot of waiting going on in between. If we're not careful, our emotions get caught on this roller coaster ride. Some of that is a natural emotional response, but I think God is calling us not to waste the time He has provided. 

If you are waiting, learn to put your hope in God alone. Apply yourself to learning the writing craft. Discipline yourself to become a better writer. But above all, realize that your calling is about deepening your relationship with God. No publisher or agent or future readership can validate that, nor can they take it away.

I've always thought it was a euphemism when people said, "Don't worry about contracts. All that matters is that you're following God." Easy for them to say, when their story isn't on the line, right? But really, I'm learning there's so much truth in that sentiment. Right now, your focus may be finding an agent or a publishing house. Maybe it's expanding your already-existent audience or moving to a larger publishing house. Maybe it's sales numbers or bestseller lists. These goals are fine to make, because they give us forward motion. But the thing is, they are never ending. If we attempt to find our validation in goals, we will never find it at all. Instead, we must look to God, where our validation has been all along.

Do you find yourself looking to things like contracts or sales numbers for markers of success? How can we shift our focus to the more profitable goal of fulfilling our calling each day?


DIY Week 13: Rescue Dog

Meet Radar!

This week's DIY is a bit... erm... unconventional... but it really has been my project for the week, so I just had to share. This is Radar. He's a shelter rescue my husband and I snagged from a nearby animal shelter yesterday morning.

We first saw this cute little guy a few weeks ago at a dog adoption event. When I looked him up online later, I discovered what I'd feared... he was at a kill shelter, not an animal rescue.

If you've been around my blog long, you know I have a passion for helping animals. So when I realized this little guy could be in trouble, I knew I had to do something. I asked the lady who runs the shelter to let me know once he had reached his time limit, and she e-mailed me earlier this week.

The plan all along has been to foster him until he can find his own family, but man is he stealing our hearts! It's going to be hard to let him go whenever he does find his forever home.

Have you ever fostered an animal? Any guesses as to what breeds Radar might be? I've gotten everything from Rat Terrier to Minpin to Chihuahua.


The Really Big Dream

The really big dream. Do you have one of those?

I've been listening to an audio series by Ransomed Heart that's all about dreams lately. In it, John Eldredge says that extravagant dreams do not make us strange or set us up for failure. Instead, they show a longing within us for the kingdom of God, for something much fuller and much grander than our everyday existence.

Source: via Elena on Pinterest

It's easy to look at dreams as opportunities for disappointment. And if we're not careful, before long, we begin to harden our hearts against hope in the name of guarding them. But really, all we're actually trying to do is keep ourselves from failure and a sense of disappointment.

In the audio series, John asks listeners to think of a time of sheer bliss--maybe a moment on the beach or even just a quiet time with a cup of tea in your backyard-- and to also think of several dreams that excite you but seem unreachable. These moments, he says, show a longing within us for the kingdom of God. 

Think about a time when you've seen a brilliant rainbow or a spectacular sunset. Think of the way that energized and inspired you. Now consider the way dreams can do the exact same thing.

See, I really believe we should be spending more time affirming and encouraging our dreams instead of discouraging them. For, if we don't feed the dream that God has placed within our hearts, who will? 

What if, instead of looking at dreams as fancy that ought to be tempered, we looked at them as powerful instruments of the most high God? What if we considered that dreams are often the very whispers of God's will in our lives, and yet we fail to move to the next level of faith because we are so filled with dream killers?

Some of these dream killers include...

  • Doubt
  • Naysayers
  • Blindness to purpose
  • Rejection
  • Fear
  • Feelings of failure
  • Attempts to protect our own hearts
Have any of these dream killers swept in and silenced the dreams of your heart? In no time, they can leave a dream dormant, wreaking havoc upon our hope.

But consider 2 Corinthians 4:7. "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that this everlasting power is from God and not from us."

A new question then arises. Do we really believe in God's ability to bring to pass the dreams and visions He has purposed in our hearts? And if we do, then why aren't we living like it? Why do we allow fear and doubt and destructive thoughts to have free reign over the things God has called us to be and to achieve? 

The whole process is really pretty simple if we didn't complicate it so much. God calls, and He equips. We don't have to see how He's going to do it or already have all the gifts and skills it's going to take to get to the other side of the dream. We just have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and to keep dreaming, trusting God to give us what we need at each step of the journey. 

When we rely on Him, He shifts our focus from our own current abilities to our kingdom desires, and enables us to achieve those things.

Do you have any dreams lying dormant in your heart today? Maybe it's time to allow God to breathe life back into those things and move forward along the journey. I hope you're encouraged today to stop viewing the dreams of your heart as silly or outlandish, and to start investing in them. If God put them there, and if you really believe He can do all things, then you also have to believe He can and will accomplish His purpose through your dreams. He hasn't forgotten His plan. Your heart should be your compass, not a casualty.