June 29, 2011

The finishing touch

Our family photo canvas arrived today, and here it is over the mantel! I think it's just beautiful!! I'll probably still swap up the stuff that's around it, but this is what I have for now.

June 28, 2011

My New Understanding of Grace

So I told you that was my word of the year.  I'm still mulling it over.  I think what's happening is that God is slowly morphing my understanding of Grace into what He really wants it to be as opposed to what the Western Americanized church has taught me it is.  Interestingly enough, I don't believe He wants me to read any form of teaching on it.  I have checked out books from the library, purchased books on the subject and done searches online.  But every time I get to man's explanation of grace, I have felt strongly compelled to put it away.  So I have returned the library books, stopped books mid-chapter and clicked on the X.  And prayed.  Dug into the word, scratched notes in random places, sought His heart on the matter, asked Him to reveal His definition of Grace to this seeker.

I'm not sure what I've really been taught about grace, but I've always believed it to be God giving us things we don't deserve.  And when I think of receiving things I don't deserve, I think of good things: salvation, mercy, breath, life, children, water, loving-kindness... "Unmerited favor" is the Sunday School answer, I believe.  To me that means He likes me when He doesn't have to.  But I really believe there's more to it than that.

This is where it gets tricky.  We know that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow," (Hebrews 13:8) and that "[Jesus] and the Father are one," (John 10:30).  In Exodus 34:5-7 we see "the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with [Moses] and proclaimed His name, The LORD.  And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming 'The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.  Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished;'"  In Matthew 5: 45 "He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

So this God in the Old Testament who is the same yesterday, today and to the end of the ages is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love, and forgiving.  Yet He commanded the deaths of "innocent" children of rebellious fathers in many battles, His Earth opened up and swallowed 250 rebellious men (Numbers 26:10), He watched His Son go through unimaginable pain and descend into hades, and He told  Jeremiah to wait 70 years before His promise would be confirmed (Jeremiah 29).  None of that sounds good, merciful, or full of favor to me.

So where have we misunderstood? 

I think it's all right here.  For this is what the LORD says: "When 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm My promise concerning you to restore you to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me  and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you and I will restore your fortunes  and gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you.  I will restore you to the place I deported you from."  Jeremiah 29:10-14

It seems to me that God is making it clear that there is reason for their exile.  In this case it is discipline, but He makes it clear it's not going to be over for a while and that His people will seek Him and find Him.  He knows hardship will move us to Him.  It's not always an action of discipline, but any hardship can be responded to by drawing near to Him.  In the long run if our heart's response is desperation for Him, then the hardship seems like grace to me.  

Unmerited favor:  Because He loves me, He affords me the opportunity to come into a relationship with Him where He will change me, love me and save me.  If that's the bottom line, then anything that undergirds that greater purpose is a good thing.  So if depression, infertility, financial pressure, hurt feelings, food allergies, betrayal, heartbreak, exhaustion, and sin create in me a desperation for Him, then they are good.  When seen in light of the big picture, they are good.

So it's all grace to me.  It seems as if I have no other way to see it.

June 13, 2011

Kitchen Redo!! Before and after...

 You guys know I painted the living room last weekend.  I love the blue so much I decided to paint the kitchen too!  I love, love, love these rooms now!!  And since this is where I spend most of the day, it's a major gift to me.  Here are some before and after pictures.

After living room was painted, when I was trying to decide whether or not to paint the kitchen.  :)

 It's not really a natural perspective, but you can see how the two rooms join together.  I guess it's a great room of sorts. 

 What you saw if you walked into my kitchen on Thursday or before.
What we have now!  I love the lightness and airiness of the blue! I put up decorations (some) I've had around the house for 2 years and haven't known what to do with.  I just went with white curtains/valance because I really can't find a fabric I love, these were cheaper than it would have been to make anything, and they match what's in the living room.

This one is darker, but I love the way it shows off the gray counter with the blue and white.  And notice the gray (spray painted) light fixture in the back half!  It was brown before and didn't match anything back there or the other fixture, so I went with the $5.37 can of Rustoleum and have a "new" matching fixture!  Now if I can just find someone to trade my gargantuan microwave for their small one that will fit on my counter so I can get rid of the island (next to the frig in front of the window), I'll be finished!

June 09, 2011

Wanna come sit in a sunny room with me?

I painted the living room last week!  We painted everything neutral when we moved in, but I've learned that khaki really feels dark to me to be in all the time.
It wasn't a very dark khaki, but the lack of color felt dark to me... not just in a lighting way, but in a dark, depressing, lack of life way.  For this color, happy, sunshine loving girl, it wasn't working!  So I asked Robert if we could do a light blue in hopes of a breezy, airy feel and am so pleased with the result!  Robert and I both love it.

We've had some decorations, but nothing personal and I was tiring of feeling like TJ Maxx lived here.  :)  I have years of photos and was overwhelmed at the thought of choosing which ones to print. Then I didn't really have matching frames; some are black, some are different shades of brown and there were a few white ones in there too.  I was trying to lighten the living room because it's been sooooo dark in this north-facing, almost no direct sunlight room, so dark frames weren't really going to help my cause!

I was on a blog the other night and saw the (probably obvious to anyone but me) idea of spray painting what I had. Why didn't I think of that? So the next day I got my spray paint and got busy! 
This is what I had to start with. (I have quite a bit more, but didn't want to paint all that I had until I was sure I had a place for it and I was pleased with how it all turned out.)

An hour later, I had a bunch of matching stuff!

I looked through about 7 years of digital photos and chose my favorites. I also pulled out some favorite professional ones from past years (that never got hung) and used them too.  Here's my gallery wall!  (If you click on it you can see it larger and see the individual photos if you'd like to.)  I need to use some putty for a few of the cheap frames that won't stay level, but I love it otherwise!  I'm going to add one more section on the right side, but I have to get those frames so it will be a bit.

I love the little splashes of green and am looking for a fabric with white, blue and green in it for my kitchen valances.  I didn't realize until it was all hung that every photo except one had green in it. 
We have a family portrait on canvas on order (a Groupon I had) that I'm so excited to put over the mantel when it gets here!  And here's my other favorite spot with those beautiful faces to look at.

I LOVE having these pictures up!  I had to pay for the prints, but the other stuff for all of this cost me less than $20 - one frame half off, the mirror on clearance and the Family thing for $2.50.  I have more frames I'm going to paint and put in my hallways... after I paint the kitchen tomorrow.  :)  I love the blue and white so I'm continuing that in there to tie it all together.  And the one last project I'm requesting for my birthday... overhead recessed lighting in the living room.  The perfect gift to celebrate 35 years of life, don't you think?