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Teaching Your Children to be Gold Diggers

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As I laid my daughter down to sleep I whispered in her ear, “Remember, try to be a gold digger.” She smiled, nuzzled my face and said, “I will, Mama.”

As I was blowing her kisses, closing the door to her bedroom, what I had said to her dawned on me and I had to laugh. To look at me and my home, you wouldn’t think I would be the kind of mom who would encourage my daughters to be gold diggers.

I am in no way materialistic. I did not, in fact, marry my husband for his pastor’s salary and McDonald’s coupons. My favorite place to get “new clothes is, ironically, at the thrift store. I have not bought a new pair of glasses in fifteen years. I simply buy cheater glasses at the Dollar Tree when my frames get cracked, and pop my old lenses into them (sad, but true). There are few things (if any) that I cherish for monetary value, though I have lots of trinkets worth pennies that are priceless to me for sentimental reasons. Most of our material possessions are second-hand, from cars, to furniture to appliances. My kids get most of their presents from us from the dollar store or Goodwill.

Am I cheap? Heck yes. Am I a gold digger? You betcha. Well…..an aspiring gold digger, at least.

OK. By now I’m sure I’ve either thoroughly confused you or you’ve caught on that this isn’t about money.

Recently I was listening to a Christian author on the radio talking, quoting Dale Carnegie, author of the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Carnegie said,

“Men are developed the same way gold is mined. Several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold. But you don’t go into the mine looking for dirt. You go in looking for gold.” – Dale Carnegie

This statement impacted me greatly and I found it went beyond just looking for gold in people, but also in the every day gifts God has given me. Anyone can dig for dirt. It takes someone truly determined to keep digging until they find gold.

Because, let’s face it, don’t we love dirt? Don’t we relish in the failures of others? Don’t we love the grime of pessimistic criticism we have for the people around us? Don’t we enjoy comparing our “dirt” with other people, seeing who has a bigger pile?  Don’t we love to roll in the mud of gossip? I know I do. It’s lazy, because who has time or energy for gratitude?

No. I am trying to teach my children, as well as myself (slow learner, here!), to dig deep until you find gold. As Christians, we are to put off those things, are we not? Are we not called to be new creations in Him, no longer pigs wallowing in our own filth? We are told to put off the old and put on the new, replacing the old, filthy habits with new, godly ones.

So, here I am, former dirt miner, aspiring gold digger.

It’s a tough job. I’m not going to lie to you. If it was easy, everyone would do it and we’d all be filthy rich (metaphorically speaking). But it’s tough. Days when my kids are whiny, my house is messy, my head is aching, my list is pressing, and my dogs are barking (literally and figuratively) I don’t want to dig (yep-pretty much every day). I don’t want to labor to find the gold; I don’t want to stop and take the time. I want to put my hours in and take a break, not caring what I have to show for it at the end of the day,as long as I got through it. And I miss it. Stink if I don’t miss it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Because on any given day, while I was pointing out the kids’ whining, I missed their sloppy kisses and sincere hugs. While I was complaining about a rainy day, I missed the sun’s faithfulness to come up. While I was criticizing my husband for failing to pick up his things, I missed his kissing me, encouraging me, coming home to me. As I grumbled to myself about the chill in the air, I failed to thank God for our warm home, running, hot water, indoor plumbing, and electricity. As I cursed about a minor cold that lasted a week, I neglected to thank God for days and months and years of health for me and the ones I loved.

Recently I was checking out at a store and the girls went from trying to pull things off the shelves, to fighting with each other, to begging for a candy bar all within the span of two minutes. Meanwhile I was trying to load the conveyor belt and not run them over with the shopping cart. As we were gathering our items to leave, the cashier complimented the girls on what a big help they were, each grabbing a bag. A sarcastic remark with acompanying eye roll were all ready in the chamber, but I stopped myself. For once in my blessed life, I actually stopped myself and said,” Yeah. They really are. They are a huge help to me.” It was so simple, and I barely thought anything of it until I saw their faces. You would have thought that I had cleared out that check out line of all of the candy bars and sh0wered them on them, like a delicious, miraculous, candy bar confetti parade. They both beamed at me, pleased as punch and said shyly, “Thank you, Mama.” I’m going to be honest: it cut me straight to the core and I think I left a trail of blood from the counter to the door. How sad was it that they were so used to me looking for the dirt, rarely ever seeing the gold? 

I made three plaques a couple of years ago, each part of I Thessalonians 5:16-18.  They say “Be joyful always”, “Pray continuously”, “Give thanks always”. The latter part of this verse says that “this is God’s will for you, in Christ Jesus”. He calls us to be “gold diggers”, being joyful, in giving thanks. It is His WILL for all of us who are His children to be  purposeful about looking for those things that we have in Christ, in our every day lives, in His goodness and faithfulness to us.

There is a famous story about Corrie ten Boom and her sister, Christian captives in a concentration camp during WWII. They were stuck in sleeping quarters that was infested with fleas. Corrie’s sister, Betsie, encouraged her to thank God for the fleas, because such a small detail was not beyond God’s notice or purpose. Grudgingly, Corrie agreed. They had been having secret Bible studies there, and they realized later it was the only place that the guards refused to go into because of the fleas, so they were never found out. I love this story because it is a constant reminder to me that even when things are at their worst, there is always, always, ALWAYS something to thank God for and a purpose in His plan.

So as we are nearing a new year, my resolution is this: to be a gold digger, because heaven knows I’m already filthy, stinking rich.

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CONTEST: Have Your Photos Painted for Free

photocontestAs many of you already know, I have an ETSY shop. Up to this point I’ve mostly sold printables but was thinking of branching out. I’ve always loved painting, but I’ve put it on the backburner for awhile until this past Christmas when my super awesome husband bought me art supplies: a tabletop easel, new paintbrushes, pencils.  It reignited my passion for painting. I wanted to be able to start selling some of these paintings in my shop. That’s where you come in.

I decided to have contest. Here’s how it will work: I want photos in three categories: 1) animals/pets 2) children (preferably closer up) 3)portraits (also preferably closer up. If I choose your photo two things will happen: 1) I will paint the picture then send you the original (a $100 value) and 2) sell prints of your painted photo in my shop (this is something you are agreeing to if you submit a photo). If you are interested, you can go to my Facebook page and like my page for further details and updates. I will be announcing winners March first.

Can’t wait to hear from you!

xo

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Dollar Store Paris Inspired Mirror

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Hi. My name is Courtney and I’m addicted to Pinterest.

It’s been 12 hours since I last pinned a recipe, funny cat photo or tutorial about making a mosaic with broken pottery. I have at least 762 of making doily curtains, 32 about reupholstering your furniture the lazy way, and how to cheaply decorate every room of your house.

My latest obsession, though, is Paris. Well….the idea of Paris.

My girls love, love, LOVE things Paris related. After we spent a day in “Paris” at home, they have had a wanderlust to visit Paris in their imaginations any time of day or night.  They might take after their mom a bit.

This fall they turn nine (boo-hoo!!) and for their birthdays I wanted to try to redecorate their room to be a Paris theme. Something girlie, fun, romantic and a bit more sophisticated for preteen girls (sniffle*).

I plan to put flower boxes on their windows, turn their closet into a boutique, making a light up Eiffel Tower behind an old window, paint a rug to look like cobble stones, making a biSTRO IN THEIR ROOM, PUT AWNINGS OVER THEIR WINDOWS!! Can you tell I’m excited?!! I plan to make myself a little sitting corner in the “Café” part of the room so I can take a little trip to Paris myself sometimes!

It’s safe to say I’ve had Paris room on the brain. So naturally when I was at the Dollar Tree this past week I was inspired. This whole project cost me three dollars. Yeperooski. Just three measly dollars.

I will admit, though, that I already had the glass paint from another project, but that is still just a couple of dollars. So, without further ado….

Supplies:

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-Dollar store mirror

-Dollar store scrapbook flowers (6 for one stinkin’ dollar! Holla!!)

-Martha Stewart Frost Glass paint

-Scrapbook Letter Stickers (I also had but they have these at the Dollar Tree as well)

 

So, if you’ve followed this blog at all you know I like to do easy projects. This is one of those, people! So super easy!

I started by sticking the letters to the mirror. Rocket science, right?

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Then, take the mirror out of the frame and paint over the whole thing, letters and all, with the glass paint. Leave it sit for an hour to dry.

In the meantime you can decorate your frame. Can you pause a moment, though, and just admire these paper beauties? These delicate flowers are even paler in person. They are small and adorable.

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They have a sticker on the back, but I hot glued them around the frame for durability.  After the mirror has dried take stickers off (you may have to do some touch up because mine peeled off a little of the paint). Then put it in a cool oven to bake(don’t preheat). Then turn oven to 350 degrees and bake it for a half hour. Check on it periodically, though, because mine turned a little yellowish. Poo.

Turn oven off and let cool off before removing it. Once it’s cooled, pop it back into the frame and voila! A masterpiece.

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Here is some other loot I’ve collected already (mostly from Goodwill). That Paris flea market sign is from the Dollar Tree!

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I’ve also started painting some of my own watercolors to add to the ambiance. Oui, oui.

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I’d love to hear more ideas if you’ve got ’em!

Bonjour!

xo

 

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Easy Snowman Art Project

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So it’s that time of year again: snowman building time!!

I don’t know how it is where you live, but here winter just kind of came on all at once! Even though it’s only been snowing for the last week or so, I’m already experiencing some winter blues. It didn’t get above ten this morning! Blah.

BUT, never fear! There’s always fun things to do in the winter! When it’s too cold to build a snowman outside, there are lots of ways to make them inside!

I confess this is my THIRD snowman project I have done so far this year with my elementary art students and I have a few more up my sleeve. There’s just something so cheery about snowmen, don’t you think?

This was one of the easiest projects thus far. This was one of those ones where I threw open my closet (completely unprepared for class) and started pulling things off of shelves. Those always end up being the best projects!

Here are the supplies, folks:

-white finger/tempera paint

-blue or gray cardstock

-scrapbook/construction paper

-buttons, jewels, sequins, etc (anything to give your snowman a little bling)

I started out by cutting out mittens, scarves and hats with different patterns for each child to make their project unique. I also punched holes from black construction paper for the eyes and mouths. I cut little triangles for carrot noses and strips of brown paper for arms.  If time allows, you can have your students do this themselves but my classes aren’t very long and I’ve found that having little details like this prepped before class helps a lot. I gave them a piece of paper and told them to create a snowman on it with the white paint using their fingers. For the younger kids I demonstrated how to do this creating three circles on top of each other, but for most of them little guidance was needed. They went to town. Some anchored them to the paper by making a snow-covered ground, others made falling flakes.  After they had the body created, I let them choose the items they wanted to use to decorate their snowman and some glue and that was it! It was simple and they loved it! Any time you can incorporate finger painting, my students are happy!

 

Here are some more examples:

Happy crafting and stay warm!

xo

 

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Purging Kids Clothes

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And we’re back!!

It’s been a craaaaaaaaazy eight months since I last posted anything. We went on and were in charge of a missions trip to Mexico, have been doing all kinds of home renovations, and I started homeschooling.  I’ve collected all kinds pictures of crafts and home improvements that we’ve done with all kinds of good intentions of posting them. But, alas, it was not meant to be!

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to try to do better! Ha! We shall see!

One of my other resolutions is to get the heck rid of things in my house (I’m so determined I let my grammar just go out the window!)! This year we are preparing to move to a smaller home in the country that has no basement or attic- translation: no room for extra junk! Today I’m strapping on my superhero cleaning cape and accepting the challenge! I’m ready to purge, baby!

My first challenge is our girls’ room. Here is a horrific sight if I ever saw one. (If you’re faint of heart, just look away!) I had the girls take everything out of their dressers and the floor was littered with clothing carnage! I JUST cleaned their drawers out five months ago!! What happened?!

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Anyway, something had to be done.

My husband and I have been trying (you know, sort of) to teach the girls the value of saving, giving, and spending money. Since they don’t really get an allowance of any kind, this has been no easy task. We’ve been debating about whether we pay them for chores or teach them that we all help out around the house because that’s what being part of a family means. But that’s a subject for another day.

So I came up with this plan and, I won’t lie to you, I’m pretty darn proud of it. I told the girls we were going to have a yard sale! I would pay them anywhere from 1-5 cents per item they were willing to get rid of, whether it was clothes or toys.

I gave them a list of things they could keep: six long sleeved shirts, 5 short sleeved, 5 pairs of pants, etc. The rest they sold to me to take to the Goodwill store.

They started off by making piles of the different types of clothes: jeans, stretchy pants, summer clothes, sweaters, etc. Then we went through each pile and they took out their designated number of items they wanted to keep. If there were a few things that went over the limit and I felt we had room for it, I would allow them to keep an extra item or two in each category. 1.png

After we picked things out we loaded up garbage bags, some for Goodwill, some to give away for hand-me-downs.

Once we were done, we celebrated with a good-old-fashioned tea party for a job well done.

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I’d love to hear your best organizational tips! I need all the help I can get!

with love,

Courtney xoxo

 

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If Any of You Lacks Wisdom

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I found myself lying face down on the bed crying out to God again. My heart was heavy. “Lord, please give me wisdom,” I pleaded dangerously close to tears.  It was another time where I felt like I couldn’t do this again.

It was one of those times where I had asked God for wisdom for the same thing over and over again, feeling like it was to no avail. I was slipping further into sins I had begged for freedom from in a situation I longed to be drastically changed. My lips were crying out to God but my heart was looking for an exit. Why wasn’t He changing anything? Why were things not only the same but seemingly getting worse? Why when God says we should ask for wisdom so that He can give it freely and abundantly were things not changing?!

My husband has often reminded me of this old adage that is so simple but so true: if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. In this moment of desperation, asking God for wisdom for the umpteenth time and feeling like there was still no change, He whispered into my heart like He always does; so gently and compassionately something I’m quick to forget: He always gives wisdom when we ask for it, we just have to be wise enough to listen.

See, here’s the moment of truth. So many times in any given day does God whisper into my wayward heart ,”My child, for your good and My glory, speak words of kindness, ” as I’m scolding the girls for simple, childish things. Throughout any given day He cautions me against speaking harshly to my husband.  Every day He petitions me to spend more time with Him and less time on media.  During times of distress, He offers me comfort while I seek it in friends and family instead. He offers wisdom every day and when I ask for it, He gives it graciously and abundantly as promised, but like a stubborn child, I refuse to listen.

Lately I have felt the need to cut things back or out of my life entirely. Still, I find comfort in gossip, complaining, chocolate and TV, none of which are beneficial or profitable. My Savior calls to me when I’m weary and offers me rest, and I wallow with Netflix and sugar instead. I have a terrible habit of rattling off any and every feeling I’m having to my poor husband especially and am run away by despair, and He whispers to me to come. Come and find rest and comfort. Come. And still, I ignore this wisdom and flee, causing discord in our home and unrest in my heart.

Like a doting Father, He instructs me in love, and like a spoiled child, I ask and get exactly what I ask for but it’s not enough. I want more and think I deserve more.  It’s not enough that He grants me wisdom but I think He should make all of my troubles disappear as well.  Even as a very human and sinful parent, I know my kids need hard things in their life to grow and learn and mature. He never promised that life would be easy and if that’s what I choose to believe, then I wasn’t listening because He says in this life we will have trials but they are for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28) and that our trials produce goods things like perseverance, character and hope  (Romans 5:3-4) and that we shouldn’t lose heart because Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33).  And in the meantime we can rest in Him because He cares for us.(Matthew 11:28 and 1 Peter 5:7).

God IS faithful and gives wisdom and grace freely, we just have to be wise enough to take them.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

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Meaningful Questions to Ask at the Dinnertable

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I don’t know how things go in your family, but in ours between homework, ministries, meetings, guitar lessons, coffee dates, soccer games and just plain old everyday commitments, it can be stinkin’ hard to connect as a family. When Sam and I were first married we lived on his family farm which meant our lives and meal schedule revolved around the milking schedule. This meant that often times we weren’t eating dinner until nine o’clock and beyond. During this time we got into the nasty habit of eating in front of the TV before crawing into bed. This habit carried into the early years of raising our girls as well when it sounded so much nicer to eat and veg out once my two hooligans were tucked safely into bed and I could just relax. As they have gotten older, though, we realized we were missing valuable time to connect with our kids, sometimes the only time we actually got. We still some weeks only eat together as a family four or five nights out of seven, but that time is still vital for us to be connected in each other’s worlds. When we first started eating as a family I found myself often scolding the girls for fooling around or interrupting while their dad and I were trying to have a conversation, one that often excluded them and was above their comprehension. This was no good.

I searched Pinterest (ever the helpful resource) and find this idea of just adding each other questions during dinner.  I was skeptical, but decided to give it a try.  Two years ago I jotted down some questions and threw them in a jar. They ranged from “if you could be a dog for a day, what would you do?” To “if you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?” These questions are great because they help us to dream together and be imaginative. As they have gotten older, though, every once in awhile I will throw in a new one that is more meaningful. I’ve been amazed to hear the answers the girls can come up with. These questions help them think and grow, but they’ve also challenged me as well! So here are a few examples:

1.Who is someone you can encourage tomorrow and how can you do that?

2. Name three things you are thankful for.

3. Name something you love about the person on your left.

4. What is something God has been teaching you.

5. Who is someone we can be praying for?

6. Who is someone you can talk to about Jesus this week?

7. What is something you can rejoice in today?

Then, of course, there are the sillier ones like this:

1. If you could be a zookeeper for the day, what would that look like?

2. Tell us about an embarrassing moment.

3. If you could have anything to eat right now, what would it be?

4. If you could be a polar bear for the day, what would you do?

5. If you could be anything, what would you be and why? (Nora told us one time she’d like to be a unicorn in a uniform, my favorite answer ever!).

Those are just a few of ours. What about you? What questions would you ask? What do you do to connect as a family?? I’d love to know on the comments!:)