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Friday, December 19, 2014

Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments!


One of my favorite Christmas traditions is making these salt dough ornaments! I always have so much fun watching my kids get creative!



Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup water 

Equipment Needed

  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie sheet 
  • Drinking straw
  • Holiday shaped cookie cutters 
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrush
  • Glitter
  • Ribbon or twine!

Step 1: Preheat oven to 250F. Measure flour and salt, then add them to a medium mixing bowl and stir.

Step 2: Add water and mix.


Step 3: Sprinkle parchment paper with flour and knead dough until it’s soft and pliable. Add more flour if it’s too sticky.


Step 4: Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness.


Step 5: Cut out ornaments using cookie cutters (I like to roll out the dough on the cookie sheet so that all you have to do is peel the extra dough away.

Step 6: Using your straw, punch a hole for the ribbon that will hang the ornament. Place ornaments in the oven and bake for two to three  hours, or until completely dry. Flip once while baking, then remove and allow to cool completely.

Step 7: Once the ornaments are cooled, it's time to get creative! We like to use paint and glitter...a lot of glitter.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

how did I get here?

Unequally yoked: when a husband and wife don't share the same faith.

It was quite by accident that I found myself in an unequally yoked marriage...well, sort of.

I began dating Justin, my now husband, when I was 16. Sixteen and selfish...rebellious...immature in many ways. I was raised in a semi-Christian home (that's another story for another time), but stepped away from my faith when I was about 14. I began to make choices that caused me much heart ache, and I'm sure hurt the heart of my Father even more. As a teen I was desperately seeking love and acceptance, from all the wrong places.

And so I shouldn't have been surprised when I found myself 19 and pregnant, but I was. Surprised, confused, afraid... So I did the only thing I knew to do: I married my then-boyfriend.

I loved Justin from the beginning. He has the most gorgeous green eyes, an infectious laugh, and a grin that makes you feel as though you've known him forever. I knew I wanted to marry him pretty much from the start, never mind the fact that he wasn't, nor did he have any intention of becoming, a Christian. I didn't care. I wasn't really acting like a Christ-believer myself. So I jumped in head first. I was looking for love, and he was there to give it to me.

The first year of our marriage was...tumultuous to say the least. I found myself running back to my mom and when that didn't solve anything I began to run to God, realizing that I needed Him and had made a grave mistake in thinking that I didn't for so long. Justin continued to live as he always had, with no interest whatsoever in things eternal. I can't tell you how many times I showed up at my mom's house with my bags packed and a big pregnant belly, or eventually with our little daughter in tow. But it wasn't all Justin's fault. Yes he was making choices that conflicted with what I believed, but I made my fair share of mistakes as well. I was filled with resentment, hurt, confusion, and loneliness. I felt completely lost, truly not knowing what to do. I mean, I was only 19 years old, I wasn't prepared to make such huge life decisions regarding a marriage and the well being of a child...I was still a child!

Somehow we made it through that first year. Barely, by the skin of our teeth. I know it was God's grace. I never expected us to last and at times wasn't sure that I even wanted us to. But here we are, nearly seven years later. And I can say God has redeemed our marriage. He has grown a love in me for my husband, and is teaching me how to forgive and show so much grace. I fail daily, but I'm learning, always a work in progress.

A big game changer for me was Power of a Praying Wife, by Stormie Omartian. I learned about the many mistakes I had been making, like trying to be my husband's holy spirit. I learned that it was so much better for everyone involved if I just prayed for my husband. And slowly I started to learn that I can be happily in love in an unequally yoked marriage. Is it hard? YES. I absolutely feel lonely down to my soul sometimes. But there is also unexplainable joy in knowing that I am a part of my husband's redemption story.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

allow yourself to feel

sometimes i feel like i am just going. to. lose. it.

today was sort one of those days.

my hubby left on another of his work trips; every time i get comfortable and used to him being home, he leaves again. i swear, it's like torture for my heart. and we woke up to clouds and rain, which socal definitely needs in a bad way but did nothing to brighten my mood. on top of that, my two-year-old is very two and makes me crazy most of the time. she's just so messy.

i try to be thankful, and deep in my heart i know that i have a lot to be grateful for! but is it ok if i just sit and cry for a minute or two? is it alright if i feel discouraged, tired, and all used up? that's not a sin, is it?

those are questions that i've been asking myself often, as they are feelings that i have often. i think it all depends on my heart situation. i think it's ok to feel sad as long as you don't turn it into something ugly like hateful words. i think it's ok to have a little pity party as long as you don't stay stuck there all day long. i think it's ok to get discouraged and frustrated, as long as you're taking steps to allow God to minister to your heart and you're trying to pull yourself out of it.

at least i hope so.

sometimes i feel like i need someone's permission to feel. like it's wrong of me to feel anything negative because i have so much to be happy about. sometimes i feel like i'm ungrateful or selfish if i long for a husband who is home more or a toddler who obeys, because there are so many who have so much less. does that make any sense?

but some of the best advice i got when facing our first deployment was from a fellow military wife. she told me "allow yourself to feel. it's ok to be sad when he's gone, and it's ok to be happy. just allow yourself the freedom to feel." i love that. it's so what i needed to hear, and i remind myself of that over and over again. after all, did God not create us to have emotions? can't they be a beautiful thing, even in our brokenness? can't feeling sad and lonely lead to something good, like a deeper relationship with our Maker?

allow yourself to feel. allow yourself to feel. allow yourself to feel.