What Does the Fox Say?…a no-sew craft for when you are bored

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 I’ve never been one for boredom. If I need something to do, I go somewhere or do something. There is always something that needs organized or decorated or baked or written or read. And with two young children and a husband in ministry…there usually isn’t a chance to get bored.  But this winter weather has gotten to me. Too much indoor time has made me a little restless.  The weather has made it so that I don’t even want to leave the house if I don’t have to.  And so, out of boredom came this creation…

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Piles of leftover felt+winter boredom+the fox song on repeat in my head=an electronics case that is adorable and functional. Here’s how I made it. First I cut all of these little shapes out in differing shades of the same color…I used gray for the original and brown for the sample, but feel free to make your fox bright turquoise and neon green or camo or zebra print or whatever mix of colors you have lying around.

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For the main body of the case, cut a rectangle that is larger than double the size of whatever you are making the case for…does that make sense??…so that when you fold it over it fits around and there is still some edge to fold over when you glue down the trim.

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Then cut out a rectangle that is slightly bigger than the item for which you are making the case, but also a little smaller than half of the larger rectangle (as shown below). If you would like this to be a book cover, cut out another pocket and adjust the measurements in accordance to the book’s size.

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Begin folding the edges around the large rectangle and glueing them down a little at a time with a hot glue gun.  Make sure to wrap the edges around the pocket to seal the bottom and sides in place.

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Glue the ears together so that the inner ear piece hangs slightly below the outer ear piece. Then glue the part that hangs down to the inside of one side of the case like this….

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Glue all the pieces onto the front of the case like so..(tail tip on the end of the tail, belly, eyebrows, eyes, nose, and tail)

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For now I am just using mine to keep my phone safe in my purse but I’m thinking of getting better quality felt and making a purse or Kindle case out of it…maybe next time I get bored.

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Lesson 2: Keep the Big Picture in Mind

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It was late fall during my sophomore year of college. Winter break was bitterly biting at my heels and I had a mind full of details.  What am I doing with my life? Where is my relationship with David going? Do my friends really care about me? Where do I fit in my family now that I have been away? Am I making the right choices? I felt unsettled and confused…discouraged that my life may not be measuring up to all I had wanted.  I was so wrapped up in my life that I never even took notice to what God was doing and what He desired of me. But God has a way of getting our attention.

Driving home for Thanksgiving break, snow began to fall.  I sped ahead, unconcerned with the changing weather conditions. The wind swirled around me as the thoughts continued to spin in my head. But this time the questions had turned into threatening accusations…You have nothing going for you right now. You have no idea what you are doing, you are never going to amount to anything. Your friends couldn’t care less that you are transferring schools. You have chosen the wrong major and you are stuck with it. 

And then my thoughts abruptly came to halt when my car suddenly rebelled against my commands, twirling violently through the gathering drifts of snow.  The panic in my chest exploded into an aggressive state of disorientation as my jeep flipped upside down onto the guard rail, teetering menacingly over a cavernous ravine. In the moment all I could think about was survival but when my vehicle landed safely upon the pavement, God gave me a clear and certain vision as he spoke these comforting words “Can’t you see that none of that matters? I have it under control….I have it ALL under control. And I have a bigger plan that is much more than college classes and career choices. I have a purpose for you that is more than just you.  Just do what I ask from you…one step at a time…and my plan will be made known later. Just trust me.”

After I stepped out of the rubble of what use to be my beloved car, I came into contact with five people…the police officer who drove me from the scene of the accident and four truck drivers eating a meal in the gas station where I waited for my parents to pick me up….who all needed to hear the good news about Jesus.  Sharing what I knew about what God had done for me, I became much more aware of the big picture. Had I not been in an accident these five people may have never heard about Jesus.  It’s not about me and what is right for me…God wants more from me than that.  It’s not about how hard I work or which avenue I choose…God has a plan and will take me the way he wants me in order to fulfill that plan.

As I read the first chapter of Joshua this week, I couldn’t help but think about this impacting event from my past. I had tunnel vision, only thinking about my choices, my wants, my desires and I lost sight of my position in the Kingdom. God doesn’t always snap us out of these moments like he did with me but he does nonetheless expect us to keep our sights on His plan. He works over the course of generations throughout the entire world. To actually compare our lives to this overarching scheme may seem diminishing but it can ultimately be very freeing. God has a plan, we are in it but we are not all of it and Joshua kept that in mind as he was called to lead the nation of Israel.

2. Joshua kept the big picture in mind. No matter what he had planned, no matter what his goals were, no matter what he envisioned his life to be, Joshua sold himself completely to the plan God set before him. God said go and he went.  God said lead and he led. He wasn’t paralyzed by his own thoughts of himself or what anyone else thought of Him. God and His plan were all Joshua thought about and so he was connected and driven by it.  He didn’t stop to consider how it would affect his life or what he wanted for himself.  Just like Moses before him…and every other human being on earth…he was not privy to all the workings that God was doing. He took the steps that God placed before him in the moment and that was all he needed, knowing that God had a big and perfect plan for every little step. Through every battle…some seeming overwhelming and improbable…Joshua moved forward with relentless vision for the plan and promise God had made.

Lesson 1: Don’t Focus on Who You Aren’t

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Our move last April stirred up a painful longing in my heart that had been trying to surface for years. I wanted to be somebody. I wanted to make a difference.  I wanted to do something exciting.  After leaving my college of choice to be with my soon to be husband, after vowing to love, cherish and obey, after having two kids, after exchanging my dreams and passions for laundry and grocery shopping, after losing sight of what I wanted from life and just hoping that it would all catch back up to me someday…I was left feeling like I could not possibly sacrifice one more thing and still feel like I was the ambitious, passionate girl I used to be.  All I could see was who I wasn’t and it was crippling me.

I was discouraged to say the least…and I wanted more out of life than just mindlessly checking chores off a constantly increasing list.  I began to think that if I tried hard enough I could have it all…I could sing my own music, write my own blog and write my own books. My days were filled with meticulous routine…writing, practicing, reading…but all my striving was just causing me to want more. I became increasingly focused on myself and who I wasn’t and who I could never be…all the opportunities missed, all the things I never did…and I lost sight of who I already was and what I was already called to do.

Through circumstances beyond my control, all I worked for came crashing down.  My health problems made it so I couldn’t think clearly and left me exhausted, irritated and frustrated.  And a steady stream of new medications constantly left me in a confused haze.  My fight to complete all of my goals became more like a raging battle and I was being defeated over and over. But God, in his infinite wisdom, spoke to me even when I didn’t really want to listen.  He gently placed the book of Joshua in my hesitant hands and waited patiently as I arrived at His conclusion. The book of Joshua tore my eyes open to the vastness of God’s plan and His Kingdom and how I fit into all of it. It caused me to think more deeply about who God has called me to be.  I was arrogant to think I could do life on my own…I was selfish for planning my future without His desires in mind…I was ignorant for thinking that life could have any meaning apart from His purpose.

As I read the book of Joshua I began to see a slight reflection into my own life and a new light was shone on the disturbing feeling of unrest and dissatisfaction that had settled into my every day routine. Joshua was everything that I wanted to be…strong, decisive, obedient, faithful, trusting, driven, focused.  And I began to see what I had been missing…

1. Joshua didn’t focus on who he wasn’t. He was a hand-me-down leader…placed in his position by the death of his predecessor. Up to this point he had no big ambitions of his own.  His job was to serve and follow Moses trusting that Moses’ choices were good and obedient. Though he was called and commissioned by God to lead Israel, it can’t be overlooked that he had some very big shoes to fill. But he never looked at any of that as a problem.  He had a job to do…a job given to him by God…and he wasn’t concerned about who he could be or what he could accomplish. He was led by God’s Word alone, not by his own choices and desires.

If I’m honest…if I were Joshua I would have a hard time feeling like I would ever be anything more than a second-rate leader…I would feel like I would never measure up to the great legend of Moses, I would feel like I would never gain the respect and love that Moses had. And if I’m really honest, this is how was starting to feel.  In a big church with my husband as a central figure…it began to look like I had nothing to offer.  My singing didn’t measure up. I watched as others stepped into roles that I would have liked to had.  My life felt all over the place while others seemed to be leading with confidence.  But God chose Joshua…and God chose me for a specific purpose.  It doesn’t matter who had come before me, it doesn’t matter what others have to offer, it doesn’t matter what I accomplish or who I impress…my thoughts should be fixed on God’s purpose, letting him guide and direct me through His word.

Look What I Made: Bejeweled Sweater

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I’ve been wanting a shirt like this for awhile but in my recent vow to forgo purchasing for awhile I decided to dig out a sweater I hardly wear and turn it into a new masterpiece that I will happily wear everyday.  It took some effort to actually not spend as much money as I would have spent on a new sweater…rhinestones and beads can get expensive!  My first attempt would have left me spending almost $20…which made me almost want to break down and buy the actual shirt from Anthropologie, justifying this behavior with the fact that it is on sale for $40! But digging around in my craft room for awhile produced quite a few usuable resources…so here’s the finished product. I already had all the supplies, so no additional money was spent. What do you think?

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And in the process I came up with another DIY look. Old sweater + broken necklace= new sweater.

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Old Is Made New

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As the Christmas season drew to an end and I could finally open my closet without fear of someone seeing a gift, I threw those doors wide open and was appalled at what I saw…piles of t-shirts I hadn’t worn since college, drawers full of belts that I’m not sure why I ever bought, and row after row of shirts and jackets that may have possibly never been in style.  Faced head-on with the consequences of years of shopping and never getting rid of anything I knew something had to be done. I made piles of “sell”, “trash”, “giveaway” and “keep” and though I felt some level of freedom from finally dealing with years worth of unabandoned hording, I also felt like that wasn’t enough.  How many people actually have this very same problem? How many piles of unwanted clothing items get overlooked and unused? Where does all the orphaned fashion end up? How much waste is being perpetuated by my…and everyone else’s…need for more?  How could I manage to keep my closet from meeting the same fate in 5 years? What effects has this flippant attitude toward buying, hording and wasting had on my soul?  In the months to come, I am going to attempt to pursue the answer to some of these questions…and in the process try to throw off the relentless buying and wasting that I have gotten so comfortable with. And until I started doing research on the over abundance of clothing, I never knew there were so many fabulous reasons for buying used…

1. It’s good for the environment…not only does it take a lot of energy to make new items of clothing it uses up natural resources and produces a lot of waste. Plants must be watered and sprayed with chemicals, animals must be fed, chemicals must be produced….over and over again.  And a lot of synthetic fabrics are not bio-degradable so they are tossed out but never break down, leaving piles that continue to grow.

2. It saves money.  And though I am looking at this from a somewhat selfish standpoint…I personally will be saving the money …I can also look at this money that I am saving through a much more generous lens. I’ve spent years saving every penny just so that I can eventually go shopping.  I buy a couple high-priced items and feel satisfied for a while and then I have to start the whole process over again.  Saving just to spend on myself is a frivolous and unrewarding endeavour.  The way I look at it is that if I can spend far less (or nothing at all) on myself I could designate all that extra money for something much greater…homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation houses, starving people in other countries, friends and neighbors in need…

3. It helps my community…organizations such as Salvation Army, Goodwill and St Vincent De Paul** as well as many smaller local businesses that sell used clothing and household items give jobs to those who can’t work other places and give money and resources to help those in need. But if you aren’t quite up to actually shopping at these places, donating is supporting them too.  You are putting your clothing in the hands of people who already have a system for turning your unwanted items into money and resources for people who need it. But I would also add, do not feel bad about shopping at thrift stores if you can afford to shop other places…it is being responsible and giving back. The average household is throwing away 177 lbs of clothing and textiles each year, and what doesn’t get thrown away gets donated to places like this…

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And this…

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And this is all over the country…so, believe me, there is plenty for everyone.

4. It puts a wrench in the consumerist cycle…We produce so much clothing that even when our closets are full, mass amounts of it are constantly being wasted…while many people are going without basic needs.  And often the leftover clothing is not even saved for those people.  In an article for Slate magazine, Fashion correspondent Erika Kawalek reported that “many retailers send their clothes to the shredder rather than risk diluting their brand. These companies are worried that if they donate the clothes to a discount retailer like Goodwill, customers will be less willing to pay the full price at their stores, or they’ll try to return the clothes for cash, or they’ll lose brand loyalty if they see homeless people wearing sweaters with that logo. 

Kawalek, Erika. 2010. “Why H&M Destroys Unsold Clothes.” Slate. January 7, 2013 (http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2010/01/07/why_hm_destroys_unsold_clothes.html)

Even when clothing is donated, it may not even be needed. Items donated in New York after Hurricane Sandy were left lying in piles, unused and unneeded. http://www.npr.org/2013/01/09/168946170/thanks-but-no-thanks-when-post-disaster-donations-overwhelm. Clothing is a product that consumes a lot of energy and resources but does not give much back. Buying used clothing can turn these items into money and resources over and over again, so that people aren’t left with stuff that they can’t even use when a need arises. And while I understand, I alone cannot fix such an overwhelming problem,but after reading all of this it is  hard for me to want to add to it.

5. And on a much less serious note…it creates a unique sense of style that cannot be duplicated by retail shopping.  The rush of finding great deals and putting together outfits of varying styles and eras is exciting and unparralled by shopping at the mall. When we lived in Ohio our budget was tight and I often complained about never getting to buy a “new” outfit or getting to shop at a “real” store…but after moving to Michigan we acquired a somewhat looser budget.  I shopped and dressed pretty freely…but after 6 months of this lifestyle, I actually missed the fulfillment that thrifting brings.  I’m a thrifter…and I’m not going back.

** I am aware of the controversy and rumors surrounding such companies…low wages, unfair treatment, discrimination, selfish business practices…but, if we want to start that debate lets throw the fashion industry into that mess and see who comes out with more strikes against them.