Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"I Am Beautiful"

[When] a certain man crippled from his birth was being carried along, who was laid each day at that gate of the temple [which is] called Beautiful, so that he might beg for charitable gifts from those who entered the temple." Acts 3:2 (amplified)

"I am beautiful!" " I am beautiful!" I am beautiful!" This was my makeover challenge meditation this past week.  How simple those three words are. I. Am. Beautiful. Yet as I was saying it to myself over and over again I struggled to believe that I am beautiful.  I thank God for the opportunity to meditate on this word "beautiful" because it allowed me to see what was standing in the way of me fully accepting the beauty he has given me. 

This meditation started on Sunday, when in prayer the Holy Spirit directed me to look up the word beautiful in my concordance and make a study topic of it. 

I learned that God doesn't see beauty the same way we do. Take the story of Jacob when he marries Leah and her younger sister Rachel. Leah wasn't the chosen wife of Jacob he wanted Rachel, but Jacobs soon to be father in law gave him Leah instead because she was the oldest and then gave him Rachel after Jacob had insisted that he still wanted to marry Rachel. (see Genesis 15-30)

Genesis 29:16 says that " Leah had weak[a] eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful". I don't know if that means that Leah had a lazy eye, or that she needed glasses, but it was important enough for the author of this book to call attention to the fact that Leah had an eye condition versus her sister who was pretty and had a bangin' body (sound familiar).

Regardless of the reason that Leah was not favored by Jacob she was favored by God because she had a purpose to fulfill. It was through their son Judah that the bloodline that eventually led to the birth of Jesus was continued.

Sometimes the world we live in hyper focuses on the what we look like more than the who we are which often opens the door to whether we are accepted or rejected in certain social circles.  

I believe this causes many women including myself to see ourselves through the perspective of how people treat us; turning us into human receptacles for people's perceptions of who we are versus focusing on and projecting the truth of who God has purposed us to be. For many years this created a very confusing and crippling affect on my self esteem. I was always looking and craving human attention and affirmation especially from men (Leah had this problem too,see Genesis 29:31-35). This created in me a beggar mentality taking whatever was given to me instead of setting a standard for how I should and deserved to be treated.  

 This opened the door to a lot of hurt and emotional abuse over the years, but I am thankful that God saw me through the eyes of purpose. That the truth of who I am was born and the limitations and burden of superficial beauty was lifted from me.  I am no longer beautiful for what I look like but for who I am. 

This weeks makeover wardrobe challenge is an example of looking through the eyes of purpose.  The fabric I used to make my bloused was from re-purposed lace curtains and satin pajama pants.  Be blessed!

Monday, September 3, 2012

" A New Creation"

"Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!" 
2 Corinthians 5:17 (amplified)

This last week was a series of "I made it". I made it to church for Sunday school and didn't fall asleep during worship service, I made my first garment for the fall wardrobe challenge (hooray!), I made it to drop off and pick up Asabea from school by the hair of my chinny chin chin NOT late, I made sure my family had dinner and breakfast, I made time to clean the house, I finally made it back to my morning jogging schedule, I made it to Wednesday evening bible study, I made it to make sure I spent quality time with my kids each day this week, I made it without frivolous spending (this is incredibly amazing!) and most importantly_ all of the above I made it moments could not have happened had I not made it a priority to honor God in all that I do and set time aside each day to seek his face in prayer. 

It feels good to know that I made it! because there were many times in my life before I walked with God when I didn't know if I was going to make it.  When depression crippled me and hindered me from being everything that God created me and predestined me to be. When I couldn't get out of bed and see that there was hope for a better day.  When I would cry out to God and ask him when things were going to get better. I know that I am not alone.  That there are many people who suffer from depression.  You just have to look at the many prescription medications on the market for depression to see that we are a country filled with people struggling to see light in the darkness.  John 10:10 says:

"The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)". (amplified)

My life with Jesus has rendered me a new creation in Christ providing me an opportunity for full spiritual, emotional and physical healing.  I no longer walk with depression because I chose to give it to God.  There are moments where darkness wants to come pulling at the doors of my soul, but I have made a conscious decision that nothing is going to stop me from living my filled with "... the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes]  which is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness,gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge](Galatians 5:22-23 amplified).I am not saying that each day is perfect but I am saying that its a lot easier knowing that I am not alone and that I have help from a higher power.

Its because of His spirit that lives within me that I am able to do all things through Him who gives me strength.  It is also the reason that I am able to present to you my first piece for the fall wardrobe makeover challenge.  Tadaaaaa!

I hope your inspired to be a new creation today. Be Blessed!

Monday, August 27, 2012

"The Makeover"

"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender." Proverbs 22:7

It has been two years since I decided that I was no longer going to be a slave to my credit cards and the debt that comes with it.  And as I am writing this I am realizing that this month marks the one year anniversary since I have paid 98% of my credit card debt off.  This was a huge deal for me because my credit card habit was really about me dressing to impress and gain acceptance from others. When I made the decision to kick the credit habit, I didn't realize that I was also making the decision to accept myself for who God created me to be instead of for what others thought of me. I soon figured this out when the Lord instructed me to give away every garment that I ever bought on credit.  Like any disobedient child upset by being punished for their behavior, I cried and tried to reason with my heavenly Father.  In the end I decided that I was going to trust God knowing that what he had for me had to be better then the mess I had made of my finances and allow him to rebuild my wardrobe.  Isaiah 54:11-12 says: 

"O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, and all your walls of precious stones."

I chose to believe that my rebuilding process was underway but God can"t rebuild you on a faulty foundation.  He had to tear the whole thing down, so that he could build me up again.  Rebuild he did!  It was a slow start. After the birth of my son, I wore my maternity clothes until they became to big, from there I realized that my new cash economy could not afford Lane Bryant and all the name brand stores I used to shop at.  So I was at the mercy of God and the thrift store (which I love anyway. I am just thankful that most of them have bountiful selections in plus sizes now). If I bought something new it was deeply discounted.  This last year however, has been the toughest. Not working and receiving a steady paycheck to working toward building my own business really meant that I had to get crazy creative with my own wardrobe. 

Well, I am please to announce that I get to graduate to the next level of my rebuilding process.  "The fall makeover!"  I am revamping everything, my attitude, my wardrobe, my hairdo even including a manicure in the budget.   However, what I am most excited about is my wardrobe.  This last year I focused really hard on improving my sewing skills even taking a few couture level sewing classes to help me improve and learn new techniques which resulted in me having the confidence to make myself a few simple dresses and a skirt to add to my summer and spring wardrobe.  This fall I am stepping it up and challenging myself to sew a new garment a week to add to my closet.  From skirts to jackets, to tops, a dress or two of course and I may even get bold enough to make a pair of pants ( fyi pants are the hardest thing to sew and get to fit properly).

In order to help me stay focused and true to my word I plan on sharing each of my new creations with all of you!  I am actually in the middle of finishing my first garment.  A lined pencil skirt in a navy printed cotton. Can't wait to let you see it!  

As always Be Blessed!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Something Sweet

 "Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4 amplified).

Parenting is hard work!  I have never had a job where I was a full-time servant, playmate, housekeeper, teacher, tutor, counselor, financier, and chauffeur wrapped into one.  Yet, despite my moments of frustration,complaining, fear and at certain points resentments (lets be real we give up a lot of ourselves in order to rear our little ones and at times there can be some ugly feelings attached to it) I don't regret being a mom.  

For the last year I have been really praying and asking God to give me what i need to be a more godly mother. In this last week I have finally received the release of God's blessing in this area of my life.  I have found myself yelling less and talking more, more patience and almost no frustration, accepting more and admonishing (punishing) less.  I find myself actually meditating and walking God's truth as spoken through Ephesians 6:4. Below are a few bullet points of what I have learned along the way.

1) I learned to daily surrender my children to God, remembering that my kids really aren't my kids.  They are just like us God's creation gifted to and through us to bring them up in God's truth and ways.  

2) Each of my children have their own unique gifts, interests and personalities and I have to accept them for who God created them to be. 

3) I am learning how to rely on God's strength and not my own as it relates to parenting. I am a work from home mom which means I am pretty much on duty 24/7 that takes a lot out of a person.  God is the only one who has the strength to keep me moving and whole.

4) Just because my children are having a bad day doesn't mean I am NOT doing a good job or at least the best job I can in that moment. It also doesn't mean that i have to have a bad day. I have the power through Christ Jesus to shift the environment in our home.

5) In matters of discipline and/or character building I am learning to rely on what God's holy word says concerning the situation and not my own wisdom.  (I have found this to be incredibly successful with my 7 year old.  After reading a bible verse with her regarding a situation we are dealing with and a short conversation about it, she is a totally different person).

6) My kids want unconditional love and acceptance just like i do and the more I practice this with them the more I see them grow in this with each other.

As good as it feels to know that i am changing as a mom it hasn't come with out its challenges case in point I have been struggling with patience the last couple of days and today was especially trying because I didn't have a set plan in place, but around 4:30pm I decided to stop struggling and start praying.  As always the Lord answered my prayers. He said:  "Go to the grocery store and get some sugar.Bake some cookies with the kids."  All my kids needed was a little sweetness in their life and as I am writing this I am realizing that that is all I really want too.  

To God be the Glory! Be Blessed!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

French Toast Makes Life Sweet!

 "She rises while it is yet night and gets [spiritual] food for her household and assigns her maids their tasks." Proverbs 31:5 (Amplified)

Is this what your morning looks like?  It does in my house except its usually me looking at the clock, barking commands from the bottom of the stairs and my daughter rushing to get dressed and eat.  In the end I end up stressed out and my daughter is usually attempting to eat a tortilla with melted cheese wrap in the car on the way to school.

I tell myself everyday I am going to be the Proverbs 31 woman who wakes before everyone else, prays and then gently wakes her children from their slumber and has breakfast on the table, lunches made and sends everyone on their way all with peace in her heart and a ginormous smile on her face.

I know some of you out there are like "yeah right!" in what world is she living in but truly I get tired of being stressed out by the small things and have come to learn that most of the time that I waste being stressed out could have been prevented had I just been a little bit more organized.  You know prepare lunches and have Asabea put her clothes out the night before.  Things like that.  Wake up when the alarm clock goes off instead of pushing the snooze button. 

Most of us push the snooze button because we just want that 5-20 minutes extra sleep in the morning, but what I realize is that all we are doing is postponing an opportunity to serve God and receive the fullness of his presence in our lives.  

So I thought to make mornings a little sweeter for myself, my family and for you, I would post my recipe for french toast casserole with brown sugar bacon streussel topping.  Sounds good doesn't it? It smells good to. I bet you and your family would love to wake up to the smell of this delicious recipe. 

French Toast Casserole w/ brown sugar bacon streussel topping

This is definitely a weekend breakfast or brunch recipe but leftovers taste great! So what I will do sometimes is make ahead and warm it up during weekday mornings for a quick and filling breakfast.You can also assemble everything the night before and allow the custard to soak into the bread overnight and pop it in the oven the next morning.

10-12 cups bread broken into bite size pieces (I used about a 3/4 loaf of day old italian bread but whatever you like) 
8 eggs
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of sugar
*4 slices of turkey bacon (chopped into bite size pieces)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons margarine or butter

Grease a 9x13 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Add the bread pieces to the casserole dish and put aside.  In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla and 1/4 cup sugar together until fully combined.  You should have a nicely blended light golden yellow custard at this point.  

Pour the custard over the bread pieces making sure that the bread is fully coated with the custard.  Break the butter into little pieces and place over the top of the custard soaked bread mixture. Set aside and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.  

Meanwhile cut the turkey bacon into tiny bite size pieces and add the 3 tablespoons of brown sugar.  Mix until the brown sugar has fully dissolved and coated the bacon pieces.  Right before you place the casserole in the oven to be cooked crumble the bacon over the casserole and sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top of the whole thing.  Place in the oven and allow to bake for about an hour.

*NoteI have made this recipe with turkey bacon but regular pork bacon can be used as well.  However, if using pork bacon partially pre-cook to render off some of the fat first then continue as I have instructed with the turkey bacon. Also for a less sweet topping you can omit the 2 tablespoons of sugar. I just like the extra sugar topping because it caramelizes and causes the top of the casserole to have a crunchy and golden brown top.

There you have it.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 21, 2011

"The Coat"

" I can do anything through Him who gives me strength"
                                                         - Phillipians 4:13 (NIV)

So I am at the tail end of what feels like I gave birth to a 10lb. baby.  (I know what it feels like to birth big babies. my son was 8lbs. 12oz ouch!). I'm talking about my first coat project.  Being a penny pincher and a budding seweprentreur,  I decided that this year I was making my children's much needed fall coats.  You know for those chilly fall days when the air is robust and crisp but not quite cold enough for the thick winter down coats.

So I went through my existing stash and right away figured out what I was going to use for the little guy but was a little stumped on my daughters coat.  Determined not to spend unnecessarily I decided to meditate on it.  Sure enough in the dark of night in between getting my sons 2am bottle and drifting back to sleep,  The fabric came to me along with the perfect pattern.  Easy!  So I thought.  Everything after that was a whole lot of breathing, pushing and panting.

It all started when I decided to put in a lining along with an interlining for extra warmth on a pattern that didn't come with a lining.  No sweat! I thought. I looked online along with some of my sewing books and magazines for some ideas on how to line a coat.  I settled on the "bagging method" which sounded like it was going to be a breeze but turned into a late night boxing match.  Frustrated Mama vs. The Coat.  and mama was getting a beat down and ready to throw in the towl.

Instead I called a time out and went to bed.

From there it was the whole pockets nightmare.  I hate sewing pockets, especially patch pockets. whether they are for function or embellishment, the chore of prepping them and trying to get them to look the same is not an easy task for me.  None the less being the concerned and loving mother that I am, I didn't want my daughter to have cold hands.  So I decided to add them.  

From there it was a series of impromptu mistakes and/or embellishment ideas that turned this project from a one week coat project into an almost 3 week "its complicated" relationship.

All is not lost however.  For what seemed like an eternity turned into a pretty cute coat if I do say so myself.  The beauty for me though was in all of the lessons that I learned along the way.  This coat not only helped be build my sewing skills but taught me some personal lessons as well.

I have always been someone who has cared too much about what others thought of me.  I always felt like I had to fit a certain mold in order to have value.  That's how I approached sewing.  I would buy a pattern and felt like I had to follow it to perfection (which for most novice sewers isn't easy to achieve).  Only to be unhappy with the finished product or feeling inadequate because it didn't look the way it did on the envelope or like something that I saw another home sewer make. I would hang my creation at the back of my closet because I was afraid someone was going to tell me that it looked like a homemade dress or top (which I don't know why I was trippin' because that's exactly what it was).

This project forced me to toss most of the instructions aside, take control of the creative process, and accept myself and my sewing for who I am.

The truth is that no one thing is the same.  Not even patterns although massed produced are the exact same.  I always felt when I was growing up that if I just kept quiet enough or didn't make too many waves I wouldn't bring too much attention to myself.  That meant a lot of conformity and not so much self-acceptance. I have spent a lot of years trying to look like I got it all together.

Like the coat I took a lot of trouble to look pretty cute on the outside but if you looked a little bit deeper you would see that structurally I needed a little help.  That's me and whole lot of other people out there who are constantly trying to fit the mold and are leading miserable lives. I have chosen to believe that Christ came so that we may have life more abundantly.  To me that means that even though me and the coat have some structural imperfections I get to have a taste of the good life and accept that we are all a work in progress.

And that to me.....Well....Is alright!

Stay tuned for my next post where I will include a tutorial for how I made the flower applique that I attached to the coat.