Friday, November 15, 2013

DIY Sensory Board for Baby



My 10 month old son is such a boy. He's obsessed with hardware, shiny things, buttons he can push, toys he can spin, remotes, and cell phones. Basically if he can't have it, he wants it. And if he gets it, without fail it will make its way into his mouth.

Cue: Sensory Boards. All about discovery!

Except, I don't want to pay an arm and a leg for someone to make me a sensory board that is likely to be both small, and not personalized to my son's tastes. And... well, if you have a handy husband like I do, then all you have to do is oversee the operation and it's a win win! Hubby gets to play with tools, you design, and your child LOVES their new toy!! But if someone in your family isn't all that handy, rest easy because this is so easy YOU can do it! You just may be using hot glue or a stapler instead of nails! :)

So first things first. You have to gather your materials. Best place to do this is the DOLLAR STORE and a hardware store like Lowes or Home Depot. Or, just look around your house - you'd be surprised the kinds of things you can gather and put on the board that would be fun for your child! Think of things that the child can move, spin, push, pull, or play with. Then add some texture pieces such as: fur, sandpaper, leather, fabric, tin foil...etc. The only limit to materials is your own mind! For the board, we found that an MDF board works best for us. I liked that I didn't have to worry about splinters or having to paint a wooden board. But basically, whatever you have on hand will likely work. Just make sure to cut holes in the board for anything that may require batteries so that you can easily replace them if you need to.

Now arrange them on your board, making sure to think through where each piece should go that makes sense for your child. Meaning, don't put a mirror on the bottom of your board! Use nails, a staple gun, hot glue, or crazy glue to adhere all of the objects. Then clean all the objects to ensure safety for when (and yes I mean when) your child decides to taste the mirror or door hinge. Check to ensure all is safe, no loose or small pieces that could come apart - and you are good to go! Make sure that wherever you place the board is a safe place. Nail it to a wall, secure it to a wall somehow, or lay it on the ground. You don't want that thing to topple on your child!

And lastly - HAVE FUN!

The expression on my son's face was absolutely priceless. I have NEVER seen him so excited since he's been born!!

(Shared on the following linky parties: www.craftsalamode.com)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

DIY Healthy & Simple Fruit Roll-Ups

Who doesn't love fruit roll-ups?


They are good for just about anyone, any age. Great for school lunches, or lunches for your spouse. Not only are they delicious, satisfying that sweet tooth, but they are also HEALTHY

Recently I decided to attempt my hand at creating these fruit roll-ups. My son, as well as a friend of mine, her son, have many food allergies and she recently had to go on the Total Elimination Diet where the only fruit she could eat were pears. So, in hopes of finding some different and creative ways to give her another snack, I decided to make pear fruit roll-ups. But I can't wait to try other fruits and veggie combinations! So for the sake of this tutorial - this is based on the pear Fruit Roll-ups, but feel free to sub any fruit you would like. 

So without further Ado...

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 170 degrees (the lowest it will likely go)
 
Step 2: Gather your fruit and/or veggies, whatever you choose - canned, fresh, frozen, whatever. Puree in either food processor or blender until you get it to a sort of applesauce, or even chunky applesauce (depending on your preference) consistency.

Step 3: Add sweetener (optional!). I like to use organic sugar, but you can use regular sugar, honey, stevia, agave nectar, pretty much anything, and use as much as you would like. For the large can of pears, I added about 1 Tbsp of sugar (I like sweet!). I have also read that using the sweetener helps the roll-up to be the most pliable, but I'm really not sure about that. If you can go without the sugar, by all means, give it a whirl and come back and tell us how it went. Some people also like to use a little lemon juice, but again, I have not tried that to say whether it makes a difference in color, taste, or pliability. 

Step 4: Spread a thin layer on a piece of parchment paper placed on a baking sheet, or you can use silicone baking mats. If you have silicone mats - great! If not, parchment paper works just fine, but be prepared to have wrinkles due to the moisture in the mixture. Try to make the layer as even as possible, but maybe making the edges just a little thicker than the center as they tend to cook fastest.

See how thin this layer is?
 Step 5: Place your baking sheets into the oven - but load them up and get as many as you can in there! 


They may cook differently depending on the baking sheet and where they are in the oven.
 Step 6: Set your timer to check on them every hour. I found that mine took anywhere from 2 hours to 4 hours depending on how thin my layer was and where the baking sheet was in the oven. You will want to take it out when it is more tacky or 'bouncy', but not sticky.

These were in the oven for the same amount of time. See how different they look?
 Tip: See the photo above? I have a dilemma now because the one on the right is overcooked and will be crispy and break off making it not roll-able. But don't worry! It can be fixed, and actually, I like the 'fixed' version better than the one on the left!! Lightly brush water over all the darkened parts, or over the whole thing, and place back in the oven for another minute or two until it is no longer wet. When you take it out it will be the perfect pliability for rolling! You may have to do this for the lighter colored ones as well - usually the edges get a bit crispy.





 Step 7: After removing from the oven, flip the parchment paper over onto another piece of parchment paper and begin rubbing the back so that it loosens the roll-up, making sure to really focus on the edges. Start to peel the backing away leaving the roll-up.

The roll-up after the backing has been peeled away.
 Step 8: Cut the roll-up into strips. I also like to trim all of the edges so that I get nice, neat, clean lines.



 Step 9: Cut a piece of parchment around the roll-up and begin to roll! You can fasten it with a twist tie or tape around the parchment to keep it together (tape won't stick, so you will have to create a 'tab', or tape around itself).


 Step 10: Enjoy!


 So to summarize:

Preheat oven to 170 degrees, puree fruit and/or veggies, add sweetener or lemon juice, spread thin on parchment or silicone baking mats, take out of oven between 2 and 4 hours, flip parchment and rub to release roll-up, cut into strips and roll! 

There are ENDLESS combinations that you can make! I'm most excited to try a strawberry combination of some kind. And, I'm interested to see what some of them would taste like if I threw carrot in there, or even some avocado (yum!). Get creative! This is a fantastic way to keep things healthy by getting some of those fruit and veggie servings to your family. They should store in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place, or in the refrigerator for several weeks.

What combination do you want to try?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Accent Table Re-do - Distressing with a Wet Cloth


 I am IN LOVE with this table! Of course, I was so excited that I forgot to take the before picture (again...*cough*), but that's ok! If you look at the top of the table, that was the entire table - but also with 2 broken legs. Thankfully my handy dandy hubby fixed the legs, and I set to work!


I used Annie Sloan Antibes Green Chalk Paint and mixed it with the Graphite Chalk Paint until I got this awesome deep green color. 



 After slathering on 2 coats of the green, right away, I began distressing the paint using a wet rag. I've heard of this method but didn't have much luck in the past. I found that the paint has to be really fresh, and preferably right after the last coat is applied. I distressed in the areas I wanted and was able to touch some if it back up if I took off too much paint. I couldn't believe how easy it was! You just wet the reg and start rubbing in the areas you want to distress. You have a lot of control this way, and the bonus - you don't ruin the furniture finish underneath. That is partially why I hate sand distressing. Sometimes the furniture is in excellent condition and I hate having to rough it up! This avoids that! 



Me, knowing Jack about wood - thought the top was real wood. Apparently it's a laminate of some kind over-top some kind of board. The base is solid wood though - and either way, it's still beautiful. Something about Green and brown...I just love the two mixed together. I finished this piece by waxing with clear wax, waiting overnight, and then waxing with the dark and clear wax mixed and added a little mineral spirits to make it more workable. I'm still trying to figure out this whole wax thing, but I think I put enough that I was happy with on it. 


Saturday, September 28, 2013

My First Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Project!

Before...

I am in LOVE with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint! I tried so hard to make the DIY stuff work (with issues of grit and waxing), but I finally had a little money and some birthday money saved to splurge on a few cans of the AS paint, and boy am I glad I did! Not only is it fabulous...but it's so beautiful and the finish is amazing! 

So without further ado...here is my first piece:


Vintage Country Cottage Style End Table/Accent table painted in French Linen and a mix of Pure White and Old White. I began by covering the entire piece in the french linen, and doing the drawer in the white mix. I then covered the table in the areas that I wanted with the white, and the drawer in the french linen. 


I distressed (I'm getting better I think in being able to do it without having a mini heart attack. Though taking the sandpaper to the surface at first is very frightening!)...


And Distressed some more...


AJ put these awesome knobs I bought off Etsy for about a $1 a piece (steal of a deal!!). The details in the knobs are almost a deep purple/maroon shade - but they match so nicely with colors of the table. 


I love the detail in the drawer - the way it's made to look like 4 small drawers, but only one. 


Distressing the top was the hardest part...but I did it! 

I finally finished by waxing - and that was NOT fun! The first coat of wax I did ended up blotchy and uneven in areas, no matter how hard I tried to get it to work out. I then sanded the top down lightly to get the wax to distribute more evenly, which helped. After that dried I added a second coat of wax which evened it out much better. The silky smoothness of this paint - whew! Just can't beat it! 

I'm in love with this piece and so excited to start my next one! 

Currently joined linky parties (for the first time - eek!) on http://www.craftsalamode.com/, http://missmustardseed.com, http://www.myturnforus.com/ and http://www.remodelaholic.com 

Refinished Children's Rocker

This rocking chair was one of the easier projects! My younger siblings grew up sitting in this chair to watch TV or movies, and so my step-mom gave it to me for Jase to sit in and do the same. It holds so many memories, I knew it just needed a little clean-up and restoration and it would be good as new! 

Here's the before:


A friend of mine did the first coat of DIY chalk paint, and I did the next one. After the second coat, I distressed and waxed. Lastly, I glazed where the details of the rabbit and bear were in the back of the seat to help make them pop a bit, and spray painted the seat with a brown I had lying around in my paint cabinet. 

I like the way it turned out, but boy this distressing stuff makes me all distressed sometimes! It's so hard to see such a nicely painted piece all roughed up in random spots! But...once you step away (gotta step away) for a bit, even take a break and come back to it, you begin to see with a fresh pair of eyes. :)

Children's Bench Photography Prop


This children's bench was my 2nd project with DIY Chalk paint. 

Here's the before:


Looks like an almost nice white shabby chic, but honestly, it was dingy and in need of some serious love and refinishing. My idea was to turn it into a photography prop. I pictured a little baby for their monthly photos sleeping on the bench, sitting on it, or standing next to it. 


I loved what we did with my son's toy box with the trim on the front, so I wanted to do that again (thanks hubby!) and add a chalk board to write stats on, or for a child to color or draw. 


Next I distressed and waxed with clear wax, followed by DIY glaze instead of dark wax this time. I really liked how I could work with the glaze for a longer period of time and how easy it was to apply, but again - still a learning curve. 


So once it was finished we sold it for almost $50! In retrospect, we may of been able to ask for more...but I'm pretty new to figuring out how to price these things. 



Vintage Reclaimed Window turned Coffee Table


My husband is so amazing, no truly, he is. 

I bought these windows off of craigslist - $3 a piece. 


And because Pinterest and Etsy are amazing for inspiration, I found the idea of turning an old window into a coffee table and knew we HAD to try it! I had the old window, AJ had the skills to build the coffee table, and I knew I wanted to try my hand at refinishing. 


Well, I kept hearing all this stuff about chalk paint - so I figured it was time to try it. Thing was - the $$ wasn't exactly there to purchase the expensive stuff, and honestly, I didn't see the point at the time because I knew I could make it. So I made the country red color using unsanded grout, water, and latex paint, and covered the entire surface of the table, inside and out, with the red.


Then I painted the outside of the table with a paint and primer in one, a creamy white, and distressed it (this was soooo hard to do for someone like me, a perfectionist!). Once distressed, the beautiful country red undertones really started to pop on through. 


We threw on some beautiful hinges, the handles, waxed her with clear wax, and then finished with a DIY dark wax to really age and antique the piece. What a difficult task!! It was hard to do the dark wax, but it really made the trim contrast nice next to the white.

We sold this piece for $250 in less than 24 hours! And, we found a hobby that my husband and I both enjoy doing! Win win if you ask me! 


My First Flea Market Flip!


This was my first ever flea market flip!

Check out the before:


I got this chest from a local barn (sort of flea market-y place) for $15 - talked down from $20. I had a vision in mind of what I wanted to do with it and set out on getting it done!

I'm so thankful for such a handy husband! Hubby has always been into woodworking, so I knew that I wanted something for Jase that would be kind of "like father, like son" and do a toy chest that would be unique and practical to fit that goal. So AJ did some trim around a cork/peg board where we hung the toy tools, and we painted with a high gloss paint. For the seat cover, since I can't sew a lick, I micro-managed (haha!) my grandmother, while faithfully cheering her on...as she sewed me up the perfect seat cushion cover with tools and a peg board on it to match the toy box.

It came out fabulous and I couldn't be any more pleased! Thanks to my husband, Mother-in-law, and grandmother for all of their help in getting done my first flea market flip!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

DIY Chalk Paint vs. Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Chalk paint is all the rage right now.

No sanding, no priming...count me in!

Only thing is, the price is booku $$$$$.

So what's the deal - do you really need to buy the expensive Annie Sloan paint? Or can you make your own with the same results?

Let's look at the pros and cons of each.

DIY Chalk Paint:

Pros:

  • A fraction of the price of AS Chalk Paint
  • Large number of color choices
  • The finish often 'looks' the same
  • Low odor
  • A little goes along way
Cons:
  • It has a gritty texture, not just chalky, but gritty
  • Sanding can flake bits of grit and paint off in an unflattering way
  • Sanding is toxic with the unsanded grout
  • Fibers of the lint-free cloth get stuck in the wax because of the grit, this will sometimes leave a 'fuzzy' finish
  • More work to prepare and mix

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint:

Pros:
  • Super smooth finish once waxed
  • Low odor
  • No work - already mixed and prepared
  • A little goes a long way
Cons:
  • $$$ - it's not cheap at about $35 a quart! 
  • Limited color choices (though mixing colors does open up other options)

Personally, I didn't want to like Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I tried and tried to make it work with the DIY recipe, trying to figure out how to get rid of the gritty finish and not have problems with the fibers getting stuck in the wax. I sifted the grout, mixed with water prior, sanded, did everything to avoid this dilemma. But finally I gave in, I splurged, and I tried the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. And honestly? I'm not sure I can go back. I am SOLD on this stuff! The finish is beautiful, the smoothness (I have texture issues, lol), and the fact that there is no work required makes it that much more appealing to me. 

But, if money is an issue, try the DIY recipe and decide for yourself. Just a quick note - do NOT get a paint & primer mix, and try to avoid Valspar paint. Both of these thicken in clumps very quickly, and even adding water doesn't quite do the trick all the time. And a quick FYI - if you get the sample sizes of paint at Home Depot, they are all pre-mixed with primer (even though it doesn't say it), so you either have to get a bigger size, or try somewhere else. At least that's what they do at my local Home Depot, so make sure you ask at your own. 

What do you think? Have you tried any DIY recipes that you like, or are you an AS fan?

Johnson's Wax vs. Minwax vs. Annie Sloan Wax

With so many options, which do you choose?


 When dealing with Chalk Paint, waxing is the bear everyone is talking about. And believe me, what a bear it is!! But this post is not about 'how' to wax, but the pros and cons between three of the more common waxes used: Johnson's Paste Wax, Minwax, and Annie Sloan Wax (thanks to my grandmother for letting me have some of hers!).


So lets' look at the Pros and Cons of each.

Johnson's Paste Wax:

Pros:

  • Inexpensive at around just $5 a can at Lowes or Home Depot in the flooring section
  • Same finish as the Annie Sloan Wax
  • fairly soft
  • Quick drying
Cons:
  • Smell - harsh fumes

Minwax Paste Finishing Wax:

Pros:
  • Somewhat inexpensive at Lowes or Home Depot at around $10 a can
  • Appears to be the same finish 
  • Quick drying
Cons:
  • Smell
  • Can yellow furniture over time, especially lighter colored pieces
  • Harder consistency

Annie Sloan Wax:

Pros:
  • Butter like consistency - very smooth
  • Same finish as the others
  • Low odor (though still some odor, so ventilation and mask is still recommended)
Cons:
  • $$$ At about $25 a can!
  • Drying time is recommended to wait 24 hours

Overall, they all do a good job at protecting your finish and working well with the chalk paint. While I love Annie Sloan wax, the price of Johnson's paste wax is hard to contend with. When you're on a budget, Johnson's is great, but Annie Sloan is definitely a first in my book if you can afford the cost. The butter-like consistency and low odor is pretty great! 

Now...if only the learning curve in using it weren't so steep!


What's your experience with wax?




Thursday, August 22, 2013

How do you Trust God?

This question has been boggling my mind for some time now.

Since my 30 day challenge, God has really been working in my heart and teaching me what it means to trust him. Everything I have read always says to 'just trust him,' and of course I want to! But the question I continue to have is, how? How do you actually do that? How do you trust God? Because just saying the words and attempting to will my heart to 'feel' that way, doesn't seem to work!

I am currently reading "Trusting God" by Sharon Jaynes, Gwen Smith, and Mary Southerland. Between this book, prayer, and God's word, I believe I'm starting to actually 'get' how to go about trusting him.

You know when you are going through a tough time, you almost get tunnel vision? It's as if all you can think about is what you are going through, the what-ifs, the worries, anxieties, heartbreak. It almost seems impossible to think about much else because you are so consumed by these trials in your life.

For me, my current 'trial' has been with my son. He has so many food allergies and intolerances that mean hidden (occult) blood in his stools and a rein on my diet while I continue nursing him. It has been tough! There are days I am so discouraged, wondering why God won't heal my baby, wondering why we are going through this, praying for healing, wisdom, and strength. I seem to do well (lately) with trusting God with the little things. But the big things? Like the healing of my son? That is an area I have trouble with.

So how do you actually trust God? 

Here is what I have learned:

1. Think on God's goodness - REMEMBER ways he has moved and been faithful in the past - this is why it's so important to write these things down!
2. Reading and meditating on scripture
3. Prayer - I recommend journaling some of your prayers
4. Worship music - fill yourself up with words and praise music that point to him

Basically in a nutshell:

FOCUS ON HIM. 

Lift your eyes from your situation, and put your focus on Jesus by doing some of those things listed above.

God is so much bigger than your situation and your circumstances. He is a big, powerful, God. And he can change things in an instant if it's in his will to do so. But sometimes, he allows us to go through things for a reason. We may not always know or understand what that reason could possibly be, but he always has a reason and he knows what's best for us.

It's like when you have children. In the book Trusting God, there is a chapter I read today that talked about a little boy who had a terrible case of the flu. He was crying out to his mother, pleading through tears, for her to save him, to not let the doctors hurt him, as they strapped him down to inject him with IV's. The mother was crying, her son was crying, and she tried to tell him that they weren't hurting him, that they were helping him to get better.

God feels our pain with us. When we hurt, he hurts. But he knows what's best, just like the mother knew that the doctors were helping her son and those fluids were what was best for him at that time. The journey to get well was littered with pain, but in the end it all came together. We can't always see the whole picture, like the boy who couldn't understand why he was going through what he was. But God can. He sees the end result. He is good. He is faithful.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11

I have to make the decision to trust God with my son's health. I'm an organizer, teacher by nature, and so I prefer 'steps' to get to my acquired goal. By doing those 4 steps, I have seen my trust in God grow over this past month. I am learning to trust him in more areas of my life, and he is working on me with this bigger issue - the healing of my son. Even if he chooses not to heal him, God is still good and I will trust him no matter the path he decides to take us on.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." ~Isaiah 55:8-9

What areas in your life are you having difficulty trusting God? What can you do today that will help you to make that decision?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

30 Day Challenge

Discipline.

I hate that word.

Discipline, to me, means being punished for doing something wrong. Sometimes it means forcing myself to do something on a regular basis that I don't like, such as working out or avoiding chocolate (silly, I know!). To put it frank, it makes me cringe. I hate the word discipline.

But it's necessary in our walk with God.

Except this discipline reaps sweet rewards. It has grown my relationship with Christ, taught me how to trust, allowed God to work in my life, blessed me, gave me words of knowledge, excited me to do it over, and over, and over again. Want to know what I did different?

I spent time daily with the Lord, for 30 days.

I took the 30 day challenge.

And it was hard at first. I had a million and one other things I needed (and let's be honest, preferred) to do. I have a 7 month old child that demands constant attention. A husband that comes home demanding constant attention (not much changes as they get older, does it?). Dishes, laundry, cleaning, nurturing, teaching, growing, comforting, singing, listening, managing, organizing, cooking....things that only a mother and wife can truly appreciate. And me, when is there time for just 'me' time? Time for me to just 'check-out' for a little while?

To say it was tough is an understatement. It took effort to put my focus on Jesus during our quiet time, instead of all those other things that called my name. Most every day for 30 days (I did miss a day here and there, I am human afterall!), I devoted my son's morning nap to my quiet time with God. I read one chapter in the bible, one chapter in my devotional book, and I journaled out my prayer and anything that stuck out to me during my reading. I did this over the span of 30 days and I watched how God worked.

For the first 15 days, I was getting into the swing of things. I journaled, poured my heart out to God, my fears, anxieties, my loves, my gratitude, my pleas. Nothing monumental happened other than it began to become a habit of mine to meet him in this spot each day. Then, things changed.

God moments.

That's what I like to call them. God moments, or little blessings, answered prayers, times that I know without a doubt that it's God moving and not me. When things are clearly the Lord's work and the glory could only be his.

Nine to be exact.

In 30 days, NINE amazing God moments. And each time one happened, it was like an amazing high and joy. It was like the pieces of the puzzle that were initially scattered, were somehow put together and it would all make sense.

So I want to share some of these moments. Some are private and not meant to be put in detail here, but others I want to shout from the rooftops!

1. Be Still and Rest. One day when I was doing my devotions and telling God about how I knew I needed to sleep train my son, but I didn't want to do the Cry It Out method (I was exhausted, to say the least), and I was praying about my son's food allergy and intolerance problems - I felt the Lord was telling me to be still, to stop doing what I was doing, and to rest in him. To stop sleep training (I had done this for his nap before my quiet time that day), and to stop trying to figure it all out with his allergies. At first, I thought that was crazy - why would I stop sleep training? I thought I had to partner with God with everything, why would he ask me to be still? I was tired and needed rest, as in sleep! But I stepped out in faith, hoping with everything in me that I really did hear God and it wasn't my mind playing tricks on me. Several days later, it all made sense when my son woke up with little tooth bubbles indicating he was getting ready to cut teeth. The Lord knew that he would need the extra comfort in the night, that I shouldn't ignore his cries or refuse holding him, but to continue giving him the comfort he needed. And miraculously, that weekend that I stepped out in faith, he ironically gave me 2 good nights with longer stretches of sleep (can I get an Amen?!). The Lord knew what my son needed before he even needed it. God is so good.

2. We need a hobby. I prayed that my husband and I would find a hobby that we liked doing together, instead of just watching TV or taking a nap. God blessed us with allowing us to re-do a piece of furniture, actually 2 pieces, and we had fun doing it! My husband used his many woodworking talents, and I used my creative ideas and refinished the pieces. I'm excited to see how this new hobby plays out and hope that it turns into something more over time.

3. I lost my wallet. It flew off the back of my trunk (thanks to a screaming child distracting me!), and my mom and I prayed that it would be returned. I did not have fear or anxiety, even though I had over $100 in gift cards, a little cash, my debit card, license, and a spare key to my car...written on the key what it was. I trusted God, no matter what happened, but prayed it would somehow be returned. On the day that I was planning on cancelling my card and begin the process of ordering new things, I was walking up to the mailbox and prayed that by some miracle the wallet would be in there. Well when I opened the box, there was a package, with my wallet in it! There was a very sweet note from a woman that had lost her purse before and knew what it felt like, and so she paid the postage to return my wallet to me. Everything was returned intact - praise God!

4. God gave me a word of wisdom concerning someone else's dream that it actually gave me chills when I said it aloud because both myself and the person who had the dream knew it was completely God.

5. God gave me a word of wisdom about someone else in my own dream.

6. For two days I journaled and prayed to find this christian trilogy set of books on the cheap for my sister (Mark of the Lion Trilogy by Francine Rivers - check it out if you haven't read it!). To buy all 3 books used on Amazon cost about $16, which I knew I couldn't spend on books at the time. So I prayed about it. On the 3rd day someone tagged me in a post on an online yardsale site on FB about one of her books, the 3rd book in the trilogy! When I told her what an answer to prayer that was, she told me that when she found it that day that she felt that she needed to offer it to me! Then, a few days later I was in goodwill and there was the 2nd book in the trilogy! The probability of that happening, with all the books in the world, is so so so slim - it's was totally a God moment. I'm still waiting on the first book in the trilogy, but I know God will come through and provide that also - he's done the other two already!

7. A friend of mine got pregnant. After months of prayer, she conceived this little life. The details surrounding it are nothing short of amazing, but, for the sake of privacy, I cannot get into those details. Let's just say it was so perfectly timed and planned, the Lord knew the absolute perfect timing for this to come about.

8. There were a few surrounding my husband and his work, but more private. But those were also awesome blessings.

So what did I learn?

Discipline.

I learned to discipline myself in spending time with the Lord daily. I reaped so many rewards and I look forward to my time with Him now, where before I would dread it, or worse, be worried that I would be bored to death when reading the bible. But he has lit a fire in me again, and he has blessed my time with him. I have learned that I need to write things down, that I need to remember. I need to remember ways he has been faithful, when he's provided, when he's blessed me. I need to remember it and allow those times to strengthen my faith and trust in him. I am learning to trust him more and more. It's a struggle sometimes, but it is always worth it.

Discipline isn't such a horrible word anymore. Like any discipline, it's not always easy at first, but it's always worth it in the end. When you work out, you have muscles and health to show for it. When you eat right, your body shows it with clearer skin, healthier hair, a better immune system to fight sickness. When you discipline yourself to spend time with God daily, your spiritual life grows, your relationship with God grows, you see his blessings, you are able to trust him...and with all of that comes more joy, and so much more peace in a world harried with unrest.

A little discipline in making God a priority really goes a long way.

What about you? Are you disciplined in making God a priority every day in your life? If not, I challenge you. Take the 30 day challenge of spending time with God in his word, praying and journaling. I can assure you, he won't let you down.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." ~Matthew 7:7-8