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everyday life inside the fishbowl

Worthy Word Wednesday: Encouragement for Ministry Couples

If you follow me, you may have noticed that I’ve taken another short break from blogging. A couple weeks ago, my husband graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. We left the kids with some (very unselfish!) friends for a few days and flew down. It was such a blessing to see him graduate and to celebrate both God’s grace and goodness as well as all Dave’s hard work. I even was bestowed a degree: P.H.T. (Putting Honey Through)! 😉 I think one day I will blog about what it is like to be married to a Ph.D. student–it sure makes life interesting, to say the least! It also costs a lot of money; if you or someone you know are considering pursuing a Ph.D., my husband wrote a blog post detailing out the costs (of a modified residency doctoral program) to help you better plan.

Three days after we came home from graduation, our church hosted its annual pastors’ conference, “Conference on the Church for God’s Glory.” This was my first time attending the conference and Dave’s first time heading up the conference. So this kept us busy for a while as well.

Shepherd_on_the_way_to_Hampta_PassThe theme for this year’s conference was “Shepherding the Shepherd.” Now that I am married to a pastor (shepherd), I can fully appreciate the need for pastors and their wives to be shepherded and encouraged. We spend so much of our time shepherding, encouraging, exhorting, and ministering to others that there is a much-needed time for the refreshment and encouragement of being ministered to and fellowshipping with other pastors and their wives.

Below is a list of the topics and speakers. You can listen to any of these sessions or read the pdf’s here. I highly encourage everyone in church ministry and their wives to listen and be encouraged. Even if you are not in ministry, you can listen and learn of how those in ministry struggle and how you can be an encouragement to them.

  • Shepherding the Shepherd (Mike Harding, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Troy, MI)
  • A Critique of Wayne Grudem’s Two Levels of New Testament Prophecy (Dr. Bruce Compton, Professor of Biblical Languages and Exposition, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, Allen Park, MI)
  • A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Spiritual Gift of Leadership (Dr. David Huffstutler, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Rockford, IL)
  • Dealing with Conflict While Shepherding the Flock (TJ Klapperich, Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Wintergarden, FL)
  • The Successful Shepherd: What to Do When You’re Not One (Dr. Kevin Bauder, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Plymouth, MN)
  • Jesus Christ: the Shepherd of Shepherds (Steve Thomas, Senior Pastor, Huron Baptist Church, Flat Rock, MI)
  • The Shepherd and His Family (Alan Benson, Senior Pastor, Bethel Baptist Church, Schaumburg, IL)
  • The Shepherd and Suffering (Dr. Scott Williquette, Teaching Missionary, Pastoral Enrichment Program, Rockford, IL and Troy, MI)

(If you’re curious, my husband somewhat sums up his dissertation in his conference session A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Spiritual Gift of Leadership.)

{On Wednesdays, I share from a book, blog, or other resource some “worthy words.” I love to read, but my time for reading has been much decreased since the birth of my first child. I am encouraged when I am able to read snippets of precious truth as I come across them. Hopefully these few words will encourage your heart, as well as give you a resource for fuller reading as your time allows.}

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Frugal Friday: Easy, Inexpensive DIY Canvas Wall Art

canvas wall art 2Let me start out this post by stating that I am not very crafty and certainly not creative. When I search Pinterest for a specific idea, I look for projects that are very simple, inexpensive, and non-time-consuming. I usually end up modifying things to make the project even easier and cheaper!

My first canvas project was a fail. I kick myself every time I think of it, because of the time–but especially the money!—wasted. I cut out and decoupaged (the fancy term for what I call “mod-podged,” but usually end up saying “modge-podged”!) a huge map of the world to various canvases for wall art in our living room. If my husband and I didn’t have perfectionistic tendencies, and if we weren’t planning on displaying it in the main room where we “entertain,” it probably would have been fine actually. But there were just enough bubbles and wrinkles on it to drive us crazy. I kept the first map on canvas intact, but the second map (thinking I had figured out how to fix the bubbles) was vehemently torn off the canvas in frustration. I might actually put the intact map up in our basement.

All that to say. . . I am not naturally crafty. However, since I did have that second set of canvases, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try to redeem them, especially if I wasn’t losing any money on it.

To make room for the new baby coming this summer, we moved my daughter out of the nursery into another bedroom. I wanted her to have something cute above her new toddler bed, but I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money. So I browsed pinterest. I stole bits and pieces of ideas from this post and that. I took out my ruined, map-torn-off canvases and my mod podge. I found some cute scrapbook paper that I had lying around. I free-handed some letters onto more paper (because I wasn’t going to spend the time or money on silhouette machines, stencils, etc), and I created wall art!

This is not a tutorial, but I will explain what I did, in case anyone wants to give it a try.

  1. I first figured out which scrapbook papers I wanted on which canvases, and what arrangement I wanted the canvases to be on the wall. I used one 16×20” and four 8×10” canvases. I think most of my scrapbook papers were about 12×12 (I used 8). Some of them had curvy edges, which looked nice on the large canvas.
  2. Working on one canvas at a time, I coated the top and sides with a thin layer of mod podge (matte), using one of those cheapo foam brushes. I waved a piece of paper over it a few times to let it dry just a tad, then I centered my scrapbook paper on top. I folded the edges of the paper over the edge of the canvas. I found that the mod podge on the edges of the canvas wasn’t strong enough to hold the scrapbook paper (the thicker the paper the better, I also found), so I stapled the paper to the wooden frame on the back of the canvas.canvas wall art 3
  3. Once all of the papers were glued on and dry, I then applied another thin layer of mod podge to the top and sides of the large canvas.
  4. I used a straight edge to free-hand the letters of the word love. I used mod podge to adhere each letter to each of the small canvases. Then, I applied a thin layer on top of the small canvases.
  5. Once completely dry, I applied another thin layer of mod podge to all of the canvases. Interestingly, the second layer really smoothed things out. There are still a few tiny bubbles or wrinkles, but they are hardly noticeable. The thicker the paper, the less bubbling and wrinkling.

ImageI was so excited to see how well this turned out. It looks super-cute above her bed. I keep staring at it, because I am in disbelief that I was actually crafty! 🙂 This project was so easy, in fact, I think I’m going to have to try another. I’m thinking about doing a book page-covered one or perhaps even a music-sheet canvas. We’ll see. . .

{On Fridays, I attempt to pass along a frugal tip I have learned or am attempting to learn. I love a good deal, and I love to help our family stay within the budget by being frugal in every area of life!}

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Thursday Thoughts: “Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude”

{{Information |Description= New Orleans: Thank you message in the grotto of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church; added by those for whom prayer or miracles were granted |Source= Photo by Infrogmation |Date= 15 October 2007 |Author= InfOur Ladies Bible Fellowship at church has started studying Scripture that has to do with gratitude, along with Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ excellent book, Choosing Gratitude. For the next several Thursdays, I will share what we are learning. It’s been a great study so far. I encourage you to read the book! Today’s focus is chapter 2. You can read about our study of chapter 1 here.

Oswald Chambers said, “The thing that awakens the deepest well of gratitude in a human being is that God has forgiven sin.”

Nancy discusses the truth that “unavoidable guilt, plus undeserved grace, should equal unbridled gratitude” (p. 35). We are all guilty of sin against a holy God, yet God gives us grace upon grace. Not only did he send His Son Jesus to die and take the guilt, power, and the ultimate consequence (hell) of sin away, but He also gives us grace each day to fight that lingering sin nature with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead! This grace should cause us to overflow in gratitude!!

But it doesn’t always, does it? I know gratitude doesn’t overflow from me at all times! For those of us who have grown up in Christian homes or have been saved for a very long time, Nancy’s words on page 34 are very apt: “Some of us cannot remember a time when we did not know these things. But have we lost the wonder of what it all means?”

I think part of our problem is that we lose sight of our guilt. We take God’s grace for granted. Instead, we need to daily ponder on our guilt (but not wallow in it!). Even more importantly, we need to ponder on God’s grace to us. The Gospel should be actively remembered and effective in our lives every day!

This chapter also discussed a consecrated time in our Sunday worship in which we give thanks–the Lord’s Supper. Interestingly, one of the other terms for the Lord’s Supper (or Communion) is “Eucharist.” This term actually means “the giving of thanks.” What an opportunity to remember our guilt, remember God’s grace, and overflow with gratitude both personally and as a body of believers! Yet we often (I know I do) “perform” this “ritual” simply out of routine with no forethought. Our church body participates in the Lord’s Supper the first Sunday of every month, and I want to make the most out of this time of worship and giving of thanks by preparing my mind and heart ahead of time. I’ve recently started reading select passages of Scripture either the night before or the morning of to do so. {Is there anything you do specifically to prepare your heart for the Lord’s Supper? If so, please share below in the comments!}

Finally, we did a quick study of 2 Corinthians 8-9. If you’re looking to read about grace, look no further! The Greek word for grace (charis) is mentioned ten times in these two chapters!

Basically, Paul is writing to the Corinthians, encouraging them to show their gratitude for God’s grace by their generosity in giving. He lifted up the Macedonian churches as examples. Below is my summary of 2 Cor 8:2. Notice that God’s grace was the source of their joy (in affliction) and their generosity (in poverty):

God gave the Macedonians grace, which was evidenced in

their abundant joy in the midst of severe affliction

and an overflow in a wealth of generosity in the midst of extreme affliction.

In 2 Cor 8:9, Paul points to Christ’s grace to the Corinthians in becoming poor so they might become rich as the motivator for their own generosity:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Of this verse, Paul Barnett (NICNT) says,

Since we are made “rich” by Christ’s grace—in both salvation and gifts—the appropriate response can only be our generosity to others. This is the message of these two chapters. Grace begets grace!

Chapter 9 of 2 Corinthians goes on to talk about giving cheerfully. The Apostle Paul reminded them that God enriches believers “to be generous in every way” in order for us and those to whom we are generous to give gratitude to God (v. 11). God gives grace to us, so we can give generously to others, so they can show gratitude to God! It is an endless cycle! Generosity should be an evidence of our gratitude to God for his grace.

Has God shown you abundant grace? Are you characterized by responding to Him and others with gratitude? Are you characterized by generosity? We should be! Let us be characterized by gratitude and generosity in remembrance of our great guilt and in response to God’s great grace!

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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Worthy Word Wednesday: Words Every Mom Needs to Hear

This image was originally posted to Flickr by Mark Colomb at It was reviewed on 12 May 2013 by the FlickreviewR robot and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.I read a blog post a couple weeks ago that cut me to the quick. The first line itself had me hooked, because it is what I’ve thought and most likely said several times: “’I don’t want to go to church this morning! There’s no point,’ I told my husband despondently.”

Regardless of your specific church situation–big or small, well-staffed nursery or not–if you have young children, you have probably thought the same thing. Why go if you are just going to be nursing your infant, holding your child with the runny nose in the back, watching just your own kids in the nursery, sitting with your preschooler at the back of the auditorium trying to teach him to sit quietly and listen??

This blog post, How Mothers Can Worship in the Midst of Inconvenience, was a great encouragement to me and brought me to tears. The author reminded me that “Most of life as a mother is worshiping when circumstances are inconvenient.” Thus, it is absolutely essential that I realize that “right now I’m called to worship right where I am—in the midst of inconvenience.” By doing so, we teach our children that worshiping isn’t just about what we can “get.” It’s about what we can give to God.

And, yes, it is exhausting. Yet, the author called us to find rest and comfort in Christ’s words in Matthew 11:28-30:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

As we approach Mother’s Day this Sunday, it is a day to honor mothers. Yet more importantly, it is the day (Sunday) that we worship God. So, let us do so regardless of the ease of our circumstances or the fulfillment of or disappointment of Mother’s Day expectations.

I also read an encouraging post, entitled, 8 Things I Want My Toddler to Thank His Mom For (in 20 Years). This is another good one to encourage us young moms in our mothering and give us a long-term perspective.

Finally, just in case you haven’t seen this one, I encourage you to also watch this video about the World’s Toughest Job. It’s pretty much spot on! 🙂

All that said. . . Happy Mother’s Day!

{On Wednesdays, I share from a book, blog, or other resource some “worthy words.” I love to read, but my time for reading has been much decreased since the birth of my first child. I am encouraged when I am able to read snippets of precious truth as I come across them. Hopefully these few words will encourage your heart, as well as give you a resource for fuller reading as your time allows.}

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Frugal Friday: Paint the Top of Your Chest Freezer with Chalkboard Paint!

ImageOne of the items that has helped me save money is my chest freezer. Sadly, mine started randomly thawing and is now kaput! 😦 Talk about major bummer when you open your freezer to see all the food thawing/thawed. Thankfully, my supply was running low as I planned on filling it back up next month with freezer meals for the new baby in August.

Because they are so useful, however, we will be buying another one. Buying meats on sale, freezing your own fruits and veggies, making freezer meals–all ways in which one can save money!

The bigger your chest freezer, though, the easier it is to forget what is deep down inside. Initially, I thought of making a list next to my freezer. But then, I thought of something even better–chalkboard paint!

This is not a tutorial by any means, but I will tell you what I did. First, I lightly sanded the top. This was probably mostly necessary, because our chest freezer was used and had a little rust on it. Then, I primed the top with Rustoleum’s primer for aluminum or galvanized metal (clearance at Lowes). I then applied a thin layer of chalkboard paint. I used a foam roller for that. I have found (in my extremely limited chalkboard paint experience) that a foam roller applies the paint very smoothly to allow for easier writing. Once completely dried, I applied another coat of chalkboard paint. I may have done a third, but I don’t remember (Sorry! Preggo brain! 🙂 )

Now, every time I added an item, I could just add it, along with the date, to my list right on the freezer itself. When I removed an item, I could just erase it. Super simple, plus it covered up any rust spots, making it much more attractive in my opinion!

Alrighty then. . . Anybody selling a chest freezer?? 😉

{On Fridays, I attempt to pass along a frugal tip I have learned or am attempting to learn. I love a good deal, and I love to help our family stay within the budget by being frugal in every area of life!}