“Answered Prayer” Frame Project

War Room

From War Room movie

Quite a while back (months… maybe even a year or two), I watched a movie on Netflix called War Room. It’s a Christian movie with a great message, but like so many others that have watched the movie, I was most taken by Miss Clara’s War Room and her Wall of Remembrance. In the movie, Miss Clara used an empty walk-in closet as her own sanctuary for praying, meditating and spending time with God. She called it her “War Room” because this was the place where she would battle through situations in her life through prayer and scripture. As I get older, I have found that daily devotions and meditation time are critical to my own state of well-being. It just helps to ground me and gives me better perspective to take on each day. Although I don’t have a “War Room”, I do have a special spot in our little library where I start each day. Because it is a shared space, it’s not equipped with all that I would have in my own war room, so I improvised and decided to create an inexpensive album that contains all of the quotes and verses that I use in my daily devotions. Last week, I somehow landed on Lexie Thiery’s DIY War Room video. If this is something that interests you, it is worth checking it out to see how Lexie made her wall. I basically did the same thing, but in a mini photo album style. I wanted mine a bit more organized and this worked perfect for the shared space as well. I picked up all of the items at the dollar store: one album, 2 mini pads of scrapbooking paper and a package of white lined recipe cards. All I did was trim down the pages to fit the 4″ X 6″ photo slots and then used a punch to fancy up the trimmed off scrap. I used this as a little border along the left hand side of each entry. So simple, but it is neat and organized. Works perfectly for me!

Wall of Remembrance:

Although this post really isn’t so much about the “War Room” as discussed above, it is a great segue to my project. During a scene in the movie, there is a shot of this amazing wall in Miss Clara’s home. Her “Wall of Remembrance” is like a collage of framed art and keepsakes that were true testaments to all the blessings in her life. Each item was very significant to her and her legacy. I guess a tribute and reminder to be thankful for all that God has done in your life. I LOVED this concept, but like so many other projects, never really got around to doing anything about it. Sometimes when you are trying to pull something together that just seems too big…the natural instinct is to procrastinate or worse yet, never do it. I learned a long time ago, that the best way to beat the fear and uncertainty of attacking a huge project is just to start. That is usually the hardest part. I decided that I could easily begin with an “Answered Prayer” plaque. A friend of mine had picked up an old picture frame for me on free day. She was thinking it might be great for a classroom project I was doing, but in the end it was a bit big so I brought it home. I decided to start by giving the old frame a bit of a face lift. I didn’t really have a plan for what I was actually going to do inside, but I knew I just had to start and I would figure it out.

  • The first thing I did was clean and spray paint the frame. The inner frame was actually covered in this red velvet. I decided to leave it on and tape it off. When the white spray paint was dry, I removed both the tape and velvet. This left me with the dark stained wood of the inner frame exposed. Although I loved the contrast of the white and dark wood, I felt it was a bit harsh and decided to soften the white spray paint with just a touch of dark brown and cream to antique it ever so slightly. I also thought that dry brushing just a touch of white onto the dark stain would help to make the look more cohesive. I loved the finished look….quite a dramatic change.
This shot was taken after spray painting. You can see the velvet is still one one of the edges. I haven’t yet antiqued this frame.

  • Once the frame was done, I searched for ideas on “Answered Prayer” framed art. I got an idea of what I liked and then began to play in a word document. I figured out the layout and font. I really loved the idea of having an almost translucent message in the background. I knew it wouldn’t be very visible once I began recording events, but I wanted it there all the same. Once I had the layout all figured out. I needed to decide on paper.
  • I actually went through my stash at home and came across this beautiful natural looking paper with bits of natural fibre and petals incorporated into the paper. It was perfect. Because the paper had a bit of a yellow tone to it, I decided to change my background “Just Believe” to yellow as well. I printed it out and then tackled the next obstacle. The frame opening was 11″ X 14″, so standard paper was not going to work. My printed page was on 8 1/2″ X 11″, so I would have to mount it onto some kind of background.
  • For the background, I found a perfect yellow polka dot paper with a vintage vibe in my scrapbooking supplies. I had to cut and patch the paper together to compensate for the 14″ width, but the polka dots made it super easy to line it up and the seam doesn’t stand out at all.
  • I then took some foam board and cut it to size to provide some support for the project.
  • I finished it off with a simple flower that I had on hand for embellishing gifts.

I love the way this project turned out! I have to say it took me over a week to commit to writing anything on it for fear of ruining it, but finally took the plunge. I really wanted it to be handwritten, even though it means there will be little slip ups and imperfections. Many years ago when I first started scrapbooking, I tried to type all of my little captions and journal entries that accompanied my layouts. I wanted everything to be just perfect and that of course meant that I would not be able to tolerate my less than perfect penmanship. Anyway, I can’t even remember exactly who told me this, but their words carried weight and have stayed with me ever since. She said that having my handwritten message with the layout would become part of the legacy of the album. That my script would actually be treasured as much as the photos themselves. This really struck a cord with me because I lost my mom when I was only 30 and I deeply cherish the handwritten notes and recipes of hers. So, although not perfect, the entries will be done by hand.

Of course, this is a far cry from a “Wall of Remembrance”, but I have the first step done. The “Answered Prayer” plaque will eventually be the focal point of the entire wall, so it made sense to do it first. Of course, this project will never end, but rather evolve. I can’t wait to find pieces that speak to me and become part of this wall of declaration. I’m not even sure where in my home this wall will be created. For now, I will hang the first piece and as it grows and evolves, I will figure out the perfect spot for it.

Here is a great example of a Wall of Remembrance from Awe Filled Homemaker

Mystery Box Riddle #64

Mystery Box Riddle #63

Mystery Box Riddle #62

Communication: The Key to Avoiding Disappointment

Happy Birthday to Me! Yummy Chocolate Mousse Cake

Today I wanted to share a recent discovery I made. It’s really so simple that it seems ridiculous, but since it took me 52 years to figure it out, I thought others might find it speaks to them as well. So let me preface this by saying that I am in no way bashing my husband and kids. I love and appreciate them very much! I know some are going to read this and judge me for posting this, as it may not reflect too well on me, but as I get older I realize there is great freedom in being honest and real. So like it or not…here goes.

Mother’s Day and my birthday both land in May. Over the past few years, I have found that I am often left feeling a bit disappointed on both occasions. I found myself really battling these feelings, believing it was super selfish. I would literally fight this “edge” in my mood all day on both occasions. I didn’t really know or understand why, but for some reason I always felt like my family didn’t really understand what was important to me. I never really stopped to ponder it much, but just knew neither were highlights for me. Anyway, this year a friend alluded to the fact that she too dreaded Mother’s Day and we discovered our experiences/feelings to be much the same. In our conversation, she shared that her new strategy for creating a better experience was to simply tell her family exactly what she wanted/needed to make her Mother’s Day great (or at least better). It seemed so simple and yet a bit radical at the same time. It really got me to thinking. Here are a few observations I made about my own feelings and situation:

  • My mom passed away before we had children, so my kids have never seen me honour my own Mom. We all know how powerful role modelling is and they have not seen that modelled in any way.
  • My husband worked nights and weekends for most of our marriage and thus was literally never around on Sundays. When I really stopped to consider this, I realized that my husband never had the opportunity to dedicate this day to me, just as I had never done for him. Now don’t get me wrong, we always acknowledged the day, but it was often with a card, perhaps a gift and a very quick dinner between him getting up at 5 and leaving for work at 6 pm.
  • When the kids were younger, I created my own Mother’s Day tradition which basically involved attending a beautiful Mother’s Day service at church. Tim would be sleeping all day in preparation for work, so it was just a given that I would have the kids and it would basically be a typical day in every way other than perhaps a “Happy Mother’s Day!”, exchange of cards and sometimes gifts. I was okay with this because that was just the life and schedule we had, but perhaps always felt a bit slighted.
  • Last year (2019) was probably the first Mother’s Day that Tim was off and it never really dawned on me that we had no Mother’s Day and Father’s Day traditions. We had never really established a pattern for celebrating and I think that I somehow expected more and was thus left disappointed.

My Revelation:

As a teacher, it is my job to teach the lesson, explain the assignment and set the criteria. As I got to thinking about my disappointment and bad attitude, I realized how impossible it would be for my family to meet my expectations and avoid disappointing me, if they really had no idea what I expected/wanted. So, with my friend’s strategy in mind, I decided that I was going to test this out two weeks later when my May 24th birthday arrived.

I know I have shared about The Five Love Languages before, but it really warrants mentioning again. I think what every person really wants/needs is to be and feel loved. The problem is that not everyone experiences/feels love in the same way. When we speak different love languages it can feel a bit like communicating in a foreign language….full of misunderstandings, confusion and hurt. One can feeling like they are pouring their heart into someone and it seem to always fall short….it is all too common we speak different languages of love. According Gary Chapman, there are 5 basic love languages:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Quality Time
  4. Giving Gifts
  5. Physical Touch

Although we all have varying degrees of each of these, there are generally one or two languages that you primarily communicate with. So for example, Acts of Service is my number one love language. If I want to show someone I love/care for them, I am most likely going to step up and do something for them…..bake their favourite cookies, iron their shirt, help clean their room, etc. I show I love them by serving them in some way. Likewise, this is how I feel most loved. This doesn’t mean that I don’t love and appreciate a beautifully wrapped gift because I do, it just isn’t my primary love language. My family can best communicate their love by doing a job for me, spending quality time with me (doing something that I LOVE) or offering words of affirmation. For me, these three are stronger modes of communication. (To figure out someone’s love language, simply watch to see how they demonstrate love for others. This is always your best indicator.) So what was happening for me was that my family was giving me gifts and/or cards, but what I really needed was an act of service or a sign that they really understood me.

So, with all of this new understanding of why I was feeling disappointed, I made a declaration. A few days before my birthday, I told my husband and kids exactly what I wanted for my birthday. At first it felt a bit weird to be dictating exactly how I wanted my birthday to go down, so I kind of made a game out it. I also explained my discovery and how unfair it was for me to judge them if they had no idea what my expectations even were.

The Birthday Experiment

Of course, everyone’s version would be different, but I thought I’d like to give this concept of setting the criteria a whirl and see how it turned out. Below pretty much sums up exactly what I told them in the days leading up to my birthday experiment.

  1. I wanted everyone up and out of bed for online church without moans, groans or arguments. Why? Because it’s important to me and “It’s my birthday!”
  2. Think about something that I LOVE and invite me to participate. “I know you don’t love board games, but I DO and you love me, so just maybe you are going to ask me to play a board game with you! Why? Because IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!” How about a walk? A bike ride? It’s not about you and what you feel like doing… it’s all about me because “It’s my birthday!”
  3. What kind of job can you do for me without being asked? The best way you can show me how much you care is by doing something for me. Of course, I gave them some examples of this as well… make me a cup of tea/coffee, make a meal, unload the dish washer, literally any job that needed to get done….show me the love!
  4. Going out this year wasn’t a great option, so I told them what I wanted for dinner as well.
  5. Finally….I announced that I would be making my own cake. I think my husband was a bit caught off guard by this one, but here’s what I said. I don’t like or want store bought cake. I LOVE homemade cake, but I never, ever get a homemade cake on my birthday. It is always bought. I would much rather bake my own cake. I love dessert/birthday cake and if I’m going to consume those calories, it is my birthday and I want to choose how to spend them! And just like that….I got the exact cake I wanted.

So, in a very fun loving, yet direct way, I told my family exactly what my expectations were for my birthday and guess what…..BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!! Everyone got up for online church without complaint…yay!! I got some hugs and happy birthdays as well as a few cards with wonderful sentiments written inside. Tim prepared a wonderful breakfast of bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, toast and coffee without even asking me what I wanted…he just went for it. After a lovely breakfast, my dad and I played a few games. Later, Tim asked me to go for a walk. (More quality time!) Just before dinner, Shay came and asked me if I wanted to play a game or two…YES!! Tim picked up a few groceries, did some needed yard work and together we prepped dinner. (More acts of service.) I didn’t mind helping one little bit because my love tank was full! After dinner, my dad and I played a few more games while we waited for Eden to get home from work. She arrived home and we had the homemade cake I made with no Happy Birthday song…also my request. We ended the evening with a family game of Rummoli! I went to bed feeling like I had hit the jackpot. You may be thinking that didn’t sound so amazing….that’s because our needs are all unique, but my point is that I truly discovered that the key to avoiding disappointment is simple…..clearly communicate what your wants and needs are. (You may or may not have noticed I didn’t actually receive any gifts which was totally fine because it is not my primary love language. However, both my husband and kids did in fact give me gifts that arrived after the date…and both were super thoughtful….a book from one of my favourite authors (that I didn’t ask for) and a special hand painted coffee mug with my dog Hershey on it!)

As a mom, I feel like I always try to practise this for everyone else’s birthdays already…by asking questions…What do you want for dinner? What gifts would you like? What kind of cake shall I make? and so on, but after having such an amazing day, I also told my kids and husband to think about what would really make them feel special on their birthdays and to communicate it. Maybe I too was missing the mark. Why do we often make things so complicated? I can’t believe it took me 52 years to figure this out, but it did. I think we just want the people we love to figure the answers out, but why risk hurt feelings and disappointment. It just seems so much easier to set the stage in a loving and respectful way.

I want my kids to know how to honour others. Someday they will be married and they need to know how to show that love, honour and respect to their spouses. If it hasn’t been modelled and/or taught, how is a person supposed to know what to do. So to all you moms out there who go out of your way to make everyone else feel special…how about letting your loved ones know what they can do to make your birthday and/or Mother’s Day even better. Good luck!

I would love to hear from you. Maybe I’m one of few that feel this way about Mother’s Day and birthdays or just maybe this post speaks to you. For me, it was so freeing to finally stop pretending and truly enjoy my day – selfish or not! Tell me your story!

Mystery Box Riddle #61

They’re Back!!! Try this Homemade Dandelion Killer

This is actually a repost from a few years ago. The dandelions are out in full force and I thought it might be worth sharing this simple recipe again.

Several years ago, I came across this recipe for a homemade weed killer. It was shared by Shell Busey. I love the fact that it doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals, so I don’t have to worry about it being harmful for small children or the neighbourhood pets that like to frequent our yard. The only caution with this mixture is that it will kill your grass and flowers if you spray it on them by accident. He suggests only using this to kill the weeds that may crop up on your driveway, sidewalk or through ground cover.

Shell Busey’s Homemade Weed Killer Recipe:

Mix the following ingredients together:

  • 4 cups of white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of table salt
  • 2 tsp of liquid dish soap

Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and spray it on your weeds when it is sunny and hot out.

Mystery Box Riddle #60

Mystery Box Riddle #59

Mystery Box Riddle #58