Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments


Tips for Tuesday
Welcome to part two of my children's chair makeover. (You can view the heirloom Adirondack chair from part one here.)  Again, I couldn't have done it without the help of my friend Shelly over at Shizzle!

This $5 garage sale find was nice and sturdy, but since my grandson is not named Olivia and his dad is not a fan of pink, a makeover was definitely in order.  I was told three-year-old Olivia painted the chair herself.  Evidently three-year-olds use a lot of paint, because it was really caked on there!  Before I could start painting, I had to smooth out the surfaces.  Using a mouse sander sped up the process. 

That took a lot longer than I expected, especially given the fact it was 95 degrees out, but I'm glad now that I took the time to do it right.

Using Ce Ce Caldwell's paints, I first painted the chair in Hershey Brown.  It quickly dried and I planned a second coat of Sedona, which will look great in my living room! 

I initially planned to paint a solid coat of Sedona and then rub some off, but after painting the side rungs and the strip around the seat I had a happy accident.  With next to no paint on the brush I went to paint the back of the chair.  Because there was still some texture despite all the sanding, the high spots picked up the Sedona.  I thought it looked great so from then on I used the dry brush technique, blotting most of the paint off the brush before using it on the chair.

Since the polyurethane I purchased for my Adirondack chair was indoor/outdoor, I decided to use that to seal the rocker as well.  Again, I used a flat sponge from the dollar store for application.

And here's the finished product!

Now that he's learned how to rock, this should be great fun!

Linking up to "Your Thriving Family", "Live Laugh Linky Thursday", "Transformation Thursday"
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 3 comments


Tips for Tuesday

Now that I have a grandson able to sit in a children's chair, I thought it was time for me to do some refinishing.  Normally I'm a one shade, color within the lines type of gal, but after seeing all the really cool things my friend Shelly does over at Shizzle I decided to step out of my box and try something new.  I did all the work, but Shelly talked me through it, giving me what I think are pretty cool results!

I've had this little Adirondack chair for as long as I can remember.  My grandfather made it for me, and he passed away when I was six years old so it's something I treasure.  It's nice and sturdy but a little worse for wear.  I think a nice spruce-up is just what the doctor ordered!

Shelly always uses CeCe Caldwell's paints, and since she's the expert, I followed suit.  I started by covering the entire chair in a layer of "Blue Montana Sky."  Just one coat covered the original redwood color well.  You can see from the photo the paint dried quite a bit lighter than it went on wet. 

Next, I used a chipper brush with next to no paint on it and put some strokes of Spring Hill Green here and there.  I started practicing on the under side so by the time I got to the surface that's visible I kind of knew what I was doing. 

It was still missing something so Shelly suggested doing the same thing with Simply White.  To be honest, I had my doubts, but that was exactly what the chair needed.  The white really brightened up the paint job.

To give it a bit of an aged look, I took a wet rag and rubbed off some of the paint along the edges of the top, arms and seat.

Shelly usually uses a wax to finish off her furniture, but since my chair will be outdoors she suggested a satin polyurethane finish.  I put it on with this flat sponge from the dollar store.  That worked pretty well except for in the cracks, so I found a small artist's brush for them. 

In my opinion, it turned out pretty good for a first try, and I'm pretty particular :)

although I think it looks even better with an occupant!

If I can do it, anyone can!  If you want to see how a professional does it, check out Shelly's work at Shizzle.  She is amazing!

A Glimpse Inside

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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 10 comments

After twelve years and 165,000 miles, my husband and I recently upgraded to a newer vehicle.  While I'm sure I'll have no problem adjusting to the heated seats come winter - the only feature I requested - the dashboard is another story!  Of course, everything in the newer vehicle is in a different place and so I've had to learn how to do such mundane things as turning on the bright lights and the windshield wipers (thank you God for the rain!)

The other day I was driving home from the grocery store and kept hearing a dinging sound, which was very disconcerting as I couldn't locate the source of the warning.  I think I may have even said (out loud  - which maybe isn't so good since I was riding alone), "What am I doing wrong?"

When [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:" ~ John 16:8

The Holy Spirit is our G.P.S. - God's Protection Service.  One of the Holy Spirit's many roles is to warn us when we're doing something wrong in order to keep us from sin.  At times the warning is obvious, like the check in your spirit you feel just as you're going to say something you shouldn't (and prefacing it with "I really shouldn't say this, but..." is not an acceptable remedy!)  Other times the warning may not be as clear, in which case we must ask God to reveal to us where we are going astray so we can take the appropriate action.

Photo courtesy of wajakemek | rashdanothman via flickr

As I was driving along, I realized the warning was sounding every time I pulled away from a stop sign.  It wasn't until I was pulling into my driveway that I noticed the passenger seat belt light was on, warning me that my gallon of milk was riding next to me, unrestrained!  (A bit too sensitive, if you ask me...)Thankfully, with the Holy Spirit there are no false alarms, and when we ask Him to reveal our sin He is happy to do so.

A. W. Tozer said, "He wants to be Lord of your life, and He wants to possess you so that you are no longer in command of the little vessel in which you sail.  You may be a passenger on board, or one of the crew, but you definitely are not in charge.  Someone else is in command of the vessel."

Lord, I thank you for loving me enough to warn me when I'm in danger of sinning against you.  Help me to remember, as Tozer said, that I am not the one in charge and enable me to humbly submit to your guidance.


Tell Me a Story

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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 13 comments


Absolutely hopeless.

This was not what she signed up for...not even close!

Where was God anyway?

She had committed her life to Jesus, turning her back on tradition, and look where it got her.

Homeless, that's where. 

It all started to unravel after her husband died.  Her in-laws couldn't understand why she declined her inheritance, but she felt she had to now that she was a Christian.  They were infuriated and refused to give her any assistance whatsover. 

Then her house burnt down, flames licking up every last straw of the thatch of her roof.  She lost everything she owned.  Not that there was much to begin with, but it was all she had.

She hadn't fared much better with the small house she managed to erect as a replacement.  Less than half the size of the first one, this house was big enough to lay down in, but not much more.  At least she found some empty cement bags which were the only barrier between her and the ground at night. 

Then the rains came.  She thought she was making an improvement by using iron sheets for the roof, and while it kept the water off her, it didn't keep it off the walls.  Thankfully she and her children were out of the house when the wall caved in. 

Still, that's where they slept.  What else was she to do?  There was no one to help her and nowhere to go.

Then came the last straw.  It was her four-year-old who noticed it first, innocently asking what those two lights were.  She immediately recognized those lights for what they really were - the eyes of a puff-adder!

These African snakes are responsible for more deaths than all the others.  Thankfully they move slow, giving her time to scoop up her baby, grab the hand of her son and run out into the darkness.

She just kept running.  There was certainly nothing to go back for.  The question was, where was she going?

After a long and sleepless night she decided to make the journey to the village where she was raised.  Her aunt still lived there and she knew she'd make room for her, at least on a temporary basis...

This is the story of just one of the homes we built while we were in Kenya.  The woman traveled to Kawiti village where our school, OpeN Christian Center, is located.

Traditions in Kenya make it difficult for women, especially those commited to living according to their Christian faith.  Following Christ means going against the local traditions requiring sex before just about everything.  Plowing a field, planting the seed, harvesting the crops, building a house - these are just some of the necessary activities that require sex beforehand according to tradition. 

I was initially confused as to why this widow would refuse her inheritance until it was explained that she wasn't receiving an inheritance, she was the inheritance.  In refusing her inheritance, she was refusing to be taken on as a second wife by her brother-in-law. 

In a series of events only God could arrange, the widow's aunt had approached the local counselwoman asking for help.  The counselwoman had no idea how she could be of assistance until she heard that our team had come and that we were planning to build houses.  Of course, we had already reached our limit, but in God's economy there is always enough for one more. 

That is how we came to build a home in a village far from Kawiti.  While her husband's family still refused to assist her, friends from a widows support group and the local church came to lend a hand.  Here (above) they're preparing mud for the walls of the house. 

This widow, once living in the worst home in the village, is now the proud owner of the best home in the village.  It's the only one in the area with iron sheets for a roof instead of thatch.  Plus, she now has a bed and a mattress to keep her and her children from sleeping on the floor.  Only God!

The widow and her son are in the center as we prepare to dedicate her house to the Lord!

I think this week's Scripture memory verse is a perfect fit to this story:
(Click here for more information on the Scripture Memorization Challenge)

N - Nothing is too hard for God ~ Jeremiah 32:17b

This is a home we built for a widow back in 2008.  (We were very excited to see she added the kitchen seen at the left.)  It takes several months for the mud walls of a new home to cure, then a finishing coat of mud and dung is spread on the interior and exterior walls as well as the floor.  I've often wondered, "Why dung?" and I learned the dung repells snakes.  Given a choice between the two, I'd go with the dung!

Lord, You truly do bring hope to the hopeless!  Thank you for allowing me to play a small part in Your perfect plan.  I'm so thankful that nothing is to hard for You!


Beauty in His Grip Button

Tell Me a Story

Beholding Glory
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 10 comments

Hot enough for ya?

Sorry, just had to ask.  And no, I'm not writing this from my air-conditioned home.  Around here we rely on fans and good old fashioned shade!

According to the National Weather Service, the state of Michigan (and much of the Midwest) is experiencing moderate drought conditions.  Of course, one just needs to take a look around to know we're experiencing drought. Lawn after lawn is dry and brown, with patches of green only to be found where weeds, shade or septic systems are present. In cooler weather our lack of watering may go unnoticed, but the heat really brings the issue to the forefront.

If a spiritual drought was as visible as the meteorological drought, how would you be looking?  


That's quite a thought isn't it?  What if our spiritual condition was visible not only to us but to everyone?  Or maybe it already is, especially when life "heats up" and we find ourselves in circumstances not of our choosing. 

God refers to Himself as "Living Water" both in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 2:13, 17:13) and the New Testament (John 4:10-14).  Not spending time with Him in prayer and reading His Word, the Bible, produces spiritual drought conditions in us that will become more evident as the stress piles up and the lack of Living Water continues.

Living in the shade does have its advantages.  My lawn (above) isn't looking too bad these days, especially when I compare it to the majority of others I see.  Of course, if one looks closely they'll see that the green ends the same place the shade does and the brown is creeping in.  I haven't been watering my lawn and with this heat it's beginning to show. 

This is the type of  spiritual "lawn" some of us have.  Maybe you're coasting on your parent's faith, or you've been to church or around Christians enough to know how your life should look - at least as long as no one is looking too closely. Perhaps you think showing up at church for one hour a week is enough.  For many years I didn't know there was anything else.  But without the Living Water consistently flowing into your life on a daily basis, your spirit begins to dry up.  This will become evident sooner rather than later in times of distress.

This is my neighbor's lawn - the kind of grass I'd like to walk through barefoot (though I restrained myself for this photo since I was wearing my tennis shoes and pushing a stroller.)  It's obvious to everyone passing by that it's getting water daily, just as it's obvious when you encounter someone who is regularly receiving Living Water.

Now, I could say my neighbor is totally cheating by using underground sprinkling, but the truth is he invested his time and resources to have it installed and maintain it.  It may appear that it's easier for others to spend time with God, but sometimes looks can be deceiving.  When it comes right down to it, we're each responsible for finding the time to invest in the Lord.

Of course, no one is perfect. Even the most disciplined follower of Jesus is going to have days when they don't spend the time with Him that they'd like to. (And believe me, the better you get to know Jesus, the more time you'll want to spend with Him!) That's why it's so important to memorize Scripture. It's like an underground sprinkling system for your soul!  It may take some time and effort to commit Scripture to memory but once you do, it's there on those days when you'd otherwise be running dry!

This creek brings life to its banks wherever it flows.  God wants Christians to do the same thing - bring His life to those around us wherever we go.

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” ~ John 7:38

By definition, in a moderate drought you'll find:

  • Some damage to crops and pastures.
  • High risk of fire.
  • Low streams, reservoirs, or wells.
  • Some water shortages developing or imminent.
  • Voluntary water use restrictions requested.

Similarly, in a spiritual drought there may be:
  • Some damage to relationships.
  • High risk of impatience.
  • Low tolerance.
  • Shortage of peace and contentment.
  • Lack of Living Water

How is your "lawn" looking?  Are you showing signs of drought?

The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail. ~ Isaiah 58:11

Lord, I thank you for Your Living Water that is always available to me.  Give me the discipline I need to spend time with you daily, not only so I may be refreshed, but so I may be a refreshment to those around me.


Tell Me a Story

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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 13 comments


Tips for Tuesday

With graduation season upon us, I've been busy making jean quilts as  gifts for my nephews - in all my spare time!  Actually, if you have any sewing experience, it really doesn't take long to put together one of these custom quilts.  Since it only requires straight seams, even if you've never sewn before, you can do this! 

To make a jean quilt you will need:
  • old blue jeans, cut into squares (number of pairs depends on their size and condition and the size of the squares)
  • fleece or flannel backing
  • straight pins
  • large safety pins
  • tape measure
  • scissors
  • seam ripper
  • blue thread
  • denim needles for sewing machine
  • pliers
  • large tapestry needle
  • crochet thread or DMC floss

I like to make throw-sized quilts for graduation gifts, so I try to stock up on fleece throws when they go on clearance after Christmas.  That way I always have a few on hand when I need them.  The finished edges of the throw make constructing the quilt that much quicker.  For a bed-sized quilt, I prefer buying flannel yardage for the backing.  (Fleece yardage can also be used, but I like the flannel because it doesn't "ball up.")

Collect old jeans to use for your denim squares.  Even those in poor condition usually have some clean areas on the back of the legs that you can cut some squares out of.  Need jeans?  Put a shout out to your friends.  Most people have some around ready to be retired that they're happy to give to a good home. 

As for the size of the squares, I prefer 8-inch.  Other sizes work as well; just remember the smaller the squares, the more you will need and the more sewing required.  When preparing the squares, I first cut out as many 8" squares as I can then, if there's any usable denim left, I cut 7" and 6" squares and save them for a future project.  This is something you may want to do ahead of time.  It takes much less space to store squares than it does jeans, plus then they're ready to go when it comes time to start sewing.

To add interest to the quilt, incorporate some side seams...

or interesting pockets.

Just make sure you have at least 1/2 inch seam allowance all the way around the edge of the square.

Most traditional pockets are too close to the waistband to give you the necessary 1/2 inch, so it works best to take them off with a seam ripper. (You'll reattach them to squares later.) Labels also make interesting additions.  Remove these from the jeans as you're making the squares.  This is actually my husband's job :)  He removes pockets and labels while watching TV at night.

Once you have all your squares cut, lay them out in a way that looks pleasing to you.  Sewn together, these squares will become the top.  I like the look of alternating light and dark squares.  For this throw I used 56 - 8" squares.  A twin-sized quilt usually takes 104 - 8" squares (13 rows each containing 8 squares.)

I like to lay my backing out over the squares to make sure it's going to fit.  The top will "shrink" once you put the squares together because of the seam allowances.  Each seam will take away 1" (1/2" seam from each square) of your finished piece.  This particular top will be 6" smaller when sewn than it was just laid out since there are 6 places where squares  will be sewn together.  Since I didn't quite have 6" of denim poking out from underneath the back, I chose to use 3/8" seams to make the top a bit larger.

Once I'm happy with the layout, I begin placing pockets and labels.  It's easier to sew these on the individual squares than it is to put them on once all the squares are sewn together, though it is possible to do it then too.  My mother-in-law has an embroidery machine and personalizes the quilt for me.  This too is easier done on an individual block before you start assembling the quilt top. 

After the pockets and labels are sewn on, I  number the square on the left end of each row by pinning a slip of paper to it - "row 1" for the top row, followed by "row 2" and so on.  If you're new to sewing, you can label every square to help ensure you keep everything in the right place - "row 1, piece 1"; "row 1, piece 2"; etc.  Since I make these quilts periodically, I save the numbered papers to use for future quilts.  

Next, moving left to right, stack the squares of each row one on top of the other so the block on the top is the one on the far left and the one on the bottom is the piece on the far right.  The row numbers you pinned on previously will be visible.  

Stack these blocks alternating each row so you can easily see where one row ends and the next begins. 

Now it's time to sew!  There are needles made especially for sewing on denim and using one of these will make the sewing that much easier.  I thread my machine with blue thread.   The shade doesn't really matter since there are so many different shades of blue in the quilt. 

Place the squares wrong sides together as you sew.  This will put the seams on the outside of the quilt, giving it a raggy look.  Remember to be consistent with your seam allowances (generally 1/2", but in my case 3/8").  Working from left to right, sew together all the squares for the first row.  Repeat for each subsequent row.  For a sturdier quilt, use a zigzag stitch.  To make it extra heavy duty, sew it a second time using a straight stitch (one on top of the other.)

Once all the rows are sewn together, lay them out to get an idea of what your top will look like.  If you want to switch anything around, now is the time.  Remember, all of your seam allowances should be showing.

Now it's time to pin the rows together into pairs, beginning with rows one and two.  To avoid bulk at the corners, alternate seams.  Line up the stitching from the two adjacent blocks, but have the seam allowance from the upper row over to the left and the seam allowance from the lower row over to the right.  When you sew the rows together, each intersection will have half of the seam allowance on one side of the seam and half on the other.

Once each pair of rows have been pinned together at the seams, you're ready to sew them together into pairs.  

Repeat the process, laying out the pairs of rows and pinning two pairs together, then sewing together to make two halves.

Finally, pin and sew the two halves together to complete your quilt top!

To give it a raveled look, clip the seam allowances at one inch intervals being careful not to clip through the seams.  If this does happen you'll want to do your repairs at this stage, either mending the cut with a satin stitch or replacing the blocks. 

Once all the seams are clipped, wash it alone in the washing machine.  (Alone, because a lot of little threads are going to come out and get all over anything else that happens to be in with it.)  Dry thoroughly before continuing.

Now it's time to pin your pieced top to the backing.  If you're working with the finished edges of a throw, just line the edge of the throw up with the edge of the top and pin.  This throw still ended up being a bit too large, so I trimmed one side 1/2" larger than the top and folded that edge under so it was even with the top.  This is what you would do if using flannel or fleece yardage. 

Sew completely around the edges of the quilt using a zigzag stitch.  Follow up by repeating using a straight stitch, if desired. 

Laying your quilt out flat, pin the top to the backing at each intersection using large safety pins. 

Before continuing on to the next step, flip the quilt over once each intersection has been pinned to make sure the back is smooth.  If an area is bunched up, undo those pins, smooth out and repin.  

Once you're finished pinning and the back is smooth, you're ready to tie the quilt.  This gives it stability.  Using crochet thread or several strands of DMC floss in a tapestry needle (which has a large eye), push the needle down through the top and pull it back up from the back.  This usually goes much easier if a pair of pliers is used to pull the needle.  Note: yarn can be used but it doesn't hold up as well and tends to split apart as you're working.  Note to self: This is not a great thing to be doing in 90 degree weather!  Good thing I love you boys!

I did my best to describe each step, but I've made so many of these I may have missed something.  If you have any questions please leave a comment and I'll make the correction.  Thanks!

Linking up with Cowgirl Up!, Air Your Laundry Friday
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