Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 11 comments

Many of you have heard me say that I'm a recovering perfectionist. (Recovering, because while I'd love to be rid of perfectionism forever, it still seems to keep raising its ugly head.) For me, perfectionism was inevitable. Not only am I a firstborn, but I also grew up in a world that was black and white; things were either perfect or they were unacceptable. 


For example, in school it was my understanding that an "A" was the only passing grade. I guess I never considered why B-C-D-E were necessary if they all meant the same thing - FAILURE. (Note: I am not saying that anything less than an A is failure, I'm saying that's what I was led to believe.) I was in the 5th grade before I learned you could earn less than an "A" and still pass!

There are many downfalls to perfectionism, the greatest of which is that no one is perfect (except for Jesus. and I'm not Him. for which we should all be grateful). 

In my clouded understanding, perfection = success, which meant that anything short of that = failure. In other words, I felt like a failure almost all of the time. While I've made great strides in lowering my expectations of myself to a more reasonable level, I still struggle with feelings of failure. 

No one can beat me up better than I can, and it seems as though lately I've been doing a pretty thorough job of it. There's so much to do, and I just can't seem to keep up. Have you ever felt this way?

My husband wants to eat - EVERY DAY - AND wear clean clothes. O.K., I want that too, probably even more than he does. When I'm in survival mode (which has been far too often lately) this is my goal: food and laundry. If this was all I had to do, I think I'd be ok. But then, there's...

Housework. My house is not trashed (for the most part) because clutter literally stresses me out. Still, there are bathrooms to be scoured, floors to be cleaned and windows to be washed. These things often get set aside, but they don't go away unless I'm the one to make them go away.  And then there's...

Yardwork. We're surrounded by trees so no matter how many leaves we pick up in the fall, the beds are always full of them come spring. A winter's worth of broken branches need to be picked up, weeds need to be pulled, and to top it off, we have a bumper crop of maple trees coming up all over - ALL OVER -

You should be seeing dirt here, not a grove of maple saplings
 - in the lawn, the flower beds, the cracks between patio blocks, along the driveway...In this case, if I ignore them they'll send down their taproot and removing them will be that much harder. And as if that weren't enough, we also have...

This room should be empty
The aftermath of home improvement projects. We've had a steady stream of D-I-Y projects in the past year, starting with the backyard fire pit last May. This was immediately followed by transforming part of the basement into a playroom for our grandsons (necessary to eliminate toys taking over the living room) and then the monumental project of replacing all the carpet in the house with hardwood and laminate (for health reasons). Of course, replacing the flooring meant moving EVERYTHING. While I kept up with the main floor, the upstairs was a different story. The spare bedroom upstairs is currently housing everything that needs to find a home. Thankfully, this bedroom has a door that I can close, but that isn't making anything go away. And on top of all this, there's the "extra's":

A trip this summer to our school in Kenya, which requires many hours of planning and fundraising.

A bridal shower for my only niece to be held in two weeks. And I'm the one giving it. And it's at my house. (That I did on purpose so at least I'll get caught up on the housework - hopefully.)

Yet surprisingly, this former "Martha" could easily become a "Mary." God has allowed me to make time with Him top priority, as it should be. Back in my "Martha" days, I'd be so busy with the above that I wouldn't have any time left for Jesus. Now, the pendulum has swung fully in the opposite direction. I've been faithfully following a plan to read the Bible this year, and would much rather read and study and write and sit at Jesus feet than take care of all of the above.

It's true that I'm feeling overwhelmed right now.

It's true that there are a lot of things not getting done.

It's true that my ongoing health issues are contributing to the problem.

BUT the TRUTH is:

I am not a failure!

And all these things that are overwhelming me are barely a blip on the radar in the scheme of all eternity.

God says in Philippians 4:8 "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

When I get in a funk of self-condemnation like this, it means I'm thinking all the wrong things. What I need to remember is:

"God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." ~ 1 Corinthians 1:28

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

"Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." ~ 2 Timothy 2:1

"In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." ~ Romans 8:37

"Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit," says the Lord Almighty ~ Zechariah 4:6

It's time to cover my faulty thinking for the Truth of God's Word!

Which of God's promises do you need to claim today?

Father, whenever I find myself stuck I come to realize it's because I'm trying to do everything in my own strength.  Please help me to rely not on myself but on the grace you so freely give.


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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 6 comments

Tips for Tuesday

I feel like I've been behind on everything lately, and at the top of the not-done list was this coffee table I was refinishing for my son's birthday...which occurred two months ago! This project was neither difficult nor time consuming; I just had a terrible time finding opportunities to paint.  

It was in pretty rough shape when I started working on it.

One spot had a deep gash so I filled it in with some wood filler, let it dry and sanded it smooth.

I used paint by American Paint Company sold by my friend Shelly at Shizzle Design. She sells sample pots of the paint, which much nicer than having to buy a quart and then having most of it sitting around in the basement forever. Another nice thing about the paint is that you can apply it on finished surfaces without sanding first. Shelly told me it might dry a different shade on the unfinished spots, but since I was going for a variegated look anyway, that was okay with me.

The lighter gray that I used to paint the crevices and corners is "Freedom Road." (I painted the corners because I wanted to rub some of the top coat of paint off there and let this layer show through.) Once that was dry I painted the entire table top with "Lincoln's Hat." I used 2 sample pots of "Lincoln's Hat," the darker of the two, and one pot of "Freedom Road," the accent color.

I heard somewhere to put your wet paintbrush in a zippered bag if you were going to use it again soon, and it worked wonderfully. (Except for the fact that I'm now finished with the table and still haven't rinsed out the brush...)

If I had remembered to take a photo of the tabletop painted solid with the "Lincoln's Hat" you would be seeing it here:

Once the solid coat of the darker color was dry, I used a chipper brush to randomly paint brushstrokes with the "Freedom Road." I thinned some of this lighter paint with water, so a little goes a long way.  I found it helpful to paint the first few strokes on the newspaper to get the majority of the paint off before using it on the tabletop. Because I didn't come up with this brilliant idea right away, I had a few big blotches of light gray that I didn't care for...

So I thinned some of the dark gray and put strokes of that over the lighter splotches that I wasn't happy with.  This process may have continued forever if not for the fact that my son came over and said he liked it just the way it was. Or did he say he loved it? Yeah, I'm sure that was it!  ;)

And here's the finished product - Ta Da! I told Shelly I wanted the table to be black and gray (neutral enough so that maybe one day his future wife will want to keep it) and to be honest; I thought the paint she gave me was too light. As you can see, the polyurethane darkened it considerably. I decided to go with the poly rather than the wax coating Shelly sells because twenty-something single guys are not too delicate when it comes to furniture.

The original metal legs weren't looking too good either, so I spruced them up with some silver Rust-Oleum paint with a hammered finish. I love this paint, and in the past I've also used it on a floor lamp and many of my heat registers.

If you like this type of furniture, you simply MUST go visit my friend Shelly at Shizzle Design.  This is nothing compared to some of the things she does!


I've been known to link up with: Monday's Reflections, Inspire Me MondayLiving Proverbs 31, The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates With God, Soli Deo GloriaUnite, Titus 2sdaysTell Me a StoryTeach Me Tuesdays, Tutorials and Tips, Knick of Time, A Little R&R Wednesdays, Hope in Every Season, Doing You Well Wednesday, Thriving Thursday, The HomeAcre Hop, Think Tank Thursdays, Thrive at Home, Inspire Me PleaseHome Sweet Home Funky Junk Interiors, Friendship Friday, Feathered Nest Friday, Frugal Friday, Thrifty Things Friday,  #Fellowship Fridays, Heart-Filled Fridays,  Make My Saturday Sweet, What Have You Redone, DIY Sunday Showcase , Think Pink Sundays, Best Blog Post Ever,

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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 7 comments

Out of sight, out of mind.

I've found this idiom is quite often true for me. 

Sometimes I wonder if it's true for God too.

Despite being unseasonably cold, the daffodils I had planted along the driveway were once again beginning to make their grand entrance.  A few weeks ago as I was walking down to my mailbox it occurred to me that many of the plants seemed to be missing. I was sure there should be more...  

Because I (and some grumbling children, if memory serves me correctly) was the one to plant the bulbs, I had a good idea of where the plants should appear. 

Sort of. 

Sure enough, upon closer inspection, I saw just a few tips of the green sprigs that managed to fight their way through an over abundance of dead leaves.  


Since these plants needed sunlight if they were to mature, I gently began removing layer after layer of obstructions.  While the leaves were originally a great help to the plants, protecting them from the harsh elements of winter, that season had now passed and what had once been a help had now become a hindrance.  

The more layers of dead leaves I removed, the more small sickly sprigs I saw.

While the plants on the other side of the driveway were a healthy green, these that had been fighting for sunlight were a lackluster yellow.  

Can you relate to these plants? Have you ever felt like you were buried by life's circumstances; crushed under an immoveable weight? Does what was once a security blanket now feel like its smothering you? I've been there, both in the past and the present.  

I know at times like this I should look to God and ask Him to give me feet to walk the path I'm on, but when I'm in the thick of struggle generally what comes out of my mouth is more along the lines of, "Please, make it stop! Get me out of here!" 

Sometimes I wonder where God is; has He forgotten about me? I question why He hasn't come to my rescue already. I wonder what it is He wants me to learn now. Maybe you've wondered the same things.

Thankfully, God keeps much better track of us than I do my daffodils. He never forgets where we are. David reminds of us this truth in Psalm 145:18 when he said, "The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth."

In my experience, every struggle I've had has ultimately served to draw me closer to God and taught me to rely more heavily upon Him. Though it might not be what you want to hear in the midst of your situation, it's true that God can bring good out of even the worst of circumstances. Just as in nature, after every winter there comes a spring.

When we're feeling overwhelmed by life's circumstances, it's imperative that we fill our mind with the truth of God's Word, for He has said, 

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; 
you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; 

the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God, 
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;" 

~ Isaiah 43:1b-3a

The truth is that with God you are never out of sight, or out of mind!


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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 12 comments


We first met Lee back in the fall of 2005. An international Bible organization was holding their annual conference at our church and they were looking for people willing to house some of the attendees. Since we had a couple of extra beds and enjoy meeting new people, we agreed to open up our home to two of the gentlemen attending.

The weekend of the conference we enjoyed the company of both Tom, on the left, and Lee, on the right. At the end of the weekend Tom commented that we may not see each other again this side of eternity, and to this day we haven't. Lee, however, is another story entirely! Our relationship with him continues despite the fact that we live in Michigan and he lives in California.

We just love Lee to death! He's an adventurer, a missionary, and probably the most upbeat person we've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Now into his 80's, he still runs circles around me! He - along with his new bride, whom he became reacquainted with at their 50-year college reunion, shortly after we met - was in town a few years later to attend the same conference and, though it was held at a different location, again he stayed with us. 

Whenever we have overnight guests I invite them to make themselves at home and help themselves to anything in the kitchen. Since rummaging around someone else's pantry can feel awkward, I've gotten into the habit of putting a small basket of snacks in the guest room so visitors can eat at their leisure. Knowing from his previous visit that Lee is a huge fan of fruit, for his second visit I placed a basket of it in the room where he would be staying. He was very pleased by the gesture, but I had no idea what a huge impact this simple gift made. 

Lee and his wife visited with us in Michigan at least one other time, and the last time we went to see Bob's brother in California we were able to stop in and visit Lee. In between we've kept in touch by phone, with Lee always calling just when we seem to need a word of encouragement. And without fail, EVERY time I answer the phone the call begins along these lines:

"Is this the woman who puts fruit out in a basket for a weary traveler? As long as I live I will never forget..."


I just finished reading a super-fun book; "I Like Giving" by Brad Formsma. In it, Formsma shares some of his giving experiences and explains the origins of the "I Like Giving" movement. The book covers every aspect of giving you can imagine - where to start, how to do it, setting boundaries, involving your entire family - all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum - receiving. He even has a chapter on the science of giving; citing studies that prove money can buy happiness - when that money is spent on someone else. 

The book not only shares Brad's experiences, but is filled with stories just like the one I just shared; stories on the blessings of giving that come to the giver. Reading it just made me want to say, "I want that!" and go out and bless someone! These personal accounts are sprinkled throughout the book with surprising titles such as, "I Like Turbulence.", "I Like Scars." and "I Like Payphones." as well as fun titles like, "I Like Coffee and Pink Lipstick."

True to their spirit of giving, they even gave me some books to give away! I already had the opportunity to give away one, but I have TWO more to give away here!

Congratulations to our two winners, Laura and Lynne! An email has been sent instructing you how to claim your book.


Linking to the HOST
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