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Thursday, October 2, 2014


Since my last post, summer has come and gone.  We spent our time on sabbatical, resting and recharging for the fall.  It was much needed after 7 non-stop years of church planting!

So, as far as the big changes in my life, there have been three:

Abigail started Kindergarten and loves it!

We are expecting twin girls February 2015!  Yes, that's right...two of them.
More to come about this blessing :)

This is our current master bedroom.  When we bought our home, we had plans to put a bathroom & larger closet in.  With the twins coming, we figured it would be a good time to get it done, so dust & noise have been my constant companions the past few weeks.  We've done much hardware store, thrift store, and Craigslist shopping to finish this project, so there will probably be lots of crafty stuff to post soon!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Abigail's Pirate Party

Our eldest daughter, Abigail, celebrated her 5th birthday last month, pirate-style!

Pirate party food was in order, so I cooked up some Ocean Catch (raspberry jello & Swedish fish) and Mini Bagel Boats (mini bagels, strawberry cream cheese, Wilton pirate flag toothpicks).

We also served bags of Pirate's Booty, Sword Fruit Kabobs, and Gold Nuggets (cubed cheddar cheese).

And, of course, a pirate cake was in order!  I usually stick with cupcakes since they are simple and I am definitely not a baker, but this cake I found on Pinterest was too adorable, and it seemed rather easy to assemble.  I'm glad I tried, because it turned out great and Abigail loved the lit cannons she blew out as her friends sang her the birthday song.

We decorated pretty simply, and had empty goody bags for everyone that they filled with treasures (chocolate coins, eye patches, pirate hooks, jewels, skull necklaces) from the treasure chest after each gamed played.

Abigail's friends came dressed in their best pirate garb!

They watched the Jake and the Neverland Pirates birthday episode as everyone was being dropped off.  I found this to be a good way to keep the energy level down while kids filed in.  It also helped some of the kids that were a little unsure of being dropped off assimilate into the swing of things :)

And onto the games! The kids loved trying to keep the "cannon balls" in the air without letting them touch the ground.  

Abigail's very talented Paw-Paw read  "How I Became a Pirate" by Melinda Long.  This is such an imaginative book that I would highly recommend!  

Pirate bean bag toss was pretty easy, but became much more difficult with a pirate's hook on one's hand.

X marks the spot! Walking the plank, crawling through the tunnel, and hopping on one leg to the X brought each pirate kid to the end of the obstacle course where they received a pirate's sword.

Thank you, friends & family, for making this such a memorable birthday for our big 5-year-old!

We love you, Abigail!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

An Open Letter to Pastors Regarding Mental Health Hospitalization

Pastors & Church Leaders,

You probably don't know me, so I appreciate you reading this letter.  What I'm writing to you about is the result of a few years of processing this subject. Yes, sometimes it takes me awhile to come to conclusions about things.  I'm pretty sure one could come to a quick conclusion about the church's role in walking along someone dealing with mental health issues, but the processing that I'm talking about is coming from seeing first hand the presence and absence of the community of Christ in a person's life.  Jesus saw then had compassion, right?  To some, it may be surprising that the presence of mental health struggles is more prevalent on a Sunday morning than you think.  Therefore, there has been a lot to see, feel, and take in.  My name is Kristin, and I'm a Christian and former mental health therapist.  I say "former," because I currently spend my working hours caring for my two little girls as home as a stay-at-home mom.  I am still a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of NC with an M.A. in counseling psychology, and find that my previous experiences have given me a a window into ministering to those who struggle.  And we all struggle, right? My husband is a pastor of a church we planted five years ago in downtown Raleigh.  As someone in full time ministry now, I would encourage you church leaders to hear me out as a peer and someone else fighting the good fight with you.

There is much to say about mental health in the church and many different opinions on its origins and treatment.  This is NOT what this letter is about.  What this letter is about is an exhortation to do the sometimes hard thing of being the Biblical church to those struggling.  What do I mean by that?

Well, let me back up a bit.  Unless you've personally been through major mental health struggles or been close to someone who has, the idea of mental health may just be a picture of what you've seen in a movie. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or A Beautiful Mind, perhaps?  Let me give you a general idea of mental health hospitalization, at least from my experiences in three states and in various roles as a mental health professional.   I know that there are various camps out there with opinions on medication and different types of therapy, but hear me out, please!  This is not a dialogue about that...I just want you to know from where someone that walks into your door might be coming.
1. Someone is hospitalized because they are either a threat to themselves or someone else.  In other words, they may be suicidal, not able to make safe decisions that will keep them physically safe, or threatening to harm someone else.  This individual may have just attempted to take their own life, overdosed due to an addiction, or had a psychotic break.  To put it simply, they are broken people (like we all are) at a very low point. 
2. Most hospitalizations last 5-10 days.  The main goal of hospitalization is stabilization, so treatment (medication, therapy, etc.) is focused on getting the person to a place where they are no longer a threat to themselves or someone else.  Working towards this goal, medication is often administered/tweaked, therapy (individual, group, & family) occurs, and the individual is discharged with a plan for continuing outpatient treatment.  It is majorly intense both for the individual and their families.  Trust me, emotions run high. 
3. An individual's discharge plan usually includes a follow-up appointment with a psychiatrist, an appointment with an outpatient therapist, and hopefully a toolbox of things learned regarding coping skills, insight, and support.
And that's where you come in, church.  I've been a counselor in both inpatient and outpatient settings, and I cannot tell you how important the bride of Christ is at this juncture for an individual being discharged.  The role of the therapist or case worker creating the discharge plan is one of great responsibility as he/she helps the individual transition back into the world with services in place to hopefully prevent a future hospitalization. So, with that in mind, I cannot begin to tell you what a tremendous blessing it is to have solid churches in the community that offer services and support.  I believe that God is the great healer and that only through His Spirit can we grow and really change.  Therefore, I am comforted when someone is discharged from an inpatient setting and into the care of an outpatient Christian counselor and the community of believers that helps to meet real needs, prays for them, points them to the cross, and accepts responsibility to Biblically love them.

I humbly urge you to consider the following steps that you, as a leader in the church, can take to extend the love of Christ to those struggling with mental health issues:
  • Seize the evangelistic opportunity. The church oftentimes has the evangelistic opportunity to demonstrate and proclaim the Gospel to a hurting person for the first time.  The individual may have had a bad experience in the past with the church or Christians, so love them well by being faithful to articulate and demonstrate fully the Gospel that saves!  Many times, questions surrounding death, hope, and faith often arise after the initial reason for the individual's hospitalization.  They are broken, or close to it, so it can be the perfect juncture to ask about these things, and an individual may be open to talking about such topics.
  • Step up to the plate on issues such as Biblical community and discipleship.  Don't be afraid of being a healthy church that cares for the individual by exhorting, discipling, and Biblically disciplining them when needed.  Some individuals with chronic mental health issues can honestly be hard to work with.  They are oftentimes ignored or allowed to create havoc because of the difficulty in working with them.  Please, be the church and do what God calls us to do in terms of extending grace and calling out sin in a loving way.  We do this in love and with the hope of restoration, so this may be the only place the individual hears this type of truth in the context of love.
  • Implement Biblical church membership.  First, understand what Biblical church membership is and is not. One of the benefits of healthy church membership is knowing who is under your care as a pastor.  Our church recently had a sermon on Biblical church membership called Making Membership Meaningful (click here to listen to the podcast) and one of the points was that since pastors are held accountable for the souls of those they shepherd (Hebrews 13:17), they need to know who is in their flock.  There are a million things a pastor has on his plate, trust me, I know!  So, enjoy the benefit of knowing where to most wisely spend your time and energy.
  • Refer with intentionality and care. Pastors, know the Biblically solid counselors in your community to whom you can refer.  You may not have the specific training to deal with specific situations, but as the individual's shepherd, you have the responsibility to care for their soul, so guide them to someone you trust can walk with them through life's struggles while pointing them to the Gospel.
Please note that I'm not necessarily suggesting the creation of programs or hosting community AA meetings. As the previous suggestions are lived out, your church may end up implementing a host of different programs or creating your own from scratch.  However, I do not believe that programs can effectively drive the church. Biblical conviction does.  If the things God calls the church to be aren't convictions, no program or community outreach can really have the impact that will last.  In other words, strive towards Biblical health for your church and these things will naturally follow.

Pastors and church leaders, thank you for giving your life to glorifying God by serve the body of believers. Thank you for loving your flock.  I sincerely appreciate what you do.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

No-Sew Fabric Embroidery Hoops

We moved into a new house a little over a year ago, and were blessed with much more space.  Included in this extra space was a laundry room (and an amazing washer/dryer set...props to my hubby & our realtor for good negotiation skills!) filled with natural light.  I loved the clean feel of the room, but noticed that it needed a little pop of color.  I always enjoy browsing the beautiful fabrics at the store, but I can {barely} sew.  Enter in my no-sew fabric embroidery hoops!

These fun fabrics came from Walmart...who knew?

Materials needed: fabric, embroidery hoops of assorted sizes, scissors, hot glue gun

First, iron the material nice and flat.

Next, place the material in the embroidery hoop, making sure that it is even and that your material is centered where you want it.  Tighten the hoop with the screw, and pull the material, stretching it a little so that it is taut in the hoop.
Lastly, tack down the material to the back of the embroidery hoop so that it doesn't slip through once it's on the wall.  Trim off the excess material, and voila!

Hammer a nail in the wall, and hang the hoop from the little space under the tightening screw.
A nice little bit of color without having to sew!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Burlap Monogrammed Wreath

Our front door needed a little pick-me-up, so I came across some easy wreath-making ideas on Pinterest that mashed together to personalize something for our home.
First, I started with the above materials: wreath form, wooden letter, scissors, marker, felt sheets, roll of teal chevron burlap (awesome Walmart find for less than $3!), hot glue gun, and circle templates
(pot lid & CD).
Snugly wrap the burlap around the wreath form, making sure to overlap the edges so the wreath form is completely covered.
Hot glue the end of the burlap down to the back of the wreath.
Next, start making the felt flowers by tracing and cutting out circles from the felt sheets.
Cut a spiral into the circle, starting from the edge and working your way to the middle.
Starting from the middle of the spiral, roll the felt around, tacking with glue every couple rolls, until you've rolled the entire spiral into a flower.
See how easy that was?  You can create different size flowers based on how big your circle is.
I decided to paint my wooden letter white, so I sprayed a coat of white as well as a coat of clear gloss to give it a more finished look.
Finally, arrange the letter and flowers on the wreath before hot gluing them down.
Be generous with the hot glue!
Ta da!  A little pop of color and personalization for less than $8  :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Keys & Burlap

Note: This was the last blog entry at my old blog, A Day in the Life.  I just wanted to have this craft on the new site so I could document my burlap addiction all in one place :)

A few things to know before we begin...I am still trying to find cute and frugal ways to decorate my new house.  We moved in this past January, we're on a tight budget (well, at least I put myself on one after completing Financial Peace University), and I still don't have things decorated completely. I know it takes time, but I'm the type of person that thrives in organized, completed environments, so getting decor up is essential to my mental health.  Secondly, I am obsessed with burlap.  I am trying to not have it in EVERY single room of my house, but it is slowly creeping in.  Oh well.

Brown frame from Goodwill: $1.99
Roll of laminated burlap from Michaels: $2.99
Four metal keys from Michaels: $4.00
White frame: Free (it was left in our house when we moved in)
1. Pop out the picture frame glass and whatever art is in it and find another use for it
2. Cut a piece of burlap to fit the opening of the frame and hot glue it to the picture frame backing
3. Hot glue the keys onto the burlap
4. Pop it all back in the frame

See how easy that was?!  So, for $8.98, I ended up with these finished products:

I found a place for the keys in our front room.  A big ole wall was calling out for a little more than what was already there, so I made a collage of a few pieces of wall art and mementos.  So happy with the result!  What do you think?  And I barely made a dent in the roll of burlap, so I have plenty left to infiltrate the rest of the house!