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Archive for the month “March, 2013”

Happiness or joy?

Would you choose happiness or joy?

“Count it all joy, my brethren. . . “ James 1:2  What is joy? How is it different from happiness? Why does it, sometimes, seem so elusive? And here’s the big question: aren’t we as believers supposed to be joy-filled always? A similar question was posed by a friend of mine on Facebook the other day—

“I am curious. . . how do you define true happiness?”

Wow! I couldn’t let that opportunity slip by. Here was my answer–

“Happiness is temporary, fleeting, and dependent on our circumstances. But true joy is found—separate from life’s trials and frustrations—in a personal relationship with Christ. I’m happy sometimes, but I am joy-filled always.”

It’s taken many years of God’s teaching, my failing, and prayers upon prayers to not only learn that truth but to live and walk in it on a daily basis. I’ve had times when I was neither happy nor joy-filled. I’m not proud to say that. I’ve run way down the road of self-pity and doubt about God’s purpose for me. And always, along that road, I snatched at the things I thought I wanted; things that I thought would make me happy—nice clothes, a lovely home, beauty, attention, education, and so much more. Was I happy momentarily? Probably. But that is the agonizing thing about happiness—poof! It’s gone. The world would truly have us believe that we can achieve a constant state of happiness and contentment. Just get the perfect body. Just get the big enough paycheck. Just get the big enough house and the well-behaved children. There. There you will find a constant state of happiness. That is the lie Satan would have us believe. And the world does a great job of dangling Satan’s carrot in front of our noses.

So what are we to do now that we realize that happiness is the ever-moving pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Sit and lick our wounds? Be one of those Eyore Christians? No, instead of chasing after happiness, we choose joy! Yeah, I know. Doesn’t that sound sweet and really Christian-y? But joy really is a daily choice, and the Bible has so much to say about choosing joy.

Psalm 105:3 says, “Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.”

Seek God every day with praise and thanksgiving, and you will find joy.

Psalm 16:11 states, “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”

God’s presence is God’s Word; it is prayer; it is thinking on His truth throughout the day—there you will find joy.

In the fellowship and encouragement of other believers, there you will find joy. John makes this point here in 2 John 1:12 ”Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that our joy may be made full.”

But the deepest rooted joy can only be found at the foot of the cross in the humility of what Christ has done for us. That is the staying joy, the joy that lights the dark places of life, the joy that comforts our heart when we agonize on our knees. Romans 5:2 proclaims “through whom [Jesus Christ] we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

I would choose joy any day over happiness.





Jen’s Junk: Easy stuff–really!

Are you one of those people who likes the whole “junk trend” but don’t really get how to do it. You know, the one who comes home with this cool box of rusty bed springs purchased for the great price of two bucks, eyes aglow with anticipation of nifty projects. But you’re greeted with a baffled look from your husband and the ominous question, “Sooooo, what’re you going to do with those?” “Well,” you stammer, “lots of things. . . like stuff on Pinterest. . .” But the box slowly migrates from the kitchen table, to the basement stairs, to the murky crawl space.

Or, maybe you have great ideas but just don’t have the time to get them done. Me. That would be me. I have awesome old trim pieces, doors, spindles, even some crackled wainscot, boxes of enameled doorknobs, spiffy hinges and window locks all begging for transformation. Alas, the bane of every crafter-gardener-junker-mother: too many ideas, too much stuff, not enough time. So, the ideas I want to share are all things that you can just find in your junking journeys, bring home, and use. No prep, no painting, no added supplies needed. I hope they spur you on to some ideas of your own.

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      You really can’t go wrong purchasing a mirror. The two round ones above are men’s shaving mirrors that were meant to stand on a a dresser or shelf. I simply used some ribbon to hang them.

    I also love the chip-edged mirrors, but they’re becoming harder to find. The longer, round-topped one (above left) is unique because of the etching and small thermometer at the top. The mirror (right) was a cast-off from my brother. He asked if I had any use for it. Are you crazy? Yes!! It found a home in my daughter’s room who loves the fact that she can see all sides of her hair in this mirror!

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     Does anyone recognize this? These are the old monster paper clips! I think my mom used these to gain some control over all the English papers she graded. I had three of these lying around for quite a while. Again, I knew there was some clever thing I could use them for. Think, think, think .

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                                Jewelry hangers!

I spaced them evenly on the wall next to my dresser and nailed them up! Perfect for all those long necklaces and beads that were cluttering up my jewelry drawer. It’s really not hard pick one out and slip it off it’s hook. How handy to have them in plain sight, too.

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 Ya gotta love the old, wooden, folding measuring sticks. I remember playing with my dad’s. (I wonder if he has it still?) But how easy is it to shape it into a star and tuck it up somewhere? I usually have mine up on a windowsill but needed a better picture spot. At some of my favorite junking spots, they go for $8-12, but I’m sure you could find them at garage sales for a lot less.

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Best deal ever! An old hymnal rack for .50 at a garage sale! I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but some things you just can’t pass up. I tucked it into a corner of  our dining room, and it’s the perfect spot for the Sunday paper. Or, as you can see, other goodies that I just can’t part with or still need to peruse. Voila! No more piles on the desk!

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Yes, I’m a wanna-be-try-to-be-sometimes organized scrapbooker. I came across a pile of these great, old cheese boxes at a tag sale a while back. I think I bought eight for $8. I’ve filled some with goodies and given them away as gifts, some serve as candle holders, and this one makes a handy caddy for markers and scissors on my craft table.

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Rusty baking tins and school flash cards make simple kitchen arrangements. Easy to hang with the metal plate hangers. I just bend them to fit around the sides of the tins. Interesting flash cards are getting harder to find, but another option is old postcards. Love those! I have them for every season!

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And here are some of the of old post cards! I tuck them into metal   flower frogs. Keep an eye out for these. They come in some unique  shapes. Round ones are common and are priced around $6-12. The more unusual the shape the higher the price. I love to use them to hold a recipe on the counter or a verse on my dresser.

O.k., I lied. . .

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These cute magnets take a little bit of prep. But who doesn’t like to fire up her glue gun for a quick project? Every once in a while I buy some specialty root beer, apple cider, or some good, ol’ Orange Crush. Save the caps! Hot glue a strong magnet inside, and you’re good to go! Do the same with antique buttons. How fun is that for hanging up the school papers?

In case you’re wondering, (hmmmm, I’m not sure I should share this) some of my favorite junking spots in central Iowa are JB Knacker in Gilbert or Found Things in Des Moines’s East Village. For flea markets, hit the What Cheer markets in April, August, or October. I hope you found useful ideas here, or something that kicked your creativity into gear. If you did or if you have ideas to share, I’d love to hear from you!

Enjoy your junk!

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