Giant Prints on a Budget


I love displaying family photos. It adds a personal touch to my home and reminds me of fun memories and the people I love most. Unfortunately, it can be expensive to purchase the printed canvasses or the frames and gigantic photos. Here’s a solution I’ve found that costs me less than $7.

Go to your favorite office supply store website and locate their blueprint printing services. Upload your photo and choose your preferred size. I like the 18″x24″ print that costs less than $2. Sometimes you’ll have to play around with the “Fit to Size” feature to get the right crop. Choose the color finish or the black and white finish. Add it to your cart and complete your order. My photos are always ready by the end of the day but are sometimes as fast as one hour.

Next, to stay within your budget, look for frames on clearance. I got this 16″x20″ frame for $4 at my local Hobby Lobby. Sometimes they’ll be banged up a bit but we used a bit of Old English to cover the scrapes on this one. You could also paint your frame with some leftover paint from the last project you did. ūüôā

Because this frame was smaller than my print size (OfficeMax doesn’t offer 16″x20″ blueprints) I did have to trim it to fit the frame. It was super easy. Lay the glass (without the frame) over the area you want displayed. Lightly trace the perimeter, remove the glass, and cut out your print.

This project was about $6. The photo, shot by my brother at our Easter celebration this year, is of my three younger sisters and me and is displayed in my younger sisters’ room.

This is another frame I got on clearance. This 18″x24″ frame cost only $5 because the glass was cracked.  I didn’t bother to replace the glass and have had no issues with the print falling out of the frame. I actually like the look of it without the glass. It’s a lovely matte finish.

This project cost about $7. This photo is a selfie I snapped with my sister Anna. 

So there you have it, an inexpensive way to display your favorite photos. Find some deals and enjoy decorating!

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Why I’m Not Waiting for Marriage


For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a wife and mother when I grew up. I liked dreaming of marrying the Man someday. We would have a big family and life would be perfect. Being the oldest sister of 10 siblings meant I got lots of mothering practice in. ūüôā There was usually a new sibling every two years and I loved it. I liked the responsibility that came with being a big sister. I learned how to take care of the infant, potty train the two-year-old, teach the five-year-old to read, play with the seven-year-old and so on. Mom taught me to cook and clean and do laundry. I couldn’t wait to be married.

So what happens when you’re in your twenties (or thirties) and you haven’t met your Man yet? Or maybe you think you’ve met him but he’s taking his time to come calling? What happens when the days grow long and years slowly tick by without any sign of marriage? Do you give up the notion of marriage? Do you start chasing the fellow you think is “the One”?

I have read many excellent books on singlehood and preparing for marriage. I’ve observed many young single women. I have gotten advice from older married women. And I found the answer to all of those questions. Are you ready for it?

FIND A VISION BIGGER THAN YOURSELF.

It’s that simple. And it’s that beautiful. Find a vision bigger than yourself. Turn your focus from yourself to something much, much bigger than you. Build your existence on Jesus Christ. Here are a couple of practical ways to find your vision.

1. Focus on God

  • Spend time in God’s Word. 

These single years can hold the sweetest times of fellowship with God. Because you’re not in a relationship, you can focus on deepening your relationship with your Heavenly Father. Find a Bible reading plan. Set goals for yourself. Find a Bible study book and work through it. Journal truths that you’re learning.

  • Grow your prayer life.

Practice the habit of talking to God throughout your day. Commit your day to the Lord as soon as you wake up in the morning. Share your thoughts with your Father as you’re busy at work, or helping a sibling, or doing the twentieth load of laundry in a day. Confess sin and make issues right. Pray for your family members, pray for your pastor and your church family. 

  • Memorize Scripture.

I’m going to admit here that I have not been as faithful as I should be in Scripture memory. Pick a passage and an accountability partner and start memorizing. Find a passage that has blessed you during trials. Memorize a verse that has been a challenge to you. (Send me an email if you’d like to join me in accountability for this summer.) 

2. Focus on others

  • Build your relationships with your parents.

I cannot emphasize this one enough. It is so very important to build a strong relationship with your parents. Spend time with them. Confide in them. Share your deepest struggles and your greatest victories with them. Our parents want to help us but they can’t if we’re not sharing our hearts with them. 

  • Spend time with your siblings.

Find fun activities to do with them. Take them out for ice cream. Listen to them. Did you know you can grow your vocabulary by listening to your siblings talk about their lives? With 10 siblings all interested in various topics and working in various professions, I’ve been able to learn many fun little bits of information. ūüôā (Do you know what a “roux” is? Thanks to my younger sister, I now know.)

  • Get to know the older people at your church. 

There is a wealth of knowledge that my generation is failing to obtain because we’re so busy with our work, our devices, and our good times. Take time to stop and listen to their stories. As you get to know them, compile a list of questions to ask them. What was your favorite thing to do as a child? How did you meet your spouse? Where did you work? What was an important Biblical truth you wish you had learned sooner?     

  • Find ways to serve and bless others.

Use your single years to continue learning new skills and gaining valuable experiences. Learn basic plumbing, take a class on floral design, learn a new language, expand your kitchen skills, go on a missions trip. The options are endless. As you continue to learn, you’ll increase your ability to bless others. Find a young mother at your church who could use some help. Volunteer to wash the dishes, change diapers, clean, whatever she needs you to do for an entire day. If you’re a math whiz, tutor a struggling sibling. Practice your kitchen skills by baking a loaf of bread and deliver it to a neighbor.

I’m not going to pretend that I have singlehood figured out. I still have many areas where I need to grow. But that’s one of the beauties of building your existence on Jesus. When we surrender to Him, He molds us into His image. That truth excites me! We have a God who wants to use us, His creation.

Also, before I close I should state that I still want to be a wife and mother someday. ūüôā I still like to dream about my wedding day and having a family of my own. But that’s not where God has me right now. God has a plan carefully tailored just for me if I’m willing to surrender to Him. And He has a plan for you, too. Will you let Him use you during these beautiful days of singlehood?

Honduras Missions Trip

During the month of March, I was able to take my third missions trip. I traveled with Wings Bearing Precious Seed again and had a wonderful time. Missions trips never get old! New cultures, new friends, and new experiences are such fun. This time, I experienced things like airline delays, getting sick, God’s enabling strength,¬†being¬†pulled over by the police (twice!), late night games, and uplifting conversations with fellow believers, to name a few.

Just getting to Honduras was an adventure. A Wisconsin snowstorm and mechanical problems on my flight caused me to miss my connecting flight in Miami, FL. Five of my team members had also experienced delays and missed the flight to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The six of us stayed the night in Miami and continued our trip the following day. We finally arrived in Siguatepeque, Honduras, late Tuesday afternoon.

Despite our late arrival, we were still able to do much. Wednesday through Saturday, we went out on the streets and passed out copies of Romans and an invitation to special meetings on Saturday and Sunday. The Hondurans were very receptive and rarely did anyone turn down an invitation. I was able to go to a market one morning with several team members and we passed out many, many invitations. It was so encouraging to see God work!

Our efforts were not in vain. We passed out a total of 27,300 Scriptures throughout the week. We had many guests at each of the services and gave 252 Bibles to first-time visitors. The most exciting part was seeing over 25 precious souls accept Christ. Seeing God work through human vessels is humbling. I trust that the wonder of being used by God will never get old.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was getting to know the Snyder family. The Ted Snyder family has been missionaries in Honduras for almost three years. (Fun fact: my family visited their home church years ago while we were on vacation in New York.)¬†From helping at a children’s Bible Club¬†to singing together in church to enjoying a coffee break, it was wonderful to be able to work with this dear family. They are amazing examples of Christ-love as they have taken 4 young Honduran children into their home and are raising them to love the Lord.

I also enjoyed the opportunity to play the violin and piano for each of the services. It was a stretching experience as I learned to improvise piano accompaniments for several vocal specials. Piano playing has never been my forte (pardon the pun) but God enabled. He gave me the strength to play in spite of my lack of ability and despite being sick. Missions trips are a great way to realize how weak you are and how mighty God is.

“Therefore, my beloved¬†brethren, be ye stedfast,¬†unmovable, always¬†abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” I Corinthians 15:58

The following pictures are not all mine. Thanks to various team members for allowing me to use your photos.

Waiting for the shuttle in Miami. It had been a long day.

School Outreach

Evening at the Snyders

Services 

Bible Club

Miscellaneous Pictures

Sightseeing Day

 

Travel Day

Light of the Last | Book Review

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Light of the Last is the final book in the trilogy, Wars of¬†the Realm,¬†by Chuck Black. This book is even better than the first two and is filled with plot twists. In¬†Light of the Last, you’ll encounter ISIS, angels, technology, and Ebola.

The angel Validus is charged with the increasingly difficult job of protecting the unbelieving Drew Carter. As a CIA agent, Drew is faced with decisions that will change the destiny of America. He is surrounded by spiritual warriors and is being targeted by demons. The angels believe they are guarding the man who will be the final salvation before Jesus comes back. Is Drew the final salvation? Will the Fallen be successful in causing the death of Drew? If Drew fails to accept Jesus, does Satan win the final victory?

Though¬†Light of¬†the Last is a fictional story, it is thought-provoking. I highly recommend that you use the Readers’ Guide (included at the end of the book). I disagreed theologically with a concept presented in the first book but am glad I read all three books. The issue was resolved on the very last page.

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Disclaimer: Blogging for Books sent this book to me in exchange for my honest and thoughtful review. 

Guatemala Missions Trip

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I recently had the privilege of going on my second missions trip. I love missions trips! They are a crazy mix of excitement, exhaustion, and encouragement. ūüôā I love seeing God take the impossible and miraculously work through human vessels to complete His plan.¬†It’s thrilling!

During my trip to Guatemala, it was exciting to see God work in so many different ways. He enabled us to distribute over 48,000 copies of Romans to the people of Guatemala. As a result, 175 visitors attended the special services at Iglesia Bautista Fundamento Biblico. Throughout the three services, we saw 51 people accept Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Praise the Lord! We ministered in two different schools and reached hundreds of children, teenagers, and young adults with the Gospel. Over 25 people were saved in the schools. A young man from one of the schools came out to the services and accepted Christ.

We walked for miles every day. Sometimes up steep streets, sometimes through crowded marketplaces, and sometimes through bad neighborhoods. Our feet blistered, we got sunburned, and our shoulders ached with the weight of our backpacks. It was exhausting work. We had some early mornings and some late nights. But the discomfort and exhaustion was worth every minute as we saw 10 individuals accept Christ on the streets of Guatemala City.

I came home encouraged and humbled. I was encouraged to see the nationals passionate about sharing the Gospel with the lost. I loved watching the young people of Iglesia Bautisa Fundamento Biblico open a Bible and declare the Gospel during the invitations. It was a blessing to work with other Americans to spread the Good News. Souls were reached for eternity because 18 people chose to follow God out of their comfort zone.¬†God delights in using His children to accomplish His plan. I am humbled to think that God wanted to use¬†an English-speaking girl to spread His Word in a Spanish-speaking country. As I used my few phrases of Spanish to hand out the Gospel and invite lost souls to church, God used me. There is nothing special about me; it’s only Jesus.

If you ever get a chance to go on a missions trip, do it. It will be an experience you will never forget. After I got home¬†I shared with my cousin in a text, “I came home with a renewed love for lost souls, a deeper hunger for God’s Word, and a desire to learn more Spanish so that I can communicate better.” Missions trips will change you. They will change your perspective on life and eternity. They will change the way you interact with people on the street. They will change¬†your walk with God.

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, here am I; send me.” Isaiah 6:8

School Outreaches

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So many of the kids wanted selfies.

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Street Outreach

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We walked through so many markets like this one. At the busier ones, you could easily hand out several hundred Scriptures.

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Church Services

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Fellowshipping in the courtyard after church.

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First-time visitors received a free Bible.

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Sightseeing in Antigua

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Yes, that is an active volcano.

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The streets are all cobblestone.

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Fellowship and New Friends (Most of these pictures are from other team members.)
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Frisbee in the church courtyard.

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Pastor Garcia and his wife, Stephanie

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Mrs. Philbrick and I were partners for the week. We had a great time together. ūüôā

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Brittney and Abbey

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This picture of our entire team was taken at 4 a.m. on the morning we came home. Left to right: Mark and Tammy Philbrick, Jon and Kristi Nothstein, David Lord, Nathaniel Johnson, Chris King, Brittney Johnson, Hunter Philbrick, Luke Philbrick, Dema Johnson, Silas Philbrick, Allen Johnson, Abbie Sikma, Abbey Grimes, and Alan Harris.

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Saying “goodbye” at the airport.

Priceless Weddings for Under $5000 | Book Review

As someone who spends my money carefully, this book caught my eye. I am not currently planning a wedding but I do like to plan ahead and do my research. The book, Priceless Weddings for Under $5,000, is touted to be a manual for the low-budget bride.

Kathleen Kennedy divides the chapters by the various areas of a wedding that a bride needs to think about. She starts the book by encouraging¬†the reader to break the wedding into 10 key steps. Steps include determining priorities, drafting a budget, and finalizing details. Her most important step is the final one, “Relax and enjoy your wedding!” If you’re stressed about the money spent on your big day, you’re not going to be relaxed.

The planning side of the book was informative but the money-saving tips were not all that helpful. Several of her tips were merely suggestions to have a friend do it for you.¬†For a large wedding, I don’t know how practical it would be to have a friend provide all the food. Many of the weddings featured in the book had small guest lists, in which case it wouldn’t be as difficult to have friends provide different services.

I definitely would not recommend this book to a bride as a “must-buy.” Perusal of a library copy may be helpful but don’t set your heart on saving lots of money. You would be better off browsing Pinterest for money-saving wedding ideas. If you like planning suggestions, you may find the book helpful.

Blogging for Books provided this book in exchange for my honest, thoughtful review. 

Chocolate Zucchini Bread | Recipes

One of my favorite things about summer is the recipes I discover while¬†searching for ways to use up excess zucchini. Zucchini usually takes on the flavor of¬†what it’s being baked with and adds a nice moistness to your baked goods. Several years ago, I discovered this recipe and it’s become one of my favorites.¬†

 

Source

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

3 large eggs
2 Cups sugar
1 Cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 TB. butter
6 TB. cocoa
2 Cups zucchini, grated
2 Cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
11/2 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 Cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350¬į. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract. Mix until well blended. In a small saucepan, melt 2 TB. butter, add 6 TB. cocoa powder and blend together until smooth. Set aside to cool. Peel and grate the zucchini. Add zucchini and cooled cocoa mixture to the large mixing bowl and blend well. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and chocolate chips. Add dry ingredients to the batter. Stir only enough to blend in all the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter into two generously greased and floured loaf pans. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes. Remove from pans and continue to cool on a wire rack.

How to Get Dressed | Book Review

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a strong believer in women dressing modestly. God created me to be a woman and I believe it’s important to for me to dress in a way that distinctly shows that I am a woman. But almost as important as dressing modestly is dressing neatly.

Enter: How To Get Dressed by Alison Freer. This book is an excellent resource of style-related advice. Alison, a costume designer, guides you through rethinking your wardrobe. Chapters include topics such as proper fit, alterations, fashion rules, wardrobe tools, shoe care, and more.

It doesn’t matter if that summer top is adorable¬†and¬†a great price, if it doesn’t fit you, then you shouldn’t buy it.¬†Alison repeatedly emphasizes that fit is the great enemy of style. In fact, she has an entire chapter devoted to explaining various styles of clothing and why it may or may not fit you properly. As she explains on page 13,¬†“Proper fit means that the clothes you wear should always perform as you need them to, period.” She explains that the everyday problems you encounter with your wardrobe are caused by poorly fitting clothes.

Another¬†chapter explains that not every article of clothing you buy will fit you well. Sometimes, you will have to alter your clothing in order for it to fit you correctly. I was actually already doing this before I read¬†the¬†book. Most times, if you have some knowledge of sewing, you can quickly¬†accomplish¬†the necessary alterations on your own. If you can’t do your own alterations, Alison suggests finding a tailor who can.

One of my favorite chapters was, “Wardrobe Tools to Keep Your Look Together”. Using everything from safety pins, to moleskin, to Sharpies, Alison shares the tips and tricks you need to fix those last-minute wardrobe mishaps. (I learned from my grandmother to regularly carry a supply of various sized safety pins in my purse. There have been times when I’ve had a line of people asking for a pin to fix their wardrobe dilemma.) They can be used for repairing jewelry, stopping static cling, keeping that slip from sliding around under your skirt, as well as a number of other mishaps.

I highly recommend this book as a reference guide for your fashion questions. The helpful advice, tips, and tricks are worth the investment. The one detail I did not appreciate about the book was some of the language that was used.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me in exchange for an honest, thoughtful review. 

South Dakota Vacation | Personal

Life has been such a whirlwind lately. As my siblings and I grow older, it’s a challenge to have family time. The second week in May, we were able to take several days and head to South Dakota. Andrew was unable to join us for the week but we were delighted to have Granny come with us. We had a terrific time together and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the Black Hills and the Badlands.

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South Dakota had several inches of snow a few days before we got there.

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Shortly after we drove into South Dakota, we heard a loud “pop” and our van began experiencing difficulties. We slowly made our way to the nearest exit only to discover that we were still some distance from a town. We spotted a oil and tire company and figured that they could at least point us in the right direction. The manager graciously allowed our family to camp out in the break room while our van was towed. God miraculously worked out the details and the necessary parts were found and repairs were made in less than three hours! God is good!

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The scenery was breathtaking.

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Pardon the well-loved and dirty sweatshirt. [grin]

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Visiting Mount Rushmore was one of my highlights of the trip. Pictures just don’t do it justice. The sculpture is just incredible.

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The visitors’ center was fascinating and informative. Did you know that the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, had originally planned for Jefferson to be to the left of Washington (as seen above in the studio model)? Due to faulty rock, the original Jefferson was blasted away and moved to the other side of Washington.

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I love this picture of Joseph and Nathan.

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We were hoping to see bison up close and this fellow kindly obliged by standing about three feet away from the road.

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This rock formation, located in Custer State Park, is known as “The Needle’s Eye”.

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We took a day to drive through Badlands National Park. The rugged beauty is amazing. We spotted this sign at one of the viewpoints along the way.

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My lovely parents

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Granny snapped this picture of us.

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Jonathan surveying the land.

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This picture depicts the many layers of sediment and rock.

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One of our outings included a hike around Sylvan Lake.

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Some of us enjoyed climbing really high. If you look closely, Benjamin is proudly standing at the very top of that rock formation.

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You could see the Crazy Horse Monument from our cabin.

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Goodbye, South Dakota! We thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

Rise of the Fallen | Book Review

After reading Chuck Black’s book¬†Cloak of the Light, I was eager to read the sequel.¬†Rise of the Fallen, book two in the series’¬†Wars of the Realm,¬†was as captivating as the first book.

Validus, the least and last created of the angels, has seen much since his creation. He watched as close friends followed Lucifer and deserted the servants of Elohim. The book follows Validus as he watches the rise and fall of many empires. Placed on earth as a warrior, he rises to a respected position commanding legions of warrior-angels. So why was he demoted to guardian? Who exactly is Drew Carter? And why is he so important?

Rise of the Fallen¬†doesn’t continue the story from¬†Cloak of the Light as much as it parallels it. Well-written and suspenseful, Chuck Black switches back and forth between present time and the life story of Validus. Although the amount of details, characters, and unusual names could be confusing, there is a clear cast of characters and time line at the beginning of the book. I highly recommend this book and am¬†looking forward to seeing how Chuck Black will wrap up the final book in this intriguing trilogy.

Disclaimer: Blogging for Books sent this book to me in exchange for my honest and thoughtful review.