Category Archives: Purpose

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!

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?

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.

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. 

Because He Lives

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“He is not here, but is risen.” Luke 24:6a

This week as I have spent some time meditating on the glorious truth of Jesus’ resurrection, I’ve been reminded of the beautiful lyrics to the song, “Because He Lives”. It’s because of Jesus that I have forgiven sins. It’s because of Jesus that I can face an unknown future. It’s because of Jesus that I will spend eternity with Him. And it’s because of Jesus that I can live each day knowing that He has made life worth living.

This weekend, I encourage you to take some extra time and ponder the victorious truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Because He Lives

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

And then one day, I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!

Chorus
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

The King’s Blooming Rose | Review and Giveaway

The King's Blooming Rose Giveaway

Last year, I was introduced to the delightful magazine, The¬†King’s Blooming Rose. Edited and published by homeschool graduate, Sarah Bryant,¬†The King’s Blooming Rose “offers quarterly encouragement to Christian girls.”¬†KBR¬†encourages young ladies to “become delightful cornerstones at home, under the guidance of their parents according to Titus 2 and Proverbs 31.” Each issue features themes such as abiding in Christ, contentment, femininity, and Scripture memory.

My sisters and I were gifted with a year’s subscription by a sweet friend and we have thoroughly enjoyed each issue. In fact,¬†we’ve loved it so much¬†that we ordered all the back issues. So, to celebrate 100 posts on The Blue Tree House,¬†I want to give away a year’s subscription to one of my readers.

To enter this giveaway, just leave a comment with your first and last name. You can enter additional times by

1) Pinning the top picture
2) Sharing on Google+
3) Sharing on Facebook
4) Sharing on Twitter
5) Sharing on your blog

Leave an additional comment for each entry with your name and a link, if possible.

Giveaway closes Thursday, March 26, 2015 at 12 P.M. CDT. Winner will be announced Friday, March 27.

Knitting Block by Block | Book Review

 

As a novice knitter, I was excited to see a knitting book available for review on Blogging for Books. While the book isn’t specifically written for beginners, the instructions are clearly written. With lovely, easy-to-read patterns,¬†Knitting Block by Block by Nicky Epstein would be an excellent addition to the knitter’s library. It comes with 150 block patterns for creating a variety of beautiful projects.

The book also includes projects using the blocks you create. I’m looking forward to trying projects like the¬†Crossed Cable Cuffs¬†and the One-Block Toys. You’ll also find projects for afghans, scarves, bags, sweaters and more.

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