Monday, November 10, 2014

Repurposed Leather Belt Floors

At the beginning of my college career, I attended several different junior colleges. I call it my Junior Colleges of Texas tour. Don't judge, I was considering my options...

During this "college tour" I was considering all my options with my incredible 1.7 GPA. I know, doors just FLING themselves open when you are a brainiac. But as I struggled my parents sat back and watched and thought, "This girl is smart. Why is she struggling so much?" Had they seen my weekend activities, they probably wouldn't have questioned so much.

 I was a pre-med major, (WHAT??!) and I was failing miserably so my parents found out there was a testing facility in Dallas that tested people extensively to determine academic skills, natural abilities, cognitive abilities, etc, etc, etc...

They paid the massive fee, loading my belligerent college rear-end into the car and marched me into the building where I would spend 3 days being tortured. Just kidding, kind of. They tested me in every. single. possible, remote way imaginable. They tested me in math, science, reading, music, logic, physical abilities, and more.

Can I just tell you, I did not excel in music memory or spacial reasoning. Music memory has improved vastly since I married a musician (hello, irony) and spacial reasoning is just laughable.

I cannot do measuring. Can. Not. I cannot figure out how to rotate objects in my mind. Nope. This is something God must've thought I can just do without. Don't laugh when you see me put a map on the ground and step onto it to locate myself. All I can say is UGH.

When the testing facility discovered I was Pre-Med, the gentleman testing me asked with a smile, "How's that going??"

I said, "I'm rocking it. With a 1.7, like a boss."

They said, "You are NOT science brained. You should switch to a liberal arts program. You are very artistic."

Then I laughed. Or more accurately, choke nose-vomited my coke out. They said, "Seriously, you are a mixed bag. You are without a doubt, the MOST ambidextrous person we've ever tested. BY FAR." So, you are using both the left and right side of your brain pretty equally but that's challenging. You are artistic and logical and together, that can be hard."

Let me say this. IT IS.

I am a very logical, organized, punctual, factual, controlling, even keeled, steady-Eddie.

And I am a very emotional, random, artistic, creative, spontaneous ideaphoric.

So THAT is how things like my latest project happen. I need practical and useful in my life. Budgeted and resourceful. I LOVE this planet Earth and am all in for re purpose, re-use, recycle.

So when I was in a funk and decided to re-do the Studio apartment that Tim and I have on our property, I didn't think twice about pulling it all apart and starting over and then I panicked about the money we'd have to have to completely redecorate it. (right brain, meet left brain).

I knew the foyer to the Studio needed to be floored and I wanted earthy, natural, re purposed floors. I did some thinking and rummaging and scavenging. The studio is being done with earthy textures, natural wood tones, leathers, hides, antlers, nature colors. So when I stared at the foyer floor for a very. very. long time I decided leather would be gorgeous.

Then I thought, "LEATHER??! Are you an idiot??" I may or may not have answered my conflicted self.

In order to fulfill the re-use part I decided leather belts were like hardwood planks and I could make it work.

I begged, borrowed (yeah, those are not coming back y'all...sorry) and stole belts from friends, family and neighbors.

And remember the spacially challenged part? Well, I put butcher paper down on the floor I wanted to cover and traced it out. Measuring tapes are for lightweights professionals. I took the paper template, put it on a piece of plywood and traced it. Then I begged my husband to use a saw I would cut my arms off using, and he cut out the template for me.

I took my plywood, painted it brown in case any showed through and to seal the wood, and over the next few days, sat in my office, sun room and yard occasionally and covered it with belts.


I used a flooring rubber cement and brushed it on the back of the belts, placed the belt on the plywood and cut the belt to fit with tin snips. I clamped it in place with clamps and barbie purses.You KNOW.... THESE: (put the silver parts together and turn upside down.... barbie purse)



I glued belts over, and over, and over until my plywood was covered. I then dropped the plywood into place in the foyer and it fit (thank you Tim). I used Nikwax to cover and seal the leather belts and it's waterproof.

I gotta say, I love the floors. They look incredible, they were budget friendly, earth friendly and in the words of my precious friend Don, "They make my heart sing".

Right brain happy. Left brain happy. WHEW.




A couple tips:
-look at good will or thrift shops for belts.
-if doing a larger floor, consider cutting 12x12 inch plywood tiles and then laying them into place alternating direction of belts
-seal the plywood before laying belts on it
-seal with Nikwax after belts are in place
-take your time!
-Clamp belts on the ends to hold in place.
-if a belt shows where its been cut, burn the edge with a lighter.



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Be Brave


On Wednesday mornings I go to a bible study at my church. I really love sitting with other women attempting to absorb wisdom and maturity. I fully subscribe to the theory of osmosis. So much so, that I may or may not have, at one time, put my bible under my pillow as I slept in an attempt to memorize scripture by osmosification.

At bible study, when I find a woman particularly oozing wisdom it is likely that I will ootch my chair a bit closer to hers.

And yesterday, when I realized I was sitting in the presence of some of the bravest, most incredible women, I couldn't decide who to skinny up closer to. They all had me in awe.

These women chose to sit around a table and share their deepest pains and hardest moments.

The stories that were shared were not pretty. They were not socially acceptable or easily digested. These were stories of pain and heartache, crimes committed and morality thrown away. We looked each other in the eye and shared the places our lives had been shattered.

What happened was unexpected. I expected something from the women who were speaking, but the beautiful surprise actually came from the women listening. Instead of embarrassment and judgement, I saw belonging and freedom. In spite of fear, there was courage. The secrets that had us isolated, when put into the light, unified us. We realized we weren't alone. We realized we'd all been rescued and we belonged together. 


When I looked around the table, I saw vulnerability and truth. I saw as the women shared, it was as if they were putting their arms around the other women all over the room and accepting THEM and seeing that their past brokeness is a present strength given by a God who heals.

Isolation and shame is one of the ways Satan attempts to keep us broken and afraid. When we share our stories and show that God healed us, and used the broken place to make us stronger, we walk in unity and truth.

One woman shared that she'd been too afraid to walk through the church doors because she'd believed the women in the church building would never accept her. She said she'd believed the voice that told her, "You are damaged goods and will never fit in. The women who attend church lead tidy lives and won't understand or accept messy.  Those women are perfect and you are not and they will never accept you."

But these women's stories- shared in strength and love and incredible bravery- showed the truth. The truth that we are far from perfect. We are muddy, messy, and in need of a Savior. 

Our stories are the way the front doors of the church are pushed open and people are welcomed in. The stories are how people find out they are not alone. They find out that the church building is full of people who had been pulled out of the muck. 

When we share the stories of how we were found, the flesh and blood stories, often painful and wrought with tears, we show how Christ is the only thing we can claim as our salvation. And we share that HE is the reason we are rescued. HE is the reason we get eternal life in heaven with Him. Nothing we've done, nothing we've earned. 

Our stories reveal God's nature. They reveal God's glory, how He saves and redeems us. 

Our lives are a story about who God is and what He does in a human heart. He will put us in the right place, at the right time, to share our stories and be used for His Kingdom. The greatest feeling on planet Earth is when we are used by Him to bring a soul to eternal salvation and eternity with Him. 

You are a treasure, created by Him for a purpose and a reason. You have a story and you are called to be courageous. Share your stories. Be brave. Let's all be brave together. Let's fling the doors to the church open.

And if you haven't walked through those church doors yet, come to the table. YOU are invited.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Run Brave. Run Strong.

Can I just share with y'all a little about how my jogging/work outs go down?

This is how it goes: 
Me: "Hey, Tim! I am gonna jog 24 miles today."
Tim: snort
Me: "WHAT? I can do that. I can run a long ways. It'll be great. It'll be invigorating"
Me: "Tim, where's the joggy iphone case? Where's my headphones. I cant find them. Maybe I shouldn't jog."
Tim hands them to me.
Me: "Oh, thanks. OK, i guess I could jog.... but it's kinda warm out there...."

30 minutes later:
Tim: "You better start on those twenty-four miles."
Me: "Well, 24 miles aren't good for my knees. Maybe I'll do 10. Or 2 miles. Yeah, 2 miles is great cardio."
Me: "OK, here I go. I need to get in at least a mile today. That'll work off those 8 pepperoni rolls, right?"
Me: "DON'T MAKE ME JOG! I CAN'T JOG! UGH IT'S SO HARD. OK fine. I'm going."

Then I head out the door in a panic but I shove that screaming voice down and I jog. 

Friends, what must it be like to me married to me??! This charade happens everyday.

Here's Tim's pre-jog dialogue:

Tim in a sing-song voice: "I'm going jogging today!! Oh I can't wait! I'm gonna do a half marathon for fun. Maybe I will skip a few miles of it! Oh boy! I feel so freeeeeeeeeeee when I run!"
Me: "shut. up."

So recently when Tim was very excited about jogging with a friend I barely paid any attention.

But one day as he geared up he said, "I'm going to meet Justin to jog. Be back soon!"

I stopped. I said, "Justin? our drummer, Justin?" 

Tim grinned ear-to-ear. "YEP! He wants to run a 5k and I am gonna help him. I will lead and he will hold on to me."

You see, Justin is completely blind. I've never once considered Justin incapable of accomplishing anything but jogging gave me pause. Not that he couldn't do it. But because it's SO HARD and that's when I can see where my every step will be.

I panic when someone turns the lights out on me. I have huge fears of breaking my toes on something. How did Justin find the courage to run in a race? on the sidewalks? on and off curbs? up and down inclines?? 

When Tim got back from jogging with Justin he said it was great and they'd be practicing alot to get ready for a 5k. Inwardly I marveled at Justin.

Then, they signed up for their very first 5k. They were going to run a 5k in the Aggie Mile Race.

I was excited. and nervous. 

This past Saturday they did it. Justin knocked down a limit many people would've placed on him. He paid no attention to others who said it couldn't be done.

They lined up at the starting line.
















I was there as the gun went off and Tim and Justin began running. I still just marveled at the courage and strength and bravery it took on Justin's part. 
I got into my air-conditioned, DVD equipped suburban and drove to the finish line. 'Cause yeah

I got to the finish line and waited. I was so anxious and nervous and excited. I was a hot mess. 

As they got close, I was waiting several hundred yards up from the finish line. I saw them round the corner and my heart jumped into my chest.






















Can I just say, that I am not a crier. I don't cry at sunsets. I don't cry at sappy love stories. I am just not a public crier. I have found myself OFTEN sitting between Aaron and Tim with both of them bawling their eyes out and I am just not. I look like I have a heart of stone, but I just don't cry in front of people very often.

There are a couple of exceptions. Since my dad died, I cry during worship. It's beyond my control. My gratefulness just streams out of my eyeballs for some reason.

And extreme generosity makes me cry. alot. (mom and ashley- never stop being generous but stop making me cry all the time.)

And I found a new exception.

When Justin and Tim rounded the corner and I raised my hands in the air and expected a shout of cheer or encouragement to come out, but instead a choking jumble of nonsense flew out of my mouth. I was shocked to find I was weeping.

I heard Tim as they passed me say to Justin, "We are almost there. We are almost home. 100 more yards. 70 more yards. We can do this. 50 more yards, Justin. I see the finish line. Almost home."

And then as I watched them, and was scream/choking out my cheers, I saw everything change. 

I saw me and Christ. I saw me, blind, not able to see where I was going, what I was doing, not knowing my next steps, not knowing the WHYs in life. 

Not knowing why my father died. Not knowing why my friend's baby died. 

Not knowing anything about where I am going or what I am doing. And I saw me clinging on to Christ and just fully and completely relying on Him to guide my steps.

I heard Christ tell me, "We are almost home, Tara. 100 more yards. 70 more yards. We are almost there."

Then I saw Tim and Justin approach and cross the finish line. And I heard the shouting and cheering. And I heard heaven. I heard the people of heaven cheering as we cross that finish line.

And I just lost it. 


































Later as we recapped and I continued to bawl like a baby all. day. long. Tim told me alittle about the run.

He told me he warned Justin that he'd probably hit a wall after a mile or so and want to walk. But Justin's goal was to NOT walk at all but to run the entire course. And Tim told him, "When we hit that wall, we are just gonna kick it down."

And Justin kicked it down. 

When he had finished the race I asked him, "Justin, did you like it??"

Justin said, "It was SO hard. and I want to do it again, and again, and again."

Those words will stay with me forever. 

Friends, this race we are running is hard. SO HARD. But we have Christ guiding our steps. We can trust Him. Cling to Him. Press into Him.

Run brave. Run Strong.

Here's a video Tim made of their run. Turn up the volume and watch it on full screen.



KBTX- our local news channel- covered Tim and Justin's story. Check it out here:

http://www.kbtx.com/home/headlines/Man-Overcomes-Odds-to-Run-First-5k-259752501.html
Thanks Kessler for covering the story!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

There's One Called Stress-Away??! Yes, Please.

Many of you know that recently I have been researching essential oils. I wrote about my first experience here and that running vomit drills caused me to go out of my mind in search of a solution to stomach bugs.

As I researched this wild and, let's just call it what it is, hippyish world, I found out there was quite a trend forming. The more I learned, the more I saw that it was quite "trendy" and acceptable to use essential oils in everyday life to ward off illnesses, calm emotions (SIGN ME UP) and even regrow hair. I mean, you name an ailment, and there is an oil to address it. So as I researched and found out there were parties and facebook clubs dedicated to essential oils, my natural born rebellion reared it's precious little head.

Let me pause here to say that I might have a tiny rebellious streak a mile wide. To some of you this is not a news flash, but if you tell me "Oh, it's all the rage" or "everyone is doing it" then I always had one answer. "Then count me out."

I don't know why. I was born like this. You say "no", I dig my heels in and say "YES".

Never once did I hear my parents say, "If all your friends jumped off a bridge would you jump too??!"  Because they knew the answer I'd give them. "Oh? Everyone's doing it? Then hell no. I want no part."

I have always gone against the current. And when I heard that, "Everyone's into it" it really caused me to pause and grit my teeth and in pure desperation I still moved ahead. Because I WAS SO OVER THE VOMITING. If one more person in my house got sick I was moving out.

Against every fiber in my body I went to a Young Living Essential Oil party. I tried every way imaginable to come up with an alternative way to find out more about these oils but then the host of the party told me they were serving mimosas. Game over. I'm in. You had me at mimosa.

I went and learned ALOT. And now I am sold. Hook, line and sinker I am an Essential Oil Hippy. Don't get an illness around me or I'm slathering you in an oil. Sneeze or look cross-eyed at me and I'm whipping out the oils. I KID YOU NOT. And friends, you must know, I am a cynical, doubting, painfully sarcastic, oh-yeah-prove-it kind of girl.

When I started with the oils, I started with just a couple and put them to the test.

I put the oils on the boys and they haven't been sick since we started using them. PEOPLE, WE ARE IN THE PRESENCE OF A MIRACLE HERE.

If that doesn't convince you then you don't realize how constantly everyone was sick up in my house because apparently they were licking each other's faces all the time.

But I hesitated to put the oils on my daughter because she is tiny. She's little and she's underweight. She was a failure-to-thrive baby and has always struggled with health issues and especially bladder problems. The very first time I put Thieves Essential Oil on her, her bladder issues began to resolve.

I was shocked.

So I ordered more and read everything I could get my hands on. I am convinced. I partly think it's due to God's meticulous, beautiful design in this world and I partly think we've over-used antibiotics and our bodies are no longer responding the same to western drugs. I believe these oils are working where chemicals and drugs are failing due to "super bugs" and over use.

If you are interested in giving them a try I wanted to make it a little easier for you. At first it can be overwhelming but if you wanted to try, I have some thoughts.

You can jump in and order the Premium Kit from Young Living (which is my recommended brand for purity and quality) and with this link you get it at a discounted price (just choose Premium Starter Kit). It has EVERYTHING you need to get started. A diffuser, 11 of the essential oils (stress-away is a bonus) and much more. Here is a chart of what you'd get in the Premium Kit and what they can be used for.(click image to enlarge)

Or you can order a few of the oils and see what you think. If I had to order just three, I'd order
Frankincense- used for immunity, infections, depression, skin care, anxiety....(not mention it was Jesus' oil)
Thieves-colds, flu, viruses, headaches, strep, germs...
Lavender- allergies, calming, bruises, cuts, insomnia, bug bites...

If you are interested in ordering something, here is a link to use to get a discount. Just fill in your info and then scroll down and choose no thank you (to the kits) and you can order individual oils. Also, email me and I can send you more info.

I truly believe that God so perfectly designed this world and there are His treasures and majesty within every inch. I believe He gave doctors minds to help and heal and He also gave healing qualities within His creation.

I am happy to send you more info. Feel free to email me at Harley168@hotmail.com.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Top 20 Reasons to do Antique Week in Round Top, Texas

Many of you know I work at Marburger Farm Antique Show in Round Top, Texas. I go to Round Top and live down there twice a year for ten days.

Because I've been working on all things Marburger, and antique week is RAPIDLY approaching,  I offer you my top 20 reasons you MUST give Antique Week a go.

Top 20 reasons you should visit Round Top Texas during Antique Week

1.  Round Top, Texas is a tiny town, populatation NINETY, but during Antique Week, there are tens of thousands that descend on this quaint town. This alone is worth seeing.
2. Someone taking a picture of you shopping could land you smack in the center of an issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine.
3. Drinking iced tea on the porch of a 100 year old Bingo Hall.
4. World class artists at Marburger. "What? oh, you don't say? You sell for Anthropology and are on the cover of Uncommon Goods?? I didn't know that....no, I didn't stalk your art like a crazy person and come running to see you..."
5. Shopping for rare, incredible antiques with longhorns standing in fields of bluebonnets as your backdrop.
6. This is the ONLY place and time in my life I can hail a guy on a golf cart and he jump at the chance to haul my items all over tarnation and deposit me at the end of the day at my car.
7. Marburitas at the Blacksmith Bar after a long day of shopping.
8. Sheriffs on horse back keeping order. Everytime I see them I have to suppress the desire to yell, "Keep ordah, here!" in my spot-on British accent.
9. Telling your friends you'll meet them in the Silver Dollar Saloon after you finish in the Dance Hall.
10.  Bud’s Chocolate Chip Pie from Pie Haven. Ok, let’s be honest here. ANYTHING from Pie Haven.
11. The chance to accidentally (accidentally on purpose) bump into Matthew McConaughey, Tori Spelling, or Miranda Lambert at the Kettle Corn booth.
12. Junk Gypsy as seen on HGTV. Yehaw.
13. Prom Night. Yes, there is a prom night for all ages (over 21) and costumes like a light up two person gondola and working lamps that are stunning and bizarre. My two favorite combinations.
14. People watching (see #13)
15. There are over 20 venues of antiques spread throughout Round Top, Warrenton, Giddings, Carmine, Fayettville, and Burton. (but the best is Marburger's 43 acres packed with antiques!)
16. Road Trip with girlfriends!
17. Fried food on sticks.
18. Seeing a helicopter land in the back field to deposit shoppers at Marburger. (um, hello best way to travel, EVER.)
19. The chance to wear your cowboy boots and say "y'all" a lot.
20. We set up a treasure hunt for you with antiques from around the world. 'nuff said.



I hope to see y'all April 1-5th at Marburger Farm Antique Show


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Late to the party again.


Some people practice fire, tornado or earthquake drills. Here, in the Suel house, we practice vomit drills.

Here are the rules of vomiting:
In case of vomit, grab barf bag located at every bedside. Place over mouth. Proceed to nearest restroom. Help will come.
DO NOT: 1. panic. or 2. run around the entire house barfing in said panic or 3. run to sleeping cohabitants and barf on them.

I am serious. We run vomit drills because we have had four rounds of vicious stomach bugs and for the love of baby Moses, these stomach bugs insist on presenting after 10 pm but before 4 am. Every. Single. Time.

Because this cold/flu season has been especially brutal for us I decided to embrace my inner granola and do whatever it took to stop the madness. Every time we got sick the answer was the same from our doctor.

Doctor: "It's a virus."
Me: "But we've already had the virus."
Doctor: "This one is new"
Me: "That's not fair.We were fine with the one we had. We didn't want a new one."
Doctor: "Well, it's just another one of the countless viruses going around right now."
Me: "You mean to tell me the pits of hell produced armies of these viruses??!"
Doctor: "That'll be 90 bucks. Oh and the vomiting will probably continue for a couple more days."
Me: "Well, that's just precious."

Let me tell you. I am SO over viruses. So since there was no pill to make this madness stop I decided I'd research some natural answers to avoid this fresh hell.

I began researching essential oils. And I realized I knew nothing about this cultish world but I was ready to pledge my allegiance if it would ward off the barfs.

In order to learn everything I could, with the least amount of effort on my part, I called my most granola-holistic-sugar/gluten/dairy-free friend. She lives in phoenix because of course she does.

I called her and she talked me through how essential oils worked. I took notes on carrier oils and diffusing oils and immune boosting oils. She informed me the "thieves" essential oil was great for immunity. It got it's name over 600 years ago when four thieves put a secret blend of oils on themselves to protect themselves from the plague as they robbed the dead and dying. And it worked for them. I mean seriously??! I'm in.  

So I began researching online the list of oils I could buy and what they did. I saw all kinds, rosemary oil, peppermint oil, coconut oil, and as I was scanning the list my eyes stopped on one and I couldn't breathe.

I couldn't believe my eyes. First, let me say this: I know I am late to this party. I am forever late to the party, but I had NO idea you could purchase oils and that they had medicinal applications. But as I read and reread what my mind could not process I saw it. I saw that you could purchase Frankincense and Myrrh.

Frankincense and Myrrh were purchasable from a company who harvested only organic, wild growing, pure plants. This was as close to the oils used during biblical times as we could get.

Let me pause to say when I read the wise men brought Frankincense and Myrrh to Jesus I don't know what I thought. Maybe it was incense on a stick that could be burned and smell good. Some sort of nice expensive smell offering. I. have. no. reasoning. here. I just ran past that and pictured incense on sticks, I guess.

But when I saw that it was an essential oil used for anything from skin diseases to infections and it was prized and expensive it clicked. I realized this was an expensive gift given to Jesus.

So as my heart pounded out of my chest I knew one thing: I know a mother's heart, and if I know Mary, I know she used these oils on Jesus. She knew Jesus was special. The angels told her. The wise men told her. But not only special, He was her baby. So I know, at some point, Mary put Frankincense on Jesus. I know she must have in a secret, quiet, mother moment, put a drop or two on him as an offering, or a protection, and if for only a day or even just an hour, Jesus must have smelled like Frankincense.

I ordered it immediately. My hands shook. I couldn't think of anything else for days waiting for it to arrive. Then two days later the package arrived. I walked up to it sitting on the doorstep. Slowly I picked it up and went inside.

I knew what it was. I told the children to go. I told them to go play, mommy needed to smell Jesus.

I opened the package and I unscrewed the bottle and I smelled it. I couldn't stop the tears. Literally I felt my spirit jump inside me and I inhaled the wood, earth, clean, organic smell. It smelled like a carpenter.

I just sat down and cried. I just know at some point Jesus smelled like this. I thought of my friend who had lost her precious baby son and I thought, oh, she needs to know what her baby smelled as Jesus held her baby when he went to heaven.

I hoped that Jesus still smelled like that and I imagined my dad inhaling the smells of heaven as he entered in.

I long for heaven in a way that makes me want to just get a glimpse, a whiff, a sense of anything going on there.

I still have work here that has to be done. But oh how it helps when I find myself longing to be with Jesus to just get out my treasured hidden bottle of Frankincense and imagine Mary putting these oils on her baby.

And if you were wondering, since we started diffusing and applying thieves and onguard oils, we haven't been sick.

Just sayin'. Maybe those wise men were wise.



~for tristie.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Stirring and Lego Harmonies


I've made no secret that my house is noisy. And I know you are thinking its because of my boys and while yes, they are loud, they are not the primary givers of noise.

Tim is responsible for a load of the loud. If it's not my boys it is music. The piano, the banjo, the guitar, drums... being married to a musician=loud.

We spend the majority of our days listening to music. We scrutinize vocals, we evaluate bands, we listen to new songs, to drummers, etc. It comes with the job.

Worship music is our passion and our life. Recently I walked some very sad and dark moments. I have seen the valley and some of the evil inside it. And there are times it straight up plagues me. Images, thoughts, doubts, fears, they come sometimes without cease and without relent. So on days when the torment seems unbearable, I turn up the music to drown out the attacks.

And yes, I turn it up loud. Truth and scripture floods in and it brings relief.

So, often almost every waking moment, there is music happening in this house. The other night was no exception but my mind was not entirely aware of it. It was just business as usual.

My kids had each gotten a new Lego set and they were sitting at the table begging for assistance. With a groan and a fleshly curse of all-things-requiring-parental-guidance, I sat down and said, "five minutes".

I started helping and at first it went something like, "No, not that one. Stop. Hand that here. Pick it up. Good grief. Cora, touch ONE more of your brothers' Legos and I will banish you from this table forrreeeever...." 

But when a rhythm was established it grew quiet. Everyone working on their Legos. Only in that moment did I hear my boys singing. Without intention, without conscious thought they were singing to the song that was on the speakers.

The lines I heard whisper-sung from my sons' lips were,

"Lost are saved find their way at the sound of Your great name 
All condemned feel no shame, at the sound of Your great name 
Every fear has no place at the sound of Your great name 
The enemy he has to leave at the sound of Your great name 
Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, 
Son of God and Man You are high and lifted up 
and all the world will praise Your great name 
All the weak find their strength at the sound of Your great name 
Hungry souls receive grace at the sound of Your great name 
The fatherless they find their rest at the sound of Your great name
Sick are healed and the dead are raised at the sound of Your great name" 

Now in this moment, I wanted to sing His praises as an overflow of my heart. It took no effort or thought, it was an exclamation that just flowed out in this rare and precious moment. My kids, singing songs of worship, doing mind challenging activities... people, we were witnessing a rare gift. Perhaps a miracle. 

There are times in life, like during Lego Harmonies, or let's be honest, in the midst of a bowl of Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream when the praises pour out of my mouth and my heart swells. Praise is a natural outflow. 

But what I'm learning is that those moments aren't ever-present. There are long stretches of desert wanderings and if I'm not careful I forget the bread falling from heaven and start squalling with the "why me Lords?!?"

It's in the long wanderings that it takes intentional purposeful stirring of my affections for God. When I'm wiping rear ends, breaking up fights, cleaning vomit, or playing bus driver it's not normal for my heart to naturally overflow praises and thanksgiving.

One of the things I've been working on is identifying the things that stir my affections for the Lord. I want to know them, identify them and do them. 

What stirs your affections? Motivating your praise sometimes needs to be an intentional, deliberate act to bring focus and admiration. And sometimes those things that bring to mind all that God has done and His faithfulness or His character is what is needed to do battle.

For me, it's worship music. For some it's nature or maybe it's prayer, or just silence.  I want to encourage you to not wait for those rare moments of overflow but to lead your heart intentionally. Praise becomes a lot more every day when you purposefully and intentionally stir your affections for Him.

Here is one of our favorites (see lyrics above as proof). Even if you didn't set out to worship in this moment, I hope this song stirs your affections for Him as it does mine. If not, you have a heart of stone. I'm kidding. Sort of.  :)