Exhotic Feline Rescue Center in Centerpoint is a Life Experience

It has been hard to blog these past two weeks. The kids were on fall break and finding an empty computer in this house has been next to impossible. But fall break is over and I already miss them. I love having my kids home, school seems so much harder for us all. On Friday my girl scout troop and my close friend’s troop teamed up and went to the Exhotic Feline Rescue Center in Centerpoint, IN.  www.exhoticfelinerescuecenter.org

IMG-9763 We really enjoyed the trip. It is a wonderful non profit rescue that really cares about and for its animals. Getting there however, for me at least was a challenge.

I had always wanted to take my girl scout troop to this rescue. Lots of other scout troops I knew had gone and loved the experience. My girls are currently working on an animal badge and the trip fit perfectly. Since my troop is small, 4 girls, I set up the event and invited my very close friend Cassandra’s troop to come with us. Her troop is also fairly small. My girls were excited, I was excited, until I realized the logistics of the trip. My right foot still has nerve damage. To make the trip I would have to drive about an hour and a half there, walk for what was about an hour and 15 minutes and then drive an hour and a half home. My foot wouldn’t be able to do that. I was in a panic. My husband didn’t think he could take off work to be my driver, he would be traveling that week and unsure what day he would come home, So I spoke to Cassandra about canceling the trip. I prayed about the event and even felt that canceling was the thing to do and I was so disappointed about the decision. But Cassandra said very wisely “This is a problem we can solve.” The problem was we had 4 girls who needed rides plus me and my two girls. Cassandra lovingly was willing to rent a 12 passenger van, and drive, so that we could all attend. I was so humbled by her willingness to help. In the end with the help of my of my other girl scout mom Rebecca taking one girl, We all arrived. “Its more fun this way anyway,” Cassandra said, “Its an adventure.” She was right it was so much more fun to catch up with my friend and to have all the girls giggling and laughing in the back of the van. My foot did have issues walking in the cold I had a lot of numbness and was sure driving home would have been too hard. I am so thankful to my friend for not giving up and approaching the problem in such a positive, loving way. She certainly taught me something.

The actual rescue is wonderful. They have mostly tigers, bob cats, a black panther (which I learned is actually a leopard, ) lions and a few other big cats that have all been rescued. Some of them had been in circus’s, or animal shows or even theme parks. 4 had been rescued from a tattoo parlor in northern Indiana. Some of them were in good condition and had been cared for before arriving,  others really had not. There were tigers with missing eyes, one that walked strangely due to neurological problems. The white tigers were the saddest to me. Our guide, Christina, explained that white tigers don’t occur in the wild anymore. They are inbreed and have many, many problems. The white tigers their were cross eyed, and one of them even had their organs on the wrong side of their body. They were beautiful but heart breaking. IMG-9725

Another tiger really caught my heart and was truly a God moment for me. It was a female that when found was actually paralyzed. Christina said the vets recommended extensive physical therapy for the tiger but because no one can get that close to them, the rescue is very strick about not allowing any person in a cage with a tiger for safety reasons, the vets recommended putting her down. The rescue was very upset about that and was coming to terms with it when all of a sudden the tiger started trying to stand. Christina said she didn’t do it for long but every day they saw the tiger work on standing, then work on walking, until finally the tiger was able to move about on its own. “She did her own physical therapy,” Christina said, “Many doctors have wrote papers on her because we didn’t know a wild animal could recover like this on their own.” When the tiger walks she has one back leg that she favors and Christina said that she had nerve damage to it so it falls asleep on her.   I knew exactly how that poor tiger felt. But the story was such a reminder to me that it brought tears to my eyes. If God can take a tiger from a death sentence into walking. How much more can God heal me. The whole experience has been a lesson for me not to give up or in to fear. IMG-9859

The scouts really enjoyed the rescue. It was so cool to be so close to these animals. It was surprising hear the tigers and lions talk and chuff at Christina as she appeared before each enclosure and follow us as far as they could not afraid of us but happy for the visitors.  You could tell these animals were happy, and well taken care of and well loved. I would encourage anyone to go and take a tour. If you have been there and want to tell the story of your visit.  Please comment below.

How to Make Leaf Mason Jars and a Fall Foliage Place Mat

IMG-9568So before I get started on the above fall crafts I just want to mention its Wednesday. I try to post on Monday. Why the delay? Well have you ever noticed when your trying to do something big that you feel God has given you to do trouble happens? Delay, sickness, broken down cars, so much so that it feels like an uphill battle. Well your not alone, The Bible says we will have trials of many kinds and well this week has been full of trials to get to this computer. My kids are on fall break so I have to get up extra early to write and all three of them have strep throat. You’d think that would encourage sleeping in but instead I’ve been up early two days in a row taking care of a feverish four year old. So this is my third attempt. Prayer and a not giving up yet attitude will get you thru it. God’s grace will get you there.

So a few weeks ago I was at a friends house and loved all her fall decorations. I came home and realized I have none! I don’t decorate a lot but I did want something pretty fallish to look at so I decorated my dining room table. Now I had seen on Pintrest these pretty fall mason jars but no tutorial that I could pull up to tell me how to make them. They were easy, and cheap to make! Here is what you need. Mason Jar (I like the smaller size but any size will do). Modge Podge, A Popsicle stick, paint brush, fabric fall leaves ( I found mine at the Dollar Tree) electric votives (also at the Dollar Tree) and ribbon.

Make sure your Mason Jar is clean and dry. Paint Modge Podge on the leaf you want to place into the jar, paint on the side you want facing out of the jar and then put the leaf on the inside of the jar. IMG-9562You can use the Popsicle stick to smooth the leaf against the jar if your fingers don’t fit, mine didn’t. Just keep repeating this until the inside of the jar is covered with leaves as you like.IMG-9563 Let the Jar dry overnight. Its going to look like a white mess when your done but that all goes away, I promise. The next day drop your votive in and tie your ribbon around the mouth of the jar and your done. So easy!

Then I went to work on making a place mat with the remainder leaves from the Dollar Tree. For this project all you need is fabric leaves, A piece of felt, I used white because that’s what I had, but brown,orange or yellow would work too and your glue gun. Now I have to confess that I got the idea of this at my friends house. She had some of these on her table and I turned one over to see how it was made. On hers the leaves were sewn on and I believe you could do it that way too, I just thought hot glue would be easier.  IMG-9566To start I took a plate that was about the size I wanted and traced a circle on the white felt. I  then cut out the circle and began gluing leaves along the outside edge of the circle. Working inward I glued the next circle of leaves so that they were overlapping the first and in between the first set of leaves. Kind of like when you lay bricks. I did this with each layer until I got the the middle.IMG-9567 Where I just overlapped two leaves to create the center. I placed my treasured grandma’s bowl with the pine cones my girl scouts painted for me inside on it and I was done. I officially have decorated for fall. Let me know if you try either of these crafts in the comments below. Happy Autumn.

Our annual trip to the Martinsville Chili Cook off and Chalk Art Contest

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One of The Winner’s Pictures of the Chalk Art Contest

Every year in this little town called Martinsville, Indiana they have a fun artistic event that my kids plan all summer  long to do. A Chili-cook off and chalk art contest. My girls and I love the chalk art contest. We collect chalk all year and we have a big tub of it along with a bag of charcoal (for black). The Martinsville Chamber of Commerce puts on the event to raise money for their youth scholarships. There are many artistic people in Martinsville and I always am in awe of what they draw at the festival. Its taken seriously as many will show up early to have time to finish their creations.

We arrived a little before 11 a.m. this year which gave us about an hour and a half to draw. Chalk drawing takes a long time, especially when you have a big space. This year my eldest daughter barely finished her drawing in time.  She loves horses and has drawn a horse for the past three years. This year she wanted to try to draw in black and white.IMG-9525

We have a wonderful day. After drawing our pictures we try the different chili’s and vote for our favorite. The farmers market is always close by too. My daughter took a friend this year and they bought some apples to munch on instead of the snacks I packed.

We’ve been coming to this event for about 5 or 6 years and we’ve learned a few tricks on how to draw chalk well. We always plan our drawings out first in the space with white or light colored chalk. Other colors cover this up easy and you can get your mistakes out of the way. Chalk is very forgiving when you make mistakes usually you can just smear or blow the chalk away and go over the mistake. Smearing is an art. We used to use our hands, sleeves whatever we could until I took a chalk art class with Jennifer James who taught us the secret of pool noodles. I usually by a few from the dollar store and tear them up. They are perfect for smearing the chalk around and blending. You don’t tear up your hands and you don’t waste as much chalk. Unfortunately they are very light and can blow away very easily which is what happened to us this year halfway thru drawing.  The other secret we’ve learned is the importance of charcoal. Most chalk boxes don’t include a black and if they do it doesn’t last long. Charcoal, like what you use in your grill, works really well and lasts longer. I’ve had the same bag of charcoal for 4 years. It is really easy to outline your work with charcoal when your done to make it stand out and keep your picture easy to see.

This year’s festival was a welcome beginning to fall for us I hope you enjoy our pictures below. Mine is the sunflowers and pumpkins, My daughter is the horse and her friend made the anime of Totoro.

DIY Faun Horns, A Unique Costume for this Halloween

In my last post I was working on minion horns for my daughters play, Narnia the Musical. This past two weeks I was also working on head ware for the fauns in the play. Above are three of the faun headbands I made and will give you step by step instructions on how to make these in case your little one wants to be a faun Halloween. What you will need is newspaper, masking tape, tin foil, wire or I used pipe cleaners, plastic headbands, tissue paper or crepe paper, Elmer glue, flour and water to make a paste and hot glue gun. If you want to make the ears too then you need white felt and a brown furry material.

To make the branchy horns I first attached pipe cleaners to the headbands by wraping them around a few times and then shaped the pipe cleaners in the shape I wanted. Using scraps of newspaper and masking tape I shaped the newspaper around the pipe cleaners till I got the thickness I wanted. IMG-9466 Then covered the entire horn with masking tape to hold the shape. I applied extra masking tape at the bottom of the horn to help adhere the horn to the headband. By doing this I did not need to hot glue any of the horn down in the end. The small pointy “Tomas” horns I made of tin foil wrapped around newspaper. And then covered the tinfoil with masking tape. Once both horns were taped up I made a paper mache paste. To make the paste I mixed 4 tablespoons of flour with two table spoons of Elmers glue and 6 tablespoons of water. I then covered the horns with tissue paper. This was to make the horns smoother and so the paint would stick easier. On the horns in the above picture I used crepe paper. It made a nice bony texture that really showed up once painted. I let the horns dry overnight before painting. IMG-9464  The small pointy horns I attached to   the headband after they were painted with a hot glue gun. I used cream, dark brown and a light  brown acrylic paint to paint the horns. I first covered them with a layer of the cream paint and let that dry. Then using a fairly dry brush I added the dark brown along the bottom of the horns and then a layer of the lighter brown over it. I carried the lighter brown lightly overt the rest of the horn. On the horns with the crepe paper this was a very cool effect. IMG-9474 (1)

To make the ears I made a teardrop pattern out of cardboard with a flat place at one end and cut out the material to match. Taking a piece of white felt and a piece of fur I pinned them like sides inward and then whip stitched the material together except for the flat end. Once done I turned the ear inside out and pinched the flat end in half and sewed shut. This made the crease in the ear.  I then hot glued them below the horns onto the headband.    You can make these look even more whimsical by adding flowers along the headband around the horns, a brown top and furry pants and you have a perfect faun costume for trick-or- treating.

DIY Maleficent Horns, how to Attach to a Headband

We have this really cool theater group here in Greenwood, Indiana call Center Grove Fine Arts Academy. It is a christian theater group for children ages 8 to 18 and they put on about 3 to 4 big, big productions a year. I mean big.  My middle daughter is my actress and this is the second performance she has done with the group and we currently have around 92 children performing. The current production is Narnia the Musical and this is so much fun. I am a big lover of C. S. Lewis and I have to say if you are in the area please come see it, It runs October 25 through the 28th At Thomas Carr Howe Community High School. Tickets are available at http://www.cgfinearts.org.

I have the privileged of serving on the costume committee which was so much fun and such a learning experience with the last show my daughter did, Beauty and the Beast. This show has been just as much fun as we get to make the mythical creatures of Narnia come to life.  I am very excited about this weeks projects as I get to make horns for Tomas and the fauns of Narnia, I might blog about that next week but this week I’m going to talk about the project I just finished which was making some scary horns for the cruelies or minions of Narnia under the White Witch’s reign. This was so much fun once I figured out the best way to make them. I ended up making four of different sizes. There is a DIY pin by Olivia Simms on Pintrest showing pictures of the different steps to make the horns that I followed but it doesn’t give a step by step explanation or tell how to attach the horns to the headband, the part I found the trickiest so just in case you need a pair of Maleficent horns for Halloween, I thought I’d clarify the process.

I didn’t take pictures of actually constructing the horns since her pin showed that pretty well. You start with a plastic cup, about medium size and run a wire or I used a pipe cleaner through the middle. Shape your pipe cleaner/ wire to the shape of the horn you want and then using newspaper and tin foil and masking tape build your shape of the horn. I wrapped my horns in masking tape after I had the shape I wanted so that the paint would stick better. I ran out of masking tape about half way through my third horn and used painters tape. It didn’t stick as well so on my medium and small horn I ended up using a layer of Modge Podge before spray painting. Once I had the shape of the horns done and they looked pretty identical, (that’s also tricky) It was time to attach the horns to the headband.

On my first set of horns this took many tries. The plastic cup does not hot glue to the headband I initially had well. I went to the dollar store and bought these headbands. Because they are plastic the hot glue adhered a lot easier, and their pretty cheap 3 for a dollar.IMG-9417

Next I took black felt and cut out 4 circles, two for each horn. Once circle was just about 1/8th to 1/4th of an inch bigger than the bottom of my horn, the other circle about the same size as the horn.IMG-9416

I glued the bigger circle to the horn, before painting (i first tried it after painting and ended up repainting, you’ll see why when I’m finished). I then applied hot glue to the headband about where I wanted the horn and stuck the horn on. Taking the second felt circle I glued it on the bottom of the horn under the headband. I used lots of glue to seal the headband between the pieces of felt.

Next it glued the excess felt up to the horn. This created more stabilization to the headband. Finally I took a long piece of masking tape and taped over where I just hot glued the extra felt to cover up the felt and make the horn look smooth again.

I spray painted both horns a shiny black. Here is a picture of my daughter modeling one of the biggest pair of horns. To make small and medium horns I followed the same process but used a Dixie cup as my base. The horns ended up being very stable and lightweight. I can’t wait to see them with their costumes!IMG-9407

 

Do You Struggle with Rest?

Its funny to have a fear about rest but I’m one who has a history of having  a hard time sitting still. As a child I was incorrectly labeled ADD due to my impulsiveness and inability to sit down, turns out it was more anxiety and a learning disability to blame. But even now when the best thing for me to do is rest, I still struggle to be still.

Unfortunately it is a commandment of Gods we all know the verse, Psalms 46:10 “Be Still and Know that I am God, ” but when your heart is going fast and your in crisis being still is the hardest thing to be. I think being a woman, a mother of multiple children, and a wife we have so many demands that we feel need to be done. I was raised you rest after your work is done. Its a good principle but what if the work is always in perpetual motion and you never seem to get to that stopping point,  how then do you justify rest?

I think trying to justify rest was the first mistake I learned. Rest doesn’t require justification.  Rest is just like being still, a need and a command of Gods. God commands rest on the Sabbath, Jesus offers rest to those who follow him. God  knew our bodies and our minds required a break. He knew fasting from our chores was necessary to refresh us. God never commanded, you can rest when your chores are done. He commanded its the Sabbath, a day for you to rest and yet even on a “Sabbath” we still don’t rest until our chores are done.

So deserving rest, justifying rest shouldn’t be in our vocabulary but it often is. Prior to my ruptured back I was in a season where I was getting no rest. I was working full time, raising three kids and helping costume a play. I was up all hours sewing and straining my back. After my initial fall, which we found out later compounded the disc leading to the rupture, caused me to seek medical help I had spent a few days in bed unable to walk. I wonder had I taken more breaks and allowed myself to be still would my physical outcome been different. Once I was recovering from surgery I was in a great season of rest but it was not at all easy. It was frustrating, impatient waiting and hoping I would go back together the same. I don’t think this is the kind of rest that God asks of us either.

Spiritual rest is something that is still a mystery for me but I believe its the key to true rest and refreshment. Its not comfortable for me to sit still and listen during my quiet times. I often have so much to say I struggle just listening. I am thankful again for Abide which does allow me to just listen to a prayer and be still. I also believe there is truth in resting in God’s promises. That panic button in our hearts that goes off in crisis with all it’s “what If’s” If we can just continue to turn it off with reinstating God’s promises that gives us a type of rest. If I can just keep telling that voice, God’s with you he promised he’d never leave you, He has good plans for today… It eventually will be still.

I think the definition of rest that God requests, commands from us is different than the rest we identify with. I tend to think of taking a nap or sitting on the beach with nothing to do. God’s rest can be physical but I believe it is more like quieting the demands of a child. One of my favorite psalms, because it reminds me of my kids sitting in my lap. is Psalms 131:2 “But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child I am content.” I picture my babies at age 2 or 3 sitting on my lap watching cartoons or reading a book. Imagine sitting on Jesus’s lap that way. Your not worried about food or what’s going to happen next or doing the laundry, your  just sitting, calmly, snuggling. I think that is the picture of rest God asks for us. Its a trusting rest. Its the kind of rest that does refresh us, nurture us and calm our hearts.

 

What is Karitos Worship and Arts Conference

IMG-9367Many of my friends on facebook begin to see posts for Karitos and Karitos Indy for about a month before both events. My close friends know that they are Christian Art and worship conferences that I donate my time too in different ways. My closest friends hear me talk about how wonderful my experiences are and why I go and why I try to convince others to go, but I know they are also often left wondering, What is she doing again?

Well, I just came home from the 24th Karitos Worship and Arts Conference and I hope my blog will help answer better what exactly it is and why for me it is so important. To start Karitos was founded by Bob Hay  and his late daughter Courtney Hay  and a few others as a conference that celebrated christian artists of all kinds. The conference offers classes for three days in visual art, theater, film, music, literary, dance and worship. These classes are practical and spiritual designed to equip and further the education of artists interested in these fields with the hopes those artists will go out into their communities to share their talent.  In addition to the workshops at night there are worship times where many of the faculty and attendees share their personal gifts on stage with praise, prayer and worship. From this conference a community has formed of christian artists who share and encourage each other.

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Pasto David Mngodo Acrylic Class 

This year was the first year the conference was not held in Chicago, instead it was at Park Lawn Assembly of God Church in Milwaukee Wisconsin and ran from August 23 to 25. This year me and my two daughters attended. It was my youngest daughter’s first time. The experience of Karitos is the hardest to explain because it is as close to heaven as I can imagine. Imagine being surrounded by artistic, right brained people who are not afraid to share their talents  and are encouraging you to try new ways of expressing yourself. There is no set path for anyone,  someone who loves theater can walk into a painting class no matter their level of talent and try it. There is no judgement or discouragement when you think you fall short. You meet people who are not afraid to cry during a worship song ( It is okay to cry in church), or people who are not afraid to do what they feel God or the Holy Spirit might ask them to do. That’s what Karitos is for me it is truly an experience of spiritual freedom.

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Youth learning about flag worship

Artistic people often struggle with feeling accepted and understood, Karitos offers a community of people who understand that struggle and purposely accept and try to understand and be welcoming. Its the people involved, that is more meaningful for me then the event in the end. But the event is beautiful in itself.

This year There were so many new things. Musical Artist Bob Bennet was there and played during the worship time as well as Leon Timbo with Northern Lights United. Both brought a new sound to the stage. Randall Flinn and the Adeum dance Company also aided in the nightly worship times. Other artists in attendance lended their talents with moving dance numbers like “Grace” performed by Emmanuel Williams and then also by Debra Moore. Both moving tellings of the same song. Acting Scenes performed by Howi Tiller and Terry Vik told the story of Paul in prison. And visual artists Linda Harris-Iorio, Joey Kikki, Rosie Martindale and Milton Coronado painted  on stage during the worship celebrations.

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Artists painting during worship

The three of us had a wonderful time this year soaking in all the new things we experienced. If you are someone who has a talent, a crafty talent an artistic talent and are wanting to know more how your gift can be used this is a fabulous way to find answers to just that, I encourage you to look and see if there is a Karitos happening near you.