Artisan Crafts ~ The Mission Rocking Chair

God, the Creator, made us in His image and therefore, we create. We sew, paint, write, draw, photograph, edit, copy, paste, build, renovate, decorate, knit, crochet, cook, bake, etc.. There is a joy found in creating something out of raw materials or even creating something out of WHATEVER material is on hand!

Part of this blog is about creating. My husband and I enjoy making things by hand and so I will be writing about some of the items we have made, painted, repurposed, etc.

A couple years ago for Valentine’s Day, my husband found an amazing rocking chair on craigslist and bought it for $40… an excellent find! However the seat cushion was grey and white striped, dirty, torn, and had a dirty shoe print stained on it.  We knew that one day we would get around to reupholstering it. So when the day came to pull off the fabric, I had no idea what I’d find inside (which is part of the excitement of remodeling furniture).

I have never re-upholstered before so I searched for a lesson on fixing seat covers. Pretty easy instructions. So I got a hammer and went to work!
The first pic in this post shows the “before” look. You can’t tell, but when sitting in it, the seat basically felt like a round hard inner tube with a huge hole in the middle. So you couldn’t really sit on it comfortably. Craig got this for me as a project chair from the beginning so we already knew it would need some work.
So I started ripping the seat cover apart. And what did it reveal? Another seat cover!  It was yellow and black floral print in velvet! Yuck! So I started to rip that off too! Meanwhile I’m also taking out the hundreds of staples and nails!

After taking off the next layer of fabric, I found yet another layer. This time it was the original leather. The leather was so old though that I just had to pull at it, and it ripped off. After 3 layers, it was time to pull out the filling. It was originally a potatoe sack filled with a mixture of what looked like hay, straw, and perhaps sheep’s wool?
After taking that all apart, I was left with the original wood frame. There was no middle part as that had been where the potatoe sack was. So it was literally a frame. I cleaned it up, took out the remaining nails and set it aside.
Went to Joann’s fabric store and found some pretty fabric, just what I was looking for! And it was 60% off! What a deal! I also bought 2 plywood slats for the middle. Earlier, I had bought some foam for the seat cushion as well.

I nailed the wood slats onto the frame; Craig showed me how to cut and then snap off the remaining portions, sanded down the edges. After that, I took some glue and glued the foam to the seat.

Let it dry overnight.

Then, I came to the most exciting part… stapling the new fabric to the seat! I followed the instructions on the youtube video… and voila! I made a seat cushion! I tested it out and it was so comfy!

Now it sits charmingly in our living room for all to enjoy! Stay tuned for more “artisan crafts”!


Learning the Art of Writing

I have been a writer since I was a child. I would take my looseleaf lined paper and a pencil, sit on the family room couch and write short stories about animals, their homes, their adventures. One of my first characters was “Ronny Raccoon”. I still have that story and all my other writings, papers, books in a storage box in my closet! I also would take a tape recorder and set up my stuffed animals to record audio stories. The creative life is something I have embraced since I was very young. And perhaps that’s why, now in the digital age, I have already tried out several blogs, taken breaks, and then always started up something new… why? Because I can’t NOT write. Words, ideas, expression have all taken form in my journals, short stories, poems, songwriting, and blogging. I must write, which is one of the reasons I started up this most recent blog.

I still have much to learn in the area of creative writing. Here is a list of a few articles that are good little tips and reminders to aid in the pursuit of better writing.

Seven Basic & Brief Pointers for Writers

Writer, Interrupted

The Power of Morning Pages

Writing to Remember

Read books, read articles, read blogs, and read blogs on a variety of topics like travel, food, parenting, decorating, music, history! Expand your knowledge base, educate your mind, enrich your life! WRITE!

Jesus Alone Brings Beauty

(Photo Credit: Adam Loewen, Malaga, Spain 2007)

The truth about our human hearts… they are sinful. Not many people like to hear this in America. We like to think that somehow we have beautiful, kind hearts, always selfless, always looking out for others’ interests, never prideful, always humble and deserving of everyone’s praise. But if we look at Scripture, the truth about God, and the truth about us, then we are humbled to our rightful position. Of course, we were created in God’s image and that was GOOD, but when sin entered the world, our relationship with God was broken and, thus, the reason for our sinful hearts (Genesis 3). It is a means of God’s merciful kindness to allow us to see this truth so that we can fully walk in redemptive grace. Let’s look at the Scriptures below, receive the truth, consider our former ways of thinking, and come in repentance to God who in His mercy has chosen to reveal this truth for our joy and His glory! Receiving the truth of God brings freedom beyond words!

1. We all have hearts that are broken and sinful:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? |Jeremiah 17:9|

2. Only God is good:
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
|Romans 3:9-18|

3. God is RECREATING us; God is the Master Artisan:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. |Ephesians 2:10|

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. |Romans 6:22|

4. God cares for His children:
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
|Psalm 139:3|

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. |Psalm 16:7-11|

Jesus, the Master Artisan, is recreating us into His image if we are truly reborn.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. |2 Corinthians 5:17|

This gives us great hope! God redeems us from our brokenness. He is the Potter, we are the clay. Through the power of the Holy Spirit illuminating the Scriptures to our hearts and minds, we are transformed and molded into what God, the Potter, wants to make us.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
|2 Corinthians 3:18|

Though our hearts are dark and sinful, His redemptive love and righteousness can be ours.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. |Galatians 2:2o|

May the incredible love of Christ be yours, filling your heart with indescribable beauty that overflows to the world around you!

Rules for Contentment

Last year, I went to my friend’s mom’s house where a bunch of us ladies from church were getting together for a sewing morning. When I visit people’s homes, I love to look at their fridges! Fridges are so interesting to me. Its there you find those candid photos, Christmas photo cards, significant Bible verses, lists, reminders and kids artwork!

As I was looking at the fridge and admiring all the pictures and writings, I noticed a handwritten note titled, “Rules for Contentment”. As I read through this list, I knew I wanted that list on my fridge! No matter how happy or joyful we are, we still have the sin nature in us and still will constantly, all our lives, battle for contentment… everyone of us! This is something, like all other spiritual disciplines, that needs to be practiced.

Rules for Contentment

1. Never allow yourself to complain about anything, not even the weather.

2. Never picture yourself in any other circumstances or some place else.

3. Never compare your lot with others.

4. Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise.

5. Never dwell on tomorrow – remember that tomorrow is God’s, not ours.

There is such a freedom and joy in this loving reminder to put our focus on Christ and be content in all circumstances!

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:6-19 ESV

Photo Credit: Adam Loewen, Iona Scotland

At the Gate of the Year

Several years ago, a friend and missionary gave me this lovely poem that really encouraged me. As we look forward to a new year, 2011, this is a wonderful reading that will help us to focus our eyes on the Lord and His wonderful purposes for us. Let us walk so closely with Him this year and pray eagerly that God will produce in our lives, more fruit for His Kingdom and His Glory!

At the Gate of the Year

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart bestill:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.

God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.

-Minnie Louise Haskins

Homegrown Hospitality

Photo: The Home of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, L’Abri in Huemoz, Switzerland

My husband and I just celebrated our four year anniversary! We started out our marriage by traveling Europe for 3 months. Not only did we get to travel to 6 different countries, we also got to experience living in community with complete strangers everywhere we went. We witnessed firsthand the hospitality of people from other languages & cultures. We drank freshly made tangerine juice from a friend’s orchard in Spain, ate freshly made honey bread and homemade soups & stews in Switzerland, experienced the mild and unique flavor of roasted lamb at a table of strangers on the island of Iona in Scotland and drank tea everywhere! Our adventure in Europe inspired us for a lifetime of hospitality and homemaking. I will be writing more about our experience in Europe and our other travels individually to countries around the world where we have experienced hospitality in different ways and in different cultures.

Hospitality is not just something I learned while in Europe. I grew up learning hospitality from my mom! My mom wore many hats including that of pastor’s wife meaning we had a LOT of guests coming over to our home! Usually every Sunday we had new people from the church over for “noon meal” as we called it. Sometimes there would be 2 or 3 families, singles, newly married couples, people from all walks of life. My mom would prepare the meal the night before, have it cooking in the oven during church and then take care of the finishing touches when we got home. My sisters and I would help to set the table with the fine china, setting the forks and spoons in their proper order, lighting the candles, and making sure there were enough tea cups and saucers for dessert. It was beautiful! My mother has hosted hundreds of people over the years. Her willingness to work hard, create beauty and nourishing meals for strangers, and welcome them into our home… shows that she was really welcoming Christ and serving Him. Each soft spoken word of encouragement, each tissue given for tears that were cried, each warm burst of laughter and each hug goodbye displayed the welcoming embrace of Christ. This is the environment I was trained in, the place where I was taught, and the pattern I was given for hospitality.

I am bursting with stories, ideas, and inspiration for practicing the art of hospitality and what that truly means in our world. As I research and write on this topic, please know that I am also learning and growing in this gift and do not claim to have it all together! I am a work in progress and am honored to have had so many wonderful examples of hospitality in my life. Check back soon for more reflections on this theme that is so close to my heart.

Christ Be With Me

Christ be with me
Christ before me
Christ behind me
Christ in me
Christ beneath me
Christ above me
Christ on my right
Christ on my left
Christ where I lie
Christ where I sit
Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man
who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of every man
who speaks of me
Christ in every eye that sees me
Christ in every ear that hears me
Salvation is of the Lord.
~From St Patrick’s Breastplate

The first time I read this poem, it resonated with me to the core. My deepest desire to have Jesus be at the center of who I am; to shine so brightly through me that people see Him, rather than me; and to be so joyfully consumed with Jesus in every moment of every day. To meditate on this poem and experience the smile of God on me and know without a doubt that He is with me… this is what it means to “practice the presence of God”, as Brother Lawrence called it. This is where true joy and fulfillment come from… knowing Jesus Christ.

(Photo: Snowfall at Taize, France, 2007)

Welcome to Artisan Home

Hello! We warmly welcome you to Artisan Home. My name is Jen and with my husband Craig, I work diligently at creating a home that is warm, inviting, aesthetic, practical, simple, beautiful, a place where creativity can flourish but most of all a home where the presence of Christ is felt & known.

The word “artisan” is a noun meaning a skilled worker in a trade, esp. one that involves making things by hand. The origin of the word is from the 16th century. It comes from the Latin word “artitus” meaning to “instruct in the arts”. It also involves making items skillfully for functionality or for purely decorative means. It can include making items by hand such as furniture, clothing, bread, cheese, art, ceramics, pottery, wood, textiles, jewellery, baskets.

The word “home” refers to the place where one lives, abides, finds refuge. It also refers to the place where one originates and where something flourishes.

Edith Schaeffer wrote in her book, “The Hidden Art of Homemaking” the following quote:

“Whatever it is, surely art involves creativity and originality. Whatever form art takes, it gives outward expression to what otherwise would remain locked in the mind, unshared. One individual personality has definite or special talent for expressing, in some medium, what other personalities can hear, see, smell, feel, taste, understand, enjoy, be stimulated by, be involved in, find refreshment in, find satisfaction in, find fulfillment in, experience reality in, be agonized by, be pleased by, enter into, but which they could not produce themselves.

Art in various forms exresses and gives opportunity to others to share in, and respond to, things which would otherwise remain vague, empty yearnings. Art satisfies and fulfils something in the person creating and in those responding.”

-Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking, page 14

The inspiration for this blog comes from the two definitions above and the reality of God, the Creator making us in His own image to be beings who are creative. And for us who put our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior & Lord, we are being recreated daily into the image of Christ who is the Master Artisan, the Skillful worker who was actually a true artisan during his life on earth as a carpenter, but also an artisan in the sense of being the Creator of all things. So there is not only creating, creativity, but constant recreating by the Creator!

Regarding the “home”, there is beauty in creating a sanctuary, a home for God’s glory and our joy, a place where lives are transformed and the gospel is lived out. Even with a small home and limited income, this can be accomplished. As you will see in future posts, it doesn’t matter if you live in a North American suburb, a chalet in Switzerland, a concrete shack in Tijuana, Mexico, or a grass hut in Africa. Your “home” can be a place of ministry, beauty, and design.

We hope that you will take time to come back often and follow us on our journey of creating an Artisan Home!