I hope summer is going great for you. It’s been busy around here, but all is good. We’ve got 20-ish chicks running around… so cute!
This late sleeper cracks me up, all like — “Where’d everybody go?” lol! They’re getting your worms, dude. = )
We made a fun pair of wooden flip-flips for some summer decor. Actually, the boys graciously let me interrupt their pinewood derby car projects to cut them out for me. So sweet to their Mama! <3 <3
They were so simple that instructions aren’t even necessary — just a piece of wood, an ugly (did I really buy that) bag, one or two handy-men with machinery and skills, a hot glue gun and some nails. I was going to paint “Hello SUMMER!” on them. But I think they speak for themselves. = )
We crafted all last week at Vacation Bible School, so it was a good time to do a sign-making tutorial. It would be CrAzY for me not to share the how-to’s of my main thing with ya! Plus, this sign is a graduation gift for my sweet soul-friend’s son. I want to give him a word of encouragement — a daily reminder that he’s never, ever, ever alone.
Isn’t courage what we most want for our kids, our loved ones, ourselves as we make our way through this life? I mean sure, there’s lots of happy, happy, happy, but there’s the hard, hard, and HARD to contend with too. We wish that we could just avoid it, especially that our kids will somehow escape it, but in a fallen world with fallen people, troubles and sorrows are inescapable.
The fears that stalk us can be debilitating sometimes, so courage is what we need and there is only one place that the outcome of ALL is guaranteed good – Jesus. Nothing else. Not our feelings, our intelligence, our skills, our determination — just Jesus.
I want to share a little of my heart with you before we get into the sign-making fun.
We’d been to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia, many times — but this particular time a few years ago was extra exciting because our boys were finally just tall enough to join us on the roller coasters. We were sure they were about to experience the thrills we’d had in the past…
…only that’s not what happened.
In fact, I remember that trip as a painful moment for me as a mom. It was hard, but it was also good — something I believe God wanted me to learn from.
I’m convinced that if you want to torture a mother, you need only make her watch the face of her child utterly filled with fear, while she is powerless to do anything about it. On two separate occasions that day, I saw each son overcome with terror. In one instance, a video camera recording the passing riders captured the fright in one son’s face. While I was experiencing thrills, he was suffering and I didn’t even know.
They should have a camera capturing the faces of moms viewing this. I was appalled. It cut me deeply — especially since I had prodded him along to ride the thing, despite his reservations. I swore off ever pushing them to ride a roller coaster again.
I tried to shake off the ill feelings as much as I could — we’d move on to some other rides that our boys would actually enjoy. At some point, we ended up at the Battering Ram. “Oh you’ll love this!” I told them. We got on board this swinging ship, my youngest son entering the row directly across from and facing me. We were 5 or 6 feet apart. It began a mild pendulum swing, gradually picking up speed and height.
That 5 or 6 feet seemed like another dimension between us as I watched his face quickly turn pale with terror. To a small child who feels like they may fall with each rising swing, there’s nothing fun about it at all. It’s sheer fright and to this mama’s heart — torture.
It’s an image that still grips me right in the throat from time to time. I pleaded with him to look at me. If he would just look at me, maybe he would be comforted by my forced emotion-less expression. “Look at me buddy – it’s almost over – you’re going to be okay” I said it again and again until the ride was finally over. I was so happy to finally hold my boy and see his face return to a feeling of safety.
Now I know some may rag on me about my sensitivity. It wasn’t like we had been through some truly frightful event together, but it left a huge impression in my heart & mind – one that God would later use to comfort me about His own desires for me.
See, a storm was coming for me – a truly frightful event. This time, I would be the child filled with terror, desperate for feelings of safety. Only they didn’t come. But thanks to a good Father, I was given something greater – something deeper – a complete shaking of every last thing I could hold onto which forced me to stand in the only place that cannot be shaken – the promises of my God in Jesus. Simple right? Not really. I’d compare it to telling a paralyzed man – a man who cannot feel – to get up and walk.
Some miracles are instant, but some happen over time, little by little. And that’s what happened to me, spiritually speaking. Battle after battle after battle — I’m learning to stand more firm. It wouldn’t have happened had the battle and the fears simply been removed.
When fear gripped me, I remembered my feelings toward my own children – how I wanted to cast out their fear. I’d consider how much more perfectly my Heavenly Father loves — how He too wants to cast out my fear. But ultimately, I’m powerless to take hold of courage for them – to fix their eyes steadfastly on our only place of safety.
It’s with difficulty that we learn to trust, not by feeling safe, but by believing we are safe. It’s easier said than done when your life is like that frightening pendulum swing and there’s nothing that feels secure. You just want comfort.
But — I had sought comfort as I understood it. Wasn’t comfort feeling comfortable? safe? at ease? The more I searched for the Lord and His help, the more I realized that giving me good, comfortable feelings does not actually cast out fear – not deeply. God actually was comforting me in a way I slowly began to learn – that is, with strength. Get this, the word comfort is derived from “com” (with) and “fort” (strength). So comfort is literally with strength. I had no idea.
Here is an example from God’s Word:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” -2 Corinthians 1:3-4
And here is the note from John MacArthur’s Study Bible:
God of all comfort. An Old Testament description of God, who is the ultimate source of every true act of comfort. The Greek word for “comfort” is related to the familiar word paraclete, “one who comes alongside to help,” another name for the Holy Spirit. “Comfort” often connotes softness and ease, but that is not its meaning here. Paul was saying that God came to him in the middle of his sufferings and troubles to strengthen him and give him courage and boldness.
This is why I love sign-making — to have constant reminders of all we have in Jesus, who is all we need for the courage to overcome.
Let’s make that sign now! = )
- Wood (painted or stained and sealed with a flat sealer) In this tutorial I use a 9″ X 48″ poplar board
- A computer-designed message, printed out and pieced together if larger than 8.5″ X 11″ (Tip: Print your design in light gray to save ink)
- Transfer paper
- Painter’s tape
- A pencil
- Paint for lettering (I use acrylic or chalk paint thinned with water)
- Script, Liner or Round brush (In this tutorial, I’m using an Artist’s Loft “Vienna” 10/0 liner brush – if this is too small for your project, you may want to use a round brush between 1 and 4)
- Q tips
- 1 cup of clean water for dipping the Q tips (mistake removers)
- 1 cup of water for regularly cleaning the brush/smoothing the paint
- Paper towels or rags
- An eraser
- Spray sealer
- Practice, practice, practice! =)
- Design your message and print it out in the size you need.
- Sand your wood if necessary and apply at least 2 coats of paint or stain, then seal with a flat sealer. This will make it much easier to remove mistakes without damaging the background.
- Center your design on the wood and tape the top edge securely with painter’s tape.
- Place a piece of transfer paper (chalky side down) between your design and the wood.
- Outline the letters with your pencil. Make sure your letters are transferring and that you move the transfer paper along as you complete each section.
- Thin your paint for lettering with water, close to the consistency of ranch dressing.
- Paint the letters. I prefer to outline the letter first, then fill it in, but you may find that a different method works better for you. Remove mistakes with a moistened Q tip.
- Depending on your color choices, the lettering will probably need 2-3 coats, sometimes more depending on how dark your background is and what look you’re going for.
- When the lettering is completely dry, erase any remaining transfer chalk
- Wipe clean with a dry rag and seal with a spray sealer. I prefer flat, matte or satin.
Sign-Making Video Tutorial
This sign is also available as a made-to-order item in my shop.
It’s great to know that God’s comforting words are just as effective scratched on a piece of paper and taped to the wall — I do that too!
Let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to share! Thank you so much for visiting. = )
Your friend in life, faith & art ~ Jamie