Craft Project: Arty Chalk Board (for a 1year old photo shoot)

This project was a beginner’s D.I.Y attempt. I’m not particularly crafty (ha!) but every now and then I have the opportunity to be challenged creatively.  Also, please note, I am not particularly good at photo taking and photo adding. I tried.

This craft challenge was a request from a close friend, for her gorgeous soon to be 1-year-old. It’s something I’ve never done before, so thought (and it was suggested) that I could blog about it.

It was a fairly simple process, so I’ll attempt to blog it simply. I use the term “blog it simply” fairly loosely here.

Step 1: Get a brief idea of the vision

  • My friend forwarded me some pictures for an idea of the project (thanks google).

chalkboard1 chalkboard2 chalkboard3

  • I also asked some of my art/craft/design inclined friends for some ideas. Ok, it was 1 friend, but still very helpful.


Step 2: Materials
What I ended up needing:

  • A huge chalkboard.
  • Black chalkboard paint.
  • A paintbrush.
  • Chalk.
  • Paper.
  • Pencil.
  • Tape.
  • Newspaper.

I called around and checked out some of the materials I thought I might need, as well as the costs compared to my budget. This included 2 craft shops and 1 hardware store.
chalkboardbought chalkboardpaint

(I’m sure we can all use some imagination for the other needed items)

Step 3: Put tape around the edges (optional)

  • I put tape along the frame to avoid paint getting on the wooden frame.
  • If you’re a professional, you probably paint like a ninja and don’t need tape.
  • I tend to be a cluts sometimes, so tape the edges, I did.


Step 4: Two coats of Black Chalkboard paint

  • The board was initially green (as seen on the picture), which isn’t particularly a problem, however my heart (based on my friend’s “vision”) was set on black.
  • I painted the second coat (technically my sister helped me paint, just to keep it honest) a day after the first coat. This was to allow drying time.
  • Also, the first coat was painted vertically, and the second horizontally. The difference this makes, I don’t actually know, so whom I kidding, just make sure it’s black.


Step 5: Doodles (time and place is optional)

  • During bored moments at work I doodled some ideas for the chalkboard.
  • If you are somewhat artistically challenged, I can think of 2 options:
  1. Ask a friend for help.
  2. Google is your friend. Finding simple fun images for ideas to half copy or play around with shouldn’t be too hard. Just don’t get in trouble for copying and saying it belongs to you. That’s just wrong.


Step 6: Ask for a few opinions. (Optional)

  • This step is tricky, simply because everyone has a different opinion.
  • I usually go with my gut, what I feel is right, but because I wasn’t 100% sure, I listened to some thoughts of others on my doodle designs.


Step 7: Choose a design and rough draft it (Optional – the rough draft part)

  • Once the board was completely dry, I drew the chosen design lightly on the board with chalk just to get an idea of how I would best utilise the space on the board.
  • I think for a craft ninja this step could be tossed. Obviously, I’m not a ninja.
  • Please note, if you’re not a fan of a chalky chalk board, then a rough draft should possibly not be done. The ‘rough draft’ chalk (obviously) takes away from the pure black you start with when you first paint. Just thought I’d throw that in there.


Step 8: Chalk it up.
After being satisfied with my pre-design, I cleaned the board and did the final design. Yes, I did it twice.


Well, that was fun!

Craft Rating

  • Effort it took: 6/10
  • Fun factor: 8/10
  • Cheap factor: 6/10 depending on budget
  • Skill factor: little to medium skill, so 5/10
  • Outcome satisfaction:  9/10 (because look at that adorable face?!)


(This picture was clearly not taken by me. I have asked permission though. Ask and you will receive… the name of the photography professionals)

Perhaps in future, I’ll attempt more crafty things and blog about it, who knows I could become the next craft ninja.

Happy Friday!


Friday Favourite: Guest Poem by Kelly Steyn

A really good friend of mine has shared some of her recent poetry with me. For this week’s favourite, I chose to share one of them, with her permission of course.

Kelly has been my friend since our grade 10 higher grade Math class. That is only significant because 2013 now owes us a “10 years and we’re still friends, whoop!” award.


She is one of my most awkward, lovely and super awesome friends. She’s the kind that grows of you and you just want to keep her in your pocket so that you can whip her out every time you want to see her.
(haha, got mad love for you Kelzbellz).

She often writes with simplicity, and truth, which is what I love.

Here’s her poem I decided to share:


Let me choose to be selfless

Remove the selfish part of me

Come and fill this space with love

so that there’s nothing in-between us

You paid the price for me,

Now let me pay the price for You.

— Kelly Steyn

My Kelly friend also really loves pictures and she has a cool Tumblr. blog for you to check out.

Happy Friday! 🙂

Some thoughts on Writing

In my previous post I shared a little about a camp session I was asked to do this past weekend. I intended on adding this as part of the post but thought it might make the post a bit long.

Needless to say, here are some of my random thoughts (simplified) on writing, especially as part of our worship experience.

  1. Everyone has a story to tell. God has given everyone a message.
  2. God sometimes speaks at awkward times. We should try as often as possible to listen, even when its awkward.
  3. Sometimes writing, especially as an expression of worship, will come from our dark, painful or uncomfortable places. Be willing to go there with God.
  4. Writing needs effort – Discipline.
  5. Writing can bring us to our Creator, it allows us to seek Him in a different way, it allows for reflection and connection.
  6. Often writing enables us to clarify our story, our message and it often lead us to share. Sharing our writing helps us to build in our own lives, and in the lives of others.
  7. Writing as an expression of worship is an opportunity. An opportunity to remove the box of fear, doubt and uncertainty. It’s an opportunity to grow, to learn and express that which we might not have known was there.

Mostly, it’s an opportunity to glorify God.

I am so happy and privileged to have had the opportunity to share with a diverse group of people eager to dialogue through some points on the writing process. I sure do have a lot to learn, but how cool that God gave me the opportunity to share anyways! How cool that people responded and positively so!

I serve an awesome God.

The Deep End

Sometimes in life we get thrown in the deep end, and sometimes we discover that we actually enjoy swimming there.

This weekend was one of those “being thrown in the deep end” experiences for me. A mere two weeks ago, I was asked to do a session at a relative’s church camp. The theme of their camp was creative worship, and I was asked to spend some time sharing about writing as a means of creative worship.

Upon the initial phone call, my mind was buzzing with thoughts and ideas, and excitement nearly exploded from my insides at the thought. Of course I was not a professional on the topic and I had no experience sharing on the matter, and yet somehow the thrill of cliff diving into this mysterious venture was exciting.

I was completely calm and happy, until the very night before. I learned that sometimes having too many ideas can be just as frightening as having none. I found that for the duration of my preparation time, I was simply unable to put any ideas in any logical format and everything I seemed to come up with led only to frustration.

Eventually, knowing I had to get up early the next morning and at my wit’s end, I simply prayed and asked God to give me His peace and to take control.

I went to sleep.
I had nothing.
Yet, somehow I felt I needed to trust God.

Faith is a funny thing.

I awoke early the next morning. I read Psalm 12. I had to laugh at verse 3:

“May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
And the tongue that speaks proud things,”

Up until that point, I hadn’t thought about the fact that I was trying to do things on my own, with my own thoughts, ideas and with my pride.
I humbled myself before the Lord. I prayed.

Suddenly, a whole session came into my heart and I quickly jotted everything down.
I almost began stressing about the details. But, I knew it would be futile. I just decided to trust God’s process.

In the end it was good! The interaction, the feedback on the session, the task given, everything went well.
Besides the positive feedback, I think I learned a valuable lesson.

Sometimes we need the deep end to challenge our faith. We also need faith to be victorious and not drown in the deep end.

10 Ways To Stay Stuck

Lately, let’s be honest, I have not been doing good at this whole “living intentionally” or “being a consistent blogger” thing. Upon my guilty feelings and frustrated contemplation, I managed to come up with a couple of reasons for my personal lack in achieving, as I perceived them. I thought I’d list them.

1) Real busyness – Work and “projects” suddenly picked up.
2) Procrastination type of busyness – I use very rational and completely believable excuses.
3) Laziness is real.
4) Fear is real.
5) Ridiculous perfectionism is real.
6) Hormones are real.
7) Lack of discipline.
8) Reality vs Expectations – I am clearly a dreamer.
9) Unclear vision.
10) Unclearly defined goals

At this point, I would like to create a list on how to improve on the above mentioned. A list which points out solutions, naming things like “strategic planning”, “time management”, “clarify goals”, “just do it”, etc. All the things I feel like I’m supposed to say to be better. However, this is not a post about being better. This post is a simple list based on observation. So that’s my list for today, the ten hurdles that challenge me in periods of “stuckness”.

Living Amidst The Paradox

Written a little while ago, but will always be true for me.

Living Amidst the Paradox

One theme that never seems to fade in my understanding is the idea of how life is filled with paradox. Most days, the concept fades into the background, while other days I seem to be made acutely aware of the dichotomy of our existence.

Today is one of those days.

One of those days where I find myself on a suspension bridge between dualities. Below me is deep valley of faith, and I stand on a rickety bridge wondering which way is right and true, or more accurately, which way is more right and true than the other.

I see pain.
I see healing and restoration.

I see poverty.
I see prosperity.

I see failure.
I see success.

I see death.
I see life.

This is our existence.

What often seems to poke at my brain though is that they all co-exist, instead of as separate entities or characteristics. Somehow pain and joy cannot be separated… poverty and prosperity… failure and success… death and life. This is our reality. A spectrum of apparent opposites, which are still married in some mind-boggling way.

My struggle is not then in realising how paradoxical life can be. My struggle exists in the joining of the two, in the manifestation of having both extremes exist within my one heart. My struggle is to grapple with issues in my own heart.  Simple issues. Things like: How to experience my own joy fully, while sharing and bearing the burdens with those who are hurting. How to enjoy the prosperity and blessings in my life, while knowing some have nothing. How to live fully, and yet die to self fully. The struggle is in the simple and yet the complex.

I pondered for a moment on what I just typed. Something scriptural popped to mind.  And as if a lightning bolt zapped my brain, it’s as if God said, “Toni, see My heart”

Psalm 85:10 (NKJV)
10 Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed.

My heart just sunk and sped up all at the same time. The greatest paradox of all just tapped me on the shoulder.


See the truth is, our sin deserves death, but in mercy, through the death and resurrection of Christ, we are given redemption and life. In reality, God’s standard is righteousness. We who fall short are then technically condemned to a harsh judgment… but because of Christ’s sacrifice, we have been reconciled to Him, and thus, we can know peace.

He is the living paradox. He is both man and God. The ultimate paradox, yet the kick being that, He is also the answer to the question of the middle ground. In fact, He is the middle ground. He is the bridge between poverty and prosperity, pain and healing, death and life.

This then leads me to my next conclusion: This uncomfortable place I sometimes find myself in is oddly, exactly where I need to be.

I am with Him, and He is with me.

I am sharing His heart, and He is sharing mine.

I could cry and laugh at the same time.

It’s the paradox.

It’s life.

It’s Jesus.

Friday Favourite: Questions

Since my earlier post was sharing about some recent questions filling my mind, I thought to share some other interesting thought-provoking, and some humourous questions I stumbled across this week.

My favourites thought-provoking:

# 1
How old would you be… if you didn’t now how old you are?

Have you done anything lately worth remembering?

Who do you love? What are you doing about it?

Do you celebrate the things you do have?

Which activities make you lose track of time?

If you had a friend that spoke to you the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?

View all 25 beautifully illustrated questions here.



THEN, for some humourous questions, or rather answers:

akron_mixed_races_of_boys_and_girls_laughing_compressed(picture originally from

Kids’ advice on Love: Questions concerning love and wisdom were posed to a group of children ages 5 to 10.


“Once I’m done with kindergarten, I’m going to find me a wife.”
(Tommy, 5)


“On the first date, they just tell each other lies, and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.” (Mike, 10)


“It gives me a headache to think about that stuff. I’m just a kid. I
don’t need that kind of trouble.” (Kenny, 7)


“One of you should know how to write a check. Because, even if you
have tons of love, there is still going to be a lot of bills.” (Ava 8)


For the rest of the funnies, go here.



Happy Friday! 🙂

Some Difficult Questions

Over the last while, I have asked myself some very difficult questions. While personal challenging questions isn’t exactly mind-blowing, my conviction throughout the process has been pressing.

The hardest question yet was “Am I living an intentional life”?

This question is particularly hard because well, that’s the title or “theme” of my blog. My, so to say, “life motto”, where I daily “live on purpose”. While I honestly love the concept and understand that the truth behind it came from a very sincere place in my heart, I have to be honest with myself about its reality.

Truthfully, when I searched my heart and mind, I decided that the concept was more theory than practice at this stage of my life. I will honestly say this is a little disappointing. However, the fact that I had not yet clearly defined to myself what living purposely and intentionally meant, I saw an opportunity for me to seek it out. The gap existing between my desired concept and real life, expressed the need for some self-reflection and some action.
What does living a meaningful life mean? What does is meant to be intentional about living one’s life? How will I implement what I believe?

This kind of questioning both excited me and equally scared the bejeebers out of me. I find excitement in asking thought-provoking questions (I secretly blame my old college whose motto was “Live the questions”) while I equally hide from the fact that I may not be able to actually follow through. Naturally I fear that while a radical life would be influential, it could also be very costly. I also essentially risk failure, egg on my face as they say, if I am not able to maintain living a purposeful life.

So in fact, the real questions are, which risks am I willing to take? Am I willing to live a life that I believe I am called to irrespective of the outcome or response?

Most importantly, I ask, “Am I willing to risk failure, and be brave enough to be authentic about my journey?”

*cue dramatic music*

My answer: I don’t know, but it’s worth a shot. Life is for the living.

I may not have all the answers yet, but surely I will journey towards them.

Let’s journey shall we?