December 30, 2013

{Not So} Ordinary Moments: Icy Days

We got a load of ice on everything except the streets. It was creepy seeing trees bent under the weight of it.

Had lunch with this sweet girl who is like a daughter to me.

Patio furniture turned ice art.

His first time to ever foul out; he plays hard.

Icicles hanging in rows on the rooftop.

What extraordinary ordinary moments have you enjoyed lately?

December 27, 2013

Painted Portraits

I got the privilege of painting one of my favorite families. It was really fun to try to capture their personalities; the snow days were perfect for it.

It's called, A Mother's Love.

December 25, 2013

25 Thoughts on the Christmas Story

1.  Not one of my pregnancies involved riding a donkey.
2.  In the pain of labor, I'd be happy with a barn too.
3.  I imagine this was Joseph's first birth experience.
4.  His assistants were animals.
5.  Angels must have seemed like stars coming in close.
6.  With such a dark sky, they must have seemed bright.
7.  Watching sheep was finally exciting.
8.  Shepherds left their one task to find what the angels spoke of.
9.  If it's not a crying babe, it's a room full of shepherds.
10. Wise men saw the star without telescopes.
11. Why did no one else notice that star?
12. Must be like us, keeping their eyes on the ground.
13. Mary doesn't resent any of it, she treasures it in her heart.
14. The King is Mary's opposite, he despises it all.
15. The wise men must've thought the babe was Herod's child.
16. They didn't seem afraid to mention their search.
17. Maybe in their country, kings wouldn't kill you for that.
18. Herod acted the part well, matching his excitement with theirs.
19. He fooled them into doing his dirty work of finding the child.
20. Gold, frankincense and myrrh are interesting baby gifts.
21. Dreams were powerful in those times.
22. Or maybe we're just used to ignoring their significance.
23. The wise men's dream makes them wise; they avoid Herod.
24. Evil men like Herod don't like being avoided.
25. Joseph's quick obedience saved his family.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2013

{Not So} Ordinary Moments

Adorable ornaments of my kids, from years past, hanging on the Christmas tree.

A baby Jesus figurine my husband can't hide till Christmas (because it's attached).

Coffee and train date with a sweet, little friend.

Blue bandannas that hide the fact I'm growing out my pixie cut.

A relaxed afternoon in moccasins.

What ordinary moments have you enjoyed lately?

December 20, 2013

5 Homemade Toy Gift Ideas

I thought it'd be fun to find some creative gift ideas on Pinterest for kids that aren't the same as what everyone else is getting from the big box stores. These are as pretty as they are functional. Enjoy!

1. Beautiful Memory Game by My So Called Green Life

2. Toilet Tube Animals by Creative Me Inspired You.

3.  Rope Tree Ladder by Make and Play.

4.  Cardboard Playhouses by A Beautiful Mess.

5.  Little Mice in Bed by Oh Sweet Babies.

I love all these adorable homemade toys! Which ones would you (or yours) most enjoy?

December 18, 2013

The Gift of Telling

Sometimes you run out of time to tell people you love them. This year my grandmother passed away in May, then in October my mother-in-law died suddenly. During the last four years, I've lost six dear people, some slowly, some suddenly. I've realized that ordinary moments aren't so ordinary, they're actually beautiful treasures.

Telling someone how much they mean to you is a gift. A gift to you because you still have the opportunity to tell them and a gift to them because they get to hear it. I've been a bit more gushy of late, telling people that I love them or how grateful I am for them. Losing people has turned me into a softy and I don't apologize for it.

I've been sending silly, interactive postcards to the daughter of one of the friends I lost. I think about my friend every time I write a note to her grown daughter. I think about how my friend can't tell her daughter things like she would've if she'd lived but I can do it for her. So I do.

This Christmas you can give a conventional gift, something consumeristic and common, or you can gift someone with words. It doesn't matter if your words are odd, un-rhyming or misspelled, they will be held dear. They will reach into the heart of another in a way no other gift can.

It might be as simple as sending a loving text every hour on Christmas day.  I did this for one of my best friends on her 40th birthday. It didn't take much on my part, just remembering to send them as I went about my day, but those words lifted her and made her feel as special as she is.

Maybe your words could be spoken, texted, written in a letter or written on a chalkboard.

Words are powerful and free.

Give the gift of telling this Christmas.

December 16, 2013

Favorite Things: Fairy Necklaces

These are a few Etsy fairy necklaces I love:

1. I Believe in Fairies.

2. And Though She Be But Little, She Is Fierce.

3. Fairy Moon.

4. Faery Cameo.

5. Beach Fairy.

If you've visited here long, you know I love fairies. It began with Peter Pan and feisty Tinker Bell and morphed into an infatuation of all things fairy. I love the innocence and mischievousness they represent.

December 13, 2013

Lessons the Hobbit has Taught Me

1. Sometimes you just have to keep fighting. 

No matter how bleak it seems, no matter how weary your soul, you must keep one foot in front of the other, one sword held in readiness and keep fighting. Keep in mind the purpose of your goal, the people that matter, the life you must live.

2. No one is too small to make a difference. 

The small are often underestimated in their giant hearts, huge courage and large willingness to sacrifice. If you feel too small to matter, you're wrong. It may not seem your efforts are making a difference, but one person can make all the difference in the world.

3. The insurmountable can be overcome. 

Even when the problem is a fire-breathing dragon or a broken heart that doesn't heal or a situation that seems hopeless. Life is ever-changing and despair can be overcome. It may take pain, time or pouring out your soul to another, but it can be defeated. In it's place, hope can rise.

I love the Hobbit and I know there's been a lot of criticism about the movie being broken into three parts, but I'm really excited about it. I like that Peter Jackson is using supplementary material Tolkien wrote about the history of Middle-earth to add in what we don't see so much in just the book. And of course, I know there is Hollywood license to embellish, but still, I'm looking forward to seeing the next two movies, and the second is out today!

Have you seen it?

December 11, 2013

I'm a Doubter and a Jesus Feminist

The word, feminist, used to conger up images of man-haters and bitter women for me. But somewhere along the way, my ideas changed about that.

I'm not exactly sure when they changed, but I know it began when I watched the documentary of Half the Sky, when I read books like, A Year of Biblical Womanhood and Why Not Women. My old interpretations of certain passages broke apart as I delved into the context, words, and meanings of that culture; I saw a much different message than I'd grown up with.

Jesus led out in this so beautifully. He was one of the first to rally behind women and show the world the injustice of thwarting his plan of unity. He taught women in a culture where it was unheard of and gave them a place with the rest of his disciples, listening at his feet. He didn't treat them as less or scold them for wanting to learn. It's no wonder Mary lovingly called him her teacher.

I especially love the story of how he handled his resurrection.

Jesus commanded Mary to tell the disciples he was alive. He didn't tell John or Peter, who had been with Mary only moments before; he waited until they were gone and revealed himself to Mary. If Jesus really didn't want women telling men anything, then why did he hand Mary the most important message in all of Christendom? The climax of the story and he gave it to a woman. I have a hunch on why he did that. I think he knew this story would be told countless times, and always would be Mary smack dab in the middle carrying the message to the disciples. Jesus led out in what he wanted the church to start, a revolution. A revolution of inclusion and love. 

I imagine it to be one of a community so entwined that you can't see the arm for the nose, the foot for the head. One that doesn't separate based on color, status or gender; but one that's woven so thickly together in love that nothing can penetrate or tear it apart.

This is the feminism I want to be a part of, full of compassion, understanding and co-submission. A team of people dedicated to working and growing together in such a passionate tenderness that no voice is unheard, no person is silenced. Where there isn't a need for limiting others, only a group effort like a wave rushing together over the shore.

What could we do for the world if we didn't leave half of our team behind?

That's what I'd love to know, it's why I'm a Jesus Feminist. Because I believe that we, joined together side by side, could make a giant difference in the world.

And I think Jesus knew that too.

December 9, 2013

8 Gift Ideas for Time Together

Enjoying each other and making memories is one of the best parts of life. So what better than to give that as your gifts this year instead of more stuff? You can take the money you save and give to many in need around the world (check out this site for more information on that).
Here are eight gift ideas for spending time together:

1.  Picnic by the fire, either a fire pit or fireplace. Lay out a blanket, maybe make a tent (if it includes kids or kids-at heart) and just catch up on life. You could play a conversation game to find out things you never knew about each other.

2.  Board game party. Instead of getting your friends little trinkets they won't use, throw a board game party. Have a table full of popcorn, flavored or simply buttered, and gather everyone around for a night full of laughter and friendly competition.

3.  Caroling, coats and cider. Simmer cider in the crock pot or stove top, have everyone bring old coats they aren't using to take to a homeless shelter. Then go caroling in your neighborhoods, and brighten the night. Remember to print off lyrics in case someone doesn't know the words.

4.  Organize something together. Sometimes you really need a friend to help you sort through stuff and see it from a fresh perspective. My youngest daughter is a born-organized person who can shift chaos into order in a matter of moments. It's always helpful to me when she assists my clean-up efforts. If you have the gift of orderliness, maybe you could give a coupon for helping out a friend (who's expressed interest, don't give a coupon to someone who might get offended). A few ideas would be: Closet Clean-up, Kitchen Control, Garage Arranging.

5.  Thermos coffee date. It's crazy how much we go out for coffee, but what about brewing your favorite brand and bottling it to go? You could meet at sunrise or sunset. Find a beautiful scenic spot complete with coats, scarves, and blankets then snuggle in to enjoy the view.

6.  Raking leaves and hot chocolate. So this may not sound too exciting, but for elderly grandparents this could be a blessing more than you know! Gather your family and spend the afternoon raking leaves and end it together chatting over hot chocolate.

7.  First snowfall snowball fight. Wrap a ticket for this event and then store ready-made food items and goods in your pantry for the impromptu party. When the first good snowfall appears send out a text that their tickets are good for that day (afternoon or night). You might want to have plenty of mittens on hand or remind them to bring their own. Boxes are also fun for creating forts or storing snowballs.

8.  Book/Movie Club. For the booklover in your family, give a handmade invitation to read a book together and then when the movie comes out, go see it together. This gives you the chance to enjoy and talk about it twice!
What other ideas would be good for times together?

December 6, 2013

5 Homemade Scarf Gift Ideas

Since I'm trying to make things instead of buy things this Christmas (here's why), I thought it would be fun to show homemade gift ideas I found on Pinterest. Here are five scarf ideas:

1. Makeover button scarf by P.S. Heart.

2. Fringed fleece scarf by The Creative Bubble.

3. Patchwork scarf by The Homes I Have Made.

4. Yarn fringe patterned scarf by Green Owl Art.

5. Embellished leaf scarf by Grosgrain Fabulous.

Aren't they lovely? Hope this spurs more homemade gift ideas for you!

December 4, 2013

Why Sidekicks Should Grab a Cape

I would rather be a sidekick than hero any day. It's much easier to follow someone hacking their way through the jungle than it is to pick up the scythe. But sometimes that's a cop-out so I don't have to be the one in battle. Sometimes it's because I'm afraid. Other times it's because people tell me I can't do it and I choose to believe them.

The church is one of those places where we've established a difference between heroes and sidekicks. Women are often treated as sidekicks; allowed to come behind, but not to wear the cape. It's sad because I don't believe Jesus lived like this. He was a revolutionary in his time, pulling women alongside him, letting them sit at his feet while he taught. He didn't shy away from having them take part when that was unheard of. And yet, because of a few scriptures {often taken out of context or misinterpreted}, women sit on the sidelines.

I'm not saying that everyone has to be served and play the star. Of course we should all support each other and there will be times we choose to be the sidekicks or the support for others. What I'm talking about is the constant limit on women to be able to lead out in this journey. It should not stay one-sided, it should be a team effort.

I think there is so much our world is missing out on because of these boundaries. And the church grieves me because we should be the ones leading out and showing that we're all equal under the law of love. But instead, we continue the patterns that have existed for years, holding back a group of people who could, quite possibly, change the world.

Women across the globe are being abused because their culture operates with these thoughts, and I can't help but believe we perpetuate it. What if we start a revolution to show that we link arms together, men and women, in our capes? We can all step forward in love and truth. No one should be devalued, no one should be considered "lesser than". We can begin with ourselves and our friends, one by one, person by person.

It's time to don your cape.

December 2, 2013

When the Rich Kid Gets all the Presents

Have you ever sat at a birthday party, dinner party or outings with friends where one person seems to have it all? That kid always gets the latest gadget you want; or your neighbor always has the most updated revisions on their house; or your friend always seems one lucky step ahead in life. It's hard to stomach when you've only got five dollars to your name, or you just lost your job, or you don't have the support system they have.

Probably most of us have been on the yucky side of that scenario. But could we also admit being on the other side? Most of us, in the states at least, have what we need. We have housing, food, and some amount of money. But when Christmas rolls around, we go insane. We make lists of stuff we want, we purchase stuff other people want, we send cards in maniac fashion and generally grab to get as much as we can. We're the rich kids stuffing our rooms with things we don't need while our neighbor, in a developing country, is hoping to have a meal that day.

I think somewhere along the way our priorities got out of whack. I'm not saying there shouldn't be fun or celebrations, but how could we change them to be inclusive? Could we take the money we usually spend on people who probably have what they need, and send it to our neighbor? What if we gave of ourselves, to our families and friends, instead of buying stuff?

We could give meaningful, homemade gifts, or a special time together, or make dinner. We could save our money and give it to the ones who really need it. I'll be posting more ideas on this throughout the month.

I don't usually share many videos on my blog, but this one is so inspiring. It's my gift to you this season, enjoy!