Friday, October 17, 2014

a continual feast

photo courtesy of my wonderful sister, nicole - and a sneak peek of the dress i'll be showing off soon!! :)

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i've been thinking a lot about perspective lately.
how our attitude and our outlook affect our circumstances.
i mean, they generally don't change them....but they can change the way we see them, and, as a result, the way we feel about them.

i've mentioned before how ann voskamp really emphasizes giving thanks as the way to finding joy in the everyday mess of life.
and it's so true (if you haven't read her book, one thousand gifts, i'd encourage you to take a peek at it - there's a link right to it on amazon over on my sidebar!) but lately i've been taking it even a step farther. (do those words together look like "stepfather" to anyone else? no? okay.. sorry. moving on.)

a couple of mornings ago i happened to be eating breakfast by myself because i had to leave early (well, early enough that no one else was having breakfast yet...) and so i decided to read some in proverbs.
i landed in proverbs 15, and was simply enjoying the wisdom that was being poured forth from this chapter until i came to verse 15:

"all the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast."
(proverbs 15:15 kjv)

at first i thought, that doesn't sound fair - "all the days of the afflicted are evil" - why don't the afflicted get any good days mixed in there?
but then, reading the second part really spoke to me. God is talking more about the perspective than what is actually happening in the lives of the afflicted and the merry.

the reason that "all the days of the afflicted are evil" is because they see themselves, their lives, as afflicted.
i like how the new living translation puts it:
"for the despondent, every day brings trouble."

i basically knew what the word despondent means, but i looked it up anyway just for kicks. ;)
what i found was deeper than what i was expecting - one of the definitions describes one who is despondent as one who has lost all or nearly all hope.
that made me so sad, to think that there are many people in this world who have little to no real hope.
it's not something i haven't known, it's just something i don't like to think about, because to be without hope is to be without a reason to live. and of course, if you have no hope, no real reason to live, you're going to be despondent.

but that means that a Christian has absolutely no business being despondent, or being the "afflicted" person mentioned in proverbs 15:15.

that's not to say that Christians won't be afflicted, or persecuted - quite the contrary! - but to say that Christians should have hope no matter how afflicted they are, because Christians have Christ, who died to give us hope, to become our hope.

of course, everyone has their down days where they have to fight to keep the joy, the hope.
but as a general rule, we followers of Christ ought to be those of merry hearts - those whose lives seem to be continual feasts of joy.

it seems to me that the more joy i look for, the more joy i find. and the more joy i find, even greater the amount is that seems to appear. it's this crazy-good cycle of seeking and finding. i think the reason is because God promises that those who seek Him will find Him, and He is joy, and so seeking joy and seeking Christ become one and the same. it's such a beautiful thing, this joy-cycle. truly, life becomes a continual feast for your soul when you cultivate that spirit in your heart of looking for the grace in each moment and letting Christ make your joy full (see john 15:11).

so in light of all of this, the question i'm asking myself these days is this:

are you - not your mom, your brother, your neighbor, your cousin, but you - the afflicted one, whose days are all "evil," full of trouble, or are you the one who is of a merry heart, whose life is a continual soul-feast of the things of Christ?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

i got a new shirt yesterday

i got a new shirt yesterday, which i proudly wore today.

because the world help blogging team is just that awesome.

sorry for the bad-quality photos - i just snapped them real quick with my iPod a few minutes ago - but the back says, "world help" and the website:
worldhelp.net

and i love that, because i fully trust this organization and am so proud to be able to support them.
i believe that they use their resources prayerfully and, therefore, wisely, and sadly that seems to be a rare thing these days.


haha. you know i can never resist a goofy one. never ever. ;)

this one is actually my favorite shot, though.
after all the work of using the camera timer and picking out the best ones, of course this one taken selfie-style ends up being my favorite. oh well. :)

i am so blessed to be one of the many channels God is using to bring awareness and support, in order to bring help and hope, and, in effect, change our world.

once again i'd love to invite you to use YOUR voice to change our world - visit http://worldhelp.net/bloggers/ for more information on how you can join the blogging mission!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

#mugswap14

i'm curious how many of you were around when i shared about last year's mug swap.
but i suppose that's not really important, is it? just something that crossed my mind as i was beginning to type. :)


well, for those of you who weren't, or else don't remember (because who remembers everything?), every year, the adorable kim organizes and hosts this fun thing each year where everyone who signs up is assigned a secret partner to send a mug to, and in return, a different secret partner sends one to them! making new friends and getting a new mug? way fun.

this year my swap buddy that i was assigned to send a mug to was anne. i, of course, knew practically nothing about sweet anne, so the instagram stalking began. in the non-creepy-est way possible, i assure you. ;D

i started by creating some "coffee & Jesus" calligraphy art for her. i'm still learning the knack of using a real calligraphy pen.... when i received the print of it, i didn't end up liking the way it looked printed, framed, etc., soooo, instead, i transferred the lettering onto a photo where it seemed to work much better (in true rich in blessings fashion, of course). unfortunately i failed to take a picture of the final product. :(

a sweet new friend and i were discussing what we were sending to our swap buddies, so i sent her this picture of my almost-complete stash of goodies for anne (and my new favorite nail polish color, of course). :)
not pictured: "coffee & Jesus" print, and a silver, hand-stamped spoon that says, "rise & shine."
(i neeeeed to get one of those spoons for myself. too cute!)

everything all packaged up and ready to go, minus the two previously-mentioned things i was waiting on. :)

once i finally had everything together, off it went, and then off i went, on vacation with my family! :)

i was soooo excited to come home from vacation to find this happiness waiting for me!!
{do excuse the mess in the background. these things happen when you have like five packages waiting for you when you get home from a week-long trip, and you're so excited that you don't even bother moving your junk from the van before tearing into them.} ;)

THE most adorable birdy card. love.

the whole shebang. everything is so so perfect, and so so me!! my other swap buddy, jayme, did an outstanding job of insta-stalking me and getting to know my style.

now allow me to show everything off semi-individually. :D

happy-crafty-stuff. ahhhh. <3
i mean, how did she even know that i have this crazy sharpie addiction??

yellow trimmings. especially looove that soft lace.

and bicycle washi tape!! YES.

okay, this one may seem like a small thing to you, but for serious. i LOVE how involved God is in the tiniest details of our lives. i'd been wanting to try some of this lotion for awhile, and made myself pass on it the last time i was about to buy some (maybe or maybe not because i'd spent too much on my swap buddy.. hehe;)), but God knew. and He blessed me for trying harder to be a good steward, because He knows i struggle with it. He's so good.

perfectly adorable bicycle cards, too! i also passed on buying some new notecards for myself (possibly the same time i passed on the "burt's bees"), and again - God knew. <3

and now the big reveal, and the reason she even sent all the other goodness - the mug itself! :)

isn't is SO cute?! it says, "He makes all things new," and the bright sunshine is the cheeriest thing in the world. =)

not to mention cute little birdies gracing us with their presence on the mug, as well!

but my favorite part - there's a bird on the inside, too!! again, how did she know that i have this random obsession with mugs that have things on the inside? :D

hearts. =)

and chevron. because in moderation, i like it. again, i feel like she took me shopping with her. haha!

this is my i-just-got-home-from-vacation-and-don't-even-care-how-bad-i-look-because-i-have-a-cute-new-mug face. can't you tell? ;)

again with the bird. love it so much!

annnnd last, but most certainly not least, she stocked me up with some starbucks goodies!!
i actually teared up a bit when i saw the starbucks giftcard, because again, i've been making myself pass on going to starbucks lately, in an effort to be a better steward. God is just too too good to me.

and sweet jayme is, too. ;)
thank you SO much, new friend!!!! i can't wait to see what God does with our friendship.
so blessed by you! <3

--

p.s. is it sad that i was almost as excited about the cute tissue paper that was part of the packaging as i was about every single other thing?
i might also suffer from a random cute tissue paper obsession. xD

Friday, August 22, 2014

hope for the least of these

do you remember about a year ago when i announced that i was going to start blogging for world help?
well, sadly, i have fallen out of that somewhat and haven't done much blogging on their behalf this year.
it wasn't that i lost my passion - in fact, i feel that my passion has actually grown! - but more that i lost my words. whenever i would go to write a post for world help, i just never felt that my words were adequate, and so, i stayed silent. i kept praying that God would give me the words, but it was as if He just kept telling me to wait, that the words would come, but only in His time. and His time is perfect, no?

i am so thankful to finally be back at it! i can't promise that i'll be able to write monthly world help posts, but i can promise that i will be praying fervently over each post and whether He would have me share my heart on the various topics we world help blogging advocates are presented with.

that said, i wanted to share some wise words that a fellow world help blogger shared the other day as we were discussing this whole thing:

"i think sometimes people want to get involved because they think it's an opportunity to be known. however, that's not enough motivation to keep you writing. eventually, it's just not worth it because you don't feel it brings back sufficient returns."

i really believe this couldn't be more true. and honestly, maybe that's what happened with me - maybe in spite of my words at the beginning, i was really doing it to try to become known. i don't think that was my sole reason, but it definitely could have been at least part of it - and why God guided me to be silent on this subject for a time. maybe He was helping me get my heart in the right place. i did say my passion has grown, didn't i? :)

i know that some of you have a similar passion - a passion for the helpless, the fatherless, the least of these.
and as meaningful as it can be to go and serve them and give them hope, we also need people who are willing to stay and be advocates.

being the voice of the fatherless and the helpless can be such an important and meaningful ministry, and there are countless in this world who need your voice.
they have no way of getting help for themselves, but with you and i speaking up for them, we can bring help to them.


if you have a passion for the widow, the fatherless, the helpless, the hopeless - the "least of these" - i'd like to ask you now to consider joining the world help blogging team.
in fact, to again echo the words of darlene collazo, this is in fact more than a blogging team - it's a mission.
a mission to bring hope and help to the broken and forgotten lives around the world.

remember what Jesus Himself said:
"truly i tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me."
matthew 25:40 niv

would you please pray about whether God would have you join world help in being a voice for those who don't know where to find the help and hope that they need?

if you have any questions, hopefully this will answer them - but if not, i'd be happy to do my best to! :)
for more information about how you can join the world help blogging team, please click here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

blessed are....

{custom long-distance friendship mug from espresso a latte!}

reading in oswald chambers', "my utmost for His highest," this morning, these things stuck out to me:

"blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
matthew 5:3 niv

"the new testament notices things which from our standards do not seem to count. "blessed are the poor in spirit," literally - blessed are the paupers - an exceedingly commonplace thing!
.... at the basis of Christ's Kingdom is the unaffected loveliness of the commonplace.
............ which are the people who have influenced us most? not the ones who thought they did, but those who had not the remotest notion that they were influencing us. ... we always know when Jesus is at work because He produces in the commonplace something that is inspiring."

what is your least-favorite/most commonplace task?
i spend the majority of my days doing laundry for the ten people that live here (my family, haha;)) and let me tell you, some days it feels so commonplace and unnoticed and unappreciated and worthless.
but Jesus says, "blessed are [you]"!
in whatever commonplace task you find yourself today, blessed are YOU.
you're NOT unnoticed, for we serve the God who sees.
you are blessed.

blessed are the commonplace -
the dish-washers,
the laundry-doers,
the bathroom-cleaners,
the dinner-makers,
the diaper-changers.
blessed are those whose work "doesn't matter" -
because it does.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

bloom

{photo taken and hand-lettered by yours truly and one of my current favorites, available for purchase in the shop!}

that quote can be so cliché, can't it?
i actually used to hate it, simply for that reason. i was like, the principle is good, but i'm so. tired. of. hearing. that.
but God - i just love those two words together, don't you? - has been teaching me this very thing lately, and i've actually come to love the saying.

bloom where you're planted.

while this isn't an "official" virtuous woman post, i think blooming where you're planted is very much a virtuous-woman-y thing to do. because the virtuous woman trusts that God Himself has "planted" her right where she is for a very specific reason.

those flowers in that picture i took out at my gramma's spoke so much to me in their place between fences. they're absolutely stuck there, not able to grow as tall or as freely as those beyond the fence, yet they're proudly blooming right where they are (not that they were necessarily planted there, but work with me here;)). they don't compare themselves to those flowers free on the other side of the fence - none of that "the grass is always greener" stuff. they just bloom beautifully in exactly the place God has them, trusting that He wants them there and that He will use them mightily wherever He puts them because, truly, He knows better than they.

i don't know about you, but i feel like i've been absolutely stuck in a waiting season for at least three years now, and things don't appear to be changing anytime soon. and let me tell you - blooming is hard.
i mean, to t.r.u.l.y. bloom, your heart has to be in it. and that, my friends, is where it just gets tough, and you get weary and just so tired of everything in life sometimes (can someone say dramatic? well trying to do something when your heart's not in it can get very dramatic, believe me).

but this is what God has been showing me:

if your heart is really in following God to the end, then your heart should really be in blooming whatever place He has you right now.
now, that's not to say that you should necessarily enjoy difficult things that are happening to you or that your heart should be glad when you're dealing with the pain of losing someone you love.
but your heart should still be trusting. trusting that He has a perfect plan and purpose for whatever it is He's bringing you through. trusting that when you're "stuck" waiting, He is not stuck, and He is working, always. trusting that waiting time is never wasted time. trusting that, "even if He does not," (daniel 3:18), He's still good.

He's always good. all the time. in every single thing.
He. is. good.

and because He is good, you can trust.
and because you can trust, you can bloom.
right now, just exactly where you are - where you're planted.
where He's planted you.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

summer so far

as promised in a who-knows-how-long-ago-it-was post, here is a recap of my summer so far!
be prepared - 97 pictures follow. and that's, of course, after i narrowed it down. xD

 
to start it off amazinglyyyy, we FINALLY got to meet sadie from irish ragamuffin's lil sister and her wonderful family!

ice skating - me, sadie, and her mom:)

emily and sadie on a superrrr-early-morning walk, complete, of course, with ice cream cones.

also, you remember my dear, sweet aunt lottie? sadly, she passed away on may 21, and we had her funeral on june 3. she is the closest person i've ever lost, and i've never looked forward to heaven more - but it truly is SO comforting to know that she is singing with the angels in heaven now and that we will see her again someday! <3

family dinner after the funeral:)

and kyle was super awesome and treated us all to jimmie's diner afterwards, too. SO yummy. seriously.

God is so kind. He brought a brand new life on the day that we celebrated aunt lottie's full one.
allow me to introduce my sister, nicole's, second son, tyson graham. <3

lots of restful Jesus time during the quiet mornings has been so needed during the crazy that has been this summer.

little brother, brady, played baseball through a local little league, which of course means lots of crazy selfies taken during the warm up and/or slow times. ;)

meeting sweet tyson for the first time. <3

brady at bat

twizzler 'staches for the win

friends' softball game

random walmart trips....

....and random bonfires.

also, an instagram friend was sweet enough to share which app she uses to transfer her drawings onto her photos, and i've had so. much. fun. playing around with my own. this one is my favorite so far. :)

 
then there was a random daisy patch in our front yard that was just begging for a selfie. ;)

black-eyed susans all over our front yard, too.

<3

i've also been taking a walk almost every day when it's too hot to bike.

:)

of course i couldn't resist sharing this one of nicole and her sweet family. =)

more walks and photo-doodles.

annnd more walking, this time with the sweeeeet yellow sunglasses that my amazing friends, chasity and kaylee beth gave me for my birthday. :D

brady coming in to home plate like a boss.

:P

sometimes i bike in to town and visit nicole and the boys. and we both agree that geraldine (my bike;)) looks like she belongs at her house. :)

sweet tyson, always sleeping the day away. hehe.

there's been lots of babysitting fun this summer, too. :D

then there was this one day that we girls got to ride along with kyle at sunrise so we could spend the day (as in, the entire day, haha!) with some friends.

quiet time on their porch because i didn't want to get up early enough to do it at home before we left. ;)

some of their boys went and picked a bunch of cherries that afternoon - delicious summery treat.

also, a best friend got married last year and had a baby this year. soooo precious and beautiful. <3

and kyle was amazing and treated us to chipotle - first time everrrr - on our way home that evening!

i believe this was father's day. we make daddy proud, i'm sure. xD

at a bridge that i sometimes walk to

accidental twinning with e. :)

more baseball game fun :D

also i painted my toenails blue for the first time everrrr. and i loved it.

and then sadie and fam surprised us with an overnight visit!! well, okay. most of us actually knew beforehand, but emily was completely shocked. ;)

love this girl so much.

:P

a favorite.

another favorite. even though i actually started blacking out before i could get them to get off me - not really sure how the ones beneath me were still able to breathe, because i for real could. not. xD

james, sadie, & me, accidentally matching in pink that day. =)

another best friend is getting married in a little less than two months now. <3

more babysitting. <3 <3 <3

i was finally able to get myself a custom, designed-by-me iPod case and i'm so in love with it!!!!
i hope to have some of this design available as iPhone and iPod cases in the shop soon, but we shall see what God wants to do as far as that goes. ;)

when friends spend the night, late sonic runs for half-price shakes is a m.u.s.t.

and mountain dew in glass bottles is one of the best things ever.

my niecy-niece turned one (and there are better pictures but this one was too classic to pass up).

i curled my hair at one point, and within just a couple hours, it was down to just wavy - but i loved it even more.

i also made this delicious fruit pizza at this random time when we had a boatload of fresh fruit on hand.

and my wonderful friend, lora, sent me this just because she knew it would bless me when i mentioned to her that psalm 23 was read at aunt lottie's funeral. <3

this house, otherwise known as "the dollhouse," belongs with geraldine, i am forever convinced.

i custom-designed this picture and had it printed on wood for nicole's birthday.
and now i want to always get my art printed on wood.

more coffee and Jesus time. <3

daisy-picking on a walk:)

 
hanging out after a music ministry our church did

 
jesse & me

and mcdonald's for ice cream, too! :)

my amazing friend & mentor, susan, took me out for lunch. i always come away so uplifted after spending time with her. <3

baseball game selfie, yet again. :D

i love when God decides to show off. =)

a friend was in town (she lives in colorado) and she and her sisters got to come spend the day with us:)

fourth of july craziness :D

me and the cackster.

jesse, ivan, and, yes, me.

channels only. <3

more adventures with geraldine.

and more babysitting. this kid cracks me up.

God knows what i love. <3 He's so sweet to me.

not only did my niece turn one, this little man turned two! they're already growing up too fast.

stinker.

this is so much of what God has been teaching me lately - that no matter what, He's still good.

writing letters to far-away friends. <3

early-morning, delicious 55-degree-weather walks down to the mailbox =)

ahhhhh.

1 peter Bible study at starbucks. =)

more softball games with friends

and more sonic fun :D

rain walks to refresh my soul.

again, God knows what i love. <3

early mornings with Jesus are my very favorite.

but then, biking in to visit the sister and the boys is also my favorite. ;)

"may God grand us faith to completely trust His Word,
even when every other sign points the other way."
-c.h.p.
(taken from "streams in the desert")

proverbs 31 study for the virtuous woman blog posts. :)

nicole and i have started going through beth moore's "so long, insecurity" with a few friends, and so far it is so. so. good.

another truth God has been teaching me lately. <3

and as i said on instagram - sometimes i believe God cries with us. <3

this was just yesterday - babysitting this munchkin again. he's the cutest.
and he, too, is getting TOO big.

little adventures through the backyard.

love that look of concentration.

he thinks i'm weird. shoot, i am.
but he loves me, i promise. ;)

this morning's Jesus time ended up with me getting the old hymn, "nothing between," stuck in my head.

"nothing between my soul and the Savior."

truly so much harder than it sounds.

cruisin around town with angie with the windows down.
actually she was driving me to my babysitting job. but still, cruisin. ;)

and last but not least, i HAD to show off this gorgeous minty-colored tank that i bought from ekubo ministries. it is SO soft and comfy and perfect. it says, "it is well with my soul," which has always been a favorite hymn, but means even more now that aunt lottie is gone, as it was one of her favorites, too, and i remember her singing it in her living room, and we sang it at her funeral. <3
also, the money from every purchase from ekubo ministries goes to support their children's home in uganda, and they have been under such vicious attack from satan lately. but they are trusting God and they are fighting back! i'd encourage you to go check them out and maybe buy a shirt (or two, or three). you will not be disappointed, i promise!

i am so looking forward to being back, and i have some exciting new things coming that i can't wait to share with you! thanks for hanging in there with me and i figure out how to work blogging in to life. y'all are the best. :)