New in the world...

Just a quick little announcement this morning...

I am so very thrilled to share this with you...after many months of work and waiting, I FINALLY have hoho fabric!! And gift wrap.  And if you really want it, wall paper!!!!

With the help of a wonderful designer from Elle & Co, what has been stuck in my head forever, is finally OUT!

Below are just a couple of my favorite colorways.  If you head on over to my Spoonflower shop, you can see them all and order whatever you'd like and create to your hearts content! :)
happy hohotize - multi
How completely adorable and fun is this?!  I am so in love!
And this? I can't wait to order a roll!!!!
hohotize - green/blue
I'm always a fan of blue and green together, and this is just lovely!
happy hohotize - multi aqua
 And this one?  My favorite by far (at least for right now!).  I hope you love these as much as I do! I can't wait to see what you create! :)  

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how to set yourself up for success (working from home or otherwise)

Good morning!  I apologize for spacing out here for the most part last week!  It was just a tinge crazy and a little life changing.  For the first time in my married and mother life, both of my children are in school full time, together! :)

For the last 7 1/2 years of my life, I have worked on my blog and business with children at my feet, with requests for milk or snacks or every name and number of emergency in their life at the time.  Last year was especially crazy with two boys in two different schools at two different times.  I drove a lot but I still made it work.

But now, that is all different.  Now,  I drop two boys off at 8am and pick them up at 3pm.  That's a lot of day to myself.  
Last week I kind of considered it a dry run, on their first day, Doug took the day off and we just spent it together, he golfed and I tagged along.  We shopped and ate and hung out until it was time to get the boys.  Then Friday, on my first official day alone, it was very weird.  I almost didn't know what to do with myself.  Strangely enough it took me some serious effort to get myself going in the right direction.  And now, with a new week ahead of me, solidly full of five days straight of uninterrupted working, I've done a little better to set myself up for success.

I thought it might be helpful to share how I did that, in case like me, you need a boost to get the ball rolling.  

1:  I cleaned my house.  A dirty house is a great distraction to me.  I spent a nice chunk of time just putting things back where they belonged, cleaning the floors and bathrooms (two key pieces to me feeling like the house is in good shape).  I always say, if you don't know where to start, empty the kitchen sink of dirty dishes, make the beds, vacuum the floors and do a load of laundry.  That's usually enough to get me going.

2:  I ran my errands on Sunday.  Instead of having to run to multiple stores during my "working hours" I ran them on my way home from church.  That helped me with the next step as well, which was...

3:  Make sure you have what you need to do what you have to during the week.  For me this meant making sure I had lunch supplies, loosely planning dinners, and deciding what treats I was going to make to send into school and work with Doug.  Doug and I also went shopping for soccer supplies, since that starts this week.  Planning ahead decreases stress.  These needs of course may be different for you!

4:  Decide on your morning schedule for your kids.  Print it out if need be, that way everyone knows what to expect.  For us it goes like this: up at 7am, the boys are expected to get dressed and make their beds, breakfast, bible reading, teeth brushing and then they get to play until we have to leave at 8am.       

5:  Decide and plan your day(s).  For me, I've decided to begin each day with a walk around our block, which equals out to a mile or two depending on my mood.

6:  Have a general goal for the day.  For me, this is going to take me some time to figure out, but I will plan it as I learn. 

7: Coffee. 
So there is that!  I would love to hear your recipe for success as well! :) I hope your week is full of delight and surprises and good things!  Thanks for stopping by! :)

P.S.  While you're here don't forget to hop over and read my post on making family memories! :)  
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why it's ok to read the message {and why you shouldn't judge others who do!} a guest post.

Hello and good morning!

This is LONG but worth reading.  Please go grab a cup of coffee and sit in a comfy chair!

As you may or may not know, I've been reading through the Bible again this year.  This makes my 4th or 5th time through and this time I am reading The Message translation (on purpose).  A translation written with the purpose of making the Bible approachable to all.  Every morning of the week, and sometimes on weekends, I put the verse of the day up on my Instagram feed as a way to share the word with others in a way that allows them to receive it or not with the scroll of a thumb.  I've shared some of those verses HERE where you can print and use them.  To date, reading The Message has put me on the receiving end of more scorn and criticism than any act I've ever done online.  It's been shocking really.

And I kind of love it honestly.

Do you know why?  Because for every rude critic, I've gotten two thank yous.  I've lost count of the emails, comments, messages I have received since the beginning of this journey telling me that because of this approachable, easy to understand translation that I have shared publicly, without judgment or expectation, they've either started to read the Bible on their own for the first time ever, or it's made them very curious about this loving Jesus I have shared about.  I share that not to toot my own horn in any way, I am humbled that God would even give me, a sinner, the chance to bring one of His children closer to Him in some way but to show you that there is fruit, where critics claim is only disgust and fruitlessness.  Being criticized and attacked verbally is worth it to me.

I recognize that God is creative and endless in His pursuit of us.  He can use a phone book to call to us if need be.  Running around criticizing others for how they read the word is unattractive, it does nothing but shame a (possibly fragile new) believer at the expense of puffing ourselves up.  To think we should tell others how to believe or seek Him is arrogant on our part.  I do my best to present my view point in a non-confrontational, loving way and it's usually met with "yeah, but really, reading the Message is evil" so to speak.  It's legalistic to think we should take our life rules and apply them to others.  Yes, each is entitled to and encouraged to have their own opinions and paths, but they should have no bearing on how another lives.  I've grown weary of explaining myself so I've called in my big guns.

Enter the author of this post, my friend Ryan, whom I've recently talked into starting a blog he calls "Homecooked Jesus".  Usually the biggest argument that people give me against The Message, is that we should be reading "the original" text, referring to the New King James version.  My response is usually "so you read Greek and Hebrew", which is actually the "original text"?  They don't.  And Ryan actually does.  He's is super Bible smart, understands context and is getting a Master of Arts in Christian Thought at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  I asked him to write a post explaining why The Messages should not be a point of contention, and is definitely not a salvation issue.  I think he does a wonderful job.  And please, if you have any questions or comments, Ryan has agreed to come back and respond in the comments, so please feel free to ask or comment, respectfully of course.  And here is Ryan:                   

Hi, my name is Ryan.  I like romantic-comedies (particularly Warm Bodies, which I’ve dubbed a zom-rom-com), candle-lit dinners, long walks on the beach, reading the Bible in Greek and Hebrew…and the Message translation of the Bible. 

Confused?  Is THIS how you feel right now (definitely click on that link)?  I get it.  I have friends who call the NIV the “nearly inspired version.”  I understand.  But we need to be careful here.  If these translations are horrible, then maybe people should be warned against them.  But if it’s just a matter of preference…well then we should all chill out a little.

So…which is it?  Well, my cards are on the table already.  I like the Message.  Why?  We’ll get to that.  But first I’d like to talk about translation in general.  Here are a few of the problems with the common perception of translation:

First, there is no such thing as a literal translation.  Here’s how Merriam-Webster describes literal: “reproduced word for word.”  There’s the problem.  You can’t do that in translation.  Let’s use an uncontroversial example.  Here’s Genesis 1:1 in Hebrew.  

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ

For those of you playing along at home, that’s seven words (and two of them aren’t really words as much as they are grammatical markers…).  Now, in the good old King Jimmy…
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

That’s ten (even the Message is closer here with only 8 words).  So right away…where did the extra words come from?  Is the King James adding words to the Bible?!??!  No.  That’s just what happens in translation.  See, the first word in the Bible, which is just one word in Hebrew (בְּרֵאשִׁית) means “in the beginning.”  One word in Hebrew, three in English.  There just isn’t a single word in English that means the exact same thing as בְּרֵאשִׁית.  That’s because English is a different language.  If all the words in one language directly corresponded to another…they’d be the same language.  So the notion of literal or word for word translation needs to be scrubbed from our vocabulary.  It doesn’t exist.  

Not even good old King Jimmy lives up to that.

Second, all translations are interpretations.  Let’s look at Lamentations 3:22. 
KJV - It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
NIV - Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
ESV - The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
NASB - The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.

Notice, the KJV and the NIV are in agreement.  The Lord’s mercies/great love are the reason that Israel was not consumed.  The ESV and the NASB see it differently.  It is the steadfast love/loving kindnesses of the Lord that do not cease.  Neither of these translations says anything about ‘us’ (referring to Israel).  That’s a significant difference.  And two of the strictest English translations available (KJV and NASB) disagree.  And if that wasn’t strange enough, the NIV (which also has a bad reputation in some circles) sides with the KJV.  Why is there a difference?  Well it’s because the Hebrew here is not particularly easy, and there is significant disagreement as to how we ought to understand it.  [By the way, it is more than a little interesting to me that the Message agrees with the ESV and the NASB here.  “God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.”]

Now that we’ve dismissed a few misconceptions, let’s look at the positive side of translation.  What exactly are we trying to do when we translate?  We’re taking a phrase or phrases in one language and trying to convey the same idea in another language.  So בָּרָ֣א becomes created.  That’s simple.  But what do we do when we have a more complicated sentence?  For instance, a literal translation of Amos 4:6 is “And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.” (KJV)  What on earth does “cleanness of teeth” mean?  Is God brushing our teeth for us?  This could also be translated “I gave you freedom of teeth…”  Well that doesn’t help.  But if we look at the context, it is talking about famine.  So the NIV translation tries to help us with that.  “"I gave you empty stomachs…”  The word ‘stomach’ isn’t here.  They are interpreting ‘cleanness of teeth’ for us, to help us understand what is happening.  And they get it right (*cough, so does the Message, *cough *cough…I should get that cough looked at). 

That’s the fundamental difference in the type of translations available.  Are they trying to stick as closely to the Greek and Hebrew as possible (and thus leave us with “cleanness of teeth”) or are they trying to help us understand where possible (and thus give us “empty stomachs”)?  A translation like the KJV, ESV, NASB, etc are trying to stick closely to the Greek and Hebrew (even with word order), whereas the NIV, NLT, and the Message are trying to help us out to varying degrees.

So we’re left with two possible problems.  When reading the KJV, you may not understand what it says.  When reading the Message, it may not be saying the right thing.  So what do you do?  You read multiple translations, and you use different translations depending on your situation.  When I’m talking to middle-schoolers…there’s no way I’m using the KJV.  But when I’m doing careful study of a text, I’m definitely not going to just read the Message and call it a day.

So why do I actually like the Message? 

First, I like that the chapter and verse numbers aren’t in my way.  Sure that’s makes it tough when I read it in church and I’m trying to find a specific verse, but it makes it better when I’m at home.  These divisions aren’t original to the text, and they have fostered a lack of context in the minds of many Christians.  Translations like the Message help us move away from that.

Second, I like it because it often captures the tone of the passage in a way that other translations just can’t.  It gives me God’s word as if He’s using the language I use on a daily basis.  For instance, Philippians 2:1-4 reads this way in the KJV:

1“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
2 Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

Now, I get what he’s saying, but I’ve spent a lot of time studying this passage.  If I read this to a youth group…their eyes gloss over and they tune out.  Also, notice the separation of verses…just saying. 

But…here’s the Message of the same passage:

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”

Yup.  Got it.  That makes sense.  Is it interpretive?  You betcha.  But is it understandable?  Absolutely.  If I’m talking to a new believer, I’m giving them the Message.  Why?  Because they can read this passage and say, “Oh…Paul is saying that what I’ve received from Christianity ought to motivate me to act a certain way towards other people.  Well that certainly makes sense.”  It helps them get into the text.  They can ease into other translations eventually.  But do you know, when they are tired…they will probably come back to the Message, and that’s a good thing.  When they share a verse on Facebook, it will probably be from the Message, and that’s a good thing.  Why?  Because it is easy to understand.

I know, for some of you, that the Message is a serious problem.  I know it’s really popular in some circles to talk about how horrible the Message is.  It’s inaccurate.  It removes things or adds things.  It encourages dogs and cats to live with one another.  You know…mass hysteria.  I get it.  But I want you to consider something.  Think about what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 8:11 “And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.”  Before you jump in to tell people about the horrors of the Message, remember that this is someone for whom Christ died.  Remember that He loves them just as much as he loves you.  And consider for a moment that even if you are right, your knowledge in this circumstance might do more to destruction than building, and that is a disaster of Biblical proportions.
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How to Propagate Succulents! {or how to make more succulents from other succulents} AN UPDATE!!!

 So almost two months ago I wrote you a little tutorial on propagating succulents and thought you might enjoy a little update on their growth! You can find the how-to and sources for the plants on the original post done in June. I started these with some cutting I bought on Amazon and the results have been pretty awesome.  Above is the baby succulent nursery on day one!
 Here's that same tray two weeks can see some encouraging growth here!
 And six you can see, I only lost a plant or two!  It happens.
And here is the tray at about two months old.  I need to start thinking about transplanting them into their own containers! I'm pretty pleased with my amazon purchase. :) Hop on back to the original post and give propagation a try! :)
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why 35 is going to be the BEST year ever!

Today I turn 35.  I've been more excited about this birthday than any other.  For me, in many ways, it's the beginning of the end AND the beginning of the beginning.

If you haven't been here long, you can catch up on my past, HERE, and HERE, it's been a long road of recovery.

The first eighteen years of my life were extremely hard.  A challenge in many ways but nothing compared to what I would face in the years following.  For the past seventeen years or so, I've been in a battle for my best self.  I've been at work dispelling lies and undoing damage.  I've dug deep and exposed things I've been told I should be ashamed of (based on societal lies).  I've shined a light in the dark and cleared out figurative attics.  I've worked hard to follow God's lead and leave the enemy behind.

The carrot dangled in front of me?  A promise God has whispered to me for as long as I can remember: it will take me 18 years to undo the damage done the first 18 years of life.  I've said it and thought it more times than I can count.  

And I feel closer to having that promise fulfilled than ever.  You see, 36 marks the 18 year mark!  Turning 35 turns the corner on the last year before I see that promise come to fruition.  I'm excited (and a little terrified) to see what this next year holds for me!

Over the last 17 years there have been times of struggle and growing.  Times where I have felt so pruned and cut back that I was certain I would never grow again,  only to see a bud not only appear, but bloom where I thought only dead wood was.

God has been good to me.  He has held me in His hand at every turn.  Has pushed me in the right direction, at times with heels dug in deeply.  He has been faithful.  He has taken the mud and the muck and flung it to the far ends of the Earth. He has seen me in my deepest hurting and reached out His hand to me.  He has been there when I needed Him most.

And as a result...layer upon layer of hurt and pain have been shed.  Where I have been willing to let go of "ok" He has replaced it with "wow!!!".  Where I have been able to forgive myself and others, He has poured one thousand times upon me.

Where I have gone through the desert, alone and feeling isolated, He had, even then, set people off in my direction, to meet me at the exact right point.

I approach this birthday like no other: confident.  With a life FULL of His Grace and Love and surrounded by people who love me.  He has filled my life with people who not only seek my best but believe I have something good to offer.  He has, painfully at times, removed relationships that did nothing but drain me, even when I didn't get it (or want it at time) and replaced them with people who love me right where I am.

He has taught me that Spirit is thicker than blood. 

As I sit here this morning, my faithful husband and best friend, hard at work and my wonderful healthy boys watching PBS and giggling nearby, I can't help but want to grab a shovel.  The blessings in my life form mountains and I just want to use that shovel and spread them out among those around me.  I can't keep quiet about all God has done for me.  There's no way.  It would be more possible to NOT scream if I were covered in spiders than it would be to hush up about the miracles God has performed in my life.

Can I just encourage you this morning?  He is working.  Even when we don't feel it, see it, hear it or know it.  He is working.  He will not begin a work in us and give up.  He will not leave us alone in the dark.  He will do what He says he will.  I'm excited to see Him put the finishing touches on His promise to me this year.  And then step off into the beyond, where I believe my past will stay my past and become more of a tool for helping others, than a hindrance to my success. 

I can't wait to share that progress with you!

P.S.  While you're here don't forget to hop over and read my post on making family memories! :)  

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how to be successful in small {handmade} business! {part nine- how to go after copycats}

Here is part ONE.  And part TWO. And part THREE. And Four. & Five. & Six and Seven. + 8

This is a day late, so sorry about that.  But today's topic is a good one.  Today we are going to discuss how to go after copycats.  And the follow up to that is: DON'T. 

That's right, don't.  In my seven and a half years in small business I have dealt A LOT with people blatantly copying my work.  Like so obviously copying that they've taken my words along with my pattern and tried their hardest to recreate MY creation.  And they will defend it like a child they gave birth to.  

But dealing with someone who thinks it's OK to do this is fruitless and an absolute waste of your time.  And let me tell you the top two reasons why that is true.

One:  You can't regulate morality.  If someone already thinks it's OK to find an idea online and goes off to purposely copy that idea, the chances are very good that you will not convince them that this is wrong.  I have sent many a {friendly} email explaining my side to offenders and 99% of the time I get one of these responses: 1) "I've never seen your hohos before, I just made this pattern up" (that happens to look identical).  2) "My friend sent me this photo and asked me to make her one and it was so fun that I decided to make more" (thereby admitting that you are copying an idea)  or 3) "How dare you accuse me of copying you!" (insert screaming and yelling that are tell-tale signs of guilt) or 4) they will send me links to "all the monsters that are out there that look like yours" (because if everyone else is doing it, that makes it OK).  All kidding aside, there is something about these kind of people that makes it impossible to convince them that they are wrong, they have one too many people backing them with wrong information such as...

Two: ties into number one...there is a HUGE HUGE HUGE group of people who strongly believe that if an idea is ONLINE, that means you have given up the right to call it your own.  That the sheer act of putting a photo on the internet thereby voids your right to call it your own and opens up the door for anyone to do what they please with an idea that now belongs to the world at large.  And there is absolutely nothing wrong with using an idea that does not belong to them.  

I'm not even kidding.  I have gotten responses such as "If you wanted to keep that idea to yourself you shouldn't have put it online!" or "I found it on pinterest" or "This can't belong to you because (insert a completely daft idea)". 

Really.  You are fighting a futile fight.  Dealing with these people, who clearly have no respect for the integrity of handmade the community, is a serious drain on your emotions and energy and in the end, are just not worth your time.  Trying to sort them out is about as fruitless as draining the ocean with a bucket.  When it comes to correcting mis-information about the internet, as my friend Ryan says, you just aren't going to turn that ship around. 

Instead I strongly encourage you to take a deep breath and move on in another direction.  I know it's painful, I've cried many a tear about it.  It hurts to be stolen from and then lied to on top of it.  It's hard to deal with people who have no concept of morality in that kind of situation.  It's exhausting and hurtful and most of all will take time away from you doing what you are supposed to be doing: creating!  And no matter what anyone says IT'S NOT FLATTERING TO BE COPIED!!! 

I get it and so do all the genuine artists out there.  The people who are stealing, aren't artists, in my opinion but are out to make a buck however they can.

So, I've learned to believe that those people just won't be successful, that God won't bless those efforts done with mal-intent.  That God would rather see me turn the other cheek than try to regulate a far gone morality.  I've learned to not allow them to steal another thing from me...not time, not emotion, not attention.  They just aren't worth it.

And believe me, I realize that turning the other cheek is easier said than done but I promise you, the sooner you can learn to ignore those kind of thieves, the better for you and your business.  

If you have any questions on this topic, or any we've discussed, do not hesitate to email me!  I'd be happy to help!

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