and yes. my sheep look a bit more frightened than hers...but still cute. i hope. i think when i make these again later in the week i'll be sure to lower the ears a bit...maybe that will help.
and some women get excited over shoes...or purses...or jewelry.
me? cupcake carriers. on sale. yesssssss.
i also finished these on friday...the bulk of the fabric for them came from two very special coming home outfits for two sweet little ones. :) you can get one of your own from my shop.
but my most favorite item made this week...is something i am still working the kinks out of...but even still...i just love them. :) i call them "messy hair day headbands". i see lots with bright colors. the edges will fray...making the all the more awesome. :) more on these soon.
and i will end this ever long post with a recap on palm sunday a la moses:
"jesus rode into droop-sum on a doggy named anna.
this took place in florida because of all of the palms."
(grab a drink and a snack...this is a loooooooooong one).
a lot of people chose a word to represent what they hope to accomplish in the coming year. most words are full of charm and hope...like "simplify" or "love" or "enjoy" or "live" or "awesomesauce".
just kidding on that last one...for the record that is a ridiculous "word".
i feel like my word chose me this year. and that word is "unsettled".
if it was a phrase it would be "question everything".
i feel shaky in every role.
i feel not myself.
i feel like a huge part of who i am meant to be is missing.
i feel beat up and homesick.
part of this unsettled-ness, i believe, is a cleansing of sorts.
the way you empty out a closet so you can organize and clean it all out properly.
i've said before that to undo the first 18 years of my life will take years 19 through 36.
i'm at the "closet is empty and all of its' contents are strewn all about" stage.
i'm empty. and cleaned out. ready for a fresh start and a new foundation.
a couple of weeks ago i started a new Bible study.
and even though i had no idea what the study was about when i
signed up...i could not have chosen a more appropriate one for me. right now.
i told God that if He woke me up before the boys, i would do each page of homework for the study. this is huge. i never do homework. i learn more from discussion and the note taking.
but God knew i needed to do this homework. and He has been kind enough to wake me around 6:30am every morning since we spoke about it. just enough time to have my coffee and get a days worth of Bible study done before the boys wake up.
the first few days have been all about how God has ESTABLISHED me, PLACED me, EQUIPPED me, ANNOINTED me for exactly where i am right now.
i have not happened upon this place in my life by accident.
the overwhelming theme for me has been God yelling to me
YOU ARE NOT WHERE YOU ARE BY ACCIDENT.
I PUT YOU HERE ON PURPOSE DUMMY.
SIT DOWN, SHUT UP AND LEARN SOMETHING.
(God knows i'm stubborn and thickheaded and sometimes need
things like this spelled out for me. it's okay, i'm cool with it).
and as God is yelling this to me...the enemy has a constant whisper.
and it sounds like this:
you are forgotten. you are worthless. you are not important. there is no plan for you. no one wants you. you have no talent. you are forgotten. you will never get to go home. you don't deserve a good life. you don't deserve another single blessing. you are terrible at all you do. you are FORGOTTEN.
and both reels are constantly rolling.
but i am learning. that the more i DIG IN.
i have taken to saying to myself (in true whacko crazy person style)
i am in HIS hands and YOU cannot touch me.
not the unkind words.
not the unkind actions of others.
not my shortcomings.
not the ways that i don't measure up to others.
God made me for what i am doing. period.
He made me for taking care of every need of my three wonderful men. for washing their clothes and filling their bellies. for being their constant. for fixing the boo boo's.
i am here to serve the wonderful little people in my life (and God willing other peoples little people too!) with joy and love and care. i am here to wipe noses and change diapers and make dinner (and lunch and breakfast). i am here to pick up toys and read books and love on the people in my life.
Eph 2:10 tells us that we are God's MASTERPIECE.
masterpiece is defined as a work of outstanding artistry,
skill, or workmanship. a best work.
we are His best work. He has placed us and equipped us for any and every stage that we are at in life. times will change and i will be less needed in some areas and more needed in others.
but what will never change is that fact that God knew each step before i took it. if i am going to make it in this life and obtain my life goal of being a little old lady with a spot of carpet worn thin by prayer then i need to learn to DIG IN at every opportunity i can.
God knows my dreams...because i believe He planted them there.
i dream of moving back to blacksburg...into a house with a huge playroom and craft room with lots of sun. having a garden so HUGE that you can't leave my house without a basket full of homegrown goodies. living down the road from family and friends. being part of my home church again. playing with the boys on my college campus. my husband going to Hokie sports events with my boys.
all dreams that i believe, are God given.
and i am learning that i can't do a thing to make them happen. i can only do what i have been ESTABLISHED, PLACED, EQUIPPED and ANNOINTED to do.
and it's up to God to take care of the rest.
i'm learning to rest and settle into His plan and the peace that comes with it.
because i am NOT forgotten.
and there IS a plan for me.
i will do what i can do
and God will do what only God can do.
and together we'll get all the good stuff back in the closet.
my personal goal for my quilting life was/is to make a quilt for each of my kids and each of nieces and nephews. for some time the total number of quilts needed was four. for a while now, i was stalled at 50% production. HERE is moses' quilt and here is kyleigh's (my niece).
i had plans for more quilts...i had begun to hoard fabrics for aaron and thoughts of fabrics for blake (my nephew) but had no real motivation to get on those until recently.
my original intention was to make a traditional rag quilt...
but the more i worked towards the end...the less i liked the idea of leaving all my hard work as a "rag".
so, like a rag quilt...i cut my fabric squares (6in) and my
batting squares (5in) and made 109 "quilt sandwiches".
...sewed them all together and instead of "clipping" the edges...a look i felt would be too country for my taste...i used a combination of my pinking shears and pinking rotary cutter.
i got them all trimmed and sewn together and to the point in a rag quilt where i would be finished. but it seemed like a terrible ending to a good quilt...like the wrong way to end all of the work i put into it.
so added a binding and rounded corners.
in the end...i like the texture from the rag quilt technique but like the finished feel of the pinking sheared edges and the binding on the edge.
i showed aaron the progress as i went...telling him the whole time that it was a special blanket for him. when i was finally finished i was so excited to give it to him and tuck him into bed with it that night...only to have him VIOLENTLY protest it being anywhere near him or his bed.
in the living room...he cuddled it and wrapped it around himself.
when something changes my life like this...i feel like i NEED to share it with every woman i know. for me...this change is big, huge, wonderful. it relieves stress, reduces work, saves money, saves time.
it makes my husband happy and my kids happy. it makes ME happy.
i am NOT being paid to say any of this. i promise.
the bane of my existence was meal planning. either i never did it...or when i did i always felt like it took too long, was inefficient...time consuming...a pain. and generally, i felt like i spent WAY more on groceries on the weeks i planned the meals.
and then on the weeks when i didn't plan...dinner was a struggle...what to make...what to make...
really i dreaded dinner time. it wasn't easy. or fun.
and then the heavens opened up for me...and i found...
you sign up...they have several meal plan options...i do the meal plan for two (any store)...you print off your menu for the week and your shopping list. the shopping list is organized by department so i spend WAY less times shopping.
you can choose a specific store and they will plan the menu around what is on sale. they don't have my grocery store but even still we have saved money.
we have eaten MORE fruits and vegetables than EVER.
each and every recipe has been EASY.
moses has tried more new foods and LIKED them than EVER.
my super, duper, wonderful and picky husband has eaten every single dish.
we have already found several recipes that are "keepers".
even the dishes we don't LOVE are still good.
i feel like we are eating BETTER,
and have way LESS stress about "what's for dinner?".
it is $1.25 per week WELL spent.
and because i LOVE it so much and because i KNOW it will change your life too...i want to buy ONE of you lucky ladies (or gentlemen?) a three month subscription. :)
three months of not having to plan dinner. you can choose your plan and store.
if you win, just promise me that you will pay it forward...you know...do something unexpected for someone else.
all you have to do to enter is leave me a comment on this post telling me how much easier this would make your life. :)
in the mean time...head on over to e-mealz and check it out.
as with anything, i guess, there comes a time when you have to sit down and do a real gain and loss analysis of what you are doing. to really sit and contemplate whether the things that you gain through a venture are worth the things that you lose.
recently i have had to do that with this blog. i had no idea when i started this blog...three and a half years ago how far it would take me or how much it would grow me as a person.
my original goal was to document the lives of my children. to capture the day to day events that may not make it into the photo albums otherwise. the little things...the crazy things...the fun and hard things.
what it has turned into is SO much more than that.
this is my journal. my growth chart. the documentation of my life as a mom, small business owner, wife, follower of Jesus, chef, organizer and every other aspect that makes up my crazy life.
my policy is and always has been authenticity and transparency. and i've learned that those qualities, if they aren't something that a person is used to can be tough to adjust to. to me, there is no room in life for fluff or fake. when i startd this blog, i wanted my kids to read about the real me...not the watered down, betty crocker, susy homemaker that i wish i could be. some people, and they are totally entitled to their opinions and ways of doing things, prefer to have pretty blogs where they skim the surface and talk about surface things...topics that could be posted on ANY blog anywhere because there is no depth to what they are saying. and some people need that, i suppose, and i get it.
for me. and this is just me. there is much more power in empowering each other through the "me too". sharing the good, the bad and the ugly gives others a chance to relate and unite under the flag of "thank goodness this is happening to someone else too".
isn't it MUCH easier to approach someone you know has been or is broken too...than it is to approach someone who has an "i have it all together, look how pretty my life is" appearance?
maybe it's just me...but the blogs i love the most are the ones with DEPTH, who share REAL life, who aren't afraid to talk about the tough, long road they are on with God...or who aren't afraid to talk about God for real...in any real way.
what good does it do to say you are a Christian blogger and never ever talk about how you are learning to walk with Christ? it's like calling yourself a chef and then teaching others to cook ramen noodles. i think Jesus had something to say about being lukewarm.
my favorite Christan bloggers are those who say "me too". who let you in and share the struggle that it is to be a lover of Jesus. because that is how it IS. if following Jesus is easy...than either i am doing something wrong or a lot of people i come across just want it to look that way.
i say, communication is everything.
with all of that being said. there is a cost that comes with it.
i've learned the hard way that people feel free to let you know terrible you are. people have said things to me that i know they would never say to my face. they lay out a list of issues they have with me and back them up with fictional things about me. and you know what...even false words hurt.
but over time i have learned...to take these criticisms to the people i trust and say "show me the truth in them"...and i have learned, in general, things said in secret rarely have truth in them. and more often than not...the "issue" they have with you is really an issue they have with themselves.
and that is the cost of having an open blog. and for some reason...the ugly weighs more
BUT the gain is beautiful. the gain is most likely you. you darling and wonderful people who choose to love me and learn with me and grow with me. i have met and befriended people that i never would have met any other way. God has used this blog in ways i never imagined...i've been able to help others in ways i've never thought possible...i've been given friendships and new skills and encouragement when i need it. i've been able to contribute to my family finances. it's been a crazy web of blessings that i never could have woven without this blog. i can't count the times that just at the perfect moment...an email shows up...or a package at my door...or a comment..all because of people who know me through this blog. and on top of all of that...i HAVE documented the lives of my children and that to me is priceless.
and even though the ugly weighs more...the beautiful is so much more plentiful that most times i don't even notice the ugly. imagine a pebble in a bag of rice...you notice it at first but eventually, with a little shake, the rice covers over it.
and i can handle a little shake here and there.
(come back later for a link up post where you can leave a link to your blog and we can visit each other. :) )
do you see this kid? the sheer joy in his eyes when he does naughty.
that's a look that says "that WAS as awesome as i hoped it would be".
what you can't tell is that egg is in his hair, on his face and up and down his arms. or that his brother watched in silence while he did this...or that BOTH parents were in the room while he managed this latest shenanigan. good thing he is .01% more cute than naughty.
this is my latest crafty conquest.
i started by learning this free pattern from roxycraft.
then nearly talked myself into buying a whole book based on these little amigurumi figures...but had a light bulb moment instead...i realized that if i learned a basic body pattern i could add the details myself to make any animal i could want...so i started with this guy. :) i just realized that he has no ears...oops...
--yes, for days one through four you will need assistance getting up from the toilet, or going up or down stairs or doing anything quickly. good luck washing your hair. but that will dissolve (for the most part) by day five.
--i am still on level one. i tried level two at day 11 but found it to be too high impact for me.
--i try to get it done first thing in the morning. after coffee. before shower. it takes 27 minutes. at approximately 8min and 57seconds into it every. single. day. i have to resist the urge to break down in tears. really. i don't know what the heck that is about but all of my emotions converge at 8m 57s and i have to push through.
thank you for your encouragement in this area. :)
your kind comments make my day and you really do keep me from quitting. :)
stay tuned for my next post...where things got ugly because of my last post but
you talked me out of quitting this blogging thing all together without even knowing it because you guys are awesome like that.
we'll have a mclinky too so i can come visit you all...it's been too long since we've done one. :)
so, as you know, we've been on a ride for months now. starting back in September or so we began the road that we hope will take us home...and here we are months later...pretty much on the same stretch of road...we keep getting flat tires it seems.
for the most part, i've been hush about the details because i felt like i just couldn't share it all. if you have been here a while you've been with me through all the emotional ups and downs. for a while now, we thought that something pretty amazing was happening for us. at the moment, it looks like that door may be closing...but for all we know that is temporary or not. we just don't know.
so even though the ending is not what we were hoping for (yet?)...i'll share some of the ups and downs..see if you can keep up.
september through present day...
-(sept) we suddenly feel like we are overwhelming ready to go home (blacksburg). it's a serious longing to be HOME. where our friends are, where our church is, where our family is.
it's where we feel we are supposed to be.
-we start to seriously pray for our house to sell.
doug prays for someone to come in off the streets to buy it.
-doug pokes around at work and somehow finds out that there will be an opening in a store near where we want to live (doug is a target exec). we get majorly excited...thinking, "WOW God is moving fast and is going to take us home and it will be awesome"
-then HEARTBREAK. the job goes to someone else. my husband gets to see a lot of the ugly cry.
-we eventually pull ourselves together and resolve to follow God wherever He decides to send us. even if WE don't get it or want it. we KNEW that God's plan IS best. even if we don't understand it.
-eventually doug is offered another position in a town close enough that he can commute (culpeper). we begin to embrace this new road. to a NEW place. a change to get us AWAY from charlottesville.
-in the meantime, we've talked to a realtor who basically tells us that if we insist on selling our home at a number WE are comfortable with, then we have to pay him a $1,500 listing fee. WHATEVER! it was EASY to let that door close.
-in the mean-meantime, shortly after this realtor meeting, one of doug's coworkers, out of the blue (or off the street!!) shows a huge interest in buying our house. for a number that makes us and him happy. -the position from culpeper falls through. once again, the ugly cry. i hate this place. i want to leave and at this point i will go anywhere God wants to send us...even if i still want to go HOME.
-doug is offered another position. in a city that will depend on us selling this house. we once again, work towards going where God is sending us. dare i say, we get excited.
-the person that is trying to buy our house is told that they would qualify for a loan once they have been in their position for 12 months. that would be in july. boo!
-buyer offers to rent our home until then with a rent to own contract!! yay!
-doug loses the chance for the winchester position. but we are OK with it because somehow we know that God has a better plan. are we getting better at this obedience thing?
-buyer can't get their child in the childcare that they want until august...meaning they can't move until then. boo!
-i offer to provide childcare for them until august. yay!
we would move to a house with a month to month lease.
but to date we have not been able to get together to discuss this option. so we aren't sure what will happen with this...so maybe this door is closing...or maybe it is not. we have left it in their hands.
there are a lot of reasons that i stopped talking about all of this on my blog. a lot of it had to do with the feedback i was getting from all over via email or comment. i've been accused of giving up. of not trying. of being a whiner. i've been told that my expectations are too high for this side of heaven. i've been told that i must be crazy because cville is awesome. i've been told that i am ungrateful. i've been told that I am the problem.
i gave up talking about it openly here because i have already been emotionally crazy sensitive because of everything and i didn't need the berating of people who don't know and love me.
the only people i've felt safe talking about any and all of this with is my husband, my best friend and my pastor. not the pastor at the church we currently attend (the one who is a good guy but has introduced himself to me three times) but MY pastor who has been pastoring us from afar at HOME. (with that said, our current pastor is not a bad guy, we enjoy his sermons, and our current church but we have a longing for the standards that were set for years by our home church and pastor...notably big shoes to fill...it's hard to go from having a pastor that knows everything about you to where we are now).
these last few months have been hard. really, really hard. it's been lonely and long as people have walked away from us because we've been messy. we have been shown the people who really love us (mess and all), both here in cville and everywhere.
we've learned that God is the only one who will never let us down.
i've learned that my heart is so enmeshed with His that to deny Him would truly end my life.
i am learning to trust His plan more everyday.
i am trusting that it is His dream for us to MOVE home because the "want" to do so is stronger than anything else we have ever wanted.
i've learned that my husband still loves me even after many days in a row of seeing the "ugly cry".
i am learning to live in the day. learning.
i am learning to count my blessings. daily.
i am learning that my timing is not His.
i am learning that His thoughts are higher than my thoughts and His ways higher than my ways.
so that is the rest of the story...at least up until 9:12pm on march 27, 2011.
we don't know anymore than we did in september but we ARE better followers of Christ because of it. we pray more than ever...we talk to Him more than ever...we cherish our TRUE friends more than ever. God has used this time to sift out the "flakers" in our life.
i still break out the ugly cry once a week. to the joy of my husband.
but i would like to think that it's due more to growing pains of the spiritual sort than to not getting what i think is best.
first of all. posting these photos is something WAY out of my comfort zone...i don't tend to be a vain person but I am SO proud and pleased with the results of the shred thus far. i'm on day 15 today so i thought i would share a progress photo. i don't have a before photo so you will have to take my word that everything i point out is new/bigger/smaller/better. okay? everything i have pointed out in the photo above was either not there or VERY squishy.
and maybe you think my results aren't impressive...that's ok too. i'm in love with them. :)
areas of improvement:
thinner thighs with more muscle/less jiggle
i can see stomach muscles trying to peek through!
way less muffin top!!
very nice toning in my arms and upper body.
i have more energy and feel WAY better (who knew that was true?)
i haven't lost any weight but like i said...i don't have much to lose BUT i can tell that my mushy, squishy parts ARE being swapped out for lean and tone parts and that is ok by me.
i am doing this with a partner who has lost 22lbs to date doing this.
i have not changed my diet too much but since starting this
i WANT to eat better and snack less and eat better things.
so there it is. my most vulnerable post to date. :) i am so happy to hear from those of you doing this with me. i am ENCOURAGED by you all NOT to quit even though i WANT to each and every day.
i finished up another sweet little baby blanket in my own round pattern...i added some flowers and a scalloped border to this one...i'm in love with these...they are very stress relieving to make as i tune out to watch a movie...i can't wait to see a photo of someones sweet baby curled up in one of these blankets...
this one is a little more petite in size than the last two...it's in the shop now if you want it to be your baby that makes me smile by being wrapped up in it. :)
i finished day TEN of the shred this morning!!! i am SO SO excited. i really FEEL stronger and better and more tone. i also tried on my new bathing suits last night and really SEE a difference. I have lost any weight BUT keep in mind that i didn't have a bunch to lose in the first place and really feel like i am just swapping out my post baby squish for lean muscle. my husband says he can see a difference...and really, his eyes are all i care about outside of mine anyway.
in the "life altering news" category...i honestly can't believe that we are starting another week with no news on the news we are waiting for. we are waiting to hear about big things...and you WOULD think that after months and months of waiting that i would be much better at it. instead...i am just getting better at KNOWING that God is still working, even when i can't see/hear/feel Him.
i keep telling doug that i feel like i am living on a diet of crumbs, teeny, tiny bits of encouragement that show things are moving...and why that CAN be sustaining at times...when the flow stops it is just hard to push through. i NEED encouragement. so as we step into a new week...i pray hard for news AND to still know that God is working even though i can't see or feel it. make sense?
how do you sustain yourself when you can't feel/see/hear Him?