Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Monday

Are you all having a great President's Day? We are.

This morning (and into the afternoon) we visited the home of a very sweet friend. Her two littles played with my two littles while we chatted about life, school, faith and family. Isn't that always honey for the soul?

{Completely unrelated to this post-- It just made me smile.}

Now we're back home and the kiddos are silently reading for an hour. I'm about to sneak back into the sewing room to work on a special project for a precious new client. It's a good day. I'm thankful.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Dreaming and the Doing

Admittedly, I spend too much a lot of time filling up on great ideas. They suck me in. They beg me to grab them and get ready to run. So I do.

I line up at the block. I set my focus on what's ahead. And when the whistle blows, I'm off and on my way. Darting toward the finish.

LSE Sports Day, Malden Sports Ground, c1920s

But then something happens almost every single time after the race has begun. I look to my left or to my right. I become distracted. I get bored. Overwhelmed. Anxious. Afraid. Tired. I forget my motivation, so I just stop and drop the baton mid-race. I don't even pass it off for someone else to carry.

If I'm honest, I'll also admit that I've usually left room to justify my reasons for dropping the baton. Before I even began the race, I unwittingly plotted away at my exit strategy. After all, if I wasn't entirely committed in the first place, then I really didn't quit or give up on anything anyway. *shrug* Nonchalance. A defense for my own self-doubt.

What I'm beginning to discover is that if I spend my time doing {no matter how tiny the project or task} that it helps me to better filter my dreaming too. Some of those ideas really aren't good-- at least for me. I'm a realist. But if I try it and finish it at least once, then I can better sort through what I love to do versus what was simply a neat idea. After I've tried,  I can hone in on what makes me tick and look for what ideas beget more/better ideas? A sweet cycle of joy emerges in the process.

I wrote recently that I never ever considered myself a creative person-- and it's true. I didn't. But now, I don't know. I feel a little bit like a creative fraud. That since I never really dreamed it, that surely it couldn't be. That a painting, a sunset, a stack of fabric, a clothing design, a splash of unexpected color on an old barn...that surely just because it evokes something in me doesn't mean I'm creative, right? Or does it?

Did God create me to create? I'm still dreaming. Only now I'm working on doing too. I couldn't be more thankful for the opportunity to just soak it all up and enjoy the new work that God is creating in me. All I know for sure is that an adventure lies ahead, and it's bound to be good.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool

We spend our days a little cooped up here at the Smith house. Between homeschooling, the cold dreary winter, Jeremy's unconventional work schedule and a teeny-tiny house, even for an introvert, I feel a little stir crazy.

But you know what? I actually don't feel stir crazy to get out of the house-- I feel stir crazy to have some time ALONE-- or even one-on-one with friends and family. 

Last year, we sent Peyton to a wonderful little Christian school run by missionaries with YWAM in Tyler, TX. At the time I felt like I should get the "Mother-of-the-Year" award (note sarcasm here). I had every intention of homeschooling Peyton for Kindergarten, but when I heard about CHS, and given that we were in a new state and Peyton desperately needed some new friends, it just felt right in our spirit. So off he went to school all day...on a bus...24 miles away from home. Gasp! But nonetheless, it was unequivocally the right choice for that season too.

When our time in Texas came to an end and we migrated back North, homeschooling was our only best option on the table for first grade. Given that we weren't sure exactly where we would land, it only made sense that we could best give Peyton and Parker some stability by teaching them at home and letting them get involved once again with activities here that included their old friends. It was/is the right choice for the moment.

Now that we're nearing the end of first grade, I'm feeling the nudge to get Peyton back in a classroom-- and Parker in one next year too. For all of the frenetic pace that can come along with rushing to finish homework assignments and spend quality time together in the midst of a "conventional" schooling schedule, it does bring something to the table that I love: a time to refresh, recharge and reorganize my thoughts, my life and my schedule.

So here we stand on the precipice of another year, and as we move forward, we have decided to pursue the possibility of putting the kids in private school. In no way am I anti-public school either, but for right now, private school is simply the best fit for my two sweet peas.

Homeschooling is rewarding. It's wonderful in it's own right. I so very much appreciate that it is always a viable option. But right now, I'm thankful for schools too. And tonight I'm grateful that as we wait and see what doors the Lord opens up for our family that we have such wonderful options to consider.

I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Joy: A Mini Quilt and Auction for Ashley Hackshaw of Lil Blue Boo

I've been on a little creative journey for the past couple of years. Never ever EVER would I have suspected that I might just fall in love with creating anything (except my children...they're pretty great)! But somewhere along the way, blogs came on the scene. And splashed on the pages of those blogs was inspiration. Fabric and color and words and ideas started swirling around in my brain. Something finally clicked and I realized that it was OK to be inspired by someone. And oddly enough, I don't think that I knew what inspiration was before then. Aspiration, yes. Inspiration, not so much.

Ashley Hackshaw over at Lil Blue Boo was one of those initial few people to capture my heart by way of the creative. The first thing that won me over was her heart to SHARE creativity with the world. Not only through her shop, but by offering oodles and oodles of tutorials as well. I'm pretty sure that I immediately subscribed to her blog-- and I'm so thankful that I did.

It followed that I fell in love with Ashley's positivity, joy, strength and spunk. She has purposed to "Choose Joy" in each and every circumstance that life throws her way. So when life threw her a curve ball this fall and an invasive cancerous tumor began as a result of a molar pregnancy, it kind of rocked my heart too. But Ashley is one amazing fighter. Full of life. Full of faith. Overflowing with JOY.

(Click on the photo of Ashley below to see more about her journey)

A sweet group of women affectionately dubbed "Team Ashley" sent me an email asking if I was interested in donating an item to an auction that would raise money to benefit the Hackshaw family. Amy over at Evy's Tree wrote a post explaining how this auction will help cover Ashley's mounting medical expenses in greater detail. Please hop over there to read more.

I wholeheartedly wanted to make something-- but I wasn't sure what. And then this idea for a mini quilt came to mind. So I sketched out the letters, created a template and got to stitching. Unfortunately, the binding fabric took a little longer than expected to arrive and they have over 260 (that's right, TWO HUNDRED and SIXTY) items donated so far, so I think that my photo and item may not make it directly into the official auction now. (Lesson learned: send confirmation email with a note saying that photos will follow next time!)

Nonetheless, I will list the mini quilt on the Lovespun Studio Facebook page and here on the blog and open it up as a teeny tiny private auction with the proceeds going to benefit Ashley 100%-- that means the shipping is on me too friends! Please check out the auction when it goes live. There is a button posted on the sidebar of the blog that will link directly to it as well.

Please pray for sweet Ashley and her family. Also, please spread the word about this auction. Let's link arms and make a difference.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Dirty Dreams {Part 2}

Ok, so that "(to be continued tomorrow)" statement didn't work out so well. One thing that I'm learning about blogging is that you have to go with something when you feel like sharing (and perhaps not commit to a part 2 unless you're certain you're ready to write.)

You've probably noticed that along this ride that we've called the past 2.5 years, I've been enjoying some time sitting down at the sewing machine. I've NEVER EVER EVER used the term "creative" to describe myself. And yet, there is something freeing and beautiful that creating has brought out of my heart. I can't articulate what it is.

Maybe it's a freedom to feel comfortable enjoying something without having a plan of action in place for what to do with that creative outlet. Or maybe it's because it has birthed a dream in my heart. A dream without an eternal purpose (that I can see yet). And for once, I don't feel like I'm wasting anything by nurturing this dream-seed. In fact, it may even find a place to plant eventually.

Do I want to change the world? Sure. Vision itself isn't bad or wrong, but it can throw dreams by the wayside. There's a stark difference between guilt and conviction. I think I've often confused the two over the past ten years. I think that for now I'm ready to change the world heart-to-heart and person-to-person. After all Jesus said, "Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won't lose out on a thing." Matthew 10:42 (MSG)

In the meantime, while I do my best to live like Jesus,  I'm going to let my heart be light and shake off the idea that I can't live with purpose while entertaining a dream.

I'm fairly certain that this quilt I stumbled upon on Pinterest sums me up nicely. I'm also pretty sure that my heart dreams in happy fabric hearts. Who knows, maybe if you just allow yourself some room to dream, the vision will follow? We'll see.

Source: via Kirsten on Pinterest

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Joy in Progress

It's been a productive day here. Parker is on the mend, and I'm feeling a little better too. We decided that since Jeremy had to be at work early this morning and Peyton was going to church with Mamaw and Papaw that we'd make the 60 mile trek down to Indianapolis to pick up some groceries from Trader Joe's.

They were out of "Green Plant" sad. So I snagged this "Beet and Purple Carrot" juice instead. I'm pretty sure that eating stinky over the past four days has been what's thrown my body into a tailspin. Yech. Back to fruit and spinach smoothies I go. (That sentence alone would've churned my stomach back in my days as an avowed vegetable-hater. That's progress friends!)

I'll let you know if it makes me gag. M'kay.

Once the groceries were unloaded and P-man came back home, I sneaked into the sewing room while the two littles got lost in Imagination Land with all of their new toys from Nana Kate and Papa Eddie. 

I made some progress on my secret "JOY" project. Now I'm feeling a little stuck, but I really need to get it done by the end of the day tomorrow. I think that will be my "after school" project.  (Who knew when I decided to be a homeschooling mommy that I'd feel like I had to go to school every day too?)

Darla by Tanya Whelan for Grand Revival Fabric Applique
I hope you're day has been filled with joy! I've got a pot roast in the crock pot, my punkins snuggling up next to me on the couch and about 9 hours left of a tutorial to finish. Don't won't get finished tonight either. After all, I'm no superwoman. What a relief.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What We Did Today

Parker and I aren't feeling so hot. We hunkered down inside the house and worked on this to bide some time. The garland + the sunshine brought a little joy to our day. We hope you had a great day too! {Click on the image if you want to check out the tutorial}

It's time to snuggle my little punkin into bed now.

And then it's time for me to kick up my feet and keep learning via Lynda

Sweetest dreams...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Can't Blog...

I can't blog with background noise. I'm a homeschooling mom. Silence is rare-- and precious. I haven't forgotten about dreams- part 2. I pinky-promise. Hang tight, friends! I'll get back to it asap. ;)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dirty Dreams {Part 1}

I've never paid much attention to dreams. Those faux wood wall decor pieces reading "Dream" in a sweet swirly script-- not interested. And I'm not talking about the standard once-your-head-hits-the-pillow kind of dreams either. I'm talking about the kind that your mind wanders toward when you're washing the dishes or putting away laundry. The dreams that make the mundane bearable because this tiny secret hope is tucked away deep in your heart. Unfortunately, I never really had that *dream* to keep me company. But I had vision.

Now vision, vision meant everything. Depth. Greatness. Purpose. Drive. Changing-the-world-style vision. That's what I had. It was drilled into me. Day-in and day-out for a full year it was hammered into my vernacular so much so that I measured the worth of others by the extent of their "vision" too.

It was ugly. It was consuming. And I can't say that it really spurred me on to love people the way that Jesus loves people. What it did was cause me anxiety over figuring out how I could someday love people by living out my bigger-than-life, move-to-the-other-side-of-the-world, filled-with-purpose vision.

I missed out on dreams because I had "tunnel" vision.

After all, dreams were without vision and void of purpose, right? Since dreams distracted us from vision, I couldn't waste my thoughts, my time or my life on dreams without feeling intensely guilty. So by the time I was 20, my dreams were shelved in lieu of a vision-filled mission. Dreaming became dirty. Almost shameful. I didn't even realize that I was missing out on anything.

But I was...

(to be continued tomorrow)

Monday, January 9, 2012

You Can't Do It All

This is just a little reminder that:

You can't do it all! (And it's a-ok)

So tonight kick up your feet, take a deep breath, and remember that you are incredible just as you are.

It doesn't matter if your laundry is folded or your kitchen sink is spotless. It's ok if there is a stray dust-bunny hiding behind the sofa or a wandering toy on the living room floor. 

Don't try to do it all. You'll fail. Just do what you can and do it as a part of your everyday living. Because living well and living with a heart overflowing is really what matters. You matter too.

(And while we're chatting, please consider shutting off and stepping away from anything that makes you feel like you *need* to do it all because if you don't, you're lacking. If it's Pinterest, stop pinning. If it's Facebook, log out. If it's reading blogs, just take a break for awhile. You may only need a break for an hour, or maybe it's for a season. Just rest and remember that you're crazy awesome-- just as you are. Sure there are things that we all want or even need to adjust in our character, but don't let the journey steal your joy for the moment. YOU ARE LOVED-- just as you are.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Bruised Day

We're snuggled in for the night here at the Smith house. (Thank you, Jesus.)

Today was our first day back to "normal" following a relaxing Christmas vacation. I don't think that any of us were quite ready to crack back open the school books and resume learning this morning.

The day was filled with squabbles, impatience, harsh words and a general feeling of overall frustration from all of us. I breathed prayers of peace more than once as the day wore on. I mandated quiet time for all of us this afternoon. The bliss of Monday gave way to the weariness of Wednesday, and today I had to literally choose joy over and over again. 

But isn't that life best lived? Choosing joy in every adversity? Loving despite weariness? Believing in the promises from the Promise Keeper?

Today didn't start out blissfully, but here's how it ended:

Peyton and I were sitting on the couch. He was watching Star Wars Episode I while I perused Facebook. Parker was playing in her room. That's when I stumbled across this: Praying for Haven Grace

The status update reads, "Our Precious little Haven is slipping away from us hour by hour..The Doctors Have nothing else to offer but to make her comfortable..Please!! PLease!! As much as we love all of you and treasure your prayers and concerns we can only allow immediate family and a few close friends which we have already contacted to visit @ this time.. Thank You all so much."

I perused the page, looked at pictures of Haven Grace and a flood of tears washed down my cheeks. The tears turned into deep silent sobs that are from such a sacred place in your heart that something inside your spirit begins to hurt too--tears that become prayers themselves.

Parker skipped out of her room, noticed my silent distress and scooted onto the couch next to me to ask what was wrong. I showed her Haven Grace and told her what I could piece together of her story. And at that, Peyton paused the movie and said, "Let's just stop and pray for her all together right now.

So we all held hands, huddled together on the waxy brown couch, and prayed for Haven Grace. The same silent tears that soaked my cheeks began trickling down Parker's too as we asked God to wrap his arms tightly around Haven and her family tonight. We thanked God for being THE healer. We took comfort together that here on Earth or forever in Heaven that Jesus is carrying that precious little one. 

After we prayed, Peyton resumed watching his movie. Parker grabbed a Kleenex to wipe the tears from her eyes and snuggled in for some extra hugs. And I couldn't help but grieve for all that Haven's mom and dad must be feeling tonight. It moved me to pray for so many of my friends who have had to walk very difficult roads with their childrens' health. Bless their battle-weary hearts too.

Throughout the remainder of the evening, Parker periodically asked me if I was still sad. I assured her that even though my heart still aches for Haven Grace and her family, I'm so thankful to know that God loves her even more than I can imagine-- and I can trust Him to take great care of this sweet little girl the same way that I trust his care for us all. 

At the end of the night I cozied my little ones snugly into their beds and kissed them a few more times than usual. The squabbles, impatience, harsh words and frustrations that bruised our joy today melted away when Peyton compassionately reminded me to stop and look at Jesus. Together. Unified. Choosing to look past our every day inadequacies and look into the face of the one who makes us whole. 


Monday, January 2, 2012

New Ventures

We moved back home to Indiana following our 18-month stint in Texas just a little over four months ago. While it's absolutely comforting to be back home, there's no denying that everything about this transition is a new venture for the Smith family. Thankfully the "newness" of it all is so overwhelmingly perfect for my heart that each day I find myself whispering my gratitude to the Lord over and over again in quiet moments.

One of my little dreams that I've loosely let flit through my mind over the past few years is to open an online fabric shop. While I still haven't quite made that leap *yet*, I have started a sweet little Etsy boutique called Lovespun Studio.

Would you all mind stopping by the Lovespun Studio Facebook page to "like" it? Also, while you're clicking away (just because you're being such sweet precious friends), please stop over and become a follower of the Lovespun Studio blog too. The blog will be a place where I post tutorials, giveaways, finished projects, shop updates, recipes and simply share encouragement to inspire the creativity in us all-- even if it's just a lovely word to lift up your spirits. If you really want to go social media crazy, you can follow LovespunStudio on Twitter-- which may just be the catalyst I need to actually tweet!

In any case, because Lovespun is such a time-consuming big and exciting new part of my life now, I wanted to make sure that I shared it with you. That said, because this is my personal blog, I'm going to do my best to keep it just that the vast majority of the time. I'm sure that you'll see some of my favorite photos and projects around here too, but sparingly. ;)

Hugs to you all!

Are YOU embarking on any new adventures in your life? If so (or if not), leave me a comment because I'd love to hear about them! 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcome, welcome 2012!

I can honestly say that I have never, ever, ever been so thankful to see a year pass. I don't tend to be one who wishes away time or looks so forward to the future that I forget to live in the moment, but that said, "SO LONG 2011!" Adios, au revoir, sayonara.

2012, I welcome the fresh start that you bring! I woke up with "no brush necessary" hair, the sun poked out from behind the clouds and both children are peacefully napping. I'd say that all signs point to "it's going to be a fantabulous year."

In keeping with the fresh start, I've decided reinvigorate the blog. It isn't a resolution, it's just that I want an outlet for my heart and I really do enjoy sharing on this blog. Truth be told, the past three years have changed me so much that I'm a little hesitant to step back out and reintroduce myself. But I've come to the conclusion that it's either hide away or open up. I (still a little hesitantly) choose the latter.

So these are my terms and conditions: I commit to be vulnerable, honest and open with you. Please remember that the things that I share come directly from a very fragile and recovering heart. My posts are not up for debate. Of course, we don't have to share the same thoughts, opinions or ideas, but I won't ever go on the defensive. I will always graciously and openly appreciate our differences.

My heart is spilling over with gratitude for the way the Lord has rescued us this year. So this year as I blog I think I'll include in many posts an ongoing list of the things that I'm thankful for.

1. Holidays with my family

2. Clouds- they make me appreciate the sunshine 
3. A warm house
4. Vacuum cleaner attachments
5. Strawberry raspberry vanilla iced tea
6. The Message version of the Bible
7. Toothless grins 
8. "Friday night" friends
9. My Nana and Papa
10. Encouragement from long-distance friends