A Thirty-One Party!

James Bloom, a lifelong friend of ours, is headed to Haiti next month to finish a church building project that he helped start last summer. His lovely wife, Eryn, whom I have also known most of her life, is a Sr. Consultant with Thirty-One, a 10 year old Christian company founded with the goal of helping women start their own businesses. They have a great selection of totes, bags, organizational items, and fun gifts, most of which can be personalized.

I’ve seen Eryn use Thirty-One parties before as fundraisers to bless others. A few weeks ago, a mutual friend of ours decided to have one as a fundraiser for James’s trip, and I thought it was such a great idea that I decided to play copy-cat. With many non-mutual friends, I’m hopeful that we’ll both be able to have good success in raising money toward James’s trip. If you’re interested in helping, please let me know and I’ll make sure you have an invite to the FB event (with all the needed info).

I’d like to highlight some of the products that look enticing to me in the catalog, and thought I’d start with one that I own and love.

My Mama brought me a thermal tote (p.2 & p.43 in the spring catalog) when she visited this summer, and it has been such a lovely and practical gift! Mine is purple (big points to begin, for this purple-girl), and I’ve used it for a variety of things. Even though it’s thermal and works great as a cute and classy cooler, the thermal lining is so thin that it’s very usable for other things. It’s 9.5″H x 14″W x 4.5″D, so I’ve toted a change of summer clothes in it, used it for a purse, carried toys in it for Andrew, used it for a mini-diaper bag, and more. The tote also has an exterior pocket, which is nice for tucking in last minute extras.

When Eryn had the thermal totes on special after Thanksgiving, I bought three for three dear ladies in my life, and had them personalized. I loved all the options – for patterns, thread color, and stitching fonts. And their bags look terrific!

So, whatever other goodies you might pick up before this party ends next Sunday (Jan. 20), consider adding a thermal tote to your order. I’m sure you’ll enjoy and appreciate it!
Happy shopping!

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Brief Thoughts on the New Year

As I lay in bed early this morning thinking about another year and pondering my “big picture” goals for the year, the words to this dear hymn came to mind -

More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.  

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

As I thought of words that might be key for me in 2013, the one that stuck with me was OPEN. The Lord has been teaching me much about being open, and my guess is that these lessons have just begun and will be key in this new year. Open to Him (to Who He is); Open to His leading; Open to His grace and forgiveness; Open to His plans instead of my own; Open to His gifts; Open to my husband; Open to my children; Open to broken people hiding behind polite smiles; Open to how He wants to use me; Open home; Open arms….

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Rejoicing in God’s Ruling Hand

I recently re-found this wonderful quote a friend posted from an out-of-print book, The Life and Letters of Janet Erskine Stuart. Says one who was Stuart’s assistant for some years,

“She delighted in seeing her plan upset by unexpected events, saying that it gave her great comfort, and that she looked on such things as an assurance that God was watching over her stewardship, was securing the accomplishment of His will, and working out His own designs. Whether she traced the secondary causes to the prayer of a child, to the imperfection of an individual, to obstacles arising from misunderstandings, or to interference of outside agencies, she was joyfully and graciously ready to recognize the indication of God’s ruling hand, and to allow herself to be guided by it.”

Oh, yes, Lord, may this be true of me!

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Advent is Coming! (A Gift For You)

From Dictionary.com
ad·vent [ad-vent] noun
1. a coming into place, view, or being; arrival: the advent of the holiday season.
2. ( usually initial capital letter ) the coming of Christ into the world.
3. ( initial capital letter ) the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ into the world.
4. ( usually initial capital letter ) Second Coming.
Word Origin & History -
“important arrival,” 1742, an extended sense of Advent “season before Christmas” (O.E.), from L. adventus “arrival,” from pp. stem of advenire “arrive, come to,” from ad- “to” + venire “to come” (see venue). Applied in Church L. to the coming of the Savior, either the first or the anticipated second…
(Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper)

Advent, the time when we ponder with wonder the coming of our Savior, and look forward with anticipation to His coming again, begins next Sunday, December 2. What an opportunity for family worship and memory-building around the true reason for the Christmas season!

I’d like to share with you again this year my book Anticipating the Savior – The Advent Wreath as a Tool for Worship.  As I have said in the past, our family has been deeply blessed by the use of the Advent Wreath, and I pray that this offering of a free e-book will bless and aid your worship as well, whether you are worshipping alone or with a house full of family.

Just right click on the following link and choose “Save Target As” to save the .pdf file to your computer.

Anticipating the Savior – The Advent Wreath as a Tool for Worship

I would be delighted for you to share this book with your friends and family. Would give me the grace of directing them here to share, please?

If you would like a link-button for your site or blog, feel free to use the following code:

A Free Gift for your Advent Worship


Quick shopping list for your Advent Wreath:
Four candles for the outer ring of candles. They can be tapers, votive, pillars… or whatever works for you. Depending on preference and availability, you need three purple or blue, and one pink or red. You might consider purchasing an extra set in case the first burns too low.
One white candle for the center Christ candle. I like to use a pillar, but find what suits you.
Candle holders for safety. I use simple individual candle holders for my tapers, and a small glass plate for my pillar.
Greenery of some sort for your wreath. An actual wreath, a length of garland, live evergreen branches… the form is much less important than the heart!

 

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Resolved

We have been looking at a family business possibility over the past couple of months that would require a major time-investment from me.  As we pondered and prayed, I realized that to be gone from home more than fourty hours a week, doing school and business elsewhere, would require a whole new level of discipline and intentionality from me.  I started formulating practical plans for different areas of our life that would allow for maintaining a calm family atmosphere and spiritual focus, a tidy and welcoming home, an effective educational experience for our children, and warm, home-cooked meals on a consistent basis.

Last Tuesday, we got a “sorry, but we are not able to give you a business loan at this time” call.  A couple hours after the initial tears and prayers of frustration, I was blindsided by this thought (and it was a good thing I was already prone for a nap)…

What if I lived as intentionally day-by-day **without** this new business as I was planning to be in order to make it work?  What changes would we see in our family relationships, our schooling, our ability to reach out to others?

Woah.

Ouch.

And yes.

Yes to learning to be more disciplined and intentional with my time, regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen with this business possibility.  Yes to implementing plans that will allow us to use our time more efficiently and work together as a family.  Yes to truly seeking to receive and give grace in the daily moments.

We don’t know for sure that the business opportunity is a solid “no.”  We continue to pray, as do others, that if this is what the Lord has for us, that He will make the path clear.  We are talking with another bank, and we are working toward improving some of the factors that prompted the “no” from the initial bank.  We are trusting the Lord to move us forward in the direction He would have us go.

And in the meantime, I am working on implementing some of my grand ideas for intentional living.

One of my first big projects has been adapting my friend Winter’s 5 Week Menu idea.  I will share more on this later, but I am truly excited about it.  I have a 5 week menu for cool weather planned out, and am working on getting detailed grocery lists made up for each week, all the recipes gathered together and in page protectors, and other tricks to make meals streamlined and simple.

I am hoping to share some of this journey of intentionality with you, so stay tuned!

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Snapshots of August

Only a few more months, and I’ll be caught up!  ;-)

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Election Perturbation

I rarely post political stuff, but I’m going to briefly now, because it’s just too important to be quiet.  Following are some of my internal strivings about the upcoming Presidental election:

1) Those of you who know me at all know that I have a high view of womanhood, and I have worked for years in my “pet” area of women’s rights.

2) I also have a high view of human life.  Biologically, human life begins at conception (see http://www.abort73.com/abortion/medical_testimony/ for a myriad of quotes from abortion activists agreeing with this as an objective reality).

3) I am a strong believer in the Constitution our founding fathers established for our country, and I am distressed by how far we have travelled from its intent in many areas.  I long to see huge change in our country moving toward Constitutional principles.

4) One area that particularly distresses me is the two-party system, especially the decline and corruption of the Republican party.  I am disgusted by some of the shenanigans pulled this year by party leaders, and the thought of voting Republican on Tuesday makes me more than a little nauseous.

5) I am sick of going to the ballot box and voting for the cliche’ “lesser evil.”  That’s not a comment about individuals as much as it is about a party system that is sick and broken.  And so this year, I was ready to finally do it… vote my beliefs without regard to whether I would cast a “winning” vote.  So I picked up my research once more.

6) I agree with many planks in the Libertarian platform, though I agree more thoroughly with the Constitution party, for which I don’t have the option of voting this election.  In lieu of being able to vote for a Constitutional party candidate, how I would love to vote Libertarian this year, to be part of a 5% vote that would force some changes in the two-party system (or display how corrupt it is when they again change the rules mid-stream).

7) But, ah, for the deal-breaker of a rub. See number 2. The official Libertarian platform says that abortion should not be regulated by the government, and yet, if one accepts the biological beginning of human life at conception, to not criminalize the taking of a human life by the force of abortion directly violates stated Libertarian principles (See Section 1 of the Libertarian platform). Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s website states that “Life is precious and must be protected. A woman should be allowed to make her own decisions during pregnancy until the point of viability of a fetus.”  Again, if one accepts that human life begins at conception, as so many biologists and abortion advocates do (see above link for a refresher or if you are doubting), this is saying that the taking of a human life is fine until said human reaches the nebulous point of “viability.”

8) The other platforms planks with which I disagree could be set aside for the goal of shaking up our current system and creating some Constitutional change.  But not this one.  I just Can Not, with a clear conscience, cast a vote that does not stand for the sanctity of human life from conception.  And honestly, it galls me.  Not to stand for life, but to not have a better choice.

9) And so, with the Republican party having what is described as its strongest stand for life ever, and without a Constitutional party option, I go to the polls and will cast a vote for life in the Presidential race.  And I research local polititians, knowing that to move toward a more Constitutional government, we must start at a local level.  And I ponder what I’m called to do to help create better choices in the future.

10)  If you are one of my beloved friends who are to the left of me politically and you have gotten this far in my tome, thank you.  I must reiterate that since I embrace life as beginning at conception, I do not have the option of looking at abortion as a women’s rights issue.  Just as a woman who shoots her partner in intentional, deliberate fashion is guilty of murder, even with a history of abuse, to kill an unborn person, despite extenuating circumstances or inconvenience, is still murder.  Compassion, understanding, forgiveness… these should be extended to a woman in such traumatic situations.  But they do not negate the facts of the case.  If I believe that an conceived life is a human being, I must take a stand for that life.  Would you ask any less of me?

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July Photo Journal

catching up, bit by bit…

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A Visit from Papa and Mama Byrd

We were blessed by a visit from Papa and Mama in June/July – we got to have them with us for three wonderful weeks!  They brought their camper trailer, which was great considering our small space.  What a blessing to enjoy such sweet fellowship and make precious memories together.

(click to open and click through larger versions of pictures, complete with captions)

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Juneness

Birthday Parties and other fun stuff from the first half of the month…

(click to see larger pics with captions)

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