Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Open Tabs: Thanksgiving Edition

I love a little last minute Thanksgiving inspiration especially if it is something simple and free that I won't have to buy any supplies for. Here are a few ideas that caught my eye in preparation for our holiday week!

Rachel and I want to make these Pumpkin Pie Rice Krispie treats!

I like these free printable Gratitude Journals from Joanna Gaines' blog!

This cute Kraft Paper Table Runner would be super easy and thrifty for dressing up your table!

I have a chalkboard that looks almost exactly like this - thinking I might prop it up on cups and make a cute centerpiece out of it with whatever I can find on a nature walk! While you are out walking, collect pinecones for placecards and find an awesome leaf to cut a heart out of - sweet! A couple of thicker branches cut up make these cute chunky message holders - I love these!

Cute printables to attach to baked goods and deliver to your neighbors!

This is a cute "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good" free printable!

I like the simple lettering and laurel wreath on this chalkboard! And this chalkboard lettering and quote are beautiful and inspiring too!

Pull out your Scrabble letters for a sweet timely message!

Not Thanksgiving related, but something I've tried recently. Emily has been outgrowing her jeans like crazy lately - and one pair that actually fit had a huge hole in the knee! I mended them via this idea and now they are her fave - go figure!

Most of all this week, I hope you have time to slow down, savor these moments we have and make sweet memories together! Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nature Study

This one tiny bloom seems a bit confused about which season it is supposed to be - but pretty either way! One of my favorite things to do on a slow day is go for a nature walk. I can remember as a little girl collecting goodies out on my walks and I haven't tired of it yet!

My children, fortunately, are just as interested as I am which makes it a fun thing for us to do together. We just go outside and marvel together at nature and all the intricate details of it. They made up "acorn skating" today. If you live near or under an oak tree as we do - you hear the loud pops all day and night as they hit your roof, windshield, sidewalk and in our case, skylights. It worries friends who come over sometimes who are not used to the sound!

At any rate, our yard and several others in our neighborhood are covered in a veritable carpet of acorns. This led to the discovery that you can sort of slide over acorns and they will roll you along - ahhh, what we do for fun! And, oh that sweet creativity of imaginative children!

We brought all of our goodies home and sorted into three categories: nuts/seeds/berries; mushrooms/moss/fungi/bug shell and then leaves of various sorts.

I brought my laptop outside and we began our research to learn more about what we'd found - it was interesting as we usually get crafty or artistic with our finds and this was more scientific and like a treasure hunt to notice details and think of ways to describe the item to Google.

We struggled on leaf identification other than the obvious ones but had much better success on our other items.

We learned that hickory nuts are extremely hard to crack and faintly smell like maple syrup inside. We were thrilled to find this one nut above that had a root growing out of one end - what a great visual of the job of seeds!

We learned about those brown cherry looking things on our neighbor's tree - ornamental pear! And, some interesting seed pods came from a crepe myrtle. We also came across three different varieties of acorns and had fun examining the differences.

We learned a lot about how to identify a mushroom and all the differing properties that help narrow down what kind we found. We see so many ugly mushrooms it felt sort of fun to find the quintessential red/white variety.

Lichen. Fungi. Cicada. Sweetgum ball affectionately called a "crouton" by my outdoor-salad-making-children! :)

Magnolia. Maple. Oak. And, other things we haven't quite discovered yet. The variety of color, design, edges, points, texture, stems, thickness - all of it is quite dizzying. God is an amazing artist and we are so privileged to have it right out our door at all times.

Have you taken a nature walk lately? Did you discover anything new to you or especially wonder-full?

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Inspiring New Believers of Acts 2; part two

Picking up where we left off yesterday, we have set the stage for arriving at verse 46. "Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts."

Let's just look at the first half of this verse as we begin. Some things I notice are:
- this was a priority and a habit; it takes commitment to continue with something like this
- their hearts were seeking growth and instruction
- the footnote on this verse reminds that there were {and still are} Jews who believe Jesus is their Savior and those who do not. Because of the tension between these two groups, many like these mentioned here would meet in homes to grow in their knowledge of Christ which they would not receive at "church." Yet they still wanted the instruction on/from the Scripture so they would do both - meet together for the public teaching and meet privately for further study, growth and instruction.

Verse 46 continues, "They broke bread and ate together with glad and sincere hearts."
We already talked about this "breaking bread" phrase in verse 42, here it adds that they ate together. This begs the question:  Why is it important to eat together? 

- Meals are necessary for us to maintain life and each one is a direct celebration of God's sustaining provision and blessing in our life. They are celebrating God's provision twice - the provision of a Savior {communion} and the provision of the meal before them. It is life in every realm - immediate life needs and eternal life needs.

- Sweet beauty of fellowship around the table together - just to provide a place to come to the table, rest, relax, be nourished and connect with one another. Recently, our CC Essentials mamas got together to watch some DVD's that all of us Essentials mamas get together to watch and we had a birthday to celebrate to we included dinner in the equation. We had so much fun gathering around the table over food without an agenda and just for an opportunity to fellowship and share this blessing together. It was so great, we are going to keep it going.

In addition to loving the fact that they come together to eat, I love the words used to describe their hearts: glad and sincere - what do these words bring to mind?

* glad: this makes me immediately think of Pollyanna and her Glad Game. She was so good at finding something to be thankful for in the midst of even difficult circumstances and it was contagious!

* sincere: genuine, being who I way I am, caring for others, not putting on airs

Verse 47 closes out this chapter by sharing more of a glimpse into the hearts of these believers and the way they carried themselves:

- praising God
- enjoying the favor of all the people: people were attracted to them and wanted to be like them!

And then this, "And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." Their life and lifestyle were attractive and drawing to people who watched them. Others wanted to be part of it too, it was so appealing to them that it became a heart change for many watching and they welcomed new believers every day by God's grace.

The way I interact with and live among others will either draw others in or push them away. Is there something I can do this week to cultivate this contagious faith to those around me?

Let's keep these thoughts in mind as we gather around during this holiday season - it is a beautiful time of celebrating and giving thanks - how can we gather and celebrate with glad and sincere hearts for His glory?!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Inspiring New Believers of Acts 2; part one

As I mentioned here, I landed in Acts 2 after seeing some great inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest including the above verse. I wanted to know more and immerse myself in it a bit and the context.

Acts 2:42-47, "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."

Setting the scene and even going back further than quoted above, Peter is speaking in Jerusalem just after the Holy Spirit comes in tongues of fire and wind at Pentecost. Peter "preaches up a storm" so-to-speak and near the end, those listening are convicted and ask what they should do. He presents the Gospel and about 3,000 were saved and baptized this day.

This is where we pick up - verse 42 starts with the word "they" and refers immediately back to these 3,000.

These new believers are precious, inspiring and full of beauty. It says they were devoted to four things:

* the apostles' teaching: I love that they had teachable hearts and were hungry and eager to learn!

* fellowship: the blessing of community is real! David and I talked about this recently and realized that it was a big reason we chose the piece of property we did in North Carolina. When the Property Manager says things like "slower pace of life" and "people who enjoying being outside in the beauty of nature" and you experience these things for yourself in person - it draws us in to build community with others who value this too. Same here for these new believers - they are looking for community with common-hearted souls to walk alongside this journey of life with. I also love that is says "the" fellowship - they were committed to the group, to their community, they were not selfish or focused only on themselves.

* breaking of bread: the footnote in my Bible mentions that this refers to sharing Communion together; I really want it to include the beauty of sharing a meal together which we'll see in another couple of verses.

* prayer: I am so intrigued by mentions of prayer in Scripture because it continues to be a struggle for me and I confess, I doubt desired results and feel numb to both the quantity and magnitude plus constant stream of the needs.

Verse 43 speaks of their awe both at what God was doing in them and among them. It is this new discovery of who God is and how powerful/mighty and good He is, coupled with the heightened senses from everything being new to them and witnessing these wonders and miraculous signs done by the apostles. Have I lost my sense of wonder? Often, yes, I get somewhat guarded and/or cynical.

Verse 44, "All the believers were together and had everything in common." A marginal note sends us over to Acts 4:32 which mentions, "...they were of one heart and mind..." so this brings to mind that they were not allowing things to divide them, they shared the same goals and kept peace among one another. "They had everything in common...," is a pretty big statement, but it doesn't say they were all exactly the same or that they stopped being themselves {personality} but that their purpose was unified - they wanted to grow in their new faith through fellowship and in sharpening one another.

Verse 45, "Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need." They used what they had for God's purposes; I love their generosity and the simplicity of their fresh faith. I also love that it mentions "goods" here - this is an opportunity to use the gifts God gave each of us to do something bigger than ourselves - and I secretly love that it doesn't say they sold everything they had.

They were not ruled by possessions but knew their place and their place was to serve God's people. Sometimes that means giving things away, selling things, etc. so that we have the money to give. But doesn't that also mean sometimes we buy to support a fundraiser or encourage a family who is creatively trying to earn some extra income.

Doesn't it also mean that inviting others into our homes does not mean bringing them somewhere drab and dingy? Almost every time someone new comes to our home, there is a comment made about how cozy and homey it is. I do not say this pridefully but rather with gratitude that in living out who I am within my home, God has the opportunity to overflow and welcome/bless/envelop others in that feeling of a hug when they come into our home.

The bottom line is that my resources do not need my service, but to be made available to God's use and service in various ways.

To be continued tomorrow ...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Input Please!!!

Friends, I am humbly asking for your help! Many of you have left comments saying I should write a book about Slow and God was laying the same idea on my heart as well. I have finished a rough draft of  a book about slowing down and finding beauty in that slow!!! Yay! BUT, my platform is tiny in the world of publishing. I have a literary agency who has cracked the door open the tiniest bit - would you help me show them there is interest and/or a market for this book? I am terrible at self-promotion, but God has put this message on my heart - so I pray it will become whatever He has in mind. Thank you in advance!

You can do any of the following to help:
- leave a comment here sharing why you think this book is needed in our day and/or why you would read it
- leave a comment here sharing why I should be the one to write this book
- follow me on Instagram
- subscribe to my blog
- like my Facebook page
- leave a comment on any of the above to show support or interest for a book on this topic

Here is the premise from my book proposal:
Most women are running through the race of life at break-neck speed. As a result we are stressed out, worn out and missing out on celebrating the everyday beauty of life. The purpose of this book is to come alongside my fellow sisters in the race with practical ideas to equip us in slowing down both spiritually and in our daily lives thus being able to reduce stress and joyfully embrace life.

Slow Day

Pumpkin French Toast
Homemade Granola
Picking up Pecans in a friends yard - trade for splitting what we picked up with her {yay for free!}
My first epantry order - hooray for freebies! {this is an affiliate referral link, you'll get free credit, I'll get free credit} I don't think I see what all the hype is about, but I was willing to try it once for the great deal + freebies + free shipping.
Emily has this thing for snails - #howcouldshebemydaughter
Attempting to teach my kids how to fix the toilet - didn't quite work out that smoothly because the bolt was on too tight - but it is fixed now and I am grateful! I guess they learned that it's ok to ask for help?! :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Acts 2:46 Vintage Linen Art

After seeing that amazing art work on Joanna Gaines Instagram feed, it reminded me of this dreamy dish towel floating around on Pinterest. I noticed it probably at least a year ago - but the price was out of my range.

I typed in "Acts 2:46" on Pinterest recently and found this gem of a craft tutorial for printing this verse on canvas. This post actually became a spring-board for me to something I thought was even easier and thriftier.

A couple of years ago, I did a free online Christmas crafting course and one of the crafts taught us how to print on fabric. I think there were more steps - but the gist of it is to use a piece of cardstock and spray it with spray adhesive {spray inside of a box so it is not all over the place!} Then smooth your fabric over the cardstock and trim edges so they are even. I am serious, that is all there is to it - feed it into your printer and boom. We have a laser jet printer so I can only vouch for how great it works in that, have not tested on other types on ink.

Look at that dreamy aged fabric and swoony edges! A friend gave me some vintage pillowcases and hankies/cloth napkins a few months ago. One of the pillowcases had a huge rip right next to the seam and I just helped it out and ripped it all the way off - that great crocheted trim was already there. I hemmed the remaining three edges in contrasting thread.

The cloth napkin {size of a vintage hankie} is what I attached to cardstock and ran through my printer - you will probably want to trim your seams off before putting through your printer, although that edge with trim on it {upper edge of trim} ran through fine.

It was easy to top stitch the napkin on to the half-pillowcase! I'm not completely sure yet if this is washable and/or how well it would hold up. Since I love it so much as it is, I think I'm going to use it for decor right now because I'm afraid to mess it up!

I actually made this hoop art first - also on a vintage hankie and just tucked into a thrifted embroidery hoop with scrappy pieces of leftover fabric covering the hoop. I like both options!

Now, I spent all week after making these on this passage in my Quiet Times. More coming on that later in the week!