Monday, January 31, 2011

Fear Not

fear (n.) - an unpleasant feeling of anxiety or apprehension

Fear of change?
Fear of the unknown?
of reaching out,  of expressing emotion
of looking different, of being noticed, of loving, of losing?
Fear of conflict?
Fear of inconsistency?
It keeps us stranded in the familiar. It skews our perspective. 

More than anything I want my children to embrace life. 
To live fully.  To love when it is risky. 
To trust when the outcome is uncertain.
To take risks that will ultimately build their character.
To share their emotions.  To feel secure. 
I want to teach them to step out.  To step up. 
To Fear Not.

Left to our own I believe we could all be overtaken by a spirit of fear.  Last week as they memorized their new verse I hope my own little ones began to embrace this very clear message of power.

Isaiah 41:13 - For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand and says to you,
Do not fear.  I will help you.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Scrappy To-Dos

It's been on my calendar for quite some time, but it is almost here. Next weekend I am going to a scrapbooking overnight that I am not responsible for planning - yay! It will be great to visit, snack, and share ideas. AND I am totally excited about getting at a pile of projects - which is much easier to do as a guest than it is as the hostess.

There is a growing list of cropping projects growing in my planner. It's a mix of digital and traditional paper projects, as my books are also a mix. Here are some of the things I am hoping to catch up on, in no particular order:

~Plan and layout Gibson's 2-3 year old birthday book (traditional)
~Make a gift card type note for Anne Hope's AmericanGirl birthday celebration (digital)
~Put together a 2 page spread of Christmas photos in our Christmas album (traditional)
~Create recipe cards to type up all of the loose ones in my drawer (digital)
~Finish the last 2 page spread in our 2010 family album (traditional)
~Brainstorm a theme for our 2011 album and finish the January pages (traditional?)
~Create a 2011 cover page for the family album (digital)
~Catch up on Gabe's baby book and monthly calendars (digital)
~Put together my birthday page in the K2 Birthday Book (traditional)
~Make 4x6 notecards featuring recent craft projects (digital)
~I also have this crazy dream of creating an eye spy book with a picture of our Christmas tree and individual pictures of each of the ornaments.  Ridiculously I have already taken all of the ornament pictures, but I'd like to cut them each out individually and make little eye spy poems to go with them.  This project might still be on my list in 2021, but if there is time I'll think about it!

I will try to check in after the weekend and let you know what kind of progress I made on my ambitious scrappy to-dos.
In the meantime. I have been playing with an idea for the cover page in our 2010 family album. I saw this on a friend's site and am quite excted about how it has turned out for me.


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Friday, January 28, 2011

Meaningful Gifts

In the last week I celebrated my birthday.  I was so blessed by many thoughtful gifts. One of my favorite-est was the gift of t.i.m.e., given to me by Kevin. (If we are "facebook friends" you also know that he honored me with words of affirmation all day too;).  Anyway, time! Time to do whatever I wanted.  To tackle the FOR FUN! list in my planner. Time to try some of the projects ideas I've been collecting.  It was wonderful.

While I was playing and thinking & thining and playing, I was reminded of the many other special gifts we have been given recently.  That  is quite a list as well!  Here are a few mementos with significant meaning.  If you've been reading A List Maker's Life for long you will likely know just the story that goes with each of them.
{Gabe's birth day ring}

Now that I have this lovely sized to perfection it will stack on my finger along with the reminders of 3 other very special birth days!
{No Matter What necklace}

This unique design was thoughtfully created for me.  The artist shop is called Made to Glorify. Each piece of jewelry is hand stamped to tell a true story from someone's life.
{a beautifully made onesie}

Can you believe this?  One of our dear friends carefully copied a design significant to us and had it printed on an outfit for our babe.  Gabe was a bit wiggly for this photo shoot, but still beautiful in this momma's eyes!

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Honestly Fabulous




Thanks to Trop 50 for sponsoring my writing about fabulous bloggers. This year Trop50 is granting 50 fabulous wishes. Click here to enter for a chance to win $1,000 to help grant a friend's wish!

Long before I began writing my own blogs, I was reading the writing of  friends near and far. Through the blogging years I've discovered fabulous posts focusing on many different aspects of life. Some favorite blogs come and go based on what I am really "in to" at the moment: crafts, organizing, home decorating, photography, or providing awesome activities for the kids.   I concentrate on groups of blogs encouraging me to do just what it is I want to do for the season.  When my interest shifts I move on. 

There is another amazing list of blog favorites that I check in with often.  The list including friends and family members who keep us up to date on life in their worlds through occassional updates. Love them all!

Yet, time after time, I am drawn to the beautiful writing shared by the following eloquent women who speak authentically and inspirationally about this motherhood thing I am about right now.
Adventures in Babywearing - Steph's was the first blog I ever read many years ago and is still the first blog I check whenever I have a chance to read around.  She has the most fabulous ability to write about the oh. so. daily. parts of life, while weaving in her sometimes hidden meanings and most "lifeportant" lessons.

Moments with Love - My own little motto is, "make the most of every moment" and there is no better way to do that than with Love.  She is a self proclaimed introvert, but I'm certain I am not the only one drawn to her compassionate and giving heart. Nevermind her kind smile and fabulous sense of style!

Enjoying the Small Things - I smile. I cry. I escape. I relate to pieces of Kelly's story, yet recognize other pieces that are so fabulously far from my reality they intrigue me. She shares amazing photography, a love for life, and a special big, small things perspective.

The Journey - A collaborative source for inspiration from many of the fabulous mommas who provide my personal encouragment on our new journey.

Boy Crazy  - Elizabeth has a home full of fabulous little boys, a Grand Rapis connection, a natural writing talent, and a friendly authenticity. 

Truth is woven into all of these womens' soul bearing posts, without being over served and sticky, making them classically fabulous.
Don't forget to enter the 50 Fabulous Wishes contest for a chance to win $1,000 to support a friend's wish. I was selected for this Tropicana Trop50 sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses
Blog With Integrity
, as I do. I received compensation to use and facilitate my post.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Voices of the Faithful

Shout for joy, to the Lord, all the earth.  Serve the Lord with gladness, come before Him with joyful songs.  Psalm 100:1-2
This was our memory verse for last week.

Voices of the Faithful - Book 2: Inspiring Stories of Courage from Christians Serving Around the World  shares a year's worth of inspiring stories of people striving to do just that.

This book is comprised of 365 short devotionals featuring stories of God's work written by hundreds of missionaries around the world.  The stories compiled by Kim Davis include adventures and miracles. 

Beth Moore, who wrote the forward, states that missionaries are called to many different fields: foreign countries, public schools, politics, and local neighborhoods.  She wisely explains that whatever we are called to do we cannot do alone.  The short daily expressions from fellow faithfuls provide encouragement for the journey. 

The book is divided into 12 specific themes, one per month.  The daily lessons each include a verse, a story, and a prayer.  One of my favorite features of the book is an alphabetized listing of all the scriptures used and which date highlights each passage.  Although I have already read through everyday once, I am looking forward to going back to re-read the days that correspond with the verses are family is memorizing each week.

I really enjoyed September's theme, Lessons from the Young.  January's theme, Prayer: The Priority, was also very motivating.  One of the January lessons explains prayer as our amazing opportunity to be involved in all that God is doing everywhere in the world.  That is big!

This book is an eye opener to the joys and trials of those who are serving with gladness all over the earth.
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Disclosure: Thank you to Booksneeze for providing this book for my review.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

things i dream of

cozy
mittens. steamy showers. sunsets over Lake Michigan

saying the right thing
authenticity. less picky picky perfection. without fear.

listening
more. to the littlest. talking less.

days past
creating on Gram’s kitchen table. the excitement of an engagement 11 years ago. studying abroad.

learning
to be patient. to dance. to eat less.

focusing on
moving forward. our “village.” orphans & widows.

entertaining
a table big enough for our entire small group to gather around. a home big enough for my table. peanut butter pie & diet coke.

heaven on earth
strength of purpose. joy. organization

priorities
teaching my babies to give. teaching them to serve. knowing they know Him.

crafting
piles of colored buttons. floral fabrics. 12x12 layouts

generosity of spirit
to accommodate. to tolerate. to forgive.
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Not-So-Wee G

Gavin has affectionately named the brothers: Big G, Little G, and Wee G.  However, there isn't much about the Wee G that is all so wee.  Our mighty fighter weighed in last week at 18.3 lbs. and today, exactly 7 days later, the Dr. weighed him again at 19.3 lbs.    At this rate, he is going to catch up to Gibson before his 5 month birthday!

Other Gabe Updates:
~He is measuring 24.5 inches long.
~He's been rolling over for about 2 weeks.
~Last week he had a Frenectomy (do you know what that is?).  It may not have been such a big deal to him, but his momma is relieved.

~He is working hard on his physical therapy with bi-weekly in home visits and bi-weekly center visits.
~Gabe is still shunt free.  His next visit with the neuro surgeon is scheduled for the second week of February.
~He is scheduled to be fitted for his first orthodics early next week.
~He has an amazing smile that he still shares willingly despite his current double ear infection.
{Gabe Evan: 4 months old}
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Side Note: I'm still waiting for the comments on my giveaway post to reach the magic number.  It is getting close.  Feel free to add your repeat entries!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Feeling Gifty

Update -  January 21 5:26 pm:
Yay!  We have a winner.  The lucky number was 22!  One of my favorite numbers for sure:)
Congratulations Rach!  Thanks for being a faithful reader, commenter (that doesn't look like a word), and encouragement.  I'll be in touch soon to have you pick out your two faves!

There are tutorials on several variations of washer necklaces and bracelets around the blogosphere. Since I have a fine collection of scrapbook paper scraps in too cute to throw out patterns I had to give it a try with my own variation.

 In addition to the diamond glazed paper pendants, I also tried the nail polish variety. Too fun!

To thank you for being fantastic readers and a source of encouragement for me in the last  365, I am looking forward to giving away a necklace. In fact, the winner will be able to choose a 3 piece set: 2 washers and 1 chain.

Unlike many of my past giveaways, instead of using Random.org I have already chosen a winning comment number. When the comments reach the "magic number" that friend will be gifted! That's it, no special required entries. Enter as many times as you like until a winner is announed, just never two times in a row (does that make sense?). I'd love to hear how long you've been reading A List Maker's Life, what your favorite posts are, your favorite crafts to make, how you like to celebrate life, and more!

Ready. set. comment! 

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bittersweet

Thanks to a loan from our sweet sitter, I just devoured the book Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist.  Never mind the bags under my eyes, it wasn’t the baby keeping me up late;)  A few years ago I read Shauna’s first book, Cold Tangerines, and appreciated the style and voice in her writing.  However, I connected with this newest book in a much different way.  In so many pieces of this book I found myself thinking, “Yes. That is exactly what I was trying to say.”  She eloquently writes about the Bitter/Sweet balance of life. 

The Bitter:
When I tried to explain to good friends how I felt about Christmas my words must have mish-mashed because the conversations would typically end with a reference to Scrooge.  Shauna says what I was feeling so very perfectly when she explains her own feelings in the chapter titled Thin Places.

“Advent is the question, the pleading, and Christmas is the answer...this season when I don’t feel a lot like Christmas, I do feel like Advent.  Advent gives us another option beyond false Christmas cheer.  Advent says the baby is coming, but he isn’t here yet, that hope is on the way, but the yearning is still very real...Advent is what saves us from giving up on Christmas and all its buoyant twinkling-light hope forever.”

In another chapter, Say Something, Shauna explains a lesson Kevin and I have learned in the past year and hope to never forget.  In fact, the night we found out about Gabe’s diagnosis one of the first things my dad said to me is, “People won’t know what to say.  We will likely say the wrong thing, but we support you and love you.”  What he didn’t prepare me for were the people who would say nothing.  Who would assume we would be “fine.” Who would allow their own insecurities to keep them from caring. Who would walk the other way.

“When something bad happens, people say the wrong things so often.  They say weird, hurtful things when they’re trying to be nice.  They say things that don’t hurt until later, and then when they do begin to hurt, you can’t get the words out of your mind...but there’s something far worse than the things people say.  It’s much worse when people say nothing.  I remember exactly who walked the other direction when they saw me at church and who walked toward me.”

We will likely spend the rest of our lives saying those awkward things, but we understand in a new way how even the “wrong” things show our love.

The Sweet:
It was a year ago this month that I traveled to WI for Cupcake ’10.  As I read the chapter, Alameda, I couldn’t help but smile about the memories of a group of friends relaxing together, sharing our babies, sharing our favorite foods, and sharing our hearts.

“Share your life with the people you love...There are enough long lonely days of the same old thing, and if you let enough years pass and if you let the routine steamroll your life, you’ll wake up one day isolated and weary and wonder what happened to those friends.  You’ll wonder why all you share is Christmas cards and why life feels bone-dry.  We were made to live connected and close...holding one another’s babies while taking turns stirring whatever’s on the stove.”

We have some very dear friends we used to see every Wednesday night just to visit – and eat sweets!  In the years of changing jobs, changing homes, and changing family size we let life get in the way of our set aside times to be together.  Last weekend we got together with many boxes of pizza and bunches of babies (8!) just to share life. 

“Because there really is nothing like good friends, like the sounds of laughter and the tones of their voices and the things they teach us in the quietest, smallest moments.”

And sometimes there is nothing like reading the right book, at just the right time!


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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Without Complaining

Do everything without complaining and arguing so that you may become pure and blameless children of God, without fault, in a wicked and depraved generation in which you will shine like stars in the universe. Philippians 2:14-15

The memory part of last week’s verse was not so difficult on this one, but the application was killer! Isn’t it for all of us? EVERY thing without complaining? Yikes!

At the beginning of the week Anne Hope continually said, “I just can’t learn it mom. It’s too hard.” Interestingly, I figured out as the week went on that she was more concerned that by saying it (which she could very easily) she was promising to live up to it all the time. We had a little chat about that. Each of us admits to being a work in progress...

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Share the Warmth

With all this snow falling, we have to cozy things up around here!

As part of our family fun event last week, we participated in a local effort to collect winter weather gear for those in need in our community.  The kids jumped right in to help as we sorted through our boxes of off season wear as well as our coat closets.   After we put together our "gently used" donations we headed to the fabric store for some scraf fleece.  Each of the kids picked out a favorite pattern and brought it up to be cut.  We finished the evening cutting and tieing fringe to make scarves to donate as well.  Gavin was especially pleased with his handmade contributions to the project.  We had a blast and were excited to drop off our box to help the cause.

Interested in making a fleece scarf of your own? 
We purchased 1/4 of a yard of each pattern. At home we cleaned up the edges to make them equal and straight. Then folded the entire scarf in half. 
The kids cut fringe at every 1/2 inch mark and cut in about 3 inches. 
After cutting we unfolded the scarf and worked on one side at a time. 
Every two pieces of fringe were tied together into double knots (a great introduction to the beginning of a shoe tie for Anne Hope). 

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Heart of Haiti

It was a year ago tomorrow that the most populated part of Haiti was struck by a catastrophic earthquake. The disaster is said to have directly affected over 3 million people.  Too many people lost their homes or their lives.  Now, a year later, it is reported that the people of Haiti are still living in a state of emergency. According to Unicef, "There have been few rays of hope in the broad landscape."  Flooding, political unrest, insufficient housing, disease, and uncertainty add to the sense of hopelessness for many Haitians.

Yet, creativity is still alive in Haiti as local artisans design colorful handcrafted home decor.  Using raw materials such as recycled oil drums, paper mache', stone, and wrough iron they are creating beauty.  Some designs, reflecting joyful spirits, are being made exclusively for Heart of Haiti. 

Heart of Haiti is an effort created by Willa Shalit, the CEO of Fairwinds Trading, to make a difference through meaningful shopping.  By teaming up with the Haitian people, as they pass on their art and preserve their cultural history, Heart of Haiti is offering them an opportunity to rebuild their lives.

Heart of Haiti also offers us a way to extend hope to Haiti as we shop with a purpose.  The proceeds from each gift purchased through Heart of Haiti are used to provide nutrition, education, and healthcare for the artisans and their families.

While they may feel forgotten, many refuse to forget.

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I was selected for this special “CleverHaiti” opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity. All opinions are my own.
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Monday, January 10, 2011

Resolved

With the encouragement of a friend and with the accountability to all of you, my new year's resolution is to memorize a new verse from scripture each week in 2011.  After studying my verse for a few days last week I was inspired to find a way to build the kid's week around the same teaching.  Making use of our 40 minutes of driving to school in the AM we say, sing, and clap the words.

The verse we took on last week was Ephesians 2:10

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

The kids memorized my paraphrase:

"We are God's special project, made in Jesus to do good things."

Kevin and I have also been kicking around the idea of shaking up our family fun nights by making them more about others and less about us.  In the past two years we have consistently spent Friday nights as a family doing an activity that we enjoy.  Just by the nature of the night it is a bit self centered as we set aside that time to alone together.  We typically eat pizza, play a game, watch a movie, complete an art project, or enjoy an outdoor activity together. 

After spending quite a bit of time on Ephesians 2:10 this week we decided as a family to dedicate at least two of our family fun nights each month to doing good things for other people.  We spent time throughout the week brainstorming a list of things we have been created for, blessed with, and prepared to do.

The time we spent thinking about all the good we could do to benefit others was inspiring and exciting.  A perfect application of our first verse of 2011.

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Changed - part 2

Like the weeks after a hurricane, we still live a bit in the wake. Not quite knowing where to pick up the pieces and which pieces we are better off leaving behind.

We pray for our hearts to be healed, just as we believe baby Gabe's body is being healed. Yet, we want to remain broken, willing, soft, and ready to share His glory and its work in our lives.

To those whom much has been given, much is expected. We believe that is deeper than just a call to share our financial blessings. As our dust continues to settle,and our silver linings appear, we look for the right words. Not those fakity fake sounding ones.

At the same time we realize it is going to take much more than words. It is time for us to more forward. To accept. To do for others. To be change.

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Changed

This has been on my heart- and tucked away in my drafts folder- since our little guy came home 2 months ago.  It is likely it will become an emerging theme here on A List Maker's Life in 2011.

We've been rearranged.
...by a change in plans
...by a stay at the Renucci House & the NICU where our hearts and minds were presented with a new awareness of so many hurting families

We've been filled.
...and so was our gas tank with an anonymous gift
...and our tummies with weeks worth of shared meals
We've been invited.
...to listen to the experiences of others who have walked this path before us
...to share our story, our joy, and our struggles with many who are willing to listen and pray

We have been blessed
...by envelopes full of gift cards to help us with extra expenses and to lift our spirits
...by notes of encouragement, packages, and email messages from people we have never even met yet they have commited themselves to caring about us

We have been loved.
...with a surprise early December delivery giving something special to encourage each of us
...with family and friends showing up to celebrate with us

We have been changed.
...since meeting this sweet smiling little warrior
...since sharing our story with you

...to bring change.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bringing Up Boys

When Gavin was first born I had to have it. 
Quickly read it. 
Enjoyed it.
Yet, I didn't see a lot of need to refer to it.
To study it.
But...
this little one...
with the spark in his eye...
with the stinker in his step...
with his baby brother under his bootie...

Well, I think it's time to re-read Bringing Up Boys!

 
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Charmed Life

We have created quite the New Year's Eve tradition at our house. It is probably our favorite part of the whole holiday season.  It is a special time of wishing, dreaming, reflecting, predicting, laughing, and munching (of course)!  This year was no exception.
As part of our celebration each year we dig out our New Year's charms.  Over the year's we have collected close to 20 different silver charms.  The kids dictate to us their ideas to accompany each charm before they are tucked in to the "cake" of choice for our near midnight snack.  After the anticipation of discovering which fortune was ours we totally enjoyed eating this year's treat - oreo truffles.

Maybe because you are interested,
but mostly because I want to remember,
what follows is our family fortunes as written by Gavin and Anne Hope:

Kevin - the big cross
"You will learn more about Jesus this year."

Katie - sunflower
"You will grow closer to the sun (Son)."
~A continuation of 2010 for both Kevin and I.~

Gavin - butterfly
"You will see a buttefly and be filled with wonder."
~He's always wondering, brainstorming, and figuring...very appropriate~

Anne Hope - friends forever heart
"You will meet a special new friend this year."
~We are hoping she will have the courage to meet and play with new people, especially as she ventures off to Kindergarten.  This was a perfect pick for her.~

Gibson - token of love
"This year you will ask Jesus to come in to your heart"
~He was just the little person we would have hoped would draw this one.~

Gabe - believe
"You will overcome all of your obstacles"
~Can you believe it?  That they thought of this ahead of time?  That Gabe would get this charm in his truffle?  Love it!~
Looks like we have lots to look forward to in 2011!

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year, A New List

Welcome 2011!

Katie's Predictions
~Anne Hope will conquer two-wheel bicycling
~She will also be talked into trying soccer and will love it
~Two of our boys will kick their bad habits
~No shunt for Gabe in 2011 - we are hopeful!
~Gabe will stand unassisted by next Christmas
~Sarah Palin: All hype with no follow through on a bid for the White House
~Cars Movie 2 will be the talk of the summer for Mr. Gavin
~Our front yard will eventually see a For Sale sign of it's own
~Patience will be tested.
~Insanity will be too insane and will collect dust on the shelf
~Hours will be wasted on You Tube and Facebook that would better be spent on Twitter...just sayin'

Kevin's Predictions
~Under the direction of a new coach, Hope's basketball team will finish barely above 500.
~Gas prices will hit 4.50
~Republicans will put forth an African American candidate for president
~Lions make the playoffs
~Tigers make the playoffs

Please play along by adding your predictions in the comments. Predictions may be personal, political, silly, sarcastic, economic, or entertaining. If you have your own blog feel free to make your predictions there and link back to this post, just for the fun of it:)

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