30 Days of Gratitude | 30 Things

I know everyone is still in Halloween-mode, but I am excited about next month!

All November, a full thirty day, I am talking about gratitude.

Why thirty days of gratitude? Did you know showing gratitude for the little things you have will make you a happier person? Who could use more happy? I know I could.

Studies show you will also gain a stronger immune system, feel more connected to others, have increased energy, and be more creative. The deliberate act of practicing gratitude is a guarantee that you’ll appreciate what you have rather than what you don’t.

And, because Thanksgiving is more than a one day football and food coma.

And, because expressing gratitude for the simple things in our life makes us happier people, and pleasurable to be around.

And, because everyone has something to be thankful for.

And, because I am giving you get a free printable of 30 Things to help you on your way to 30 Days of Gratitude.

30 things printable-blog

Click Image to Download a PDF

FREE PRINTABLE | Click on the above image to download your free Thirty Things: 30 Days of Gratitude list and quote. Print it out. Post the list on your fridge. Fold it up and carry it in your purse. Challenge your family to find the gratitude in November. Display the quote in a 5×7 frame. “In every thing give thanks…” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I am practicing the art of intentional gratitude all month long! Won’t you join me?

Some Days All You Can do is Phone it in

I remember when the girls were toddler sized. Those days they were up for just about anything, as long as I packed a sippy cup and Goldfish crackers. And, every Halloween was a production.

We would spend an afternoon at the “fancy” Pumpkin Patch. That farm included small animals, a hay ride to pick a pumpkin in field, a general store with more snacks, small carnival rides, face painting, and a pumpkin decorated wooden wagon perfect for photo ops. I have a lot of those type of photos in the scrapbooks.

This pumpkin patch was also 40 minute drive, one way. Oh, those were the days when I had energy.

It was when I thought the kids needed to have that over-the-top experience, or their childhood would be ruined. R-U-I-N-E-D.

SONY DSC

I actually contemplated buying pumpkins at King Soopers this year. I know, I am totally phoning it in. Can I say this mama is tired?

If I knew then, what I know now? I would have saved my money and sanity and headed to the simpler farm every year. Yes, those big farms are fun, but they are also pricey, and my kids don’t remember them anyway. I know they don’t, because I asked them.

Kids don’t need fancy. Not every Halloween (or experience) needs to be perfect all the time. What are we teaching them if we try to make every experience the best.time.ever? Some of the most memorable events are just average days when we run to buy pumpkins at the local, simple pumpkin patch, and talk about our day.

pumpkin patch

This girl asked me, during our bedtime talk, if something was wrong with me…just because I wanted to snuggle a little longer.  When did decide she needed to check up on me?

pumpkin patch

This girl, so fashionable. I was reminded today that I need to start thinking about which High School she will attend. Seriously? I don’t want too.

pumpkin patch

She needs to get the right shot to post on Instagram. She is so my girl!

And, the best part? The trip took all of 45 minutes round trip, not 3 hours. Maybe phoning it in isn’t so bad after all.

* * * * *

This week we had a photoshoot with my friend at ReasonYou Portraits. Below is my favorite photo that Jen took. Aren’t they lovely? The photos…and the kids!

ReasonYou Portraits ©2014, Photos by Jen Richardson at ReasonYou Portraits, photographing the Denver-Metro area.

 

#SmallSeeds of Creativity

AUTUM QUOTE

So, it’s been awhile since I have posted some Small Seeds. Although, sharing links to bloggers changing the world right where they are is important; I thought I would switch it up a little this month and share Small Seeds of Creativity, a.k.a. seriously creative bloggers.

The girls and I are always looking for fun, crafty ideas to try out. Since I introduced Alex to Pinterest…well, we’ve been crafting a lot more lately! And, with the holiday season fast approaching…only 9 Friday’s until Christmas, to be exact, maybe you will see something that will inspire a crafted gift this year. My friend can’t help announcing to all of us in the office how many Friday’s are left until Christmas. You’re welcome.

pirate fairy

Halloween preview: Pirate Fairy. Never heard of one? Well, now you have.

SMALL SEEDS OF CREATIVITY

CREATIVE BLOGGER #1: Jennifer Jangles  is the “maker of happy things”. She offers whimsical sewing and craft projects for all ages and skill level. Running low on time? She even has an Etsy shop where she sells kits of her designs. Check out her free pattern of these whimsical pin cushions8 free Christmas patterns…and these Happy Scrappy Scarves.If her designs don’t bring a smile to your face, you should probably get that checked out by a doctor, stat!

CREATIVE BLOGGER #2: Uppercase Magazine is stuffed full of creative ideas for calligraphers, graphic designers, fabric artists, pottery artists, surface pattern artists, basically anyone who is “creative and the curious”. Why have I just discovered this magazine? In a world when print seems to be a lost art, Uppercase publishes this beautiful magazine four times a year. Its design is modern and clean, has gorgeous photography, and features artists who are sharing their art with those around them. Actually, if you read about publisher/editor/designer Janine Vangool’s story, she is pretty inspiring too.

CREATIVE BLOGGER #3: Dear Little Pin Cushion Studio, please move to Colorado. Please. This little studio offers sewing classes for kids…which looks like a blast! Tell me this class doesn’t look like a creative mess. But, unless you live in Virginia, you’ll have to live vicariously through their blog.

CREATIVE BLOGGER #4: What creativity list wouldn’t be complete without a food blogger? Half Bakes Harvest fits that bill! Beautiful photography, modern design, decadent food, did I mention the beautiful photography? Seriously, check out this Salted Caramel Apple Snickers Cake…or Chile Lime Salmon Fajita Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette...or No-Churn Caramel Peanut Butter Cup Soft Pretzel Ice Cream Sammies with Hot Fudge (What the holy yum!). Tieghan dishes up food that is so sinful some of us can only look at the pictures!

So, there ya go. Go. Check out some creative bloggers today.

Three Years Living With Dogs

It’s been three years living with THESE dogs. Three years ago, hubby’s best friend from high school passed away suddenly. Needless to say, it was a shock to us all.

In his will, we inherited his dogs. We just lost our beloved Beagle of 14-years, and were ill-equipped in handling an 80-pound black lab, named Thor, with territorial issues. Our youngest, who was 5-years-old at the time, was scared to death of this massive dog. The two have since became best buddies, and Thor has lost 10 pounds. He is still big, black, and threatening-looking that I don’t worry too much about a home intruder. We also call him Thor-bee-licious.

The other dog is a 10-pound toy poodle, named Rocco, who peed on everything! I had a toy poodle as a teenager, so you can imagine how much I love this dog. He has received a few nicknames as well, like cutie pie, Fluffy McKissens, and Prince.

It’s been three years of dog training, kennel training, acupuncture for allergies (for the humans), special diets, one torn ACL (Thor), and lots of vacuuming up dog hair.

They say given enough time, everything works out. Although, with the help of Bark Busters, there is room for improvement when it comes to Thor’s territorial issues, but he has come a long way. Rocco still pees on everything..so, I guess we need a lot more time there. One thing is clear, these dogs have become a part of the family.

Living with THESE dogs has been a crazy ride and unexpected blessing. Uh, most days.

rocco

Rocco desperately needs to be groomed!

thor

Thor has his eye on the prize…a Milk Bone!

Not Every Little Girl is Celebrated | Gendercide in So Asia

I have two daughters. The first took nearly two years to conceive. Oh, how we tested, tried, and waited. We found out she was a she on 9/11. That 9/11. Is it possible to feel overwhelming sadness and joy on the same day?

We painted walls in girl appropriate colors, bought little girly clothes, registered at Babies R Us, searched for the perfect girly name. When she was born, she almost forced me to deliver in the hospital parking lot. When we held her in our arms for the first time, she was the picture of perfection. Perfectly bald and beautiful.

My pregnancy and delivery with my second daughter was slightly different…it was more difficult. However, we repeated the whole process of painting, buying, primping, and anxiously awaiting her arrival. When we held her in our arms for the first time, it was hard to believe we held perfection for a second time. She too, was bald and beautiful.

Our daughters are perfect. I can’t think of anything better than having daughters. And, personally, there is nothing better than holding a bald baby girl. All my opinion, of course.

In some parts of the world, holding a newborn daughter in one’s arms is considered unfortunate, a waste, a disappointment, unloved. This is heart crushing.

Isaiah1

In some cultures, daughters have zero value. That’s hard to hear if you have grown up in America. But, it’s the sad reality of millions of girls in South Asia.

There is no baby shower celebrating a girl. There is no joyous birth announcement. In South Asia, a girl is not to be celebrated.

That is 600,000 dead babies every year simply because they are a girl. [Gender-based abortion, or Gendercide, is what it is called. Abortion based solely on the gender of the baby.]

Girls who are born into this world, face hatred and abuse from the ones who should love them unconditionally. They face the real possibility of sex trafficking, child labor, bride burning, and oppression. They spend their entire life being told they are unloved and unwanted.

UNWANTED.

UNLOVED.

ABUSED.

ABANDONED.

GENDER-BASED ABORTION.

SOLD FOR SEX.

Crimes against girls and women are frightening and sickening to hear, but it needs to be said.

Gospel For Asia made this amazing movie called Veil of Tears. This movies sheds light on the plight of girls and women in South Asia. I am warning you, keep the Kleenex close by when watching this movie!

It’s not all despair, though. Because of generous supporters, GFA is working to change cultural attitudes toward girls. They are spreading hope in girl’s lives through the love of Jesus Christ. Hearing of Christ’s love for them, when they have been told they are unlovable, has changed the hearts and minds of those who need it the most.

It only takes planting one small seed to grow Christ’s love.

GFA is speaking for millions of suffering girls, and taking action to change the lives of future girls through sharing the Gospel.

My daughters are the most precious people in my life. Every girl deserves to have someone who feels that way about them. Do you want to help change the life of a girl? Then, click here to learn more about Gospel for Asia and how they are working to share God’s love with those most in need.

*I am a Gospel for Asia Blogger. The more you know, the more you can make a difference. Become a #SmallSeed today. No deed is too small. Small Seeds, growing in faith and compassion.

If Jesus Had a Facebook Account…

Do you spend more time ‘liking’ status updates of people you hardly know, more than liking the One who knows you best?

Do you spend more time keeping up with the Kardashians than keeping up with your Bible study?

Do you follow more blogs than you follow Peter’s example? (This blog excluded, of course.)

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you may be in need of a divine social intervention.

The NFL debate, celebrity photo hacking, viral hashtags, oh my. There is so much to distract us on a daily basis; information at our fingertips, literally.

Our cell phone beeps with alerts that beg for our attention.right.now. We just can’t resist swiping our phone, can we?

But, there is someone else who, through all the chatter, is trying to get our attention…Jesus.

What does Jesus have to do to connect with us? Open a Facebook, Twitter, an Instagram account? Dying for us wasn’t enough?

Would He tweet “Frustrated with human-kind and their constant distractions.”?

Would His Facebook status read, “Missing you.”?

Would that get your attention, or at least a ‘share’?

What would happen if we spent as much time in His presence as on social media? What would we gain? Would we truly follow Him?

[Thumbs Up Graphic Source]

 

Bible Journaling | Works for Me

I may have mentioned once or twice (or more) how I like to highlight books I am reading. I highlight passages I don’t want to forget. I take notes in the margins. This is why I can never lend out my books to friends. Who wants to read a book with highlighter and notes written all over the pages?

Bible journaling

Even my Bible doesn’t escape the highlighter. I take notes in the margins too. I am not limited to the highlighter; I have even drawn pictures, used stickers, Washi tape, and attached note cards.

Bible journaling

I recently discovered people like me; expressing their love for their Bible in a very artistic way, turning it into an art journal, while spending time in the Word. Kindred spirits, we are.

Turns out there is a name for this thing that I do. It’s called Bible Journaling. If you can’t resist journaling, or taking notes, right along scripture, you can purchase a Journal Bible. It has extra large side margins for journaling or art.

Bible journaling Bible journaling

My mom gave me this Bible. It doesn’t have a wide margin, but that hasn’t stopped me from journaling in it! There are many different ways to study the Word. Not everyone would choose this approach. Some would never write in their Bible, others get out their big-girl watercolors and go to town! I say, “Do what works for you.”

I haven’t experienced a lot of anxiety about writing in my Bible. I know others who do. Maybe that is because I have written in books for a long time. I am a rule breaker that way.

I am careful not to cover up the words. I still want to read my Bible, after all. Others are comfortable creating with wild abandonment. Creating art for Him.

Bottom line | Do whatever you do that brings you closer to Him. Do it with happiness. Do it with love. This is your time spent in the Word. It is your time with Him. Doing it for the glory of the Lord is not wrong.

So, there you have it: Bible Journaling. Who knew? It works for me.

* * * * *

Check out these bloggers/artists who are sharing their love for the Word and their art too: Greta Sutherland and Shanna Noel. Need more inspiration? Click over to my Pinterest board entitled Bible Journaling.

myGFA

#SmallSeeds | Give Bibles to those who have never hear the Good News. Only $4 buys 8 New Testament Bibles, and $3 delivers a Bible to those most in need in South Asia. This is MyGFA.

Your Monday Morning Coffee Break | Life is Short, Live it

red lipstick

Because Life is short…

Rock your red lipstick.

Do what you can, let go of the rest.

Let go of regret.

Avoid drama.

spider web

Tell your story. Even if you think nobody is listening. Your story matters.

Have faith everyday.

Be an encourager. Big or small.

path walk

Walk your own path.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “You’re on your own. Figure it out.” Trust in the Lord.

Drink water. Eat right, but also eat ice cream like a kid.

Ignore haters. Be you. Everyone else is taken.

Give yourself (and others) a break.

Surround yourself with positive girlfriends.

black and white photos

Be in the moment. Put down the cell phone.

Eat chocolate…daily.

Do at least one thing a day that makes you happy.

Don’t take yourself, or life, too seriously. Laugh at yourself.

coffee

Know that you are strong.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Seriously, just stop.

Pray everyday.

Start before you have all the answers. “Say yes, and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” Tina Fey

leaves on porch

Do that thing you’ve always wanted to do.

Don’t post everything on social media. Some things are best left unsaid.

Don’t waste your emotional energy worrying about people who don’t like you.

Pause. Enjoy the simple things.

Life is short…live it.

myGFA

Join me in being a #SmallSeed. Do something small that is good. Grow in faith and compassion.

If you are reading this via email, I incourage you to hop over and check out the new look of the blog.

9 Things This Week…

I would like to say it’s been slow around here… This week has been nothing but slow. It has been C-R-A-Z-Y!

9 things this week…

  1. Two trips to the ER. Hubby has kidney stones, and anything that can bring a grown man to tears, on his knees, making deals with whomever will take the pain away, well, it’s enough for me to say, “Kidney stones suck!” You can put that on a t-shirt.
  2. One procedure to help those little ‘ol kidney stones on their way out, requiring an over-night hospital stay.
  3. One missed cross country meet.
  4. Several nights of little sleep and too tired to cook a decent meal. Do Goldfish crackers count as a meal?
  5. Forget about running the vacuum cleaner across the carpet…
  6. Planning a soon-to-be 8-year-old’s birthday party…in 2 weeks! What?!
  7. Plans for a weekend trip to Leadville canceled. We missed the Aspens turning this year. :-(
  8. One quilt and fabric show with a friend…Just a few hours to think of nothing and looking at pretty fabric!
  9. Instead of a trip to the mountains, we had a craft day.
Fall Button Tree on Canvas by Alex

Fall Button Tree on Canvas by Alex.

Craft Day Mess

Craft day mess.

The flowers making the transition from vibrant summer to fall.

The flowers making the transition from vibrant summer to fall.

A gift quilt pieced.

A gift quilt pieced.

New favorite shoes by Parker.

New favorite shoes by Parker.

The one cross country meet I did attend 2 weeks ago...

The one cross country meet I did attend 2 weeks ago…

And that wasn’t even everything!

I know we all have crazy weeks, or months, or years…but sometimes I have to ask, seriously? That’s when I am even more grateful for my framily (friends who are like family), who pick up the slack for me, without fail. Because I have no family here, these people (you know who you are) are even more important and loved. And, who I owe a giant steak dinner…just as soon as hubby is feeling up to it!

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