Tuesday, November 30, 2010


circa 1996!

Oh wow.  14 years ago today we became man and wife.  It was Thanksgiving weekend and on that Thanksgiving we had 25 people over to my fiance's apartment.  Those people included the family I stayed with in Japan as an exchange student at age 13. 

(Side note: lest you think I was overly privileged, it was a month in the summer with a group of teens from my junior high school.  My parents gave me the choice of Japan or braces because they couldn't afford both.  What right minded newly turned teenager is going to choose braces!).  

Back to the story,  my relatives from England and an assortment of friends and family all gathered in Santa Monica for the pre-wedding Thanksgiving celebration.

  No problem I thought.  Oh boy was I wrong.  I ordered a pre-made Thanksgiving dinner.  But when it was picked up we realized it wasn't cooked.  27 hungry people and the food wasn't 'pre-cooked' it was 'pre-made'.  I was 24 and the women in the apartment who were trying their best to help kept asking where this kind of utensil was and that.  And I just said, "We aren't married yet.  We don't have any of those things."

It was a Thanksgiving we won't forget.  The whole weekend we won't forget.  Oh how much our life has changed in those 14 years.  We've seen so many milestones and so many challenges.  But most strongly of all, I can see God's hand carrying us through it all.  I pray for both of us that the Lord continues to stay at the center of our lives and our marriage and that we are able to glorify Him in all we do.  

As for our anniversary, well he's working all night.  Boo.  But Saturday we have a babysitter and reservations at a 'new to me' vegetarian restaurant.  I'm so excited to try it out.

I'm thankful for how he cares for me and has an ability to make me laugh even in the hard times.  I'm thankful that he takes the time to kiss my cheek, give me a hug and a word of encouragement.  

I'm thankful for our children, for our dear friends and for new ones who've come into our lives.  I'm thankful for the three wonderful children we've been blessed with and who have forever changed me.

I'm thankful for an ever growing faith and for the journey that has yet to unfold.

Happy 14 years and here's to many, many more.

I'm joining Sarah Markley, starting tomorrow in taking a moment each day to count those things that bring us joy!  I know this 31 day journey will keep me focused on the gifts God has given me, especially His most precious gift of the baby He sent here for all of us.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Soaring On Eagles Wings!!!

This seemed the perfect print to include with the announcement that the etsy shop is now OPEN!!! It took me seriously a few hours to resize the photos, upload, describe them etc.  But now that the learning curve is over hopefully it'll go more quickly.
I'm super excited to be able to finally say it's open.  I'm still working on lots of half finished pieces so keep checking for new additions.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Getting Business Cards

I've been doing research and trying to get myself as prepared as possible before opening this shop.  Tonight I designed this for my business card.  Still may change everything all around, but for now I'm happy with it.  Now time to hang with my hubby.  It's crazy how fast time goes when you're creating!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Warriors For God

I need reminders A LOT.  Reminders for bringing preschool snack, for birthday presents, for appointments.  This mommy multi-tasking brain needs post it notes, giant calendars and text messages just so I 'don't forget.'  

But most of all, I need reminders for the TRUTH.  Seriously, how often do those darts attack your mind and make you doubt or forget what God says and the power you have in Him.

That is one of the many reasons I wanted to make this scripture painting from Ephesians about the armor of God.  I really wish I had room to put the entire scripture up there.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
Ephesians 6:10-17

I call her my warrior girl.  She reminds me to take up my sword and fight!  

I know most of you reading this probably already know what the armor of God symbolizes, but in case this isn't something you've learned about already I'd love to share this link that explains it in more detail.  I used this website with a story and craft activities to teach my kids about the armor of God a few years ago. 

I once had a friend who is also a Christian speaker say, "Ladies we're going out to battle putting our flimsy sundresses on and we're getting clobbered.  We must put on our armor every single day.  Don't take a step out of bed before thinking about arming yourself."  

How often do we forget this?  The great thing is, every day is a new day and we get a new chance to suit up.  Isn't it awesome that we have this strength that is not our own to draw upon.  I know I couldn't get through anything without knowing my Lord goes before me.

"I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron."
Isaiah 45:2

"If God is for us, who can be against us."  
Romans 8:31

I'm getting closer to opening an etsy shop selling these prints under willow of wonder.  This has been a dream of mine for a couple of years (it was derailed a bit by the enemy's schemes), but praise God I think it'll be open by December first.   I see this opportunity as a 'beauty from ashes' for me and a small way to share the gospel.

I've been burning the candle a bit at both ends. But I'm just so happy doing it and praise God I've had the energy and His strength and guidance through this.  I can't wait to share it with you!

I'm linking this to YOU:Create, so head over there and see the other  posts.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Have Set You Apart

I've been feeling this ache in my heart over how every time we turn around there are headlines about corrupt businesses, organizations, leaders, the list goes on.  It feels overwhelming. 

I think about how many people are just lost and walking down paths that only lead to destruction.  I think of the hundreds of thousands of hurting souls that don't know Jesus.  The ones that do, that are also hurting.  The hurting people that are hurting others. 

You see glimpses of it everywhere.  At the grocery store when a customer is rude to the checker for no good reason.  On the road when you're trying to merge and someone speeds up, so you won't 'get ahead' of them.  From giant corporations, to neighbors who don't even say hello.  We are called to love, to be a light, to be different, to not cave into these worldly ways.

I hear startling statistics of young adults turning away from their faith.  I hear it from pastors, on Christian radio, from my bible study teacher.

We just began the book of Judges, following after Joshua.  I am astonished at how often the Israelites repeat the same cycle.  They have a time of peace, they become complacent, they break God's rules,  and do evil things like the people around them.  God no longer fights for them and they fall into destruction.  They cry for help.  The Lord hears their cries and rescues them.  He provides someone to help and a way out.  They are pulled out of their destruction.  They are in a time of peace and then they fall into the world's evil ways once again.  Over and over and over.  

The elders, those who personally saw God's faithfulness in crossing the Jordan into the promise land, did not keep their testimony alive.  They did not share with their children the amazing power God showed in delivering them out of captivity.  They didn't embed in their children's hearts a sense of awe and thankfulness for his sovereignty and the many blessings he gave them.

 "After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel."  Judges 2:10

It's convicting isn't it?  I've heard some say this could be exactly why those in their 20s and 30s are turning away from their faith.  Are we making it a habit to show how active God is today and how faithful He is to us today.  Are they growing up learning bible stories, and memorizing scripture, but without an active faith that is alive and personal to them?  Let's make sure this generation grows up knowing how faithful He is, with specific, very personal stories that show the God who rescued Israel rescues us too.

Back to the Isrealites.  Looking at it on paper, I'm thinking, "Man why don't they just get it?"  Don't they see their wicked ways and see how simple it is to stay in the path that God has clearly laid out for them.

But then I think about how many ways our society today does the same exact thing.  People get lazy during times of ease.  Standards slowly slip away as little compromises are made, that lead to bigger and bigger compromises.  The worlds ways blend together until you cannot tell the Christian apart.

I know I'm sounding kind of heavy.  But even just driving the roads I have to take to get my kids to school they see billboards with images their eyes shouldn't take in.  Driving to ballet this weekend I looked over to see something I shouldn't have.  I don't even want to explain what it was and sadly it wasn't the first time this has happened.  I was struck with the feeling that we are living in a wicked and perverse generation.

My initial feeling that day was I just want out.  But really there isn't an 'out' until Jesus returns or I go to be with Him.  I also know we are not meant to 'run away' even though sometimes I feel like it.    We were chosen to be in this time for a purpose.  God ordained our days and he has called us to stand strong and to stand apart from the world's ways. 

Sometimes I don't know what to do with the frustration I feel about things.  When I'm stressed or anxious or working something through, I find I need to create.  It's a release.  I pray and talk to God and listen to praise music and as things come together I feel a peace wash over me.  

This idea had been mulling around for awhile and it seemed a fitting way to express how I'm feeling.  We are to stand high above and take the narrow path, set apart from the circus of the worldly nations around us.  

Oh, please join me in standing strong against the world's ways, and praying for repentance and changed lives.  Because we too have been set apart, and are chosen to be His own.  This isn't an exclusive club either.  He loves you even if you don't know Him yet.  He's tapping on your heart, hoping you'll be His own too.

P.S.  I'm linking this to gitzen girl's 'You Create' this Thursday.  Feel free to go over there and check out the other posts.  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Intense Determination

My eight-year-old son is intense.  He has been from the day he was born.  He feels things intensely, he fights for things strongly, and he has a definite sense of right and wrong.  I know these things will serve him well for whatever he chooses to do.  Sometimes it's hard being his mom though, because it can be exhausting.  He can work an argument and convince you it's what is best for you as well, like no one I've ever known.  He is not luke-warm about anything.

This year he is playing soccer for the first time.  He has been a baseball guy, both fall and spring.  I don't think it's very usual to start at this 'late age'.  I know he's only eight, but it seems kids start as preschoolers around here.  

But this past summer a friend of his, whose dad is a coach asked if he'd like to join their team.  The dad saw Jackson pitching in baseball and saw that he has a strong hand-eye coordination.  He took a risk on him and Jackson started learning the intricacies of soccer.

So we spent August in town, so the team could begin practicing twice a week.  And I officially became a soccer mom.  Honestly I didn't like the 'stigma' of what surrounds being a 'soccer mom.'  I've had an internal bad attitude about the time commitment it has required not just for my son, but for our whole family.  The late night practices to return home to begin dinner and bath when it's already time for bed.  I wasn't sure if it was worth the investment.

But this past weekend I realized that my son's intensity is serving him well as the team goalie.  His coach keeps marveling at how he shows no fear in the face of stress.  He buckles down and throws himself at the ball, guarding his goal with everything in him.  

Sometimes it's hard for me to watch.  I feel stressed inside for him, for the pressure I know that is on him.  But this is good for him.  And it's honestly good for me.  It allows me to see this strength of his used in a positive way.  I enjoy watching the game and watching him stay strong through stressful situations.  I'm proud of him.  In a humble way of course.  

Oh, and another bonus is that each time he gets involved in a sport I actually learn to like the sport.  I was the odd man out in my family growing up, and honestly still am.  The idea of watching sports on television is just a colossal waste of time in my opinion.  I get jumpy and antsy and can't sit in the room.  If I try it's like I'm staring at a blank screen.  It's all a blur and none of it really registers.  I don't share in the excitement or intensity everyone is feeling.  But as I watch my son play, I get it.  I feel the excitement and camaraderie.  I find myself jumping up and down, cheering the guys on.  It's actually fun.

As I watch his focus, I'm reminded that we are to channel this with our faith as well.  I hope that he is never lukewarm about his faith.  I hope he fights for what is right and and has courage for all the things God desires in his life.  

I pray for these things daily for my family;

for strength, 

for courage, 

for godly wisdom.  

May we take the sacrifice that Christ died for us so we can have everlasting life with Him seriously.  

May the reality of the power of the Holy Spirit in each of us, be so alive that we feel it intensely, and we access it.

May we fight for Him while we're here and share his amazing love with others in the same way we breathe.

May we never sit back on the sidelines and not share this gift.

May we not buckle under pressure of the world, but hold fast to the Truth.

May this be true with the little things and the big things.

May we not let a moment pass and realize we didn't speak up, we didn't share, we didn't act.  I'm learning it's the little things here and there.  It's OK to step up and share and to say something.  I've lived in the past not realizing how important it is to share the Truth.  I thought I believe what I believe, they can believe what they believe.  I didn't know.  

But now that I do know, I'm taking risks outside what is comfortable.  I'm thinking about these things a lot.  The spirit is stirring in me to not be quiet.  But it isn't just about words.

You know that famous saying from St. Fracis of Assisi, "Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary, use words."

Let our actions speak louder than our words.  Let us not push people away by ever sounding holier than thou.  I have been pushed away by people who spoke that way to me, I don't ever, ever want to be responsible for doing the same. 

But let us love the way Jesus did and let others come to know of him because of simply the way we are, the way we live, the choices we make, and how we handle the adversities in our lives.  

Let us live and love intensely for His glory!

"Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let's celebrate together!"
Matthew 25:23

Monday, November 1, 2010

Nail Art

Who knew painting nails could be so fun, and so sweet!
A few years ago we found out about the pumpkin fairy.

Here's how it works, but the secret is you have to know about her.

After the child picks out their favorite few pieces of candy they leave their bucket out for the pumpkin fairy.  In the morning they excitedly find a present in its place.  Kid's are happy and mom is happy because candy isn't lingering around the house for weeks and weeks.

Ava, my artistic five-year-old, received this really fun nail painting book complete with polish and how to directions for all kinds of nail designs.

She's a patient child and had it in her to sit still while I did her fingers and toes.  Making a decision was the hardest part.  There were so many cute designs to choose from.  But she finally settled on chicks for her fingers and watermelon for her toes.

I know they're not very seasonal, but they were her favorites for now.  I'm sure in a few days she'll be begging me to try something new. 

I'll happily oblige because it was nice spending the one on one time with her.  She was beaming with joy and pride over the cuteness of her nails, and I know the special attention meant a lot to her.  Priceless!

Potluck Parties & Trick or Treating

Through the years my husband and I have enjoyed dressing up as a pair.  This year last minute we decided to be Pocahontas and John Smith.
The kids were Alice In Wonderland,
Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz,
and G.I. Joe in his ninja outfit.

We go to a friend's house where lots of families join in on a potluck dinner before going around their neighborhood trick-or-treating.

It was a fun (but pretty late) night with a bit too much sugar for mommy's liking.

But it was Halloween and today is a new day and a new month.

Oh.. and my favorite quote from the night as we were going door to door, our little Dorothy asked a man who was sitting on the front step giving out candy, "Are you OK out here all by yourself?"   Classic.  Happy November first everyone!