Put a Stamp On It.

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I see lots of people on Facebook post stacks of colored images waiting to be put onto cards.
Here is a way to get those beauties used up during the holidays. 
Stick 'em on your gifts:).

I used everything from scraps.  
And a colored stamp that had been hanging out on my desk for a few weeks now. 
It is made even more perfect by the fact that my niece looks exactly like the angel:). 
Plus, is there anything better than combining animal print and halos?  Hello?!

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Happy gift wrapping~ 
I am exactly one present ahead of the game:).


Easy DIY Ornament~

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Each Christmas, I need to figure out those gifts for friends/family that are small, affordable, and preferably handmade.  I'd love to give out plates of cookies...but that would just be mean.  Cookies and I do not get along.  The bar is pretty low~ I shoot for 'almost edible'... Which doesn't make them especially coveted gifts:). 

This Christmas, we decided on ornaments.  For our small family gifts, we used a cute photo from earlier this year of the kids.    Added a little sparkly snow.  A hook.  And for just a couple dollars, have a sweet ornament to give out. 

For friends, if you don't want to add a photo of your kids or family, you could print out a favorite quote, Bible verse, or even use a colored digital scene instead.  

Supplies you'll need:

large clear (plastic) ball ornament
iridescent/ sparkly snow
optional ribbon or snowflake to tie onto the top of the ornament
photo/ paper insert

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Our ornament has a circumference of 12".  The photo inside measures 2.9" x 8"... just for reference.  

When you add the photo/ insert, roll it up gently and then push it into the opening at the top.  It will unravel inside.  You may need to help it a bit with a pencil, but it is pretty easy.  

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Happy Christmas crafting!



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Last April, I spent 5 days with Help One Now in Haiti. 
You might remember me talking about it in a few blog posts after I returned (here, here, and here). 
It was a trip I will never forget. 
Haiti will always be under my skin, creating some friction between the ease and comfort of everyday life and the memories of watching people with so little overflow with abundant joy.

April feels like forever ago already~ but Haiti feels always close to my heart.

Our team spent a day in a village called Drouin.  We drove hours to get there.  Bumpy roads.  Hot as hell.  Eighty miles an hour into oncoming traffic.  Car sick.  And just a little concerned about the lack of traffic rules/safety/signage.  There were a few moments I thought, See you in a few, Jesus.  When we finally arrived at the village, the ‘bathroom’ was something I’ve never seen before, and so I tried not to drink anything the rest of the afternoon to avoid using it twice (which is a pretty smart move in 98 degree heat).  The canal through the village was not sanitary, but often used anyway.  So, I didn’t eat the rice offered to us for lunch because I was too afraid of getting sick.  The place felt so foreign to me, I felt a thousand years away from who I was and the things that filled my life.  And I wondered if I had been born in Drouin, would I still be me.  Would I know how to be creative?  Or goofy?  Do people here ever curl up with a book and read?  Would I still be a runner?  Would I have laughed with my family?  Would there be anything to laugh about? 

There were moments early in that visit where I wondered what made the people in this forgotten and terribly poor village even want the sun to rise each tomorrow. 

And then the children ran out of their classrooms to meet us.  

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They laughed and talked to each other about us, pointing…giggling.  They touched my lip piercing; and I knew by their hand motions, they wanted to see how it looked from the inside of my lip.  After I showed them how it was locked into my face;), they let out that ‘ahhhhh’ that is understood in every language as ‘gottcha.’  They watched videos of my kids on my iphone.   At one point, I was under probably 20 kids~ like, under a mountain of them~ all pushing and screaming as they watched me scroll through photos of Niamh and Philly.  They braided my hair.  Tried to rub away my tattoos.  Held my hand. 

They told us, through a translator, what they wanted to be when they grew up.  We walked through their village, meeting mothers whose hearts were for and after their children and their children’s futures.  The appreciation for two meals a day and education far surpassed anything I’ve felt in my own heart~ because these parts of life are expected and normal in my home.  We laughed with the people here.  We stood in their yards and in their dwellings.  We tried to absorb their stories so that we could come back home and pour those stories out to others. 

As I let Drouin sink in~ all of it, from the sweaty smells to the gentle mothers we met~ I realized these far away people are just like me.  And that, if I had had Niamh and Philly with me, it would have taken two minutes before they were off playing, making new friends the way only kids can.  The parents wanted the same things for their children as I do~ health, education, opportunities.  There were two differences only~ the surroundings in which we live our lives out and the reality of what it means to truly be thankful for everything. 

I live in a 3 bedroom house that has two working toilets and plenty of clean, running water… but the satisfaction I feel towards it is often determined by vacuumed floors, strands of twinkly lights, and my latest score from Pier 1 Imports.  And when we “pare down” and take part in an Advent Conspiracy this Christmas, I’m still “parring down” in the top 3% statistic of world income.  My life is full of things~ and even when I clean out, live simply, or give to others…the reality is that I am still living in a very different place than the one I visited on a hot day last April. 

I struggle with what to do with that.  I do not like fostering a spirit of thankfulness in myself or my kids by telling them horror stories of Haiti~ because I was blessed by the abundance of beauty and joy in the people there.  There are real needs~ but I didn’t want to only bring back stories of need.  I wanted (and still want to) tell stories of what Haiti gave to me~
a deeper understanding of poverty,
a slant towards compassion first and questions later,
grace for people struggling, for immigrants, for single moms, for the guy who sits behind a ‘homeless’ sign by my Target (whereas before I would probably have kept my $5 and wondered why he doesn’t ‘just get a job’),
and a first-time love for seeing justice worked out. 

Haiti graced my heart with space for grace and a huge desire to put that into action.  And I am forever indebted to that hot as hell day in a forgotten village in the middle of nowhere and the amazing people that filled my hours that afternoon. 

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I choose to live in the daily journey towards what Haiti began in my heart.  I cannot solve poverty for Drouin.  I cannot clean the canal water.  I can’t ‘fix’ that small place in this big world.  And those thoughts feel overwhelming if all I am looking for is a solution~ an end instead of a means.  My family will live in the means~ the daily grind-blessing of moving in the direction of justice, love, and thankfulness.  So, yeah, we choose less this Christmas, because I think that might be the key to finding more.  And we actively look for opportunities to move against our comfort boundaries and serve others in loving, even crazy ways.  We chose to take on a Drouin child sponsorship, because it is a small choice that creates ripples of change in the future of one girl’s life.  And we hope that our choices and actions more and more align with the opportunities we are gifted with each day to step into looking more like Jesus. 

If you have $40 a month that can be redirected, I encourage you to think about sponsoring a child in Drouin~ providing them with two meals a day and an education.  As one who has walked through this place and seen the changes Help One Now is affecting, I am honored to be offered the chance to help continue their work in this small way. 

And if you buy my stamps and have a stack of cards made but no place to send them… sponsoring and sending cards to a child might fill your crafty hours with a little more weight and delight.  I’ve included a link to a digi I gave out as a promotion last year~ she is not in my shop.  Feel free to download her to use on cards for sponsored children…

...Or, if you cannot financially sponsor a child, consider donating to Help One Now this holiday season so that their work is supported and continued throughout the year. 

If interested in sponsoring a child, please click through this link and select “Drouin” in the “location” tab.  

I'd be thankful and honored for you to share the link to this post through all your social media sites/reach.  It is a privilege for me to have you join in sharing these stories.  


Holiday Curls~ 1.2.3.

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I love loose, undone curls everyday~ but especially during holiday parties and events. 
Whether you have short, medium, or long hair, this technique will work.  The shorter your hair, the less twirls each curl will have.  I do this on Niamh's super short hair, and it looks really funky and cute.  

I start by pulling out a small section of hair.  
I spray my section with spray wax (just to help the curl hold).
In the photo above, it is my second day, product-filled hair-- but, it still worked.
(I love second day, product filled hair.  It is like second day spaghetti.  Something about it is just better.)

Then follow the 3 easy steps below for each section you pull out to curl.  
I usually end up with 20-25 pinned curls.
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After they are all curled and pinned, I use my hair dryer on hot to lock in the curls. 
I usually 'blow-dry' for only 5-10 minutes and then leave them in to cool.
Then I take out all the bobby pins, flip my head over, and comb through the roots of the curls with my fingers (just a little).  

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They last for (fingers crossed) two days.  
Once the curls start to look ratty, it is ponytail day.
I can usually squeeze out a good ponytail day towards the end:).

Hope this helps some of you achieve lasting curls for your special holiday get togethers!
Happy Curling;).


Advent Conspiracy.

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Advent Conspiracy~

A couple weeks ago, we heard those words preached on a Sunday morning. 
It’s about revolting against the consumer-Christmas. 
And instead, pursuing a servant’s heart throughout the holiday season. 
Spend less. 
Give more. 
Invest the time you’d normally spend caught up in the Christmas craze
In fellowship, invitation, and loving others well.

Can you imagine,
A December looking outward
Instead of a December looking inward?
I get it. 
Just listen…

Last year, we moved intentionally in this direction (even if it was baby steps).  But, if I am being completely honest, my heart was a little hesitant.  I feared, more than anything else, that my kids would be disappointed.  I literally wait all year for that Christmas morning turn-the-corner-and-see-the-mountain-of-presents-under-the-tree-light-up-the-whole-face photo.  One year, Niamh put both her hands on her rosy little cheeks and screamed.  You can literally hear the photo. It’s amazing.

As last December came and went, our kids had so much fun looking for ways to bless others, the slightly smaller stack of gifts under the tree (I didn’t pare down a ton~ but I did try and the present pile shrunk) was not even noticed.  I mean, we were intentionally taking small steps toward a less consumer-driven Christmas, and the kids were on board.  Without even a waver.    

I learned two things~

One, I should never be seeking my kids approval before seeking Jesus'. 

Two, I should give my kids a little more credit.  They have hearts full of love and are ready and willing to serve and do it happily, even if that cuts into their present piles. 

So, a couple weeks ago, after we all listened to a beautiful sermon on this advent conspiracy, they asked on the drive home to only get a few presents this Christmas.  A nine and eleven-year old asked for less presents.  Did you catch that?  It’s like this infectious thing of giving and loving~ and once you get a taste, Christmas cannot possibly ever, ever, ever look the same again.  Even kids revolt.  It’s beautiful.

We discussed a pretty small (and possibly offensive) number of gifts per child~ and they high fived me and moved on in their day.  Later, I asked how they felt about changing up the advent calendar this year~ the one full of tiny doors that usually house tiny treats and tiny toys.  I asked if we could just abandon it altogether and do 25 acts of kindness instead.  That request took a moment of thought, but they agreed and are pretty excited about planning a month full of small blessings for others.    

There is still a lot of room for growth.  We definitely aren’t running on the front lines of this Christmas revolution; but each year, we can choose to walk closer to Jesus.  And as we walk more in step with Him each holiday, we choose to look more radical in our expectations, actions, and hopes. 

I look forward to holiday traditions being created in our family where the joy and excitement of the season center fully on Jesus~ so that our remembering Him isn’t some lame Happy Birthday song sung as an afterthought following presents on Christmas morning… but instead, we conspire to live like our Savior, especially as we celebrate His birth. 

It is weird and unexpected, but the more you strip away the things that make Christmas seem glamorous and full, the richer and more life-giving the holiday season becomes.  But then, that seems to be the daily call of Jesus when He extends the invitation to follow Him.  He asks you to abandon the ideals of the world and follow Him into the lowest places, serving and loving others.  He kind of flips everything on its head; it is all backwards and upsidedown.  And then your heart is so full, it could burst. 

A crazy, backwards holiday according to the world…
All because of a King in a manger.
Who chose to come down, so that we can be lifted up.

He is a King worth revolting for. 

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If you want to learn more about a kind-of-backwards-but-totally-awesome Christmas, click here.  
Or just watch the video below.
(...Thank you Mel :)


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