New Beginnings and Being in a Waiting Season

Happy 2019!!

Clearly I haven’t blogged in…years, and most blogs have been replaced with stories and snaps and whatever else, but I have had these words on my heart lately. So, I am going to get them out in hopes that they can possibly reach someone else or at the very least, I hope to have more space in my head.

foster papers

Those that are close to us know that a good part of our 2018 was spent working toward becoming a foster family. Foster care has been on our hearts for years and we have just been waiting on God’s timing for when we would be able to really start pursuing it. Long story short (although, I’d share the long story long with you if you’re interested), we filled out the paperwork, we did the trainings, we logged the hours, we answered the questions, and then we waited.

So much of foster care, from what I’ve experience and what I’ve been told, is a cycle of hurry up and wait. It’s expected and it’s normal, but it’s hard. We were told we *could* be licensed within 2-4 weeks of our paperwork being handed. Basically as soon as we passed that 2 week mark I have tried to constantly have my phone on me and any time a local number calls, I compose myself/step away from the chaotic noise that is usually around me and give my very best, professional “hello?” as SURELY this will be THE call. Aaaand then it’s just a solicitor telling me I can get a prescription brace for free or have $11,000 toward my federal loans. Thanks. It feels a little like back in the day when there was ONE PHONE LINE and you were waiting for a very important call and the landline (look it up, kids) rings and it is NOT the very important call. Like, “How DARE you take up this line and prevent all the other calls from coming in? Don’t you know better?”.

It took closer to 7 weeks to hear that we were officially licensed (on December 12) which was a very exciting day followed by, you guessed it, more waiting.

foster room

I’m not that far into my journey as a foster mom–not sure if I even qualify as a foster mom since I do not have a foster child. Over the past year I have tried to immerse myself in as much as possible of the foster world, I have read blogs, followed Instagram accounts, listened to podcasts, read books (okay, truth be told I read part of one book, but more reading’s on my list), attended fundraisers, etc. Not to mention the 30+ hours of training that we went to and the invaluable advice we have received from several friends and family members that are current or former foster parents. Yet, I feel like I’m still on the outskirts of the foster world. It would be foolish of me to think I understand what it’s like before actually experiencing it.

Still, living in this in-between space allows us to try further prepare our hearts and our home and learn to rest in God in the waiting season. It has given us a tiny taste of the both/and in this life. Our lives are not lived in clear boxes marked either/or–they are both/and. Pain AND joy. Excitement AND grief. Tense waiting AND normal routine.

It feels a bit like when I was at the end of each of my pregnancies with our bio kids, knowing that we could meet our new family member any day or that it could be several more weeks or even months. Obviously the analogy breaks down since we are not expecting OUR child, but instead waiting to love on someone else’s child, but some of the feelings are the same.

We’re waiting on a phone call that will change our lives as we know them. You don’t always have the foreknowledge that a life-changing call is coming, but we know that it might come at any moment…or it might not. When I stop to really think about it, my chest tends to tighten and my breath catches in my throat, but I know that I can’t stay in that place because, you know, breathing is essential to being a living human.

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So, we keep going with our lives as they are, knowing that at any moment they might change and our family might grow for an unknown amount of time. We make plans with the constant disclaimer that they might be broken. We keep our hearts open to the phone call, to the “yes”.

God has been teaching me a lot in this waiting season, and I feel as though I keep hearing more and more on the topic all around me. So many are waiting. God has a purpose and a plan in the wait. It is not an accident and He has never forgotten you.

Disclaimer: (because I may or may not be an Enneagram 9 and constantly worry that I might offend or be misinterpreted by my words). This is all written from my perspective, as a potential foster mama. I hope none of it came across as complaining or being insensitive to kids in foster care or their families. I have loads to say about them, but again, not the experience and so it feels best to hold my peace on that part for now. I was encouraged by others’ sharing their stories and experiences with foster care, and my hope is that I can do the same by sharing bits of our journey as well.

Tips for Adding Washi Tape as Book Dividers in your Journaling Bible

This might be an unnecessary post, but when I first considered adding washi tape to the first page of each book in my journaling Bible, I was unable to find much in the way of tips or suggestions. So, after completing the simple, yet time-consuming task myself, I thought I would share a few things I learned (or suggestions I took from others) in case there was anyone that was looking for anything similar.

I have two journaling Bibles that I use for Bible study and creative worship. The first one I’ve had for a year and added tabs to for each book. I bought this digital file for planner tabs from an etsy shop called Amy J. Delightful which I highly recommend (she seriously has DELIGHTFUL, adorable files for so many uses). I printed out several pages of the tabs and individually cut out 66 of them for each book, then I hand wrote each book on the front and back of each tab, and glued them all into my Bible. It took SO MUCH time, but was so worth it for me. I know that there are also a lot of etsy shops that have tabs with Bible names on them pre cut and ready to be put in your Bible with adhesive already on them. That’s a much simpler (little more expensive) option.

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bible book divisions (9)

I got my second journaling Bible (from my sweet, wonderful husband) this past Christmas. I didn’t really want to add tabs this time around, so I thought I would hold off and see if I felt like I needed any sort of book divisions. I also had a hard time diving into creating in this Bible, because it was brand new and I once again felt a sort of paralysis/apprehension about marking on the new, pristine pages. Which felt very silly since I had been working in my first Bible for almost a year. Still, after a little time, and marking on a few of the pages in a Bible journaling workshop I taught at our church, I chose a SheReadsTruth study to begin with and just DID IT. Yes, I’ve made mistakes in it, not every page is “share-worthy” or elaborate, but it’s not about any of that anyway. I have met God in those pages and that is the most important thing.

After working in the Bible for a little while, I realized that having book divisions was actually quite helpful. I had seen several people add washi tape for this purpose in a bible journaling group on FB. I started the process the usual way I do most things—by winging it and not taking much time for each part of the process. It didn’t take too long for me to realize that this was also going to be a time-consuming project that also required a bit of precision and even then, the results would be imperfect. So I took a little break, and consequently left my bag of washi tape at a friend’s house for two weeks. Not being able to use the washi tape renewed my desire to add it to my Bible pages.

The next time around I took my time a little more with placing the tape on the page so that it would have an approximately even amount on each side of the page. I chose my pattern (mostly rainbow order) and bought a few additional rolls of tape to fill in the colors I didn’t already have. (Thank you, Michael’s.)

Here are some tips and tricks I learned:

1. Use wax paper so that the tape doesn’t get stuck to other pages. This was SO INCREDIBLY helpful.

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2. Accept that it won’t be perfect. I learned this pretty quickly. It’s hard to get the tape just right, and so I allowed for a margin of error.

3. Washi tape is permanent AND temporary. The beauty of washi tape is that it is strong enough to stick to paper and stay indefinitely AND it can also be pulled off without ripping the thin Bible page. There were several times that the tape was very uneven and was either partially on or completely folded over on both sides of the page, and I was able to peel it back and fix it. I am also very confident that the tape I have on my Bible is not going anywhere.

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4. Tape that is partially translucent and patterned is ideal. The washi that was partially translucent was helpful because I could see where it was half on the page when laying it down, and the pattern helped to see where the middle of the tape was and have one half the pattern on each side. It also helped to work with good light.

5. After laying the tape on the front of the page, start folding from the middle on the back of the page.

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6. Add in the washi tape before illustrating any (or too many) pages. I had already colored/wrote on a few pages in this Bible which turned out to be a surprising number of the pages that needed washi. It didn’t bother me too much since the tape only covers a very small part of what I had already put on the page. Ideally, I would have been working with all blank pages.

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7. Use a corner rounder punch to cut all off the excess washi on your pages. I was generously given one by a friend, and YET for the life of me, I have not been able to find it. haha. I just used scissors to trim and round all of the edges, but the punch would have saves me a lot of time.

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I think, adding tabs or washi tape at the start of each book would be a great first step in diving into a journaling Bible. It adds color, gives you a place to go with color scheme, and gets the “making mistakes” thing out of the way.

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Let me know if you have any questions or any suggestions that I didn’t mention! I would love to see your Bibles if anyone else has done this or tabs or even something different!

I know the pictures aren’t super pinterest worthy, but hopefully they fulfilled their purpose.

2016 Goals and #OLW

When thinking about setting some goals for the new year, I was brought back here, to my long-neglected blog, since this is where I have written down those goals/resolutions for the past several years. (See previous years here: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)

It was a walk down memory lane to go back through and see which resolutions I kept, which ones I didn’t, and which were consistent from year to year. Also, it will never cease to amaze me how much my children change in just one year. Crazy.

Sometimes I hesitate to even make goals for the new year since my expectations for myself always seem a bit unreachable. Still, I think it’s a good practice to sit and evaluate where I am and where I’d like to be and January is as good a time as any to do that.

Last year my #OLW (One Little Word) was STRETCH. I was able to stretch myself in certain areas (including physical health for a season), but I certainly have areas to improve in or pick back up where I left off. This year my #OLW is actually two (sorry if that’s cheating, but it’s what God has been placing in my mind lately.

show up picture

My word(s) is: SHOW UP
I want to SHOW UP and be the friend/wife/mother/Christian that I would want in my own life. I want to actively look for needs that others around me have and I want to SHOW UP and do what I can to meet them. I have had several amazing friends do this sort of thing for me in the past year and I want to do the same. This includes people I live close to and also those that are far away (which is hard to do, but so worth it) AND current friends and people I have yet to really invite into my life (but need to). I also want to INVEST in the people around me (including my kids!) and have a year marked with compassion and kindness.

As far as goals are concerned a lot of them are desires I have had for several years that I either need to START for the first time or begin to do again. I believe there is a degree of accountability by posting them here, so here are 3 main goals I have for the year:

1. Start a prayer journal.
**The message at church today was on spiritual disciplines and the discipline that I desperately need to learn is PRAYER. I talk to God each day, but I have no set time or place to really meet with Him and talk to Him and listen to what He has for me. Usually my prayers are quick and focused on the day-to-day, which isn’t wrong in and of itself, but I also want to focus on God’s kingdom and an eternal perspective.**

2. Meal plan.
**Our whole family THRIVES so much more when I have taken the time to plan out our meals for the week/month. I am always so thankful when I take the time to do this, and always so discouraged when after a long day I am faced with the decision of “well, what should we make for dinner?” and I no longer feel capable of making decisions for they day. Any one get like that?**

3. Get back into a work out routine.
**This is pretty self explanatory. I’m hoping to include the kids in some way to make it possible to accomplish during their waking hours.**

In 2015 I DID accomplish a few things like keeping both children alive and reading a whole book cover to cover (For The Love by Jen Hatmaker…go read it!). 🙂 I would like to do that again in 2016, and perhaps even read more than one book. I was able to create a lot of beautiful things including three embroidered maps of the United States. I custom made a few signs and hand embroidered ornaments. I was even able to contribute a few of my handmade items to a local shop called Maker’s Market which was definitely part of a dream come true, and something I want to continue to do. I have so many ideas of things to create that I sometimes have trouble actually sitting down and making something (especially something that others would want to buy) and this year I really want to find something specific that I can make well that others would enjoy. I started Bible Journaling in March of last year and, without sounding too dramatic, it literally changed my life. I plan to continue to explore God’s Word in this way and I hope to even teach a “class” on it. I became a demonstrator for Stampin’ Up! and I have loved finding new ways to create through stamping. I have even handmade a few cards which is something I never really felt “good enough” to do.

I know there are a lot of other things that I could add to my list of goals and my list of things-actually-accomplished. For instance, the always-growing to do list for our home; learning to crochet; make our basement a livable space (I’m looking at you, Craft Room); figure out landscaping for our front and side yard; oh, and we might as well throw blog semi-regularly on here. But I’m hoping that by keeping it simple and reminding myself of the goals that I have for myself and the things that are MOST important, I will be able to look back on this year and at least check off those three things. (Feel free to keep me accountable internet world).

God is moving in my life and stirring my heart in some ways I understand and others that I need to dig a little deeper and figure out a little more. I am excited to see what He has in store for me and my family in 2016. There is potential for big changes and regular
day-to-day happenings that make up a whole year. I am excited to gain two more nephews (hopefully both this month)!

What resolutions do you have? Do you have one word that you try to focus on for the year?
Thanks for reading. 😉

#LizJournalsTheBible Again

I received a lot of positive feedback from my last blog post about my personal journey with Bible journaling. (Read that: here) I heard both from people that I know and people I’ve never met about how they enjoyed seeing my work and how they were inspired to try it on their own. This was encouraging to me for deeper reasons that just positive affirmation or “likes”. This form of creative worship has reignited a passion for God’s Word in me. Whenever I am hesitant to show others the pages of my Bible, I remember that I was introduced to Bible journaling through the courage of others sharing their posts on social media. I was encouraged by others to dig into and interact with Scripture, and I get the blessing of possibly doing that for others.
How awesome is that? How awesome is God! (Answer: super awesome x infinity)

So, my plan for this post is to share a few more pages with you (and possibly some of my heart). Most of these are from a few months ago, but it is really cool to see the growth of my journaling and to be able to revisit each passage. When I look things up in my Bible now I am able to be reminded of truths over and over as I flip through and see what God has been teaching me.

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“We don’t have to wait for inspiration to share the Gospel because God’s Word is already inspired.”
These pages were mostly journaling, but I did a watercolor wash with stamped words on the right.

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The more I spend time in the Bible, the more connections I see between different passages and books of the Bible. One thing I’m realizing is how the gospel seems to be absolutely everywhere.

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“The gospel is the good news of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

See. Gospel.
(Side note, it wasn’t until I typed that out just now that I realized I spelled ‘resurrection’ wrong. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve misspelled or left letters out of words. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be worship.)

”We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the same time, we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” –Tim Keller

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When I have bleed through from the opposite side of a page, this is one of my favorite tricks. I glue in some pretty paper or cards and then journal on top of them.

I LOVE learning about my identity in Christ.
This is something that I never get tired of hearing about and always, always need the reminder.

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This entry was strongly inspired by this print on Etsy.
I used watercolor and pen for the tree, and the gold “leaves” on the bottom are actually washi tape.

“Even the disciples felt like they needed more faith.”

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“It is not the SIZE of my faith, but WHO my faith is in that truly matters.”

I am loving how even by virtually flipping through the pages of my Bible like this, I am still seeing connections and being reminded of truths. Seriously, God’s Word is awesome and living and breathing.

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This one I did horizontally in the margin during a Lent study.

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This was another entry leading up to Easter.  A lot of the time I try to coordinate entries that are on pages across from each other, but sometimes the contrast lets them stand on their own as separate thoughts.

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“Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow”

I’m pretty sure I was inspired by an image for this one, but I can’t seem to find it. It might have been from the SheReadsTruth site which is where I find each day’s Bible reading plan and I journal a lot from those writers also.

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I’ll leave you with a hymn journaled in the “bonus space” at the end of I Timothy. Sometimes there is only a little bit of text on the page at the end of a book and then there is so much more space to use!

Thanks for taking a peek at my Bible with me. I hope you were inspired by God and his Word and maybe even feel led to go interact with the Bible on your own. Seriously, once I gave myself permission to draw and highlight and paint and journal in my Bible, I have been able to retain so much more from my Bible reading. I could jump on a soapbox of how God is a CREATOR God and He created us to make things and how we bring Him glory though that. But I’ll spare you..for today.

Let me know if you have any questions and I love love hearing your feedback. I plan to do another post again soon (ish) and share what tools I use and a few more pages that I’ve done more recently.

#Liz Journals the Bible

I have been wanting to write a blog post about my Bible journaling for a while. There is, of course, a hesitancy since it is sharing parts of my personal journey with God and it gives opportunity for others to interpret my motivations, but ultimately I believe it’s worth it. I would like to share a little background, how/where/why I started, and I’ll share a few pictures throughout.
(I say “a few”, but I’ve been journaling since March and when I took these pictures a few ago I had 57 or so. This might have to end up being a series. hah)

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What is Bible journaling?
Obviously the concept of writing notes or even drawing pictures in a Bible is not new. People have been doing for years and years, I’m sure. Shanna Noel started a movement a little while ago (a few years I think) called Illustrated Faith which has been spreading like wildfire. Her philosophy is that if even just one person is impacted by her sharing her faith in the margins of her Bible, then it is worth it (even if that one person is herself). I love this philosophy. I first heard of Bible journaling through Valerie Wiener’s blog and I was so inspired by her art and her story of God’s work in her life. Before I started journaling in March, I was fairly consistent in my reading of the Bible each day, but it never seemed to impact  much of my day or my life. I was doing my Bible readings on my computer which made it much easier to skim and not really dig into the text at all. I have always been a very hands-on learner and so it didn’t really make sense for me to expect to be able to interact with the text in this way.

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Once I started reading with an actual Bible in my hands and gave myself permission to underline and highlight and write notes and illustrate what I was learning, I started learning so much more every time I opened my Bible and it stuck with me through the day. This process of Bible journaling has transformed my Bible reading. I still try to read daily, but don’t journal every day, I just try to be open to what God is teaching me through His Word and I create in the spaces in my Bible when I am inspired to do so. I definitely see it as a form of worship and it also enable me to use my creative gifts which helps to “fill” me each day.

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What is my motivation?
I have already touched on this a little, but I thought I should clearly state what my motivation is for sharing, especially on social media. I have posted a few pictures of my Bible before on my Instagram with the hashtag #lizjournalsthebible. I never want it to seem like I am sharing these pages to show off or to get likes, in fact, I have had to check my motivations for that and that’s probably why I haven’t shared more before. Those who know me well can probably attest to the fact that I can be fairly affirmation-needy which is something I have worked on all my life and will probably always need to work on. When I draw/journal/create in my Bible it is for the benefit of me, and ultimately for God. However, thinking about how much seeing the faith and Bible pages of others impacted me and helped renew my hunger for God’s Word inspires me to share my scribbles and my personal journey. Because if by sharing I can inspire just one person to read their Bible and interact with it and grow closer to God, than by all means it is so worth it!

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Where did I start?
I have been using the SheReadsTruth studies for over a year now and I continue to find them so helpful to have a pre-organized study that is so centralized on the Bible and yet also includes encouraging and challenging thoughts from Christian women that God is using to impact so many. I should add that one of the reasons I was previously reading the Bible on my computer was because that is where I read from each day’s study on SRT and they conveniently have a link to each Bible passage on their site. This was extremely helpful especially back in the days of having a newborn Benji and I could MUCH more easily read a Bible reading on my phone/computer while nursing him as opposed to having to try to balance my Bible and take care of him. There are certainly different stages in our lives that work well with different things (and people’s personalities that work with different things—there are many people that would never dream of painting in their Bible, and that’s okay; I do try to keep all of the Biblical text visible when I am working in my Bible, but some people don’t and that’s okay too! It’s not about a right way or a wrong way to interact with the Bible as long as we are worshipping God and respecting Him and His Word). We are all on a personal journey with God and He meets us where we are and extends grace to each individual person. I never would have had time to do a lot of Bible journaling a year ago with a newborn and a toddler. It is still a challenge to find the time  sometimes, but I am grateful whenever I do get the chance. It can be a hard balance between making time to read God’s Word AND take the time to write out thoughts or pictures based on what I’ve learned AND try to balance family time, quality time with Mike, maintaining our household, etc. I try to remind myself that this is a stage and a season (which everybody says is and that a lot of my worship and teaching from God comes in the form of daily being changed to be more like Jesus as I go through life.

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How did I start?
After looking at professional-grade hand lettering and beautiful pictures painted in Bibles, I was at a bit of a loss of where to start when I received my journaling Bible (ordered it only for a little over $20). I didn’t want to “mess it up”, but I also wanted it to be a reflection of my personal journey with God expressed creatively. I definitely made some “mistakes” and made some pages that aren’t really my favorite, but since it’s about the process and not really about the end result it’s not something I’ve worried about too much. The SRT study when I first started journaling was in Lamentations and these were  my first ever journaled pages.

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Just like my faith with God is a journey, this illustrating of my faith had been a journey. As I tried different things with different pages, I have discovered that I usually prefer to have colorful journaling with different fonts and lettering as opposed to a drawing only one picture or verse. There are many exceptions to this as I give myself creative freedom, but it has helped to figure out how I am best able to meditate on what I am reading.

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Well, since I don’t think I’m going to include 50 more pictures, we’ll call that Part 1. I would LOVE to share more about any of the pages or my personal relationship with Jesus if you’re interested. Comment or send me an email. I would also love to answer any questions anyone might have. In part 2 maybe I’ll talk about some of the tools and methods I use. If you have been considering getting a journaling Bible or even using a notebook to creatively express what God is teaching you, don’t wait any longer! God wants to know and be known. He wants an interactive, intimate relationship with YOU and this might be one way you can deepen (or start!) that relationship.

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Thanks for reading.
❤ Liz

A Miscellany of Projects

I think I’ve mentioned that while I have not been the most faithful at blogging, I have done an okay job at taking pictures of various projects that I have worked on. However, as I was going through pictures, none of them seemed to quite merit their own blog post. Which brings us to our title: a miscellany of projects. It’s a real word, look it up. (I did..) I almost went with a GOULASH of projects, but I reeeally don’t like goulash, so here we are.

First, let’s take a journey to my pinterest-worthy craft room.

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Not what you were expecting? I take what I can get.
Someday that will all be livable space with real floors and walls and ceiling. Someday.

Do you spy the color wheel?

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I got my inspiration AND the free cut file/pattern from here. Hers is super cute (and taken in much better lighting).

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I made it on a piece of foam board and used fabric, paper, buttons, and stickers. I really liked the Picasso quote and so I stamped that out too. It was a fun little project to do to add some color to my “space” and it was very simple and non-time-consuming. (I told you..not enough to stand on it’s own as a blog post.)

Next, I have a wreath I made for Spring.

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I made the felt flowers, the nest if from Hobby Lobby, and the eggs are from an antique shop in Kalona, IA.

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A little more subdued than my usual choice of colors, but it worked really well for Spring.

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I painted our side tables. Our coffee table and two side tables were a GREAT DEAL from a friend’s garage sale soon after we were married. We slapped some black spray paint on them, but they were really starting to show some wear and tear.

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So, as I was in the very early stages of labor with Benji, I painted (while taking precautions and staying in a very well ventilated area: aka the outdoors).

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We used a grayish beige sort of color (greige, if you will) that we had lying around. Before the hubs and I had our kiddos we used to, you know, just go to stores together. We didn’t even have to bring along a snack or push two carts. Anywho, when we would go to a hardware store together I found it difficult, nay impossible, to pass by the “oops paint” without perusing the colors and probably buying a can or two. Present day me would give past me a slightly judgmental look. This was one of many colors that I probably had no real need to ever get and have consequently used, but only because it was there and I’m sure I gave some sort of promise about how I would definitely use the paint for all sorts of projects. hah.

If you follow me on instagram, you may have spotted my giant chalkboard where I was doing verses of the week and REALLY need to get back into the habit of doing again.

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So much about that picture has changed (mainly no more book shelves in our living room) that it makes me want to give a “house tour” and take pictures of every room. But then I think about how I would need to clean them all…

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Maybe I’ve done less chalkboard verses since I’ve been doing a lot more Bible journaling. I think I am going to take an entire post to share about that, but I’ll just share one page.

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I also painted our side entrance leading down to the basement. This was before.

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It was a dingy white that had yellow sealant sprayed on it (THAT’S a long story) from when we first moved in and just needed some TLC badly.

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So I just continued the yellow from the kitchen.

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We also added the baskets on the wall (from Walmart) and the hooks for the cleaning supplies. Not super glamorous, but the organization makes a huge difference.

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And our pots and pans on our spraypainted pegboard also help with organization. We have a fairly small kitchen with not a lot of cabinets or counter space, so we have tried to be as creative as possible with where and how to store things.

Sooo….there you have it. What may have been my most random blog post ever. If you made it to the end, then I truly believe you are a dear, dear friend. I still have more to share (Bible journaling, a furniture redo, two room redos) but those should be enough to stand on their own. Thanks for sticking with me. Hopefully you learned a little more about me or felt a little inspired to go do one of those less-than-glamorous, but satisfying-to-finally-accomplish projects.

Stitching the States Custom U.S. Map

Remember at the beginning of the year when it was January and there was fresh snow on the ground and it was the start of a brand new year full of possibility? Remember how I said I was going to try to blog weekly?

**crickets chirp**

*hangs head in shame*

About that… I’m really going to try to blog more. I really am. The good news is that I usually still take pictures when I am working on projects in the hope that “someday I’ll blog about this” so I have a few things I can share right away.

I’ve discovered recently that one of my absolute favorite things in the world is custom making things for people. I really enjoy creating things for myself and our family, but when I know that I am making something specifically for someone else there is an added element of specialness.

One such project that I did recently was creating a custom U.S. embroidery hoop map art for a sweet friend. My first real embroidery project was creating this map for myself and after I was finished, I wanted to do it again! (You can call me crazy, go ahead.) I used this pattern from the Raising Up Rubies etsy shop. If you don’t follow Jamie’s blog, stop whatever you’re doing right now and go visit. And then after you’re done there you can peruse her shop for even more of an adorableness overload. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever read a blog post or looked at a picture of something Jamie has created without being inspired. (And hey, we’re both from NY so maybe we’re secretly destined to be friends!) She has such talent, but also is such a sweet soul—you can just feel her kind spirit through all of the words she writes. You can make your own U.S. map by buying her pattern here. Oh, and if you have any desire to be inspired all.the.time. do yourself a favor and follower her on Instagram too. Just saying.

Anyway, I really enjoyed making the map a second time, fixed a few mistakes I made the first time, and got to try out a whole different approach of filling in the states with color.

Picture overload, anyone?

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The top one is the first map I made (and kept!) and the bottom one is the custom map.

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Custom map by itself.

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A little closer.

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There were two special hearts that I added. One where my friend was born.

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And one where her hubby was born too.

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My U.S. geography has improved IMMENSELY since completing these two maps.

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You can see my (imperfect) stitching on the back, but I also added a fun finishing touch with some state fabric that I have.
I thought it tied in well.  🙂

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The two maps side by side again. Rainbow color and “random” color.

Believe it or not, I have already started on a third map for another custom order. I love this form of crafting since it takes a minimal amount of focus and is therapeutic for me with its repetition. All that to say, I like making things and I really like making things for other people to enjoy.

**I’m somewhat open to the possibility of making more of these. Shoot me an email if you think you’re interested. And remember, you can always get the pattern and make it yourself!**

Thanks for stopping by!

❤ Liz

Benjamin David 12 Months Old

First things first, I changed some things around this here blog, like it?

Second things second, our tiny little peanut is now a one year old little boy and I am bursting with love, pride, and sentiment.

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Benji 12 months old

12 month Collage

I managed to squeeze him in the basket one last time.
The bottom right is a little blurry, but I love that I captured his little crinkle-nose face.
Also, could he look any more like his daddy??

I don’t even know how to summarize the past month, this kid just seems to grow by leaps and bounds every day. He has such a fun and mischievous personality. This kid. Let’s just use getting into the dog food as an example. This is not a new issue for us, we’ve been training him that the dog’s food and water dishes are off limits since he started crawling. Now he’s gotten to the point that he KNOWS it’s naughty and so he sneaks over there and grabs the dog food/splashes in the water. When he hears some one coming he bolts away as quickly as possible so that maybe he won’t get caught and will get to keep the dog food that he still has stashed away in his little death grip. Sometimes he listens when we tell him to come here away from it and sometimes he laughs at us and runs over to it. He can be redirected time and time again or carried to the other end of the house, but the kid is determined to get into trouble. I feel like this won’t be the last that we see of his strong will.

He has definitely gotten to the point where he walks more than he crawls now. In fact, I get a little surprised when I see him crawling since his go-to is now walking or RUNNING. He is such a physical little man and he is getting fast on those little feet and chubby legs. He is also a climber, so he really has started to keep me on his toes. I have found him on top of tables and chairs and beds and he is just so proud of himself when he figures out how to get on top of new things. He loves to throw himself around on the couch, but of course he also tries to throw himself OFF of the couch sometimes too. I am trying to figure out the balance between letting him explore/learn lessons the hard way/get some bumps and bruises and keeping him from getting hurt. He is just such a wild man.

He is a sweetie though, too. He loves to laugh and make us laugh—especially Ellery. They are still interacting fairly well together, even with Ben’s increased ability to reach all the things and follow after her and knock over everything. He still has a little separation anxiety when I put him in the nursery, but most of the time he is a HUGE fan of people. Seriously, you give him an audience and he will ham it up.

He has six teeth now that the four on top have officially come in. He still loves to put things in his mouth and likes to bite things (like my knees..even though he knows that’s naughty too), but I am VERY thankful that he’s never tried to bite while nursing. Speaking of nursing, WE MADE IT TO A YEAR! There were times I didn’t know if we would, but I am so thankful that we did. Considering I was never really able to nurse Ellery, this feels like a miracle. Once he started consistently sleeping all the way through the night (around 11 months) he was still nursing around 5 or 6 times a day. Now we are down to 3 or 4 times a day. He seems to be less and less interested (probably because he is still eating everything all of the time) and I don’t know how much longer we will last. Although, I kind of feel like it is best case scenario if he decides to be done on his own.

He FINALLY said “mama”, but he is very selective of when he actually uses it. Usually it’s when he’s really sad and a little “mama” whimper will sneak out. I love it though. He seems to be babbling a lot, but most of what comes out of his mouth is “daddad dada da ddadadad”.

We had a fun birthday party for him last weekend with some friend and family. It was a little chilly that day, but I  think everyone still had a good time. That kid LOVED his cake and loved that we thought it was a good idea to give him an entire cake. He smashed it. I think he would have enjoyed it more if he wasn’t cold and he didn’t keep shoving green frosting up his nose. We had a nice, fun day at home on his actual birthday with birthday pancakes and balloons and presents.

The night before his birthday, (aka the early morning hours of his birthday) he had a really rough night of sleeping. I’m not sure if he was so excited for the big day or if he was having flash backs of where he was a year ago (hah!), but I heard little cries quite a bit. Every time I checked him he was still lying down and it appeared as if he was sleeping, but he just seemed to be struggling to settle. So after a while I went down and just rocked him for a while so he could settle in asleep on my chest. He hasn’t slept on me for months and months (he hardly holds still long enough for a cuddle) and I got to hold him as he changed from a baby to a toddler. That was the sweetest gift he could have given me.

first year Collage

(I will update his stats after we have his one year check-up next week.)

Benjamin 11 Months

Benji Doodle aka Doodles

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11 months old
Notice how it’s pretty much just his torso that fits in the basket now?

11 month Collage

This kid. If you haven’t met him, let me just tell you that he’s hilarious and a delight. He has his share of off moments/days, but most of the time he is just so much fun to be around. There is so much personality packed into this little peanut. He loves to have fun and make other people laugh. He is developing his own little laugh that is a chuckle with lots of space in between each little noise.

He is definitely developing his own opinions and preferences and he works hard at letting you know them. He always active and squirmy, but especially whenever someone is trying to put clothes on him so I’m pretty sure he would just prefer to be naked all the time. Once he starts working towards a milestone, he does not stop practicing until he’s quickly mastered it and then he moves on to the next. He started taking steps last month and now he is walking so much! He can almost stand up by himself without pulling up on anything and he chooses to walk quite often, even without a destination in sight. He can walk long distances ESPECIALLY if his sister is in his line of sight. Ellery will call out to him to come here and he will happily toddle over to her, and then he grabs her and they both fall to the floor giggling. He certainly seems like he will be running before we know it.

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At the beginning of the month he was working on getting his 2nd tooth (both on the bottom) and once that popped through we discovered that he had also cut a tooth on the top (one of his canines). Currently I’m pretty sure that he is working on cutting THREE teeth on top—his two front teeth and the other canine. I can’t imagine that it feels very nice, and he has been a little more clingy/needy/whiny at times, but who can blame him? Even when he doesn’t feel 100%, he still loves to play and have a good time.

He is still eating like a teenage boy (aka so much and all of the time). He nurses 4 or 5 times a day still and eats anything and everything we give him. Mike thinks he is just in a perpetual state of growing. He got back into the habit of waking at night to eat (AGAIN!), but I think we mostly broke the habit now (AGAIN!!) and he seems to just be waking once around 3 a.m., needing some reassurance that we are still there, and then he goes right back down. (With the exception of last night where he was up screaming at us for an hour, but whatevs. Maybe it was teeth. I think it was stubbornness. hah)

Ben is becoming quite the daddy’s boy as he gets SO excited when Mike gets home and definitely seems to prefer him at times. He still loves his mama, I have no doubt of that, but he has a special admiration for his daddy. Which brings me such joy. He has started to have some separation anxiety, especially at the church nursery, but we are working through it. It breaks my heart to see him so sad when I leave him, but I know that he calms down very quickly. Other than that, he is a big fan of people and would let a stranger pick him up. He still won’t SAY ‘mama’, but has started to repeat the few words he does have on command. He will say ‘dada,’ ‘baba,’ ‘ah ah’ (like a monkey), and ‘eeeee’ (which is either his word for Ellery and “whee” on the swing). He is still very expressive vocally.

He loves music and as soon as a song with a beat comes on he starts dancing. He bounces whether he’s standing or sitting in a seat or whatever. Soon after he started taking steps, he also started being able to climb stairs and he mastered that very quickly. Thankfully we don’t have any stairs that he can get to with a gate in front of one set and a door in front of the other, but he is getting scary good at climbing. He climbs stairs outside and he climbs up our step stool and he climbs anything he can. I foresee this boy giving his mama some anxiety and probably getting his fair share of bumps and bruises. He is definitely very boyish in that way.

His favorite thing right now seems to be crawling into laundry baskets. He walks over or pulls himself up to one, throws his body in head first, and tumbles inside. He enjoys sitting in them for quite some time and is even fairly successful at getting himself out.

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I cannot believe that our sweet baby is almost one and that I have to start thinking about a birthday party. We are looking forward to a fun summer with these two.  

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Benjamin 10 Months

Man, this month flew by, I can’t believe it’s (past) time for another update already.

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Benji 10 months old

10 month Collage

Little buddy was in a smiley mood for this month’s photo shoot which was extra delightful. He is sporting 12 month clothes these days, some of which are still a little big on him. He is still a peanut, but he is barely fitting into this basket anymore as evidenced by his legs sticking out the end and his little toes curled over the side.

A little after Ben turned 9 months his sleep did start improving (yay!) and now he (usually) only nurses once during the night. That is a huge improvement for us! Coincidentally, at the same time we were finally able to take away his third, early evening nap. Although once that happened then he stopped taking his morning nap, so he went from three naps a day to one.

He is still eating like a mini teenager/bottomless pit. He nurses several times a day, eats three meals a day, and snacks all the time. We think he is on a perpetual growth spurt. He has tried lots of different foods and seems to favor breakfast food pretty strongly. He is a little scavenger finding bits of food whenever possible and will get upset if you try to eat any food in front of him. He has done very well with a sippy cup, especially when he is given the same kind as what big sister uses. He gets very proud of himself when he is able to hold it and drink out of it.

He started waving (with his whole arm) and now does it at appropriate times (and all times) and it is adorable. On Sunday when I picked him up from the nursery he saw me and broke into a huge smile and began waving vigorously. Sometimes he even makes a funny little face when he does it too. During the past few weeks he has started standing on his own—first without realizing it—and now he has been intentionally practicing and doing it for longer and longer. He has a lot of strength in his legs and controls his squatting from standing to sitting. I don’t want to say he will be walking soon, but I’m pretty sure it’s not that far down the road for us. Personally, I don’t think it changes that much right away anyway since he can already pull up on things and get into mischief easily. It might make things a little more interesting for Ellery since he will be able to follow her around a little more easily.

They are still enamored with each other, but Ellery is started to get to a stage of imaginative play where she likes things just the way she likes them. Of course, Benji just comes over and knocks everything down so we are starting to teach her how to achieve personal space when she wants it. One of his favorite things to do is knock down towers and he tries to do so as QUICKLY as he sees one constructed.

He has not added to his vocabulary of “da da” and “ba ba,” and still only one tooth, but I know those things will come in time. He is proving to be such a BOY and loves wrestling and moving all. the. time. If there is a pillow or blanket on the floor, he loves to crawl over to it, lay his head down, smile at you, and then pop right back up. Sometimes he does this over and over. It’s never that he’s tired, he just loves playing this game—I think he knows he looks cute. It is super hard to capture though, since he only lays down for about a second.

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More and more we are able to see his fun-loving, sweet, crazy personality shine through and we love it! He loves his family and loves people. And we love him.

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