Thursday, September 18, 2014

Time and a Woman's Highest Calling

When she was through, her chubby hands and face giving her smallness away were covered with a gooey chocolate layer. She'd just eaten an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, still soft and warm from the oven, in that distinct way toddlers do, not caring about proper protocol or mess-factor. Miraculously, her golden curls were spared from goo.

As I toted my little bundle off to get her changed into pajamas, I saw that she desperately needed a bath. But it was too late, and this mama was tired. It had been a long day. Plus, I'd already supervised four showers just before passing out cookies. I didn't have it in me to attend to another. My chubby, gooey girl could take a bath in the morning.

As a substitute, we settled for getting clean with the help of some wipes. I took one and she took one. We wiped and giggled as we swept the sticky stuff away. Then she began to wipe my face, not understanding that her face had been the only messy one. In that moment, of course it didn't matter. What mattered was the freeze-frame worthy handful of seconds with my baby. My soon to be potty-trained, our family out of diapers forever baby.

And then all at once, I felt the desire to jump for joy and cry because time is fleeting.

Time. We're consumed with time. And for good reason. It is important.

Time seems to slip away when we're enjoying things. And at other instances, it doesn't move fast enough. We're always thinking in increments of time.

It's the hurry-up and slow-down-already juggling act we love to hate. I don't know if the pull to want time to be still or the push to want time to speed up will ever disappear from our way of thinking. I guess it's the way we're wired. But there is one thing I do know about time.

It's that we're to make the most of it.

Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom.
Psalm 90:12 

I highly doubt that the psalmist meant for this to mean scratching the most items off our bucket lists, or being ultra productive to get ahead.

Unless we're talking about the sacred work we've been given to do. The work that is etched into our very beings. The things God had in mind for us to set our gaze toward.

How do we make the most of the time we have to do God's work? It's something I'm often pondering. My life is crazy. And it's not because I'm doing too much. Or going too much. Or taking too much on.

My life in and of itself, no artificial ingredients added, is plain crazy. And that's just the staying home, cooking meals, teaching lessons, giving baths, and making memories part. This is part of God's work for me. But there are other things too. Other important things.

I will never be a woman who will say that the highest calling for a woman is to be a wife and mother who stays home with her kids. I happen to do these things. And I'm thriving in it. But that's because I'm called to it.

You might not be. She might not be.

The Bible clearly states that our highest calling is to spread the Good News about Jesus. And God gives women different roles to play to that end. It can look a million different ways.

How about we agree to get out there and thrive in that part we've been given to play? That's what it looks like for you and me to be making the most of our time.


Friday, September 5, 2014

For the Writer, or the Anyone

I've sat down four six different times this week over the last two weeks to write a blog post that would signal my return to writing in this space after the launch of The Masterpiece Mom blog and podcast had me taking an unexpected hiatus. It's been hard for me to write a real post over here because I've thought it had to be momentous in order for me to show my face around here ever again. But that's crazy talk, I know it is. So here I am just showing up. I've missed you!

On my first attempt at returning two weeks ago, I made the mistake of catching up on a few posts of Ann Voskamp's first before working on my own writing. Big mistake. What can anyone ever have to say after reading her words? That night, I ended up with one sentence on a blank page. Then ate some ice cream. Terrific.

On my second try, I deleted the sentence I'd written the night before and tapped out a few paragraphs about absolutely nothing before giving up. Awesome.

The third day I actually typed out an entire blog post that I ended up saving as a draft. Nothing fit. Nothing seemed right. Maybe I'll use it later, maybe I won't. Another day gone by with nothing to show.

Fast forward ten days.

That big lot of nothing got me thinking. What is my purpose in writing at all? (Or doing anything I love, for that matter.) I definitely don't want to force it. I want to write, serve, mother, love out of passion and ministry, not obligation.

Plus, I'm not even sure it matters to anyone if I write or serve in the capacities I do. But it matters to my Creator, because He made me this way. He made it so that I'd love to write so much that I can't not. He made it so that you'd do that thing He created you to do for Him and for the benefit of others.

You must read THIS book, from which I basically stole the thoughts that make up that last sentence. Thanks, Emily.

So I wonder, what would He have me write if I could only write about one thing? If I could only do one thing? I know. Deep thoughts. Failure will do that to you. It'll cause you to rethink everything.

In the end, it's about sharing the unbelievably Good News about Jesus. Because that's all that really matters, isn't it? An eternity with Christ because of His great love for us. (And inviting everyone else to come too.)

I'm not trying to Jesus Juke you (but you really should follow that link and read all 793 comments), or give the Sunday school answer of "JESUS!!!"

I'm simply trying to remind us that we're here for a purpose. It's a purpose that blows a bubble around all our other purposes. And that's to point people to Christ. In whatever form, using whatever words, showing that love, in the way only you can.

On the job site.
In the kitchen.
To the husband.
At the pulpit.
Behind the register.
With the child.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Being Okay With Different

Jeremy and I have this thing we try to do when we interact with each other. No matter what the other person says or the tone it’s delivered in, we aim to give each other the benefit of the doubt. Knowing we have each other’s best interest at heart before we get into a conversation helps us see past our interpretations and look for the heart of what’s being conveyed.

Is this always easy?

No way.

Differences got you down? Read more about being okay with the differences in our relationships as I share over at Real Life at Home today.

I'd be honored to have you join me.

Also, you can find me spending most of my time writing and podcasting at The Masterpiece Mom. Today we're talking about the beauty of fresh starts. Join us?


Thursday, August 7, 2014

4 Ways to Homeschool Your Newly Adopted Child

Homeschooling in the middle of a major life change, such as adoption, can be intense — especially if the new child is of school-age. In light of this, let’s give each other permission to slow down. To take a step back from our traditional methods for a time and center our minds on teaching some valuable first lessons of the heart to the newest members of our families. (...)

I'd love for you to join me over at Real Life at Home today to read the rest! Click HERE.

Also, have you had a chance to check out my new venture over at The Masterpiece Mom? The newest episode of the podcast is up! Click to listen to Episode 14 - The Troublesome Twins: Moms and Worry.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Stitch Fix #3 {Skinny Jeans & Fab Shirts}

In the middle of the work and fun that came with the launch of a new website and podcast for moms, Stitch Fix #3 arrived in my mailbox back in the first week of May! I just love Stitch Fix days!

Read more about Stitch Fix HERE - and also check out Stitch Fixes #1 and #2.

When I scheduled this fix, I requested a pair of skinny jeans to try. I have the hardest time finding them to fit my body. They're either too tight in the waist and just right in the legs or vice versa. I love them under dresses and long shirts and have been eager to find a really nice pair I would actually wear.

Item #1 - Renee C, Vancouver Abstract Print V-Neck Blouse

I loved this shirt from the moment I clamped eyes on it. I have nothing in this print or combination of colors. I wore it right out of the box to Bunko that night. It's a winner!

Item #2 - Papermoon, Wynn Mixed Dot Print Front Pocket Blouse

I'll admit it - when I saw this shirt peeking out from around the other items in my box, I didn't know whether to laugh my head off or sigh. It reminded me of mint chip ice cream and looks like it'd be worn by women who are greatly my senior. I absolutely loved the sheer and light nature of the shirt and the fit and cut too. But the print and color combo are just not me. So I sent it back. It was the easiest decision I've yet to make in any one of my Fixes.

Item #3 - Peach and Gold Bib Necklace

While it would have been fun to receive a fun new necklace in my box, this one just didn't do anything for me. It was virtually the same color as my skin, and I try to steer clear of pastel colors because they do a really good job of washing me out.

Item #4 - Kut From the Kloth, Faith Skinny Jean

I was so pleased to see this pair of jeans just like I'd requested in just the right color! I slipped them on right away, and guess what? They were a perfect fit in the waist and through the legs. Unheard of! I'm still not up for wearing skinnies by themselves with a shorter shirt, but you can bet I've been wearing these with long shirts and under dresses since I pulled them out of the box.

Item #5 - 41Hawthorn, Moni Stud Detailed 3/4 Sleeve Blouse
Ooh, and then there's this one. I swooned big-time over this gem of a blouse. It's this wonderful combo of sheer, stretch, and thickness in just the right color for me. Jewel tones are a fair-skinned girl's best friend. I don't know if I've ever liked any shirt better!
:: :: ::
Well, that's it! It only took me nearly two months to finish this blog post. I have another Fix coming mid-July, so I thought I'd better get to moving!!!
Care to try Stitch Fix yourself? Fill out your online style profile (HERE), and for just $20 you'll get your very own box of goodies in the mail! Try it all on, and use that $20 toward purchasing one of the five items in your Fix. Pop the things you don't like back in the mail in a pre-paid shipping bag. Easy. Like it all? Take 25% off the whole order for keeping all five things. Get started here!
P.S. I do get a $25 credit to my account for every person that tries it for the first time. Win - win! Then when you try it, advertise your Fix to your friends and family and online using your personal referral code, and gain some credit yourself!



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The What I've Been Up to Edition

I've started two blog posts in the last few weeks with every intention of writing here in this space weekly once The Masterpiece Mom blog and podcast got off the ground over Mother's Day weekend. Obviously that hasn't happened. But I'm still here enjoying summer in all its glory with my family, and am happy to connect again with you lovely readers.

If you haven't had a chance to check out the new site, or listen to the podcast (on the blog, iTunes, or the Stitcher Radio app), I'd invite you to do so! (Shameless plug.) We've been floored that people are actually listening. After all, who are all these people? Either way, it's oh-so-fun. God has been so, so good to us.

If you're interested, here's what I've written lately:
Missing Out or Missing the Point?
Dear Mom Who's Struggling to Forgive Her Child
When You Wonder If Your Work is Worth It

And here's a link to the latest episode of The Masterpiece Mom podcast:
Episode 5 - Mothering Myths: Part 2 of 5 

Would you be willing to help us get the word out? Thank you!

Well, since I hadn't planned to come on here and say anything too profound (after all it is past midnight), I did want to give you a little peek into my life as we head into a new season.

Here's what I've been up to and into lately:

1.  Decaf earl grey tea with half and half is my new favorite at-home comfort drink. I never realized how yummy earl grey could be. It sounded so plain, and well, grey. I just didn't know it was orange-y and rich and perfect. Add some sweetener if you must and enjoy.

P.S. Starbucks makes an amazing earl grey tea latte. Oh, the foam!

2.  I get teary and want to go through labor, delivery, and welcoming a newborn again every time I watch an episode of Call the Midwife. But then I remember how pregnancy hated me last time, and then uh, I have 8 children who are keeping me so busy I can hardly keep my head on straight. Plus, I'd still need to raise said child and be all postpartum again. So I'll just be thankful that I can experience those feelings all over again each time I watch Call the Midwife. And then I'll just wait for some grandbabies to come along in like 10+ years, right? Right. That feels really soon.

3.  I LOVE podcasting. It's much faster to brainstorm, outline, and record an episode than writing a blog post will ever be. Plus, working with a dear friend on it all is a major bonus.

4.  The amazing all-night daylight during the summer months here enlivens my spirit. It's easier to get out of bed in the morning, but also easier to stay up way too late because it feels too early to turn in.

5.  A couple weeks ago, we completed our 9th year of homeschooling. And honestly? I didn't even feel like celebrating. I felt like I needed a three-month long nap to recover from it all. Jeremy and I are brainstorming and making plans for how next year can be a different kind of wow. I think we're onto something. But for now, I'm going to sit back and enjoy this summer with all of its opportunities to serve God, my family and friends, and all of you.

What have you been into or up to lately?


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Overwhelmed Homeschool Mom

“Hey, I was thinking we should just continue to homeschool through the summer,” says the man I married eight children ago.

I blink long and hard, hoping that when I open my eyes, I’ll hear a sly, “April Fools!” or ” Ha! I’m totally kidding.” Because this man knows me. He knows I need a whole summer’s worth of a break from organized homeschooling.


Can you relate to that overwhelmed feeling?

Read more over at Real Life at Home (formerly The Homeschool Classroom), where this month I'm talking about being overwhelmed and simple ways to get some help.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Masterpiece Mom blog and podcast have launched!

You guys, it's here!

The Masterpiece Mom website and podcast has gone live! My dear friend Anne-Renee and I have been formulating messages for moms for years. Some in the corner of coffee shops. Some at each other's kitchen table. And some as we've lead moms in ministry. And now all these years later, we're formulating messages for you. Through the blog and podcast, we hope to encourage the hearts of moms everywhere.

Care to pop over and have a look?

We're doing our best to get the word out, but we're also in need of a little (a lotta) help from our friends! If you feel compelled, we'd appreciate you telling your friends, liking our Facebook page, and subscribing to the podcast on iTunes!

P.S. Episode 1 is up and can be listened to by following the link above!

Thanks, everyone!! The support has been overwhelming.


P.S.S. Even though this new venture has launched, I'll still be here writing in this space. I hope you stick around. :)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

6 things I learned in April

It's that time again. That moment when I realize I forgot to keep a running list of what I learned this month, and then scramble with a notebook in hand hoping to remember something from this last month.
My brain is a huge pile of mush lately. Could it be that I gained a new son last month? Probably. Or perhaps it's because I have lots of kids. Uh huh. Or that I'm in the middle of getting ready to launch a long-dreamed about new blog ministry for moms with a dear friend? Yeah, so that's my announcement. Not so slick, but there you have it.
A new website and podcast for moms will be launched out into cyberspace in just 10 days on May 9th! I'll be back soon to fill you in on all the juicy details. But for now, please pray for us? (Remember this gal?) We're total newbies at podcasting, and could use all the help we can get. We bought a special microphone and are having at it. So if you let us, we'll be coming through the speakers on your computer or gadget every month or two with a new episode along with fresh and encouraging blog content each week. Stay tuned, friends! And if you're willing again, we'll ask you to help us get the word out when the time comes.
So let's move on from brain mush and exciting news to this:
Emily Freeman hosts the What We Learned link-up community each month, and I have to say, it's my favorite. May it be serious or silly, it's all there. Okay, now on to what I learned, I did manage to recall a few things...
1.  Ooh. This one is bad. After eating a clean diet for 6 weeks, I flew to Oregon for a quick 3 day trip over this last weekend to a wedding with my little Emmy. I figured 3 days of eating the old way wouldn't hurt because it'd be a pain to go to the store and buy certain foods for just a couple of days. Well, it certainly didn't hurt as it was going down, but imagine the horror of getting realllly sick in the middle of the night just 4 hours before getting back on a plane to fly 1,790 miles with a lap infant. I'd say I learned a lesson here.

2.  Last summer at the She Speaks conference, Michael Hyatt mentioned in one of his sessions that there aren't many women hosting podcasts. That grabbed my attention. Because I had a feeling it might be in hanging out in my future. If I'd gingerly taken six months over the winter to figure it out, that'd be one thing. But putting the pieces together in a matter of weeks is a whole 'nother ballgame. Cheesy elevator-ish music and space-age weirdness abounds when you're trying to scour the web for upbeat and happy intro music for your show. Oh my word. I spent 4 straight hours yesterday alone searching. Again. Then my trusty partner in crime came up with the perfect one with an effortless click or two. We found one. Hallelujah!
3.  This next one was super interesting to me. The other day I was poking around on Google, for who knows what reason, and I came across the crazy news that isn't really news at all because it's been a thing for 30 some years I'm sure. Singer Ellie Holcomb's dad is Brown Bannister. The songwriting and music producing guru. Does that ring a bell to any of you? Well it should if you grew up as an Amy Grant fanatic like me in the 80's. His name was all over those cassette tapes and lyric sheets I used to pour over as I sang along in my room. Does this blow anyone else away like it does me? Maybe not.
4.  After two full months home, our new guy Jackson is even more awesome than we once believed. True story. And yesterday, he may have decided he wanted to follow Jesus. My heart squeezes over this boy.
5.  As I mentioned above, I traveled out of state recently. Right when the world up here was getting ready to burst forth with green leaves and grass, I went and cheated on us. At least it felt that way amongst the flowering trees and fragrant flowers which were already in full bloom where I was staying. It was strangely wonderful.
6.  Last month also brought a surprise visit from my sister. She's my best friend, and lives way, way too far away in Tennessee. She came for a whole week thanks to the generous gift of a ticket from one of her friends who couldn't bear to see us apart for any longer. Wow, huh? Plus, Jen hadn't met two of our kids, and hadn't seen all of us together in nearly four years. So sad. I didn't necessarily learn anything new here. I already knew I missed her like crazy, but I guess I did learn that you just never know what's around the bend. Hope might be sitting around the corner undetected just waiting to surprise you.

Share with us, what did you learn in the month of April?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

For the One Worrying About the Future

I'm happy to say that I've taught three of my children to read.

This is a huge accomplishment for me. Because honestly, one of my greatest fears starting out as a homeschool mom was that my children would never learn to read if I had anything to do with it.

Staying constant when things get mundane is not my strong suit. And teaching kids to read can be pretty mundane. So let's just say that listening to a kid sounding out c-a-t and t-h-e and h-a-t for the millionth time isn't my favorite.

I enjoy making fresh batches of play dough, observing kids working on math in blanket forts, and reading to them about the plight of the gospel around the world with a yummy cup of coffee in hand and the Dallas String Quartet playing softly in the background.

But the good news is that I have three readers. Three wonderful kids who love to read.

And then there's the bad news. I still have to teach five more kids to read. I just rolled my eyes and shook my head in disbelief at the screen when I typed that out. It's just so unbelievable. The only method I've used to teach my kids to read is the "wing it" method. It's akin to the "do the best you can in this season of life" method. Now, it might be tempting for you to throw out your favorite curriculum for teaching kids to read as a suggestion. Don't. I probably own it already, and should therefore start a lending library. You see, it's not a materials problem. It's a me problem.

But there's an even bigger problem at play here. It's the jumping out of today, and worrying about the future problem.

Sometimes situations in life come up, and we aren't sure how to handle them. We wish the Bible gave us more specific instructions on certain topics. For instance, when you're trying to figure out if you should move to Hawaii or Italy for that job transfer, you wish the ten commandments had included, "Thou shalt not ever reside in Hawaii." It'd make it so easy.

Even though most of the specific decisions we have to make aren't always answered in the Bible, there are some very specific instructions for how to behave and where to park our minds. And fretting about the future is not one of those places. Jesus makes it pretty clear when He spoke of it on the mountainside during the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 6:33-34

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

So instead of worrying about all that may go wrong in all of our tomorrows, we should seek His kingdom here in today. What are we to do with today? Isn't there such relief in that thought? One day. We can do one day. He's given us everything we need for today.

Joy and trust cannot coincide with worry and fear. But that's what we try to do. We try to cram it all together as if it's supposed to work that way. We think, "I can still be joyful and trust God while at the same time make myself sick with anxiety thinking about all of the hard stuff in my life and how it's going to affect my future."

If we learn to leave worry and fear out of the mix as we move into a new day without projecting it onto a day in the future, we'll be able to experience joy and trust God with our lives in a new way. And then we'll do the same for the next day, and the next.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

He Calls Us His {An Adoptive Mom's Story}

There was a time in my life when I thought I understood God's love for His children. After all, I was a mom, and I was used to sacrificing for the ones I love.

But I was wrong. I didn't fully understand the depth of His love and just how far He'd go to bring us to Himself until we were walking through our first adoption.

Today, I have the pleasure of being a guest over at My Little Corner, the blog authored by the lovely and wonderful Cindy O'Brien. I met Cindy last summer in North Carolina at the She Speaks Writers & Speakers Conference. She is an adoptive mom as well, and has been gracious enough to let me share in her space.

To read the post click HERE.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Difficult People {How to Deal}

I change seats three times at the coffee shop before settling down to work because my favorite spot in the corner is taken. I'm used to this game because everyone else knows it's the best spot too.

I creep closer to the good spot as the seat next door becomes available. But also because I don't want to sit near creepy guy. But that's just me. I'm the awkward girl who can't sit next to a man I don't know for fear they are in fact a creep. I know. Aaaand I said creep three times in a single paragraph. Wait, make that four.

I settle into my delightful spot at the counter that has finally opened up, put my headphones on and play a Christmas song on repeat. In April. The other day I discovered that playing Little Drummer Boy by Pentatonix on repeat turns me into a writing machine. The words just pour out of me as I try to remember that the whole coffee shop really doesn't want to hear me sing accapella on repeat. So I refrain from singing along and go with it because I need all the help I can get.

It's finally time to quit stalling and do the work. But who really wants to talk about difficult people? Definitely not me.

I'm not good at dealing with difficult people.

They infuriate me.

They say and do things that just plain hurt.

They're confusing and I mostly try to avoid them.

And usually I think they should just knock it off.
Don't they know how awful they're being and how miserable they're making us? It just. doesn't. compute.

Then I remember compassion. Oh, yes that. And love.
And also their past. That matters too.

Sometimes when we hear the words compassion and love thrown in with the topic of difficult people, we're tempted to think of doormats and push-overs. Two things we don't want to be. So how should we do this?

I know of no other source more suited than the Bible to help us out here. Paul, in his letter to the church at Colossae gives us these words:
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

So, from the looks of it, we're to put on, or act with

Even when they're being a jerk.

And also
and love (most of all)

We're to
let Christ's peace not be crowded out
and be thankful

Read God's word
letting it simmer and dwell within us

Teach each other in wisdom
praise Him with thankfulness

Do everything for Him
and again, be thankful

Sometimes love means boundaries. That's super hard, but often necessary.
And sometimes you can forgive and the relationship isn't restored. That's still okay.

A restored relationship may not be possible right now if it's abusive or unhealthy. We're called to forgive and love, which will restore our hearts. The act of forgiving another person isn't saying you approve of what they've done. No, it's much different than that. Forgiveness releases your heart and mind from dwelling on and being held captive by their actions any longer. It doesn't mean you're accepting what they did to you as okay, it simply means you're going to be okay with them not taking up residence in your mind any longer as you move forward. You're going to clear the counter off. So to speak.

I may not be good at dealing with difficult people. But I can be good at love because Christ is good at loving me.

They may infuriate me, but I can be compassionate because Christ has been endlessly compassionate with me.

My job isn’t to fix the difficult people in my life or enable them to continue their destructive behaviors. My job is to be obedient to God in the way I act and respond to them.

This will forever be a work in progress in our lives. But there's no better day than today to start making some progress.
This post is linked up with Holley Gerth and company over HERE!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

4 Things I Learned in March

On any given day over the last 29 days, I haven't been able to make an educated guess on what date it is. My brain capacity has been on Full, while the ever-important brain functionality has been sitting on Empty. I don't believe I've called a friend in over a month (thankfully they still check in on me) and I've been sleeping past my alarm because apparently I need more sleep. It's been wiggy and wonderful. I don't know if wiggy is even a word, but it fits, so I'm saying it.

But amazingly, at this late hour with low brain function and all, I was able to think of a few things I've learned. I missed last month's What We Learned Link-Up because we were (ahem) out of town bringing our new son home. So I was determined to make it a go this round.

1.  Despite what we were told and told ourselves, things have turned out better than our very best hope in this new adoption. We are living with a boy who is the most visible evidence of God's grace I've ever witnessed. I'm so thankful to be a part of his story. When I gaze into his deep brown eyes and see a flash of a past sadness when we're having one of those talks that cause our to hearts interweave, I see too that my heart has done a better job of stretching and growing this time as I'm learning to think of myself less and am okay with giving more. Christ cannot fully work through me if I am wound up in me. Apparently I have needed this lesson over and over again. Eight times over to be exact.

2.  All Masterpiece series on PBS are not created equal. I think you know I'm crazy about Downton Abbey. But 8 weeks of once a week episodes, once a year just won't do. Since I get the hankering for a good television series every once in a while, I've dabbled in a few other Masterpiece shows. There's The Paradise and Call the Midwife, two series I absolutely love. But really, how often are they on? But. But! The new season of Call the Midwife begins this Sunday. Swoon.

I don't do Sherlock. It may be good for some, but I can't handle corpses. And then there's Mr. Selfridge. I tried watching it twice in the last two weeks just to find something to watch when I was in the mood, and I just couldn't do it. It's like it's trying to be the naughty big brother of The Paradise or something. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. What shows do you love?


3.  A plain breve' (espresso and half-and-half) with no flavoring tastes so yummy after you've been off sugar for a while. It is good and comforting and right. I would know. I've had three this week.

4.  Homeschooling two kindergarteners rather than just the one has been easier than I thought. Kindergarten is pretty laid back around here, but it helps having two students in the same grade's education to be accountable for. For some reason, hauling out the teddy bear counters seems like a better idea when there are two hands to make use of them. And truth be told, I have spent time this month plotting how I could pull of homeschooling with some in-home help. I picture paying a young woman to come and assist me with whatever I may need one or two mornings a week around the house or with school for next year. Seriously. I don't even know if this is a thing. But I may make it one.

That's all for tonight (which has turned into a new day already), thanks for reading!

What did you learn in March? 


Friday, March 21, 2014

On Blog Facelifts, Editing Out the Ugly, and Being a Noticer

Welcome to the new blog, friends. Having my face and name share a space that has its own web address is scary stuff. But it's also fun, freeing and official-ish.

The thought of writing on a blog that has my name written across the top as the title has had me turning into a great big chicken since I started thinking about it a couple years ago. But the truth is this: the old blog title and address were hard to remember, making it hard to find me out in the world wide web if you wanted to.

Someone might have known my name but couldn't for the life of them remember the name of my blog. "What was it? The Red Rooster? The Scarlet Petunia?"

Well, now it's easy. All you have to remember is my name, Amanda Bacon.

If you can't remember my name, I'm sorry, I can't really help you there... except to tell you that if you type in The Scarlet Paisley it will automatically direct you here. Easy.

Also, as a side note, if you ever see something here you'd like to pin on Pinterest to save for later, just roll your cursor over a picture and a Pin It icon will appear. I love that.

May I also direct your attention to something else that is frighteningly new? It's the Speaking tab up top. I had to enlist the help of some deep breathing to calm the heart palpitations that presented themselves at finally advertising that I speak. I love to engage with women in person the best, so if you think I might be the right fit to speak for an event or group you're a part of, you can contact me through that tab. If I receive a message from you, I'll try not to faint while I prayerfully consider your request.

Don't worry, I promise not to faint when I get up to speak.

All of that business aside, I want to tell you something that's been bugging me about my writing.

This is consistent with this talk of new beginnings, so I thought now might be the right time. I've pondered how to word it, or if I should even talk about it at all. But it's important to me, so I'll give it a go.

As you know (or maybe you don't), I have eight children. It's been three weeks since we met and brought Jackson home. Yet I can hardly wrap my mind around the number eight. There's eight of them! Anyways.

My life, much like yours, is full. Even though things feel chaotic and busy, I feel this pull to take the time to write words that will be an encouragement to you in an effort to serve you. Messages begin to form out of what I read in the Bible or in books, what I talk about with someone, or what I mull over in the middle of my everyday life.

Message forming and sharing is part of what makes me come alive. Doing this here, in this way, is me playing one of the parts I've been given by God to play. I recognize that and find great contentment in it.

But there's this problem. When I write, I find myself editing out the ugly and embarrassing junk in my head. I don't mean to, it's just that I'm not sure you really want to know all of the junk. Or if I really want to wade through it again in front of you. Or if it will sound like I'm complaining. But what I'm realizing is that maybe you think my life is only filled with precious moments. And by that, I mean that you may think I don't have dark times, thoughts, or days (years.)

It is my personality to be a noticer of the good. So I am pretty quick to change my way of thinking from a negative mindset to a thankful one. But I can't rely solely on my personality for this. I have to purpose to find the good in things and situations. So when I write and things sound encouraging, that's me being a noticer of the good. It doesn't mean my days are perfect.

I learn what I think about something as I write about it. It's the way I'm wired. It's therapeutic for me, and it helps me remember to see the beauty in my life -- in all of life.

Becoming a noticer of the good helps you notice and be thankful for the beauty in your life too.

“The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world.” 
Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

If I edit out the ugliness I started with before I became thankful, you, dear reader, will never know how I got to the good part. You will just assume the good and precious and happy thoughts and times were there all along.

This life I have in Christ and with my family are precious to me, but my thoughts aren't always precious. Sometimes they despair. Sometimes they're selfish and bratty. Sometimes they can't bear to repeat the day that has just ended, and I cry in my room. And sometimes I feel so thankful and want to share with you guys, but I'm afraid to write about it fearing you won't be feeling particularly peachy that day and will roll your eyes at me, viewing me as some sort of goody-goody. Dumb, I know.

I don't want to edit myself in my writing anymore. It's not good for me, and it's not good for you. That's the truth of it. Even though it doesn't come naturally, I'm committing to writing about the hard stuff too. However that plays out.

Deal? Deal.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Stitch Fix #2 {A Dress and a Twist}

Want to find out what Stitch Fix is all about? Read this first.
Also, see Stitch Fix #1, where I ended up loving and keeping all five items.

One week ago I received my second Stitch Fix box in the mail. After the success of my last fix back at the start of February, I was eager to try it again. This time, I requested that my stylist include a dress and one of those "drapey sweaters that cross in the front"... I think that's how I described it. Even though I had no clue what that kind of sweater was called, she nailed it and sent exactly what I was looking for.

Before we start, I will reiterate how awkward it is to take full-length mirror selfies. This time I tried not to be such big goof like I was last time, and ended up looking unhappy. I'm not unhappy, just awkward. See? I told you.

Item #1 - Pomelo, Sedona Dot Print Shirtdress

I loved this fabric and this style from the moment I pulled it out of the box. The only problem was that it looked like a giant sack without the belt tied around it. But after putting it on and adding tights, boots, and a scarf, I loved it and the fit was fine. I kept this shirtdress, and will happily and comfortably wear it often. I wore this to church yesterday with leggings and the same boots. If I was a mannequin and did nothing but stand around all day, tights would have worked just fine. But lifting and mommying aren't conducive to an above knee dress and tights in my book.
P.S. This dress is made of tencel, that oh-so-soft and buttery, yet substantial material.
Item #2 - Rikka, Betty Chevron Infinity Scarf

From the moment I laid eyes on this beauty, I knew it was a keeper. Chevron print and a light wispy material = a WIN. I've worn it several times this last week, and have even been tempted to wear it all day around the house. I wish I could gift each and every one of you with one of your very own. This could easily turn into some sort of Linus blankie for me. Please tell me chevron won't ever go out of style and leave the stores for me to buy.

Item #3 - Oxmo, Jayla Front Twist Sweater

Front twist sweater! That's what this is called. I should have known. This sweater caused me some silly girl turmoil. I love the light fabric, the style, and the perfect fit. But the color. The color! I don't own a single stitch of fabric that is coral or orange-ish. And there's a reason for that. My fair skin will tell you why. But this particular color had the potential of winning me over. I put this picture on facebook last week asking for advice. The ladies were mixed, but gave great suggestions for making it work for me. But in the end, I sent it back. I couldn't justify spending a good amount of cash (or precious Stitch Fix credit) on something I'm on the fence about.
Item #4 - 41Hawthorn, Callafia Short-Sleeve Wrap Dress

This dress. I so was excited to lift it out of the box and feel its weight, while drooling over the rich blue. I was really hoping it would fit and not cling to every area in a not-so-attractive way, like the thinner version of this fabric has a habit of doing. But it didn't. Goodness, I love this dress. I love the length, the classiness, and versatility. I plan to wear it to a wedding next month. It'll be perfect (after I iron it or something.)

Item #5 - Gilli, Dawn Jersey Chevron Print Maxi Skirt

I want to give a shout out to my stylist because I love chevron. She mentioned that she didn't want to overload me with chevron prints (which I don't mind), but wanted to give me a chance to look at these pieces before they went out of stock. Which I think is great.
I wish I'd gotten a better picture of this shirt in it's full-length glory, but all the other pictures were blurrier than this one. I sent this skirt back only because I'd just kept a black and white chevron skirt in my last fix. The style and chevron prints were different, but I thought I'd control myself and not own two skirts in the same color and pattern. The only thing I didn't like about it was the fabric. While it was extremely comfortable, it was made out of what felt like a swimsuit with no lining. Super stretchy and comfy, but see-through. I tried it on with a slip, but still. It felt precarious.
So there you have it, Stich Fix #2. I'm loving the anticipation of these boxes and scheduled my next one for two months from now... I can hardly wait.
Want to give it a try? Click here to get started.

Monday, March 3, 2014


After 4 days in the Arctic getting to know our boy in his world, we all flew home today. Home! 

This boy is amazing, humble, willing, and excited. And adorable. He is resilient, positive, and kind. 
And smart.

There is so much to tell. What I have seen on this trip will forever change me. I've said that before, and I pray my life will afford more chances to be moved. I cried buckets of tears for different reasons up there. Some heartbroken, some heart-soaring.

Some thankful, some as a response to injustice. God moved in such blatant and powerful ways, that tears were the only response I could muster. Words just wouldn't come. 

Like the time he announced proudly to his entire kindergarten class after meeting us for the first time with one hand in mine and one hand in Jeremy's, "This is my Mom and Dad!"

It was finally his turn. His turn to have a family who would love and cherish him.

Or the time just now when Levi came over to hug him goodnight. This once broken, now embraced little guy picked his brother up, gave him a big squeeze, and offered to walk him down to his bed. Tears. I can't help it. 

He doesn't even know he's related to him by blood. He just isn't ready for that information. All that matters to him is that we love him, and I think he senses that we're all already related. 

We met the most amazing people, performing some of the toughest work I've heard of out there in the world, and they became like family. Enter more tears. They've loved our boy out of darkness, and into this marvelous light he now finds himself in.

Freedom. He's free. 

We are moving forward as a family of 10 tonight. And we're hopeful.
We're asking for continued prayer as we transition.

We are confident that his acceptance of us and joy at having a family is due in part, because of your prayers on our behalf. Thank you. 

Sleep is not my friend when I'm away from home, so I've got some catching up to do. So that's where I'm headed, friends. Goodnight.

P.S. If you want to take a peek into our trip, I've posted pictures and videos on Instagram over the last several days.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Trinity Women

Here I sit at my desk with an empty pint of ice cream that I started last night. I also sit just three days from flying 538 miles with Jeremy to meet our new six year-old son. Hopefully by next Sunday night, we'll be on a plane with a little boy in the next seat headed home. We still haven't received the big official okay to bring him home, but it looks promising. Pray for us?

I want time to speed up and I want it to slow down. I ache for him to be home and at home here. But I'm also savoring the last days in this chapter of our family as it is right now. The emotions swing up high and they dip down low.

At times, I'm akin to a boxer in one of those silk robes and a mouth guard, ready to fight for the heart of a little boy.

Other moments, I see myself more like Jesus as he's pictured in a children's Bible sitting on a rock wearing a pleasant expression with arms outstretched happily welcoming children onto his knee. 

And then there's the me I'm least proud of. The me who gets fearful and wants to run into the bathroom and hide behind the shower curtain. There will be changes up ahead that will alter my already stretched out, yet happy bubble. And they make me want to hide.

I'm three-in-one.


I think there might be a three-in-one in all of us.

We fight for the stuff we believe in and love passionately.
But we hide from things that threaten our comfort and seek to change us too much. Oh, how we loathe the process of being changed. We're all in, yet search for the nearest exit.

It's okay to feel more than one emotion even when we're trusting God. It doesn't mean we're wrong, bad, off-course, or strange. I like to think of us as trinity women. We each have many facets, yet are one woman. Of course I don't compare us to the Trinity. Goodness. But I think the analogy works.

I've yet to meet a woman who is able to hold steady in just one emotion before walking into the unknown. There's usually fear coupled with tingly excitement. A healthy dose of confidence mingled with self-doubt. Sadness mixed with pure joy.

As it is right now, when I move into battle for a young heart, Jesus fights for me. Even if I'm trembling rather than bold.
As I love people and open my life to them in His name, Jesus continues to envelop me in His. Even if my arms are weak.
And if I hide from what I fear, He'll tuck in behind the shower curtain and whisper the truth about my future. Even when I doubt.

And He'll do the same for you when you do your thing. That multi-faceted woman thing.

Since Jesus holds our future, we really should believe Him. It will turn out okay in the end. Maybe your okay will come next week, or maybe not for a year or even a far-off ten, but one day it will be made right. That sounds depressing, but it's true. And good.

So tell me, trinity woman, what emotions are you facing as you step out into the unknown?


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

When the One You Want to Help the Least Needs You the Most

An exhausted young mother tosses the question out onto social media, "Does anyone have any tips for getting a baby to sleep through the night?"

Commenters eagerly pounce.

We love to share our opinions. We love to share what has worked for us. We're eager to see our chosen method be successful for someone else.
I'm convinced that posts asking for advice receive the most comments of all.

She'll get answers touting the benefits of co-sleeping, Ferberizing, sleeping on baby's floor, rocking, Babywise, The Baby Whisperer, baby wearing, shushing into baby's left ear, crying it out, white noise makers, earplugs, vibrating bouncy seats, and the ever-faithful wisecrack about giving the baby Benedryl.


Another woman asks for help with a decision: "Which paint color do you like best for our kitchen? Peacock Attack or Blueberry Muffin Top?"

She'll receive loads of votes, leaving Blueberry Muffin Top at the top of the podium, but last on the list of enticing names. We love to make swift and easy decisions. It's satisfying to share our two cents, and we feel useful. Even in the smallest sense.

But then there's the woman who posts that she's struggling. Again.

"When will the family drama ever end? I'm so sick and tired of this. I don't think I can do it anymore. I can't focus at work. I'm so distracted and lame when I'm with the kids. This. Just. Isn't. Working."

Ah, yes... the social media downer. These are the posts we love to scroll right by without giving them much thought., except to type out a chipper, "Praying!" Maybe she's being dramatic or is just feeling lonely at the moment.

Either way, why should we get involved? It sounds like a private affair.
She might suck us dry if we reach out a hand.
She might start calling every day expecting something.
She might want to be like friends or something.

But do you know something?

While the circumstances she finds herself in may be private, a caring voice or gesture of friendship is always appreciated. Sometimes it's a lifesaver. Quite literally.

She might actually need you.
You might be just the one to help her rise to the surface and breathe in a gulp of fresh air for the first time in forever. (I couldn't resist. We're big fans of the Frozen soundtrack around here.)

Your words of comfort and hope just might be the ticket to freedom for her. She may feel the arms of Christ around her because of the steps you've taken in love toward her. When others scrolled right by, you stopped.

Just like the woman who touched Jesus' robe. She was making a desperate plea. But she dared not come right out and say. "Will you help me, Jesus?"

She came in the back door by simply touching him.
And He stopped and gave life to her wilting body.

Maybe your friend can't come right out and ask for help. Maybe she doesn't know how. So what if we just offered it?

So go ahead, send her a private message. Call to say that dinner will be delivered tomorrow night at 6:00p.m. Offer to meet and talk or watch her kids so she can just be for a while.

We love to give advice, but what if we loved to give of ourselves even more?

Philippians 2:4
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

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