Archives for February 2014

Just Ask

I have 11 cousins on my dad’s side of the family. We spent a lot of time together growing up, so we are a fairly tight-knit bunch. I’m in the older bunch of kids, so I spent a lot of time “mothering” the little ones. Carter was no exception. I’m sure would be pleased for me to share the fact that I helped potty-train him in one weekend. He was one cute kiddo and only slightly annoying. :)

He had a habit of asking questions. Lots of questions. ALL THE QUESTIONS.

Ginger: Carter, look at the bird flying so high!
Carter: Why?
Ginger: Because it’s pretty!
Carter: Why?
Ginger: Because God made it that way!
Carter: Why?
Ginger: He’s very talented.
Carter: Why?
Ginger: Because He’s the creator of everything.
Carter: Why?

And on. And on. Lots of what, why, and how questions from that little guy. He was so persistent in asking.

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I think Carter was onto something.

In the midst of feeding a baby, staying connected to my family and community, dusting end tables, and writing – God seems to be echoing the theme of asking.

I’m memorizing the book of James and keep returning to chapter 1 starting in verse 5. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

Feeling utterly without wisdom in so many areas of my life — big dreams to small tasks — I began to ask. But often I ask like Oliver Twist with my, “please Sir, I want some more” doubts. I don’t really expect my baby to actually sleep through the night or see total change in a life, or wake to a picture of how the dreams could become a reality.

And then my morning reading of Streams in the Desert took me to Psalm 27:13, and I realize I have not placed my confidence in the one who is completely trustworthy when it comes to my hopes and needs. “I remain confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

Throughout my days the theme echoes louder and louder.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24

 Ask confidently. As a toddler questions or asks for their juice, we can approach our Father and simply ask for what is on our hearts. This simple concept is one I had failed to fully grasp until God began pulling on my heart. Ask, Ginger. Just Ask.
From Paul Miller’s A Praying Life
“Let’s do a quick analysis on how little children ask. What do they ask for? Everything and anything. If they hear about Disneyland, they want to go there tomorrow.
How often do little children ask? Repeatedly. Over and over again. They wear us out. Sometimes we give in just to shut them up.
How do little children ask? Without guile. They just say what is on their minds. They have no awareness of what is appropriate or inappropriate.
Jesus tells us to watch little children if we want to learn how to ask in prayer. After introducing the idea of bold asking in the Sermon on the Mount (‘Ask, and it will be given to you’) he tells us why we can boldly ask. ‘Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!'” (Matthew 7:7, 9-11)
 This book, A Praying Life, has been the final shout to my heart. (I  recommend it!) I’m encouraged and challenged to ask my Heavenly Father for all that is on my heart. Paul Miller reminds me  to not “be embarrassed by how needy your heart is and how much it needs to cry out for grace. Just start praying.”

I knew in my head the promise of prayer, the invitation to ask and receive, but I rarely took God up on it. My prayers were timid. I often talked myself out of asking, reasoning that if God wanted something to happen, He would just make it happen. I forgot about the relationship, and His desire to meet me in prayer. He loves to meet our needs.

So now I’m asking. I’m asking for the baby to fall back asleep, the parking place to free up, the neighbor to come outside, and my day to be directed by His agenda rather than mine. There is so much joy and freedom to be found when we stop giving excuses and simply take our everything to the Lord in prayer.

Just ask.

Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Etsy Corner

etsy finds

I know. The posts here have been few and far between these days. I apologize for the fact that blogging has fallen lower on my priority list. But if you are anything like me, you don’t really mind having one less item to read each day! Consider it a gift. You don’t want to read something slapped together in 15 minutes, any more than I want to offer out scraps. I’m working on some new posts that are taking some time. . . time to live and process the lessons God is teaching me.

But in the meantime, I have another Friday Finds: Etsy Edition!

I’m highlighting two shops today that have helped to add warmth and character to my very NEUTRAL kitchen.

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1. Field Treasure Designs.

I’ve highlighted this great shop before, and not just because I’m friends with the owners. The products are unique, quality, and definitely personal. They have a great Instagram feed that shows the ins and outs of what they are making and why they feel called to create art.

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Andrew and Brooke actually sent me these pallet pieces as a gift. I was so surprised and thrilled to finally have the perfect pieces for my tiny corner. My heart will always stay deep in Texas, but Arizona has my new roots. :) Head on over to the shop, Facebook page, or Instagram feed and pick yourself out something for your empty wall!

2. Be Small Studios

My friend Carey gave me this Abide print for my birthday last year and it has made such a sweet addition to the corner. My house is full of a lot of neutral colors, so any pops of brightness are a welcome surprise. Glance through the other work by Annie Barnett and you will be pleasantly surprised. I love the mission behind her work. She also has a website you can visit here!

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I just received two more pieces of art for my birthday that might be making their way to this little corner. The signs are also from an Etsy shop, so stay tuned for next week’s shop recommendations.

Happy Friday, Friends!

-Ginger

Stitch Fix: For the Win

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I don’t particularly enjoy shopping for clothes. I’m not hardwired to spend the day floating through the mall and just browsing. Two times a year my husband and I go to the outlet malls for the morning and stock up on any basic needs. That’s typically all the shopping for my year. I’ll pick up an occasional item from TJ Maxx or Target if I’m looking for something specific, but generally, that’s it.

I’m also the gal who if I like something, I will just buy it in 2-3 colors. I own the same cotton dress from Wal-Mart in both black and red. If you find a good $15 win, why not make it last that much longer? Hah!

This year is providing so many opportunities for me to speak to my peers. I’m honored for the chance to address Mops, Moms, and various women’s ministries in my area. More engagements also means a need to dress like an adult, at least occasionally. (I’ve told you before, a daily goal is to be out of my pjs by noon -> perks and curse of working from home.) A quick survey of my wardrobe and you would discover lots of solid-colored cotton tops and pairs of dark-wash blue jeans. Nothing wrong with those items, just not always ideal for my job.

Enter Stitch Fix: an online personal stylist.

The Stitch Fix Website will summarize the process better than any lengthy paragraph I could write! Here’s how it works:

1. Create your style profile.
2. Pay $20 styling fee toward your box. (You can use toward your final order – any of the 5 products you keep!)
3. Schedule your box.
4. Open you box and try on the clothes. Take awkward selfies in mirrors and send the pic to your friends and family members. (Each item also comes with styling tips on how to best wear the products.)
5. Once the box arrives you have 3 days to decide what you are keeping and what you are returning. The returns are all free and super easy: drop the prepaid envelope in any USPS box.

Other noteworthy pieces of info: If you keep all 5 items you get 25% off. The more info you provide on your style profile, the better matches your stylist will make. Most items are about $65.

My initial qualms: $65 is a lot for a gal used to buying at TJ Maxx. What if I don’t keep anything?

My answers: This was a birthday gift to myself (using $ from grandparents! THANK YOU!) – I was hunting items for speaking, pieces I wouldn’t normally choose for myself. Worse case scenario, I’m out $20. Best case, I find something I love.

Without further ado, here’s my box experience!

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My box arrived on a Thursday afternoon. I had until end of mailing day on Saturday to figure out what I was keeping and what I was returning. (Forgive the cell phone pic from the floor of my daughter’s room.)

The five items in my box were priced between $32 and $88. I liked the looks of everything and was very pleased at the various fabrics and prints. The dress was really the only thing I would have picked up off a rack and tried on. It just also happened to fit the best out of everything. I text my friend Carey and said, “I HOPE THE DRESS FITS!”

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Although I liked the vest and bird shirt, they were just too big. I’m not sure if it was the fit or if I’ve gone down a size, both just looked like big boxes on me. I also really liked the floral shirt, just not $58 like it. Had it been less than $40 I might have considered it.

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In the end I kept the necklace and the dress. I almost talked myself out of the necklace, I’m not big on flashy jewelry, but it just went so nicely with the dress. The work was already done. My husband told me to keep it just so he didn’t have to hear me say that I WISHED I’d kept it. The $20 styling fee went toward my purchase, essentially making the necklace $12. I can do a $12 necklace. :)

All in all it was a good experience. I didn’t get a speaking top, but I also hadn’t bought a new dress in almost two years. Well, I had, they were just maternity dresses. I would definitely do this again, I’m just going to wait for a credit to do it.

A credit, you ask? Why yes! If you sign up for Stitch Fix using this link, I get a credit toward my next box. (OR use this referral code: 3310293). Lovely, right?! That’s what I thought.

Here’s what I will do differently next time:

1. Update the Pinterest board I shared with my stylist to include exactly what I’m looking for: dressy tops. (DO make a board!)
2. Measure myself so I can better determine my current size.
3. Remove jewelry from my next box. (Check out the profile, you can be super specific!)
4. Request a certain color palate. (I own too much navy.)
5. Stay away from winter clothes – rarely is it colder than 60 degrees here. How often will I really get to wear a warm vest?

In summary: fun, unique experience. I don’t have the cash flow or need to do it monthly, but I might do this for myself each Birthday.Thanks for indulging this random post. So many people were interested in the process that I just had to share.

Happy Thursday!

Ginger

Friday Finds: Etsy Edition

etsy finds

I so enjoy personal, handmade gifts. . . especially if I don’t have to be the one to make them. That’s where Etsy comes in. Without Etsy (an online handmade/creative store) my house might just be cream painted walls and some photos in frames. Slowly but surely the artwork from Etsy is adding personality to our space. I have a few different shops that I work with frequently, so I thought I would share the beautiful craftsmanship with you for the next few Fridays.

I’ve been planning on using Peter Rabbit as a jumping off point for a girl nursery for years. When I was really little my grandparents gave me a Wedgwood set of Peter Rabbit dishes from their months spent in England. I didn’t want giant decals on the wall, just a base for colors and a unifying theme. As you will see below, we ended up with soft blue walls, green bedding, and pale prints. My goal was crisp, clean, and feminine. I’m so pleased with the results.

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I have to mention the bunting in the pic! With the help of my mother-in-law, sis-in-law, and the sewing machine and genes from my own mom – I made them! This was my first big sewing project since being in costume practicum in college. The basics came back after we finally figured out how to load the bobbin on my machine. I picked up the inspiration for this mobile of sorts from Pinterest. Here’s the blog post that ultimately gave me a direction for the project.

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The three prints you can see in the photos above are all from a fabulous little shop on Etsy: Printable Wisdom. I love that I found a native Texan who was so willing to work with our changes and ideas. She was super speedy, affordable, and talented. I highly recommend this shop!

My husband spied this quote and fell in love with it,
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”– Emilie Buchwald.
We hunted through pages on Etsy trying to find a print of the quote that we liked, to no avail. So, we turned to Ashley at Printable Wisdom again and she custom created yet another design for us. We found another piece she had made with books and just went from there. D is so pleased with the result!

 

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We finished off the room with a name print that she customized to our color and print needs.

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There you go. Kudos to Ashley at Printable Wisdom. Now get yourself over to her shop!

Happy Friday!

Ginger

p.s. Any shops you frequent?!

Because Showing Up is Half the Battle.

My new season of life has meant scaling back on a lot of things. You’ve probably noticed how limited my blogging has become in the past six months. Entering this phase of life has also seen cutbacks in almost every area of my time. Less coffee dates with girlfriends. Less volunteering. Less free time. Less saying “yes.”

But in my exhaustion, I think I ended up scaling back WAY too much. The first few months it makes sense to pull back when your main goal each day is to survive and maybe shower. But I’ve put a lot of my relationships on hold and I’m ready to jump back in.

Lesson learned: Facebook and Instagram are no real substitutes for actually being present in relationships.

There are definitely positives to be found in social media. I can connect and share with hundreds of friends and acquaintances at one time. I can literally watch my college roommate grow with her children in California. I can stay in the loop with my childhood Girl Scout troop. But there’s no real substitute for a phone call, snail mail, or in-person communication. I just skyped with a friend I hadn’t seen in almost ten years. I met her daughters and we laughed and reminisced for over an hour. It was so much better than writing “I miss you” notes on a social media wall.

I have a list of excuses a mile long for choosing ease and convenience over authentic and present:

“They didn’t send me a card last year, so I guess we are phasing that out.”

“I’m sure they are out to dinner with friends celebrating. I don’t want to interrupt.”

“A text is less intrusive.”

“I don’t think adding one more person will make the event that much more special.”

“They won’t even notice I’m not there.”

This weekend I flew to San Antonio to attend my cousin’s wedding. I was in the state for less than 24 hours. My husband stayed with the baby, we juggled schedules, and just decided I should go.

I love all of my cousins. That alone is incentive enough to attend a family wedding. And sure, Grant flew to Arizona to come to my wedding a few years ago. And also, he was in an accident three years ago that makes his very presence on this earth a miracle. Every indication pointed to making this wedding a priority.

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I spent less than 5 minutes total conversing with Grant this weekend. There were lots of guests at the wedding and I know he would have understood if I couldn’t have attended, and yet every challenge to be there was worth it.

I am so glad I went.

**But trust me, this is not a bragging moment, because I deeply regret NOT going to several other life events for friends and family.

Sometimes I let the excuses win out, and that’s a shame. I’m trying to think of an instant when I regretted showing up. I honestly cannot think of a single instance.

My surprise 30th Birthday party was just about the best of all my birthdays. The thoughtfulness of my husband was evident. He kept an incredible surprise, planned the event, and ordered the food. The gifts, cookie cake, and even favorite restaurant didn’t touch my heart that evening, although they were all wonderful. My tears fell that evening when I looked at the wide array of friendships represented in the room. I was astonished that several knew no one but me and yet they still came. Their presence was a huge gift and meant more to me than any wrapped present on a table.

Loving well may take extra time and effort, but it is always well worth it. Loving well doesn’t have to be poetic, perfect, profound, or even alliterative. ;) Simply be there.

This week I hope we all take the time to show up.

Send the card.

Make the call.

Surprise them.

RSVP.

Clear your afternoon.

Invite them to lunch.

Ask them into your mess.

 

You won’t regret it.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15, NIV)

Following,
Ginger