Sunday, December 07, 2014

he is with me.

it's here. the season of advent, awaiting the celebrated day our savior was born. our crooked tree stands in the living room, carefully packed with pounds of christmas cheer. everything seems more peaceful when seen by its glow of colorful lights. tree trimmings and various other holly jolly bits are working hard to set a festive tone. but it's just not enough for our tired bodies and souls. we've been passing sickness 'round and around here since before thanksgiving. i'm over it. i'm fighting to feel the lord near in this strange loneliness that bunks with sickness. he is enough for me. for us. will i believe that?

i'm mostly behind on all things christmas, and everything else really. one thing i committed to do and am keeping up with so far: some advent reading. each year i try to read something personally, apart from whatever we do as a family. we usually read through the jesus story book bible. this year i chose to follow the she reads truth advent reading plan. it's so good! making this time each day, no matter what i feel like, has helped me tremendously. some days i've had to stop and restart a few times, but i make it happen.
meeting with the lord always gives rest. always breathes peace. always births hope. it's fascinating to me how i can crave and avoid at the same time. the life-giving power of the scripture, the fellowship with my savior, it sometimes feels like work. even during this special time of year. am i willing to do the work?

"what i want most for christmas this year is to join you (and many others) in seeing christ in all his fullness and that we together be able to love what we see  with a love far beyond our own half-hearted human capacities." john piper
well, i asked the lord specifically to help my focus this advent season. he's made sure i'm listening! i can see only strep throat and the flu, or the opportunity in the halt of the to-do lists and activities. he's helping me wait for him. in being forced to rest, i'm compelled to consider the manger and the tiny king swaddled there. 

jesus didn't come to fix me. he came to make me new. he came to rescue me from sin and sadness, from my goodness that's not good enough. he came to give me real rest, true freedom and hope. i want to see this jesus, i want to see emmanuel god with us.
he is with me in the miles that separate me from family. he is with me in the fever monitoring and endless laundry. he is with me when i feel forgotten. he is with me when i forget he is with me.

"come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and i will give you rest. take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for i am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." matthew 11:28-29

i've shared this video before and i'm sharing it again. listen and rest. emmanuel!

Friday, November 28, 2014

two shops + sweet deals = #shopsmall and save big! (weekend SALE)

happy weekend, sweeties! 
i trust your thanksgiving was a delight and gratitude is still filling your hearts.

i have a treat for those of you doing some shopping this weekend, savings in my jewelry and printables shops!

25% off code HOLIDAY works for both shops!
in addition to the 25% discount code, my jewelry shop will have a freebie today and $1 shipping saturday-monday!

these make wonderful gifts! your purchased digital artwork 
can be printed as many times as you'd like!
all items are packaged together. if you require separate packaging, 
please let me know in the "note to seller" at checkout :)

this sale is a small way i can show appreciation for your encouraging support for my business and my family.
thank you for shopping small and buying handmade!
and please, remember to visit my holiday market page for more incredible handmade shops.

happy shopping! and make plans to pop back in on tuesday for a fun way to GIVE!

Thursday, November 20, 2014


elijah and patrick fell asleep during bedtime reading, so here i am for a minute.

i'm really struggling that we're nearly at the end of november. i feel like i keep saying it, but good grief. i can't keep up with time these days!

we really had a cold snap here this past week. i've loved it. breathing in the chilly, crisp air puts life into my brain and bones, the leaves here are fading, but still showing off their color a bit. speaking of leaves, it's wonderful to have trees everywhere. such a change from the tree-less plains we grew so fond of. 

my baby sister is having her third baby soon. tomorrow! this is the first time i won't be there. she has a sweet, wonderful husband by her side, that is comforting to know. i am missing her so much though. looking forward to seeing photos and hearing the story of the little man's birth. and his name of course, they haven't decided on one yet :)

elijah has had an incredibly successful week at school. he's so excited that tomorrow is friday. i'm so excited that he has all week off next week. he doesn't realize it yet, and i cry just thinking of how happy he'll be for the break!

i did some christmas ornament shopping today. gift exchanges are irresistible to me, fyi. i had a great time, and i was almost giddy at the alone time i had to peruse shops and flocked trees for just the right ornament. it's been years since i strolled through a giant department store with little agenda. wow. there's just so much stuff. and this time of year? out of control stuff. but i love it, ha! having worked in retail for many years of my life, i especially notice all the displays and imagine how long they took to design and assemble. i miss that. and i miss chatting with all the shoppers. there's something about the "festive energy" this time of the year. you know what i mean? we're preparing for thanksgiving, which is truly a preparation for christmas. we're wide-eyed with all the shiny noise of it all. possibly overwhelmed by the lists, or perhaps the lack. we all desire "great" holiday experiences, i think. i'm guilty of having a wonky perspective of what actually makes a holiday great. it's not the playlists, movie marathons, the wrappings, the decor, the family, the feasts. it's the giver. always the giver.
on days like today, with carols filling my ears and surrounded by everything jolly, i push myself to remember the truth. the giver. let me focus on him.

anyway. i'm gonna go wake my husband, because i'm a nice wife who wants to hang out a little. it felt good to pour out my thoughts these last few minutes. what's on your mind tonight?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

handmade holiday market feature and GIVEAWAY! (giveaway closed)

we're about 35 days away from christmas, and i know you're excited!
it's not about the gifts, but if you're like me, one way you celebrate the ultimate gift of jesus, is by giving gifts to those you treasure. 
the handmade holiday market is a great place to start checking off your lists!
check out these shops, use their coupon codes and do some shopping!
i've included their social links, follow along with them, keep up with their new products and offers throughout the year. i know you'll love them!
for an extra treat, enter the giveaway at the end of this post. one winner takes all. this could really help with your gift giving! 
i've even added an etsy gift card to the mix! holla!

visit eclectic joy 
connect on  instagram  etsy

15% off code FancyThatHHM expires 11/30
connect on  instagram  facebook  twitter  blog  etsy

giveaway item gold foil print

visit linnea ruth 
15% off code HANDMADEHOLIDAY expires 11/30
connect on  instagram  etsy

giveaway item joy wreath ornament

$10 off any $40+ purchase with code holidaymarket expires 12/31
connect on  instagram  twitter  pinterest  etsy

giveaway item sing for joy print

20% off with code happy20 expires 12/1
connect on  instagram  blog  etsy

giveaway item $25 shop credit

20% off with code WIFEY20 expires 12/31
connect on  instagram  facebook  twitter  blog  pinterest  etsy

giveaway item $20 shop credit

visit mama may i 
$5 off  purchase of $30+ with code WIFEYSINGER expires 12/1
connect on  website  facebook  blog  etsy

15% off with code HAPPYHOLIDAYS14 expires 12/12
connect on  facebook  pinterest

visit pen and paint 
20% off with code HOLIDAY expires 12/15
connect on  instagram  facebook  twitter  website  etsy

giveaway item 2015 calendar

visit perch shop 
free cotton key chain with orders $50+, mention at checkout
connect on  instagram  etsy

giveaway item cotton rope knot

15% off with code HANDMADEHOLIDAY expires 12/6 
connect on  instagram  twitter  blog  etsy

giveaway item mustard gold cowl

15% off with code HANDMADEHOLIDAY
connect on  instagram  etsy 

giveaway item seek joy leather cuff

use the rafflecopter to enter this giveaway! 
one winner takes all and will be randomly chosen and contacted once the giveaway closes.
this giveaway is open to usa entrants only, and will close friday night 11/21
we're grateful for you and hope you'll enjoy giving handmade this year!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 17, 2014

getting my gratitude act together

"take a picture my transforter, mama."
i hope he never stops asking for photo ops. he's very interested in taking pictures, sometimes he's keen to actually be in them. i'm so grateful for those times and we jump at those chances!

we've been here for nearly six months. how is it possible? halfway through kindergarten and i hardly need google maps to get me around town anymore. you could say we're settled in. for the most part you could say that, because we all know, it ain't one hundred percent settled up in here. we love this city! but man. we greatly miss living so close to my sister and her family. we even miss the north dakota weather. i'm thankful for good memories of those years and for a relationship with family that makes miles apart something to cry about. we feel mostly at home in alabama, and we're excited for our future here.

elijah's bad cold turned into a fierce infection over the weekend. we landed in our new pediatrician's office this afternoon, and wow. i love that place, and the doctor is everything he was lauded to be! we've scored, and i'm so thankful. elijah likes him too, which is the most important thing.
i'm in the thick of wiping noses and screaming because of wiping noses, topping off the orange juice cup and watching a dozen movies, i'm grateful to be here and be the one to do those things.

i'm a hypervigilant/intensely observant person. i notice everything. because of that i see plenty to love and plenty to irritate or discourage me. by his grace alone, especially during this last year, the lord has helped me to see more beauty to be thankful for. and honestly, sometimes it's not even a beautiful thing for human eyes. it might be a hard thing that he's turned toward himself so i see his reflection, making it easier to bear. pretty or painful, he's giving me new eyes to take it all in. last week i felt a fresh challenge to do something about all the details i notice and store up in my heart and mind.

"the unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings." henry ward beecher

most people learn best through hearing, seeing or touching. my strength is probably visual learning, but you know what? if i really want to know a thing, i listen/speak out loud, look at it/read it and feel it. scripture verses? i say it aloud, read it, and hold and actual bible in my hands and run my fingers over the words.  our pastor mentioned in church membership class that he learns people's names this way. he sees their face, hears their name and repeats it back to them, and shakes their hand.
if i really want to start living thanksgiving, i need to start talking and writing more. speaking audible thanks to the lord. not so he can hear me, but so i can hear me thanking him. i need to hear it especially when i don't feel grateful. i totally believe that thanksgiving is the doorway to rest in any circumstance god has me in. keeping a thankful journal is another step to making this a way of life. blogging and social media isn't bad, but it can't compare to pen and paper. at all. once upon a time i had a great habit of keeping track of my gratefuls, but i'm sad to say i haven't done so in forever.

this time of year seems appropriate to get my gratitude act together. with thanksgiving quick around the corner, it's time. time to speak and time to write. time to focus on the maker of the details, the giver of the gifts, the bearer of my burdens. he sees me and knows me, that's grace. i want to see him, know him, and thank him. that's worship. that's how i want to live every season of the year.

"make a joyful noise to the lord, all the earth! serve the lord with gladness! come into his presence with singing! know that the lord, he is god! it is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! give thanks to him; bless his name! for the lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations." psalm 100

Thursday, November 13, 2014

ten ways my autistic child shows me the mind of god

it's been awhile now, since elijah's official diagnosis of autism. during this time, i've been on a roller coaster of emotions that are leading me closer to the lord. where else can we go, but to jesus? i'm getting to know him better. and i really think much of my seeing jesus and growing closer is because of my son. the fearfully and wonderfully way i see that elijah was created, specially wired and all, points to the mind and heart of god. 

last weekend patrick and i attended the accessible kingdom conference. wow, friends. that whole thing shook me up in the greatest way. so much incredible wisdom to process! i'm so thankful for the opportunity to hear from so many amazing people and organizations, driven to make the gospel accessible to people of all abilities. i really want to share some of what i took away, today i have ten things.

choosing workshops for the conference was just not fair. i wanted to be in every single one! there was one that was mandatory in my book: ten ways children with autism help us better understand the mind of god, by cameron doolittle president and ceo of jill's house. this topic interested me for obvious reasons. the spectrum of autism is so vast, i was surprised that with each of the ten points, i saw elijah. so much of what i've felt about this special connection to god's heart, was clearly articulated and beyond encouraging to me.
because i want you to see what i see, here's a tiny glimpse from the truth of that workshop! these are cameron's points along with my own brief observations.

the way they see the world
1. they think in pictures, like god does.
matthew 13:31,33,44 v44"the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."

with elijah's limited speech to tell us and not being able to see into his mind, i'm not absolutely certain...but i suspect this is true for elijah. mostly because he understands things best through pictures. i love that about him! 

2. their attention to detail mirrors god's own.
luke 12:6-7 "are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? yet not one of them is forgotten by god. indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

this one really made the tears flow. all the meticulous counting, lining up, sorting and gathering we see around our house, now reminds me of this scripture. our particularly particular savior knows every minute detail of me and mine. and he treasures us and our details. you can't sneak anything past elijah, he knows his stuff. the tiniest of transformer or lego parts? one thousand percent accounted for, and cherished.

3. they see life through a text.
psalm 119:9-11 "how can a young man keep his way pure? by guarding it according to your word. with my whole heart i seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! i have stored up your word in my heart, that i might not sin against you." 

i often don't know what to pray, so i open my bible and just read scripture to the lord. i'm communicating through a text not my own. elijah does this all the time. in fact, it's still his primary means of communication. he often speaks through favorite film or book lines. we once thought it was just echolalia, which is "meaningless repetition of another's spoken words". but we started to see that his repeating (and repeating and repeating and repeating...) actually meant something. one example i'm not proud of, when it began to dawn on me that he was communicating in this was a bitter north dakota winter day, elijah had escaped from me as we were heading inside from the car. he ran into the street, passing the front of a moving snow plow, then slipped and fell across the street. i was so angry at him! for scaring me, for not listening for my calls to stop and come back. we were freezing cold. i dragged him inside, slammed and locked our door and cried so hard as i screamed at him. i was so scared and so upset! no reason for me to scream at him. elijah screamed back at me "no milk!! no eggs!!". farmer brown in the click, clack moo story says that when he's furious. my heart broke as i immediately realized what was happening. i was being angry and lashing out, and elijah was lashing back, in a way that made sense to him. when i open his yogurt for him, he might express thanks with "you did it, you genius cat!" from peg + cat. the other worlds of books and movies make our world make sense to elijah. he often expresses happiness, confusion, anger, anything through another "text". which, for the record, i think it's way coolor and more creative a way than i communicate :) in scripture we read about storing up god's word in our hearts that we might not sin against god. so we have ammunition for when temptation comes, to fight with the word. elijah has everything stored up, ready to help him function and communicate. no matter how he's speaking, i want to listen.

the way they understand the world
4. they work hard to focus on the voice that matters.
john 10:27 "my sheep listen to my voice; i know them, and they follow me."

like many kids on the spectrum, elijah deals with sensory issues. like with hearing. when i'm in church, i might hear other little noises, but it's easy for me to focus on the preacher's voice and hear what he's saying. elijah may hear all the noise at the same level. someone taking a cap off a pen, a sneeze in the balcony, pages being turned, feet shuffling a few pews over. all the sounds at once are overwhelming. elijah is fighting to hear the main "voice" in any situation. school, home, at a store, everywhere is a challenge for his senses. he sees everything, hears everything, feels everything differently/more intensely than i do. 

5. they follow an example.
1 corinthians 11:1 " follow my example, as i follow the example of christ."

examples help elijah so much. toilet training, eating, getting dressed and even sleeping. show him something, and he can do it. examples help him know what's going on. picture schedules are helpful for him, it's just how he works best. by example. because of that, oh man! be careful what you say or do around him :)

6. they receive the gift of presence.
psalm 34:18 "the lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit.
2 corinthians 12:9 "but he said to me, 'my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' therefore i will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that christ's power may rest on me."

sometimes elijah appears to be "in his own world". i once mistakenly thought that it meant he didn't want/appreciate me being near him. i thought he couldn't see me or connect. i was so wrong! elijah loves me to be close. even when we're not engaged in an activity together, he wants to be together. with others, too. he is better than the best welcome wagon when you come, and always sad when you leave. he loves company. i realized that i must like hearing "oh, so happy you're here!! i love you forever!" or something. because i was disappointed while waiting so much for that, i missed elijah loving me his way. appreciating my nearness his way. anyway, "being there" isn't about me feeling valued, it's about being there for him.

the way they act in the world
7. they communicate explicitly, like god does.
matthew 18:15, matthew 23:27 "woe to you, teachers of the law and pharisees, you hypocrites! you are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean."
galatians 3:1 "you foolish galatians! who has bewitched you?"

elijah surprises us each day with new vocabulary. and it's hilarious sometimes. we're not accustomed to him being verbal, and i kinda don't want to get used to it. it is amazing to hear him, and i always want to see his speaking for the gift that it is. anyway. he is all about the real talk. funny at home, sometimes frightening in public :) we clearly know what he's thinking. we can trust his words to be true. words mean something to him. it's a beautiful thing to keep company with someone who says exactly what they mean, and mean exactly what they say. right? i want to be more this myself!

8. they go deep on their strengths.
1 corinthians 12:18-20, romans 12:6-8 "we have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. if your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully."

i struggle. every day i seem to be reminded of what elijah can't do. areas he's falling short in. whether hearing from a teacher or just observing him in comparison to peers. i can't live there, in that "falling short" place. and i don't think elijah needs to live there either! we all have strengths and really need each other's strengths. just like my neurotypical self, autistics have strengths we can all benefit from! with elijah, we see weaknesses, and some need work in order for him to function in this world. letters and reading are not his strengths. numbers and anything remotely mathematic? this kid is going places, and loves singing/looking at books/watching shows/exploring about all things math. instead of only focusing on improving the weaknesses, we go hard along with him in what he's good at! he was given these gifts on purpose by his creator. let's celebrate and sharpen them! i'm so eager to see how the lord continues to use him as he grows!

9. the rejoice in the journey to health.
philippians 2:12-13 "continue to work our your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is god who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."

elijah works so hard. more than we even know, he fights to understand the world around him. much of what comes easily for many takes more effort for him. when something finally clicks, like letter recognition for example, he celebrates! we all do. and it's fuel to keep going. keep striving for that growth. 

10. they rest on grace.
ephesians 2:8-9 "for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of god, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

elijah struggles socially, he makes a lot of mistakes. even at home with us, he comes on so strongly, or says or does the "wrong" things. i tend to be performance driven, relying on myself to do/say the right things in any situation. i'm so hard on myself when i mess up, it's difficult for me to move on, difficult to accept grace. because i feel like it's all up to me. elijah relies on those around him for cues. what to say or do next, or to see that he "messed up". always waiting for our response. i think he knows his weakness there and depends on others to help fill in the gaps. he apologizes and moves on! he so quickly "gets over" the faux pas. our prayer is that he would ultimately see jesus as the one he can completely trust and rely on for everything.

isn't this an amazing perspective? 
anything you would add to this list?
keeping in mind that all autistics are different, just like we all are different and uniquely created, certain points mentioned here may not be as spot on for you or your loved one. for us, this was like hearing ten points about elijah :) i hope we will consider these, and look to clearly see god's image in not only those living with autism, but all who cross our path.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

handmade holiday market - a peek into the gift guide!

hey, friends! we're forty something sleeps away from christmas, and i know you're excited!

we know it's not about the gifts, but if you're like me, one way you celebrate the ultimate gift of jesus, is by giving gifts to those you treasure. 
have you checked out my handmade holiday market yet??

while patrick and i are at the accessible kingdom conference this weekend, i thought you'd enjoy a little peek into the gift guide. so much handmade goodness and sweet coupon codes, too!

eclectic joy 15% off code HANDMADEHOLIDAY

fancy that design house & co. 15% off code FancyThatHHM expires 11/30

linnea ruth 15% off code HANDMADEHOLIDAY expires 11/30

little light prints $10 off any $40+ purchase with code holidaymarket expires 12/31

lovely little whimsy 20% off with code happy20 expires 12/1

made by jewls 20% off with code WIFEY20 expires 12/31

mama may i $5 off  purchase of $30+ with code WIFEYSINGER expires 12/1

one bird blue 15% off with code HAPPYHOLIDAYS14 expires 12/12

pen and paint 20% off with code HOLIDAY expires 12/15

perch shop free cotton key chain with orders $50+, mention at checkout

sarahnade handmade 15% off with code HANDMADEHOLIDAY expires 12/6 

the turquoise tomato 15% off with code HANDMADEHOLIDAY