Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcome 2014

I've made New Year's resolutions in the past and broke them by January 2 or, one banner year, February 1.  I've tried picking just one word and trying to focus on that all year.  Let's just say I was very unintentional about being intentional.

I have lots of prayers for this year, lots of dreams, lots of plans, and lots of goals.  But what I desire more than anything is less of me, more of Jesus.  None of self, all of thee.

I am joyfully, expectantly, confidently, eagerly searching for what God has in store for me in 2014.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

eShakti - It's Like Having your Own Personal Tailor {$30 off Coupon Code!!!}

I very rarely even look at ads on the side of blogs and other websites I visit.  I'm sorry, I know that is how most of you feed your family and keep the lights on but I just don't look at them.

However, back in the spring a green polka dotted shirt caught my attention.  I had just learned a lot about myself through the Dress Your Truth website and knew that this particular shirt was made for a Type 1, which is my type.  Polka dots and asymmetrical lines?  Yes, please!

So I clicked on the picture and found myself in the very fun world of eShakti.  Have you ever tried a dress on and wished the sleeves were 2-inches longer and the neckline were just a smidge higher?  Me too!

Of course, the perfect solution would be to call up your favorite local seamstress, like Jill, to start from scratch and tailor your dress to your every curve and preference.  But sometimes you just really like a dress that you see on your screen and want to suit it to you a little more.  Or maybe, sadly, Jill isn't a 30 minute drive away from you? 

eShakti offers dresses, tops, skirts, jackets, and even bridesmaids dresses.  You can customize the neckline, sleeve, and length of most of their offerings.  You can add your own measurements and save them for future shopping.  You can even remove pockets and embellishments!
I greatly dislike buying clothes for myself but once I saw I could customize this shirt, plus as a new customer I received a $25 off code and free customizations, plus they were having a sale, plus I had a few bucks in my "blow" category, I knew that shirt was mine.

I entered my measurements, chose my custom neckline and sleeve length and waited very impatiently for my new shirt.  It fit perfectly!  I loved it!  I wore it once a week...ok, maybe twice a week, until the weather turned cooler and now am on the hunt for a fun cardigan to layer over it.

Want to try eShakti for yourself?  Well, the great news is they are offering my readers not a $25 off coupon like everyone else who visits their site but a $30 off coupon!  And right now they are having a 35% off sale until December 9th which means you can get a pretty fantastic deal and maybe even have a new something special to wear by Christmas!

Just enter the code JENNIFERZ8CX to get your $30 off (don't click the 'Register today for $25 off or else you'll miss out on the extra $5 off!).   Plus, you always get free customizations on your first order!  What's not to love?

So go shop around and see what unique and custom clothes you can order for yourself! 

Just for fun, go take a look and then come back and tell us what you'd like to buy!

*Links included in this post are affiliate links and I may receive some compensation for your referral purchase.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Poor Grandma, Part 3

If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, you might want to read them first.

My head spins with all that is in it.  So many contradictions, so many opinions. So much pull to things other than Him.  The devil is a cunning and crafty adversary and has lured an entire gender of this and every other industrialized nation into an ages old game of compare-and-contrast and hyper-exaggerated it.  Do the duos Rachel & Leah or Martha & Mary ring any bells?

One friend refuses to serve her children any soda other than diet, another searches out soda without high fructose corn syrup and yet another thinks it's child abuse for any parent to serve their children soda of any sort.  Which one loves their children more?

One friend is gluten-free, another feeds her children Paleo, and a yet another is a regular at the McDonald's drive-thru.  Which one is the better mother?

One friend will only buy fair-trade clothes, another says her new necklace that she bought on Etsy was "only" $60, and another friend cries as she can't find jeans at the thrift store that fit her children.  How do you know which one is a better steward of their money?

One friend says she has no time to be on Facebook and the other friend's feelings are hurt because she can be found on Facebook quite often so what does that mean about the way she spends her time?  And yet another friend apologizes about being on Facebook all the time and must explain her new fangled phone.  Which one uses her time wisely?

Only God can see the heart of each of these women.  I'm certain they are all wonderful mothers, doing the best they can.  We each make decisions for our family based on the information we have available.  Would it be edifying to say "Please tell me you don't feed your child aspartame?"  Would it be encouraging to say "I really hope you don't buy clothes made in a sweat-shop!" 

If we stop and think, do we feel judged and belittled by our friends or do the voices in our own head scream more than loud enough to make up for it all?  Did my friend *really* imply that if I am on Facebook I must be sitting around lollygagging all day long or do I feel guilty and therefore interpret what she said incorrectly?

Can we just give it all up?  Stop judging?  Stop comparing?  Stop looking at other peoples muscle mass, flower beds, children's birthday parties, SAT scores, marriages, residential square footage, on and on ad nauseum....and just live the life God wrote for me and me alone?  Love God, love your neighbor, serve others, die to self? 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Poor Grandma, Part 2

Note: Just after I posted Poor Grandma, Part 1 I could not access, edit or otherwise even see my posts.  Mr. Steady was able to find & solve the problem for me...thank you, dear!

For Part 1, read here 

There are many modern conveniences, joys, and treats that I enjoy that "Grandma" never did.

For example, I thoroughly enjoy having a library tens of thousands of books a few blocks from my home.  I love that books are not as expensive as they once were and my boys can visit places all around the world through the stories they read.  If you've read this blog for any length of time you know how much I treasure books & reading.

I enjoy my running water, my shower, my washer & dryer - especially with all those cloth diapers, and my dishwasher.  I enjoy entertaining and hosting parties, it's fun to do something special for friends.  But do I do it because I want to bless my friends or do I do it so they will be impressed?  

"Grandma" was never able to keep in touch with so many friends and family through her computer.  "Grandma" was never able to hear sounds and songs from far away countries such as Kenya, Ireland, India, or Brazil.  Our world is so much bigger and more diverse than "Grandma"'s world ever was.  I'm so blessed to be able to email our friends in Kenya, Haiti and Norway - to see pictures of their children and to hear about their lives.

I enjoy looking at all the different and varied crafty projects available through Pinterest.  I am glad I don't have to make all of my families clothing or grow our own food.  I am glad I don't have to hitch up the horse and wagon every time I leave the house (although lately I'm thinking a horse would be more reliable!)

There is nothing inherently wrong with hosting dinner parties, painting your walls new colors or wanting your children's education to be more varied and diverse than your own.  But when we start comparing, judging, feeling discontent with our lives because of these things it just feels wrong. 

Please don't misunderstand, I am preaching to myself here - I want to serve God, love my family, love others, acknowledge my blessings, bless others - not out of the abundance of my blessings but bless others sacrificially.   I don't want to add more lists of things I must do, heaping rules and more unrealistic expectations on myself.

So because I was born for such a time as this, I will live in the moment, not pining for the past, not hoping for the future.  I will embrace the things that are useful to achieve His purposes for my life and chuck the things that bind. I will not question or judge how other people spend their time, their money, their resources.  I will not presume that because you do things differently that I am worse or you are better.  I will add beauty and peace to my life and discard misplaced expectations and appraisals.

My value is in Christ alone.  Am I pleasing Him?  Is this what He desires for me?  Is this how He desires I spend my time?  Is what I am feeling true, noble, lovely, pure....?  Dear Lord, keep my eyes focused on you & may my life and actions, decisions and words be pleasing and glorifying to You alone!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Poor Grandma, Part 1

Back when my "grandma" was raising children, she didn't know her arms were more toned than Mrs. Olsen's because they wore sleeves and didn't pin pictures of "6 Must-Do Exercises to Rid Your Arms of Flab Forever".  Nor did she have a full-length mirror (or the privacy to stand naked in front of one if she had one) to analyze just how bad her cellulite was.

And yet her husband loved her anyhow, delighted in her, and loved her faithfully until his last dying breath.

"Grandma" didn't realize there were "10 Things No New Mom Can Do Without", she thought her little stash of homemade cloth diapers and the wooden cradle that her husband made were just fine for bringing home another baby.  She didn't know she needed a Bumbo, a bouncer seat, a battery operated swing and a special bathtub.  On that note, she missed the list of "What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag" because she had homebirths and a kettle of hot water and a heap of clean towels was all she really needed.

And yet her baby's brains and bodies developed, they adored her and grew up healthy and strong.

"Grandma" didn't know there was 101 books she had to read to her children before they were six or that she had to prepackage busy bags for her younger children to play with while she educated her older children.  She didn't have to choose between 127 homeschool curricula, she just taught her children what she knew, how to read and write, how to add numbers, how plants grew, she taught the girls how to sew, cook and clean and shooed the boys out of the house to help their dad plant fields and do carpentry work or to manage the store or shoe horses.  The list of Date Night ideas escaped her notice and since there was no time to get away with just her &  the mister they surely also missed the "12 Mother-Son Dates" and "15 Daddy-Daughter Dates".

And yet her children knew they were loved and valued, were well educated, had good manners, made good friends and grew up to support their own families.

"Grandma" never found out what the words tablescape or gourmet meant.  Until they were older her girls shared a cup and most days if they had meat to eat it was a pretty special blessing.  She didn't fret over whether her grains were soaked and sprouted, the beef was grass-fed and their Omega 3s were in proper ratio to their Omega 6s.  She didn't stage her house when her husband said it was time to move, she just packed up everything they owned that would fit in the wagon and hoped the next person who found their cabin & made it home would appreciate the sturdiness of the bed.

And yet her family was well-fed and healthy, close-knit and called their mother "blessed".

"Grandma" never knew her rooms would seem bigger or her ceilings higher if she painted the walls a certain color.  She never knew her picture frames had to be hung a certain number of inches above her furniture or in odd numbers.

And yet her home always felt cozy, there was always warmth in the fireplace, and memories to savor.

"Grandma" never hosted grand tea parties for 12, made elaborate party favors for birthday parties, made seating charts for dinner parties or put mints on her overnight guests' pillows.

And yet her neighbors always knew they could stop in for a cup of tea, her friends always asked for her simple recipes, her church knew they could count on her to donate homemade pies, and her extended family didn't hesitate to spend the night when the weather was too bad to ride home.

Poor Grandma, she didn't know just how much of a mess she was.  She had no idea of her BMI or ideal weight, she didn't know how ill-prepared of a mom she was, she was unaware of how her children stacked up against other children in the state or country, she was incognizant about how simple and uninspiring her meals were, she was clueless about how unglamorous her home furnishings were, and she was simply oblivious to her entertaining faux pas.  And gloriously blissful in her ignorance.

As I talk to other ladies about their feelings of inadequacy, dissatisfaction with their lives, their marriages, their bodies, their houses, their children....their very purpose in life, I can't help but think of all the things "Grandma" missed out on. I am chief among the complainers.  I compare and covet.  I analyze and ache.  It's all just too much.  I agonize over comments made on Facebook, the lack of blog readers, I Pin every possible idea to help me feed, entertain, spend quality time with, impart value to my family.  I check out 10 books on the GAPS diet and vitamin deficiency along with 6 books on how to impart blessings to my family and make sure my children stay in church, and on top of that stack I add a few books on the proper colors for my home and the newest designs in home decor.  Many of these things are good things to think about, the food we feed our children, the coziness of our homes, the pleasures in life are not sins and may in fact be noble.  But the comparison game, the constant discontentment is just too much.  A little voice in my head screams "Enough!"  I want off of this ride of comparisons and inadequacy. 

And yet, I know that God put me here for such a time as this.  But He also calls me to come out and be separate.  Not to look like the world, to put my treasure in things not of this world, to find my value in Him, to let Him be God and be His servant.

(All pictures taken by Mr. Steady or myself at Sauder Village)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dying to Live

 Covenant-First Presbyterian, Cincinnati

And Jesus answered them, The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified and exalted.   I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone.  
But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest.
Covenant-First Presbyterian, Cincinnati

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Advent Pockets

Several years ago {maybe four or five?} I stumbled across Jenny's blog and fell in love with her Advent pockets.  I adapted the colors to suit my decor and love them.  I'm ready to make a new set with updated colors and freshen things up a little although I'm uncertain what colors I'll use.
 In years past the pockets have held a new nativity set, one piece for each day so the nativity scene slowly unfolded, with Baby Jesus appearing last.

 This year I decided to join the trend of doing activities during Advent.  So each pouch holds a slip of paper with an activity and a chocolate.  There are gobs of lists of activities all over the Internet, I meshed several suggestions together and came up with what worked for our family.  I wanted a good mix of serving and blessing others along with fun, quiet at-home activities. 

Some of the activities are things we try to do every year anyways, like caroling, baking or driving around looking at lights.  This way it prevents the "when are we going to...." and also ensures we don't forget to do these favorite things.  It helps to keep a master list of what you put in each pouch so you're not caught off-guard and unprepared.

When an activity requires giving money, try to put the money in the pouch, that way the child feels more a part of it.

Here's some of our list.

~Put up & decorate Christmas tree, have our annual waffle & "rolly" sausage dinner

~Write letters to a few friends, mail them stickers & small treats
~Write a letter to Grandma & Grandpa telling them 10 reasons you love them
~Make paper snowflakes
~Tape $1 to a vending machine with a nice note

~Tape quarters to a bubble gum machine with a nice note
~Family board game night
~Ask a cashier what his/her favorite candy bar is then buy it for them
~Write letters to Grandma and your great-aunt
~Candlelight bubble bath (Grab every candle you have, place them in the bathroom and light, then turn off any electric lights.  If you don't feel comfortable leaving your children with lit candles, try a small string of Christmas lights in the bathroom.  I let them each have a bath on different nights)
~Go Christmas caroling
~Make cards for your Sunday School teachers
~Leave a treat and a nice note on top of the garbage can for the trash man
~Make & mail cards for our minister who lives out of town now
~Go out for dinner, leave a huge tip for the waitress, then drive around looking at Christmas lights
~Bake Christmas cookies
~Have a Hot Cocoa party

~Write a nice note and take a treat to each of the ministers
~Family Minute-to-Win-It party
~Have a pizza party in the living room while watching a Christmas movie
~Go to the donut shop, leave an extra $20 for the customers behind you