black friday

Black Friday combines two of my least favorite things:
Lack of sleep.

However, it also includes two other things that I do like:
Snagging a good deal.

Sleep and not shopping will always win. Always.

My family is here and there are leftovers to be eaten and kids to play with, so all I have to say today is:

The winner of the Liza Loves Paper giveaway is:

apparently if your first name is Carrie, you have a high chance of winning one of my giveaways ;) just kidding. It's totally random. 
Email me, Carrie! :) 

Don't forget: you can still get 15% off from Liza's ETSY SHOP with WORDSTHATSING15 coupon until January 1! Stock up! 

Have a great weekend, friends, and see you on Monday for another cool giveaway. 

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give thanks

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.
Psalm 118:1

I originally posted this in November of 2009. 

I am thankful for (in no particular order):

having my screen door open on november 28th
having a basket full of clean clothes and a fridge full of left overs
a friend who is willing to drive 7 hours to spend what would have otherwise been a lonely holiday with me, all the while knowing that i wouldn't do much to entertain her but coming none the less
an incredible new niece
an incredible new nephew
(this may be a stretch but...) literally PILES of grading that still needs to happen as it reminds me of the students i get to teach and be thankful for everyday
a husband who has known me since i was an awkward 13 year old and loves me just the same
a sister who bossed me around when i was little but taught me more than pretend school
good skin (aka bare minerals makeup) and straight teeth (aka parents who paid for the braces :)
that brent and i both have jobs
that i have a job i love
my mom's innate ability to welcome others
my dad's innate ability to protect me from all harm
a legacy of Christian grandparents
the most caring and serving and loving in-laws ever
sisters-in-law that treat me as their own and make me laugh until i cry
8 healthy, fun, and intelligent nieces and nephews
a husband who does not have a temper but instead a heart that is 80 times bigger than most
family vacations
an aunt and uncle who took me in like their own child
about 15 other aunts and uncles who would have done the same
my family's sense of humor
that paige and torri have become my sisters too
that i got a few of my dad's creative genes
having the experience of moving away from home
coming from a home i want to go back to
good coffee
good pens ;)
grace (yes, i am doubly thankful)
my mom's cooking
that my parent's read to me when i was little
only having college debt and no other
the church family that helped raise me
a mother-in-law that taught my husband patience
a father-in-law that taught my husband to open doors
more grace
my college roommate
the ra's i worked with in college
gravel roads and deer season
good writer's who have inspired me

and I am thankful that all of the above have mixed and stirred to the desired consistency of who I have become.


driving at night during deer season in the midwest

If you're from the midwest you'll understand the sheer terror of driving during [or around] deer season at night. It's bad enough knowing, at any given time of the year, that you may see Bambi jump in front of your car, but during deer season, when deer are prone to move about more, it's absolutely terrifying.

If you're not from around here, let me paint the scene for you a bit:

It's 6 o'clock and it's pitch black. Thank you, daylight savings time. You jump in your car and need to drive about 20 miles.

Let's add to the craziness:
You live in a rural town which means you'll have to travel rural roads which means the trees, with their massive trunks and undergrowth that are hiding the 12 point buck that is about to dent your front hood are literally 3 feet from your moving car. There is .072 seconds to react to a flash of brown fur coming at you.

Oh, and the car you're driving? It's the "second" family vehicle so you're just covered with liability insurance. Translation: A deer totals your car and he's not going to pay for you to get a new one.

So what do you do? You slide into your seat and don't turn on the heat. The heat will only make your eyelids heavy, your head drowsy. No, you must be fully alert.

The radio? Forget it. Focus. Focus.

Hands are at ten and two. You may bright light a few people because making a few people mad is worth the 8 seconds of extra light expanding around you.

Hold up. There is something reflecting up ahead at the side of the road. You know it has to be the beady black eyes of an 18 point buck. You slow down. You're barely moving when you roll past the mailbox with reflectors shining at you. Oh.

More than likely you make it to your destination unscathed.

Brent says I'm paranoid. Probably.
He says the worst that can happen is you hit the breaks [obviously you know better than to swerve, right?], and end up hitting the deer. You get a little damage. Maybe the airbags come out.

Nuh uh, says I.
I think that deer is coming through my windshield and is going to be thrashing around in the backseat, straight up Tommy Boy style. You know the scene I'm referring to, right?

google images 

 I've hit a raccoon. I've hit a squirrel. I've hit a bird. But I've never hit a deer.

All this to say: please keep your eyes peeled if you're driving in this neck of the woods. :)

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if I could have lunch with one person…

Don't forget to check out yesterday's awesome GIVEAWAY opportunity

Elisabeth Elliot.
[Or Harper Lee. But she's a hermit.  Or C.S. Lewis. But he's dead.]

So Elisabeth Elliot.

I recently read "The Shaping of a Christian Family." This book is a goldmine, like so many of Elliot's books I have read. The book jacket describes its content as follows: 'Drawing from the Scriptures, her observations of family life in America over the past forty years, and her own upbringing, and offering a detailed description of the home in which she grew up, Elisabeth Elliot illustrates the foundational principles and values necessary to create a Christian home and family…Readers who have not had the solid foundations of a strong and godly home will find here not only a pattern worth considering but fresh insights which answer the deep desires of the human heart."

Thought I did have a wonderful home growing up, I enjoyed the insights this book offered, and I can see how this book could be a wonderful tool for someone who did not have a Christian upbringing, but desires that for the family they are currently raising.

I won't lie, when I first started reading this book I was slightly disappointed. The first 10 chapters are dedicated to Elliot's mother's story. Her mom wrote about her childhood and early marriage, and left these journals for her children. Although it was interesting to read about, I didn't feel like this was the practical advice and teaching I was looking for [and received in the rest of the book]. So if you don't have a lot of time, read the preface, then begin in chapter 11. :)

I wrote about two "take aways" from this book while I was reading: learning to say yes, and again when I spoke of the importance of order in the home. But there was so much more to it. I really like how Elliot described her parents in their every day lives ["My father's life as we witnessed it was more eloquent than anything he ever said."], and it made me think about what I want my girls to think of Brent and me, and what we are doing now to ensure that. I also appreciated her reminder that "no one can make a child love anything, from spinach to sparrows to Scripture, but the parents' love for things exerts a powerful thrust in that direction."

I think one section that convicted me the most was when Elliot described the importance of being a good steward of time, and how being efficient with and on time was valued in her family. Her father believed that being late was stealing: "You are robbing others of their most irreplaceable commodity, time. A man's time can be given voluntarily, it can be bought, and it can be taken away from him against his will." Ouch. You can ask my husband, but being on time is something I need to get better about. Her father wrote in an editorial once:
Every Christian worker can discipline himself to be habitually on time, by careful management and foresight. It relieves other people of much anxiety, helps them not to waste time, and thus makes life easier for them. It is a matter of common honesty and Christian courtesy, and is in line with the injunction to 'let all things be done decently and in order' (1 Corinthians 14:40).
I don't know about you, but that is convicting for me. Careful management and foresight. I think all parents of young children can agree that the foresight is the most important if you are going to be on time: what do I need in the bag? what can I pack the night before? I am learning I should probably plan on leaving 15 minutes at least before I need to if I want to be on time, because inevitably there will be a meltdown or a lost shoe or bathroom break or or or, and it is my responsibility to plan for those [and allow time to not be upset with my children when they occur].

I also really appreciated the simplicity with which life was lived by her family. She urges readers to be content with less money and "fewer activities which eat into the budget and take the family away from home", and less stuff.  "The willingness to be and to have just what God wants us to  be and to have, nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else, would set our hearts at rest, and we would discover that the simpler the life the greater the peace." 

There is also a chapter on love, and it included a great reminder that "Nothing trains and teaches so powerfully as love. Love attracts, it does not coerce." Yes, love punishes, but love also embraces. And how we become a refuge of love for our children will lead in their understanding of a God of love and refuge.

I don't know about you other parents out there, but sometimes this discipline thing is hard. It can often break my spirit to guide Blythe's will. But Elliot offers encouragement in saying, "[The child] does not know what will destroy him. His parents do. Their refusal is his redemption." When I have to discipline Blythe, it is for a purpose: I am teaching her the "liberty of obedience."

If nothing else, in her parents' examples, I saw the importance of seeking out the Father who is parenting me, for we are "trustees, not owners, of the children God has given." Elliot shared many times that her mother was "not only there for us. She was regularly there, keeping her appointment with God-- for us. Like her Lord Jesus, for our sakes she sanctified herself." I think the thing I am learning about every day is that this job that I am doing, this parenting gig, will be over in such a short period of time-- and then I will let my children go. I will release them to do my job. And I pray I will have taught them to do it well. Often I feel like I need to be doing grand gestures to teach them, to grow them, but I was reminded in these pages that "'quality time' can never substitute for ordinary days spent doing ordinary things together."

And in those ordinary days I must allow my children the space to do their own seeking and finding. Elliot quotes George MacDonald, "The fault of the fathers often is that they expect their finding to stand in place of their children's seeking… their testimony is not ground for their children's belief, only for their children's search. The search is faith in bud." I do not live by my parents' faith, I live by my faith in Christ, just as my daughters will not be able to live in my faith. I can share my experiences with them, I can pray for them, I can wish upon a star they won't make poor choices, but they must find their faith on their own. We were discussing this with my Storyline group the other evening, and talking about how scary it is that we may have to watch our children make the same mistakes we made. We want to protect them from that, but it is their search that will save them, not hearing about ours.

Elliot shared that her mother viewed her role as that of a "quiet servant of necessity." We don't need to let everyone know when we just did 8 loads of pukey laundry in one day, or keep a running list of things we've accomplished that our husband better commend us for, rather we must love, give grace, supply discipline, point to Jesus. She shared the following story that hit me particularly close to home:
A talented woman was asked by a friend, "Why have you never written a book?"
"I am writing two" was the quiet reply. "I have been engaged on one for ten years, the other five."
"You surprise me!" the friend said. "What profound works they must be!"
"It doth not yet appear what they shall be," said the woman, "But when He makes up His jewels, my great ambition is to find them there."
"Your children?"
"Yes, my two children. They are my life's work." 
In the afterword she posed these questions to anyone who may be "dismayed" by it all [dismayed may be a bit strong, but overwhelmed for sure]: "It is always possible to do the will of God. Begin to be ready to do. What do you want your home to be? What does God want it to be? Waste no time wondering if you can do it. The question is simply Will you?"

 I thought the book was fantastic and encouraging and gave me some practical ways to "shape a Christian family." And as always, Elliot's writing is bathed in scripture and has other occasional beauties throughout, like the lines to this hymn from the Keswick hymnbook that I'll leave you with it:

Trust Him when dark doubts assail thee,
Trust Him when they faith is small,
Trust Him when to simply trust Him
Seems the hardest thing of all. 

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liza loves paper: A GIVEAWAY!

Don't these Giveaways just make your Monday a little brighter? 
And you guys, I'm SUPER pumped about sharing today's with you. Freshly Picked was kind of a fun deal, but the rest of the shops I'm doing giveaways for are my friends. And they are awesome people. And you will want to buy all their stuff. 

Today I want you to meet my friend, Liza. 

She has an awesome shop over at etsy: HERE: where she sells incredible prints and creations like this

and these

and one of my favorites, this

Liza went to the same college I went to, but I didn't know her then. [This is one of those cool, meandering stories…hang tight]. But in college I was great friends with a guy named Mark. Mark once put eye drops in my eyes for me because I [still] can't handle doing that myself, and he's that kind of nice guy. I still remember standing around campus one evening and asking Mark, "So what do you really want to do? What's your big dream?" His answer? "Be someone like the next James Dobson." I would have laughed at some people for that response, but I didn't laugh at Mark that night because he could totally do that.

Fast forward. A couple years after college Mark re-met Liza. First came love. Then came marriage. Then came two adorable babies. 

And then I stalked her blog because I wanted to see Mark's children and I learned she was pretty cool way cooler than I am. And then I took that bold step and commented on something so she knew I was lurking…and then she commented on mine. Then their was an Instagram romance. And she's amazing. AND THEN I FOUND OUT SHE IS FREAKIN' TALENTED, too!  

So I'm no longer friends with Mark. I'm friends with Liza. And you should be too.

Back to the goods. Her shop was born out of her love for design and her desire to make a few extra bucks while still being a stay at home mama. A shop I can definitely get behind! On top of that, you can tell just by glancing through her stuff that she loves Jesus. So I say it again: A shop I can definitely get behind! 

She sent me her newest listing-- a 2015 desk calendar-- and it's so cute. 

I love that each month is just slightly different, yet like all of her items are simple enough to be super classy and timeless. I was expecting to get the calendar and put it on my desk, but upon opening it I discovered it is too awesome to keep on my desk [in the cold mudroom], so it's in our living room. Yep, a desk calendar in our living room… it's that perfect. 

I love the simplicity of the lines in her designs. 

She also does custom work [look at all her name prints in her shop], and will work with you through the design process so you get the fonts and colors and looks you want.

I'm so glad Mark married this lady and brought her into my life, and that now I get to bring her into yours.

Liza is generously giving 15% off to my blog readers now through January 1st at her shop! Just use WORDSTHATSING15 as your coupon code!

AND she wants to give away a shop credit to one of my lucky readers!

Here are the details:
The winner will be able to choose something from her shop valued at $20 or less
Giveaway closes Thursday, November 27 at midnight
Winner will be announced on [Black] Friday!

To enter this giveaway you must
visit her etsy shop and leave a comment 
on this post [or the facebook/instagram link to this post] 
sharing which item is your favorite

For an additional entry go "like" her facebook page: here
[& let me know you "liked" it in your comment]. 

I would also highly recommend following her on Instagram, because her photos are beautiful and she gives you great tips like this envelope lining tip: 
yep, I told her it was genius, because it is. 

She also will let you know on her social media when she's having sales in her shop, and is known to have giveaways herself! 

 The reason I decided to do these giveaways and introduce you to some great shops is because I really think it is important to support smaller businesses around Christmas time. I think it's also important to support people that are kind, and generous, and doing good things. Liza is one of these people. So please consider shopping her business for a couple of the people on your list. I am! And let me tell you, the gifts I ordered from her are the gifts I am most excited to give!

And if you're like me, you hate getting off your couch to shop, let alone going out on Black Friday. So make a cup of coffee, click on the links I shared to her stuff…badda bing. badda boom.

Now go show Liza some love.

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oh, snap!

First, can someone please tell me you used to use the phrase "Oh, snap!" when you were in high school? 

This past month I took a ton of pictures for people, and spent hours and hours of snaps and evenings editing, and I never got around to posting any here. I've always loved taking pictures. I can remember loading up on film for my cheap, lime green camera every year before I went to church camp. I would take 4-5 rolls and then wait anxiously for the few days it took to process them. 

In high school I took a photography class, learned to shoot manually, and learned to develop my own pictures in a black room. [One day I want a black room in my house. Right?] 

In college I finally got a Kodak digital camera, and I loved it! Brent and I could email pictures back and forth of our day to day [literally, I would mail him pictures of me getting my mail! eating my chicken patty! working out in the rsc!]. It's hard to even remember a time before we all carried a camera in our pocket, but that little digital camera was one of my favorite possessions, and I dreamed of one day owning a DSLR. 

Shortly after I graduated, my parents bought me my Canon. I was ecstatic! And my picture taking increased exponentially, which is hard to believe since I was taking pictures of myself eating cafeteria food before, but it did. 

Slowly but surely I learned how to shoot manually with my digital camera, and over time saved and bought better lenses. 

About four years ago some good family friends asked if I would take senior pictures for their oldest daughter. Then her friend asked me. Then another friend wanted some shots of her kids. And so on. I learned as I went. 

I still feel like I would need to invest a lot more time in education and A LOT more money in equipment if I wanted to really make a run at this, but for now, I really love taking pictures for people. I'm always flattered that they ask, and I still get a little nervous before each shoot, afraid I'll mess something up and not capture this moment in their lives quite like they had imagined, but overall I just really enjoy it. 

[And shout out to my for real-professional-photographer-friend, Meagan, who has showed me and taught me a lot with my camera-- if you're in the Kansas City area PLEASE contact her for pictures. She's the best.] 

This first shoot was fun for me because the family was great, but they brought their dogs!! Oh my. I was sweating bullets but they were so good about it and really respectful of my insane-fear and Knox [the beautiful black lab], was kept on a leash nearly the entire time. Whew. 

 He really is a good- looking dog, though, right?

And then this little nuggest of cuteness was about to turn one, so we had to get some pictures of that!

I've been taken pictures of these little guys since the youngest was just a newborn, and it's always fun to get the whole crew involved! Never a dull moment trying to get this crowd together for a picture :)

This is one of my favorite pictures I captured during the last month, because it pretty much sums up this family and I love it!

As our family is growing, I've realized that Brent and I have fewer and fewer pictures of just us. I figured that was probably true for a lot of families, and tried to snap some for the couples. I think the children will like seeing their mom and dad together in pictures down the road.

And then there was Gibson, the boy with the longest most luxurious lashes you ever did see. It was fun to just kind of let him do his own thing and capture his curiosity and grins. What a doll. And quite into fashion, too.

I mentioned it's becoming a tradition to visit my sister in the fall, but I think my college roommate and I have started a fall visit tradition as well! This was year three…I think three years constitutes tradition! And each year I've been able to snap some pics of their beautiful family.

Is she not one of the most beautiful women ever? And yes, her husband has a disgusting mustache in this picture. [I can say that. Don't worry. But if I take pictures for you I won't say your mustache is disgusting…unless it looks like this. Then I might. ]

I really love taking senior pictures especially for guys because, let's face it, senior guys are funny: they really don't want to spend an hour or more taking pictures [their mom is making them], but if they are going to do it then, dangit, they wanna look cool! This guy is such a good kid and he was a good sport about his pictures.

And this, friends, is how you SM-EYES!

Here is one thing you should know: My cousin has beautiful daughters. She came up for a day and I got to take some pictures of these beauties in one of my favorite locations: my Grandparents' backyard [where Brent and I were married].

Some friends I have known and loved for a very long time [preschool! church camp! the best kinds of friends, right?!], are having a baby girl in January and I had the privilege of taking some maternity pictures for them. It was so much fun because these two are so much fun, and can I get a "SHUT UP!" about her dimples?! I mean, seriously, how do you have such amazing dimples when you're not even smiling! This baby is going to be the coolest kid ever.

Then there is my sister and her family. Obviously I love these people crazy amounts, but they would be the first to tell you that getting a good picture of three of them, let alone FIVE of them, is tricky. :) We did our best though and these came out wonderfully. I wish I could dedicate a post just to all the faces I captured of Ellie, but for now, here are a few of my favorites:
[FYI: just before we were going to take these pictures, Kali asked if I had any boot warmers. I hadn't brought mine, so I asked if she had an old sweater she could cut up. Badda bing badda boom. She had some awesome boot warmers. Do it!]

She is very into Irish Dancing right now [because what three year old isn't]. I'm so glad I caught this! [She wants her  next birthday to be an Irish Dancing birthday! Have fun with that theme, Kali!]

And lastly [I told you I took a lot of pictures last month!], my church does this awesome fundraiser where several photographers volunteer one day and families can sign up for a thirty minute mini session and all proceeds go to the children's ministry/money for camp etc. It's a brilliant idea and if you're church is looking for a good fundraiser--DO IT!

So anyway, I took some pictures for this event. It was a seriously cold, seriously windy morning, but all the families were great sports. It was also incredibly bright out, so the lighting wasn't phenomenal…except it was for black and white! I love slightly overexposed black and whites, and it was perfect for that, so I just rolled with it.

And I got to take some pictures of some beautiful families and make some cashola for the church. Win-win!

Favorite picture from the day:

Yes, this little man and Becks are great friends already.

And that's a wrap!
It was a busy month, but I enjoyed it and learned even more behind my camera.

Sometimes I feel like I need to be taking more pictures of my girls with my "real" camera, but Meagan once shared a quote by someone [she'll have to remind me who in the comments] :

The best camera is the camera in your hands. 

So don't be afraid to take pictures of your kids with your phone, your old-school digital, or your lime green film camera! You'll be glad you did.

In the mean time I'll try not to overload your instagram, because I clearly take this advice seriously :).
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