Magical Happenings, I say…

July 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Oh friends, it has been a week of celebration in our community – new jobs, new babies, new relationships – I’m all blissed out and thankful and ready for a weekend in the woods with some incredible folks.  I’m excited to share details on some of the big news with you soon.  No, we’re not pregnant.  Don’t go getting ideas.

Some weekend linkyness for you:

If you’re looking to brush up your crafty sewing skills, this e-course from A Beautiful Mess looks like tons of adorable fun.

I tried this on my hairs last night… and it worked!

Know someone who’s shopping for a wedding dress?  I’ve been doling out the inside shopping scoop on the AniA Blog lately.

Love this house.  Love it.

Techno puns.  So reliably funny.

I know it’s only just become summer, but this has me pining for fall.  I know, I know.  Sorry.

I hope your weekend is full of wonders.

love.

Photo by the incomparable Shannon Hannon.

Called to Love

July 28, 2011 § 1 Comment

A while back I promised you we’d hear from another fabulous missionary in Thailand, and because my word is my bond and all that, I’d like to introduce you to my beautiful friend Jennifer.

Jen has been in the mission field for several years now, and I love to track her experiences and beautiful photos on her blog, Called to Love.  She speaks so candidly about the struggles and joys of her unusual life, and her photos make me want to visit Thailand, like, whoa.  It’s always so inspiring to me to read from folks who are following their passions and the cries of their heart – I think Jen is doing just that.  If you love Jesus, or Harry Potter, if you think mannequins are creepy, or find dogs particularly lovable, you will love her blog.

Most importantly, though I would love for you to visit her blog and show her some comment affection, I’d like to ask you to join me in praying for Jen.  She’s writing a series now on what it’s like to be a missionary, and my hope is that we can surround her with love and prayer for the places where she struggles and celebration of her incredible successes and gifts.

Jen, I think you’re extraordinary – I’m consistently blessed by you and the great things God is doing through you.  We are with you and for you over here.
love.
All photos in this post copyright J.Leeper Photography.  For more of Jennifer’s work, please visit her blog at jleeperphotography.com.

God is in the Details

July 27, 2011 § 8 Comments

I don’t usually think of God as being much of a meddler.  You won’t find me blaming Him for my flat tire, or thanking Him for making Nordstrom have a sale.  I try not to get hung up on decisions because I’m waiting for a sign, and I try not to use the words “I feel called to” unless I really, really, really mean them.  I cringe when I hear someone say “Let me pray about it” when what they mean is “I really don’t want to.”  I tend to fall pretty hard on the side of personal responsibility, free will, and the likelyhood of God saying “Just make a choice!” if He decides to weigh in on a subject at all.

However.

I think we, and sometimes I, do God a disservice if we take this idea too far.  When we become too focused on our own responsibility, our independence, our attitude, we can lose the beauty that is God doing tiny things.  I think one of the things that makes God great, makes Him an artistic, attentive creator instead of a big has-been in the sky, is His love of nuance.

Think about the experts you know.  There are the musicians who can hear the tiniest change in pitch, the perfect countermelody or harmony, the minuscule addition or adjustment that will take a piece of music from beautiful to breath-taking.  There are master chefs who can balance dozens of subtle flavors and pair them, twin them, and group them to create things no one has ever tasted before.  There are artists who can paint with incredible detail, replicate colors and surfaces flawlessly, and make you believe that what you’re seeing is real, or slightly better than real.  The people who create passionately, who create because they love their creation, who create because they have a gift – those people are wildly in love with the details.  They revel in the details.  They delight in them.  They perfect them.

They’re human, these creators.  But they’re humans created in the image of God, a creator with unlimited potential, unlimited talent, unlimited love.  How likely is it, then, that God did a one time hit at creation, decided it was good enough, and left it to fend for itself?  If God the creator is anything at all like the creators He created, the symphony is never really finished, the recipe is never perfect, and the painting never quite done.  I have to believe that He’s constantly crafting tiny details.  I can imagine Him tending to the folding of flowers, orchestrating the dropping of a name, placing a phrase in just the right mouths to affect change.  I can imagine Him covering the prayerful, reshaping the broken, and conducting thunderstorms with passionate artistry.  I can image Him continuing to be present always, actively in this world He has created, simply because it is His nature.  I can image Him as a bit of a process guy, and less of a product guy.  I think He has a whole lot of holy fun.

But bad things happen, and good people suffer, and the world is dying, and why would an attentive God allow, or even cause that to happen?  I don’t know.  I don’t know His reasons, or how it all balances at the end of the day.  I think He’s been pretty clear that He doesn’t love to see us suffer, hates it, in fact.  Died to stop us from dying.  I don’t know where the line is drawn, but I think we miss something great when we answer our questions with “Well, God doesn’t work like that anymore, because if He did, prayer would always work, seas would part, etc. etc.”  I don’t think it’s an all or nothing situation.

I do think we know a few things for sure.  We know our God has promised He’ll hear us when we call.  We know we’ve been promised that He will be faithful to complete the good work He began.  And we know He has the heart of a creator.  If we don’t believe that God can work in small, daily ways, then we make Him smaller than I think He is.  We also miss out on the wonderful habit of looking for the tiny ways in which we’ve been loved, the details in the fabric of our personal creation story, the inside jokes, and the relational, personal, detail-oriented work of a Master.  We miss the bits that take this story from impressive to indescribable.  We miss the chance to say thank you, for that thing that made me laugh, for that opportunity, for that random act of love, and this life becomes a much lonelier story.

Today I’m looking for the little things that make my God so very big.  And rejoicing in knowing that they will be there, in abundance, to find.

love.

Cheap Thrills: Score Free Stuff

July 26, 2011 § 3 Comments

I’m pretty good at getting free stuff.

I’m not the sort of person who routinely finds cash on the sidewalk (Mom-in-law), or the kind who wins raffles (Mike P.), or the kind who kicks butt at work competitions and incentive races (Faver-Fave).  I do, however, have a pretty good system in place to avoid having to pay for things that, while not necessary to my survival, make life a little more fun.  So for today’s Cheap Thrill, I’m going to share with you my super secret Top 10 ways to get stuff for free.  For the purposes of this blog, keep in mind that free = not paying money.  You will have to do some work.  No such thing as a free lunch, you know.

Ready?  Here it goes.

Top 10 Ways to Score Free Stuff

1. Give things away.  This is a pretty basic “do unto others” concept.  When you’re generous with your time and resources, you help to create the sort of community that inspires others to do the same.  Giving things away is good for you on a number of levels, but for the selfish purposes of this particular blog post, we’ll focus on its karmic coolness: if you give things away, people will think of you when they have something to give.

2.  Follow the signs.  I know, I know, duh, but do you actually ever this?  Right.  That’s what I thought.  Stop being in such a hurry, straddle on that sense of adventure, and follow the next “Free Stuff –>” sign you see.  I’ve acquired half my furniture this way.  Not even kidding.

3. Enter blog giveaways.  Sign up to follow blogs you love, written by people with style you love, and when they offer a cool giveaway (which is usually weekly), enter!  What do you have to lose?  It’s free!

4. Help people move.  Helping someone move is like attending a private, unorganized garage sale… they always have some stuff they don’t want, and with any luck, it might be stuff you do want.  Plus there is a high likelyhood of pizza and beer.  Win.

5. Practice the art of exchange.  I suppose trading isn’t really getting something for free, but it is getting something for no dollars, so it counts.  Identify what you have to offer: are you a great editor?  A fabulous seamstress?  A graphic design guru?  A stylist extraordinaire?  Offer to trade services with a friend with different talents, and everyone is a winner.  Just be careful to consider the value of the service you’re requesting, and make sure you offer a worthy trade.  Don’t go around offering to give someone a 5 minute backrub in exchange for a new website design and telling folks I said it was okay.  Tacky city.  I’ll pretend I don’t know you.

6. Attend openings.  If you live in or near a city, there are likely to be new stores and restaurants opening on a regular basis.  Almost all of them will offer free stuff on opening day.  Mel and I once scored free bagels and coffee, then walked two blocks and got free ice cream.  Pay attention to the haps, and then show up.  You also get the added bonus of feeling super hip and knowledgeable about your city.

7. Use the internet.  When you have a need, check out the “Free Stuff” section on Craigslist, or Freecycle.com.  You’ll be surprised how often you can find what you’re looking for.

8. Be creative.  Don’t be afraid to reinvent and repurpose your free finds.  A pile of scrap wood becomes a new end table.  And old plate becomes a cute clock.  The drawers from your aunt’s rejected dresser becomes an artistic answer to that bookshelf you’ve been needing.  You get the idea.  Be flexible and have an open mind.  Don’t take stuff you won’t use, but don’t write off an imperfect find too soon.

9. Plan or attend a Naked Lady Party.  This is by far my favorite way to shop.  Gather your stylish girlfriends and encourage them to bring those almost new clothes and shoes they never wear for one big trade.  Bring stuff you don’t want, go home with stuff you do – keep your wardrobe feeling fresh and avoid wasting clothes and space.  Some of my very favorite pieces have been acquired this way.

10. Play that card.  Don’t ever be afraid to (politely, kindly, generousheartedly) ask for that discount, or offer that networking trade, or schmooze a little.  Just being friendly and kind can often land you with an unexpected bonus prize.  Again, you should be kind and friendly for the sake of being kind and friendly, but if that isn’t enough to motivate you, well, fine.  Do it for the potential free stuff.  Better than the alternative.

Go forth and score free stuff.

love.

Photo by the incomparable Shannon Hannon.

In Other Words: Super Sad True Love Story

July 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Confession: I didn’t finish this book.  I made it about halfway through, realized that I still wasn’t engaged in the story in the slightest, and decided I had other things I’d rather read.

I always feel a little bit like I’ve cheated when I don’t finish a book – as though the second half of a story that I just didn’t click with might suddenly become life changing, if only I hadn’t walked away.  But in reality, time is precious and short, and I do believe it should be spent reading things that move you, entertain you, or at least teach you something.

That said, I know that Gary Shteyngart is a brilliant satirist, and I certainly don’t aim to dispute that label.  His vision of the very near future is thought provoking, annoyingly accurate, and alarming as heck.  I can see how pieces of this novel could be hilarious if I were set up with a different sense of humor.  It just wasn’t for me.

Maybe it was the unchecked cynacism (I do well with dark novels, as long as they have that subtle strand of warmth woven into them somewhere – I felt the first half of this novel lacked that warmth), or maybe it was the excessive crassness of all of the characters (I understand that our society is headed that way, but good grief.  I need some air now and again), but I’ve loved books with either or both of those problems before.  I just didn’t connect with this story.  For whatever reason, though the main character was exactly the sort I’d usually buy into, I simply wasn’t inspired to laugh, or care.

Which isn’t to say you won’t be, or that I think you’re wrong if you were.  But I’m not adding this one to the list of recommended reading.  If one of you has actually, you know, finished the book, and you’d like to defend it, I’d love to be convinced I’m wrong!

love.

Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun…

July 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Happy Friday, lovely friends –

My wish for you this weekend is simple.  I wish your weekend would feel like this:

I’m fairly certain Shannon Hannon takes pictures that evoke specific emotions better than anyone else I know.

A few neat things to distract you from your Friday tasks:

To do while there are still cherries.

If happiness was an Etsy store, it would be this one.

Boys are gross.

This is one well dressed dude.  Take notes, gentlemen.

You should enter this fantastic giveaway.

I’m wildly in love with this DIY ribbon chandelier for a baby girl’s room.  Who has a baby girl with a room?  Make this!

See? She’s really very good at that. 

My parents are in town this weekend, so if you see us, say hello!  We’ve got a delightful (sunny!) Portland weekend planned, full of farmer’s markets and food carts and Star Trek in the Park.  I can’t wait!

You are loved and lovely.  You are His.

love.

One Sweet Wedding

July 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

Last Saturday, Favorite and I were truly honored to be part of a small backyard gathering to witness the marriage of two wonderful folks.  I just had to share a few of their perfectly adorable wedding details with you.  It was truly, truly lovely and authentic and full of joy.

Simple, lovely mason jar and wildflower centerpieces with vintage linens on the tables.  Love.

Sweet paper garlands and summer lanterns!

Vintage teacup place cards, borrowed from a friend who is a collector.

Draw a monster and pin him to the clothesline!  Adorable.

The only thing better than adorable bumblebees is adorable, tasty bumblebees!

Cutest ever, or what?

love.

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