I don’t know who named March national reading month, but I’m glad someone did. It’s no secret that I’m a self-proclaimed book nerd. I LOVE reading. Granted, there was a time in my life when books and I quit hanging out for a while, but our separation was short-lived, and as my husband can attest, more often than not, I have my nose stuck in a book (or glued to my Kindle, but it’s all the same, right?).
National Reading Month has given me the push I needed to introduce a new little section of the blog that I’ve been thinking about for a while. I thought I’d pop in every now and then and share my recent reads and thoughts on them. I’ll tell you if I loved them or hated them or just kind of tolerated them. I’ll give you the reasons why you should read them AND the reasons you should avoid them. And we can both pretend that we’re having this conversation face-to-face on my couch. Preferably while we’re enjoying steaming mugs of hot chocolate.
All of that to say, be on the lookout for book reviews and updates on my recent reads in the Reading Corner. Until that time comes, though, I’d love to hear from you. What have you been reading lately? How has reading affected your understanding of others?
I know, it’s kind of strange to feature Christmas cards in March, but I promise there’s a good reason for it. Just keep reading, you’ll see.
Last holiday season, Amanda from AYP Photography and I teamed up to make life easier for her clients and offer them a selection of beautifully-designed Christmas cards, but she had one client, Lori, who had more of a custom design in mind. Lori’s husband was serving overseas in the military and unable to make any of the family photo sessions, but Lori really wanted to find a way to include him in their Christmas cards. Here’s the design we came up with.
It was a tremendous honor to work with a military family on such a special project. I’m so appreciative of the sacrifices military families make for the rest of us. The Davis family is one of many, and I was proud to help their family in some small way.
Last week, I was pleased to hear that far finally came near for the Davis Family. Lt. Col. Davis came home a few days early, surprising his family at an Ole Miss basketball game, and the reunion was priceless.
In case you were wondering, this is the best part about my job. I love making connections with people and getting to be a tiny little part of the special little moments of their lives. I wish I had more time for custom work, but between taking care of two little ladies, filling orders in the etsy shop, and trying to keep the laundry pile at a manageable level, it doesn’t always happen. I’m glad it worked out this time around.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: parenting is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard, often thankless work, but it’s also rewarding and so, so sweet. Outside of the marriage relationship (which deserves a post of its own) there are few things in life that have taught me more about the relationship between God and humanity than parenting. Here are just a few things I’ve learned over the past four and a half years.
1. Unconditional love cannot be earned or unearned.
“I will always love you. Always. No matter what. You will always be my baby, and I will always be your mommy.” This is a conversation I have with Micah quite frequently. Usually after she’s gotten herself in trouble. I remind her over and over again that even when I don’t like her behavior I love her because she’s my daughter. I couldn’t unlove her if I tried.
He doesn’t wait for us to get our acts together before extending His love to us. Quite the contrary. He loves us when we are vile, wretched sinners who have hit rock bottom. He loves us when we are as unlovely as you can imagine, which boils down to this: God’s love can be neither earned nor unearned. It is a freely given gift of grace.
Here’s the deal. I’m a sinner. I mess up. I do things I shouldn’t do. Those things displease God greatly, and there are consequences for them, but it doesn’t mean He has stopped loving me. Just as nothing my girls do can stop me from loving them, nothing I do can make God unlove me. What a relief that is. We’ll get on to why in number two.
2. Disobedience is almost always personal.
The other day, Micah sneaked a piece of gum after I had forbidden it. She willfully disobeyed me, choosing to place her personal desire for gum over my clear instructions to the contrary. When I discovered her disobedience, I was heartbroken. I know, I know. It’s just a piece of gum. But I took it personally because her actions showed that she lacked respect for my authority as her mother and cared more about satisfying her temporary craving than pleasing me.
After I calmed down, I thought about how many times in the past 31 years I’ve disappointed the Lord by willfully disobeying His clear instructions. I’ve put my own desires over His commands on countless occasions, showing that I care more about my personal (and fleeting) satisfaction than living a life that honors and pleases Him.
I wonder how often I have been a source of grief for the Lord. I would like to think that the grief has been minimal, but the truth is I’ve disappointed Him on countless occasions. That’s why I’m so thankful that the unconditional love of the Lord cannot be earned or unearned. That leads us to number three.
3. Tough love is sometimes necessary.
Disobedience demands discipline, and I can guarantee you that it’s not fun for anyone involved. As much as it broke my heart to do so, I couldn’t let the gum incident go by without addressing the disobedience. After discussing what happened, Micah chose her punishment, and I doled it out. Neither of us enjoyed it, but I did it because I’m more interested in shaping her character than making her happy. Sometimes that means that the love I show her is tough indeed.
God loves us too much to leave us the way we are. It is true that we can’t unearn His love, but it is equally true that He disciplines disobedience because of that love. He won’t overlook our sin just because He loves us. He will do whatever it takes to shake our hands loose from the world so that we’ll cling to Him instead. Seriously. It only takes a cursory reading of the Old Testament to discover that God sent the people of Israel into exile as a last-ditch effort to get their attention when they had wandered away from Him. If that’s not tough love, I don’t know what is.
4. Timing is everything.
I knew we were having supper in about 10 minutes. That’s why I told Micah she couldn’t have the gum. Besides, she doesn’t like spearmint. Every single time she tries it, she spits it out in disgust, but that’s beside the point. The point is that not knowing the plan doesn’t mean that there isn’t one.
A lot of disobedience boils down to a lack of trust. If Micah had only trusted me to know what was best, she wouldn’t have gotten into trouble. The same thing is true for us. So many times, we make a mess of things because we didn’t just wait and see what God had planned.
The “not right now” of God doesn’t necessarily mean “never.” We would do well to remember that the Lord knows what He’s doing even when we don’t. That’s what makes the last point oh-so-sweet.
5. Sacrifice comes with the territory.
As hard as this parenting business is, and as frustrating as it can be, this one thing I know for certain: I love my children so much that I would die for them without a moment’s hesitation. I wouldn’t have to stop to think about it. There would be no weighing of the pros and cons. I would just do it, because that’s what love does. It sacrifices itself for the good of others.
Any parent knows well the sacrifices that come with the job. From giving up countless nights of sleep to leaving behind dream jobs to making sure that all of their little needs are met before you even begin to consider your own, you know what it means to lay aside your own needs/wants/desires to make sure their needs/wants/desires are taken care of.
Think about all the things you would do to protect your children from harm. Now multiply that by 10 million. Those are the kinds of lengths God went to when He died for us. He knew that we would never be able to reach Him on our own, so He did the only thing a loving Father could do. He came to us. He made a way for us to reach Him. He sacrificed Himself for us. Without hesitation. Simply because He loves us.
I didn’t really understand that kind of love before I had kids. Intellectually, I grasped the concept, but I didn’t really get it until I became a mama and realized that I would gladly throw myself in front of an oncoming train just to shove my baby off the tracks. That’s exactly what happened on the cross. We were standing in the middle of the tracks completely oblivious to the locomotive bearing down on us when Jesus stepped in front of us to save us. Now that’s love.
These are just a few things that parenting has helped me understand about God and His love. There is really SO much about His character that I understand more clearly now that I’m a mom. Surely I’m not the only one. What about you? What have you learned about God since becoming a parent? Speak up and join the conversation in the comments!
Wedding season is nearly upon us, which, as I’m sure you can imagine, is a busy time in the stationery world. I’m excited to share that I have three designs in Minted’s 2014 Save the Date collection. I squealed (out loud, no less) when I saw that Minted had chosen one of my new designs to feature on the home page. I had to take a screen shot and share it here, because I’m sure you’re just as excited as I am. In a community of designers as talented as those at Minted, it’s an honor, to say the least.
I have three cards in the collection this year, including two brand new designs.
Rustic Charm is a sweetly simple save the date card featuring delicate lace on a kraft background. I love that it’s both casual and elegant at the same time. It’s ideal for couples planning a sweet and memorable day.
Awash is a classic and sophisticated design bathed in a subtle wave of color. The colors can easily be changed to coordinate with any scheme. With effortless beauty, it’s perfect for couples planning a slightly more formal affair.
Timeless lives up to its name. It features the couple’s names in beautiful script that will never go out of style. Depending on the photo, it can be either modern or traditional, which makes it the obvious choice for couples looking to strike a balance between the two. Timeless is also available in postcard and magnet formats, both of which are fun and affordable options to consider.
My designs are only three of the countless stunning designs in Minted’s save the date collection. See something you like? Get your save the dates at Minted and use the coupon code SHOPZU2BCU to receive 10 percent off your entire order.
Hey y’all. Hope you had a great weekend! Ours was busier than normal, but full of good times. Friday morning I walked into the dining room to find my Valentine’s Day gift from Dennis sitting in front of my computer – the Nashville Season Two CD, and a family-sized pack of Chips Ahoy cookies. He speaks my language.
I popped the CD in on the way to pick up Micah from preschool and promptly proceeded to listen to “A Life That’s Good” by Lennon & Maisy about 300 times. Not only are the girls ridiculously cute, but they’re also crazy talented, and the song is so, so good. It’s the sole reason I wanted the CD in the first place. Here: see for yourself.
This song. It preaches to me. At the end of the day, all that really matters is that I have a life that’s good and pleasing in the eyes of the Lord. Nothing else really matters.
This crazy culture that we live in wants us to believe that material things are the most important things in life. That we work hard so we can buy the next best thing. That what we have isn’t good enough, impressive enough, new enough, and the-next-best-thing enough.
It’s time to push back against that lie and say enough is enough. Because the words of the song are true. At the end of the day, the things that I need are simple indeed. Two arms around me. Heaven to ground me. A family that always calls me home. Four wheels to get there. Enough love to share. A sweet, sweet song. At the end of the day, Lord I pray, I have a life that’s good.
HELLO! I'm an ordinary girl writing about faith, life, and design. I'm a wife, mama, author, and stationery designer with a slight addiction to Nutella and a love affair with my Kindle. Let's be friends, OK? Read on.