Hello Again.

IMG_6486

Well. Hello.

Yes, it’s been awhile. We don’t need to talk about it. In fact, it’s been SO long that I not only couldn’t remember my password to get back into the admin-side of this blog, but I couldn’t even remember my own username. It’s pretty hard to push the “forgot password” button when you don’t even know your username.

I finally get logged in and am greeted by a long list of spam comments on my precious posts. Here are some of my favorites:

  • I read your post and wished I’d written it.
    • Thank you spyweb.pw – it was a good post, wasn’t it?  It was written almost a year ago and is the 3rd most recent post.  But that day was so peaceful.  And look how clean my house looked!  {I have subsequently ignored dishes, toys, laundry, and myself to sit down and type these words.  Things do not look that peaceful.}
  • Now I feel stupid.  That’s cleared it up for me.
    • Wow, spyweb.pw – you’re back!  I had no intention of making your look stupid, and I’m so curious to know what confusion I cleared up for you.  Thanks for bringing my attention to that post, though.  It was from July of 2012 and I was heading out to teach our first seamstress some bags.  I talked about my dreams for Better Life Bags and where I hope it would end up.  I’d say that was written around the turning point of the business becoming what it is today.
  • I’m not worthy to be in the same forum. ROTFL
    • Oh dear, carinsurancequotessa.info.  This is a little dramatic, don’t you think?  I mean, I did write this post in 2011 when I was merely a 28 year old.  And my love for shooting and editing photos was really going strong.  It still is – just now on an easier platform: my iPhone and Instagram.  No need for internet photo editing software anymore, carinsurancequotessa.  In fact, Picnik seems to be no longer with us.  Put to death in April of 2013.  May it rest in peace.  Maybe that’s why you are ROTFLing.
  • If you wrote an article about life we’d all reach enlightenment.
    • First of all, webstats.pw, an article about life would be extremely hard to write.  And long.  And probably confusing.  And slightly erratic.  However, experiencing all of those emotions at once might push some toward enlightenment, so maybe I’ll try it someday.  In any case, thanks for taking me back to a blast from the past.  This was 2011 when we were heavy in the Kiva loan chapter of BLB.

So, this is what happens when you leave your corner of the Internet unattended.  Cobwebs and spiders and spammers.  I’ve taken the dusters to the rafters and cleaned up what I could.  And I’m settling back down into the writing chair.  Not sure how frequently I’ll sit, but I promise to write when inspiration hits – or the mess in my house feels too overwhelming and I’d like some distraction from it all.

Blessings, dear ones.  Until next time.  {Well, blessings all the time.  I’ll just won’t see you until next time.}

{ 1 comment }

My 2016 Theme.

1017

My finger hasn’t trained itself to reach further than the number 5 on my keyboard, yet. It took three tries to type 2-0-1-6. Even just then it felt new and far from what was comfortable.

Does it feel to anyone else that January 1st is a literal turn of a corner. That we are all walking a straight line for the entire year until 11:59pm on December 31st. And the next minute a military pivot happens in the largest stadium fan wave across the entire globe as people pivot and turn – each to their own time zone.

In my heart I feel that we turn left. In case that matters.

But here we are. A few steps onto our new path. Our new year.

And I love it.

I think January 1st is my favorite day of the year.

There is so much possibly. So much newness. Other words that are anxious to make their way onto this screen to be included in the adjectives surrounding January 1st are: fresh, clean, hopeful, a restart, a new beginning.

The whole day has felt light to me. But at the same time, I’ve been battling this feeling that it doesn’t last. Because we all know the fresh New Year feeling has already started to fade. Starting something is easy. Finishing it is hard. But the absolutely grueling process is the middle. The July and August. Heck, the 2nd week of February feels torturous.

In my more optimistic moments today, I’ve felt like making the commitment to never eat a carb in 2016. After all, I started 2016 by eating one banana, one apple, and then spent an hour burning it all off at Spin Class. So I was well on my way. A net zero for calorie intake. #winning.

Thirty minutes later, all I could think about was the bag of Doritos that we had last night at our New Year’s party. {The bag was empty and in the trash when I got home. So I ate the rest of the cracker and cheese platter. Doritos were not in the Lord’s plan for me today.}

I’ve done those goals in the past. The “no eating this” or the “lose this many pounds per week” or the “read by Bible every day”. You know, the “be perfect” resolutions.

Last year, I decided to go with a theme for the year. Something that I felt God was laying on my heart as a way he wanted me to act throughout the year.  A word to remember that would change my behavior, attitude, and heart.

It was amazing how many times I thought of that word.  How many times it ministered to my heart and reminded me of what really mattered.  It was good.

So, I’m back at it for this year.

My word actually hit me about the second week of December.  The Advent season meant so much to me this year – in almost a painful, longing, aching way.  It used to be all about the nativity scenes, the wrapped presents, and the stockings.  In 2013, I was introduced to Advent being about a time of waiting.

This year, that waiting felt so hopeful and so painful at the same time.

Maybe it has to do with how sick I’ve become of this world.  And the terror.  And the chaos.  And the horrible things being done to human beings.  It feels hopeless that this world will get better.  We can each throw our starfishes back into the ocean as fast as we can, but there will still never be Peace on Earth.

Sorry to be such a downer.

But we do have a hope.  This weary world rejoiced a long time ago when a little baby was born that would save the world.  And our still SO weary world will rejoice again when He comes back.

We have hope.  We can live in anticipation in that coming.  When He will put an end to the absolute ridiculousness that has become our world.  And all will be right again.

So, in 2016, I’m living in light of that.  Advent is happening for me all year.  I’m going to constantly view my daily life through the lens of eternity.  Despite what the children’s books say, Christmas CAN last all year because Christmas is about Advent.  About waiting in anticipation for Christ.  Again.

At our church’s last Advent Sunday, we sang the hymn, “View the Present Through the Promise” and I nailed down what 2016 was to be about based on this verse:

Match the present to the promise, Christ will come again.
Make this hope your guiding premise, Christ will come again.
Pattern all your calculating and the world you are creating
to the advent you are waiting: Christ will come again.

I love the last two lines.  Like LOVE them.  Pattern all my calculating and the world I’m creating to the HOPE that I have waiting… Christ will come again.

He is making all things new.  My kids need to know that when their hearts get hurt.  My husband needs to know that after a long day.  I need to know that after another depressing thought about myself.  He is in the business of making things right.  And one day it will be complete.

I thought about making “Advent” my theme for the year, but feel like the real word hiding behind it is “Hope”.

Hope that today is not the end.  Death is not the end.  War is not the end.  The world is not the end.

I don’t even think I know the depths of what God wants to teach me through the word “Hope” this year.  And to be honest, my mind has gone to the worst possible situations.  I tried changing my word to “Blessing” or something that could mean prosperity and wealth, but God wasn’t letting me shake it.

So… hope.

We HAVE hope.

Do you have a theme for 2016?  {I tell ya.  Typing 2-0-1-6 is going to take some major brain power.}  I’d love to hear and follow along as God leads you into this New Year!

{ 1 comment }

Christmas Traditions 2015

I really miss the old days of blogging.  The days of link ups and transparency and imperfect images.  Ok, I don’t miss the imperfect images – I’ve always loved big, pretty pictures.  But, I’m so excited to be taking a step back into what feels so comfortable and familiar today.

My sister in law did a video blog this week about her Christmas Traditions, and the little blog muse in me started bubbling up.  I was thinking about Christmas traditions every hour since watching her post.  And nothing could stop me from jumping in and sharing our traditions, too!

I taped it live on Periscope (I’m @rebeccaisonline over there) because it seemed easiest for me and wouldn’t allow me to do any editing – which I would be really tempted to do if I had taped it on my video camera or my son’s GoPro.  It’s simple.  Easy.  Live.  And unedited.  Plus, it helped to talk to a “live audience” rather than a lonely camera.  

Here are the links to things we talked about.

I’d love to hear your Christmas Traditions, so come link up with us!

{ 2 comments }

When Peace Doesn’t Arrive Like a River.

 

IMG_0001

There are moments of peace in our house that officially blow me away with their silence and their longevity.  They last for so long at times, that I hold my breath – afraid to exhale – or God-forbid SNEEZE.  I walk on the tight rope of knowing that any sudden movement could potentially shake the dust and the volcano of chaos could erupt.

It’s hanging on the thin, fragile thread of stillness.

I was laying on the long couch.  One sitting on my legs.  The second propped on my right shoulder like a Pirate’s parrot – his back and head leaning against the soft couch pillow.  And the third had alienated herself to the small couch.

She enjoys her space.  I do, too.  But those calls are not ones I get to make as a mama anymore.  Personal space got taken away in the birthing room.  The same time privacy, free time, and a permanently set, exquisitely decorated dining-room table went out the window of impossibility.

I kept waiting for the silence to break.  But it lasted.  And lasted.  For probably 50 minutes.  Which should be written down in the world record book for a 5, 4, and almost 1.5 year old.  I’m certain this has only happened once – in the entire world.  And it happened in my house.  Today.

They were all on their LeapPads.  We have three versions with various upgrades and improvements on each one: LeapPad2, LeapPadUltra, and the new LeapPad Platinum {with interactive cards that come to life when you take a picture of them on the device.}.  Even the oldest version still works like a dream after having it for four years.

And before your thoughts even move to how much screen time I let my children have today – let me remind you of 50 minutes of silence and stillness.  Including the 1.5 year old.  Sweet summer stillness on a hot day while three fans are whirling white noise and cool air in our direction.  50 minutes of it.  Without a sound or someone fighting or asking for water.

I’m thanking LeapFrog for this moment.  It was a moment brought to you by educational games and interactive elements.  That even ended sweetly – well, almost.

One of them decided they had had enough with the screen and went to the game closet to pull out the Melissa and Doug mosaics.

I’m not sure you heard that.

One of them – the oldest, actually – on his own choosing, turned off the LeapPad, went to the game closet, and picked another mind challenging activity to do next.  Which his sister and baby brother joined within three seconds.

And because I don’t have three sets of the mosaics, fighting ensued about 3.5 minutes later.

53.5 minutes of pure bliss.

It sure helped carry me through the rest of the night, though.  The oldest running away from his sister – complaining of her bad breath – even after gum.  The littlest finding the Cheese-Its box and dumping them all over the rug.  Me, breaking the belt on the vacuum while trying to clean up that mess.  And the resident mouse that is just too smart for our traps – who will probably join me tonight on an after-hours Netflix session while he feasts on the crackers in the carpet.

Until the next moments of peace arrive, I snapped that picture up there to remind me – and carry me through like a river.

I’m pretending it’s a floating river.  And I’m in a black inner-tube, on my back, in a chic, black bathing suit that I look incredible in.  Of course, I’m wearing a large straw floppy hat and bigger-than-my-face sunglasses and am holding a margarita.

No, scratch that – I don’t like margaritas.  I’m holding a beer.

 

{ 3 comments }

Beating Winter Boredom

It’s 10 degrees in Detroit today.  While I am NOT a winter hater like many, around Valentine’s Day, I do get sick of the never ending snow banks.  Mostly sick of being cooped up inside with three kids and endless snow days.

These are some Winter Boredom Busters that we have tried in our family this winter.  My oldest two are ages 4 and 5 – for reference.

Winter Boredom Busters

1. Kinetic Sand.  Bring the sandbox inside!  This stuff is incredible.  It doesn’t get messy, it sticks together, and you can still build sandcastles, mud pies, and more.  My suggestion is to get a shallow plastic tub, fill it with kinetic sand, and bring it out during one of those long snow days.  The sand stays in the plastic tub and a lid goes on after playtime is over.

2. Send the kids out into the snow with icecream scoops, cookie scoops, and empty egg cartons.  My son spent an hour playing outside creating perfectly round snowballs with the icecream scoops.   He then used the smaller cookie scoop to make small snow balls and put them in the empty egg carton.  We did lose the icecream scoop in the snow, though!  Hoping to find it when the snow melts!

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 3.14.09 PM

3. Photography Scavenger Hunt.  Our kids have this camera and love taking pictures.  To combine their camera skills with something educational, I spell out their name vertically on a piece of paper and challenge them to go find something that starts with each letter of their name and snap a picture of it.  Depending on your kid’s age, you could do the entire alphabet, or end sounds instead of beginning letters.

4. Introduce new forms of literature.  We recently got into listening to Adventures in Odyssey.  The kids love each episode and I think they are ready to listen to some audio books during rest time.  We also picked up a few of these chapter books and started reading them out loud.  There’s a picture every few pages or so and the story moves quick enough to keep their attention.  When we aren’t reading, they love to go in with their colored pencils and color in the black and white illustrations.

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 2.00.19 PM

5.  And my personal favorite… LeapTV.  It’s an educational video game system that hooks up to your TV.  Ours came with two remotes and a camera that sits at eye level to the children.  There are three ways to play the games.  Motion – which uses your child’s physical motions to play the game.  Think jumping, stretching, and dancing.  Perfect to get those wiggles out.  Some of the games even use the motion-sensing camera to show your child on the screen in the game.  It’s pretty cool.  Then the controller can be used in two different ways: pointer, and controller.  Our favorite games are Spiderman, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and the LeapTV Dance and Learn.   I always love LeapFrog products and highly recommend this video game system for the educational games (my kids have started understanding simple math equations since playing it) and the interactive exercise component (they never sit down and zone out to play this system).

What are some of your family’s go-to boredom busters?

{ 0 comments }

We did it on Thanksgiving Day and we are doing it again.  Rallying behind someone with a tangible need and donating one day of Better Life Bag’s profits toward it.

It’s what we call a double give-back day.  Your purchases always provide more sustainable work for inner city women, but today you get an extra give-back!  And maybe just the push some of you need to get off the fence and order your bag!

Header-Logo

Today we are getting our shoulders behind a brand new ethically made women’s clothing line – and helping it come to life!  Garment Collective is the brain child of Breena Holt and inspired by her sweet little boy, Zekey, who met Jesus last year after a two year battle with Battan’s disease.  Shortly after his death, a manufacturing group in Nepal contacted Breena about creating jobs for marginalized women in their community.

Always wanting to be a fashion designer, Breena agreed and has spend the last few weeks raising money for the first round of garments.  The clothing line is full of women’s garments that you can mix and match.  An ethical capsule wardrobe at it’s finest.

I am planning on ordering for sure – especially after Breena mentioned in an Instagram photo that she was drawing inspiration from Kari Jobe’s wardrobe.  I basically walk into stores and ask myself if Kari would wear this.  I also had a dream about the first line of Garment Collective clothing last night and they looked AH-MAZING.   Yes, it was a dream – but my dreams have a history of coming true!

Anyway – back to Garment Collective.  Here’s a video describing the inspiration for the project as well as Breena’s hope for the collection and the women involved.

It is no secret that Better Life Bags has a heart for empowering and employing women, and we are honored to play a small part in helping this new business – with the same heart for women – get on it’s feet.

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Buy that Better Life Bag you’ve had your eye on!  100% of today’s profits will be going to Garment Collective’s Kickstarter.  Our BLB ladies will – as always – be paid in full and insured even more sustainable work.
  2. Donate to the Kickstarter here.  If you aren’t ready to make your BLB purchase, consider giving a donation of any amount.  I, personally, have my eye on one of those “Redemption for All” t-shirts at the $75 donation level!
  3. Share this Double Give Back Day with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!  Here’s an Instagram sized photo to help:

Double Give Back IG_edited-1

How cool would it be to bring Garment Collective to 100% funded TODAY!

We will update this post tomorrow with the results of today’s Double Give-Back Day!

{ 1 comment }

January Goals

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 8.46.30 PM

I’m not one to make full on YEAR LONG resolutions.  I do create a “theme” that I feel for the year, but having actionable goals that last 12 months just feels too long and too big to even try to accomplish.  Trust me, I’ve tried.

So, I’m back with setting monthly goals.  Looking back to the month before and then setting my sights on what is to come.

I missed doing December’s goals, so let’s review Novembers to see how I did:

  • Eat a protein rich breakfast every morning.  I did this with HUGE success!  It was either peanut butter toast or scrambled eggs & bacon (sometimes both).  And because of this, I noticed a big change in how long it took for me to get hungry again.  I could easily go until 1 or 2pm until my tummy told me it was time to each again.  This made for very productive mornings.
  • Hide my phone from 7-10pm.  If you listed to the Happy Hour Podcast I was on with Jamie Ivey, you’ll know that I didn’t do so great at keeping this goal.  Until my husband showed me how to put my phone on “Do Not Disturb” every night from 7pm-7am.  I schedule my phone to automatically go into this mode, and then I’m not interrupted when my phone buzzes or dings or chirps.  I can check it when I WANT to and then set it down and forget about it because it’s not incessantly reminding me that it’s there.  Highly recommend using the DO NO DISTURB feature on your iPhone.
  • Finish our wholesale pricing.  I hired someone to do this and she is almost done!  We will be launching our wholesale program this month!  Know any boutiques that should be carrying Better Life Bags?
  • Read two books.  I tried to read this one and this one.  But I just could NOT get myself to read them.  Blew through this one, though.  FAST.  So good.  And then I had an entirely new revelation that is probably going to change my life.  I don’t like reading non-fiction.  And that is OK.  I like the IDEA of reading non-fiction.  Of growing in and learning about new things.  So, I got an audible.com account.  And have listened to three non-fiction books in the last three weeks.  I’ll write about those later.

January’s Goals:

  • Paint the guest room.  I’m thinking of going bold and dark in there.  With one wall of thick stripes – mostly because I don’t want to take down the big shelf that we hung on the wall.  So that will be where the white stripe will lie.
  • Finish two photo books and Corbin’s 1st year collage.  Pictures are hugely important to me.  And I’ve been really good about printing our pictures into My Publisher photo books every six months or so.  Until last year.  And then I haven’t printed a book of photos for more than a year.  And even have a hole in the chronology of books – which means I need to dig and find those missing photos in order to complete our set.  You have no idea how itchy and messy this makes me feel inside to know how unorganized one of the most important parts of my life is.  I also really want to develop a good photo storage system.
  • Continue to eat a protein rich breakfast AND do not eat ANYTHING after 7pm (except on date nights).  My dad used to tell me that nothing good happens after 10pm.  I’m pretty sure that the same can apply to the food I eat after 7pm.  It’s usually not healthy food and the chances of me doing anything except sitting on the couch while eating unhealthy food is pretty high.  So I’m done.  No more food after 7pm.
  • Plan out the entire 2015 calendar year for Better Life Bags.  Figure out what days we are going to open up our workshop for retail shopping, set our semi annual sale, search and find craft shows to set up a table of bags, finalize special projects and products, set financial goals, and get a good weekly rhythm established.

What are some of your goals for January?  Or 2015?  Do you do themes for the year?  Or monthly goals?  Or a big year long resolution?

 

{ 5 comments }

UnSeen

I scrolled through and saw it.  Thumb stopped mid-air and I realized that I was – again – left out of something that I felt like I fit perfectly in.  And my mind reels and my heart pounds and I tell myself that I’ll never catch up.  I’ll never get ahead enough to be seen by those who matter.  Matter for what, though?  Matter to whom?

Lately, it seems, no matter how successful the business is.  Or who recognizes what I’m doing, it’s not enough.  I want more.  I want to be seen more.  I want to be invited more.  And it’s super ugly.  Like really, really messy stuff that the internet doesn’t need to read or know about me.

But, then maybe it does.  Because the internet has had enough of people pretending.  Walking around silently (yet very publicly) crowning some people worthy and others “un” in the spirit of authenticity.

When will I get it through my thick skull and envious sinful heart that we all have GOOD things planned for us from the Lord.  Different things – but all proclaimed (by a God who does not lie) to be good.

So can I just start rejoicing when it’s time for someone else’s good thing to explode?   Instead of being so worried that I am losing my grip on some fabricated, imaginary, and utterly useless leaderboard?  Can I make a commitment to cheer from a genuine and real place?  And then come behind and encourage deeply.  And maybe even quietly?  Behind the internet.  Off the internet.  In the places that will be UNSEEN.

Unseen

Because I’m realizing that maybe the unseen places are really the gold mines.  The true and honest and real places of good things.  Quiet things.  Deep things.  Powerful things that don’t need to be sprawled across social media to be given value.

And if I do this, can I become meek?  And mild?  And somehow humble in the process of hiding?  Not hiding out of fear of being found out, but out of deep security and knowledge of who I am to the inmost core – that I am intimately known to the One who really matters.

I love the end of December with the hope of the New Year on the horizon.  With the anticipation of what the next year will bring and how we plan to play a part in making it happen.   And I especially love the proclamation and naming of what the year will be.  The popular-in-blog-land “word of the year”.

I didn’t pick a personal “word” for 2014.  I did for the business, though.  I felt that it was going to be our “make it or break it” year.  The year that, if we got through with substantial profit, would mean that we were really going to make it.  We started the year with a massive tax bill that I wasn’t prepared for, and I just had a feeling that we were either going to sink or learn to swim.  And we swam.  So we continue on.  And this year, my phrase for Better Life Bags is: “Put your pants on”.  Because it’s time to get serious and get studied and get professional.

But my personal word for 2015 couldn’t be more opposite.  I want to be “unseen”.

I want to journal in places that aren’t published.  I want to send individualized encouragement in sealed, private envelopes.  I want to give generously without Instagraming about it.  I want to take pictures with the intention of never showing them to people.  I want to become emotionally rich internally in ways that only I and the people closest to me know.  I want to dig my roots in deep and invest in physical people and community around me.  I want to read my Bible without thinking about how I might share with the masses later.

I want to hide myself behind the person of Jesus.  To take my place as His unworthy servant – just doing my duty.  To rest in the strong comfort that He is pleased with me.  To keep my head down.

Maybe it will be the moments that I don’t post and the revelations that I don’t blog about that will really matter in 2015.  And I can stop watching other people’s good things happen and feel the pangs of envy.  Because deep, immensely rich GOOD things are going on in my life, too.  Good things that I finally am able to see because I have stopped caring how it appears or who notices.  Good things that the Internet doesn’t need to know about to deem it “good”.  Quiet things.  Real things.  Small things.  Unseen things.

{ 8 comments }