Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Lark & Bloom Has Moved

Hey! Lark & Bloom has moved. You can find the blog at it's new home over at Wordpress. Here is the link:

Lark & Bloom

See you guys over there!


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pea Head Takes A Vacation

Source: Ignite Lite
Pea Head is taking a vacation. I am Pea Head. I got that nickname in Turkey. Someone there discovered that my head is in fact, very small. It is hidden underneath really fluffy hair, so you probably haven't ever noticed. That is another story for another day...

But, this Pea Head is tired. September was one of the busiest months I have ever had in years. Full time mom, speaking engagements, helping build an anti-trafficking organization, writing guest posts, dealing with a family member who is having some challenges...it was a bit out of control to be honest.

In the midst of my stress headaches I began to evaluate Lark & Bloom. I love writing & telling everyday stories, but I feel as if God is wanting to clarify somethings for me regarding this blog. It has been a total hodge-podge of thoughts, which is a pretty good reflection of it's author. 

This image puts it well. I want to take the month of October to create Lark & Bloom's future. Nothing major - it isn't suddenly going to become a recipe blog or a place to find do-it-yourself tips. In fact, you may not notice much of a change at all. 

However, I need a bit more internal direction when I sit down to write. So, Pea Head is going to take some time to get inspired, envisioned and have a bit more of an understanding of what I want Lark & Bloom to be.

Look forward to seeing you all in November! 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Advice I Need

Source: Pinterest
I need this advice. It sounds silly, but I often forget to do what makes me happy. I bought a ringtone for the first time EVER the other day. The song makes me smile. My phone rings at least 20 times a day, so this purchase insures that I will smile at least 20 times.

Not a bad investment. This week I am trying to figure out how to incorporate more of the things that make me smile into my week.

I am hoping to add more of the following:

  • reading
  • aimless walks
  • roadtrips
  • chat with friends 
  • hot drink parties
  • cooking from scratch
  • meeting interesting people
  • finding design that challenges my view of something
  • finding buried treasure. I haven't actually done this, but I bet it would be fun.
  • Visiting new places
  • learning about topics that aren't practical, but I find interesting. Things like the history of American feminism. 
You can ask me in a few weeks if I have actually done more of these things. 

What things make you happy that you should do more of?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Babysitting For A Murderer

This isn't too far of a throwback, but I have been thinking about it lately. Enjoy!
A popular sticker around Seattle.

It was 2005 and our apartment was on top of a Safeway & a Starbucks. I got in the elevator, went down one floor and the smell of brewing coffee met me. Have I mentioned how much I love Seattle?

I spent lots of time in that Starbucks and became friends with a barista named Autumn. She had dyed black hair, plugs in her ears, piercings in her face and tattoos on most of her skin. We hit it off from the beginning. I would invite her to church up in my living room on Sundays and she would return the warm gesture by inviting me to her burlesque parties. Neither of us ever took the other up on the invites.

Slowly my friendship with Autumn began to grow. We couldn't be more different and yet oddly we found the other refreshing. After about a month she was my closest Seattle friend. I would meet her when she got off work & ride the bus with her. She lived near the campus I went to regularly to meet college students. We would talk about God and she would ask me questions I didn't have answers to. "I can't answer that. You just have to meet Him for yourself" I would say.

Autumn had a one year old little girl named Opal & a boyfriend named Merlin. Like the wizard. He changed his name to Merlin because he hated God and felt that naming himself after a wizard would reinforce that point (this is Seattle remember).  Meeting Merlin was nothing compared to what came next.

The big news came in a parking garage when I was about to give her a ride home. She was talking about slam poetry and mentioned that she started performing in prison. Uh...prison? That's when it came out. She was a murderer. Mind you we are alone in a dark parking garage when I make this discovery. Freaking out inside, faking a causal smile on the outside. The crime wasn't intentional, but it happened all the same.

Two weeks later I found myself driving to Autumn's house at 6:30am. Opal needed a babysitter while Autumn went and got her drug treatment at a nearby rehab clinic. I sat with a sleepy Opal for an hour in Autumns room. Very much a reflection of Autumn's life, her room was a wreck. It was decorated with black ravens and pornographic pictures of herself. It was the darkest place.

I would sit and rock little Opal while singing worship songs to try and keep my sanity. I would bring my Bible and read scripture , pray & declare promises over Opal's life. Autumn would come back and we would walk Opal to her daycare. Then we would drive back to my apartment. She would start her shift at Starbucks and I would go home and make breakfast.

I did that for about two weeks until Autumn was able to get Opal into daycare earlier. You may read this and think me some sort of Christian hero, but I am not. If I had visited her house before offering to babysit, I would never have volunteered.

 I learned a few things during my time with Autumn & Opal.

First, I learned that in really dark places God's presence glows the brightest. Autumn's creepy bedroom changed completely when I worshiped and prayed with little Opal. The ravens were overshadowed by the goodness and lightness of God. All else melted away. It didn't matter how dark and oppressive the environment was, it mattered that I met God there.

Second, I realized that the Church isn't going to change the world by promoting a certain agenda. It is going to change the world by sitting in creepy living rooms. Holding babies that aren't ours. Listening to stories that make us uncomfortable. The Church is going to change the world by loving and serving the broken & knowing that without the grace of God their mistakes could have been our mistakes.

Third I realized that the goal of loving people isn't for a happy ending. This story didn't have a happy ending at all. They disappeared without telling me where they moved. No one gave their life to Jesus or came to church. I told Autumn once that even though she doesn't want Jesus now, some day she might. And if she ever does, she can call upon Him and He will come without delay. I'm hoping she remembers that & in heaven I can find out it was a happy ending after all. We don't love so that we have great stories of happy endings. We love people because God loves them, and that is reason enough.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I Am A Celebrity In Taiwan

Taiwan was good to me. The extent of my stay was the airport, but there was so much to love. It was just a layover on the way to Thailand, but it gave me some very enriching experiences.

First, was the Hello Kitty Lounge. I would like to note that this is not a children's area. This lounge is for adult passengers & it was in fact full of adults. Hello Kitty was splashed throughout the entire space.  If you go to Taiwan you most definitely need to stop by. Don't worry, you can't miss it. There are life size cutouts of Hello Kitty pointing the way to the lounge throughout the entire airport.

Also, I had some delightful dumplings and some kind of ginger soup for breakfast. Yes, breakfast. When in Taiwan...

The best part about my visit was the fact that I am apparently a celebrity in Taiwan. My friend Amy was traveling with me and she was the first to notice it. Everyone was staring at me. Then they started whispering to each other. Next thing we know their phones come out & photos are being taken. Here I am sitting at the gate where these people had just snapped my photo. 

Then my loyal fans began to nonchalantly try and see the name on my boarding pass. I didn't oblige. They would know I am not whatever celebrity they thought I was & I would go back to basic pedestrian status. 

I would like to thank the person in the Taiwan airport that started the rumor that I was famous. It was great fun & by far the best lie ever told about me. Sadly, when I returned to America I was not greeted with the same respect & fanfare. The rumor died somewhere over the Pacific. 

Amy & I were never able to figure out who they mistook me for. Any guesses? 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Geography of Love

Let me tell you about the problem I have with God's love. I know He loves me, but I always find myself a bit baffled about the location of that love.

Life is one big story. I know that God loves me in my big overarching story. Skimming through the chapters in my life I sense His love & purpose for me. I see His faithfulness at all the big mile markers. I get God's love on the 'macro' level.

The dilemma I find myself in is this: The story of my life is a culmination of ordinary days.

Totally lazy days.
Days full of striving.
Emotional days when I act like a 12 year old who didn't make the cheer squad.
Days when I do what I know I shouldn't do.
Fantastic moments when I say something that sounds more profound than it actual is.
Days when I manipulate because I don't think God knows what He is doing.
Days when I don't like what God is doing.
Days when I do better than I ever imagined I could do.

We live in days. Some are great & others are very unimpressive.

Too often I find myself just trying to get past the days to the big themes of the story.

I saw this verse a few weeks ago & it has become a sort of mantra for me.

"Be HERE..." Here in the awkward moment. Here in the boring moment. Here in the small victory.

"...the King is wild for you." He doesn't just love me. He is wild for me.

I need to stop trying to get to the next place & the next day. He is wild for me right where I am.

God's love isn't just some big & ambiguous 'everywhere'. It is here. It is today. And it is wild.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Naptime Abolitionist

I have always been a big fan of naps. My very favorite kind of nap is when I am the one napping. That kind is a rarity since children arrived. My second favorite kind of nap is the one my kids take.

Every afternoon around 1pm it is naptime at our house. The kids go off to rest in their rooms & I settle into work. I turn my attention from the numbers my son is learning to a different set of numbers. Numbers like these:
  • 27,000,000 - the number of slaves in the world today
  • 2 - the number of children trafficked into slavery per minute
  • $90 - the average price of a slave right now
  • 100,000 - a conservative estimate of how many American children are victims of sex trafficking   currently
  • 2,000,000 - the number of children enslaved
  • 13 the average age of entry into the sex industry in the U.S.
  • 99% - the number of slaves who will never be rescued
  • 300,000 the number of children who are being used to fight armed conflicts
  • 720 - the number of children in Texas trafficked every month
Why do these numbers matter to me?

I am a naptime abolitionist.

I don't have an FBI badge, a law degree, or a social work position. I don't have millions of dollars to donate. But, I do have naptime.

So, when 1 pm rolls around I put away the laundry & pull out my files. It doesn't feel like much, but it is what I have to give. So for that hour I do my 'other job'.

I work for an anti-trafficking organization called UnBound. We have six chapters around the United States. Our work focuses on awareness, prayer, rescue & aftercare, and public policy. We are a collection of people giving up our naptimes & Starbucks latte money, and donating the skills and resources we have to end human trafficking.

Maybe you don't have naptime. Maybe you have coffee breaks at work or an extra $15 a month you can contribute.

Giving up naptime is a sacrifice, but anything worth having always comes at a cost.

If you want to learn more about human trafficking, check out UnBound's website.

27 million people have no voice. Will you lend them yours?

Friday, September 14, 2012

I Slept On Sticks Last Night

Well, I missed Throwback Thursday yesterday. I guess this week it will be Flashback Friday???

My son when he was two.

I am really not sure why I woke up. But last night at 1:30 am I woke up. I did what I do anytime I wake up in the middle of the night. I go check on my kids. No clue why I do that, perhaps it was just a habit I got into when they were infants. 

I went into Tait's room to check on him. He was on the verge of sliding off his bed, so I went ahead and slowly pushed him back into the middle of the mattress. That was a mistake I immediately regretted. He woke up. Great. And now he was crying. Even better. Seeing as how his half-asleep cry session was my fault, I snuggled up next to him to help him go back to sleep. 

You need to know one thing about my son.  He LOVES to play drums. His little arms are constantly banging out rhythms everywhere we go. Unlike most kids his age he doesn't care if his stuffed animals are in his bed or his blankie is next to him. He sleeps with his drumsticks. Not just one or two, but he sleeps with however many he can find before we tuck him into bed. Last night he slept with six drumsticks. 

As I  snuggled next to him he stopped crying. I tried to lay very still so he would drift off into sleepy bliss. The only problem was the six drumsticks. They were jabbing my face. He had them laid next to him on the pillow and I plopped my head right on top of them. It was really uncomfortable, but it seemed to be the ideal spot to snuggle Tait back to sleep. I laid there for about 10 minutes. 

I was thinking about how it was 1:30 in the morning & the last thing I wanted to do in the middle of my groggy night is lay on top of splintered sticks. Eventually he fell asleep. I hopped out of bed, rubbed my scratched face and went back into my bedroom. Once in my bed I got under the covers & pulled the blanket over my head. 

Since being married I have slept with the covers over my face. Jady can't sleep if there isn't a fan blowing & I seem to wake up every hour with the need to drink a gallon of water if the fan is on. Jady promises that the fan has nothing to do with it, but I find it hard to deny the fan is the culprit. Either way, I started sleeping with the covers over my head. 

I laid there thinking about the sticks and the fan. The little things we do to serve the people we love. Somehow laying there on Tait's sticks and hiding under the covers from Jady's fan made me smile and think about how fantastic they are. I love the sticks and the fans even though they aren't my personal preference.

Jady sacrifices things for me. Like not having a laundry schedule that runs with military precision ( or any precision for that matter). And when I am old and my joints ache my kids will sacrifice for me. To take care of me and make sure I have an extra cushy chair when I come to visit. It's just what you do when you love people. Sacrificing makes us love them more somehow. It reminds us that they are worth a bit of discomfort and a bit of not having it our way. 

I have known so many friends who chose or rejected marriage based on the things they would have to sacrifice. Not the big important things. But the things like where they buy their clothes, what music they listen to and their preferred way of communication. We often look to love those who require us to change the least instead of who we can love the most.

When we prefer others, we love others. When we prefer ourselves, we love ourselves. I'm not the best at this. I'm not even good at it. But I am thankful for nights of sleeping on sticks and the way they remind me to love.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Can You Handle My Awesomeness?

Here is a picture of my family from 8th grade. We were living in Siberia at the time. Although the jacket came from Guatemala...

Can you handle my awesomeness???

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My Way vs. God's Way

...It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex;
a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage;
frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness;
trinket gods;
magic-show religion;
paranoid loneliness;
cutthroat competition;
all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants;
a brutal temper;
an impotence to love or be loved;
divided homes and divided lives;
small-minded and lopsided pursuits;
the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival;
uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community.

I could go on...

...But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard - things like affections for others, exuberance about life, serenity. 

We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely...
Galatians 5:19-23 (MSG) 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

It's Not Personal, It's Politics.

Throwing it back on Thursdays. This post seems to apply right now.

Ahh. It is that time again. Election season. This occurrence happens every 4 years when people become quite vocal about their opinions and everything that is wrong with America. I was a political science major - I love politics. I love that we live in a country that allows me to have a voice. Our views are important and I have no problem with people expressing the things they are deeply concerned about regarding our country and it's leadership. I know that my readers come from all spectrums of political views.

But, as this election season gains momentum, I'd like to suggest a few things to make this experience more pleasant for all of us...

1. Don't Assume You Know What Someone Thinks - You may think that all Christians are Republicans and all environmentalists are Democrats. But really, they aren't. You might be surprised to find out what people really think. It gets awkward for me when you are bashing a political party and assuming that I agree with you. Please, don't put me in that position. 

2. Discuss, Don't Bash - America is a fantastic place that allows us to openly discuss what we believe and our reasons for believing it. I love hearing about different points of view & why you don't want to vote for someone. Just be respectful as you do it. 

3. Social Media Overload -  Some of you think you need to post your opinions on social media. Just remember that the voting age is 18 & your posts should sound like someone over 18 wrote them. If you are going public with it, sound like an intelligent person. Let's not make a political statement followed by LOL! or OMG! Just a thought to consider...

4. One Really Is Enough- This applies to yard signs and bumper stickers. Yes, put a sign in your yard! If you have a Ron Paul sign in your yard, I know who you support. The same with stickers. If you have a bumper sticker that says ROMNEY, I know that you think he is the best candidate. Putting 10 stickers for Romney doesn't make me think, "Wow. He really MUST be the best candidate." It makes me think" All those stickers...what are they gonna do when they want to sell their car???"

5. Get the facts. Pray. And Vote. - I highly suggest reading the actual transcripts of the debates and not just getting your opinion from political commentary. Make sure you know what someone really thinks about an issue. Pray about who to vote for. Then go vote. 

Alright. Those are my thoughts on that. At the end of the day we are all in this together. Let's be nice as we exercise our rights.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I Crawled Into A Really Small Hole Once

I crawled into a really small hole once. A hole I didn't think could hold me. A hole I didn't think could encompass the full scope of who I am.

There were times I wondered if I was shoved into this tiny space or if actually chose it.

It got boring in that hole. It wasn't big enough for my dreams. It wasn't big enough for the person I was trying to become. It wasn't even big enough to bring a friend into.

There didn't appear to be room for the fullness of who I was. The only version of me that could fit in the space was a very edited version. So edited I seemed nonexistent at times.

Just me and my hole. God was there though. Sometimes I got mad because He seemed to take up so much of the space. Space I could have used for other things.

I got mad. I got mad because it seemed the hole was holding me. My very source of discomfort was becoming my comfort. I didn't want to love the hole.

But I did. I began to own the mud walls. I smiled when I felt the dirt under my fingertips. It became home.

I began to find some resemblance of myself in that little cleft of the rock. A sense of belonging to it.

I have been told that His glory passes when we are in that place. I can't really say that I saw it at the time. It felt more like being stuck in a small hole.

I would prefer not to get stuck in another hole again.

However, if it happens, I know I will see more Glory. And that is what this journey is about.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Celebrating The One-Legged Lady

My sweet daughter. A lady who always speaks her mind.

I love being a mom, really I do. There are moments when it can be a bit challenging though. Moments when your daughter points out things that are best left unsaid. Especially when you are in a public place. 

"Look! She only has ONE leg!!!"
"Mom, that guy's eyes are so creepy!"
"Hey!!! Why is the fat lady shopping in that motorized cart? Is she too fat to walk???"

We were in Target once when something terrible happened.  The cashier was a woman in her mid 30s & as we inched closer to the register my stomach dropped. There were people lined up behind us so there was no way of escaping what I knew was about to happen. The female cashier had a beard. Not just peach fuzz, some real facial hair. Dear God, please don't let Sophie say anything. PLEASE!

Next thing I know my darling daughter yells, "Mom! That lady has a beard! No, really she has hair on her face.". She didn't say it or whisper. The volume was full on yelling. Ugh.

Desperate to get her quiet I found myself saying, "Yes she does. But doesn't she have pretty eyes?". It was an attempt to patch what I am sure was a painful blow to this poor lady who just got called out  for her hormone imbalances. 

Thankfully Sophie agreed that her eyes were pretty. Checking out was still a painful process. Do I apologize to the lady? Do I act like my daughter didn't just publicly shame her? I ended up just handing her the credit card & getting out without mentioning it.

Walking to the car I realized that most people, women especially, do that too. Focus on what is wrong not what is right. Focus on the peach fuzz on their chin instead of their crystal blue eyes. Most of us don't know how to celebrate imperfection. Especially in ourselves.

Now when Sophie points out the old lady with shaking arms, we talk about how pretty her long fingers are. The lady with burned skin on her face actually has a beautiful smile. The child in her class who is autistic may do things that she thinks are strange, but he also has a contagious laugh.

I don't want my daughter to be like me. Secretly, I see all of the imperfections in people and get disgusted. Especially with my own imperfections. 

I want my kids to know how to celebrate the woman with one leg. How to praise her for what IS beautiful about her. Not just so they can be nice, but because it will be them one day.

One day they will realize that they aren't perfect. None of us are. Our bodies carry more fat than we would like, our athletic abilities fall short, we didn't grow as tall as we wish we had and our hard work won't always show on a test score.

I want my kids to admire the woman with one leg for her strength, because one day they will realize that they are not perfect themselves. They will discover their missing "leg".  And I want them to celebrate anyway.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Truth Be Told

Truth be told, I have done these. So have you. Don't lie.

Thanks Pinterest for all of these. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Lie About Endings

Throwing it back Thursday style. Here is one from Oct. 2011.

My dad said something really profound the other day. "You wanna hear a lie?" he asked. "All good things must come to an end."

I kinda stared at him for a minute waiting to hear the punchline. Then it sunk in. Deep down, way deeper than I know, there is a part of me that believes anything good has a shelf life.

If you are anything like me, and many of you are, you spend your days anxious without really knowing why. The other day I had absolutely no plans. Zero. Yes, it is shocking. But I woke up and got a bit frantic about my day. I tried to rush my kids through breakfast, and got annoyed when they took their time.

Impatience escalated when I found myself stuck behind a slow driver (remember that I didn't have to be anywhere at any particular time.) Finally I passed the guy, but I began to wonder as I felt the satisfaction of pulling in front of him..."Why am I in such a hurry?"

As you know I am quite fond of pondering. So, I started to really think about it. Eventually I admitted that I live my life with an underlying sense of panic and dread. Nothing manic or over-the-top. Just enough to keep my anxiety humming at a low level. Just enough to keep me tired and skeptical.

When my dad said people live believing that good things have to end, my emotions made a lot of sense. I keep waiting for something bad to happen. I discovered that I even interpreted scriptures this way. All those verses about not fearing, Him giving us strength, grace...they must be because horrible things are going to happen. Embarrassing to admit, but its true. 

We can't be healthy forever, someone must be on the verge of sickness.
Every marriage has their rough patches, I guess we are about due for one.
My life is so full of transitions, I can't put roots down...they will just be pulled up.
My times with Jesus have been so rich lately, better soak it up before I hit another desert.
I am going to risk, but I will brace for disappointment. Its just a part of the journey.
There are more valleys than mountain tops...

The past few months I have been going through life waiting for the bottom to drop out from under me. No wonder I am tired and restless deep inside. I have opted out of rest, trust and joy in God. Bummer.

Like I said earlier, most of you are like me. You say it is 'wisdom' but it is really doubt. You can't quite fill up emotionally, stress is easily triggered, and deep down you are waiting for your fears to happen. 

Lets trade our "bah humbug" for a "hallelujah".  See, the Kingdom never stops. The goodness and power of God never reaches it's maximum. We waste our time and energy waiting for 'the catch'. His goodness and promises don't come to an end. They are ETERNAL. He is ETERNAL. 

"...I've picked you. I haven't dropped you. Don't panic. 
I'm with you. 
There is no need to fear for I'm your God. I'll give you strength. 
I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you." Isaiah 41:10 (MSG)

Monday, August 27, 2012

I May Not Have An Empire, But I Have A Place

I may not have an empire, but I have a place.

There is no bustle of activity centered around me. There is no long list of emails to return. There is no interview I had to turn down. Nothing I have ever created is on Pinterest.

Willow Creek isn't pursuing me for their Leadership Summit. Mom blogs aren't banging down my door for me to be a guest writer. 

The meals I spend hours preparing each week are tasted by three other people and are never featured on magazine covers. My house has not been photographed for a design blog. 

Some people have empires that are built around them. Empires of leadership. Empires of ministry. Empires of beauty, fitness and reality television. Empires of cuisine and free printable menu planners.

There is an empire for everything. 

Throughout history people have built empires. Their faces have been memorized and their stories read. 

I've never been the very best at anything & that's okay. I'm good at several things, average in most things and terrible at a couple things. (mostly things involving sports equipment)

I know there are a lot of books and podcasts to tell me how to be a more successful blogger or how to grow my social media presence. There are people to tell me that my poor grammar could cost me the ability to become a famous blogger. So, what? I have a 30 min window & I won't be able to catch it all. Just the way it is right now.

I know that everyone has a team that gets them to the top & Rome wasn't built in a day. But, I'm not so sure why I need to build Rome? Why can't I build Pisa? A place only known for having an accidentally flawed & crooked tower?

I have a place and it isn't so bad. I have .0000000000000000012% of the blog world.
I have two pairs of little eyes that light up when I pull out a craft box.
I have a man who thinks everyone should take beauty advice from me because to him I am the most beautiful woman alive.
I have a scattering of people who would say I have impacted their lives.
I have a God who makes up for all of my lack. 

I may not have an empire, but I have a place. And that is alright with me.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Life Is Too Short For Bad Design

Isn't this a gorgeous spot? It is one of my favorite coffee shops in Seattle, and my friend who was there this afternoon sent me this pic. I miss it.

This isn't a design blog at all , but this space is so inspiring I have to talk about it. When I lived in Seattle I would sit here for hours and brilliant things would pop into my head. Well, brilliant for me anyway. That is what great spaces do. They inspire.

A few years ago I realized that life is too short to spend time in environments that don't inspire me. Even if I have to get really creative with budget and meager resources, it is worth it to make a space that invigorates me.

I thought I would share with you a few of my favorite sites for helping create fantastic environments.

Design Sponge  - This site has great pictures to get your mind going. They include DIY, videos & before & afters. Plus, they have really great city guides for where to shop.

Style By Emily Henderson - I love her style. She finds great vintage things from flea markets & craigslist. Plus, she is great at re-purposing items. I want her to come decorate my house.

Apartment Therapy - What isn't to love about this website? Great ideas for small spaces and small budgets.

Elle Decor - So, this isn't going to be the most budget friendly site. If you are looking for polished & super stylish ideas...you'll love it.

Anthropologie - I could spend hours in their stores. I LOVE their spaces and the website is fun to browse.

Okay, those are my favorite places. Where do you go for design inspiration?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Skinny On Skinny Jeans

Throwback Thursday time. This skinny jean post is from January 2012. 

Love them or hate them, they are around to stay. I'm talking about skinny jeans people. Some of you have it in your mind that you will end up looking like an ice cream cone if you tried them on. But really everyone can wear them. 

If you are a guy, I am going to redirect you to The Woods Style. It is a fashion blog for dudes. If you are a lady...lets continue. 

This is NOT a skinny jean. It is a badly tapered jean.

THIS is a proper skinny jean.

Okay, lets get one thing straight. Skinny doesn't mean tight. Tight jeans don't look good on anyone. Skinny jeans are referring to the way jeans taper down the leg. Think Audrey Hepburn. I'm going to break it down really simply for you:

  • It doesn't matter what size you are, you can wear skinny jeans. If you aren't comfortable with the way larger hips look in them (I happen to think it looks fantastic, but that is just me) then you can go for a slim or straight fit. This basically means that instead narrowing between the knee and foot the cut will go straight down from the knee. It balances out curvy hips nicely & creates the same effect. Its also good if you feel you are too old for skinny jeans but want to get in on the trend.
  • If you have large thighs, get a dark wash. Fading or texture on the pant leg will only draw attention to the thighs.
  • We all love muffins, but not muffin tops...at least not on us. To avoid a spillage at the waist, the band should be about 1 or 1.5 inches below your belly button. You might be tempted to go for a higher waist as an effort to cover up any extra weight. BUT, if you do that then you push all your weight down under the waist band and create the belly bulge. After having two children I am prone to the belly buldge. Boo.
  • Proportion is everything. Really. Everything.
  • Here is a perfect way to wear a skinny jean if you want to minimize a tummy or hips. And this chic looks adorable!
    • If you tend to carry your weight in the middle then go for an A-line top that will create shape but still skim past your skin. 
    • Don't wear a tight top with skinny jeans. Personally, I wish women would skip tight tops all together, but really really skip it if you are wearing skinnies. It is just too much.
    • If you are not wanting to highlight your curves, opt for a cute tunic top. It covers the hips and exposes the narrowest part of your thigh. You can also hop on the boyfriend cardigan trend. Wearing one will cover hips & butt nicely. (If you have no idea what I am talking about click here. )
  • Shoes! Tuck your skinnies into boots. Wear them with heels or flats. It all works. 
    • One thing to note. If you are curvier, wearing flats will draw attention to your hips. If you don't want to show those darlings off, then go with a boot or bulkier heel to bring some proportion. 
  • Check your backside. Make sure the pair isn't giving you a wedgie. And make sure the pockets are centered in the middle of your butt to keep you from looking like you have a saggy behind. Don't get buttoned down pockets on skinnies. It ruins the silhouette.
Okay. That is skinny 101. You can get great skinnies pretty much everywhere these days. Target to Barneys. 

If you are curvier and a have trouble finding a flattering pair, I have found the perfect starting point. Check this out, Levi's Curve ID Skinny Jeans. They have 4 degrees of curve options and you can pick which shape fits you best. Then buy a pair of jeans cut for your curves. And they are a pretty good price. 

Most of my skinny jeans are from GAP and Urban Outfitters. If you have some serious money to spend you can get fantastic pairs from J Brand, Habitual, Hudson Jeans, Joe's Jeans, and Alice + Olivia. 

Now you can march boldly into the land of the skinnies. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Impoverished Confusion

impoverishedpast participle, past tense of im·pov·er·ish (Verb)

  1. Make (a person or area) poor: "they impoverish their people"; "impoverished farmers".
  2. Exhaust the strength, vitality, or natural fertility of: "the soil was impoverished by annual burning".

Noun:          1. The act of confusing.
                    2. The state of being confused
                    3. disorder; upheaval; tumult; chaos
                    4. lack of clearness or distinctness
                    5. perplexity; bewilderment

I read this verse the other day and was immediately intrigued. What is impoverished confusion and why does it seem to be in opposition to living?

I chewed on the idea all day & jotted down realizations as they came to me. By 5pm I was well aware that my life was full of impoverished confusion. I was full of half-thought thoughts. Running around all day trying to clarify my goals as I went. 

There was chaos in my mind because I hadn't made the time to really process out all of my emotions and stored up ideas. I moved from one thing to the other without properly concluding my previous activity. My mind raced two different ways because I wasn't disciplined enough to master it. I was chaotic inside. 

I wasn't worried or anxious, but I was exhausted. I had no new and fresh ideas because I drained all my creativity with 20 projects that never went anywhere. There was nothing to show for all my energy. My days were not guided by any clear direction. It made me feel incapable.

I also realized that there are other areas of confusion that keep me weak and poor in spirit. Questions that have no answers. All the 'what ifs' and 'why nots'. I cannot answer any of them & yet I waste my mental power trying to solve them. I began to mistake vain imagination for daydreaming. 

Plotting out my response to situations I may never be in. In the end I am still left without answers. I am full of confusion not clarity. Impoverished confusion. 

What I need to do is leave it. Leave it behind & live. Deny the temptation to plot out all the possible scenarios. Embrace what is certain. Celebrate what I do accomplish not plan for 50 things I want to do someday. (thanks Pinterest) Hold on to what I DO know about God and His purposes. 

I need to leave my impoverished confusion & live.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I'm About To Straight Boss You Around

This is me & I am so in love. I'm not one to normally promote products, but there are two things you need to know about. Seriously. NEED to know. 

First, my very absolute most favoritest conference in the world is coming up. World Mandate is  Sept. 14-16. I think there are still some seats available which is lucky for you because you need to go. Check out World Mandate's website here.

Second, is the new Antioch Live album entitled 'Forever Sound'. It's a must buy. It is #3 on iTunes right now for a reason. I went old school with an actual CD, but you can find it on iTunes here.

Go there NOW (told you I was bossy today) and check it out. It is worth the time.

My favorite song is probably 'The One We Want'. Which one is your favorite?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wish This Was Me

By Joe Bradshaw

Forget Famous

I originally posted this in April of 2011, but it still rings true today. Happy Throwback Thursday.

Sitting in a field. Forgetting famous.

In true California fashion we headed to the beach this past Saturday. While we were driving there we passed a small law firm. You know, the kind you see in a free standing building with a few parking spaces allotted to it. Nothing fancy, just the average law firm. This thought crossed my mind "I wonder if they feel small."

There are so many TV shows about successful lawyers handling glamorous litigations. It seems like every day in the news you come across cases that will shape public policy. It has to make these family lawyers feel that their jobs are silly in comparison. Social security claims, writing wills, traffic injuries...small potatoes. I hoped that the few family lawyers who worked in that firm didn't feel all the things crossing through my mind. Small. No one wants to feel small.

Except that we do. We do feel small. We live in this mentality that if what we are doing doesn't seem mind blowing or book- writing interesting, then it isn't worth much. Our little minds get stuck in smallness. A spirit of smallness is daunting and discouraging. It breathes insignificance.

I give into a small spirit all the time. I get so locked in on a single days activity that I forget what it is building. Baby steps still go somewhere. I get obsessive about petty things. I give my energy and mental capacity to them. So much time wasted wondering why way more people follow Jady on twitter than me. I mean, they know both of us. Or how come someone asked the girl next to me for prayer when I was available too. Or getting hung up on small dramas within interpersonal relationships. I can't get big if I am stuck in small.

I hate that feeling. We all do. It holds us down and makes us feel silly if we try and act big. I feel stupid saying "I'm a writer." I haven't written a book or been published. I blog. No, not the blog that they make a movie out of like Julie & Julia. Just an everyday blog like everyone else my age.

We think that if we aren't the most acknowledged, the most famous or popular at what we do...then it is just a hobby. Junior varsity stuff. Some of the most powerful teachings I have heard aren't from mega church podcasts. They come from men and women who are giving their lives pastoring a small congregation. But they have put the same blood, sweat and tears into their calling. They have the same anointing. And, I would call you a liar to your face if you said they were "small" compared to the "big" guys.

You are still a teacher no matter if you teach at an elementary school or at Yale. A worship leader is a worship leader regardless if they have an album. Artist are artists even if their paintings are not insured. Famous doesn't make you who you are. Kim Kardashian is famous & I haven't a clue what she does. So, lets just throw famous out the window. And the spirit of smallness along with it. Sure, I may be a little tiny mustard seed, but I have a big God. And together we move mountains. Even if no one sees.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I Need Your Help

Source: Pinterest

This funny thing happens to me every so often. I get the crazy urge to go somewhere. I would travel every few months if I could...but I can't. 

So, I'm taking this poster's advice. I am going to read something. A story that takes place somewhere interesting. It doesn't have to be exotic. 

I'm going to "go" somewhere via a novel. But which one??? That is where you come in. What are some of your favorite books? Leave your recommendations in the comments!

Thanks for my book vacation suggestions!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

Our Seattle team circa 2008. Livin the dream...

"Sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people."
-Nicholas Sparks

It really is true. It is less about what you do and more about who you do it with. I have been a part of some fantastic teams of people. Any accomplishment I may have is the result of living life side-by-side amazing friends.

Friends have kept my mind straight, my dreams advancing and my belly sore from laughing at the journey. Our roles and jobs come & go. Living life with the right people is make or break for me.

I'd rather  work the wrong job and have the right people around me than live the dream without the team.

So, to all my Lark & Bloom 'team', I celebrate you. Thanks for turning ordinary into extraordinary.