February 28, 2014

Of Valentines & Birthdays & Giveaways

Oh February, you flew by too fast. You were full of good things. Teaching days, a Valentines trip to IKEA, finished projects, happy new house kitchen picks, and a pretty pink birthday cake. Oh, and a chance to share some Amazima around... one red bead necklace and one multi-coloured bracelet, a piece for you and one to share with someone you love! 

You can enter by leaving a comment below, firing off an e-mail, or leaving a comment on Instagram (just look for a post of the pic above). The giveaway is open until March 7th and one lucky winner will be drawn on March 8th. Anyone can enter - best of luck and Happy February!

February 25, 2014

Travel Dreaming

As winter seems to drag its feet, I find myself longing to travel. Is there a place, one special place, that you just have to see one day? You know, if money and time and the trappings of life were no object? I have long held dreams of travelling overseas, dreams that remain through years and seasons and time. 

My one special place is the home of several people I find inspirational, and the setting of part of Pride and Prejudice. My place is the Lake District in Cumbria, England. This place is home to Hilltop Farm, the parcel of land Beatrix Potter bought and added onto over the years, and also Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount, homes of William Wordsworth. John Ruskin also grew up in the Lake District. That such famed and adored writers lived, wrote and breathed in the same area is no coincidence to me. There truly must be something about this place which inspires thought and word.

Of these dreams I can say;

I have owed to them In hours of weariness, sensations sweet, 
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart; 
And passing even into my purer mind, 
With tranquil restoration:—feelings too 
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps, 
As have no slight or trivial influence 
On that best portion of a good man's life, 
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts 
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust, 
To them I may have owed another gift, 
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood, 
In which the burthen of the mystery, 
In which the heavy and the weary weight 
Of all this unintelligible world, 
Is lightened:—that serene and blessed mood, 
In which the affections gently lead us on,— 
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame 
And even the motion of our human blood 
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep 
In body, and become a living soul: 
While with an eye made quiet by the power 
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, 
We see into the life of things. 

Excerpt from 'Lines composed above Tintern Abbey' ~ William Wordsworth

February 6, 2014

Lines to Live By...

I am not a resolution-maker, but I have set my heart on one little project this year. The book of John has always been dear to my heart, and I'm on a quest to memorize as much of it as I can.

It's hard to explain, but this book does something to me. I believe the Holy Spirit brings certain passages for certain times, and the first chapter of John is breathing so much life. Light in Darkness. Overcoming. Our Great God, the Creator of the universe and all that is in it. Rejection. Heartbreak. Triumph. Adoption. Acceptance. It's all there in these first few verses;

(here we go from memory...)

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him, all things were made; without Him, nothing was made that has been made. In Him was Life, and that Life was the Light of all mankind. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him, all might believe. He himself was not the Light, he came only as a witness to the Light. The true light that gives life to all mankind (everyone) was coming into the world.  (He was in the world and) though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. 

He came to that which was His Own, yet His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who called upon (believed in) His name, He gave the right to become children of God. Children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision, or a husband's will, but born of God." John 1:1-13 corrections in brackets ;)

Last night Neal and I went out to see the second Hobbit movie, and these verses came to mind. There is one point, where Gandalf is speaking to The Darkness (Sauron), and the darkness is asserting there is no light that can overcome it. There are many moments, in each part of Tolkien's saga, where darkness appears to win. Yet we know it is eventually overcome. It is overcome by small acts of bravery and courage, by an unassuming little Hobbit. How like these days, where it is so easy to feel like darkness is overcoming. Darkness in poverty, politics, intellectual circles, and more often than I would like, darkness in my heart too. I need this Light that can overcome. I want to be one who would receive Him, and follow with simple acts of bravery and obedience.

In every dark place this week, may the Light strongly shine.

February 1, 2014

Squirreled Away

Although moving a little quick for my shutter speed, this friendly ball of fast fur seemed completely at ease with a large person watching his every move. I was out catching the last rays of sun on a brisk winter afternoon when a squirrel castle was found, complete with munching inhabitant. An abandoned, hollowed out old spruce stump stood as a rampart in the woods, partially covered in moss and completely covered with pinecone hulls. 

Since the departure of the farm cats, squirrels have enjoyed free reign of the surrounding forest. Their chatter can be heard every time you set foot outside. I get a kick out of how they scamper at lightning speed across the fields of frozen snow, just little streaks with fluffed up tails.

I have been squirreled away myself a bit lately, taking stock of this new year and where I am at in many areas of life. I believe time is precious, we are only given so much, and I want to spend it wisely. This has meant an absence from social media (Facebook in particular) and a desire to re-invest in real life. If my time is held as a pocketful of coins, I feel I have plugged too many into scanning newsfeeds. It began as a desire to stay connected, yet kind of morphed into a strange sense of disconnect, like I was a spectator of people's lives and not a real participant. 

I want to be a participant. I want to be intentional. Not that social media is in itself a bad thing at all. I'm just feeling the need to pare down, and gain perspective and focus. 

{Distraction: Isn't she cute?}

Paring down has also meant shutting down Take Joy Designs for the time being. I may still participate in local craft fairs when they arise, but that will be the extent of it. Again, I am seeking focus and where to invest my time and resources. 

This place though, where words run out and connections are made. This is not going anywhere. I need this space, I need sometimes to let words flow and connect with those who would say 'me too'. 

{deep breath}

Thank you for reading here. Thank you for investing your time. I appreciate it more than you know. If I know you in person the next time I see you, you can expect a big hug and a genuine 'how are you'. If we have met through these spaces, know that same hug and caring concern is extended out to you. Words have not come easy lately and I am mulling over many things, yet know that you are remembered and loved with a Great Grace. Thank the Lord for grace.

Have a blessed, intentional, real-life kind of week. I'm rooting for you.