Yearly Archives: 2012

you’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting

Baby Elle_0029bwpeachyO come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
***
Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting
Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child
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Hope that you don’t mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long awaited Holy Stranger
Make yourself at home
Please make yourself at home
***
Bring your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
World now breaking Heaven’s silence
Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world
***
Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born
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So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world
***
O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
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my birthday wish

IMG_1651_2Today is my 37th birthday, and here is my birthday wish: THAT I WOULD CONTINUE TO UNDERSTAND AND PRACTICE BEING A FRIEND TO MYSELF INSTEAD OF AN ENEMY.

This has been the single greatest revelation of the last year. Basically, there are so few things in life that I can fully control. One thing I can control is how I treat myself. Am I “for” myself, or am I against myself? Companion or critic? How I put radical self-acceptance into practice changes everything. It changes my parenting, my marriage, my relationships, my capacity for enjoyment, my writing, and my ability to participate in my own life.

I cannot walk out into the world courageously, I cannot parent authentically and wholly, I cannot write vulnerably, I cannot relate honestly . . . without first being there for myself as I would a friend. This is my birthday wish. That in this next year I would even more fully be on my own team.

What a poorly timed post, you may be thinking. With our most precious and gorgeous children killed in horrific violence. With the young life of a SEAL ended in Afghanistan. None of these losses recoverable. How can we take the time to be thinking about ourselves? How incredibly misguided.

I once heard Parker Palmer share about how deeply he wrestled with the violence and senseless loss of September 11. How he tried to understand some aspect of the tragedy. So he asked himself a very vulnerable question: What do I have in common with the terrorists of 9-11?

His answer? We are all heartbroken.

There isn’t a human on this planet who isn’t heartbroken in some way. Heartbrokenness accompanies our humanity. Part of the gig.

And if we rage against ourselves in that heartbrokenness, we will remain egregiously in our own way. Stuck. Impotent. Even worse, destructive. But if we can learn what it means to be there for ourselves as we would a friend, we might be able to get out of our own way long enough to change the world, or play on the floor with our kids, or get some words written, or just get up and move, or love someone.

So, in the face of such tragedy, this is precisely the kind of thing we need to be thinking about. Humanity’s heartbrokenness. Our own version of that heartbrokenness. And what we can do about it all. One of the most essential things we can do is take better care of ourselves. Stop punishing ourselves for being imperfect. Stop pushing ourselves to physical and emotional breaking points. Stop assuming the worst about ourselves. Stop believing we are flawed in some way. Stop buying into the lie that everyone else has the secret figured out and we didn’t get the memo. Stop trying to be God.

If we could begin to companion ourselves instead of being A#1 critics, we just might be able to get out there and make some kind of difference. We just might be able to be there for someone else. We just might be able to write something that matters. We just might be able to help someone feel heard, a little less alone. We just might be able to create a masterpiece.

My birthday wish is that I, and all of us, would better understand our own version of heartbrokenness and choose to be a companion to ourselves in that broken place. By God’s mercies-are-new-every-morning grace. And then — miraculously — see what kind of crazy magic might be made from such courageous living.

Believing in you. Believing in me.

All my love, Leeana

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christmas is God’s greatest poetry

Inching toward Christmas . . . beginning to hold space for what it all means.

I am awed by this today: God could have saved us in a single word. He could have saved us by a wave of his hand. He could have just simply “fixed” everything. And yet, he didn’t. Instead, he came to us. To sit with us when we are overwhelmed. To walk among us. To be near us. To step into our displacement and homelessness. To understand. To empathize. To listen.

Isn’t this what we long for most essentially in all our relationships? Not someone who will shove a solution at us, a quick fix. But, instead, someone who will sit with us. Someone who will say, “Yes, this is hard, and I’m with you.” Someone who will enter the messy fray, right by our side.

To me, Christmas is God’s greatest poetry. The single greatest act of radical rebellion: God putting on flesh. All for you. All for me.

I love these lines from Chesterton:

“A Child in foul stable,
Where beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home.”

Today — no matter what challenges we face, no matter what loss we mourn, no matter what hope we are struggling to hold on to, no matter what sense we are trying to make of it all, no matter how much time we’ve spent down there on the floor — may we remember that God so loved you and me that he sent his Son. Emmanuel. God with us. And may we take comfort in the fact that He has not loved us from a distance. But, instead, chose to come sit down on the floor right next to us. Amen.

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10 decor ideas for your holiday table and beyond

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Getting ready for Christmas brings out my creative side. I love putting special touches on my tree and table and I LOVE having people at our house, especially this time of year. But with my birthday, Steve’s birthday, and the twins’ birthday all in the month of December — let’s not forget about baby Jesus’ birthday, too — the month can begin to feel like it’s busting open at the seams.

I thought I’d switch blog gears for just today and assemble some ideas that have really worked for me over the years to create a great looking table, meaningful gathering, and not kill the budget or my sanity. Perhaps this could be a resource for you as you create an inviting space for yourself and those you love.

1. Empty wine bottles as water pitchers: Soak your empty wine bottle in hot water to remove the label (might need a dash of goo-gone to completely remove) and now you have a found water pitcher. For Thanksgiving, I put 4 down the center of my long table, and they added that great green recycled glass feel as well as ample water for a large table. Easy. Great look. Inexpensive. I keep six on hand all the time.

2. A set of black and white dishes: Year round, black and white always works. Classic. Goes with everything. I have an eclectic set of black and white dishes that I’ve collected over time. Target, Home Goods, Marshalls. Nothing expensive. I just pick up pieces when I find ones I like. Stuff on clearance, usually. I can add different color accents depending on the season to make them occassion-specific. Love.

3. Manilla tags: I always have these on hand. Always. I buy them in bulk at Staples (available in stores and online in various sizes). I get the pre-strung ones. I can use these as gift tags, place cards, mini menus at each place, food/drink labels (i.e. tie one to each of your wine bottles turned water pitcher with “water” written on it), etc. They are just hugely handy and add a nice texture to your table.

4. Butcher paper: Again, keep on hand. You can buy a HUGE roll of butcher paper at Home Depot near the paint section. I think it’s like $8. It’s got that great brown paper bag, recycled paper look. Use it as a runner down the center of your table and then write each person’s name above their place setting with a Sharpie. Run it down each side of your table for a cocktail party, place food on top, and then write food descriptions by each dish. Adds an unexpected and accessible dimension to the table.

5. A set of milk glass for serving dishes: My mom collected milk glass and passed on a beautiful set to me. Just pieces she picked up from random antique stores, garage sales, etc over the years. Little pitchers. Footed compotes. Trifle dishes. All different sizes and shape. Nothing really matches, and yet, because it’s all white, it all matches. I use these pieces all the time: to serve food, to contain cutlery, to house candles, to serve drinks. You can’t go wrong with a random set of milk glass. Fun to collect something practical and useful over the years, too.

6. Gold paper plates, plastic cutlery, and cups: Always, always, always have a set of gold (or silver) paper plates, plastic cutlery, and cups on hand. Festive, matches anything, and ready to be used whenever needed. I keep dessert size and luncheon size plates in stock. Super cheap at Party City or online at OrientalTrading.com. Works perfectly for a cocktail party, dessert and coffee after a sit down dinner, or appetizers. Having it on hand = no stress.

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7. Multipurpose Glasses: Remember these? Love. They are Bahraini tea glasses, but they reminded me of the European version of a wine glass. Small. Stemless. Almost like a juice glass. I found these at my local Mega Mart for literally less than 25 cents each, so I bought a big bunch of them. I can use them as water glasses, cocktail glasses, wine glasses, juice glasses, champagne flutes. You name it. They work. They can even serve as votives with a tea light inside. Very functional. I keep them stacked in a wire basket that I can pull out anytime.

8. Decorative paper napkins: Again, I always have a collection of these stashed. Not necessarily overtly seasonal. Instead I focus on colors I like. I also focus on napkins I can use beyond a specific holiday. Loved the turquoise, gold, and green peacock napkins in the picture above for Thanksgiving. Harvest-y, fall colors with a twist. I always use paper napkins because they add a pop of color, texture, decoration, and they make clean up EASY! No laundry. No ironing. Black and white paper napkins are always great to have for the same reason that black and white dishes are great to have. Go with anything! B/W stripes, polka dots, or damask are great choices to mix and match. Initialed paper napkins are always fun too!

9. Juxtapose natural and fancy: There’s something very soulful about seeing very humble materials right next to fancy materials. Butcher paper and mercury glass. Old wood and crystal. Branches and gold. This is probably one of the things that makes a table most beautiful to me and why a Christmas tree is so beautiful. You take something humble and natural and you put gorgeous lights and glass ornamentation on it. Such a beautiful contrast. Pine cones. Rocks. Shells. Leaves. Take something very natural and then put something knock-your-socks-off fancy right next to it. And then add a little candle light. Magic.

10. Gather what you love: I’m a big believer in the philosophy that if you gather things you love, inevitably they will somehow all work together. Eclectic. Personal. Unique. Don’t be afraid to mix and match, layer texture, grab things from around your house to make an interesting centerpiece. If you love it, use it! It will all work out. I love it when a table looks like found art right before my eyes!

I know this post is a bit of a departure, but I had fun with it. Hope you did too. Creativity is so important! Perhaps your holiday decorating/entertaining could be a fun expression of your unique point of view!! There’s something so magical about creating a meaningful and personal space in your home!! ENJOY!

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what the adventures are teaching me

You could say Steve and I have been on some adventures. Wars. Writing. Twins. Overseas moves. Three babies in three years (one of whom was born in the Middle East). Living with my mother (that definitely qualifies). And, very recently, we learned that we’ll be headed back to San Diego in the New Year — the next adventure awaits!

Sometimes life feels mundane, and we long for an adventure. Sometimes we’re on an adventure, and we long to get off the ride.

I’ve been reflecting on the confluence of my humanity and life’s adventures, and I thought I’d share with you 5 things the adventures are teaching me:

1. Adventure often comes to us through the side door. In other words, I’m often waiting for life to happen in a certain way, things to unfold according to a certain set of plans, and some of the very best stuff that has ever happened came through the side door when I only had eyes for the big front door that I was just SURE was the only way forward. The side door is unpredictable and uncontrollable. And yet, the kind of stuff that comes through the side door (stuff we can’t manufacture, manipulate, control) is usually the very best stuff.

2. Adventure is rarely ever comfortable. This is what I wish they would’ve taught us in college. We longed for these breathless, breakneck lives— movie-worthy—and then we realized that much of life is not nearly as romantic as we had hoped it would be. In fact, even the adventures have a major facet of discomfort. For example, it’s amazing to be living in the Middle East. A real, certifiable adventure. And, as I write, there is a loud banging behind my head as the construction crew next door completes their 6th month of demolition on a house that—for the life of me—I swear was as completely demolished as a house could be. Power tools at 6:30 this morning. Dumpsters parked directly in front of our garage so we can’t back our car out. Welcome to the adventure.

3. Adventure can drive you apart or bring you together. Steve and I make it a point to try to be on each other’s team. Sometimes, in the midst of an adventure, you have to be reminded of this fact. For example, when you’re on your 24th hour of travel with three children, three and under, you have to remember that your spouse is actually your teammate and not your worst nightmare. For example.

4. Adventure helps us tell a better story. It’s incredible to tell a better story, and it’s also terrifying. My dad went to high school with a guy who’s dad was the town butcher. At their 25 year high school reunion, my dad asked the guy what he’d been doing all these years. “Cuttin’ meat,” my dad’s friend replied. This was told as a cautionary tale when we were growing up. My dad said that if we ever spent our lives “cuttin’ meat,” he was going to personally whoop us. An ironic update to this story is that the “cuttin’ meat” guy is now a millionaire because he got into some kind of mayhaw jelly business, but the point of the story was to go in search of some life treasure. Go on a voyage, a journey. Seek adventure. BUT, cuttin’ meat is a lot more comfortable. Uprooting, risking, stepping out . . . all very vulnerable and often costly. It’s terrifying what we might have to give up to really live an adventure. If we think it’s going to be all power ballads and great hair, we’re crazy.

5. Adventure can expose your deepest thoughts about yourself. Ugghhhh, how utterly inconvenient. You might find out that you’re not as brave as you thought you were. Or, perhaps, just the opposite, that you’re much braver than you ever imagined. Or, most likely, that you’re both brave and not brave. And it’s ok. You’re still standing. You might come to realize that you are incredibly hard on yourself. Far harder than necessary. You might come to realize that you always give yourself an out or an excuse and don’t take responsibility for your life and that’s got to change. You might find out that you have no idea how to really be with yourself. You have no idea how you really feel, what you really want. And, you might also find out what has been the greatest desire of your soul all along. What has always been down there and needed some breathing room to bloom.

Lastly, if you find yourself in the middle of an “adventure” that feels more like a catastrophe or mudslide or gigantic meteor headed for earth, just remember, things won’t always feel the way they do right now. And in the meantime, breathe. Also, take a nap if possible. Or, my personal favorite, get a pedicure.

Believing in you,

Leeana

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november in pictures

Aren’t these months just careening by? Whoa. November was particularly special because we hosted my dad and stepmom here for two weeks. Such a good mix of scouting the island and also sitting in front of the TV watching football together. Always such a gift to get to show people our lives here.

Here’s our month in a few pictures . . .

IMG_1587 One of the things I so enjoyed doing with my dad and stepmom was doing a driving tour around Bahrain. This ancient mosque just WOW-ed me.

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These old doors from the Sheik Isa House were also a WOW moment. If you ever get to Bahrain, the Sheik Isa House is a must see.

IMG_1437The Bahrain Fort is another stunner. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site (2005), archeological digs at the fort have produced extraordinary finds, some dating back to 2300 BC. For example . . .

IMG_1436This piece of pottery was recovered at the fort. We toured the small but beautiful museum that’s next to the fort and were just awed by the history contained in one location.

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As we were leaving the fort, I captured these two young women having a chat. Love.

IMG_1401We also braved the sights and scents of the fish market. If you’ve read Found Art, this is the local market I was afraid to go into right next door to our first house (Capital Centre). What an amazing experience to walk through that market with Elle in a front pack, toothless fisherman flirting with her, and seeing every kind of googley-eyed fish you can imagine. We picked up some amazing shrimp and had ourselves a shrimp boil! Never had so much fun walking around on fish guts.

IMG_1532On Thanksgiving, we welcomed a house full. Around 30 or so, I think. Some families who are stationed here, some guys who are working here unaccompanied (families back in the States), and even a couple guys from the Stennis, which came into port here in Bahrain. A fabulous crowd. Steve smoked a turkey — divine — and we started a new tradition of s’mores around the fire pit after dinner. So thankful for our circle here.

IMG_1549 Here’s my crazy crew on Thanksgiving Day!

IMG_1563The day after Thanksgiving we went to the beach at Amwaj and Elle had her first swim in the Gulf with Daddy. The weather and water were absolutely perfect. My dad and Steve did a little fishing as well. A lazy day of sun and sand. Delish!

IMG_1579November, and my dad and stepmom’s trip, ended with traditional Ethopian coffee service on our living room floor. Our beyond-amazing nanny, Hawi, is from Ethopia and offered to make coffee for all of us. Um, yes please. I watched her burn the beans on the stovetop, grind them up, and then make the coffee in a pot right on the stove top. Very, very strong. Very, very delicious. Even Luke and Lane tried it with lots of sugar and heavy cream. One of the things I will miss most about Bahrain is Hawi. She has been a light in our lives here. And what a tender way to get to know her and her culture better. Loved this moment.

How about you? What was a highlight from your November?

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a room of one’s own

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Virginia Woolf once wrote that a “placeless person is a silenced person.”

In her essay, “A Room of One’s Own,” Woolf admonishes us to find a space in this big crazy world, claim it, and return to it. This will help us find ourselves. This will help give us a voice, or give us back our voice if we have—for some reason—lost it.

Originally Woolf meant this piece to call forth women writers who were awash in a patriarchal industry. Her message was: let’s find our place—both literally and figuratively—and in doing so, discover our voices.

I love all this as it applies to you and me today. Our meditation, therefore, is to consider if we have a place of our own where we can go and connect or reconnect with ourselves.

Do we have a place that we can settle into and listen to our own thoughts? Do we have a place where our deepest feelings can bubble up? Do we have a place where we can hear our own voice? Where our creativity resides. Where our true self is nourished. Where we can be absolutely real.

For some of you, this place is a familiar corner in a coffee shop. A certain cropping of rocks at the beach. Your bed. An old desk. For some of you it’s a long stretch of pavement where you ride your bike or run.

Many of you don’t know where this place is. That’s OK. I’m just telling you to start thinking about it. Where could you go to be with yourself? Where could you go to alleviate the ways in which you’ve been silenced?

This will be exciting to some of you: Why not commandeer an area in your house—even 5 square feet—and create a magical moment right there in your own home. Infuse that little spot with all things inspiring to you. Sharpie extra fine tip markers in all colors. Twine. A huge roll of kraft paper. A candle. A soft place to land. A book of prayers or poetry. Manilla tags. Sour gummy bears. Sparkling water. A few turquoise felt flowers strewn here and there. The Elizabeth soundtrack’s “Nimrod” on repeat. A blanket. I could go on and on . . .

Make yourself a nook in this world. Make yourself a place. Return to that place as you would an altar, a shrine. A place to commemorate, record, resolve, hash out. A place to hear your own voice once again or for the first time. And in that way, a place where you just might find a bit of God.

***

Do tell . . . Where is your place? What’s there? Why is it meaningful to you? Or, what is your resistance to creating a space like this for yourself? How has being “placeless” silenced you?

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women in the trenches — tina wells

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Today, I’m interviewing Tina Wells in our ongoing “Women in the Trenches” series. I have known Tina for years and years and years. She was in the same graduating high school class as my older sister, and I was in the same class with Tina’s younger sister, Annette. So, really, we have all kind of grown up together.

Tina is a working artist. I say that with all the awe it deserves. I am always struck by those who have the stamina, talent, discipline, and business sense to make a living at their craft. Tina is one of these amazing women.

I asked Tina about her work, her blog, her knack for decorating and entertaining, her ideas for a budget-conscious Christmas, her personal experience with the recession, and being a creative person while mothering young children. I KNOW you will enjoy getting to know Tina and will be as inspired as I am by the way she is so beautifully doing life in the trenches.

Here’s Tina . . .

How old are you? Well, I have been 39 for a few years now :) Ok, Ok, I’m 42.

How long have you been married? We have been married for 14 years.

Kids’ names and ages? My son Kenny is 9, and my daughter Genevieve is 2 1/2

Where do you live? We live in East County San Diego, CA

What’s great about where you live? There are so many things I appreciate about where we live! The weather in San Diego is divine; I love spending time outdoors year round. We are 30 minutes from the beach and downtown, yet our home feels a little more rural, nestled in the hills. It is really nice to live 10 minutes from my parents, especially with kids.

What is your job and why were you drawn to that particular field? I am a free-lance artist, primarily a painter. I paint canvases, murals, and specialty wall finishes. Much of my work is custom, and I enjoy that collaboration with clients.  Art has been part of my world since childhood. I started my first art business at 16. Experiences and education have led me down different paths artistically. During college, I started painting more seriously and fell in love with paints, color, and the whole process. Truly, I believe anyone and everyone can paint, even if it is simply an abstract play of colors.

Do you find it difficult to be a creative person while mothering young children? How do you order your life to make it all work? Well, it is certainly a balancing act! Sometimes being creative means doing something crafty; other times it’s trying a new recipe. Those are things I can do with the kids yelling and running circles around me. Serious painting projects require more mental space and focus. I have to be very intentional about it. I am a “morning person” so often getting up several hours before the kids is when I work. It’s a week by week flex, planning when there will be time, when James can watch the kids, etc.

Any advice for someone who is desires to be a full-time, working artist? There is always the route of getting a job in the art world and working your way around within it. I have always worked for myself, and word of mouth has always been my best marketing tool. If you want your own business doing art, my advice would be to start by doing your art on the side, and experimenting with your market.

How do you create when you don’t feel inspired? This kind of block is usually a reflection of the busyness and stress level in my life. The best thing I can do is to carve out some space to be alone. Visuals always help me too; looking through a favorite magazine, inspiration file, or Pinterest board can help me get into a creative place. If my “TO DO” list keeps spinning around my head, the best thing is to stop, take out a paper and pen and clear my head. I will write what I am feeling, thinking, everything I need to get done…and after a few minutes, it’s out, and I can focus on the project ahead of me.

Every corner of your house has amazingly creative personal touches. I’ve especially loved coming to your house for parties. You’re able to make things feel so pulled together and yet relaxed. As we enter the holiday season and begin to prepare for entertaining, what are some tips for throwing a memorable party that doesn’t kill us in the process?!?! Thank you for the generous compliment, Leeana. I truly love gathering people together. And who doesn’t love a great party, right? I decorate seasonally which means that things have probably changed since the last time a guest came over. This keeps it interesting. Decorate early! The Christmas season is only a few weeks, so I try to have decorations up by the first weekend in December. Don’t try to do it alone! Those days ended with the birth of my first child. Don’t hesitate to ask people to bring something. If each guest/couple contributes something to the party, it will greatly reduce your workload. A little advance planning. As you plan your menu, include items you can make a day or 2 in advance. Have a back-up plan. If your week spins out of control, go pick up some good take out and be ok with it. Having a great appetizer and drinks ready a few minutes before guests arrive will buy you some time to pull last minute details together while they are nibbling. A stressed out hostess doesn’t make for a good party, so Relax and Have Fun!

Your blog, www.winsomewren.blogspot.com is such a feast for the senses: recipes, art, creative ideas. LOVE! Tell us a little more about your blog and what you hope readers find there. I find that when creativity spills over into the everyday stuff, life’s little chores become more fun. A new recipe, a simple creative project, playing with my paints… these things make my life interesting, and I love sharing it with others. It is easy for me as a mom, to get lost in the piles of laundry, milk spills, and endless dirty dishes. But, when I am intentional about fitting creativity into the rhythm of my life, the laundry doesn’t seem so bad. I think delving into a creative project can seem overwhelming for some people, so I try to keep it simple and fun. I hope it’s contagious.

Any advice/tips for gift giving and entertaining at Christmas if we’re on a tight budget? We have a ridiculously tight budget this year! Here are a few things I will be doing: I suggested to a few girlfriends that I exchange gifts with that we make something simple for each other…

A few ideas: a jar of fresh salsa, homemade cookies, a handmade scarf, hand stamped/decorated notecards, music mix cd, a mini recipe book of top 10 favorites, small photo album or scrapbook, or the gift of time: a promise to help organize a closet, babysit, prepare a favorite meal, etc.

We are really excited to try this. Giving the gift of time/acts of service, is fantastic because it is a promised gift, to be redeemed after the holiday madness, and doesn’t add stress to the giver in an already busy season. I am also going to add handmade items to purchased gifts to bring the gift cost down. I think the key is to start early, and choose one or two projects that you can replicate for multiple people.

You’ve told me that the recession has been particularly hard on your family. How have you kept hope and faith through difficult times? It has been a truly long season of underemployment for us. Through it all, God has provided what we have needed. It is extremely difficult to walk day to day with an uncertain future. Keeping my focus on what I need to do today alone helps keep me sane. Prayer is not like a magic wand; you don’t just say “please give me $100,000” and it magically appears…but then again, you can ask God to give you peace, and in an instant it will wash over you like a cool breeze on a hot day. God always shows up in my moment of need. And of course, counting my blessings helps me keep things in perspective.

What is one thing that’s helped you stay married? Saying I am sorry, and in turn being forgiven.

What is one item or product you cannot live without and you think everyone should know about? Toms wedges (shoes)…comfortable, casual, they make me taller, AND I love that Toms gives a new pair of shoes to someone in need with every purchase!

What is your one wardrobe staple? A great pair of jeans…and I live for accessories (sorry, I couldn’t narrow it down to one)

If any of my readers wanted to purchase or commission art from you, how could they go about doing that? Email me at:  thewinsomewren@gmail.com or go to my ETSY store at: www.etsy.com/shop/WinsomeWren These links are also on the SHOP page of my blog: www.winsomewren.blogspot.com

***

Thank you, Tina!

What resonated most with you guys from Tina’s interview?

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care-fully

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Today’s meditation is about caring.

To me, caring is about showing up to life, participating.

Kathleen Norris writes, “Care derives from an Indo-European word meaning “to cry out,” as in a lament. Caring is not passive, but an assertion that no matter how strained and messy our relationships can be, it is worth something to be present, with others, doing our small part.”

Caring is a vulnerable posture. Sometimes we’re caring about things we can control; more often, we’re caring about things over which we have little control. To care, then, means to open ourselves up to disappointment. Last time I checked, disappointment’s never fun.

The alternative—not caring—seems much safer:

“I don’t care if the book sells well.”

“I don’t care if he calls me back or not.”

“I don’t care if they invite me.”

“I don’t care if I get the interview.”

“I don’t care what they think of me.”

While every once in awhile some of this kind of non-caring is actually true, most of the time it’s pretty much total B.S.

We act blasé because it gives us a sense of control, especially when we’re actually feeling completely out of control, completely exposed, completely vulnerable. Our “meh, whatever” attitude is a defense against our deepest, scariest desires.

Is there something in your life that—deep down—you really do care about (perhaps you’re even dying over a little bit) and you need to admit that to yourself?

Today, what do you need to “care” about? Not take care of.  No, not that. What do you need to engage with your true feelings about? What do you need to awaken to? Participate in? Face? Admit your desire around? “Cry out” regarding?

Usually, it hurts to care about something. Sorry to say. But you know what hurts worse? Meh, whatever.

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Has acting like you don’t care ever backfired on you? Is caring hard for you? How has caring about something taught you more about yourself? What have been some of the consequences of not caring?

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the spacious place

I wrote this as a guest post recently, and I wanted to share it with you here. As you read, consider leaving a comment to the question I ask at the end of the post. Your words might be just what someone else needs to hear.

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Over the last three years—since becoming a mother—I have looked in the mirror, and more times than not, resembled Charlize Theron from “Monster” in most every way. Dark roots. Bad skin. Scowling. Just generally the most unattractive version of yourself you could imagine.

This has been a grief for me, as I would like things to feel much more like the Anthropologie catalogue then they have ever turned out to feel. Three babies in three years has put me face-to-face with myself in such an intense way, that I have had to do some reckoning.

For as long as I can remember, I have struggled to feel a sense of spaciousness within myself. Instead, I have spent time feeling ill-at-ease in my own skin, squeezed from self-contempt. Motherhood intensified all of this immeasurably, and I was confronted with the following question: was I going to be a constant critic of myself or was I going to learn to be a companion to myself?

I saw these little creatures at my feet. Gorgeous, wide-eyed tinies. And I knew I needed to find a new way of thinking, of being. After all, how could I really be there for them if I had no idea how to be there for myself?

Practically speaking, one of the things that has most helped is better understanding the concepts and practices behind 12-step recovery.

I had this swirling mess of voices and anxiety in my head, and so I looked into how a person might break down such a big problem, how a person might begin to think (and then act) differently, how a person might stop certain habits and begin new ones. That’s what 12-step offers us.

In my opinion, the single greatest truth from 12-step is the idea that we must approach each day anew. We don’t graduate from our struggles. We don’t arrive. Things aren’t ever solved, once and for all. We wake up each day and we begin again. We put into practice those truths that have become part of our health. And then we do it again tomorrow.

I’ve become really attached to a Scripture passage from Psalm 18:

But me he caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out 
of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,
 the void in which I was drowning. 
They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me.
 He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved! (Psalm 18:16-19, The Message)

Instead of “wide-open field,” other translations use the phrase “spacious place” or “broad expanse.” YES. That’s the kind of living I want to do. How about you? Don’t you long to live from the spacious place instead of the squeeze? Don’t you long to offer yourself breathing room instead of badgering?

I really believe that we can live our lives drowning in the void, or we can live our lives in the spacious place. I have floundered in the void, as some of you have or maybe still are. There is so much more life in the spacious place.

There is so very little in life that we can actually control. Almost nothing. Three little babies will teach you that quickly. But one thing we CAN control is this: How we treat ourselves.

The truth is, I still look like Charlize Theron from “Monster” most every day. And, the truth is, that’s still hard for me. BUT . . . somehow I can forgive myself now, I can care for myself, I can see that things will go so much better if I will simply stop believing that I am the sum total of my perceived inadequacies.

God has offered us a very broad grace. Can we offer that same grace to ourselves and, what’s more, wake up tomorrow morning and choose it all over again.

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What helps you to be a companion to yourself (instead of a critic)?

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