end of the year

So, if you know me, you know I love a couple of things – arts and crafts and personalization. I worked with many, many amazing people this year, but I wanted to share my gratitude to two of my coworkers who picked up my slack, poured in ideas, took great initiative, and truly eased the burden of so much “stuff” that had to happen this year. Enter Treat Greeting Cards. You know Shutterfly, right? You may have ordered Christmas cards from them like we have! …. Well, Treat a newer brand of theirs! This website and their products have absolutely stolen my crafty, personalized loving heart! The specialize in cards, phone cases, and mugs; fun, useful items like that! I went to order these two gals cards thinking I would just be able to add a picture and my own greeting/signature.  I was already stressing thinking I had to find a card that would communicate something close to what I wanted to say. I even feared I’d have to be uber creative in making a card “work” that really didn’t. But, when I say I personalized just about EVERY aspect of  these cards. Ya’ll I was in heaven. Heaven. Heaven. Heaven. The fact that I was able to personalize the message sent me over the moon!! Annnnnd, then they came on the day they Treat said they would. Yes, they give you an accurate delivery date and will even send the card to your bud or stud if time is of the essence. THRILLED. I mean. I couldn’t be happier! The gals seemed to really enjoy them and one of my other coworkers is already planning and creating cards for a few of her friends! I mean, who wouldn’t want their face with a personalized message on a card?!

Check these out! while simultaneously excusing my work area. I live/work/paint/etc here!! amy2dewalt2Yes, I threw in a little Aibileen from The Help!!

Then… Two more of my favorite things in the entire world – painting and personalization collide…. Every single cheer or classroom gift I’ve given my kids has been an initial, a personalized picture frame (complete with their name & photograph!), SOMETHING with their name on it… and, I’ve made it myself. With attempting to not make it look homemade. lol. 

This year, my vision for my cheerleaders’ gifts were chalkboards. And, as frustrated as I was about the paint pens not making precise, clean lines – it does kinda look like chalk. I had to seriously fight my inner perfectionist and not focus so much on what is “wrong” or why it isn’t perfect and delight in the fact that it looks just like what I wanted it to look like. (Doesn’t life just work out that way sometimes?) I love that the black paint has a slight, slight shimmer to it, too!!! Annnnnd, I didn’t get paint of any furniture or carpet this time!! Woooooot!!!

Here are a few of the finished “chalkboards” aleshadanielle And, then my heart was happy.

… cheers to finding new ways to love on those you love and appreciate most!!!
(And, you still have time to love on your kiddos’ teachers, your fave coworker, classmate, teammate or WHOEVER before that very last day of school!!!)

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… choosing adoption

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Nothing grips my heart more than adoption.

It is the ultimate choice to serve God in a way that is uncomfortable and frustrating at times but is so fulfilling and humbling more often than not in ways that couldn’t be imagined.

I have come to greatly respect and cherish the difficult decisions that have come with our infertility. I admire and have an incredible heart for the other mamas and families who sacrifice so much to make hard decisions to adopt & foster. As much as your heart may want it, it’s not easy. (I’m learning.)

CHOOSING to step in a role that you KNOW comes with heartache, an incredible wait, and living in the unknown in just about every aspect of live is large. Choosing to bring another person/other people into your home unaware of the depth of whatever it is they come with is even larger.

Easy lives rarely tell amazing stories.

I’ve been thinking about how adoption has changed us and broadened our perspectives. And, I’m humble at how God has used us for His glory. Makes the struggle not seem so bad.

We’ve learned to love and embrace the least of these. Understanding that every child in the foster care system, every orphan, every adopted child has a story all their own. Not nearly all of them are drug addicted as media/the public would like for us to believe. Not all of them are abused. But, in some way they are or will be heart broken because of their past. They may be emotionally/spiritually/mentally broken. They may be diagnosed. They may be disabled. They may be typical & “perfect”.
But, because we know, love, and serve a God of acceptance and grace – we CHOOSE to show the same acceptance and love towards others.
God accepted us when we were not His own. He CHOSE to love us. To accept us. And, call us his own.

Adoption has activated a faith that I’ve never had. That faith has produced a patience and peace that is literally beyond understanding. I’ve come to know His word to be true from my own experiences. It is TRUE that the good works of others point others to Christ & cause them to glorify Him. It’s beautiful to see God redeem brokenness & restore a trust, innocence, and joy in a child that it was taken from. It’s beautiful to see that so many people have the opportunity to share testimonies of their own families and those around them simply because someone decided to trust God & choose.

And, my God if such hardships & joys don’t build character.
Can you imagine the opportunities to increase your child’s exposure to different cultures, circumstances, & concepts of what love & family look like by bringing another into their home? They learn to sacrifice, to share, to accept, and to build relationships in ways that some children don’t have the privilege to. Can you imagine how your child is learning to see God’s people (as HE sees them)? God’s character? You see that your faith and difficult positions changing you to become a person of a wider perspective. A person who looks & thinks more like God.

And, you’re humbled at being called an “oak of righteousness”. Someone who’s redeemed ashes & despair show God’s splendor. How humbling is that? That your life shows a clear example of God’s love & faithfulness to His children? The ones He chose? We are His children through adoption. He redeems and restores us. He gives us a community of faith to join & become one with. A community of people who cross gender, racial, and ethnic lines to worship and share in the goodness of our God.

Trusting God with our lives, with expanding our family, & with the ones He has planned for us has changed us.

I welcome both the challenges and joys that come with just going with what God has planned.

It’s a peaceful place to reside.

… here’s to a complete inability to communicate how goodGod has been, is, and continues to be to us. I’m literally speechless.

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… teachable moments

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I’m sitting at my desk, watching my students come in and interact with each other as they prepare for their day and I’m humbled.

As an educator, I’m not paid much but am reminded daily why investing in these children is more important than choosing not to teach because of salary.

Education is humbling. It’s a big job that causes so many unknown ripple effects & impacts. I teach my second graders quite a bit throughout the year but they educate me, as well. I appreciate how my students and I mold each other.

As you prepare for your day, no matter what it is that you do, walk into your day recognizing that you are in a unique opportunity to honor God in a multitude of ways.
Ask God how you can glorify Him today and don’t shy away from opportunities that he presents you with.

…. here’s to seeing our jobs and careers as opportunities to serve and worship God through how we interact with each other.

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