Something New out of SCRAPS and BAGGAGE

Having a rough day?  Don’t give up or give into discouragement.  Your best ideas may come of the least likely of days! Have you ever been sick of being sick?  Well, I’ve been sick for about 6 weeks, and was on the verge of a pity-party for the past two.  I decided it was necessary for this homeschool teacher to make the week of Thanksgiving one of easy schedules, simple meals, and intentionally neglected laundry…  Aaaah, time on my hands… for this I am thankful!!!! Creativity and distraction are often my best weapons in fighting a grumpy mindset; so in an attempt to cheer myself, I crawled back into bed with Pinterest for company and began the search for easy doll-clothes ideas for Little One’s Christmas. Not feeling up to a trip to the city to buy a pattern, I thought, “So what if my first attempt doesn’t fit?  I have the time today to play!”  I pulled out one of the tubs of old jeans I save for denim quilts, and said to myself, “I have plenty of scrap fabric.  What do I have to loose?” So, I stripped the doll down, traced her body, took her measurements, added a generous seem allowance, and what do ya’ know… they fit like a dream. PS – Please excuse all the up-side down and side-ways pictures… having a bit of web-site trouble recently.  Hope your neck doesn’t get too stiff. Confidence soaring, I pulled an old t-shirt out the rag bin, and tried to make a shirt… Okay, that was a complete failure, but as long as I stayed away from “sleeves“, I was golden.  And, this is what I came up with… image The two dresses above were made from summer tops that Little One had outgrown.  The first one has buttons and the second is gathered with elastic.  I rough cut these free hand and then pinned them on the doll to find where my seams should go.  I began with the neck line and shoulders, then added hems to the bottom or waist to shorten the length as needed.  The “sleeves” on the second dress only attach by a straight seam to the side and I just gathered them in to stay on the shoulder as the neckline elastic pulls them up, a wide margin of error!!! — Eventually, I did find a simple printable pattern for a shirt (short or long sleeves) via Pinterest.    http://scientificseamstress.blogspot.com/2011/02/few-months-ago-jen-from-stitch-simple.html  (I didn’t post photos because this site has excellent step by step pictures.) image

Inexpensive Ideas from a Children’s Consignment Shop…

A newborn’s pair of boy’s pants made perfect sweats with no alterations needed, and I all I had to do was narrow the neck of this newborn girl’s shirt to make a AG-sized top. image Those tiny newborn socks are perfect for an American Girl. image FYI – most of the newborn one piece outfits and sleepers had too long of a torso for an AG doll. Here’s an extremely simple idea for $1.  — I cut a onesie in half, zigzagged the bottom edge for a shirt; then made a pair of undies from the bottom half by sewing a hem to the top with additional scrap fabric from an old shirt in the rag bin and then pulling a string of elastic through that hem. (A large child’s craft needle with a large eye makes that job simple.) image image

Where to store all these outfits?

Keeping a tidy room is a MAJOR challenge for my Little Jungle Monkey; so I needed to have a plan for storage before I gave her a single pair of tiny shoes to keep up with.  Handsome could eventually build a fancy cabinet like many of those posted on Pinterest, but at this late date in a busy season, that would really be asking a lot before Christmas. So, I took a near ancient, small, hard-shelled suitcase, bent and clipped a heavy duty plastic coated wire hanger around the hooks that latch the suitcase divider, and then, I slipped paper-clips over the line so doll sized hangers could easily hang and slide back and forth in their “closet”.   (And, as you may be able to see in some of the pictures above, the divider still latches easily so the outfits do not fall when you close the suitcase.) This 22″ wide suitcase is perfect for holding clothing as well as an 18″ American Girl doll.  image

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*AFTER NOTE: After a using this case for a while, the hangers work better without the paper clips for slides.

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Something to take with you…

When I am tired, sick, or just sick and tired from the monotony of my daily responsibilities, I have to be intentional not to give into my melancholy nature.  Whether it is simply stepping outside to take a deep breath of fresh air or motivating myself to add a little creativity, music, or art to my day when I am tempted to just sulk, I find that the tiny amount of physical strength required (though it initially seems like monumental effort) is rewarded with an overflowing surge of life-giving, positive mental and spiritual energy. I am a multi-faceted emotional being.  Sharing the same space, my body, soul, mind, and spirit are inter-twined.  So when my physical body is struggling, I cannot afford to neglect the health of my mind, soul, and spirit. Usually, the LORD rewards me for expending that mental and spiritual effort to keep my attitude afloat by NOT changing my circumstance.  Instead, He builds my character and generously blesses me with some of my best ideas.  When in faith, I don’t give into pity, envy, fear, and doubt, but to the best of my ability, seek Him and ask Him to make something beautiful of what initially looks like a day, or week, doomed to failure, I find happiness and contentment is not so much about being comfortable, or even productive, as much as it is about living each moment for His glory. God is faithful to His promises.  When we give Him the little we have, be it faith, time, health, money, talent, whatever, He performs fish and bread miracles, opening the storehouses of heaven, pouring out blessings beyond my imagination.  The LORD can make something useful, beautiful, original, and new out of the scraps and baggage in your life… Let Him!!!  It starts by looking at what you have through His eyes. Remember, even on the roughest days or most trying seasons, when you don’t feel well and your pictures are all flipped up-side down, if you’re seeking the LORD and asking Him to open your eyes to what He would have you see, you’ll always come away with a better perspective and something of value to carry with you or pass along to another who might need what you’ve just discovered.  So, keep seeking, keep finding, and keep sharing! image

stepping out… Stepping In

The sun set a little after 4:00… How can such a short day be so l-o-n-g?

Busy days are long days, but all weariness falls away with one phone call, one request, a favor for Handsome…

Still in slippers and grabbing my heavy Duluth coat, I head out to the barn.

Not ten steps from the porch, I’m struck by the silence…

silent night, holy night; it is.   all is calm… and dark.

— It’s the calm before the snowstorm, just hours away.

The only lights are windows: my own and neighbors’ in the distance.

I am the ONLY ONE outside for miles around; yet I feel so NOT ALONE.

I love these moments best.  No pictures to post.  Only God and I know the glorious view of “little lights” not hidden, on hillsides bare of fall leaves.

— The crisp, the cold, the calm… Oh, glorious calm!

An entire day almost passed without my stepping out of the “indoor world” of wood, warmth, and work.

Dear Friend, regardless of the time you’re reading this (early morning, mid-of-night; mid-of-summer, dead-of-winter), if at all possible, open a window and stick your head outside, or better yet, step into the “outside world” and look up, breathe in the wonder of heavens declaring “the glory of God”, creation clearly displaying “His invisible attributes, divine nature, and eternal power”.  At sunrise or in pitch-black night, it doesn’t matter; every hour He is glorious!

In pj-pants or sweats, with an afghan or quilt, slippers or muck-boots… come as you are and linger as long as you can… till the kids call or your nose is oh-so cold… Stay and listen.  In the quiet, He speaks.  Step out of your world for a moment and into His presence! 

He knows what storms you are in and those that lie ahead.  Go into the next hours, days, weeks with a gentle, quiet spirit that has been set at rest in the calming presence of Jehovah!

of Revelations and Good Gifts…

I’m bursting to tell…  God, do You ever feel this way?

Yes, I’m certain You do.  Things prepared in advanced, still a long time in coming; “top secret” mysteries written between the lines of major and minor prophets, longings put in my heart… Again, LORD, I feel the connection of “in-Your-image”, and I want to write a “Revelation”, too.

Still more than a month away, and already, I can’t sleep.  I lie in my bed imagining the details… How surprised she will be!

I am planning a special adoption celebration for my daughter, and December 25th I will tell her the first bit of what is in store. — Oh, God, the parallels of how You make known Your good plan for me bit-by-bit, a gradual reveal of things too wonderful, overwhelms me!

…I’m so wanting to tell what God has done; is doing!  I’ll do my best to be concise, but if it seems like a long post, look at this as an explanation for the silence on this blog for the past weeks.  (So like our LORD, to be quiet before the grand revelation!  Do You speak, LORD, because like me, You can’t contain Your joy and want another to rejoice in anticipation with You???  Oh, confide in me Your secrets!!!)  One request, friend, if you know us personally, please keep my secret!

About a month ago, I had a dream that I was working for a professional photographer taking pictures of little girls in princess gowns in front of Disney’s Cinderella Castle, and all the while, my own Little One had to wait in the car.

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I woke up so upset.  As the youngest in our family, there are lots of “big brother/teen things” that my daughter misses out on, but this dream seemed to wrap up more than that.

When I think of Little One’s age and not having a sister when her brothers are so close in friendship and age, add to that my having to correct her a lot more than her brothers, I wonder if she knows how much I delight in her.  I sense a striving for attention. Listening to her prayers at night, I can tell deep down she sometimes feels like she is missing out and doesn’t want to be left behind.

When I woke up crying and told Handsome my dream, he said, “Why don’t you take her to Disney?”  — I still can’t believe that middle of the night idea has turned into such an elaborate mother-daughter adoption-themed “girl-time” adventure.  In the wake of that question, I have experienced endless ripples of divine appointments and whispers of “this is the way, walk ye in it”.

Details

Deciding on February or early March, a perfect time to escape cold and snow, and just before Little One’s “Gotcha’ Day” anniversary, I called my favorite aunt who has been to Disney several times.  A little overwhelmed, I asked, “How do I go about making preparations?”   She and one of my cousin were already planning another visit in February, and since their suite at the Animal Kingdom Kidani Village Resort slept four, she asked Little One and I to join them.  (Thank You, God, for Your generous confirmation!)

God’s gift of reasonably priced flights; my boys’ amazing response in genuinely rejoicing for their sister, without a hint of envy; my talented mother’s willingness to embellish two simple Disney princess costumes picked up just before Halloween (How the LORD led me to those is another testimony to His Sovereignty!); a friend’s random gift of black and red ribbon, the mouseketeer punch-out given to me in a scrapbook set shortly after Little One’s adoption, and the discovery of a long-forgotten blank sketch book transformed into a character autograph book,; these and more than a dozen other blessings all echo the theme, “God is in this!”

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Most anticipated is a tea party I want to have with her at the Grand Floridian, followed by a special walk by the Wedding Pavilion to talk about important “princess” themes and on to the Polynesian where I hope to read an adoption story I wrote especially for her.

The details and back-stories of every good gift, which I am so aware originate not with me but with the Great Giver of all Good Things, overwhelms me but may bore you; so I share this small portion, not only because I have been unable to bring myself to write about anything else in weeks, but primarily, with hope of inspiring you in your seeking.

As you pursue your primary calling of knowing and being the friend of God, He will confide in you!  You are made in the image of God, and with an ever deepening intimacy of friendship, He will allow you to more fully understand what that means.  In so doing, we get a glimpse of what it’s like to be Him:  a Parent, a Lover, a Creator, a Planner, a Writer, a Guide, a Comforter, a Servant…  He wants you to go through your day seeing Him in the details.  He wants you to be filled with anticipation of what He is about to do in and through your life.

When I am teaching, or correcting, or praying with my Little One, I frequently have the sudden urge to scoop her up in my arms, squeeze her, and with a squeal of delight say, “Oh, Baby Girl, just you wait and see what your mama has planned for you!  You are going to love it!!!”  In the same way, I know, even when the LORD is disciplining me or when I feel He is distant and silent, He is ever near, pondering a similar sentiment.  Whatever He is asking of me or not telling me is part of the wonderful surprise that I will not spoil with faithlessness or a demanding attitude. Instead, because I know His character, I will trust His Loving plan and Sovereign prerogative.

Just a Thought:

Nothing has added patience for my extremely-determined, easily-distracted, and delightfully-energetic daughter quite like having this wonderful secret always in the forefront of my mind.  In addition to His amazing character, maybe it is especially easy for God to be gracious and long-suffering with me because even now He is overwhelmed with joy preparing for my heavenly-gotcha-day celebration!

Is there a relationship in your life that could benefit from a little extra patience and the planning of something extra special?

What I’m Learning:

“…we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory… but just as it is written, ‘THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.’  For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God… we have received… the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”  1 Cor. 2:7-13

With the much prayed over and saved for Josefina resting under my bed (see the previous post) and the secret of Little One’s Merry Christmas present (a ‘Girl-Time’ adventure to Disney) burning brightly in my heart , I am imagining how hard it must be for God to not just give it all away and reveal everything!!!

He can’t contain His joy either, and so He gives us His Spirit who whispers mysteries, hidden wisdom, the deep things of God, … and I am taught by that Spirit.  I seek; He speaks.  I find; and He inspires.  So, I write, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

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LORD, I can’t wait to see Your miraculous “Better-Than-Magic Kingdom”!  I’m sure the place you have prepared for me is more splendid than the highly coveted rooms of Cinderella’s Castle Suite.  Thanks for the Christmas Gift of Jesus who gave me a hint of what you have in store for me when we celebrate my adoption into Your royal family!