June 30, 2014

june rewind.

June 2014 Rewind

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On Repeat




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June 27, 2014

15 patriotic party ideas

I'd love to host a backyard barbecue to celebrate Independence Day one year. This year, we're going to be out of town for the holiday: we're leaving for Chattanooga, Tennessee next week and we plan to watch fireworks over the Tennessee River. We'll probably eat restaurant barbecue, and possibly hit up a hot dog stand or an ice cream shop or two during the week.

On the Fourth, we usually barbecue at Eric's parents' house and head downtown in the evening for the annual fireworks show. I'm looking forward to the break from tradition this time, and I can't wait to see how folks in Chattanooga like to celebrate. We'll definitely spend some time breaking from touristy things to explore the local fare.

If you're planning a soiree for Independence Day, I did some legwork for you and found some ideas to put the yum (and fun) in your Fourth:

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  1. Grilled salmon burgers, topped with a flag (pictured).
  2. Pretty and festive patriotic outdoor party decorations.
  3. Free printable patriotic pennant banner (pictured).
  4. Why not make your grass festive, too? Love this idea for making a starry lawn.
  5. Candy-dipped 4th of July marshmallow pops (pictured).
  6. Fireworks-inspired sparkly drink stirrers
  7. All-American potato salad recipe (pictured).
  8. DIY painted patriotic picnic utensils (pictured).
  9. It's not a party until you bring our the watermelon stars on a stick (pictured).
  10. There's a patriotic surprise inside this cake. 
  11. I dig this "county fair" themed party, but I especially love the "red, white and berry" infused water in festive Mason jars (the post includes free printables, too! -pictured).
  12. Drop some fun and fruity star-shaped ice into your berry-infused water while you're at it.
  13. Candy-filled firecracker party favors.
  14. Stage a flag hunt for the kids.
  15. For the grown-ups: unwind with one of these festive all-American cocktails at the end of the day.

June 26, 2014

gratitude | v. 02

gratitude v. 2

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever. (Psalm 107:1)

  • I have a stack of really good books waiting to be read.
  • Spontaneous dinner picnics at the local park.
  • I've been eating up the Lively Show podcast archives by Jess Lively this week.
  • Elias Hawk is walking. As in, toddling. He's a toddler now. He took his first steps one week before reaching nine months old, and now (merely three weeks later) he is unstoppable.
  • Last weekend, we found our very first geocache! If you don't know what that means, you should totally find out more here.
  • A zoo day with extended family.
  • Peaceful shopping days.
  • Taking part in Jamie and Javacia's study of the book Restless (by Jennie Allen) through our church small groups program has been.... life-changing. World-view-altering. Amazing. Jamie has been recapping the study on her blog.
  • Seth is so very funny sometimes.
  • Working on my day to day attitude about life.

June 24, 2014

a redemption story.

I was reading in the book of Ruth one day recently. Now, I've read Ruth 100 times in my life. The story is familiar and comforting- a small bit of history concerning Jesus' family tree. In my life, growing up in the church and hearing these Bible stories time and again, I think I've grown numb to Bible stories. I read it and I think, "Yeah, yeah... I know how this story ends." Then I close the door to the Spirit and nothing sinks in.

This day, the Spirit whooshed over me like a great wind as I read about Ruth following behind the harvesters in Boaz's grain fields.
Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women.  Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” (Ruth 2:8-9)
This passage may say something entirely different to your heart, but what the Lord spoke to me that day shook me to the core. It's the reason I've returned to social media, and now to blogging! God, so gently, whispered to me that I belong here, in this online community and surrounded by creative people.

I'd given up on following my dreams when I quit blogging last year. I quit believing that my voice was valuable. I started to think that I didn't have anything worth contributing: I'm just a boring, awkwardly aging homemaker from Alabama. Who would take me seriously? Who would hear (really hear) my heart?

Redeemed

God used the Book of Ruth to remind me that He can take unlikely people and give them a great lineage if they are obedient to Him. Ruth was an outsider: a widowed Moabite woman living in Israel with her aging mother-in-law. In those days, this spelled her identity as a N O B O D Y.

But Boaz was a generous man, and he saw beauty and potential in Ruth. He offered her protection among his people, and ultimately became her husband- a "kinsman redeemer" -giving her a family and a home: a place to belong.

The story of Ruth foreshadows the gift Jesus gave Christians by redeeming us for the family of God. Also, Ruth was given a place in the lineage leading to the birth of Jesus. She was grafted into His family tree and God honored her great persistence and faith.

I'm learning to believe again that my story matters, even if my life doesn't look like what you'd expect or even what I'd choose a lot of the time. God is doing something in this hot mess. I don't know what it is! But He's given me permission to follow behind a great community of creative and inspiring people, gleaning from them and patiently waiting for each step he'll ask me to take on the journey ahead.

Original image credit: George Thomas

June 23, 2014

fun in the sun.

When I was a kid, my mom packed a huge tote bag with snacks and sunscreen and headed to the pool with my sister and I in tow several times each week. The pool was hands-down the best thing about summer. As far as I'm concerned, the rest of summer can bite it. The pool? It's the one thing I miss once winter rolls back around.

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That picture was taken last summer: Seth pretending his fingers are goggles. That kid is hilarious when he wants to be! And this summer, he's stir-crazy. See, a little while back, a tornado took out the pool we used to swim in (along with most of the familiar landscape on my in-laws' acreage just outside of town).

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Eric's parents have been debating for the past couple of months since the tornado occurred whether they should get the swimming pool replaced or not. The insurance company did pay to replace the pool, but they didn't pay for a lot of the costs incurred from removing trees and debris. Fortunately, some volunteer organizations from the surrounding communities helped with some of the labor to pick up the mess and last weekend, my in-laws finally went shopping for a new pool.

Until the new pool is installed, we have to find other ways to cool off in the summer heat. Here's some of the things we've done so far this summer:

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  1. Meeting girls at the zoo splash pad.
  2. Puddle-ducking.
  3. Riding on daddy's back in the river (cousin Jacob beside).
  4. Finding shade under the tent...
  5. ...with a new book loaded onto the Kindle on my lap.
  6. Charging at mommy with water gun in hand.
  7. Teaching baby bro to splash on the shore.
  8. Riverside with good friends is best.
  9. A bucket full of water balloons.
  10. Getting ready to nail daddy.
  11. Bullseye!
  12. Reloading.
  13. "Catch!"
  14. When the balloons are gone, the hose will do.
  15. All that remains.

June 20, 2014

on my plate | spaghetti-almost-carbonara

Food is important to our family. I've made good eating a priority- we may bargain and sacrifice when it comes to buying new clothes, toys, and home goods, but I want to make sure that my family eats better than average. At the grocery store, I try to avoid buying packaged foods as much as possible and do most of my shopping on the perimeter of the store, buying fresh meats, vegetables and fruits whenever I can.

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On this particular evening, I tried an herb and buttered spaghetti recipe and opted to add bacon to the recipe. I baked the bacon in the oven, then chopped it up and added it to the prepared spaghetti recipe after all the other steps. Later, I realized that I was only one step away from spaghetti carbonara (I only omitted the eggs).

I served the spaghetti-almost-carbonara with steamed brussels sprouts and a small garden salad, and we had watermelon chunks to finish the meal on a sweet note. Eric's only complaint was that he couldn't eat enough of it. I'll definitely use this meal again (though next time, I think I'll try to make a bona fide carbonara dish).

June 19, 2014

i promise to be honest.

If I could choose how I get to spend my days, I'd opt to use my time making beautiful things and sharing my time with creative people. I am fueled by artistic inspiration. I admire what others have done before me and want my days to be filled with the euphoria of this inspiration. I'm like an addict, and I need a fix!

Unfortunately, my reality is far removed from the life I dream. Yes, being a stay at home mom for a season is a dream come true. But the open parenthesis before this era was extremely disheartening, and I'm afraid of what the close parenthesis will bring, and all the content of my life that will follow.

Wanting a different life than the one I'm in has been my downfall in the past. I have to fight hard against my impulses to keep focus on my faith in God and remember that His plan for me is bigger than I can imagine. I get so discouraged sometimes, thinking that there is no way for me to arrive at a place where I will finally be at peace with the way my life has turned out.

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This was the downfall of my last blog, and the one before that. So I have to set some ground rules to keep myself from going down that path again. I have to promise to be totally honest, even when I'm hurting.

In the blog world these days, it seems that the tendency is to share the good parts of our lives but keep the bad parts private. I think this is harmful. It's dangerous for me and it's dangerous for you.

It's bad for me because this is my outlet and connection to people outside my "bubble", and I can't be truly connected to people in a way that's productive if I'm keeping secrets. It's dangerous for you because the last thing you need is another blogger making you think her life is better than yours, so I don't want to leave you comparing yourself to my lie and feeling like you come up short.

I have a fear of being remembered by people as a "Negative Nelly", so sometimes I keep my sad feelings to myself and project encouraging and happy things instead. When I was younger, I was abandoned by people I really cared about because they couldn't handle my honesty. The problem with keeping the bad feelings to myself is they fester and then explode after a while, and when they do, I feel like giving up on everything. Perhaps losing the people that can't handle the honesty is a better option!

Here's the honest-to-goodness truth about my life: I had big dreams when I was young. Somewhere along the way, I quit believing that I could accomplish anything I dreamed, and I quit trying. I spent a whole decade walking away from God and doing my own thing. When I finally decided to return to Him, I found myself 100,000 miles away from the dreams of my youth and hemmed in by the life I'd built on my own strength.

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Returning to God hasn't been an immediate remedy for the ails I brought on myself, and that's frustrating. It always will be. Faith brings freedom, sure- but not always immediate relief from the consequences of our decisions.

I have to hold on to the fact that God gave me the desires of my heart- they are a gift from Him and He plans to honor them if I will let Him use me. I can't take the reigns and ride off on my own power again. For whatever reason, I'm in a phase of life where I am trying a lot of things and failing often.

I am totally clueless about where I'm headed and what He's doing in me. I'm very confused and sometimes very sad. Even if I never get to see the outcome in this life- God is using my story to write His own. When my life is done and I get to see how He used me, I expect I'll be more overwhelmed by the artistry of His brush than I could even fathom on this side of Heaven.

June 16, 2014

at the ballpark.

This spring, we signed Seth up for his first season playing baseball. At our ballpark, the four year olds play "ragball", which is similar to t-ball but much more relaxed. Each kid gets a turn and no one keeps score. It's a good introduction to the basic structure of the game, without the pressure to perform or compete.

Our boy had a lot of fun, but he confessed that he's sort of glad the season is over now, so he can "learn how to be a ninja"! Looks like martial arts is next on our itinerary. Here's a peek at our first season:

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  1. Sitting down in the middle of the field.
  2. At bat.
  3. Dash for first.
  4. A boy and his hat.
  5. Baby bro and me, hanging out behind the dugout.
  6. First chance to pitch.
  7. He loves to punctuate each play with a leap.
  8. Baseballs.
  9. Waiting his turn to bat.
  10. Good-looking spectators.
  11. Triumphant run for home.
  12. "GO CUBS!"

June 13, 2014

behind the blog.

This is a story about us. Here we are:

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Except life moves on and I lost some more of that baby belly and got my hair cut short, and the baby grew bigger and the big boy got taller, and the hubs grew his beard out and then he shaved it off again and the story goes on and on.

My name is Sarah. I'm restless: a dreamer but not much of a do-er. I'm painfully average- you know: I love to cook and hate to fold laundry, I talk too much about myself and wish I had a bigger car/house/yard/life.  I read a lot and drink too much coffee. I take a lot of pictures. Most of all, I praise God that I get to spend my days with these two boys.

Eric is my husband- we've been together for eight and a half years, married seven of those. How time flies. He has less hair and more mojo than when we first met. Now, he works all the time bringing home the bacon so we can have this modest life together.

The big boy is Seth Fisher- he goes by Seth or "hey you". The baby is Elias Hawk- mostly Hawk or "baby brother", though sometimes I like to call him "Butterbean".

That picture was taken in the autumn of 2013, right after Hawk was born (isn't that yawn just so adorable?) and immediately before the Halloween that Seth dressed up like Superman. The year before that, he was a fireman. Before that, he was a purple monster and a baby skeleton before that. This year, he wants to be a refrigerator- don't ask. I couldn't explain him if I tried.

I used to work. You know, for pay. I came home about two years ago, and I feel like I've been wandering ever since: just trying to figure out what I'm doing here on this planet.

I'm a hopeless aesthete.
aes·thete [es-theet or, esp. British, ees-]
noun
1.
a person who has or professes to have refined sensitivity toward the beauties of art or nature.
2.
a person who affects great love of art, music, poetry, etc., and indifference to practical matters. (Source)
To witness art makes my heart soar. A song can make me weep for hours and a poem can bury itself so deeply in me that I'm stunned speechless. Language moves me- a sunset can change my future- I want more beauty, more sensation, more more more of all this life can offer.

I used to feel guilty about that. Like, shouldn't I just be happy with things the way they are? Why do I always have to be looking for beautiful things? Am I too materialistic?

I've come to realize that each of us has a certain proclivity for discontent, and perhaps my affection for good design and pretty things is a symptom of something deeper.

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See, God made humans to be near to Him. And he is ultimate beauty- Divine Perfection. He is the original Artist and the most perfectly formed Art. I believe that all of us were born with the innate desire to get closer to Him. We will seek Him everywhere, without even knowing that He is the object of the chase.

This is my prayer for this blog, and for each of you:

May we each seize the discontent inherent in our souls and take it to a place where it breeds beautiful things: love for people, help for the hurting, healing for the sick. May God Himself show up in this place, revealing freshness and bringing newness of life to all the dead and dying parts of us, so that we can reflect Him to the world around us. May we never cease to seek beauty, and may we always find it in Him.

June 12, 2014

gratitude | v. 01

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Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  • My Type-A self has a hard time letting go of certain things: like toys on the floor. All. The. Time. You know what? It's ok if life (and my home) are not perfect.
  • On that note, love this quote from Anna Quindlen.
  • When Seth asks for snuggle time. As he grows older, the cuddles don't come as often but they are so wonderful.
  • Elias Hawk is turning out to be such a joyful little person. He seems always to be smiling, laughing, and looking at us to make sure we are entertained by his antics!
  • Catching fireflies in a Mason jar.
  • A family vacation is on the horizon. We are planning a 5-day stay in Chattanooga, Tennessee for the week of July 4th. This year, we'll be watching fireworks over the Tennessee River!
  • Eric brings me cheap supermarket flowers sometimes, for no reason at all.
  • Reaching my pre-pregnancy weight much faster after my second baby than the first time around.
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What are you thankful for today?

June 10, 2014

ten things.

If we're going to be friends, you should probably know a few things about me.

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  1. I started my first blog in 2010, after my oldest son was born. Since then, (counting... counting...) I've been through six (?) different blog names. I stopped writing my last blog, One Sweet Tuesday, after my youngest son was born. He's nine months old now and I decided to give it another try because I'm bothered by the fact I haven't been motivated to do creative things since I quit blogging.
  2. I've been married to the love of my life, Eric, for seven years. We met at the coffee shop where I was a barista in college.
  3. In some of my earliest memories, I dreamed of being a writer for a magazine, or an interior designer, or a photographer. That was l o o o o o o n g  before the days that anyone could pick up a digital camera or a smart phone and create magazine-pretty lifestyle and design blogs on the interweb. Who knew?
  4. Eric and I have two sons, and I am a stay-at-home mom. Because if I go back to work, we'll have to pay for someone to keep the kids anyway, so why not enjoy them while they're still small?
  5. I am insatiably curious. If I want to know how to do something, I can't rest until I figure it out. I read voraciously, and tend to pick up four non-fiction titles to every fiction book I read.
  6. We have one dog (Iggy: Boston Terrier) and two cats (Angus and Willow: Russian Blue/Siamese/alley cat mix).
  7. I feel A W K W A R D in front of the camera. And I usually wind up looking pretty awkward, too. Therefore, you won't often see me post outfits or personal style. Which is all good, because in real life I wear yoga pants and no bra most of the time... believe me, no one wants to see that.
  8. On the Myers-Briggs scale, I am an INFJ
  9. I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. I've never lived anywhere else, and I don't plan to change that. But I do like to keep my options open...
  10. My faith in Jesus Christ is the most important thing about me: without Him, I am nothing. God has been writing my story far longer than I can conceive, and the least I can do is point to Him in all I do.
I have a feeling we'll get along famously. Now, you tell me some things about you. Go!

June 9, 2014

summer essentials wishlist

If I were to be totally honest, I'd tell you that I HATE summer. Any season that makes a person feel like they are constantly wading through a vat of hot soup just has to be of the devil. I jest. But seriously- hot weather is so not my jam.

Of course, I happen to live in Alabama, which is unfortunate considering the fact that I really enjoy actual seasons. I like the idea of summer blending into fall blending into winter blending into spring and so on, perhaps in the same way that Olaf enjoys the notion of summer but has never really experienced it.

Now, you're probably thinking I'm off my rocker by this point. I've figured out this by now- I'm pretty much alone in my aversion to the skin-melting temperatures, pervasive suffocating humidity and blinding sun. Therefore, I'm learning how to blend in with the cool summer kids. Perhaps I should start with a summer uniform:

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How about that? See, I feel better already. After all, it's June now and there's not a polar vortex to be found. When you consider that fact, perhaps this summer thing isn't so bad. If I can stash a portable fan in that hobo bag and pour myself a tall glass of iced lemonade, maybe summer can be bearable after all!

How do you cope with the summer heat?

June 6, 2014

welcome to my story.

I crave storytelling. I couldn't stay gone. I need this: I need inspiration to be stirred within me, and I need to have a voice in this world. Willing myself to wait, I've turned all the ideas in my head over like garden soil, waiting for the best time to plant again.

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I admit to feeling intimidated. There are hundreds- no, thousands of women far more qualified to write this blog than I am. I keep thinking to myself, "Who do you think you are?" No one special. Still, God has given us all a story to tell.

This one is mine.
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