December 31, 2014

(goodbye 2014) hello 2015!

2015


Have you ever noticed how there's so much pressure at the end of the year to set big goals for the year to come? Resolutions, bucket lists, 52-or-365 projects- they come in many forms.

I've tried for the past several years to complete different projects. One year, I tried a 365-day photo challenge. I fizzled by March. In 2014, I attempted to read 52 books- one for each week. I burned out by the end of summer and just quit reading altogether. Still, I managed to read more books than I did in 2013- so I call the "project" a success.

But here's the question I pose to you today- is more really better? Is quantity the finish line we should strive for?

"Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop." (Ansel Adams)

I recalled this quote by Ansel Adams recently, and I started to really ponder the implications of the iconic photographer's statement. He didn't say, "A good photographer will definitely produce 12 great photos in one year." He said twelve is a good crop- some years may fall short. And that's ok!

For 2015, I want to take one day at a time and really focus on stewarding my time well. I want to take better care of myself and be intentional in loving people and offering hospitality. I want to read my Bible differently in the new year- with more attention and passion.

Some of the things I want to do may take my focus away from blogging. For one thing, I've been curiously (jealously) watching creative people making things with their hands for many years. I want to begin making tangible things to enjoy, as well! Also, the homeschooling thing.

While I admit that Hello Hive is not going to be a priority this year, I'm committing not to abandon ship! If there's one thing I've learned from experience, it's that I desperately need this form of expression, and the community that comes with it. Shaping this hobby to fit my lifestyle continues to be a struggle, but I'm determined!

Tonight, we will probably stick close to home and go to bed early. We so rarely see the midnight hour anymore, but I'm sure the neighbors will make some noise to wake us (and the dog) from our peaceful slumber when the time comes. How the times change! It was nine years ago today that we enjoyed our first date, and I'm sure we stayed up until sunrise that year...

I pray your New Year's Eve celebrations are festive and happy! Stay safe, and I'll see you around next year!

How about you- what are your goals for the New Year? Share your vision for 2015 in the comments below!

December 29, 2014

eat make do | v. 08

Ah, the week following Christmas. No wonder so many people start decluttering their homes in January! All the minimizing in the world could not have prepared us for the onslaught of new toys and stuff that have taken over our home. I'm not complaining! It was overall wonderful. How did you fare?

I think it's high time to bring the features back onto the schedule- you may have missed them recently. December has been a crazy, hectic, sickly, listless, uninspired month. I'm definitely looking forward to the new opportunities a change on the calendar inevitably will bring!

Take a look at what's inspiring me lately:

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EAT | Spinach Tomato Orzo Soup by Eclectic Recipes
MAKE | DIY Leather Wrapped Vases and Votive Holders
DO | All About Reading + Moveable Alphabet by Cloistered Away

I love all things soup when winter rolls around. I'll be making a lot of soup and homemade bread to go with it in the months to come, and I can't wait to try this yummy spinach/tomato/orzo combination. Also, I have some leather hanging around on my crafting shelf (I have one of those now, did you know?) that would love to be used beautifully very soon. You had me at "glue gun".

Finally, I'm inspired by Bethany's posts about her family's homeschooling journey over at Cloistered Away. I haven't written about this at all, but my spirit has been nudged over the last few months to reconsider homeschooling for our kids. I'd toyed with the idea a while back, but I gave up on the idea, and we enrolled Seth in a private kindergarten this year.

I'll be spending some time praying, learning all I can, and looking at curriculums in the months to come. I have some trepidations about the whole process- how much of me will I lose by giving my time to this endeavor, will the boys receive me well in the role of teacher, will I have the right amount of discipline- and flexibility- to make homeschooling a wonderful experience?

I know every homeschool mom wonders these things at some point, but that's what's really on my heart these days. Any advice you have to give is welcome here!

What is your favorite wintertime meal?

December 25, 2014

merry christmas!

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From our family to yours- wishing you a happy holiday! We hope your Christmas is merry and bright. Travel safe, enjoy your family and friends,  for goodness sake, stop staring at your computer screen (!), and I'll see you all back around these parts next week!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

December 22, 2014

hopes.

The last full week of the year has arrived, along with the Christmas hustle and bustle and no small amount of introspection. I've been thinking about all I've accomplished this year and (quite alternately) all that I have not. Successes and failures aside, this week of the year always brings me to consider my hopes for what's to come.

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I'm hoping to be a better editor in the year to come: limiting my words to only those that are beneficial for encouragement and building people up, limiting my possessions to only those things that bring me joy, limiting my activities to only those things that keep my feet on the path the Father God is laying in front of me.

My focus is shifting toward my children, and I'm thinking a lot about how I spend time with them. I regret a lot about the first five years of my life as a mother and hope to change my perspective significantly in the months ahead. I want to spend more time actively playing with them and less time fussing. More time modeling a lifestyle of tangible creativity, discipline, faith and hospitality. Less time looking at digital screens and putting my own wishes in the place of priority.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12, NIV)

This week is going to be a busy one: we've got lots of sugar cookie baking, present wrapping, candlelight church servicing, bonfire-ing and caroling, and holly-jolly-Christmas-ing ahead. There's a family event everyday for four days in a row, beginning Christmas Eve, and I'm cooking something for each one. We'll be traveling and visiting and celebrating for a while to come! I'm expecting the best Christmas, ever.

How will you be spending your Christmas holiday?

December 15, 2014

free indeed.

Several months ago, I was full of ideas for this space and had plans to ramp up my editorial calendar gradually until I'd be posting every weekday by the New Year. I had no idea I'd be spending nearly two months without Eric at home to back me up- and I also didn't know that God would press on me an acute desire to set every area of my life in a new order! My heart's desires have been shifted far beyond what I'd ever have expected over the last couple of months, and I know much of that has been because of the time I spent in preparation for the LIFE retreat.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
(John 8:36 NIV)

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In the weekly meetings with my LIFE group, we'd each have time to meet one-on-one with a group leader and discuss prayer needs. Honestly, I've had it pretty easy lately and all I could think of was to say, "Pray for me to be more disciplined." I knew I needed more order, more discipline, more motivation and direction for my days. I wasn't totally slovenly, but my heart felt disorganized and my directions unclear.

All I can say is WHOA, be careful what you ask for! My days are different from the way they looked a few months ago. Not overwhelmingly: the differences are subtle in some ways. But the difference in my heart? Wow, so much peace. So much joy. I can't even explain it!

I expected the earth to shake under my feet at the retreat this weekend, but instead of earthquakes and mighty rushing wind, I received a warm embrace and gentle whispers from my Maker. He said, My daughter, I've already moved your mountains. Now, allow Me to sweep away some of the pebbles and dust that remain. I've got some housekeeping to take care of in your heart, dear, but you are already well on the way to My purpose for your life!

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Resolved, never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life! (Jonathan Edwards)

This week, Eric is finally wrapping up his project in Georgia and coming home. He's actually going to be working in Birmingham for a while now- no long commute and no nights away from home! Welcoming him home will require adjustments to some of our new routines, but I'm so happy to have our family complete again!

December 9, 2014

tree farm tromping.

We went to the Christmas tree farm almost two weeks ago- and now I finally have pictures to show you. I don't know why I put off getting these pictures from the memory card to my computer for so long! Procrastination is no one's friend: especially not mine. I'm a work in progress, friends.

This year, our nephew tagged along with us. It was a brisk day but so beautiful! We've gone to the same farm for three years in a row. This little tradition is all I need to give my holiday spirit a jump-start!

Here's a peek at our day:

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  1. As far as the eye can see... trees.
  2. Between rows.
  3. Practicing his wave for the red carpet (one day).
  4. He wields a fierce saw.
  5. A merry band of explorers.
  6. Big bro | Little bro
  7. Obligatory selfie w/ the hubs (to prove I was there).
  8. This is The One!
  9. Helping daddy pull the tree to our destination.
  10. A sprig livening up our kitchen window.
  11. Presenting: our perfect tree, 2014 style.

So, I peeked back through the archives and discovered that I haven't shared any lifestyle photography since, about, oh.... this time here. Oof. That's totally unacceptable! I'm going to try and remedy that in the months to come.

I have a little tip for you about lifestyle photography. This is earth shattering! Ready for it? If you want good photography for your blog, it begins with living a life worth blogging about. BAM. Think on that for a while, lovelies.

December 8, 2014

re|direct.

Being under the weather over the last week has given me opportunity to spend quality time evaluating our lifestyle, and I've noted quite a few things. We're not far off: really, very close indeed to the kind of life I've always dreamed of living. I've been so full of peace lately, and I want to hold onto that feeling!

In the end, though, when my life is nearly gone, I don't want to look back and say to myself, I yearned for a certain kind of life, and I almost found it, but never quite grabbed ahold of it. Honestly, is there anything much worse than realizing something like that too late?

Toward that end, I've decided it's time for some small redirections in our daily routines. I'm putting more effort this week into cleaning out some hidden clutter (physical and spiritual). I know I want more time to connect with people face-to-face. And more time creating tangible things with my hands (not just in the digital realm). Mostly, I want more time digging into Scripture and really digesting it, not just tasting the surface.

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Over the weekend: I lost my voice, wheezed a lot, and then finally felt like a human again. I shopped for a new handbag, decided to start exercising after the kids go to bed each night (morning does not work, no matter how early I rise), took the kids to visit with my bestie and her kids after church, and otherwise procrastinated everything else I need to do. It was wonderful.

I'm looking forward to a prayer retreat this coming weekend. I registered for it a while back and I've been part of a small group preparing for the retreat through the fall. Now it's almost here, and I'm so excited to know what God is preparing!

What are you looking forward to this week?

December 3, 2014

down time.

There's nothing like the onset of a good old-fashioned cold to humble you really quickly. I felt it coming on Saturday evening, and with it came more than a little bit of discouragement. Eric was home four days for the holiday weekend, and while it was such a treat, I knew he had to return to work Sunday evening and it made me sad.

I was so low on Monday morning, I couldn't even take Seth to school. I had coughed so much my head felt like it would split open, and the pain brought waves of nausea with it.

Tuesday, I was scheduled with my dentist to replace an old crown, but I had to cancel the appointment because of the cough. My mother-in-law had already agreed to keep the kids during my dentist appointment, so I took them to her anyway and came home... to nap. Of the 10,000 things I felt like I'd want to do with the stolen free time, all I could bring myself to do was sleep.

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As good as I am at being imperfect, you'd think I'd have learned by now to accept it. I haven't. I expect myself to be able to perform exceptionally all the time in all my roles: as a wife, a mother, friend, blogger, you-name-it. Sometimes it takes a little virus to knock me off my high horse and remind me to be good to myself while I'm at it.

In other news, we put up our Christmas tree Friday night and I'm sure it's the loveliest one we've ever had. This year, we chose a Leland Cypress, and it has the prettiest texture and sturdy enough branches to hold up our favorite ornaments. That is, if it had ornaments- my children have decided that ornaments on trees are overrated. I find them scattered all over the house, the bottom half of my tree is naked!

Also, I put together our very first advent calendar this year. I was inspired by this one, but our branch didn't hold up, and I just hammered nails in the wall and hung the packages that way instead. Score: Perfection- 0, Improvisation- 1.

I happen to know that today's advent package contains instructions to go to the mall and pick an "angel" from the Salvation Army's Angel Tree. It's really important to me for my boys to see us being generous, and I thought this would be a fun and practical way to remind them before we get too involved in being on the receiving end that the Christmas season should be about about giving to others above all!

I'm not sure if I really feel well enough yet to brave the mall alone with these two hooligans, but I know I've got to give it a try. I'm amping myself up with copious amounts of coffee and Dayquil while Seth is in school. Wish me the best!

What are some of your favorite Christmas season traditions?

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