Monday, March 29, 2010

JUST For the Boys


As most of you know, the last year (almost exactly) I've been on an amazing wilderness adventure. I don't know what it all means, but I do know that through this walk close to God's heart for orphans I have found new areas of my own heart that I didn't know needed to be purged of some things and explored more fully for others. God has given me so many treasures along this journey and even now as I look back, I see how God has laid things in my path throughout my entire life that at the time seem so unrelated to anything, but make more sense now. He was preparing my heart for where He has planned for me to travel even from the beginning of time. That thought overwhelms me somewhat akin to looking up into the night sky and trying to wrap my mind around how BIG the sky and infinite in number the stars are. God is SO big and He wraps His arms around ME as his child so often.

But sometimes God has to break our hearts to get through to us too. If you have not read "Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage" by Kay Bratt I really encourage you to do so! There is a new edition coming out this week and you can get an AMAZING deal on Amazon. It is the book that took me off the wishing fence of "I hope that someday I have the chance to do something," and put me on the fence of "better be doing something NOW!" I encourage everyone to see the world through another view and by doing so you will learn SO much about yourself, how rich we are in our USA and maybe God will kindle a new fire and adventure in your life as well. So check it out! GO HERE!

Also, hop on over to the author Kay's blogand check out her give-away JUST FOR BOYS! As a mom of three boys I am SO ON TOP OF THIS! There are so many give away for girly things that make my own girly-girl heart go pitter-pat ... but knowing that other than me nobody in this house is going to be doing cartwheels over winning them. (Although, I love the girly stuff--don't let this fool you!) However, especially with a budding First Grade reader on our hands this give away in honor of the many sweet BOYS in Chinese Orphanages warms and break my heart all at the same time. The drawing is for a set of Skippy Jon Jones books. (And as much as I encourage you to enter too ... I hope I win!) If not, I will be happy for you too however.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What I've Been Up To:


What have I been up to? Where have I gone? (And more importantly that ISN"T ... Nolan... is it?!

Well, I've been working hard on some things for the Love Without Boundaries Art Auction that will be going live later in April. YOU TOO can donate items for this auction by April 1st. Go to LWB wesite to find out more. AND ALSO check out the art auction starting April 22th through 27th to place a bid on some wonderful items that truly will impact the life of a child now and for eternity. The proceeds from this auction provide life saving heart surgeries for orphaned children which not only repairs their little sweet hearts for this life but also makes them more eligible for adoption ... hopefully into a Christian home that will give them the keys to the next eternal life. (Doesn't that just give you goosebumps?!) Oh yes ... and well, yes that IS Nolan in the photo. Times are tough in our household of boys and the little bugger happily became my fit model. (Hilariously he immediately squatted down to check out the openness of the skirt bottom and got QUITE a chuckle thinking that mom had forgotten to do up his pants ... he quickly ran off thinking he had something up on mom.)

So ... because I have fallen in love with these twirly skirts (and they would look ridiculously NOT cute on me and I'm the only girl under this roof) I've sewn up a couple for some twirly girls somewhere. One is a 2T size and another is a fuller-more ruffly version (for max twirl) that is a 4T size.)
Nolan humored me for a brief second (obviously he did not stand too still for very long as all of these shots are a little blurry.) The material has little ladybugs and hearts on one fabric, a gorgeous rich red on another and a black fabric with Kanji (the Chinese characters that are used in the modern Japanese logographic writing system) on another. Oh yes and a sassy stripe too. Let me know what you think as I'm not getting too much positive feedback from my boys. (I'm sure it's mostly out of fear that I'll ask them to model next!) Hopefully I'll get some better photos for the auction along with what else I have been sewing up. And of course I will be posting about this again here. Thanks for humoring me. It was really fun to work on these! Next on my sewing table however better be a Scooby Doo blanket and pillowcase in a more boy like fashion for one of my Scooby Doo fans.
(Forgive me for putting you through this Nolan)

Here is the More Ruffled 4T style sans model:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sweetening the Pot in the Countdown hours!


bringingdrewhome.blogspot.com

There are less than 24 hours left in the campaign to raise funds for Drew and Jaxson! Have you stopped by their site to see how it is growing?! Can you chip in another $5 or $10? I'm going to. I keep putting it off though ... and I need to JUST DO IT!

To sweeten the pot and add to the prize to contributor's ratio I would like to add this really cute (in my opinion) chair.
Dimensions are: 23"h x 12" x 12"
Solid Hard Wood
Mission Design

My kids LOVE it (ages 1.5, 4 ... and 6.5, although the 6.5 won't admit it too loudly ...)
But don't worry, they have their own and this one has been put up HIGH in my studio out of their reach so it is mint.
I know that things are VERY busy in Mandi and Matt's household right now ... so I don't know if she is going to have time to post about this since I just emailed her about it. This chair has been calling to me to offer it for this drawing and I kept finding every excuse to put it off from the cost of postage to having to do the ironing first! (ack!) But it really wants to find a home for a good cause!
If you could spread the word hopefully this will ignite some last minute contributions?!
YOUR post might spread to someone, who will spread to someone, and spread to another and before we know it maybe we'll see that total get off that plateau. Maybe there is a message board out there for adoption that hasn't been tapped yet? Seriously, this is such a great cause and there are some seriously cool prizes Click here to see the original post of items bringingdrewhome.com! (And if you need a matching chair, contact me and we can arrange for me to paint you another for a super reasonable amount if you win it!) Go now and search the couch cushions, return the pop cans for deposit, raid the laundry room money jar and be amazed at how God will use it (minus any dryer or pocket lint.)
Click here to see the additional items and don't forget the chair too!
BringingDrewHome.com

I'm praying that God will take all we have and multiply it in His name!
Blessings!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

And She Dances



My mind is still thinking about twirly skirts (see previous post below and you can still leave me a comment there) ... but my mind is also thinking today about Lucy too.
Today is HER day! So I imagine her twirling with the joy of a family and a healed heart!

PLEASE join in lifting this sweet girl up in prayer during a 24 hour prayer vigil TODAY. RIGHT NOW. WHEREVER YOU ARE.

Head on over to 1001 tears and sign up for a time to dedicate to pray for her and the family(s) who are considering her for adoption. (leave a comment in the comments space at the bottom of the post.) I know there is at least one VERY special family considering her heavily right now. Pray for God's guidance and reassurance in their steps. Pray that Lucy will know the joy of a family. Pray that she will know good health and the miracle of God's healing hand.
Here is a link to sign up.
http://1001tears.blogspot.com/

But even if you don't officially sign up, pray a prayer ... even a small one.
Our prayers are powerful!!!

James 5:16
"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

They have the power to move mountains, to make them melt like wax!!!!!

Psalm 97:5
"The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth."


Who can resist being part of blessing this little girl?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Twirly Skirts


It's happened again ... a bit of girly overflow ... and JUST when Jeff is out of town too. Not a good mix. I guess I'm going to blame this on a trip to the fabric store today. Oh MY! Even if you don't sew, one trip there and a look at the INCREDIBLE fabrics and you will leave with a new sewing machine tucked under one arm and a bolt or two of fabric under the other.

My problem is that I need to finish one project before starting another and also that I don't have a sewing room other than the dining room table. (That makes any project longer than 2 hours a real challenge as it seems someone is using that table for a snack or meal at about that interval.) Not to mention that any 2 hour uninterrupted interval is going to happen in about 6 years from now. But lets work around these hurdles ...

I came across a couple EXCITING free web tutorials for a twirly skirt and also a striped skirt. I cannot wait to see the boys in them.
HAHAHAHA! Ok ... that is NOT going to happen. (And for this we are THANKFUL!) But maybe I'll find someone who needs one or two if I ever finish my current projects because they look VERY cool and Very easy to make.

Let me share one of the ADORABLE fabrics I picked up today. It's from the Heidi Grace "We are Family" Fabric Collection. Is this adorable or what?! I can think of a couple of my followers who might think so anyway.

And guess what I found on etsy WHILE looking for that free twirly skirt pattern:

Guess I'm not so original (however I was thinking something more along the lines of the first photo with the layers and incorporating some red and also black other fabrics.)
I also think these would look insanely cute ruffled on the bottom of some jeans with a coordinating top with the fabric embroidered with it. Maybe something like this:

Oh boy. SEE! There I go again. Another project on my brain and I haven't even started the first ideas yet.
Maybe I should harness this and sell 'em on ebay?
Ya, in about 6 years when that uninterrupted block of time gets here.
*If anyone wants a link to those free tutorials leave me a comment or I guess you could just google for "free twirly skirt pattern" ... although I love to hear from you too.
**Also, if anyone wants to be bold enough to give me their child's hip measurement and the optimal length of a skirt for that child maybe YOU can become the owner of one for free by being my test model. :-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Friday is Just Around the Bend!

FRIDAY
I am looking forward to Friday for many reasons. Who doesn't like the end of the work week ... and when it comes at the end of a single-parenting week and the return of a traveling husband back into the mix, wow it can only get unbelievably better with a quick overnight get-away for a Ladies Retreat. Now THAT is really hard to beat! And that folks is what I am looking forward to!

But Friday is also the last day to donate funds to bring 2 special boys into their families. One is a sweet youngster with cheeks as pinchable as the day is long. The other is weeks away from aging out of the system and from EVER having the chance to be adopted. He will be 14 on May 1st and after then he will forever be an orphan. SERIOUSLY. At age 14! And that is in a culture that embraces and prizes family above all else. Which is great, unless you don't have a family.
This is the kicker ... he does have a family who has stepped out in faith to be his voice and if this forever family does not get the funds ASAP and does not travel to get him before May 1st ... then he will not have a father, a mother, brothers, sisters, a home to call his own, and MOST importantly an understanding of a God whose love is SO big that He sent his son to die for our sins so that WE may be adopted as His sons and secured a Heavenly home.

If you have not already donated to Bring Drew and his brother Jaxon home, please consider doing so. Heck, donate now and do the considering later. There are so many wonderful prizes that have been donated ... just as an encouragement and bonus for those who spread the word and dig around for what they can give. Go to BRING DREW HOME Don't wait ... they are only at 37% of their goal as of right now ... I have been watching it inch up a little at a time and I am SO wanting this to be a God thing. For them, for the boys, for us (the contributors and supporters through dollars and prayers) and mostly because it is so close to God's heart.
Their story can be found on their home blog HERE. And remember to donate, spread the word to others and especially pray for this family and these boys.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring has arrived!


I could smell it in the air on Saturday as I trudged across our brown, soggy, cake batter consistency lawn. Ahhh ... the smell of just a little bit of photosynthesis just a brewing ... a little (and I mean little) bit of warmth in the air. And then 50's on Sunday and 60's today! Ahhh, sweetness!

If I ever lived in another area of the country I would miss the change of seasons so much ... yes ... I might even miss the minus 30 degree days of winter. Mostly because even with warm spring days or hot sweltering summer days it's ineveitable that in just a few months it will all be so different. And that is miraculous to me! I think it is probably a profound source of amazing and renewing Hope.

So today Nolan got to try out his brand new trike outside. Grandma LaVerne had gotten it for him for Christmas and he was THRILLED beyond words with it! I cannot wait for him to learn how to peddle it. (He's the first of our 3 boys to ever have a trike oddly enough!) It was one of my favorite toys as a small child. And since my camera is in Japan I do not have any touching "first photos" of the trike ride to share ... but I do have these that I came across while strolling down memory lane. No ... this obviously isn't Nolan ... it's me. I'm guessing I'm about one judging from the summer season (even though the side of the photo says June.) These were taken back in the era of FILM and happened to be developed in June 1972. There are a few others I just may have to share down the road too. Awwwww. To be young again. What would I do without photos? I love pictures!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sunday Snapshot--Oliver Arrives

You might remember my post about Flat Stanley recently. Well, our Stanleys are here WAITING on me to get them ready to go on a journey all their own ...
And in the meanwhile, we've received a visitor ourselves!

This is Oliver K. Woodman and he is visiting from Virginia! We are so pleased to have him here. I have to mention though that the journey was not the smoothest for our little guest. When he arrived the envelope told me that the ride was bit bumpy for Oliver and upon opening the package I found a broken man.
Oh the horror!

At first I thought we could glue his stick together ... but with a fractured section in shards it became clear we would have to proceed with a full "stick-ectomy" and the attachment of a full replacement stick.

THANKFULLY ... I had eaten all the caramels this fall before ever making caramel apples ... so I had a good selection of transplant sticks to choose from RIGHT at hand!
A little glue, a few books overnight to press him together and I am happy to say that Oliver is as good as new! In fact ... he was feeling SO good that he went on a little trip with Jeff this morning ... (and this is going to blow the socks off of Oliver's First Grade class I hope!) ...

to JAPAN!

Yes, Oliver is right now flying over the Artic Circle tucked comfortably in Jeff's carry-on bag. I'm hoping that he remembers to take at least one photo of the little man while he's there! (What a dear husband he is ... I'm sure I shake up his ordered "engineering world" a little bit now and again with these requests!)

I can't wait for Oliver to come back and we can show him a little bit of Iowa too. It gets such a bum rap all the time. It is really a beautiful place, but like many places it's seen through the experiences that help paint the details of its beauty.

Travel safely Oliver!
Ni Hao Y'all

Friday, March 12, 2010

Strength & Dignity


I woke up early this morning to work on typesetting some vinyl lettering for my home business ... I decided to take a brief break.

Of course I checked the blog ... and as I looked into the beaming smile of Lucy, a 2.5 year old who desperately needs a heart surgery, I wondered, "How does she smile so beautifully when she must hurt so much ..."
I went back to my lettering and it was like reading it anew. I had found inspiration that perfectly breathed new life into what I was working on and made it mean so much more. I'm not sure which is my favorite version ... but I pray that Lucy has many people who join me in prayer for her and that she will face her future without fear and with beautiful hope and faith. Perhaps YOU are her family?


If you have not read Lucy's story, please go HERE to learn more. Perhaps your prayer, your phone call, your voice will be the one that speaks the loudest.





Thursday, March 11, 2010

Drawing for Drew

As an artist I get a chuckle out of this title! ... "Drawing for Drew."
Imagine how cool it would be to have a finger in bring home this adorable boy to his mom and dad AND as a kicker ... bringing home a new big brother to the family as well?! I LOVE the way God works in unexpected ways. Could you have guessed that a trip to bring this little guy home would ALSO precipitate bringing home an older sibling TOO?! God love this family! (OR should I say, God LOVES this family.)
They see what many would see as impossible and instead seek God and go above and BEYOND, to do something more at the level of God's work with His help.
You can also use this an an opportunity to follow their family blog and find out more about this older sibling as it is revealed to all of us in God's timing! Jaxon is his name ... and so much more will be revealed soon. Check out the drawingHERE!
There are MANY mighty cool prizes to be won in addition to feeling great about donating.


Now after you've gone to Drew's page and donated, do something fun for yourself!

You have through the end of the day March 12th to WIN this beautiful scarf. Yes, WIN! No strings attached (oh, I am just full of puns today.)
Go here to find out more! Become a follower of the Scarlet Threads blog (and also facebook fan) to keep up with some mighty tastey recipies and all the news on what's up with this cool group!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday Snapshot-Brayden's Hat Trick


Brayden finished his first season on the Mites Travel Hockey Team as of this weekend. Saturday's game was a loss ... but it was good to end the season with something to work towards into the new season in the fall and a little humbleness.

LAST weekend however was a different story!
We were in Wisconsin and NOBODY scored against our team ... nobody. In all three games. (And I did really feel sorry for those other teams. They even stopped keeping score after 0-7 thankfully) And Brayden got not just one ... or two ... but THREE hat tricks! (two in one game.)
**For those of you who don't follow hockey, a hat trick is when one player gets 3 goals in one game.**
yes ... he had nine points last weekend!
AND they were giving out patches for hat tricks ... how cool is that? Very cool for a boy of 6. I didn't even know they had patches for that and I don't think they have at any other tournament. So that was a lucky thing that the two events happened at the same time.
So, here's my Sunday Snapshot of our sweet, mischievous boy (don't you think his lost tooth fits the photo SO well!) and also to our very hockey-weary family. Because although we do enjoy hockey, it takes just as much, if not MORE patience and discipline for these guys:


who go to every practice (2-3 a week)
and sit
and watch
and wait
and wonder when it will ever be THEIR turn
To do this:

And be a part of this:

Way to go guys!
Ni Hao Y'all

Friday, March 5, 2010

You Would Look Sweet ...

Cruising the driveway in one of these ...

Have you seen these cars?!
Well you can WIN one for your very own ... and from what I've read they work for kids through adults (yes, up to some crazy amount like over 200 lbs. so they SO MEAN ADULTS)! Well, I'm not 200 lbs. but I haven't had the courage to try one out either since I've only seen them in stores and I have a few inhibitions of not looking overly silly in public, even the possibility of doing so (I'm not sure how quickly I'd catch on to how these works. I think they're easy for kids ... ) Hop on over to New Day's Blogspot to see the details of how to make this ride your own ... and in the process become a follower of what God is doing right now in the lives of SO many children in China especially through a support net that has been cast across the entire globe. It is incredible to imagine God's design in all the people and prayers connected to this place and its children. It is a place of great hope and healing and love. RUN to check out what you may have been missing at New Day Foster Home and learn how you can pray, follow, sponsor a child and so much more.

Enter the contest by leaving a comment on the New Day post about the plasma car. You can earn a few more opportunities for further entries as well. Spread the word and spread the love. Can you imagine if even more people prayed for these children and for others? Of if even more people's hearts were lightened and enlightened with the passion God has for orphans? Don't miss out on a minute ... oh yes, and the drawing ends Tuesday night, March 9th and the winner will be announced Wednesday, March 10th.

If you're visiting my blog I'd love to hear from you! Please leave a comment ... and if you check in with me regularly, thank you so much! I love to see that somebody has stopped by. Friendly lurkers are welcome ... but I love to know who all is stopping too.

Blessings to you!
Valerie

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Matters of the Heart

Last Spring I searched myself deeply trying to understand why God would "waste" such good money, time, education and blessings on me and my love of art. You see, it's something that has just been a part of life since my first memory ... I LOVE to create things ... even though I don't have much time lately while raising my family. I guess that imbalance of TIME-NEED-PASSION really was eating at me and still does so often. But last year was a turning point for me. I wanted SO much to make a difference for orphans, especially those who needed medical help and I wished so deeply that I had invested my studies to become something so much more useful like a surgeon or a doctor ... someone who could actually "hands on" make a difference to children with medical needs--Even though I know deep in my heart that isn't what God created me for--I am NOT good in emergency situations, I like biology but I'm not precise enough for the medical field, it's not what keeps me up working late into the night or makes my mind busy thinking of possible new things to create. For whatever reason God made me to be an artist and a mother and it was through this realization (and I mean REALIZATION in a deeper sense that this was something that wasn't a circumstance (one that I absolutely love by the way) but a purposeful position, that I more fully appreciated that I DID have gifts that I could give and and God would use. And by doing so they could make a difference AND glorify God for His goodness ... which is so different than seeing things through the eyes of what I could do all on my own in the more direct and straightforward way of helping as a doctor.

Soul searching can be ugly and pittyful and not always the road most wanted to trudge down ... but while on my way out of the pitty forest, I came across the Love Without Boundaries Art Auction. And when I say, "Came Across," I mean, nearly at the moment I laid it at God's feet in defeat and said, "fine, what can I possibly give that would make a bean of difference!"

Funny how the whisper speaks at just the right moment.
So I was so blessed to add this to last year's art auction having JUST enough time to complete it starting at the very end of February and sewing like mad all through March!:
"Soli Deo Gloria-Wrapped In the Arms of Esther"

Which in turned helped to create a picture like this:

Along with 3 other little ones, Kathy, Dessie, Melanie (also known as Mei), Yvonne, seen in the photo above, had the surgery to heal her heart as did the other 3 and now all four children have bright futures ahead of them. See their before and after photos at www.lwbstories.com.

So here's your chance THIS year to join in and be God's hands and feet!
What talents do you have? Maybe you have a gift for shopping and have the perfect item sought out and ready to add to the auction or maybe you too have a crafty-artsy talent that you could share?
Join us for our 7th annual Born in My Heart art auction to be held April 22 - 27, 2010.

For six years running, LWB has held the annual Born In My Heart art auction on eBay to raise awareness – and funds – for children in China’s orphanages. These children need life-saving surgeries and often have no one to advocate for them. Be their voice! Send in something for the auction, bid on an item (there will be many very cool ones), spread the word to others!

There are many more children with serious needs who wait for their chance to be healed. So, in addition to heart surgeries, the 2010 auction proceeds will fund any child who requires immediate surgery or intervention to save their life.

I am working on something for this year's entry, but it's not finished yet ... I will give you a sneak peek though:
This is one block of many ... and I'm not sure if it's going to be a table runner, a wall hanging or a small quilt. (suggestions welcome.) The main colors are aqua, brown and white with colorful Asian florals in the smaller squares. I think part of the name will include Cross My Heart in honor of so many children that have crossed my heart this year AND the deeper meaning of having THE cross in your heart.


Check out the LWB website for details and ideas for submission. The deadline is April 1st.

1 Corinthians 12:14-26
14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Flat Stanley


Have you ever heard of the Flat Stanley books by Jeff Brown? I know I've heard the name but I've never read them ... but while we were at a hockey tournament this weekend, one of my son Brayden's friends had a "flat-Stanley" of himself (ie: a "Flat-Caiden" since his name is Caiden) that he had made and colored to be like himself. He was taking photos of him at the pool, the hot tub, at the hockey tournament etc. Apparently "Flat Caiden" had just spent 2 weeks with Caiden's grandma & grandpa in Northern Minnesota, visiting the iron ore mines, snowmobiling, ice skating etc. after being mailed to them and they were reunited poolside when they all met up for the hockey tournament. After looking more into this there are tons of Flat Stanley adventure books out there! Who knew?!

SO ... I was thinking that we might make a Flat Brayden, Easton and Nolan with the boys and have them send them on an adventure of their own. If anyone would be interested in receiving these flat boys and taking a digital photo of them to send back of their adventures while on the road, let me know. I just thought this was such a COOL idea to teach kids about taking adventures, different places in the world/U.S., the mail system and writing letters, as well as differences that we all have (apparently Stanley used to be a regular boy who was flattened like a pancake and had to adapt to being different which actually has many strengths! One of which is being able to go through the mail on adventures.)
Leave me a comment if you'd be interested in hosting one of our flat boys for an adventure or two. We'd love to host in return as well.
If you're interested in doing this check this website out. And this one too!
For a Flat Stanley template click at the bottom of the text on the first website I listed. It will direct you to the official website and from there you can link to the free template. Very sweet. I can't wait to make ours!

The family

The family