Craftsy Class Giveaway

Crayon Roll-up Bag @ponderthepath

My first memory of sewing was when I was probably 6 or 7 and my mom let me make a pot holder on the sewing machine. I don’t know how well the pot holder turned out, but I do know that I have always loved to sew.

In high school I took home economics and learned to read patterns and sew garments. I didn’t particularly enjoy sewing with patterns because I always felt they were quite tedious and tended to do things the hard way. Really, it was most likely that I was impatient and wanted to be done with the project.

Last year I was able to take a couple of classes from Craftsy. Craftsy offers all sorts of classes (sewing, quilting, baking, knitting, crocheting, cake decorating), but the 2 classes I have taken both had to do with sewing garments.

Tiered Skirts @ponderthepath

The A-line skirt class teaches you how to create skirts from scratch, meaning you make the pattern as well. Once I took this class, I felt like I really understood the process of making skirts so much better. I thought this might stifle my creativity, but it actually allowed me to become more creative. Now that I understand the basic structure of creating a skirt from scratch, I am able to modify the process and create the skirts I want.

I am also in the process of taking the Couture Dress class that teaches you how to create a dress muslin and then modify it for the perfect fitting. It is much more of a challenge, but I have really learned so much from this class. The lady that teaches the class, Susan Khalje, is one of the most talented seamstresses in the country. Not only that, she has a great gift for teaching so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. In other words, she makes it look easy!

Firecracker Quilt @ponderthepath

I love sharing projects that I have made here on my blog, but I realize that many of you would love to make similar projects but don’t know how to sew. I would love to sit with each of you and teach you the things I have learned over the years, but it just isn’t possible. I figured the next best thing would be a class from Craftsy!

In order to enter, visit Craftsy, take a look at the classes they offer and tell me which one you would like to take. Leave a comment letting me know which one.

You can also share this giveaway {pretty please} with everyone you know or follow me for additional entries.

Craftsy

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Staycation: Fun Things to Do Around Austin

Year of the Staycation - Austin @ponderthepath

If you don’t live near Austin, no problem…come back tomorrow and I will be posting a list with staycation ideas for almost 100 different cities!

After having been away from Texas for almost 20 years, returning for good has become a staycation for our family. We are very blessed to live smack dab in the middle of Austin and Houston, which provides up with a variety of activities within driving distance.

I wanted to share some of our favorite places to visit near Austin, as well as many more that are on our bucket list. Both of my brothers live in Austin, so they have been a great help in pointing us to some really cool destinations!

Exploring the Hill Country

Zilker Zephyr @ponderthepath

Zilker Park

Zilker Park is one of the first places my brother took us when we stayed in Texas 2 years ago. It is also where we chose to spend Mother’s Day this year. Zilker Park is located in the heart of Austin. Within this 350 acre park, you will find a large playground with giant musical instruments, the Zilker Zephyr train that tours the park, Bartons Springs Pool, open fields, and a beautiful river meandering through the land. In the summer time, there are musicals and plays at the outdoor Zilker Theater.

xylophone Zilker Park @ponderthepath

We have flown kites here, went wading in the spring, had a picnic, hiked through the woods, and generally just relaxed and enjoyed our time at Zilker Park.  Next time we visit, we hope to explore Zilker Botanical Gardens located within the park.

Barton Springs

Barton Springs, the fourth largest natural spring in Texas, is located within Zilker Park, but is worth it’s own day trip. Barton Springs Pool is a 3 acre, natural, spring fed swimming pool with an average year round temperature of 68 degrees. Right outside the swimming pool, you can access the creek and wade in the beautiful crystal waters.

barton spring creek @ponderthepath

If you are looking for a little more adventure, there are canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats that can be rented from Zilker Park Boat Rentals for a day out on the water.

Austin Children’s Museum

children's museum @ponderthepath

Our visit to the Austin Children’s Museum may have been on accident, but it was one place the younger children thoroughly enjoyed! The children’s museum is a hands on learning adventure geared towards younger children. There is an area to make craft projects using recycled materials. My son loved the tool bench with all the nuts and bolts used to attach panels together.

The museum offers several discount days, including a free Sunday afternoon admission. We were able to get in free for military appreciation month. Check with the website to see what discounts are available.

Inner Space Caverns

When I was a kid, I remember touring Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and just being amazed at the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. I was excited to find out that there are several limestone caverns near Austin. We are hoping to visit Inner Space Caverns this summer and make a life long memory for our children. Inner Space Caverns offers several discounts including a military discount.

Enchanted Rock State Park

Photo Credits: Jujutacular

Photo Credits: Jujutacular

If you enjoy hiking and nature, I am told that Enchanted Rock is an awesome place to enjoy both. The pink granite rock formation offers many trails and places to climb. There are vernal pools to explore and rocks to climb. Make sure and bring plenty of water for a day out on the rock.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

bluebonnet @ponderthepath
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is number 1 on my places to visit this summer. I am an herbalist and enjoy learning to identify new species of plants. But even if I wasn’t, the beauty of the wildflowers themselves still captures my heart! The center offers several hiking trails with different plants featured on each trail. There are also many different types of gardens showcasing the beautiful wildflowers native to the Texas Hill Country. If you love the flowers as much as I do and want to bring them back with you, the center offers wildflowers for sale twice a year. I will be there next October!

Jourdan-Bachmann Pioneer Farms

Step back in time and experience life in the 1800’s on this 90 acre historical farm, Jourdan-Bachmann Pioneer Farms. There are 5 different areas that cover: an 1841 Tonkawa Encampment, an 1868 German Immigrant Farm, an 1873 Texian Farm, an 1887 Cotton Planter’s Farm and an 1899 Sprinkle Corner rural village. Costumed guides illustrate life on each of the themed farms. Children learn how daily chores were done, such as milking a cow, making candles, woodworking and much more. They can pick vegetables from the garden or taste a home cooked meal made on the farm. There are animals to pet and horses to ride. Lots of fun while learning about history at the same time!

Bat Viewing at the Congress Avenue Bridge

Photo Credit: Peter17

Photo Credit: Peter17

Over 1.5 million bats fly out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge every night from March to November. We had a bat in our house several years ago and seeing 1.5 million of them sounds a little creepy, but I am sure this is something the kids would absolutely love. If you are a photography enthusiast, this is also a great location to catch some beautiful shots of the capital.

Kiddie Acres

“Old school” meets “Preschool”…an amusement park geared towards families with younger children! Kiddie Acres is the classic amusement park offering carousel rides and pony rides. After playing at the amusement park, the family can spend time playing miniature golf or eating pizza, hot dogs, or cotton candy.

Austin Zoo

elephant at zoo @ponderthepath
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Typical animal fun never loses it’s appeal to both young and old. We love to just walk around and marvel at God’s creation and the Austin Zoo is the perfect place to do just that!

Texas Capital

Photo Credits: Kumar Appaiah

Photo Credits: Kumar Appaiah

A guide to visiting Austin just wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the state capital. I remember the first time I visited the capital when I was in junior high, looking up inside the dome. It takes my breath away just remembering it’s grandeur. Free guided tours are offered daily, including an overview of the Capitol’s art and architecture, Texas history, and the Texas legislature.

Cool Websites to Find More To Do

Free Fun in Austin – information on finding free activities, free food, and free services

Austin Bored Kids – activities going on in Austin

Austin Texas – event calendar for Austin area

iBlog: Book Release and Giveaway

Remember a couple of weeks ago I let you in on an upcoming book release, well the release date is finally here!

iBlogCover @ponderthepath

iBlog Release: May 1st

iBlog: everything you need to know about blogging from 30 top bloggers is filled to the brim with excellent information for both new bloggers and seasoned bloggers alike. The over 400 pages cover everything from getting started to building your blog to social media to balancing it all.

I sat down and started reading last week and was just amazed at the wisdom that these ladies shared. Thankfully it is not too late to start implementing some of the information on my own blog. Other than the first chapter (which was written by yours truly) I learned something new from every chapter I read. Pretty impressive considering I have been blogging off and on for many years!

iblog quote @ponderthepath

This book encompasses all aspects of blogging. I would definitely call this book a “complete blogging manual”. And what is so great about this book is that each contributor shared her area of expertise. These ladies really are TOP bloggers and each of them is gifted in different areas. They have poured out their hearts and minds, sharing all they know about their given topics!

Need help getting started? It’s in here!

Want to know how to increase traffic? Yep, it’s in here!

What about making money from blogging? You guessed it, it’s in here!!!

How to Get iBlog

A 400 page blogging manual is easily worth $30 or more, but we wanted to make sure that iBlog was affordable for everyone. We feel like you are getting a steal of a deal for $7.99!

But to make the release a little bit sweeter, I will be giving away 3 copies of iBlog in 3 days!

On Saturday morning I will chooses 3 lovely winners and each will receive a copy of this excellent blogging reference guide.

If you can’t wait until Saturday and would like to start reading today, go ahead a purchase a copy today! (If you are the winner on Saturday, I will gladly refund your money for the copy you bought.)

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iBlog Giveaway

Winners will receive one free copy of iBlog: everything you need to know about blogging from 30 top bloggers. Giveaway will end Saturday morning and I will randomly choose a winner!

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What’s Been Going On?

Has it really been 2 months since I last posted? Life seems to have taken me by storm, but is sure is nice to sit down and take a breather. I have always marveled at the women who can blog while giving birth. When things get intense in my life, I usually turn on autopilot and hyper-focus. And maybe because of my introverted nature, I hunker down a bit.

Back to Texas

I have finally pulled out of the cave and am so thankful for God’s goodness. Our family has officially moved once again. My husband has retired from the Air Force after 20 years and we have come full circle back to where it all started…right here in Texas. We had been married for almost a year when he joined up and boy has it been a ride.

We started off in Albuquerque, NM where we had our first 2 children. We were there for 5 years before we headed to Germany for the next 4 years. Next was a loooong 7 years in California, 2 short years in Spain, 1 1/2 years in Kansas, and our final destination here in bluebonnet country.

ice storm @ponderthepath

Last week we were hit by an ice storm in Kansas and I truly felt that winter was never going to end. However, when we arrived here in Texas we were greeted by the most beautiful blanket of wildflowers I have ever seen. Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrush, Evening Primrose, Winecups and so many more. What a blessed welcome home!

bluebonnets @ponderthepath

Lil’ Firecracker quilt

I have also been busy with a few other projects in the works. Cooper turned 2 on April 1st. I wanted to make a larger quilt for him as he had long outgrew his baby quilt. I designed a quilt called Lil’ Firecracker that reminds me so much exploding fireworks. It also reminds me of Cooper’s blast of energy!

lil' firecracker quilt @ponderthepath

I am sharing the tutorial for the quilt at the Cutting Corners College and I would love to have you check it out. The Riley Blake Designs website always has tons of cute projects to inspire and it was so much fun to work with them on this project.

lil' firecracker @ponderthepath

New E-book Collaboration

iBlogCover @ponderthepath

I have wanted to write a book for a very long time now, but it seems like such a daunting task. So I am starting out with baby steps. In January, I was so blessed to be included with a great group of ladies in writing an e-book entitled “iBlog: everything you need to know about blogging from 30 top bloggers”. I really think it should read “29 top blogger and 1 wannabe”, but they were gracious in including me with them.

The book will be released at the end of the month. I am so excited to read it in it’s entirety. I have only read the chapter I wrote, so it will be fun to see what everyone else wrote. The book is almost 400 pages long, so I am certain it is full of great information!

Christian Herbal Website

For many years now I have hoped to create a Christian Herbal website. As anyone who has studied herbal medicine knows, it is so very hard to avoid the pagan culture that has it’s grip on herbal medicine.

I truly believe that herbal medicine was God’s gift to mankind and as Christians we should be at the forefront of herbal knowledge. This should be another tool that we can use to minister to a hurt and dying world. Instead we are having to tread lightly in an area that has been take over by those who wish to worship the created rather than the Creator.

There are so many families out there that are trying to learn how to care for their own, but it is sometimes difficult. I don’t know how many times I have read through herbal texts and just have to skip large portions because of the pagan ideas presented.

Another problem is finding other Christian herbalists to serve as mentors. It is one thing reading from a text, but it is another to work with someone who has practiced herbalism for many years and understands the practical aspects of it.

I want to create a website that presents herbal information from a Christian worldview and creates a community of Christian herbalists that are willing to share freely their knowledge of herbal medicine. I am currently in the process of creating the site and looking forward to launching it in the fall.

In the meantime, I several herbal medicine making posts that have been in my draft for some time. I will try to get those finished up and posted.

On a final note, I think it was Shakespeare who said, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I certainly missed blogging and all my readers. It is good to be back!

Online Quilting Class

Homeschool Mother’s Journal: March 1

In my life this week…

Join me at The Homeschool Mother’s Journal to find out what I have been up to this week.

Unfinished Business

Each month, my friend Keri Mae and I choose a topic that we can both write about {make sure to head over and read her post} from our own perspectives and share with each other. When she suggested we write about unfinished projects, I knew I had plenty of them to write about!

There is the unfinished egg basket sitting on the top shelf in the pantry — I am hoping to actually use it once we have laying hens again. Then there is the quilt I started over 7 years ago, a beautiful Tennessee Waltz that was just a bit too difficult for the beginning quilter I was when I started it. My bookshelves are filled with great curriculum that I just haven’t gotten around to doing with the kids. And then there is the stack of herbal books waiting to be read so that I can finish my herbal studies.

So many great ideas and not enough time in the days to get them done.

Sometimes I get discouraged. I cry out to the Lord, “Why can’t I just get some things done?” It makes me feel undiligent, if that’s even a word. Like I have no “stick-to-it-ness”, no perseverance.

Then I am reminded of Hebrews 12: 1-2,

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The race we are set to run is our life in Christ. For many of us, being a wife and mother is the track where we run our race. If we are to finish the race, we have to stay on the track. Sometimes the track gets bumpy and the terrain is rough. Sometimes there are storms and the track is filled with muck and mud. We are going to have to have patience to keep at it.

Along the track, there are many wonderful blessings for us to enjoy. These projects that I busy myself with are beautiful gifts that the Lord has allowed me to enjoy as I am running my race. There are even pit stops along the way, when I can stop and refresh myself and enjoy these projects more fully.

let us lay aside the weight

But if I try to start to race again, I need to set these things aside for the moment. If I try to bring them with me as I run, I will be weighted down and tire out easily. It is always better to run strongly, then take breaks to enjoy the sidelines. This way when we are running, we are more focused on the run, and can do our best at it. Once we take a break, we enjoy the break even more when we know we have ran well.

and the sin which doth so easily beset us

Another thing I must watch out for is the sinful trap of leaving the race to frolic along the edges. When I make the sidelines of more importance than the race, the projects become idols that demand more of my time and energy than the Lord has allowed me to give to them.

When I feel like I “deserve” more of a break than I am given, and feel angered at being pulled back to the race, I have taken my heart out of the race. In order to finish the race, my heart has to to be set on the goal set before me. My eye must be set on the one who created the race and put me in it.

and let us run with patience the race that is set before us

So, I have to remind myself that I am not being “undiligent” by setting my projects aside for another day. I am simply running the race and will come back to them when I am too winded to run!

Book Review: The Genius of Ancient Man: Evolution’s Nightmare

From the title, the premise of the book is that God created man perfect, including his intellect. From the very beginning of time, mankind has possessed many creative and intellectual abilities that far surpass even the most learned in our own time.

But this isn’t what the evolutionists would have us believe. In order for their “theory” to hold true, man would have to evolve from an unintelligent ape into a supreme fount of knowledge. This isn’t what we see when we examine ancient history.

The Genius of Ancient Man: Evolution’s Nightmare is an extremely well-researched textbook on the intelligence and accomplishments of ancient man.

An important concept related to this intelligence, is the fact that it was there before man was dispersed at the Tower of Babel. We know this because the same abilities are seen all over the world in all different cultures. For instance, several cultures around the world have succeeded in building towers and structures that boggle the minds of present day scholars. These cultures didn’t have Google to look up “how to build a ziggurat” and there were no YouTube videos to teach “construction methods of ancient pyramids.” This was information that was passed down to the cultures from their ancestors…their common ancestors.

It was also at the Tower of Babel that Satan showed his desire to counterfeit the things of the Lord. One of the first counterfeits was the tower itself. But there have been many, many more counterfeits over time. The book names several of the counterfeits, including man-made mountains (towers), astrology (counterfeiting God’s original purpose for the stars), human sacrifice (God made the ultimate human sacrifice with His perfect son, as a redemption for sinful man), and rainbows (very interesting discussion on Satan’s attempts to pervert the rainbow)–and several others!

Other than the fact that there was so much research done to produce a book of this caliber, my favorite parts of the book were the beautiful images in the book and the well thought out charts and graphs. I am a visual learner and these two things helped me realize the extent of the similarities in cultures all over the world. The charts and graphs help to break down the information into bite-size digestible nuggets.

For instance, a pictorial map shows over 50 locations where pyramids, ziggurats, obelisks, mounds and henges are located. When it is put together in this way, the reader can really get a grasp of how widespread the intelligence needed to build these was dissipated. And because all of these monuments were built early in the history of mankind, we can see how profound mankind’s knowledge was at this time!

No longer are we left with the primitive caveman grunting and pointing. Ancient men (and women) were truly geniuses!

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Visit the New Leaf Publishing Group Blog for more great reviews of The Genius of Ancient Man: Evolution’s Nightmare (edited by Don Landis, published by Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing Group)!

Disclaimer: I received the product or service mentioned above for the purpose of an honest review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure.

Why I Don’t Wear Skirts

A few years ago, I would have never thought twice about slipping on jeans to go to town or even slacks for church. I didn’t even know that it mattered to anyone else, except maybe those of Amish or Mennonite beliefs. But here lately, it seems that the subject is being debated everywhere. Should we, or shouldn’t we, wear skirts?

A Little Background

I didn’t grow up being modest. Far from it. My parents were hippies of the seventies and growing up, I really didn’t have many restrictions placed on me. I remember getting a leather mini-skirt for Christmas my 7th grade year and I thought I was hot stuff. Most all of my clothing decisions were made based on whether I thought the clothes made me look good.

As I got older and gave my life over to Jesus, He began to work on my heart in this area. Slowly I began to see that I needed to be more modest, both in my actions and in my dress. And I did {do} dress modestly, according to my standards.

When my oldest daughter was 15, she began to only wear skirts. We were living in Spain at the time, and there just weren’t very many options for finding modest skirts for a 15 year old. At first she bought many of them at the thrift store on base, but you can imagine the modge podge she found.

I will be honest here and let you know that there were times that I wished she wouldn’t wear skirts. Many of them were hideous. But as I prayed about it, I realized that I was focusing on her looking stylish instead of focusing on her desire to be dressed modestly before the Lord. As she kept searching for more skirts, she slowly accumulated a handful of skirts that were both modest and flattering.

I have stood by and watched her grow both in her faith and in her convictions. It is not always easy for her, but she has made a commitment to the Lord and she continues to find ways to honor her commitment. For instance, it gets pretty cold here in Wichita, but she has prepared for this by making sure she has leggings to wear under her skirts or warm knitted socks on her feet.

So what about me? Where do I stand?

I have thought about wearing skirts very often. And my answer was always, “not yet.” I am not ready yet. I knew in my heart that it was a very conscious decision I was making. I was saying, “I am not ready to yield.” And here are the reasons I gave myself…

1) They are not comfortable.

I know many people say the opposite, but they just don’t feel comfy to me. I have sensory issues, and little things bother me. For instance, I don’t like feeling my legs touch each other, especially when I am walking.

2) They change up the way I do things.

I am not very graceful. I like to sit on the ground cross-legged. I like to sit in the rocker with my knees pulled up to my chest. I don’t like to think about sitting properly or getting in and out of the van without my skirt flying up.

3) I don’t want to look frumpy.

I know this doesn’t make sense. I don’t have any problem wearing sweats all day, but in my mind I associate skirts with someone who “has to” be home with her kids. Like Ma Kettle. When I ponder my deepest thoughts, I realize how much of the world is still in me. How much I still have that desire to look good and be a women of the world. I don’t want to be that way. I want to be a happy homemaker who is content being where God has me. I just haven’t arrived yet.

4) Wearing skirts is hard work.

First, I have to either buy or make myself more skirts. Then I have to plan ahead and make sure they are pressed. And shoes. I need to make sure that I have shoes to wear with the skirts.

5) I don’t want to submit.

I think this is the heart of the matter. I just don’t want to be told that I should do something. Shouldn’t I be able to wear what I want. After all, I don’t wear tight jeans or short shorts. Doesn’t God want me to be beautiful and comfortable and …well, me.

Does It Really Matter?

As I read through my list of “why’s” something really sticks out. Do you notice it? It reminds me of the old Toby Keith song, “I Wanna Talk About Me”. That’s right, I am so concerned about me. About my wants. About my desires.

The entire focus of the skirt issue is me.

I have read all the reasons that I should wear skirts. And I know them well. God doesn’t want me dress like a man. He wants me to dress modestly, distinctly feminine. And I have argued in my heart that I can do this while wearing what I want. And truthfully, I have seen women with a very meek and quiet spirit wearing pants.

I love the Lord greatly and I am a woman who wears pants.

{As I sit here and write this, I am reminded of a saying that was popular not so long ago. When a woman tried to usurp the authority of her husband, it was asked of her, “Who wears the pants in this family?” The one who wore the pants was the one in charge. Maybe that is why, deep in my heart, I want to wear pants. I want to be in charge. Hmmm, need to do some more heart examination.}

But I really feel like the Lord calls us to be sanctified–set apart. When non-believers see us, there shouldn’t be a question in their minds as to whether or not we are believers. Our outward adornment should portray someone who is meek and quiet, wholly feminine, completely submitted, clothed in righteousness.

And some might argue that a skirt doesn’t mean all these things. But I would argue that if those of us who are completely honest with ourselves would search deeeeep in our hearts, we would agree that wearing a modest skirt is more glorifying to the Lord than what we usually wear (at least most of the time, anyway).

So, Where Do I Go From Here?

I am not sure.

I know that is not the answer you were looking for. It’s not the answer I want to give. I would like to say that “from now on, I will only wear skirts!” I don’t think it would be an honest answer though. I am praying that the Lord would give me strength over my flesh. I am praying that He would give me a heart that desires to love Him more than my own desires. I am hoping that I can lay this all down at His feet and follow only Him.

In the meantime, I am preparing for obedience. What does that mean?

Right now, I couldn’t realistically wear skirts everyday.  I simply do not own enough skirts to wear everyday of the week (unless I washed them every other day — again, not very realistic).  So I am taking a class on designing and making your own skirts.  I figured that if I made the skirts to my liking, there would be a greater chance that I would actually wear them.

I am also going to read through some some posts that will encourage my efforts.  Amy at Raising Arrows has a series she wrote a while back (as in, back when my heart was saying I didn’t want to think about wearing skirts) called She Wears Skirts.  She shares a ton of great information, tips, and really just a heart for helping other women who are going through–the change.

For the most part, I will be seeking the Lord and asking for grace in this area of my life.  And for help in being obedient.

What about you?  Anyone else going through–the change?

Melissa & Doug Terrific Twenty List and Giveaway

Melissa & Doug toys and puzzles are staples around our house. Just this summer at our local homeschool conference, the kids were aloud to pick out something “educational” to buy. Isaac chose some chunky Melissa and Doug trucks and Cooper chose a little box with four board puzzles inside. I love the fact that these toys are simple (not alot of bells and whistles) and can be played with by all the kids.

Starting November 6th, Melissa & Doug are celebrating “20 Days of Giveaways” on their Facebook page. Each day, readers have a chance to win a toy from their Terrific Twenty List. Check out the Melissa & Doug Facebook page to enter the daily contest!

Bonus Giveaway

As an added bonus, Melissa and Doug have graciously offered to giveaway one toy to my readers!

This adorable “Trunki” has room inside to pack clothes for a trip or toys for an outing. The best part is that it is sturdy enough for little guys to ride on. I was personally thinking about how great this would be at the airport when you are sitting and waiting for flights. It would certainly give the littles something to do while they wait!

Traveling with Terrance will make family vacations and neighborhood sleepovers more of an adventure! The perfect size, this suitcase is packed with features and has room for lots of travel-friendly activities. Terrance will become your child’s favorite ride-on travel companion.

Retail Value: $39.99

To enter, leave a comment below. I will choose a winner on Monday, November 19th!

Congratulations to Tracy D.! You are the winner of the Melissa and Doug Trunki!


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Allume: What I Learned by Staying Home (part 2)

I was getting a bit long winded in the last post so I decided it would be best to divide it into 2 posts.  So yesterday I covered the first three speakers: Sarah Mae, Jessica, and Sally.

Getting Close to the Unsaved

Saturday morning found Problogger, Darren Rowse at the podium.  I was a little unsure of what to expect from Darren.  I had heard of him before, but haven’t read alot of his writings and didn’t know where he was coming from as far as his story, his beliefs, his life.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that he indeed is a professing Christian.  Honestly, though, I figured I would gain more technical knowledge from him than a message from the Lord.  I was wrong.

Darren told the story of Philip and the Eunuch from the end of Acts 8.  Philip was told by the angel of the Lord to go down near a eunuch who was standing in a chariot reading Isaiah the prophet, not understanding what he was reading.  Philip explains God’s word, the eunuch believes God’s word and is saved.  Philip then baptizes the Eunuch before being caught up by the Spirit of the Lord.

OK, the point he made in this was that Philip had to be in close proximity to the unsaved eunuch before he 1) knew that he was reading the Scripture, and 2) needed help understanding what he was reading.

Give me a minute to explain how this pertains to me.

I am at home with my children most all the time.  I like being home.  My days seem so much more peaceful when I don’t have to run around.  In fact, now that I have another driver in the family, I often send her out to run errands for me (and she is happy to do so!).  While this works out wonderfully for our family, I am often reminded that very rarely am I ever around non-Christians.

When it comes to blogging, I consider myself a Christian blogger.  All the blogs I read are Christian blogs.

In order for me to have proximity to unbelievers (in order to minister to them), I have to either go to them (which I will get to in a bit) or draw them in to my blog.  And how do I do that?  I provide excellent content that they find useful.

In the case of Problogger, he has two websites: a photography site and his blogging site.  He offers relevant content to everyone.

In the case of my blog, I have thought about this before, but from a different perspective.  I was thinking, “oh, I need to focus more on the spiritual aspect of my blog, not the quilting, or soapmaking, or healthy eating side of things.”

I had an epiphany when I realized that God has blessed the work of my hands in these areas.  And by sharing my talent through my blog, I am drawing in not only believers who also have a love of these things or a desire to learn them—I am also drawing in anyone else who may find it useful.  And hopefully they will stay long enough to be ministered to in one way or another.

Loving Without Fear

Last of the keynote speakers was sweet Ann Voskamp.  Again, I vaguely knew who she was but haven’t read any of her work or her blog. One of the great points Ann made during her talk was that we as Christians, need to quit being afraid of being lumped in together with non-Christians.  What she said was so true and I see this in myself so many times!  I am so afraid to leave a comment of encouragement or whatever because I fear that other people will see that comment and think that I agree with everything that person says or stands for.

Here’s an example:

I read someone’s status on Facebook and could tell from the post that the person needed some love and encouragement (she used profanities in her post).  I replied to the post letting her know that I loved her.  However, after I hit publish, I thought to myself, “What if people think that I think it is OK to talk like that?  Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything to her.”

Do you see the problem?  I was afraid to reach out in fear of being chastised by other believers.  I was scared that other people would link me to her sin if I showed any love and compassion toward her.

We should never fear loving one another.

A Request for Prayer

As I ponder these thoughts and a million more that swirl about in my head, I would like to ask for your prayers.  As with anything in this life, when we surrender to the will of God we never truly know where He will take us.  I pray that He would be glorified in all I do and say and that this blog would be used any way that He sees fit.  I sometimes get caught up in the mechanics of blogging and forget the real reason for typing out words on my screen.  May the Lord truly lead me and may I wholeheartedly follow Him.