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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Home is Where the Crumbs Are


Home has been a bit of a fluid concept for me the last few years… four moves in three years, hauling belongings across the country… and back again.

But now, we're home.

And I know that home is late-night laughter and lame TV.  Christmas lights on the deck rails and buckets of toy cars.  Making lasagna and salad and bread pudding and eating it with the people I love.

We have a house.  A beautiful house with views for miles.  A house I wouldn't have dreamed to ask for, and I'm incredibly grateful.  It's not the house that matters, of course, but permission to live inside.  Folding towels and putting away dishes feels like an incredible gift, lately.  My own coffee mugs in the cupboard, a bed big enough for us both, replacing the batteries in the smoke detectors and kissing my children goodnight in beds of their own.  It is a gift to choose your own shower curtain and eat off plates of your choosing...to wash laundry when it suits you and dry it in a dryer that doesn't shut itself off and to know in which drawer the can opener goes.  Perhaps I hadn't realized.  

And I am enjoying every minute of this extravagant gift -- toilets to clean and floors with crumbs and work to do to pay for bathroom trashcans and a few more bookshelves to make this place just. right.

Here, my heart has begun to find rest. 

Rest to unwrap the impact of the last few years.  Rest to learn again to love and trust the One who holds it all in His hands.  Rest to make a home for my family and the freedom to really live in it.  Rest to discover creativity again, to find beauty in joy and happiness, now, instead of merely striving for purpose in pain and worry.

And since coming home, I am remembering what it is to be a mother… a wife… a woman… a sister… a daughter.  I hadn't realized I'd forgotten, but I had.  And here, I am me again.

Welcome back, me.  Welcome crumbs and dirty towels.  Welcome grocery shopping and paying bills.  Welcome half-glasses of sweet red after dinner and frozen pizza now and then.  Welcome floors to sweep and windows to wash.  

Welcome, home.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Home, Again

I'm alive.

(Surprising, I know.)

In the last couple of weeks, I've worked like a madwoman, looked at a dozen houses, pigged out on turkey, spent Black Friday in the emergency room, hobbled around on crutches, got diagnosed with gout, designed a tree for the Festival of Trees, dropped out of my chronic pain study, decided on a house, signed a lease, cleaned the new house, and, in 4 days, we'll be moving in to this home in the hills with a killer view.  It is decidedly free of shag carpet and other people's furniture.


Sunday morning, I will wake up to this (and this is the actual view from exactly where my bed will go):

Beautiful.  And I am so, so grateful.  The price is right.  The space is plenty.  The yard is abundant, the view extravagant.  And the Whimsy is happy.  Oh so very, very happy.

I'll probably be absent while moving, but before long, I'll share my home-making escapades with you all as we begin life again in our own place.  (Yay!)

Thanks for bearing with me, friends.  <3

Monday, November 21, 2011

Let There Be Thankfulness to God

Ever Grateful - Reversible Table Runner

Let there be thankfulness to God.

That's what the runner says, draped across the table, bringing a smile and reminding me not to rush too quickly toward the fast celebration of Christmas, but linger awhile, in a place of gratitude.

Thanksgiving is next week and the holiday, this year, for us, will be full of family and wonderful food but will also be just another day on our calendar.  Work days for us both, right in the middle of our work week, we'll squeeze turkey and football and laughter in on lunch breaks and celebrate a breakfast meal and a postponed dessert.  I think it's what I need this year, though.  A break from the fanfare to realize the simple truth that Thanksgiving is not a day but a state of being, that gathering around the table and the knowledge that expressing thankfulness to God can be an every day reality and not just a once-a-year hooplah.

Shop DaySpring's New Ever Grateful Collection

It's one of the reasons why I love the entire Ever Grateful collection at Dayspring.  It reminds us, in runners and on aprons, on desert plates and cake plates and coffee mugs, that it's all gift and we are wise to thank Him for it all, every day, every meal, every cup of hot, steamy, life-giving, deliciously chocolatey coffee.

This month is a lean one for our family.  The entire year is, really.  And yet, I've got more to be grateful for than ever. It is not about celebrating what you have, I am learning, as much as it is celebrating who you have, and whose you are.

And if, like me, you happen to be temporarily without a dining table of your own, the table runner also makes a great end-of-bed runner, to carry the concept of thankfulness right into your bedroom, as well.  It's on sale right now for $17.49 (!!!).  I loved it so much that I ordered the matching apron, too (adorable and also on sale, for $12.49).

Follow my affiliate links in this post to DaySpring and check out the great prices they have on the Ever Grateful collection, among other things.  This month, they are offering 30% off all wall canvases (awesome) and buy 1, get 1 tote bags (hello Christmas gifts!).  Swoon.  I just love DaySpring.


15% off on all gift purchases. Coupon code: 15OFFGIFTS

Get $10 off orders of $60 or more from DaySpring with promo code: 10off60

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What Good Christians Do.


Good Christians go to Africa.

Or, at the very least, to the soup kitchen.

They go to the bad neighborhoods and evangelize the homeless.  They risk their life in countries closed to the Gospel.  They give everything in order to serve.

And if I understood anything at all about Christianity, it was that my choice to follow Jesus was first and foremost a call to die. 

I knew that the only way to make God happy was to find those verses in the Bible about feeding the hungry and caring for the orphans and widows and live them wholly to the detriment of all else.  I knew that the only way to be a good Christian was to do something drastic in the name of the Lord… and that then, and only then, would I be enough in His eyes.

I didn't go to Africa.  I wasn't good enough to do that, after all, without a degree in Missions or International Ministry.  I didn't even have a passport, but I had a willing heart.

Instead, I went to Texas.  I cared for orphans.  I put on my Christian smile and my Christian uniform and I said the right catch phrases to be one of those women who give everything up for the calling to love the least of these.

Except that I wasn't.

I was drowning in my own effort, I was grasping for God in a dark, hopeless place inside myself – farther from Him than I'd ever been.  And I didn't know what to make of it.

I knew how it was supposed to work.  Good Christians go into full-time ministry, then God rewards them with warm fuzzy feelings and a gold star in the Book of Life.  That's how the equation was supposed to go – I'd been told that my entire Christian life – but no matter how I figured the numbers, my math just wouldn't line up right.  I couldn't get the right answer. 

I've never been good at math, so I puzzled over the integers.  Gave up belongings.  Check.  Left my family.  Check.  Cared for orphans.  Double checkcarry the one

But the pit continued to grow and the algebra of giving and serving continued to puzzle and I wondered if maybe Texas wasn't far enough but was afraid of what I already knew.  I wasn't a good enough Christian.  I wasn't satisfied with all this selflessness because I was a rotten, weak, selfish girl who probably hated all things holy and was doing more harm than good there, and Jesus probably couldn't love a girl like me anyway.

So I left.

In the leaving, I laid down my good Christian.  I left her in Texas where she belonged because I had no use for her anymore.  I scooted across the country with a moving truck of things I wasn't leaving behind this time in the interest of running… just getting away from the incredible expectation of the kind of life I knew I could never lead.  And I sort of whispered "I'm sorry" to the idea of serving Jesus with my whole life because I'd obviously failed at that whole thing, and I might as well just get back to my regular old failing life where I wasn't dragging anyone down with me.

But a funny thing happened.

Jesus met me.  Right there when I stepped foot out of the moving truck.  Right in the middle of my mess and though I'd looked for him all along, I found Him only when I looked beyond the expectation of the holiest kind of me.  Only when I had failed and admitted that I wasn’t holy at all and had no good at all in me – when I finally knew, once and for all, that my ugly, messy love just paled in comparison to the love of a Father that never had to try.

"Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God."                                  -2 Corinthians 3:5


We're reading through Emily P. Freeman's Grace for the Good Girl (affiliate link).  This week is chapters 2-3.  Join us... but even if you don't.... please, please read this fabulous book.  Truly life changing.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

On Valley Girls and House-Shaped Idols

Have you ever wanted something so bad that you were sure God was withholding, just to watch you squirm?

Or that maybe He was teaching you a lesson about longing and the desires of the heart and the things that really satisfy?  But you just wanted to learn the damn lesson already so you could just go on and have that thing you really want – the relationship, status, job, move, baby, trip… or that shiny new widget with your name all over it?

And maybe you sorta have a little bit of an attitude about it, and you cock your feathered bangs and side ponytail to the heavens and whine like a teenage valley-girl, "Hey, God, did you, like, forget about me?  What about what I need, here?  Have you ever thought about that?  Furshur." 



Only me then.  Except I'm (thankfully) a few decades post feathered bangs and side ponytails.  It's that pissy missy attitude I still have trouble shaking.

Right now, for me, it's a house.  The great unattainable. 


And not even my own house.  I'm not even asking to be able to paint the walls here, just a nice neutral bungalow with a dishwasher and a garage and a backyard where my kids can play.  Something without shag carpet, please.  


I did my time in Seventies Haus (the ranch) and Eighties Haus (the children's home), and now, just maybe I can graduate up a decade.  C'mon Craigslist – hand me a nice Nineties Haus this time around.  We're not talkin' granite countertops here.  I'll rock an art deco lampshade, if I have to… maybe some flesh-colored stucco or a brass-trimmed fireplace.  

Wait, how about Fifties Haus or Turnofthecentury Haus with some cute built-ins and hardwood floors… doorways I have to duck into with glass doorknobs and hazardous wiring.  Oddly shaped bathrooms with subway tile and piles of character, maybe a sun porch off the back for good measure.


 You see the problem, don't you?

This thing I want?  This house?  This fresh chance to make a home? 

I want it too bad.  I daydream and night-dream about what our eventual rental will look like, where I'll put the black hutch or the distressed coffee table.  About what color the throw pillows should be, and I've logged thrice the hours on Craigslist than in my Bible, of late.  And every time I shiver 'cuz this house is always freezing cold and I can't go flip on the heater in someone else's house, I cringe and shoot up a snarky "thanks a lot, God" while I ruminate on what I deserve.

It's a problem, friend.  And confession is good for the soul.

Because I don't think that God withholds good things from His children. 

I think He withholds idols when we're in danger of letting them destroy us.  And I think he protects us from the desires of our flesh when our bank accounts and the size of our faith aren't ready to bear the weight of those desires.

We're one paycheck deep into new jobs.  We're six weeks out of a whole former life.  And man, how impatient I am for the world to spin as I would have it.

But right now, God is telling me to quit wiggling and wait.  Sit still for awhile.  Rest in His provision – his purple-carpeted, 42-degree, love and laughter and garlic-bread filled shacking-up-with-my-in-laws provision.  He protects me from myself, and in the middle of my stubbornness and the living room that isn't mine, I'm grateful for it.

And so, so sorry for the valley girl impression.

--- Linking to:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm a Recovering Good Girl

I'm a try-hard.  Actually, I'm a try-harder, since try-hard never manages to measure up.  And I care desperately what you have to say to me, about me, about my worth.

(As Emily P. Freeman says, "If you wonder what gives you the authority to define me, I will say it is because you exist.  I must have worth and it is up to you to give it to me…I beg you to see me, to notice my goodness, to ignore my failure, to be inspired by my beauty, to be captivated by my essence." (Grace for the Good Girl, p. 17, 18)

I shouldn't do that, of course.  

I know where my value comes from.

But I am afflicted with a syndrome that makes me ever striving toward a make believe notion of good enough.

I am a good girl.

And this book?  Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman…. Well, I'm only on chapter 1, but it's rocking my socks off. 

"I taught people around me that I had no needs and then was secretly angry with them for believing me.  Somewhere along the way, I got the message that salvation is by faith alone but anything after that is faith plus my hard work and sweet disposition." (GFTGG p. 13, 14)

Can I get an "amen"? 

…And all the bloggers said…Amen.

Maybe you're a good girl too.

If you'd asked me a month ago if I was a good girl, I'd have shook my head.  Nope.  Not hardly.  Good implies … well… good.  And I never feel good.  Not really.  I'm not even well behaved.  I am prone to surfing the internet when I should be cooking something nutritious for my family and craving a glass of wine every now and then and ten minutes ago, I devoured an entire king-size Snickers bar without coming up for air.  I sometimes watch rated R movies and used the "s" word yesterday and considered, at least twice this week, running away to join the circus.

Good girls don't do things like that.

Reading this book, though, makes me realize just how much good girls do do things like that.  They tell themselves all kinds of lies about the hundred arbitrary ways they'll never measure up… and then suffer in the misery of persistent failure.

If you don't already have a copy of this book, do yourself a favor.  Join me.  Buy it, read it, soak up the truth that has already begun to penetrate my mask-wearing heart.  And thank you, Emily P. Freeman, for writing such honest and beautiful words that cut to the core of this people-pleasing, try-hard heart.

Buy this book through my Amazon affiliate link and support WhimsySmitten.com!

Monday, November 7, 2011

{Book Review} Beautiful Girlhood and The Companion Guide to Beautiful Girlhood

I have been surrounded by boys my entire life.  First an only girl with two brothers, later in the workforce, and eventually as a houseparent to eight boys, in addition to my own three kids.  I'm outnumbered even in my own house, my husband and two sons trumping us girls in the gender war.

The testosterone-fest that is my life makes me truly appreciate the unique feminine beauty that I feel blessed to experience by watching my only daughter grow from an infant to a young woman.  Raising girls is so different in so many ways from raising boys, and as my onliest daughter grows into a young lady, I really enjoy the feminine bond we are strengthening every day.

This is one reason I was excited when I had the opportunity to read and review Beautiful Girlhood revised by Karen Andreola and The Companion Guide to Beautiful Girlhood by Shelley Noonan and Kimberly Zach. Another was that I had the opportunity to meet Shelley Noonan recently, and hear her share some of her story. This is a woman who understands the power in embracing your beautiful girlhood.

Beautiful Girlhood was originally written by M. Hale and published in the 1940s, but was revised in the 1990s by Karen Andreola. The book has beautiful, descriptive langauge and reads like a nonfiction version of Little Women or some other classic literature. I sort of felt, reading it, like I should be donning a corset and bonnet, and I don't say that to be contrary. The book retains a classic nature that transcends pop culture in favor of addressing timeless issues like trust, purpose, and modesty.

The Companion Guide to Beautiful Girlhood is exactly what its title suggests -- a companion on the journey through these topics, a springboard for discussion, growth, and connection between, for example, a mother and daughter reading the set together. It offers a Bible study outline, journaling topics, discussion questions, and real-life application of the issues that coordinate to the text.

While it was suggested to me that that the books were for use with girls ages 8 and up, I found that the language made my 8-year-old's eyes glaze over, and she wasn't really able to comprehend much of it. I continued reading the book and companion guide solo, and have used the topics as a springboard for more age-appropriate discussion of the topics.  A tad academic in nature, despite its flowery language, it will likely go back on the shelf for a few years until I feel she can maintain a clearer grasp on the text.

There was one concerning element for me in the books, and that was the underlying message that all women were purposed to be wives and mothers, and that this is necessarily the desire of all women. I know many women in Christian service who are not mothers or wives who have struggled against the evangelical culture's message that they have less value to the Kingdom because of their choice, or even circumstances beyond their choosing, such as the arenas of infertility and singlehood.  I am cautious about furthering the notion in this day and age that a woman's value is determined solely by her family (or future family, or lack of family as the case may be), because it is my sincerest belief that her value is determined by God's love for her, whether she marries or has children or learns how to keep a home.

All that said, I will probably revisit this set of books when my daughter is older, mainly because it is offers an excellent springboard to discuss topics in the book on which we agree and those with which we disagree, to encourage my daughter to have a healthy self-concept of her internal feminine beauty, but also an invitation to engage in topics like purpose and family where the lines may not always be clear.


If you're interested in purchasing Beautiful Girlhood and The Companion Guide to Beautiful Girlhood, I invite you to use my affiliate links in the post above, or below, through Amazon.com.  Thank you!

Also, please note, the authors offer an additional companion text titled Beyond Beautiful Girlhood, appropriate for older teen girls/young women.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Gift of Chronic Pain


The bad days are the ones when I can't grip the coffee pot to pour the water and it rolls from the sides of the black plastic into a mocking puddle. When I throw the bagel across the kitchen because I can't hold the knife steady to cut it and it's only just a bagel so how can it upset me so badly? My knuckles are twice the size they should be but the pain is not just in my hands but my back and neck and eyelids, foot arches and earlobes and hair follicles. It all. just. hurts.

Besides my knuckles, everything looks right and people can't understand because I have good days too. Sure, my under-eyes sometimes pool with fatigue from the insomnia of this pain but there are no bandages, no battle wounds, no wheelchairs or braces or sickly props to illustrate the state of things inside my body…just a smattering of golden bottles with childproof lids, narcotics and anti-inflammatories and drugs that fool my brain into convincing my nerves that the pain is imaginary. These bottles I can't even open on days like these, even in my desperation to tear into them and suck down the chemical relief that really only takes an edge off that which never really goes away.

And my enemies are can openers and blinding headaches, office chairs and fall weather, ballpoint pens and uncomfortable mattresses, all of them giants to this aching David with pills in my slingshot, shooting tablets and capsules into the eye of the Goliath challenges of cutting an onion, brushing my daughter's hair, getting a good night's rest, or, the toughest one of all, sitting in a chair. I am angry because my mouth is full of ulcers, sores that no one sees but makes eating so difficult and when I am low and need comfort, even my husband cannot kiss this leper's mouth.

It feels like weakness, you know, when you require assistance to wrestle with a can of peaches, when you call for help to defeat a box of laundry detergent, and when you watch while, with ease, those other folks you know can do these things without effort. It bubbles up and I despise the helplessness, I create more pain for myself in the struggling stubborn refusal to be weak and needy. I am not fragile.

Still, the jelly jars must be opened. The tennis shoes must be tied and the twist-tie has to go back on the bread bag. The coffee must be made because I need the hot, dark liquid like I need the caplets in the golden bottles, to soothe my insides and stave off sleep but more, so I can wrap my aching fingers around the steamy mug and feel the warmth of relief through my hands.

In this needing, I unwrap the gift of chronic pain.

I am willfull and obstinate, a stubborn girl who wants control over this life. But in the pain and the daily struggle, He teaches me dependence…surrender…the truth that I am in control of nothing. I cannot rule over a bagel or a bread bag and I cannot rule over this world, not even my own corner of it. These prescriptions do not heal me and I am laid low before the only one who does. This girl who doesn't want to need anybody needs people around me like I need air and when no one else can really understand, I need a God who does. How this humbles my prideful heart.


It is a gift difficult to accept. My hands tangle in the bow and I am slow in tugging off the shiny paper, mangled knuckles throbbing in the unwrapping. And in the midst of the painful receiving, I am learning to have gratitude to the Giver for even a gift I would not have chosen.

Gifts are made to bless, and yes, even this. It is a thankfulness not come easily, but earned in the walking through hard places and the learning that the best gifts, the ones that sustain for eternity, are those farthest from our wish list. This has been the gift of growing lower, of learning how to need, and a ticket to a journey closer to the only thing my heart can ever really desire. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Becoming Relevant

Hi friends.  I'm missing this quiet place while I'm away in Harrisburg at The Relevant Conference.

I wish I had time to tell you how amazing and beautiful and redemptive the whole thing has been, but I am short on time and long on things to process about all I have learned and experienced here.  I only will leave you with a few words from the Five-Minute-Friday exercise we did in a session today with Lisa-Jo (live and in person!) and a short prayer that is on my heart.

Five Minutes of Becoming:

Being here has, in so many ways I never expected, been about… becoming.

About embracing and discovering and admitting and coming to a place where I realize that I am in progress.  That I, too, am, like all these other amazing and beautiful women… in process.

We are becoming.

We are becoming bloggers.  Becoming writers.  Becoming friends and family and kindred spirits…becoming beautiful and honest.  Becoming like Christ.  Becoming like us.

Becoming like me.

And before arriving here, I believed that I had a grasp on what that meant.  What it meant to be and to become.  That coming into myself was something I had already slid into, was already (sort-of) there, and that this would be about learning and networking and growing and taking a step forward.

But as I’ve been here… as I’ve soaked up the amazing beauty that is all around, and as I have remembered the sound of the whisper of God… I have realized that it was always about becoming.

Becoming a woman whose purpose is clearly defined.  Not as a blogger, not as a writer or a mother or a kindred spirit, a friend or expert, or anything that is outside of the love of the Christ that redeems this broken heart.

Being here is about becoming less, about coming more into the central love of the cross, about bending low and laying down my striving, that I would know what it is to be authentic. 

My prayer:


I remember what the whisper of God sounds like, now.  I remember how your love brings me to so much fullness, it leaks from my eyes.  I remember that you gave me this thing within, this thing that drives me and makes me discover and connect and experience and grow…and thrive and thrill and break open with joy.  And I have doubted in my abilities, but I rest now in yours.  I rest in the assurance that you know what you’re doing, that you have redeemed and ordained every word for a holy purpose.

And I thank you with a gripping gratitude for reminding me.  For whispering your breath so I can feel the wind of it.  For nodding to this frail heart and spurring me onward.  For the way you created this world to be so relational, and our hearts to delight in others.  For lighting the fire beneath my stunted heart, again.  For love, Lord, big and wide and high and deep.

That I would feel you here, *this* close, for the rest of the time here.  Thank you for the blessing, Lord, and that I would be so bold to ask for more … Bless me more, fill me more, with knowledge, with community, with connection, and with the stirring of your Spirit.

Fill me, Lord, with your purpose, your dream, your truth.  Help me siphon all the *me* out of this experience and soak up the *you*.

In your precious name,

Monday, October 24, 2011

So You Had a Bad Day...


Anyone else had that kind of day?

You know, the kind where you forget its picture day until morning and all the kids’ clothes are being washed, and you mix-up the lunch plans you made, and run around all day wondering where the time is going since nothing is getting done?  Where you try and make an easy cinnamon-biscuit dish for breakfast, but since your mother-in-law doesn’t have a Bundt pan, you substitute an angel food cake pan with (surprise!) a removable insert, and while it bakes, a river of sticky sugar-glue seeps out the pan’s crevice and floods her state-of-the-art convection oven and the smell of burnt maple syrup fills the house and trips the smoke alarm (while everyone else is still asleep)? 

A day where you wake up with a strange, itchy rash on your face and cold sores on your nose (!!!) even though this has never, ever, ever happened before in your entire life, and then the power struggle with your toddler begins before the sun is even up?  And then you bicker with your husband in the grocery store while you have to wait two hours for prescriptions to be filled, and then you have another encounter with the same oven when you burn the macaroons because you set the timer for twelve hours instead of twelve minutes, and somehow also drastically miscalculate payday and now you’re left wondering how in the world you are ever going to afford to eat during the trip you’re traveling across the country for in 31 hours for 5 days with $50 to spare after hotel costs?


Aaaaaaaaaaaand when you are in severe pain because your fibromyalgia is flaring and your head is pounding because your contacts are six weeks overdue for replacement.  When you try and fix something broken on your blog and wind up wasting hours trying to figure it all out and make the problem worse, then argue with your oldest son and give up on your youngest son halfway through bath time because there is poop on the floor and you just don't have a bathroom-floor-mopping and a hair-washing left in your soul tonight, even though it’s not even 7:30 p.m. yet, and only one of those can wait until tomorrow?

Those kind of days?

Yeah.  Me too.


I am hiding in my bedroom now, taking a breath, whispering a prayer to wash away this wretchedness.  Perhaps God is reminding me of all I will enjoy a break from this coming week, in Pennsylvania, even though I will be longing for it while I'm away.  But I am ready, tonight, to slip between blankets and shake off the day in peaceful darkness and be grateful for comfort and the promise of much wonderfulness later this week. 

What better way to combat the blues than gratitude, friends?  Counting blessings just now, even without numbers, along with Ann.

-          Leaving for Relevant in 2 days.  Can’t believe it.
-          A day off work.
-          A bit of daydreaming, today.
-          New employment, and resources to pull from in our tight times of late.
-          Twitter, and the bursts of joy it brings me throughout the day from brothers and sisters full of encouragement and humor.     
-          A husband that loves to cook (good for a girl that loves to eat, yes?).
-          A movie, to put me in the mood for Pennsylvania.
-          A work schedule I love.
-          A workload challenging enough to keep me focused but easy enough that I’m not stressed out.
-          Being back at our home church, and the sermons that leave me lingering on truth all week long, marinating and tenderizing.
-          The overwhelming joy at being home that has not yet faded.
-          A ‘welcome home’ banner that still hangs across the front porch, though we’ve been here a month now.
-          A neighbor friend for my children, just across the street, new to the area, also.
-          The hope that we’ll have our own place soon, and the fun of imagining homemaking possibilities. 
-          Beef Wellington that turned out fantastic, and the time and ability to try a dozen new recipes in the last week or so.
-          Having been able to ‘steal away’ twice this month so far for writing dates to work on my manuscript.
-          NaNoWriMo, starting Tuesday.
-          You, and your comments and input that have blessed me significantly this week.
-          The truth, in this:


Amen, and amen.

Multitudes of sweet blessings your way tonight, friend. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Introducing Myra at MyBlessedLife.net - AND - A DaySpring Giveaway!

Update:  Giveaway has ended.  Congrats Karen Logan!  You won the DaySpring giveaway!  Enjoy your tote (my birthday is in January, so feel free to send it back to me. Just kidding, of course!)  Enjoy, Karen!)

It’s no secret around here that I love {in}courage and DaySpring from the bottom of my heart.  After all, it’s thanks to them that I’ll be in Pennsylvania in a few short days, soaking up all the learning and fellowship to be had at the Relevant ’11 Conference.  The most exciting part about all this, though, is the chance to hang out with some of my favorite bloggers, not the least of whom is my new friend Myra over at MyBlessedLife.net.

Doesn't she just look like someone you want to be BFF's with?  Wait 'til you check out her blog!

Myra is a wife, stay-at-home-mom and awesome blogger who offers her readers a plethora (yes, really… a real, actual plethora) of tasty recipes, frugal home décor suggestions, DIY ideas and tutorials, delicious giveaways, and the kind of real-life goodness we can all apply to our home, family, and faith.  I particularly enjoy her always-timely reminders on living faithfully and trusting God. 

I love, love, LOVE her appliqued 'BLOOM' pillow.
White Chicken Chili?  Yes, please. 
Tutorial for Myra's adorable and funky fall napkin rings.

I could go on and on, but I'll let you go check out MyBlessedLife.net now and marvel in the gifts splashing all over the bloggy pages at Myra’s place.  You can thank me later.  ;)

And for those of you who won't be able to attend Relevant, don't forget that {in}courage is bringing the beach house right to you this April, with {in}courage {in} real life, a world-wide {in}courage conference coming to your town.  Check it out, and register to attend.  I promise, it's the least expensive conference you've ever dreamed of attending.  Go see for yourself! 


As if that weren't enough excitement for one day, here's another little sumpin' sumpin' for you, today:  A DaySpring Giveaway!

But not just any DaySpring giveaway... a giveaway of a particular little lovely that I picked out just for you, a 'Just Trust God' jute tote bag, featuring Psalm 25:5.  

Isn't it cute?!  Too bad I can't win a giveaway on my own blog, or I'd enter like a jazillion times.  Luckily for you, then, it's up for grabs for one lucky reader.  

Speaking of entering... here's how:  Do any of the below items, and post a comment to let me know.  Please post a separate comment for each item, in order to get the most entries to win the tote. 

-  Become a new subscriber of WhimsySmitten, right here
-  Become a new follower of WhimsySmitten on Twitter: http://twitter.com/WhimsySmitten
-  Visit Myra's site:  MyBlessedLife.net, and comment here, telling me your favorite recipe, craft, or DIY project on her site. 
-  Subscribe to MyBlessedLife.net, or comment letting me know that you already subscribe. 
-  Register to attend {IN}RL (that's {in}courage {in} real life) in your area this April, then comment here to tell me you did (It's only $10!!).  
-  Follow @DaySpringCards or @incourage on twitter

With that many ways to enter, you have no excuse!  Entries will be closed and winner will be announced here on this blog on Monday, October 31, so hurry!  There's not much time!  GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED. 

  • Size: 18"L x 14"H x 6"D
  • Made from 100% jute
  • Lining: 100% cotton in coordinating color
  • Sturdy handles with 12" drop
  • Message and design on one side only

Friday, October 21, 2011

Beyond Perfection.

Source: Pinterest.

 A friend of mine gave me a gift recently.

It wasn’t wrapped, and it wasn’t even my birthday.  

Now before I tell you what she gave me, you should know… this girl’s got it together.  She’s always been a little better at this whole life business than me.  She nurses her babies into toddlerhood.  She sews them adorable outfits and cooks healthy, amazing meals with seemingly little effort.  She balances two babies on her hip while teaching her daughters fractions and ancient history.  She paints rooms and builds furniture and plants gardens and knits scarves in her spare time.  And she’s sweet…and funny… and pretty…and gracious.

I don’t see her often enough, as she lives in another state, but we passed through her town on the way from Texas to Oregon.  They’re in a bit of a transition, like we are, and have 4 young children living in a 2-bedroom apartment, but her and her husband offered to let us stay the night anyway and cooked us dinner, then booted her own babies out of their beds so we could get a comfy night’s rest.

We arrived after the third day of 12 hours of straight driving.  We were travel-weary and probably smelled like sweat and Taco Bell, but she threw her arms around us and welcomed us in.    

She was wearing sweat pants, which was wonderful because I was too and I just didn’t have it in me to dress like a human being for dinner that night.  The kids’ bedroom was a happy jumble of toys and blankets and blocks and dress-up clothes and magic wands.  Books and papers piled willy-nilly around the living room.  Dinner took longer than expected, and the bathtub cleaner sat beside the tub with a rag that hadn’t been used.  The bathroom was out of toilet paper, and the only hand-towel was tied around a 2-year-old’s neck, cape style, as he and Caleb and Buzz Lightyear all saved the world from the evil Emperor Zurg.  

We laughed.  We ate bruschetta by the pound.  My son dumped spaghetti on the couch while hers threw it on the floor.  We laughed harder and the kids laughed too.  She left the dirty dishes and didn’t let me touch them.  They were still there when we left in the morning.  We drifted off to dreamland that night in disassembled bunk beds with fingerprint paintings dotting the wall beside us.  I slept sound and sweet in the loveliness of it all. 

My friend gave me the gift of real living.  She let me into her honest, dusty life and it was full of grace and beauty.  She didn’t once apologize for the imperfect state of things – she just went right on doing what she did and let me stand beside her and enjoy the hours as they passed.  She didn’t let guilt or perfectionism ruin a wonderful time of fellowship, and she blessed me beyond measure with genuine hospitality.  

I challenge you… I challenge myself… to let go of the perfectionism that creeps into an otherwise perfectly imperfect you, and let others see the nitty gritty. 

Source:  Pinterest.
Give your friends and loved ones a gift, too.  Let them in.  Bless them beyond perfection

Linking up to:  Gypsy Mama's Five Minute Friday.  Blogging, too, can be full of gift and grace when you write beyond perfection.  Try it, here

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I blog for {you}

Have you had days when you wondered whether blogging was worth the effort?

I have.

As a busy working mom with a to-do list a mile long and an insatiable need to scratch my creative itch by writing (not to mention an emotional complex having me feeling guilty for every single moment I spend being nonproductive), I can get around to wondering whether the time I spend blogging is maybe, a tad bit… wasted.

I don’t have a million readers, and as of yet, WhimsySmitten hasn’t earned a nickel.  I’m often too busy to be completely “plugged in” to the blog world, and there are plenty of days when blogging doesn’t “pay off” for me the way it does for some more devoted bloggers out there.

But all this Relevant hooplah on my mind, watching the feeds and allowing my excitement to make me giddy, reminds me why I do this.

I do not blog for money.  I do not blog for stats.  I do not blog to get noticed, to make a name for myself, or because I have anything life-changing to say to anyone.

I blog for community.  I blog to reach across wires and space to tangle up inside your heart and head.  I blog so you’ll know, so I’ll know, that we’re all in this mess together, and to spotlight some of the beautiful moments on the journey, and some of the darker ones, too.  I blog because I love it more than laundry.  I blog to make sense of it all.  I blog because, along the way, I’ve discovered that you and I…we’re a lot more alike than different, and we’re all just trying to do our best and gather some wisdom as we go.

I don’t always have time to keep up with my blog subscriptions, but when I carve out time to read, in a matter of minutes or hours, I am transported to a world of kindred spirits, of creative inspiration and words that challenge my faith.  I am among friends…friends who, like me, haven’t had a shower in two days and have grape jelly in their hair, who start more projects than they can ever dream of finishing and find immense comfort in a cup of hot coffee.  Friends who love words and love Jesus and love this invisible space in the universe where we bare all to the whole-wide-world and watch the love and fellowship pour down all around us.

I blog for you.

And your comments, knowing you’ve taken the time to read what I’ve put out here, makes me smile the kind of wide smile that means all is right with the world, because I’m able to connect with amazing, beautiful you.  

Thanks for reading, friend.  You are the reason I blog. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ten Things My Relevant Roomie Should Know About Me

Ok, all you Relevant ladies.  I’ve seen this going around blogland, so it’s about time I jumped on board. 

If you’re reading this and you’re my Relevant roomie, here are 10 things you ought to know about me.

1)      Well.  Isn’t this awkward?  Umm, I hate to tell you this, but you aren’t my Relevant roomie.  Sorry.  You might wanna check into that.  You see… and for some reason, I feel guilty admitting this, but in the interest of full disclosure here… I don’t actually have a Relevant roomie**.

2)      The reason for this is multi-fold.  Mostly, it’s because I haven’t had a moment alone in ohhhh, a few years or so, and I took the opportunity this time around to enjoy this conference not just as the oh-so-amazing spiritual blogging conference I know it will be, but also as a bit of a mom retreat – a time to get quiet with myself and reflect, re-charge, and process the conference AND the very emotionally impactful last number of months of my life.  Forgive me?  I still want to meet you and spend time with you and be included as much as I can in all the Relevant festivities, but my extended pre- and post-conference nights at the hotel are date nights with my hotel desk and Bible and my manuscript-in-progress.

3)      I’m painfully shy (not to be confused with quiet, by the way).  If I’m being honest, this is also at least a little bit of the reason for #1 and #2.  I’m a little preoccupied at this point that I’ll spend the entire conference wandering quietly and biting my fingernails anxiously while everyone else talks and laughs and hugs.  If you see a wandering Whimsy, please say hello.  I promise, I will think you’re a saint for the very act of taking pity on this friendless-girl. 

4)      I am relatively new to blogging and I don’t know a single Relevant soul in person.  I don’t know a single Relevant soul very well at all, really, even online.  I am so incredibly grateful that I’ll be there with a wonderful group of women from DaySpring and (in)courage, and this gives me an excuse to get out of my shell.

5)      Despite being painfully shy, I am actually very friendly and I really, really, really want to meet and get to know you, even if the thought of making the first move and approaching people I don’t know makes me want to vomit.  Once you get me talking, I may not actually ever shut up.  You’ve been warned.

6)      I’ve been to one conference before, a Proverbs 31 She Speaks conference several years ago.  I think I managed to get through the entire conference speaking only about ten words.  I didn’t meet a soul while I was there other than the publisher I was pitching, (even though I sat next to strangers at meals and breakout sessions) and that probably is why I’m on item #6 and still talking about how anxious I am about being the blog-conference equivalent of the last girl picked for dodgeball. 

7)      Two years ago, I was living in a 5000-square-foot house/lodge on a 300-acre ranch out near Crater Lake, Oregon.  We were entirely off-the-grid, and I was 100% city girl, learning daily how to deal with hydroelectricity, manage bat and wasp infestations, hunt for elk (once was enough, thankyouverymuch), heat our home with a woodstove, and bottle-feed baby cows.  I spent my free time exploring waterfalls and eating copious amounts of blackberries.  

One month ago, I was living in Texas in a 6000-square foot house in the country, taking care of 11 children as a housemom at a Christian children’s home (kind of like a foster parent).  My best friend lived three doors down, my husband was home nearly all the time, I homeschooled my own three kids, and I spent my days in a wild flurry of handling meals, laundry, phone conferences, stinky boy shoes, and hysterical/maddening teenage antics.

Today, I’m living in a 100-square-foot-bedroom in my in-laws’ house in southern Oregon with my husband and 3 kids while we get settled, going on a month with out paychecks, starting a new job (tomorrow!) working at home as a medical transcriptionist (something I did for 8 years before we went to Texas), potty training the most stubborn 3-1/2-year-old on earth (on someone else’s carpet – yikes!), and writing a book with every spare moment I can muster.  My husband starts a new job on Saturday, too -- very grateful, and my kids are back in a public school they love.  Without a household to manage, without a ministry to call my own, without homeschooling three grade levels at once, without a dozen children to care for, and without any friends that I am not related to here, yet, I am feeling rather lost and more than a little out-of-sorts, these days.

8)      I've let on some insecurities here, so on the flip side, here are a few things I love about me, and I hope you will too:  I’m creative and my mind is generally a happy jumble of thoughts, shooting a million miles an hour in a hundred different directions (did I mention I have ADD?).  My blog is my favorite escape – a place in the world where I feel free to be me, and my sincerest goal is that you can drop by and be yourself there, too.  Let it all hang out, friend, I’ll love you even more for it, I promise.  I love to write, and often, it’s how I make sense of the madness going on in my brain at any given moment.  I am not particularly fashion conscious or stylish.  I don’t spend more than $20 on a pair of jeans.  My shoes come from Payless.  But I’m learning to be comfortable in my own skin, and I find that my home (when I have one, see previous post) follows suit.  Thrift-store chic seems to describe my wardrobe and my home décor these days, but I’m oddly comforted by distressed and well-loved stuff.  It’s more real that way, and I guess that’s what I love about it.  

9)      Whimsy Smitten is going through a bit of a blog identity crisis, and I expect that to come to a full hilt at the conference. 

10)  When I return from Relevant, I plan on tackling NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) during the month of November (which means, I’m probably going to spend the 30 most inspired blogging days drastically neglecting my blog in favor of this writing project – bummer).  I’m not actually writing a novel (it’s more like a memoir/personal narrative/creative nonfiction piece), but I can use all the motivation and inspiration I can get.  Anyone else hopping on the NaNoWriMo bandwagon?  

Ok, if you’ve made it this far, you get a medal.  Can’t wait to meet you at Relevant!!!!! 

** Despite my pre- and post-conference desk dates and such, if you or anyone else still needs a room for Relevant, I do have an empty bed and I'm happy to help a girl out, if there's any last-minute scramblers out there in need of a bed -- just let me know!