Thrifty is nifty and gingham is great.

   I know, I know, my Friday Fashion series lasted a whopping 2 weeks until I dropped the ball.  Let's be honest, are any of us surprised?  Didn't think so.

   But I'm giving myself grace, and realizing that just because I don't always follow through with something, doesn't mean that I can't try, doggone it!  If that were the prevailing pattern of thought than I would never try anything, ever.  That would be lame.    

   And that's how we find ourselves here today, on Fashion Monday!  Or just a fashion post on a Monday.  It doesn't have to have a catchy title, it is what it is.  Sometimes our washing machines leak water all over the floor and flood the kitchen, sometimes our toddlers write in pen all over the leather couch, sometimes mice invade our house at the beginning of fall and we set traps all over creation in an attempt to subdue them and still manage to find a dead one in our rain boots......and any guesses how I might've found it?  If you guessed by putting my foot in, you guessed right.

   So with all of that said, we learn that things don't always go according to plan.  Things aren't always picture-perfect, or straight out of a Pottery Barn magazine.  Well, maybe they are at some people's homes.  But not at mine.  And so we give grace and just do a "fashion Friday post on a Monday".

  The title of this post is totally cheesy, but true.  I snagged this green gingham top from Goodwill for $6 or $7ish dollars, and the pencil skirt was ONE DOLLAR at a local thrift store.  I. Was. Tickled.  But when I purchased the two pieces (different places, different times) I never dreamed of putting them together.  But then I received a little inspiration from Pinterest (where else) and immediately thought of these pieces.

    I don't think I would have been brave enough to pair two bold colors like these until I saw this photo.  And how cute would this ensemble be for Christmas?!  I am completely corny when it comes to holidays and love dressing in my reds and greens.  BUT LET'S NOT GET AHEAD OF OURSELVES.  Good grief, people are pushing it as it is.  Christmas decor will be up all around us before we know it.  And I don't want to rush it!

   My other Pinterest observations have led me to realize that people are all about the neutrals right now.  I know, I know, they've been on-trend for a long time now but right now it is like, ALL about the neutrals.  Grey, black, cream, black, greige, black, beige, grey, black....did I mention grey?  I'm serious, it's all anybody wears.  And don't get me wrong, I love me some neutrals!  But I'm discovering that I LOVE COLOR too.  And I think for a long time I felt like I shouldn't.  I felt like I should just stick to a neutral color palette in my wardrobe so that everything can mix and match easily.  Plus, it was so on-trend.


  I love color! And I'm learning to embrace it. And even as summer transitions into fall, I find myself still reaching for those pops of color.  And so I am currently trying to find a way to wear weather-appropriate, seasonal things while still sprinkling some color in there to keep things interesting.  And you know what?  It's o.k.

If your entire closet is 50 shades of grey, it's o.k.
If your entire closet looks like Joseph's technicolor coat, it's o.k.

   Just stay true to yourself (cheese alert) and you will feel most comfortable and confidant in what you're wearing.

That's all for now folks, hope your Monday is less mousy and floody than mine!


Be a sister, Choose a friend.

It's finally happening.

   Ever since we found out we were having another baby girl when I was pregnant with Charlotte, I've dreamed of this moment.  Of unprompted, spontaneous, love and genuine friendship between my two girls.

   The other day I came upon them playing like this and Jocelyn was singing the "I like you just the way you are" song from Daniel Tiger to Charlotte, while putting her arm around her, kissing her, and hugging her close.  It was one of those moments when your heart lodges in your throat and you want to freeze it for all of eternity.  And not logged away deep in the recesses of your mind-files but within reach, so at any moment you can snatch it back from history and replay it over and over.

Anne Shirley and Diana Berry.
Sherlock and Watson.
Elsa and Anna.
Pooh and Piglet.
Tom and Huck.

   I just want them to be buddies, ya know?  Obviously, they're sisters.  They're already part of each other's lives and worlds and families for life, whether they want to be or not.  But I just want them to WANT that.  I want them to desire to grow closer.  To want to know each other better and deeper and more intimately than they did they day before.  I don't want them to just accept the fact that they are family, I want them to want more.  I want them to want a relationship.

I want them to share secrets.
Make each other laugh.
Get each other's jokes and try to understand each other's weird idiosyncrasies.

   I want them to be each other's biggest fan, protector, confidant, and friend.  And all the while I'm dreaming of this, I know that it isn't guaranteed.  Life remains a mystery and sometimes people born to the same parents are two very different people.  Different personalities, different tastes, different thoughts, different lives.

And that's OK.

   But my hope and prayer for them is that they can somehow manage to cultivate a special friendship in SPITE of their differences.  I'm not asking them to be the same.  I'm asking them to love each other all the while being different from each other.

   It's already so obvious to me that they were not made from a mold.  They have differences and unique quality traits and characteristics, and it's so fascinating to me to watch their little personalities unfold.  I hope that I never squander that, discourage that, or compare them with one another.

I hope I let them be uniquely them, and I hope they offer the same grace to each other.


Heritage Day, 2014.

   Each year, our church does a little "celebration of our heritage" day and it's called.....Heritage Day.  You should have seen that one coming.  Anyway, it's a super fun day filled with activities for the kids, tractors and hay bales, quilts and cooking demonstrations, and so on and so forth.  

   This year I was asked to do a cooking demonstration which, if you know anything about me, is like, WAY out of my comfort zone.  But I am determined to not shy away from opportunities to stretch myself, even if they're not my forte.  

Life is too short.  

  Oh and please notice Cindy's and my matching cherry-print aprons without even trying it. I mean, how often do you A. decide to wear an apron and B. match someone when you do?  I must be easily amused because I am always amazed when things like that happen.

   So anyway, I said I would do it, with a nervous knot in the pit of my stomach the whole time.  Heritage Day arrived, and it came at a SUPER busy time.  Doesn't everything?  We had been out at the lake/camping the previous four days, and arrived home from all of that late Friday evening.  So needless to say I didn't have tons of time to prepare, but I felt like I had everything somewhat in order, and it would go smoothly.


  Somehow (I'm still not sure what happened) I was demonstrating a different recipe than the one that I had submitted to the cookbook.  Did I send in one and use a different one?  Were two similar ones submitted that got the wrong names?  We may never know.  But the whole point was to demonstrate recipes from the new cookbook so I was completely flustered and flummoxed, and frustrated.

  I finished the demonstration as quickly as possible with my face aflame and palms sweaty, and gathered up my things and skedaddled out of there.  And so that was the end of my "stretching my comfort zone" experience which proved to be worse than I thought it would be, and yet still strangely satisfying that I made myself go through that.

   The bouncy castle was a big hit with the kids (of course mine were too timid to attempt it) and it was even a hit with some bigger, kids, as seen below:

 Your secret's out, Ralph.

  Look at all those cute kiddos in stripes.  Oh and if you're into more pictures of cute kids playing in a wheat pit, and adults chasing greased pigs, you can view last year's Heritage Day post over here.  Let's be honest, people chasing pigs just never gets old.

  My little ladies are happiest when they are holding a baby.  They are absolutely, positively, turning into little Mother Hens.  It's rather adorable but it is also rather nerve-wracking.  I have to mentally note before we go somewhere whether or not there will be a little baby in attendance, and then make sure I remember to watch them carefully because if I don't, they will be over there in a heartbeat.  Rocking the car seat, trying to swaddle them with blankets, swiping their pacifier for a few test-run sucks and then offering it back to them, touching their face, playing with their toes....just nurturing and fussing and soothing and what not.

Very endearing and very exhausting, all at the same time.

    John Schmidt was the star of the show at the evening concert.  For those of you that have no idea who that is, he's like the Johnny Cash of the Mennonite world.  Now you know.

    And that's all for now folks.  If you missed it this year, have no fear!  At this time next year, it will once again reappear, bringing you much joy, gladness and cheer.

The End.


The Friend Killer.

Today, let's talk about something that everyone, everywhere, at some point in their lives, deals with.


   Specifically, being a friend, having friends, keeping friends, losing friends, and nurturing friendships.  You've all seen this saying floating all over Pinterest,  "Comparison is the thief of joy".  Well that is all good and true but I want to make one that says "Comparison is the serial killer of friendships."  

   Not quite the same ring to it?  Whatevs.  The point remains.  Comparison, jealousy, and insecurity murder friendships.  Annihilate them.

   I can trace back a large amount of the rifts and tears and bumps and bruises in my friendships to insecurity.  Either mine, or theirs, or both of ours.  I can think specifically of one friendship right now that has grown distant and cold, largely due to my own insecurity.  I just never feel good enough around her.  Like I could never compare, or measure up.  And so that insecurity builds a wall between us, brick by brick right in front of my eyes, and it makes me so sad, but I feel helpless to change it.

  I can think of another friendship that has never really managed to get off the ground much at all, once again due to my own pile of insecurities.  She is the epitome of feminine grace, sweet disposition, and nurturing gentleness.  And I just feel so....opposite whenever I'm around her.  I feel loud and clunky and opinionated and wild and boisterous and just.....too much.  And so my own insecurity stifles what could be a great friendship between two very different personalities.

   I KNOW what you're thinking.  Shelley?  The extrovert? The outgoing one who quickly makes new friends?  How could she be insecure in friendships? But if I've said it once I've said it a 1,000 times....we deal with insecurity just as much as anyone else.  Maybe even more.  We just know how to hide it better.

   But before I get too far here, I think you need to drop everything and head on over here and check out this video on Friendship, by the Girls with Glasses.  And let it just marinate with you for a minute that if these women (who are completely amazing and creative and warm and friendly and incredible) can struggle with finding a healthy balance in their friendships, then you my friend, are certainly not alone.

I love all of their points:

1. Don't Gossip.
2. Be Helpful.
3. Don't Judge.
4. Forgive.
5. Rejoice with those who rejoice.

   And I also really loved what Brooke said in the beginning about not only trying to make good friends, but learning how to be a good friend.   Because I think sometimes we're all a little bit too concerned about everyone else needing to be a good friend to us, without stopping to think about how we could be a good friend to them.  It takes time, work, energy and effort, and it doesn't come easily.  Sometimes it is giving when you'd rather receive.  Sometimes it is listening when you'd rather unload.  But if you want to have good friends you need to be a good friend.  It really is as simple as that.

    Oh, and the rejoicing with those who rejoice?!  I cannot emphasize that enough!  Boy howdy is it hard to be happy for that girl who gets the promotion, the new house, the husband, the baby, the fancy car, the vacation, the National bestseller, the fur coat, whatever.  It's hard.  Duh, we all know that.

  But you still need to do it!  And this is not just another Pinterest cliche, or something the Girls with Glasses thought up.  It's in the Bible.  God thought of it first.  We need to rejoice with those who rejoice.  Be happy for others when something good comes their way.  Don't be jealous, don't begrudge them, don't feel sorry for yourself.  Just rejoice with them!  And then one day maybe others will do the same for you.

   But coming back around to my original point, I wish they would have elaborated more on comparison in friendship.  (Which they didn't, probably because they have a whole other video about comparison!  Check it out!!! I'll save my thoughts on that for another entire post:)

   And I wish I could say I've discovered some mystical elixir or magic bullet that has eliminated all of its ugly root systems from my life, but unfortunately, insecurity remains.  It rears its ugly head at the most inopportune moments, sometimes causing me to act in a way I very much regret later or make words come spilling out that leave me frantically grabbing at the air trying to stuff them all back in.  But the fact unfortunately remains, it is fatal to friendships.

  So what to do?  Well, other than the points already listed and mentioned, I would say the biggest, most profound, and yet unconsidered vaccination against comparison, is finding your security and your identity in Jesus Christ.  I even had a friend recently tell me that when she is having her quiet time with God consistently, these other friendship struggles seem to become just a little bit smaller.

And it just makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

   That when we are trying to find security in our own accomplishments, or in other people's opinions of us, or in something else of our flesh, we will be left disappointed and disillusioned and defeated every time.  Because we don't have what it takes, in and of ourselves.  We aren't perfect.  We are flawed.  But when we are finding our identity in Christ, we are able to then love ourselves and love others.

   And obviously it's SUPER difficult to be a good friend when you don't even feel like a very good person.  And that's precisely what insecurity does.  It's conceived in comparison, matured in jealousy, and produces insecurity.  And then it begins to spread its roots and poison farther and farther into all of our relationships and friendships until we're not even sure we like ourselves anymore.

BUT.....(thank goodness there's a 'but')

Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world.  

   We are made in His image.  In Him, we live and move and have our being.  We were not a mistake.  Our days are written in His book.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made.  He is the complete expression of love, and it is His desire to lavish love on us. His plan for our future has always been filled with hope.  His thoughts of us are countless as the sand on the seashore and He rejoices over us with singing.  If we seek Him, we WILL find Him.  

And He is able to do more than we could possibly imagine.  




Fashion Friday: Comfort first.

   Well I received such positive feedback from my Fashion Friday post last week, I think I will try and keep this series going!  You are were so sweet and encouraging, and it was so fun to receive such uplifting feedback on trying something new.  

Everyone needs cheerleaders like you in their life.

   For this Friday's post, I will propose a solution to that "The-ONLY-things-I-want-to-wear-today-are-leggings-and-a-tank-top" feeling.  We ALL have those days.  We wake up, pry our eyes open, and peel ourselves off of the bed only to realize that nothing in our closet appeals to us more than a pair of comfy leggings and a tank top.  Or maybe even less than that.  But we're going out, and unfortunately, we need to put something on. 

   In my case, it was Thursday morning and I was headed off to Bible study, but when you're scrambling around the house getting showered and bathing little girlies and combing everyone's hair, finding shoes and trying to get some breakfast down don't want a lot of constricting layers or thick fabrics making you sweat before you even head out the door! 

   So go ahead and put on those soft leggings and a thin layering camisole, and then throw on a loose-fitting, lightweight dress, (maybe something silk or chiffon) and you won't even notice it!  It feels just as perfectly comfortable as wearing leggings and a tank top, all the while offering a lot more modest coverage.  

Problem solved!

   I like to keep my eyes open for lightweight dresses year-round (this one was on clearance at Old Navy) because even if they're not technically "in season" they transition so seamlessly through different weather. 

    In the summer, throw it on with a hat and sandals.  In the fall, style with tall boots and leggings.  In In the winter, layer with a scarf, blazer, and knit tights.  Then when spring comes around again you will find yourself reaching for it with rain boots and a light cardigan.  My favorite pieces are always ones that can be utilized any month of the year!

   That's all for now!  And now I'd love to hear from some of you what your go-to, "comfort first" outfits are.  Because let's be honest, when chasing after little ones all day, comfort pretty quickly becomes a top priority. 

It's the weekend people, hope you have a great one!


Farewell, summer 2014.

  The last leg of our vacation found us camping in tents in Whistler's Bend.  Do these places have cool names or what?  I didn't really think of it at the time, but while working on this post and editing these photos, I noticed that it is already cool and cloudy and gray today, I wore leggings and boots earlier this morning and I just FEEL it........summer is over.  And so that would make this kind of the last "trip"of our summer, closing the chapter of summer 2014.

   Which is extra sad when you stop to think about the fact that you only get maybe 17, 18 summers with your kids TOTAL.  And they're off on other adventures of their own, and not tagging along with you on every camping, swimming, frozen yogurt run adventure you come up with.

Kinda terrifying, isn't it?

   These pictures were taken during a little mama/daughter time down at the river trying to help pass the time because Randy wasn't with us.  He had driven back home to squeeze in a day of work and everyone was missing him and I was tired of the single mom life.

   The girls were grumpy and tired and long story short, one of them ended up throwing a rock at me.  It certainly was not as idyllic and peaceful and perfect as these pictures portray, but really, is it ever??

   But that's the beauty of photos....I won't remember the little frustrations of those moments, but I will remember the breathtaking landscape on a sunny September day, with my little adventurers beside me.  I mean......WOW Oregon is so beautiful.  I feel like a total broken record, but I never really get over it.  Every time I venture out again I am astonished all over again at the rugged, wild, raw BEAUTY of this place that we call home.

We are blessed.

  Randy returned that evening and all was right in our little world.  We sat around the campfire late into the night as the children slept in their tents and all told stories and laughed and laughed.  It seems like growing older results in laughing a little less.  Maybe it's because bills and home owning and parenthood all gets a bit weighty and serious after a while and less of a laughing matter.  I don't know.

But that evening I laughed and laughed, and it felt GOOD.

   In the morning we had a big brunch, complete with a delicious egg scramble, bacon, and homemade sourdough french toast topped with strawberries and syrup.  Maybe a little bit of an over-achievement for a camping breakfast but that morning we sure weren't complainin'!  YUM.

   Later on in the day we took the kids to the playground to burn some energy and eat a picnic lunch.  I discovered later that it was also burning right through their nap window and so that turned out to be a little bit of a difficulty, but all was well in the end.  Randy and I floated down the river on inner tubes while others watched our kids (lucky us) and then we held down the fort (or the camp) while the others got to float.  Who says parents don't get to do fun stuff??

   All in all, it was a wonderful vacation and just what we needed to try and wind down our crazy, whirlwind summer.  And with a little more camping/summer fun under my belt, I can finally say I'm ready for the new season.

Bring it on, Fall!


Coastal love.

   While we were staying at the lake house, we were not very far from the coast, so one afternoon we drove to the beach and spent some time breathing in that salty ocean air.

     I never tire of watching my girls enjoy the ocean.  Perhaps it's because Jocelyn was such a timid soul, it took her a long time to finally warm to it, and now that they have I don't want to take it for granted for a single moment.  Charlotte, on the other hand, seemed to form a bond with the beach immediately, and rarely hesitates to get her hands dirty and her feet wet.  She cries when we have to leave, begging for more sand and waves.  I can already tell she will be my little sandy-blonde beach babe.

   Long before I ever knew anything about it, someone was filming a documentary called "Project Wild Thing" that while very interesting, failed to teach me anything I didn't already know.

Kids need to be outdoors.
Everyone needs to go outdoors more.
In our world of technology at every fingertip, we are missing something.
We are sicker, sadder, lonelier, and more depressed when we don't venture out.

   And while I feel like I knew all that it had to say already, it was still so stirring to watch.  To really see, process and FEEL the need anew to get children (and adults) outside again and back to nature. I am passionate about it for sure, but I am even more passionate that all of the exploration and discovery and adventure points to Something, or rather, Someone.

  The documentary left me feeling a bit empty because it was all about Mother Nature and how being outside is calming and relaxing and recharging particular reason.  It was all a bit of a mystery.

  When really, I think it's all rather simple.  Being outdoors is rejuvenating because we are taking in the glory and the beauty of the Creator God.  We are being reminded, constantly, that there is something bigger than us.

Bigger than our stress.
Bigger than our fears.
Bigger than our problems.

   And we feel smaller and higher and deeper and lighter all at once, and the clouds part and the sun shines down and we feel ourselves smiling way down to our toes.

But that is not the power of "nature".

That is the power, of the CREATOR.

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