Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Interrupting "Offerings" …for the most random post ever. (I need your thoughts)

Happy Thanksgiving week friends, both near and far!  I was doing so well posting my Offerings series and still have lots more to go.  But today as I noticed the thoughts piling up in my brain that I wanted to ask or share with you, I decided we'd hit "pause" on the series for just a day or two.  It feels like so long since I've picked your brains!  How are you and your section of the world?  Several of you have written to say you're reading the new blog posts and for that, I am grateful and honored.  
While the weather has continued to be quite warm (I know, the lamest subject for a blog post), the leaves have fallen and the other morning we had a real good frost.  The kind that just simply takes your breath away.  I've still been taking pictures with my beloved Nikon, even though they haven't made it on here yet.  But, there is great beauty to be seen this time of year.  What about you?  Are you pausing to ponder the beauty of this new season?  
I suppose the biggest piece of news I have to share with you currently is that Brett and I have decided to go to NYC for a couple of nights in December! We are beyond excited and a bit overwhelmed at trying to plan all that big city goodness into just a few days.  We obviously have the big stuff on our agenda, like Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty, walking the Brooklyn Bridge…etc.  BUT, here's where I need your help! Where do you recommend to eat?  
I must have read hundreds of fantastic restaurant recommendations via Pinterest and TripAdvisor.  So many it made my head swim.  As you know, we really love food and different flavors and types of food.  We're not afraid to venture outside the burger and pizza realm.  So please share away! 

Other than that we're right smack in the middle of holidays and two family birthdays and mostly trying to be intentional about the girls really getting the reasons why we do Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Tomorrow night we're going to have our first ever "Nativity Night", where we eat a special snack dinner by candlelight, read the Christmas story, and slow down to unwrap each piece of our new nativity set.  I am praying it is a time for us to savor….savor Jesus, His love, and a certain sweet stillness that only He can provide during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. 

I have a few other questions I want to run by you and then I'll leave you with some fun links I've been wanting to share!  First, a few ideas are popping up over and over in my mind for my art, business, and passions come spring.  So, can I pick your brain a bit and see if these are things you are interested in too?  Please don't be afraid to share your thoughts in the comments or via email (sunshinebysara@hotmail.com)  

First, I am thinking of doing a free or donation only rosy retreat day next spring-A day to recharge, make friends, craft, photograph, and just be.  But I really keep hearing and seeing God gently remind me of many, many faces of women who wouldn't be able to come to an event because of finances…who would benefit from a day like this, just as much as someone who could pay $100. 

Second…a long string of random thoughts, business wise-making a rosy life coloring book, self-published book (a children's book and one with photography), new art (obvs) but in handmade wooden frames, scripture art…and a few other things up my sleeve.  What would you like to see? Have I missed something? 

I'll also be continuing my Lifestyle Photography sessions this winter/spring as well….capturing you and yours within the comforts of your own home.  You can email me for more information! 
Last, a few of my favorite links to last you through the week! 
Prints are still on sale in my shop and the shop will close up until next spring here in a couple of weeks! 
My holiday Pinterest board is sure to inspire.  Unless Pinterest panics you. Then never mind. :)
And here are a few of my favorite blogs…

Lend me your thoughts on the questions above and HAPPY THANKSGIVING WEEK friends!
I am so, so thankful for you. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Offer love

Offer love.
Big love.
Love that doesn't leave. 
Love that's an anchor.  
Love that's fun to be around. 
Offer love in your words,
your time,
your blog and Facebook posts. 
Offer love with a smile,
a door held open,
an extra long hug for a friend or your family. 
Offer love to yourself by taking care of yourself,
filling up your soul tank so that you can love more deeply on others. 
Offer love to the Father by worshipping him BIG, right now.

Offer love without expecting anything in return. 
Offer love to someone different than you. 

Offer big love. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Offer a prayer journal

I'm a journaler.  Sometimes in the sense that I write down my deepest longings, thoughts, and prayers.  These journals mostly stay hidden, just for my eyes.  They are a narrative that speaks volumes of the faithfulness of God.  At the right time, parts may be shared with others, but usually these are just a conversation between God and I.  

Other times calling myself a journaler means I keep more of a scrapbook, or an altered book, where I write down quick snippets throughout the day of God's love, faithfulness, and blessings.  Still a prayer, just one of gratitude and thanks.  Both types of prayers and journals are equally important to me.  We were talking at home church last week about remembering the goodness of God.  I sometimes get so bogged down in current events or the news, I forget to thank God for everything He has done.  I was explaining this to Anna Ruth in conversation yesterday, giving her examples of times other than meal times I say a "Thank-you God."  Like sitting on the back deck having a tea party with the girls at sunset, watching birds soar and deer roam in the back pasture, the peace and presence of God so thick we could have cut it with a knife. 

The offering for today is a prayer journal.  It's a beautiful thing when we offer thanks to God, it almost feels like a continuous love letter.  Or maybe you're season is deep in the trenches and your journal is more like a battle-cry, a call for help.  Both matter, are valuable, and have freed me up countless times.  

I also think it would be just lovely to offer a prayer journal for a friend, as a gift….
filled up with prayers written in our own handwriting in honor of our friend. 
This isn't something I've done yet, but I have a few friends in mind I'm going to try this with.  Friends who I text regularly and say "I'm praying for you!" and while there's nothing wrong with this at all, think of the impact it could make for someone, turning the pages to read prayer after prayer for them. 

Have you tried any of the other offerings this week? 
I'd love to hear. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Offer your talents

A loaf of bread, a painted canvas, an extra-tight hug, a phone call, a meal, a fun outing, a quilt, a favorite book recommendation, a few hours of organizing, advice, your voice, a listening ear, your faithfulness, photography, your writing, an invitation to come over….

we each have a little something in the way of our talents, to offer. 
Who can you help today? 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Offer fun and celebration!

After giving you much to think about yesterday, I thought we'd lighten things up a bit today.  I suppose that's how the ebb and flow of this series may go, but we'll see where God leads.  It certainly seems to be the rhythm of my own life and yours too, I'm sure.  Sadness mixed with happiness mixed with messy and beautiful, joined with both hard and easy.  A bit of this, a bit of that. 

The offering for today sounds quite simple but we make it so hard. 
Offer yourself or someone else, fun and celebration.  I don't remember when it became so wrong to do something fun for….well, just the fun of it!  I don't know about you, but I always benefit greatly by some fun and celebrating, whether it be for a big reason or something simple and small.  It just does something for my spirit, emotions, and mental well-being to smile, laugh, and cut loose a little.  My feet feel lighter, my chores not so bad, my eyesight renewed.  My love tank, more full and able to serve others.  So tell me, when was the last time you did something fun?  Or even better, something fun with someone else who also needed a dose of joy?  Don't talk yourself out of fun, asking "What's the point?"  Just do it! Trust me...

Here are a few ways you can invite fun into your life and someone else's too!
1.) Use your "good" china, dishes, candles, etc.  and set a pretty table. Just because. 
2.)  Go skating or bowling and try to invite someone you don't know that well.  Women make friendships so hard sometimes.  Let's have fun instead! 
3.)  Bring a party in a box to a friend's house!  Think: cake, candles, party hats, and party blowers.  I mean, have you ever tried to be serious and sad with a party blower in your mouth?  
4.)  Rent your favorite funny movie or comedy dvd (there are some great christian ones!) and laugh the night away. 
5.) Have a game night with silly games like "Minute to Win-It" (just google it).  
6.) Crank up the music and DANCE! 
7.) Try something you wouldn't normally do…even something simple like throwing the football around the yard.  I did this with Brett last weekend and it was FUN.
8.) Learn a new hobby/skill.  If you're like me, and not able to make it to a class in-person, search the Internet for an online class to take! 
9.) Go to a concert 
10.) Try a new restaurant or better yet…cook a new style of food just for fun! I'm wanting to try Indian food. Even better? Invite a neighbor, co-worker, or someone who needs a friend over. 
11.) Host a costume party with your girlfriends! Or a craft night, cooking night, etc.  No charge….just do it for fun.  
12.) Build your own slip-n-slide (did it!) or campfire! 
13.) Go out of town, even if it's just one town over.  

What else can you think of?  Could your life benefit from fun? 
I truly believe shared fun and celebration is where we can meet God.  The world is sad and broken and hard enough, perhaps our joy can lead others to Jesus. In my own life, sometimes my joy tank needs a little extra help getting filled up and that is where my buddies "fun and celebration" come in. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Offer: a look within

 Last week I shared a quick sentence or two and this picture, via Instagram, Facebook, and my blog.  
In true Sara fashion, I like things in a series or a theme, something to rally around.  But also in true Sara fashion, most blog series I've started in the past have fizzled after a week or so.  This time around, it simply isn't the case.  I know this because I already have more than a month's worth of photos and soul stirrings ready to offer.  Here's how the "Offerings" series will work.  Each day I'll post a photo with "Offer___________".  I'll write as many words about the offering for the day as the good Lord gives me, sharing practical tips, songs, and links to guide us as we spread kindness during this holiday season. 
And that is exactly where I want to start the series, offering you a look within.  I wish I could say I had the burning desire to do this series because it came to me on my knees during my quiet time.  However, that honestly isn't the case.  The idea to photograph offerings came to me well over a year ago and then the idea sat, dusty and jumbled with all the other ideas in my mind.  You may remember I pile ideas like a bad episode of Hoarders.  The ideas are everywhere, spilling this way and that.  But this little one snuck up on me, on a random day last week.  I was having one of "those" days, feeling sorry for myself and like there wasn't enough room at the table for me, creatively speaking.  I began to question why I couldn't book the same gigs as someone else, and why my main offering right now is so hard for me sometimes (being mama and housewife) when my creativity comes so easy to me.   

Bam! This little "offerings" idea quickly started yelling in my mind "Pick me! Remember me!"  The lightbulb went off.  I was spending so much time focusing on me, me, me, I was missing the holy presence and opportunities and kindness of God that was readily available for me to share.  
One by one a parade of hero women began to run through my mind.  Kind post-office workers, Internet friends who send me happy mail, ladies who text me with encouragement, artists who tell me to keep going.  They don't know it, but their smiles, hope, encouragement, and love have shown up at the very second I've been at my lowest before.  How could they have known? They couldn't.  But God could.   And THAT was the rally cry behind this new blog series.  That so much of our lives feel so self-centered, especially if you're a handmade seller with the pressure of social media.  But I've seen what can happen, how the love of Jesus can spread like wildfire, if we only begin with a simple act of kindness.  Sometimes I get this intense fear-what if my life is over and all I did was scroll through the Internet?  Or what if I just spent all my time thinking about myself and missed the very HUGE presence of God in my everyday life? Perhaps I'm old-fashioned, but I'm ready to take back hand-holding, real-life prayers, hot meals with phones put away, dancing, playing, and inviting others in without anyone knowing it.  

My sad, sometimes embarrassing look within is that sometimes I spend too many hours obsessing over the crafty/artist side of my life.  Feeling left out, overlooked, and sorry for myself.  The truth is, there are people literally everywhere, thirsty for the hope of Jesus.  They are in our grocery stores, the line at the post office, our kid's school, the table beside us at the coffee shop, the local fast-food joint, our homes, and our churches. 

Today I encourage you to offer a look within.  Let God speak to your heart about less "me" and more "I see".  To take it even a step further?  Offer someone a peek into your heart via conversation, text, email, or a blog post, letting the facade of "perfect" down and pure realness show instead.  We are all broken, but when I am honest with you and lend a hand to help, we are on our way to healing. 

I leave you with this song, that came at just the right time. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Offer: A new blog series

This has been on my heart for at least a year. 
This year, it's time to make it happen. 
I'm so excited to say this series is coming to the blog starting Monday! 
I'll see you then. 
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