CREATE: Embroidery 101 on Liz Makes

When I blog about embroidery, I often hear: “That looks amazing, but I don’t know how to embroider!” Let me tell you a secret: embroidery looks much more complicated than it actually is. Seriously! With just a couple stitches under your belt, you can create endless combinations and possibilities.

So yesterday, I guest posted on Liz Makes with some of my favorite tutorials for mastering a few common stitches, like the back stitch, French knot, satin stitch, feather stitch, and blanket stitch. Those are the only stitches you’d need to know to make any of the patterns in my Just Beachy collection, and some patterns, like “Oh Snappy Day,” only use two of those stitches – the back stitch and French knot. 

Be sure to check it out if you’ve ever wanted to pick up this quick and rewarding hobby! And also, stay tuned for another pattern giveaway next Monday!

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INSPIRE: The Beauty of An Ordinary Life

Hello, readers of Scribbles from Emily! I’m so honored to be here with you today. Thank you, Emily, for giving me this awesome opportunity and for trusting me with your online space.

The overarching theme of my blog is intentional living. More specifically, it’s where I share my own journey to live a more intentional life, because the good Lord knows that I don’t have it all figured out yet. So, I don’t write to sound like an expert; I write as a friend who has invited you over, sits across from you at my kitchen table, and just talks about what it means to live life on purpose.

So, friend-to-friend, let me paint you a picture of what my life as a full-time, stay-at-home mama to a 4-and-a-half-year-old Little Man looks like {and, if you’re a fellow SAHM – or work from home mom – this will probably look all too familiar}:

spilled milk, Legos and Lincoln Logs, loading the washing machine, Hot Wheels cars, unloading the dishwasher, picking up clutter, paying bills, stepping on toys, clothes in washer sour {left them in too long – oops!}, The Avengers {you know… Thor, Hulk, Iron Man…}, picking up more clutter, loading the dishwasher…

You get the point, right?

My life, by the standard of most people, would seem boring… ordinary… mundane. All those words that can mean “blah”. And I wouldn’t say that I could blame them for feeling that way because, I admit, most days I’m not thrilled with my life either. I mean, I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I don’t exactly get an adrenaline rush every time I throw a load of clothes in the washer or have to play Legos for the umpteenth time.

But as uneventful as my life may seem, there is so much beauty to be found in it… IF I know what to look for: After all, the toys that cover my floor are proof that an active, growing, creative little blessing calls this place home, too. For some reason God thought me trustworthy enough to place him in my care… and I’m so thankful!

The mountain of dirty laundry and the stacks of yet-to-be-washed dishes in the sink are proof that we have more than enough clothes to dress ourselves and more than enough food to fill our bellies. We have been blessed with more than some people dare to dream of.

This life I live may not be glamorous or impressive and I’m not likely to win any awards or receive many verbal accolades, but I am a blessed woman. And because of that, I have a choice to make: Will I join society and scoff at my life? Or will I intentionally seek out and take note of the things that make my life beautiful? Will I also actively pursue ways to cultivate beauty in my home? Through décor, sure, but also through things like: the way I arrange our dinner on the plate or how complex my son and I can build a Lego tower.

So, this is my challenge to you… to us: let’s look for and appreciate the beauty within our days and then intentionally pursue ways to cultivate even more beauty in our lives, as well. If we will do this, we’ll find that our life isn’t as boring or ordinary as we might have originally thought and that we already have more than we could ever need.

Life doesn’t get more beautiful than that!

God Bless,

Alana Taylor is, first and foremost, a sinner saved by the grace of God.  She is a twenty-something full-time wife, mama, and homemaker, living in central Alabama with two of her favorite guys: her hubby and her four-year-old Little Man.  Her biggest passion is to creatively pursue a life of intention, as well as to encourage and equip like-minded women to do the same.  With her faith as the foundation of her message, she talks about how intentional living impacts everything about our lives, from the big things {such as motherhood and stewardship} to the seemingly small things {like decorating/organizing our home and getting dressed each morning}. 

* BLOG *FACEBOOK * PINTEREST * TWITTER *

Emily here, thank you so much for sharing your heart with us, Alana! Even though I don’t have children to pick up after, I can relate to feeling like my life is mundane and blah. Your story was a blessing and encouragement to me.

What about you, readers? Can you relate? How you you find beauty in the everyday? Share your thoughts with us in the comments! 

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INSPIRE: Growing as an Independent Thinker

On Friday, I told you about my interview on Sage Grayson coaching, but I saved another bit of news for today: I also guest posted on Sweet and Sage. Sweet and Sage is an online magazine for women in their twenties who crave advice that’s both kind and smart. The topic for July is “Independent Thinking,” and my article shares 3 Ways to Grow as an Independent Thinker.

I’m a by-the-book girl—I thrive on how-to guides, step-by-step plans, and other people’s approval. Independent thinking doesn’t come easily to me. But the times in my life where I’ve grown the most have been the times when I made decisions that didn’t make sense to the people around me.


Read the rest here!


Interestingly, the story I share in the beginning of the article is also when I started this blog! Another benefit of independent thinking that I continue to receive. 
Do you consider yourself an independent thinker? Read the article, and let me know what you think in the comments over there!



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Why Fair Trade Matters to Me, By Mercy Ink

foot washing guatemala

One day last October I walked down a long, dusty road into a poor Guatemalan village to wash the dirt off little feet. As the children came through the line, one by one, the grime was washed off their shoeless feet and replaced with a new, clean pair of TOMS shoes.

 

shoe drop guatemala

When Emily asked me to share why fair trade matters to me, it didn’t take much thought to bring me right back to these little feet. TOMS shoes is one example of a company that not only produces fashionable products in fair working conditions, but goes a step further to give back to the very people who have so often been exploited by fashion: the poor and destitute of third world countries.

 I’ve shared before on my blog that I definitely do not have this fair trade thing down 100%. I am a mother with not only myself to shop for, but three little ones that grow quickly and change sizes often. It’s certainly not simple and my life would definitely be easier if shopping fair trade did not matter to me. As Emily has written about here and last week at my place, learning to shop ethically is a process and involves intentional decisions and hard choices.

 And yet thinking of my own three little people really makes fair trade matter that much more: when I think of how our life might look if we weren’t born in this country, if I had to make the choice to starve or send my children to work in degrading and abusive conditions for next to no money. Fair trade matters because children matter, because people matter and the work of their hands matters and has value that is worth a fair wage.

I also cannot escape the Biblical mandates for ethical treatment of workers, the poor, and orphans:

You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. (James 5:3-4)

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees,to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. (Isaiah 10:1-2)

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 82:3-4

Strong wording, isn’t it?

We could excuse ourselves from these verses and say that we’re not the ones making the laws or treating people unfairly, but ultimately, as long as we are consuming the products, we’re giving our nod to the oppression.

Finally as a small business owner and handmade shop owner myself, I value the time and care that goes into crafting a product. I value the person behind the product and believe they should be compensated fairly for their work. Can you imagine if I spent all day, every day working on prints for my shop, and got paid pennies on the hour for my work? Or if I were a single mom and worked in a retail store, say stocking shelves for 10 hours a day, and brought home a $1 for the week’s work? It would be cause for a lawsuit in America.

Fair trade matters to me because people matter to me. As a mother, as a worker, as a believer, and as a human being, I making the hard but totally worth it choice for fair.

What are your thoughts on fair trade? Why does it matter to you?

 

photo credit: Michele Lyn Ault

Lauren is a young mom of three, Jesus follower, and wife of a youth pastor. She is proponent for all things fair trade + handmade and blogs at MERCY iNK as a passionate advocate for the least of these. Lauren designs Scripture prints for the mercy(iNK) print shop. > > > connect with Lauren on twitter or facebook.

Tutorial: Easy Valentine Pillowcase

I’m super excited to be guest posting on Liz Makes today! If you’ve never embroidered before, don’t worry. I designed this project with first time embroiderers in mind. Check out the full tutorial, and while your there, check out Liz’s fabulous crafts, recipes, and style!

If you’re interested, here’s the tutorial for the sweater pillow that goes nicely with the pillowcases.

In other news, we made it safely home from our trip to California. If you follow me on Instagram, you got to see the incredibly thick fog we drove through early in the morning, the pretty rain soaked rose, leaves, and clover, the lovely backyard orange tree, and the Downtown Disney Lego store. And you also found out that I slept two and a half hours during the first 24 of the trip. I slept maybe six more the next night, and then I slept most of the six hours home. I’m exhausted!

But in other news, get ready for some amazing things coming soon here on the blog! You’ll find out probably this week.

 Hope you had a great weekend, and are having a happy Monday!

Lessons From Loneliness on Unveiled Wife

Yesterday I had the privilege of guest posting on one of my favorite marriage blogs, Unveiled Wife. Here’s just a snippet: 

“I’m so alone.”
Tears stung my eyes, and two drops escaped. I wiped them away, but they fell even faster.
Did that thought ever cross your mind after your marriage?
Did you ever feel alone, abandoned? 

I went from full classes, hallways, lecture halls, football games, Bible studies twice a week, bustling cafeterias, one on one discipling, college ministry, weekly activities, coffee dates, and hanging out with friends, all in addition to weekly church services… to online classes, knowing one family in the entire city, and once a week church services. I went from being immersed in community to near isolation.

Read the rest at Unveiled Wife! Happy Friday!

What Then Shall We Say To These Things

I’m happy to introduce Osayi Osar-Emokpae, our guest blogger today. When I first read this a few weeks ago, I almost cried. “How could she read my mind and know exactly what I was worrying about?!” God works in amazing ways. I hope this blesses each of you as much as it did me!

So many times I find myself worrying about what could happen. I’m worried about bad decisions I made, the good decisions I didn’t make, and everything in between.

I’m worried about the bills I need to pay, the friends I wish lived closer, the places I wish I could visit.

I’m worried about my past, my present, my future. Will I make a difference? Will I ever find my purpose? Will I ever accomplish all the things God wants me to accomplish?

I’m worried about the changes that seem to be happening beyond my control, about all the time I’ve wasted, and how time seems to be moving so slowly one second, and then moving at lightning-fast speed the next second.

But I’ve been reminded lately about the verse:

What then shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us. 

(Romans 8:31)

So when the voices rise up, and I begin to worry about things, I know that it’s time for me to start saying things back. When the voice of worry tells me that I’m a failure and that I’ll always be a failure, I know it’s time to start speaking back. When the voice of worry reminds me of all my past mistakes, and lost opportunities, I know that I can respond boldly.

“Since God is for me, NOTHING can succeed against me.” 

How about you? How do you respond when you start to worry?

Osayi Osar-Emokpae is the author
of Impossible is Stupid (http://impossibleisstupid.com)
a book that encourages Christians singles to thrive. She can be reached at her
blog http://iyasostuff.com

I’d Like to Publish You

Guest posting is a great way to get your writing in front of a new audience, and during the month of November, I would love to give you that opportunity here at Scribbles From Emily.

For some of us, November is a busy month. Busy getting ready for family to visit, or to visit family, fixing food, eating food, giving thanks, and shopping afterwards. We’re also trying to get ready for Christmas, which is coming up impossibly soon, so that means more shopping, decorating, and planning.

Sometimes the thankfulness factor of Thanksgiving gets lost in the bustle of the holidays. While we should be remembering our blessings year round, it’s a good idea to have a month set aside for that purpose, especially during the time of year that our culture is bombarding us with all the things we “need.” 

So to that end, during the month of November I’d like to feature your post that answers this question:

What in your life are you thankful for now, that at the time you didn’t see as a blessing? 

Spend some time thinking about that, and when something comes to mind, check out Scribble’s guest posting guidelines.

In other news, I’m planning to put together a holiday gift guide again this year, but in a little different format. My gift guide focuses on buying gifts from companies that donate to charities and compassionate organizations, and this year instead of just posting the links to the companies, I’d like to put together a downloadable PDF that features actual products, so you can shop by person, such as “babies,” “the people who have everything,” “teens,” etc.

I could really use your help! Do you shop at any companies that give to good causes? Leave a comment and tell me about them! To leave a comment, click on “Links to this Post” below, or the post title.

I so appreciate your help, and I’m looking forward to reading your guest posts!

How to Encourage During Tragedy

Today’s encouragement story is from another good friend of mine, Ami. I hope you’re challenged to pray for people you know, and encouraged that your prayers really do make a difference!

Encouragement – when I think of that word I think of prayer and how one of the best times I’ve ever been encouraged is when people tell me that they are praying for me. I think of the time in my life when that was the best thing possible to do – pray.

It was fall 2009, I had been at college for about a month when I received the news that my best friend, Ben, had committed suicide. It seemed that my word had came to a crashing halt. At the age of 18 and 5 hours from home and family and friends I was numb. The first thing that was done after I had received the news my dorm supervisor and my room leader both prayed. At the time I didn’t see it as encouraging but as annoying. I was angry, upset, and just wanted to get home. But instead I was sitting in the deans office hearing theses words that now I think back on as comfort. Comfort in the fact that these two woman hardly knew me but were sitting here trying to comfort me and pleading to God to comfort me.

My parents where on their way to get me and I felt like I was alone. I wasn’t suppose to tell anyone because they wanted to make sure that Ethan (my other best friend) found out before rumors started. I turned to by oldest brother, Nathan. Nathan is 10 years older than me and had moved out when I was 10 so we never really close. But through tears I told my brother of the news I had heard only minutes before. Nathan’s heart broke. He cried with me and through tears we both prayed on the phone together. He also poured out his heart pleading for comfort for me, my friends, Ben’s family, and for mine. His words were of just pure encouragement although they were filled with tears. 
I returned home and was once again comforted by family and friends. Friends who prayed with me. Family members who stayed up with me while I cried and prayed for me. I had e-mails coming from back at college, teachers who I didn’t even know, the President of the College, students who I never met, and of course friends I had made in the past weeks. All of the e-mails held the same words “I am praying for you.” 
Prayer is one of the ways we communicate with God. But prayer is also a way we are able to encourage. I had never thought that people would come together and pray for me. I often think I can do things on my own. But then I remember back to the weeks after Ben’s passing when I was encouraged through others’ prayer. When people came together and prayed for God to comfort me. The encouragement of prayer lifted me when I was lower than I had ever imagined. Prayer is the greatest form of encouragement that I could ever imagine.
To this day I feel that if I really want to encourage someone I need to start praying for them. God hears our prayers and acts upon them in his time and according to His will.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place (2 Chronicles 7:14-15).

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer (Psalm 4:1).

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29).

Ami is a 20 year old journalism student who blogs about this and that, photos, and life at Love Like a Child.