Monday, October 29, 2018

Christmas Cards with Basic Invite

The holidays are almost upon us, which means it's time for one of my very favorite things: Christmas cards! Friends, I adore Christmas cards. I spend hours each year choosing the perfect card for our family to send out to our loved ones. When friends and family send me cards, I hang them on a wall throughout the Christmas season and them save them in my holiday scrapbook. I've begun telling friends that the best Christmas gift you can give to me is a holiday photo card.

This year, I've had the privilege of working with Basic Invite to create a beautiful holiday card. Over the years, I have used many different websites to create Christmas cards with photographs. I've had years where I loved my cards and the ordering process, and years where the process and the results were disastrous (don't even ask me about 2014!). Basic Invite made the process of creating and ordering my cards easy, and the results are stunning.

Here are a few of my favorite Basic Invite features:

Almost Unlimited Colors - Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. Once you select a design you can change the color of each element on the card to over 180 different color options so you can make sure the card is exactly how you want it down to the littlest detail.

This year I used a photo from my brother's wedding where all three of my kids are wearing a specific shade of burgundy. In the past, I would have spent hours looking through card styles to be absolutely sure the colors matched. This year, I simply chose my favorite card and then edited the colors to match. It was such a timesaver and my cards look stunning!

Customizable Card Back - Basic Invite offers a number of options for the back of your card including solid colors, patterns, and photo layouts. As you know, my family moved this year. I was hoping to include some information about our move in our card, and Basic Invite did not disappoint! As you can see, my cards have a "new address" graphic with all our moving information for friends and relatives.

Over 40 Different Colors of Envelopes - Basic Invite is just as colorful with their envelopes and envelope liners as with their cards. Customers can choose from over 40 different colors when it comes to their envelopes so that they can make their card stand out even before it is opened. All of the envelopes are peel and seal so the envelopes can be quickly and securely closed without licking a single one because really, who wants to do that?!

Address Capturing Service - Basic Invite offers an address capturing service that allows customers to simply share a link on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other form of social media to request their friends and family’s addresses which will be stored in the customer’s account and can then be selected during the design process. Talk about a time saver! Basic Invite offers recipient address printing at no cost on all Christmas card orders.

Foil - Foil holiday cards are available in gold, silver, and rose gold. Customers can choose flat or raised foil on all of Basic Invite’s foil designs. My holiday card includes raised gold foil. It looks even more stunning than it sounds and is such a lovely way to add some extra flair our cards.

Custom Samples - Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their actual card so they can see exactly how it will print as well as feel the paper quality before they ever have to place their final order.

Not sure what style you like? Basic Invite offers over 500 Christmas card and holiday card designs for you to choose from. They also offer custom holiday cards for businesses and holiday party invitations

I know many of you love to receive and send Christmas cards. Right now Basic Invite is offering 30% off with coupon code: holi30. Run over and start your holiday card now, and don't forget to send me one!

Thank you Basic Invite for partnering on this post.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Alone Time

All day long I dream about being alone. You know, the big dreams. I wish I could use the bathroom alone. I wish I could run an errand alone. I wish I could eat dinner without sharing food off my plate. I wish I could have just a few minutes to myself.

And then the magic happens. Ben comes home, takes the big kids to their Wednesday night Awana club, and I tuck the baby in to bed. All my wishes are coming true!

The funny part, though, is that I don't pick up that book I've been dying to read all day or soak in a hot bath- I get on my phone. I scroll Instagram. I order things off Amazon. I text. All week I crave quality, soul-filling alone time, and when it rolls around all I do is fritter it away.

I've realized that I often use quick fix methods in an attempt to fill my deeper needs. I turn to my phone because I'm too tired to focus on anything. I eat sugar all day instead of preparing a meal or healthy snacks because it's faster. I find this especially comes to light when I get my coveted alone time. All of a sudden, I'm so overwhelmed by the million things I've dreamed of doing that I shut down and just waste my time.

I've been convicted lately that I need to be more intentional in my time management. I need to plan better, think ahead of time about what I'm using my days for. And when I do have alone time, I want to have a way to quickly know what I'm going to do instead of anxiously overthinking all my options.

I have a lot of thoughts about this swirling around in my head that I may write more about later on, but for now, here is my small solution: have options ready. It feels like a lot of work to clean my bathtub to take a hot bath, so I don't do it. If I don't have a book to read, I don't take the time to find one. If I don't have a couple favorite movies around my house, I Google "funny movies on Netflix" for 2 hours.

Last night was different. I finished watching an episode of The Great British Baking Show I'd been meaning to watch, then I read my library book in my recently cleaned bathtub. I had a relaxing evening with surprising little anxiety, all because I had a few things prepared or planned beforehand. I was surprised how much I was able to fit in to my evening and enjoy it, instead of my usual anxious Instagram scroll.

Going forward, my plan is to keep a few simple things ready. I'll clean my bathtub about once a month so I can use it when I need to. I'll keep a few to-be-read books on my shelf. I'll set out my copy of You've Got Mail ( my favorite movie!) so I know where it is if I want something to watch. I might even go buy some chocolate to stash away. Next time my unicorn of alone time shows up? I'll be ready.

What about you? How can you set yourself up for success when it comes to relaxation and rest?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Me Too, Mama

I was greeted this morning by an expectant face, asking the same question he asked me 500 times yesterday. No... not yet... stop asking!

I opened my Bible, desperate for Jesus to fill my cup, only to find a page covered in scribbles. I wanted to make you happy, Mama. I wrote my name for you. See my amazing drawing?

I'm trying to take just a few minutes to be alone, but hear my name called tearfully through the window. I don't want to go play... I want to be with you.

Today has been one of those unexpectedly rough days where I just don't want to be a stay-at-home mom. All day, I've just wanted to drink coffee uninterrupted, get lost on my phone, and nap. I even had a really sweet hour at the library and our local coffee shop with my kids, and I still felt depressed and discouraged. I wanted to throw my hands up, grab some chocolate, and give up.

Do you ever have days like this? Do you ever feel like your entire life is all for nothing? That you'd give anything to have just one day off from all the needs of little hearts and hands?

When everything seems to be falling apart, here are of few of the ways I pull myself back together (in no particular order). And just know, these are for me! I'm writing this right now because I need it most of all!

First, I try to find a few minutes to look through my frustrations to what is actually going on. I find if my children are occupied with food, playtime, or a movie, I can actually find a second to do this! Today I realized half-way through the day that our heaven-baby's birthday is today. Even when I forget what month it is, my heart somehow remembers deep down that it's a painful day. Of course, I'm off today. Of course I feel sad and want time alone.

Second, I spend time with Jesus. I have been learning a lot lately about preaching the gospel to myself and my children. Today, I've been clinging to the truth that Jesus knows and understands my heart. He also had days he struggled through. He had frustrating disciples who couldn't get basic ideas through their heads. He was followed around constantly too! Christ gave his life as a sacrifice for me. What a privilege, even on my hardest days, to imitate my Savior.

And third, if I can, I ask for help from those around me so I can rest. Tonight my kids have an event at a local church, so I'll be taking the baby to Target. You better believe I'll be spending a good long while in the Joanna Gaines aisle and buying a giant bag of candy corn just for me. On Saturday, I get to go to a local event without the big kids. (Turns out when you have 3, just keeping the baby is a break!)

Mama friend, I am here struggling with you. I know how hard these days are. I hope that you find rest today, and support from your community. Be encouraged that Jesus knows, even if no one else does.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

When God Invites You To A New Season

I love the changing seasons, especially this time of year. I look forward to watching the leaves slowly slip from green to yellow to red. I love waking up to cooler temperatures. I'm excited to take my kids to the pumpkin patch and watch them trick-or-treat. I find I don't miss the hot weather or the pool parties of summer all that much.

I often think about my life in seasons: the college years; early marriage; motherhood with one, then two, then three. Our cross-country move has brought with it another new season. It's a season that echoes the changing leaves outside. I'm letting go of the sunny days of our vibrant Colorado community. My life has become quieter, more dormant, as we start fresh and grow new roots.

I'll be honest, this change has been painful. I'm lonely and I desperately miss what we left behind. I often think in terms of then versus now, comparing our new life to our old one and finding it comes up short on my imaginary measuring stick. If I could be granted a wish right now, it would be to take our new home and neighborhood (which I do in fact love more than any other in the world!), and move it back into our old town in Colorado. I want the best of both summer and fall, all at the same time.

It doesn't work like that, though, does it? To enjoy fall, you have to lose the hot days and green leaves of summer. Moving forward through the year, and our lives, involves letting go of old things to welcome the new. I don't like the letting go part-- I just want to welcome the new while clinging to the old.

As I work through these feelings and struggles with the Lord, He has given me a word for this new season: Nourish. Our last few years have been full to the point that our family is depleted. We were running on empty and pushing ourselves to the breaking point. A major reason for this move was to change that. God is asking me to take time to nourish myself and my family. He's asking me to be quiet and rest. To do less, not more. To sleep and read and write and soak in the beauty of our new surroundings. To spend quality time with each of my children, to strengthen my marriage, to refuel my own heart.

I know this season will not last forever. Soon we will slip into winter, then spring, then summer again. One day I will have the same amazing community that we had in Colorado. One day I won't feel like "the new girl" any longer. My hope in the meantime is that I don't miss what's happening right now, in this season. That I nourish my heart and my family for what is to come.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

When Home Doesn't Feel Like Home

We have lived in North Carolina for a little over a month now. Our moving van arrived with all our possessions, overwhelming us with boxes. We have begun the process of registering ourselves as residents of NC, changing addresses, getting government documents in order. Eli has been at school for a few weeks now, while the girls and I have begun to establish routines.

And still, my days feel difficult, exhausting, and overwhelming. After a particularly rough day on Tuesday, I took a moment alone and realized what was making my day so difficult. I wanted to go home. You probably know the feeling; the ache in the pit of your stomach and the lump in your throat as you think about the comfort of whatever place you call home. Just seconds later, the realization hit me. I WAS home. I was standing in my new house, aching for a house we sold within a community we loved in a state we left. I've never experienced quite that level of displacement before. I suddenly felt unmoored, adrift across the country from everything I know and love.

As I have ruminated on these ideas this week, I realized the hardest part for me is the knowledge that I cannot go back. I cannot undo this move, I cannot catch up on what I have missed in Colorado. The only way through is forward. All I can do now is create a new life here, making new friends and creating new community.

I know that all this will come, just as it has in the many other places I have lived. But it still doesn't make it easier to be right here, right now. I'm reading this book with some dear CO friends about being brave, and the lesson couldn't be more timely. I'm realizing the great value of community, even when it's phone calls and Skype messages. I'm thanking Jesus for technology and for sweet friends who reach out to me throughout the days.

I feel small and afraid, but I know that the only way to stay the course is to stand up and be brave, trusting God each day, each moment. And so I raise my hands and bravely welcome a new life. It's terrifying, but it's also exciting. I know Jesus good things in store and much to teach me.

What about you? How are you being brave in your own life?