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Do Unto Others {7 for 31}

This month I'm writing a new post each day about my own version of Jen Hatmaker's 7 experiment. For more posts and an introduction, head hereToday's 7 topic is stress.

Most (ok, ok, all) of my stress is self-imposed. That's not to say that hard things don't happen, but ultimately I'm the one who chooses how I will respond to them. My lack of faith in God leads to all sorts of tension and upsetness.

Another factor is selfishness. The best (note that I did not say "easiest") cure for mild depression is to think about someone besides yourself (there are depths of darkness that no amount of happy thoughts can lift you out of - this I know because I've been in them - and the only way out of those is if someone or Someone comes in with a lantern of hope to find you), but I've found that sitting and thinking about how rotten I have it is rather depressing, whereas shifting that focus onto others lifts my mood by giving me a purpose (any person or situation can be prayed for as soon as a need is realized, and sometimes I'm even given the chance to be the answer to that prayer through physical action).

One of those tangible ways to help has come up recently, after years of trying to make it happen (can't rush God, as much as I'd like to). The church we're going to here in Little Rock, Fellowship North, is letting me teach a learn-to-knit class in November, as well as start a Warm Up America! chapter, to augment the work that their quilting ministry does. There's an encouraging amount of interest, and quite a bit of curiosity (who is this person we've never heard of whose name has suddenly appeared in the bulletin?) and I don't think I've been what anyone envisioned "the knitter" looking like, but I just appreciate them trusting me to do this and getting excited about it with me.

Until then, my sewing-in-a-straight-line skills are adequate for the quilt blocks they have for piecing each month - if I can find a time when Brooklyn isn't around to "help" me by playing with the presser foot of my sewing machine (I'm perfectly capable of sewing over my finger on my own, thanks though - or burning myself with steam from the iron).

Handicrafts of all sorts are wonderful that way - the action itself is distracting and cathartic and beneficial to you, and then the fruit of your labor can go on to bless someone else. This project has been wonderful for getting ahead on Christmas gifts... over the summer I've been knitting washcloths (I kept one in my bag to redeem the in-between moments, and used discounted discontinued colors to reduce the expense), which I'm planning to package in some felted bowls that I made awhile ago. The dear little glass bottles left over from the package of Starbucks drinks I got inspired me to hunt up hand scrub recipes (upcycling!) - and I was able to find one through Pinterest that used mostly ingredients I already had. A $2 carton of coarse sea salt, a tiny bottle of tea tree oil that will last forever, and less than a dollar's worth of lemons are all I lacked, and now I have more than enough supplies to fill my four little bottles.

As a side note, the residue left when you peel the labels off of those little glass bottles is alcohol soluble. I filled each bottle with hot soapy water, waited a minute to let it soften so I could remove the labels more easily, then gave each sticky spot a swipe with a washcloth I'd squirted a dab of rubbing alcohol on to. I was amazed at how well it worked - I didn't even have to scrub!

Unallocated money for supplies and time to do things are both rare gifts (especially with a busy, curious toddler) - but I'm going slowly, starting early on Christmas (instead of waiting until the week before), and giving myself grace, looking for small moments to fill with quick projects, and for projects that can be left and come back to as needed.

Serving and the giving of gifts should be a blessing on both sides, not a point of stress. How do you maintain a joyful attitude while serving/giving during this season of life?


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31 Days of Unraveling Designs

It's that time of year again... the 31 Days writing challenge starts today! Bloggers from all over will be writing every day of the month of October on the topic of their choosing. This will be my fourth year participating - the first year I did 7 for 31, and spent a month going through Jen Hatmaker's book 7. The second year I did 31 Days of Sustainable Dwelling, and wrote about local and fair trade living. Last year I was busy but still wanted to participate, so I went the easy route with 31 Days of Everyday Beautiful.

This year I'm diving into my greatest passion: knitting! I'll spend this month looking at past designs and talking about the inspiration behind them, so there will be plenty of regular life mixed in with the stitching - and there may be discount codes for the patterns that I write about. You'll just have to read and see!

Pattern index:

Pageturner Mitts
Hogwarts House Tie
Urban Artemis
Graffiti for Humanity
Love Out Loud
Strange Jacket


In order to change your knitting, you must first change yourself. I've lost track of how many times I've said that, or how many people I've said it to. Frustrated new knitters wondering why their work is loose or tight or uneven or really anything less than perfect. But something I love about knitting is that it's a record of your inner dialogue. That swatch knit at the yarn store table with a cozy cup of coffee and a helpful (and more experienced) knitter nearby is going to be a lot more relaxed than the sweater begun a week later while sitting next to a hospital bed - just like the knitter.

Unfortunately, this also applies to my own knitting. For years, I was apparently unaffected by the shifts and turmoils in my own life, so I assumed that I was exempt from the rule - when the reality was, in fact, that I wasn't really experiencing any of those on anything deeper than a surface level because everything was deadened by depression. When I finally started to really…


A few years ago, I was introduced to the concept of replacing the traditional list of resolutions with a single word. It appealed to me - I am not a big list person, but I love language and words and meanings and etymology and metaphor and... ahem. Ennyhoo. I liked the idea.
I've never chosen the word. It's always presented itself to me - and last year was no different. Pacific was very insistent, even though I tried to argue with it. Pacific? What does that even mean? What am I supposed to do with that?
But I accepted it, and I'm glad I did. I learned about depth and calm, about storm and nurture, about faith and adventure - and about the unstoppable ocean of God's grace, that overwhelms to fill and cleanse and bring blessings unasked.
So I'm bidding pacific a very fond farewell, and welcoming spark and whatever lessons it would like to bring. I invited it in with a copper wire punctuated with tiny lights and wrapped around my mood board, and I've got an empt…