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Better Together

As I was looking over the list of margin-carving ideas in Bonnie's book, the suggestion under the header of creativity to do something you'd always wanted to do sparked a dormant desire to paint. Since I don't really have a place to do that in my own home (I don't want to ruin our rental carpet, nor do I want to try to put everything away as soon as Small Persons wake up), I contacted a friend in Fayetteville to see if she'd like to do Painting With A Twist with me the next time I was in town, and went ahead and reserved two seats when she agreed, even though it was going to be a few weeks.

If Painting With A Twist (and its derivatives - I think there are a lot of similar places with different names) is not a familiar concept to you, you spend two hours using the provided paints and brushes and canvas to follow along with the instructor's recommendations for a particular piece of art. Everyone's look different (you can see that my friend followed the directions for her moonlit background, making concentric swirls, while I went a starburst route), but roughly the same, and you leave with a finished thing.

We had a grand time together - and I think that was part of it. I could have gone by myself, but going with a friend and having someone to laugh and confer with, someone who could say Maybe another firefly there? and It looks great - just stop now! lit up the evening far more than just a painting of a moon could.

It's not good to be alone. We're made to function in community, and part of me knows that. That's the part that loves my knitters - the dear group of ladies, knit together by a single common thread and little else, but who are all still happy to see each other. Who pull up a chair and snuggle Tobin and want to know how things are going, as sentiment and story are worked in with the stitches.

One knitting friend-now-sister sweetly came to visit for a few days last month during a busy time - to visit, and to help. As exceptional (in a good way) as Brooklyn and Tobin both are, it was such a relief to be able to run into a store without taking everyone in with me for the sake of three items; to rescue one from whatever predicament they'd gotten into without wondering what the other was up to meanwhile; and to sit up, eating popcorn and watching a movie, while waiting for Tobin to fall asleep, not-by-myself. I didn't exactly ask her to come (she texted to ask how I was doing at a vulnerable moment, and I answered honestly, prompting her to volunteer) and I initially felt guilty over her coming - but it was such a gift.

It's amazing to me how a moment shared is a moment improved - joy becomes more joyous, and sorrow less sorrowful. And it doesn't have be something big - what the giver may perceive as something little can have a huge impact. I tend to tell myself that I don't have time for friendship, but sometimes it doesn't take much.

One of those little things is #fmfpartysnailmail (Five Minute Friday Party Snail Mail). More details can be found here, but in summary it's a group of ladies who write notes of encouragement to each other, arranged so that each person sends one letter each week and receives on letter each week, for a cycle of about two months (it's not a very long commitment, which is nice). It's extraordinary how the right words arrive at the right time - especially when the writer is insecure or apologetic (I've never done this before or I'm so sorry to be sending this late!) God can use even our fumbled, stumbling efforts for His good. A new round is starting soon - whether you love to encourage or need a little encouragement yourself, you should definitely consider joining us!

Beautiful dwelling is seeking the community we're designed for; encouraging and being encouraged by our sisters (and brothers), and discovering the art of companionship.


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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…