Valentine’s Crafting Fun

Valentine’s is a welcome time to create! Both my boy Ash and I have been having some fun. First I’ll share what he’s been working on, then my mini project, which you could still pull together with some scrap fabric if you’re looking for a quick project to finish by Sunday.

Ash made his Valentines again this year from this idea we found floating around Pinterest. He used watercolors to paint up a few pieces of cardstock weight paper, then free hand cut out sweet, wonky shaped hearts (as a 10-year old would, of course!). Then he wrote a message on the back (more on the fabric hearts below…)

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Ash’s teacher this year is awesome in so many ways. One of the many things I’m a fan of is that she has the kids break into committees to plan the class parties themselves. The kids seriously do all the work, including volunteers who stay in at recess to set out the food, put up decorations, etc. Ash was excited to be on the decorating committee this time. He picked out the crafts – heart butterflies, and heart flowers with streamers. My heart smiles to think of a an all kid-made, coordinated and executed party. How cool!

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I don’t subscribe to too many email mailing lists, but I do to Purl Soho because they email out so many free patterns (sewing, knitting, crocheting, crafting, baking). When I saw the free Sweetheart Charms pattern, I knew I wanted to make them for our little family of 3. My wonderful best friend had recently grabbed up a whole pile of free scrap fabrics for me that I used for the project. I think they turned out pretty sweet, and not too shabby for my 3rd hand sewing project ever. If I can whip them up, I know you can too!! The pictures and instructions were such a help (as you can see, I crafted with my computer out to follow along). The heart charms are hanging around our family room/kitchen, and we’re excited to pop tiny notes in the pockets to each other on Sunday.

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(These Valentine’s necklaces would be equally fun and easy too, but alas I’m in a house of boys!)

My favorite about all of these projects is that they didn’t cost us anything but time, which we have an abundance of thanks to our slower paced lifestyle. My craft stash is pretty small, but thankfully I had everything we needed for all of these little handmade projects of love.

May the love of family and friends warm your hearts this Sunday (and every day!).

Lent & Our 2016 Lent Practices

The church season of Lent starts on Wednesday, February 10. Here’s a helpful summary:

Originating in the fourth century of the church, the season of Lent spans 40 weekdays beginning on Ash Wednesday and climaxing during Holy Week with Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday), Good Friday, and concluding Saturday before Easter…

Today, Lent is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Easter. Since Sundays celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the six Sundays that occur during Lent are not counted as part of the 40 days of Lent, and are referred to as the Sundays in Lent. The number 40 is connected with many biblical events, but especially with the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for His ministry by facing the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission and calling. Christians today use this period of time for introspection, self examination, and repentance. This season of the year is equal only to the Season of Advent in importance in the Christian year, and is part of the second major grouping of Christian festivals and sacred time that includes Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost.

Lent has traditionally been marked by penitential prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Some churches today still observe a rigid schedule of fasting on certain days during Lent, especially the giving up of meat, alcohol, sweets, and other types of food. Other traditions do not place as great an emphasis on fasting, but focus on charitable deeds, especially helping those in physical need with food and clothing, or simply the giving of money to charities. Most Christian churches that observe Lent at all focus on it as a time of prayer, especially penance, repenting for failures and sin as a way to focus on the need for God’s grace. It is really a preparation to celebrate God’s marvelous redemption at Easter, and the resurrected life that we live, and hope for, as Christians. (source)

We’ll start off Lent as a family by attending our church’s Ash Wednesday service. Starting Wednesday, and for the 40 days of Lent, we’re excited to try praying in color. The link explains it all! We each picked a different template we liked, and will sit down with crayons, color pencils, watercolor or markers – whatever we prefer each evening – to prayerfully fill in one of the spaces for each day of Lent. Undoubtedly we’ll all choose different ways of praying in color (great options suggested at the link), and I look forward to seeing our prayers unfold. For me, I will read Psalm 51 each night and choose daily a word or phrase from it to draw, think and pray on. I think this will best keep my brain and heart focused on my need for redemption, my absolute need for Christ. Have you tried praying in color before? 

On my own, I will be using The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime to help me better orient my day around Christ, stopping at three fixed points (morning, midday and vespers – evening) to pray. I have yet to get to sharing my two words for the year that I have chosen to help direct my days. One of them is Abide (“Abide in Me, and I in You” – John 15:4). And using this book to pray the hours is one way I’ve chosen to intentionally practice abiding this year, through all seasons. I loved this from the book’s brief history of fixed-hour prayer:

“The Divine Hours are prayers of praise offered as a sacrifice of thanksgiving and faith to God and as a sweet-smelling incense of the human soul before the throne of God. To offer them is to serve before that throne as part of the priesthood of all believers. It is to assume the ‘office’ of attendant upon the Divine…Other prayers may be petitionary or intercessory or…, but the Liturgy of the Hours remains an act of offering…offering by the creature to the Creator. The fact that the creature grows strong and his or her faith more sinewy and efficacious as a result of keeping the hours is a by-product (albeit a desirable one) of that practice and not its purpose.”

I will also use these 40 days to build the habit of using the Five Sentence Examen to end my day (downloaded through the Sacred Ordinary Days Tribe group on Facebook). These two practices are ones I plan to do all year, but since I will also be doing them over Lent, I wanted to share them with you. Lastly, and Lent specific, I will choose between these two free online studies (they have purchasing options, but I will be checking their sites each day for free): Growing a Rule of Life or Lent Study Book.

Ash has a yearlong kid’s devotional that he is excited to continue using, and Dan will be giving something up for Lent.

How do you celebrate Lent as a family? As an individual? Please share ideas with one another in the comments! 

Art on a day off

Like I mentioned yesterday, Ash had the day off school. His one request: to make art. His new school doesn’t have an art teacher, so I have the pleasure of being an Art Docent along with another parent for his class. Earlier this week the other parent planned a really fun project with oil pastels and watercolor paint swirled into shaving cream. Ash said that he was still so excited from that art project that he just wanted to keep making art. Yes! Lets!!

I had a couple of ideas for him: 1) Watercolors, 2) Something I can’t remember anymore…ha!, and 3) finding objects in the yard (sticks, leaves, etc.) and making something with them, then taking a picture (I am ever inspired by @floraforager and her amazing art on Instagram). He was excited to use watercolor paints to try to emulate some of the swirling going on in the classroom art project. So that’s what we did!

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I’m not a fab drawing/painting artist. Like I never see anything I make and feel impressed. But I LOVE playing around, trying new things, and enjoying the process. Are you a process or a product person? When it comes to art at least, I’m all about the process. Ash added a leaf print to mine at the end to fill up the white space. I love a good collaboration. 🙂

Lent is coming up, and the whole family is down for a Lenten Praying in Color “calendar”. I’m curious about this whole praying in color business, and perhaps it will be something I continue to do once Lent is over. Ash is really looking forward to it. He was hoping we could start it yesterday, but I keep telling him February 10 is just around the corner. How do you incorporate art and creativity into your family life or spiritual life?

Cheers today, friends!