Friday, January 31, 2014

Five on Friday - Links I Love

On finding space
This from Ann Voskamp
“In a village floating on water — space can be hard to find.”
In a life like this — space can be hard.In a life standing on thin stilts over waves — space can be hard to find, space to think and dream and make and read and do and become.

All I have said for months is that I need SPACE. Mental, emotional, physical, creative. 
Ann has managed to challenge and comfort and inspire me all at once.

Read it.
Trust me.

On writing, faith, memoir
This interview with Sue Monk Kidd. Love her.
"All personal theology should begin with the words, Let me tell you a story. "
- Sue Monk Kidd

On a Burfday
This from Shannan- Our situation with K is different, a lot less permanent, but man oh man  there things about that this that feel so similar. 
"I wanted the fairytale that doesn't actually exist, but I wanted it more than ever that night...
What we all got instead was ordinary. Imperfect. We got real life, which is what we've gotten every day for the past six months with this guy."

Some brevity

This (which I found thanks to Sarah) about the big, bad, Fox Books filing for bankruptcy.

“This place was all about giving our customers the Fox Books experience,” the shrewd yet thoroughly likable and charming Fox continued. “You could sit and read for hours and no one would bother you. We had 150,000 titles. It was a place where people could mingle and mix and just be. We were a goddamn piazza!”

Some Nostalgia  

Did you know that you can watch episode, after episode of The Bloodhound Gang from 3-2-1- Contact? This was my favorite part of the show. Those outfits were groovy man.


Most popular post here: Fluffing the Nest
My favorite: At the Intersection (still time to enter to when Megan's book!)
Writings Elsewhere This Week: Candlemas Trio 

Happy Weekend friends!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fluffing The Nest - Help Create an Emergency Refuge for Women and Children

“The place God calls you to is the place 
where your deep gladness 
and the world’s deep hunger meet.” 

Once upon a time I did interior design work for a living and occasionally, from time to time, I still dapple in the home decorating arts. I was never the fanciest, or the best, or the trendiest designer. But I think perhaps I was one of the most personal. No matter how large or small the job, I always did my best to learn as much about the client as possible - their story, their history, their hobbies, their great loves, their interest - and take all of my cues from those things.  I look for old typewriters for the writer and commissioned sketches of pets for the animal lover and scrounged through attics for old land maps for the landowner. 

A few years ago, while I was still designing, I heard a story on NPR about a new sort of Nursing Home, called The Green House Project, which is a "a revolution in long-term care, creating small homes that return control, dignity, and a sense of well-being to elders, while providing high-quality, personalized care. A Green House home differs from a traditional nursing home in terms of facility size, interior design, organizational structure, staffing patterns, and methods of delivering skilled professional services. Green House homes are designed from the ground up to look and feel like a real home."

I cried big fat welpy tears during the entire story, listening to how the creation of an intentional, warm, nurturing, home-like environment had improved the lives of seniors that many had given up on.  I knew then and there, that if an opportunity like The Green House Project ever came my way I would fight tooth and nail to be a part of it.

Well, something similar has finally come along. 

For a few years now, our family has been involved with a local ministry called The One, Inc. (or "The Van" as it is more commonly known around here)  that works with the homeless population in Central Arkansas. Recently, The One purchased a home in my town to be a short-term emergency refuge (which I have nicknamed The Nest)  for women and children who need off the streets or out of a dangerous situation NOW. Before they have their papers ready. After business  hours. Together.  (All hurdles to getting into many traditional more long-term shelters.)  

I am over the moon excited to say that I have been blessed to bring my great gladness in creating healing, comfy, personal spaces to this great need for a safe, happy, inviting place for women and children in our area.

But I can't do it alone. I need help fluffing this nest.
And I am thinking that maybe shopping, decorating, and gathering may be parts of your great gladness as well. 
Which is why I am asking you, my sweet friends, for help.

These are the inspiration boards for each of the rooms in the house.  As with everything The One, Inc does,  one of the values of The Nest project is to honor our homeless women and children friends with dignity and kindness, and to provide them with hope through this refuge. To that end we are being incredibly intentional about how we furnish and decorate the house, putting as much thought and care into it   we would about our own homes. We will be using some gently used furnishings and items, but we are asking for donations of new items for a large part of the project. I am calling this the "least shall be first" approach to design. 

My hope is that this house will be NICER than my house, that we show our love and value for our neighbors by doing more for them, than we would do for ourselves. 

So here are the ways you can help:

* Are you an artist or a crafter? Do you have an Etsy shop? Would you like to donate a print or a piece of art or a pillow? I would LOVE to put as many handmade and unique pieces in the house as possible! 

* Do you love to shop?  All the items from our inspiration boards can be purchased from our Target Wish List, with prices ranging from $4.00-$300.00  Maybe you have a women's group at church who would like to get in on this fun action - you could all go in together and adopt a room or specific need like towels.

* We are also happily accepting gift cards to any and all home design and improvement stores - Target, Kohls, Wal-Mart, Home Goods, Lowes, Home Depot, Michaels etc.

* You can also make Paypal Donations HERE

* Spread the Word! Share the Target List , Share this Post - share them on Twitter and Facebook and Google and by Email and word of mouth! 

Have more ideas? Simply send them to ahomemadeyear (at) gmail dot com or email me for the address or leave a comment on this post. 

So who is in?? 
Who wants to fluff The Nest? 
Who wants to help make this little refuge a healing space for women and children?

much love,

(I knew you would!!)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Make-Do and Make Lovely Monday - Candlemas Love

I have gone a little Candlemas crazy this year, with three different post elsewhere... 

I discovered the celebration of Candlemas three years ago while doing research for my first book, and fell instantly in-love with this quiet mid-winter celebration of hope and light, that marks the presentation of Christ, barely over a month old,  at the temple. Early February is generally the time of year when everyone begins to grow weary of winter’s persistent darkness, biting winds and cold toes, and the longing for Spring’s sunny disposition begins in earnest. Candlemas comes to us with its warmth and light in this moment, shush-ing our anxious minds like a doting grandmother, calling us into the moment, the future safe and secure in tomorrow’s care.
This year our family will hold our second annual Candlemas gathering on February 1, the eve of Candlemas...   click to continue reading 


And of course,  Candlemas is one of the celebrations featured in my book, A Homemade Year; the Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together

You might say I am a tad in-love with this quiet feast day.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Faith, Art and Motherhood - an At the Intersection Interview with Megan Tietz of SortaCrunchy

I am so excited about today's guest at my little cyber kitchen table, where we all sit and chat like the oldest and dearest of friend for these At the Intersection interviews.  I have missed these chats the last couple of months and I am so excited to be bringing this regular feature back.
Today's guest is Megan Tietz from Sorta Crunchy. You may know her from The Art of Simple or Deeper Story/Family or her book Spirit-Led Parenting. Or maybe you just know her because she is your very best friend or your neighbor or your college roommate.
I know Meg because I found her over the interwebs through all those places I named above, but I feel as if she is someone I could invite over even if I haven't had a shower and the kids are going bonkers. Because she gets it. She is there in the middle of the mess and beauty, the chaos and the sacred, just like you and I are.

Just the facts ma'am:

What is your Blog Name?
What is your Art Form?
And your kids ages?
Dacey - 9, Aliza Joy - 6, Mack and John Kyle - 11.5 months
Relationship Status?
married (15 years!)
What other jobs do you juggle besides writing and blogging? 
'round-the-clock mothering
What is your expression of faith?
non-denominational church of the evangelical variety
Where Do You Live?
Ninety-year old home in Oklahoma City

How did you find your creative niche? Was this something you have always done, or did you fall into it by accident?
I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't creating stories in my head. As a child, I made up stories in my mind to put myself to sleep each night; it wasn't until I was in high school that I realized this wasn't typical. I was in the fifth grade the first time I was recognized by a teacher for writing, and that's when it turned into a creative niche for me.  
Where do you create? Office? Kitchen table? 
I used to have a dedicated writing desk, but since the birth of our twins, I write anywhere I can find a minute's peace and a plug for my laptop.
I find that I go through seasons where I need to be completely alone to write, and then other seasons when I can create in the middle of  total family crazy. Do you create best in solitude or in the middle of chaos
I absolutely must have solitude. I cannot even have music playing in the background when I write. You can imagine the challenges this creates.

How does your faith influence your creative process?
For many years, my faith really did not have much bearing on the creative parts of my life. All of that changed when I read this passage in Madeline L'Engle's Walking On Water: Reflections on Faith and Art
The artist is a servant who is willing to be a birth-giver. In a very real sense, the artist (male or female) should be like Mary, who when the angel told her that she was to bear the Messiah, was obedient to the command.
Obedience is an unpopular word nowadays, but the artist must be obedient to the work, whether it be a symphony, a painting, or a story for a small child. I believe that each work of art, whether it is a work of genius or something very small, comes to the artist and says, "Here I am. Enflesh me. Give birth to me." And the artist either says, "My soul doth magnify the Lord," and willingly becomes the bearer of the work, or refuses; but the obedient response is not necessarily a conscious one, and not everyone has the humble, courageous obedience of Mary.
The idea of agreeing to bring life to art as an act of obedience to the Lord ... wow. Revolutionary.

JG I LOVE This book, and the Mary imagery here has been a powerful inspiration to me time and time again.

How does that process influence or enrich your faith?
In this season of my life when time to create is such a precious and rare thing, the creative process has become an act of worship. I certainly don't always write about spiritual matters, but that yielding of time to the creative process always makes me feel more connected to the Creator God.

Sometimes I feel as if writing, parenting, and the practicing my faith are all drawing from the same well inside me, that they tax the same part of my heart. This means that quite often I find that I have depleted all of my resources pouring into just one of the three, leaving the other two wanting.  Do you have this same issue, or is it just me? 

I identify with that 100%!
What do you do to recharge, or refill the well,
In your creative process?
To recharge creatively, I turn to the words of others. I'll get out a favorite book or start a new one. I'm a long-time believer in the idea that good readers make good writers, and immersing myself in the voice and style and sentence structure and and story of others almost always fills up that place in my spirit that so easily loses its voice. I also love to listen to music with powerful lyrics. Patty Griffin is a favorite.

JG- Yes, music is a huge influence on me as well. And each project seems to end up with it's own soundtrack.
In your parenting?
This is going to sound a little hateful to some, but for me, the most effective way to refill the well of parenting is spending time away from my kids. Perhaps it's because there's almost always someone awake in my house around the clock, I find I have to get out and get some space. It can be a simple dinner out with friends or even going to a school meeting - whatever it is that gives me just an hour or two to fully function as Megan and not Mom, it always yields the same result: a more joyful, patient, and intentional approach to parenting.

JG- that doesn't sound hateful to me, that sounds sane. I always thought that Mother's Day should be a national day-off from mothering. All I ever want is one whole weekend to myself.
In the practicing of your faith?
Two things: receiving communion and singing the great hymns of our faith. Both of these fill the well of spirituality life nothing else in life.

JG- Yes, yes, yes and amen!

Do you have any advice for other mom's out there who are also trying to learn how to live out their callings as artist, mothers and followers of Christ? What is something you wish someone had told you earlier on?
Read Walking on Water. All creative types should read that, really, but I think mothers who are creatives will be especially inspired.
Also, remember you aren't alone. Years and years ago, Oprah interviewed Toni Morrison who recounted wiping baby food off of the pages of her earliest manuscripts. I've often found solace in that mental picture - a writer as talented and prolific as Morrison found the mixing of her creative life and her mothering life to be unavoidable.
If you can, be intentional about connecting with people who will encourage your creative pursuits. There is no shortage of voices both real and imagined telling you that your creative work has to take a backseat for now. Seek out the voices that will nurture and cultivate the seeds of creativity in your life.

JG- I have never heard that quote from Toni before but I am going to cling to it from here on out. 

What are some specific challenges you are facing right now in all three of these areas? 
It all goes back to what I shared above, that it feels like there is always someone awake, someone whose needs need meeting. I perpetually feel like there isn't enough of me to go around, and so I constantly feel like I'm disappointing someone or God or myself. My biggest challenge is rooted in the practices of contentment, gratitude, and hopefulness. 

How can I, and my readers, pray for you?
Would it be ridiculous to pray that the twins will start to sleep through the night?

JG- Not at all! I once asked a small group to pray that my oldest sleep for at least 3 straight hours. And he slept for 4 the next night. I thought I had died and gone to heaven!
Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers regarding the interplay of art, faith, and parenthood in your life? Any experiences or practices you would like to share?

I'm a strong believer in the 5:00 AM work hour. The vast majority of my part of Spirit-Led Parenting was written in the pre-dawn hours before my children woke up. For me, getting up before my children so I can pray and do a little creative work in a dark, quiet house allows me to start the day as a parent with a heart filled by God and a spirit free of the burden of work longing to be done. These days, my devotion to this discipline is far more miss than hit, but when I make myself get up, I am always deeply grateful that I did. 

JG-This is something I am going to have to establish again this year as I dive into book two. I keep trying to convince myself that I can fit it all in after the kids go to bed, but there just enough of me left at that time of day to create much good material. 

Huge thanks to Megan for such a wonderful and inspiring chat.  It is always good to know that I am not alone in the challenges of juggling faith, art and parenting. 

Thanks also to Megan for donating a copy of her book for a giveaway!  

To enter to win a copy of Megan's book  (for yourself or another new mom you know) just  leave a comment here telling us what your biggest creative blocker is and how you push through. Or maybe just tell us what you are cooking for dinner.  Or just say hi! 

Contest closes at midnight on Feb. 2

Peace my friends!

P.S.  - do you have a nominee for an At the Intersection interview? Send me an email at ahomemadeyear (at) gmail (dot) com and let me know!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

His Love Language

Tonight God met me again in the kitchen.

Today wasn't a particularly hard day. But it wasn't a particularly easy one either.
For whatever reason - I blame it on the moon -  the to-do list felt a little less manageable, the messes felt a little bit bigger, and the time a little shorter. 
When I came home from work Sweet Man could tell that I was one kid-whining away from losing every bit of grown-up self-control I had. (I am not sure, but I think it might have been the twenty minute rant that tipped him off.)
And so he offered to make me my favorite meal. 
Even though he had had his own rough day.
And I gratefully accepted.
Because I was empty and I needed to be fed.

And so he chopped and diced and I played my favorite records while I kept him company.
He boiled and simmered, and I, not wanting to be a completely useless blob, cleaned off the dining room table, placing a mismatched napkins and forks at each place. 
He sauteed and stirred, and I sang with raw conviction Christa's precious words "I’m tended by the ones who know me and hold me/In spite of what they have seen/", as I did a little sock pirouette in the middle of the dining room. 

And then later, at the table, gratitude for this amazing little life that I get to live filled me up to the brim, as my bowl spilled over with the fragrant, warm, and tender home cooked expression of my husbands love.
 And I see - if only briefly thanks to my all-too wandering heart- that God has come to where I am, as I am, and met me through those that know me best, in ways that heal me, yet again.
And in that moment I am whole. I am full.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Make Do {and make lovely} Monday - #C21Denver Big Book Giveaway

The family and I are taking advantage of this three day weekend and have fled to the mountain for a little bitty bit of r&r. In place of a regular Make-Do Monday, I am instead hosting this giveaway for books by authors who presented at the Christianity 21 Conference last weekend.
There will be one winner per book.
To enter just leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me which book you would pick and why!

From Nadia

From Sarah.  

From Julie.

from my publisher Paraclete Press and lots of friends

from me.

Huge thanks to The Thoughtful who was a sponsor of #C21Denver and who donated several books to this giveaway. Go shop their site - they have good books!

****Remember there will be one winner per book.
To enter just leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me which book you would pick and why!
Contest will close on Saturday, January 25 at midnight.*******

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday's Song - Enter the Mystery

 I waited and waited and waited for God.
    At last he looked; finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
    pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
    to make sure I wouldn’t slip.
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
    a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
    they enter the mystery,
    abandoning themselves to God.
Psalm 40:1-3

“Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free.” 
― Rumi

*images from Wild Goose 2013

Friday, January 17, 2014

Five (or maybe ten) on Friday - Christianity 21

Welcome to a special edition of Five on Friday-Links I love: The Christianity 21 Recap Edition.

Last weekend I did something brave.
I put on all my favorite charms, got on a plane by myself, and flew to Denver to participate in and present/speak at the Christianity 21 Conference (aka #C21Denver if you follow me on Twitter.)
I made hotel reservations and rented a car (and got sucked into some of the insurance, of course!) and managed canceled flights and standby status and delayed luggage and driving in a new (big!) city.
All by myself.
I don't travel like this. I have never rented a car before. I have seen it done, but have never done it myself. When I travel, I generally drive, in my car, to said place. Or I ride, while someone else drives.
So  I am not lying when I tell you that I did not get a night's sleep for the three weeks prior to the trip.
But it wasn't just the logistics that had my adrenaline flowing at warp speed.

It was also the speaking. Knowing that I was going to speak a part of my truth, from a place of deep passion, at a conference that also included many, many people that I respect and admire was a bit foreboding.

Because I wanted to get it right. Really, really right.
Because what I spoke about - Faith in the Home - really, really, matters to me.
Not because I do it perfectly myself, (or even well half the time,) but because it is something  - as cheesy as this sounds - that I feel called to talk about. To drag back out into the light for all of us to examine and discuss and practice at. 

In the end there were some hiccups. My slides were out of order and so some of the effect I had hoped for was lost. I had to do some quick rearranging and editing on the spot.  But I spoke my truth. I spoke it loudly, without apology, and with passion. 
And for that I am very proud. 

Especially the "without apology" part.
And that is an important detail.
Because lately I have become aware of just how much time I spend apologizing - mostly to the voice in my head that is the leader of doubts and fear -  for who I am.
 For what I believe or don't believe or don't know or want to know.

And last weekend, this progressive little wing of my tribe, this motley crew at C21 gave me a beautiful gift. 
They reminded me to stop apologizing.
Instead to step out, into the light, into the truth of who I am, even the rougher, unfinished edges.  Because nothing good is going to grow or flourish in the dark.

Margaret Zimmeran and Julie Clawson, the very best of roomies, reminded me to stop apologizing for my softer, domestic side. 
That there is no shame in bringing my crochet with me everywhere, for writing a "pretty book," for being interested in both theology and glitter.

Sarah Bessey reminded to stop apologizing for loving Jesus a little too much. That there is no such thing. That it is even okay to cry over our love for him now and again. And again. 

Phyllis Tickle (my fairy-godmother, always) reminded me to stop apologizing for talking about the Holy Spirit. For welcoming the Holy Spirit. For thinking that maybe the Holy Spirit is moving.

Sarah Pulliam Bailey reminded me to stop apologizing for taking time to play. For reminding me of BOTH parts of my very favorite creed "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever" are important.

Carl Greene reminded me to stop apologizing for wanting to tell my story. He reminded us all that our stories are signpost for others coming along the trail, helping point the way. That they are needed.

Nadia Bolz-Weber reminded me to stop apologizing for being a girl. To use my voice, to speak confidently and humbly.  And that humility and wallflowery are not the same thing. 

Kent Dobson reminded me to stop apologizing for being unsure of what Heaven is exactly. That maybe there are things HERE NOW that need my attention and service.

Tony Jones reminded me to stop apologizing for being a human being with feelings. 

Jamie Wright reminded me to stop  apologizing for being a critical thinker. For not being satisfied with any ole thing. For pushing, asking questions, and turning things on their sides to see if they still stand.

And everyone reminded me that if I do any of this without humility, then all of it is pointless.

So here is to stepping into the light.
Humility and truth, hand in hand.


You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. 
You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight.
You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less.
You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.
 If you lose your saltiness, you have lost your usefulness and you will end up in the garbage.
Live generously.
And don’t say anything you don’t mean.
Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. 
Live out your God-created identity.

-Fragments of Matthew 5. All found at #C21Denver


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dyson Winner!

Drum roll please....

Our Dyson Hand-Held Vac Winner is....Becky Jones!!

I loved her comment as well as everyone elses' - sometimes it is such a blessing to know that I am not alone in my cleaning hurdles!

Here is Becky's comment:

My biggest hurdle is that LIFE with my beloved hubby and three kiddos (21,18 & 14) is very full to overflowing and well, the house is where we live and fling wide the doors to bless others...and the fullness of this beautiful life is a bit overflowing in our small home :) This vac would be GREAT!!! Thanks!!

Huge thanks to everyone who entered this Giveaway - I wish I could give each a Dyson... 
But don't fret, I do have some more fun items to pass along in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Make Do and Make Lovely Monday - Easy Southwest Chicken Dinner

Dinner on Monday night can be one of those maddening things for us.
Every now and then I have these great intentions on Sunday to have a healthy, yummy meal plan for the whole week, but then Monday comes along and lays me out flat.
Going back to work and school on Monday's is always such a shock to my system, despite it's regular appearance.
And it is so easy to throw my very yummy, but somewhat complicated, dinner plan out the window.
In those instances I am grateful for the few almost-one-pot wonders from our stock pantry items.

Here is a recent addition:
Easy Southwest Chicken Dinner

Spray a casserole dish with olive oil spray, then line the dish with about a dozen raw chicken boneless-skinless breast tenders.

Aside: Why are people eeked out by raw chicken? It's just chicken!  
Of course there have been recently alive-but-now-raw chickens in my sink, so there is that.

Next, cover the chicken with the following ingredients:
1 can Black Beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can diced tomatoes with green chili's
1 can diced Italian seasoned tomatoes
3 Tbsp of Sour Cream

Bake at  400 degrees for 20 minutes - make sure the mixture is bubbling and chicken is cooked through before serving.

Meanwhile bowl up some Penne or Bowtie Pasta or maybe even some white rice.

Serve over past or rice and top with cheese and sour cream. 
This is a simple, easy, yummy dish that is easy to make from items you must likely keep in your cupboards already.


I am home from Christianity 21 and I had an absolutely amazing time, went total fan girl on several occasions and made friends for life.  I am going to be posting some great giveaway's from the event, a link to my presentation and much more throughout this week!
And make sure to come back tomorrow for the Dyson Hand-Held Vac winner!

Hope you all had lovely weekends as well.
Much love

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday's Song

Birds find nooks and crannies in your house,
    sparrows and swallows make nests there.
They lay their eggs and raise their young,
    singing their songs in the place where we worship.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies! King! God!
    How blessed they are to live and sing there!

Psalm 84:3-4

Saturday, January 11, 2014


(picture by Jemimah)

These are my siblings.
They are my original tribe.
I adore them individually and together.
Together has been hard at times, as, despite our nerd glasses, we are all very, very different.
For instance, both my sisters made their "wacky faces" attractive. 
Mine is just wacky.
So there is that.
But I love them all the same. Or more for it.
For the first time in a decade we all live in relatively close proximity to each other.
I don't know how long it will last, but for now I am soaking it up.


The past few days I have been in Denver at the Christianity 21 Conference, with another branch of my tribe. I know posting has been a little hit or miss around here lately, but I have designs on fixing that after this weekend.
This trip was a big leap for me in quite a few ways, and I hope to be able to unpack what I have learned and gained and left here in the next week or so.

For now please know that I am grateful for each of you.
Thank you for showing up, over and over.

Much love,

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