12.31.2014

shine on:

Here we stand friends,
on the eve of a new year!

As for we, and our house we want this new year to shine with the love of our Saviour and the light of the gospel in our hearts.

I hope you and yours are having a blessed season as well!

warmly,
Mel ;o)

12.20.2014

A.musing.mama! 4.8


Oh Christmas tree,
Oh Christmas tree,
how barren are your branches!
 ----
With kids in tow,
and falling snow,
the perfect tree stands aglow.

Now we all know,
until these ones grow,
the ornaments hang low.

A, musing mama,
Mel ;o)

You can catch up on previous COMICS here, friends!

12.16.2014

looking back...

Things have been quiet around these parts lately, friends.
I'd like to say it's because we're intentionally taking time to 'cease striving' and be still in a season so hectic and hurried.

But, instead of a refusal to strive,
it feels more like a failure to thrive lately.
Don't worry this isn't the part where a mournful violin plays and I whine on... but, this blog is a direct reflection of my creative spirit.
If it's vacant... so am I.

The last half year has been a series of challenges for our family.
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It's also been a time of much learning, growing and encouragement.
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The beauty of God's grace shines brightest in trials.

Lately this path we're on has me looking to what anchors my heart.
Sometimes we put our trust to deeply in people... forgetting they are broken just like us.
Sometimes we put our joy too deeply in things... forgetting they can be lost.
Which is not to say that I thereby don't trust others, or find joy in things... but that I hold them loosely, yet love them deeper in the knowledge that they aren't my true anchor.

As I look back I see how God's been teaching me this over and over.
Each trial shows His comforts clearer.
Each blessing shows His care brighter.

I remember learning it while swimming with our daughter this summer, and the image of standing on the true ROCK when everywhere else feels like drowning.

I remember way back to the beginning of this almost expired year, where the idea of 'let it go' was working it's theme into my heart (long before Elsa's song went there!).
When I read that word SURRENDER.(blog post here).
When I see all my goals for living in that perspective... I'm encouraged.
By God's grace I've seen growth in these areas.

A growth that comes from a hard year in many ways.
Like the gardener who prunes away,
cutting deep,
clearing the clutter,
so that more fruit may abound.

Looking back, I'm still learning to wave that white flag to His work in my life.

So this is my hope in the midst of a sleepless stupor.
A creative vacancy.
A challenging chapter.
He's still working on me.

What's being worked on in you?

Mel ;o)

12.01.2014

a walk. a wreath.

:another family tradition:

The annual hike to collect cedar and nature's supplies to create a rustic wreath together.

 A beauty-full weekend indeed!

Mel ;o)

 

11.27.2014

just.one.more.ornament...

 There are days I just want to turn our living room in to an arts/craft studio.
Most days it looks like one regardless.
Paints, glue, fabrics, sewing, markers, paper... helter skelter.

We kind of love it. (Right, husband.. right??)

So lately it's been crafting mini angel ornaments out of found supplies.
Painting landscapes across canvases.
Colouring paper wreaths.. and of course.. more ornaments (our Christmas tree is going to be the weirdest mash up of curious scribbles this year).

And.. more ornaments.
Yep, as I am prone to suffer from the 'bite-off-more-than-you-can-chew' style.. I thought I would just simply 'whip' up these new ornaments from the Jesse Tree breakdown in Ann Voskamp's newly released book for this Christmas season.

I only have a few left to finish... only a few left... breathe.

For those of you wondering who/what the heck this 'Jesse tree' talk is all about: each ornament covers a specific story from the Bible (Old Testament) and shows how they all point to the coming of Christ... a 25 day countdown to Christmas!

Now you know,
keep it creative friends,

Mel ;o)
 

11.20.2014

One thing:

Hello friends,
It's been a while since I've written any ponderings and pontifications.  My brain has been fairly scrambled (more so than usual) from our sleepless.fitful baby girl in the nest.
But, one thing my thoughts keep coming back to is this simple - but profound - story in the Bible.
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It's found in the Gospel narrative of Luke 10:38-42, where Jesus enters a village and is welcomed in to the home of Martha and her sister Mary.  Martha, understanding the importance of hospitality in that culture, was 'distracted with much serving'.  Mary simply sat at Jesus' feet and listened to his teaching.  I can imagine the vein bursting from Martha's forehead when she protests: "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Tell her then to help me" (!!).

Does Jesus agree?
Does He hurry Mary off to help with the important job of serving?
 No.
We see Him respond with: "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her".
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Serving, or sitting.
I feel Martha's priorities hammering on my own heart.
I desire Mary's passion to consume it.

Because productivity is like a drug to me.
If I can keep just enough things clean.  If I can check off just enough tasks on the 'to do' list.  If I can visit with enough people.  If I can juggle all the important parts of the day without being swallowed in to chaos...
... I can find my value in that accomplishment.

You know you struggle with this too, if you see anger in your life.
Anger often points to something that we love, but it's being threatened.
We get frustrated, we get angry when our to-do lists go unfinished.
We get mad when the kids distract us from that.one.task we just want to complete.

Because we love to get it done.
To feel that fresh 'hit' of success?

You see it in our conversations.
"How are you?"  "Busy, good!... you know, busy!!"
Because the business of busyness defines us as valuable.

I'm not saying productivity is bad.
I'm not saying let the chaos take over your home or workplace.
There are a lot of good things that can keep us busy.
There are a lot of good things that can keep us distracted from the one thing.

What one thing defines you?
Where do you find your identity?
I believe that where we find our identity, is where we rest.
A heart that does not know it's 'one thing' is the Martha heart - "anxious and troubled about many things".  There is a restlessness.  A running from thing to thing to find comfort, peace, security.... identity.

A heart that rests, is the Mary heart.
Found sitting at the feet of Jesus.
Holding to his teaching.
Leaning on his strength.
Trusting in his promises.

Practically how does that look for us in the harried days of daily life?
One way that I've been convicted lately is to make my 'quiet time'...my devotions of reading/study/prayer take place during the *sweet spot* of the day.

You know, that one precious hour when the kids are hopefully napping.
That delicious moment when you know you could be 20x more productive at cleaning the house, or catching up on e-mails, or fill-in-the-blanks...
I see this as the perfect moment to give a sucker punch to my productive heart.
To clearly show it that we are going to STOP. SIT. and be STILL at the Saviour's feet.
I'm not perfect at it.
I still have a throbbing vein in my forehead that wants to do instead of be.
But I see the sweet relief that comes from this rare rest.
I want more of it.

I want this to be my one thing.
Not to be a woman spread thin to a multitude of things... but to focus in, and go deeper through the One.

What's your one thing?
Is your heart anxious, or has it found this rest?
I pray it has.

Mel ;o)

 

11.18.2014

crafty Christmas creativity:

It's always at this time of year, usually after the first real snow fall, that I start hatching way too many projects in my head.
They flutter about, distracting my thoughts, until I sew/sketch/sort them out!

If you're feeling the bug, too, I thought today I would post some links to projects (D.I.Y's) I've done in the past for young and old(er).  In case you wanted some inspiration for your own creative moment!
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You can click here for 10 different kid's craft/gift ideas.
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Or, click here for some more adult sized cozy creations and decor to make.

Happy Crafting friends!
Mel ;o)

11.15.2014

A.musing.mama! 4.7 (COMIC winner)

Isn't that the truth?

Today's COMIC giveaway winner is Nichole M!  This sketch is dedicated to her 13month precocious progeny who loves getting into all sorts of messes while she attempts to clean.
Yes, a carton of ice cream all over his head.
Yes, the toys all over the floor.

(Not depicted... taking the stereo speakers for a 'walk' with the cords as their leashes! ha!)
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I think we all relate well to the 'futility' of housework with little ones underfoot, don't we?

A BIG thanks to all the hilarious entries for this giveaway, you guys - and your fun families - gave me some great chuckles!

Have a fun weekend friends,

Mel ;o)
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You can catch up on previous COMICS here!
 

11.13.2014

my art. her art:

 
My recent paintings.
8"x8" mini landscapes.

Her recent paintings.
A new 'gallery wall' to brighten up our living room/kids creative corner.
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Art is like exhaling.
We love creating in our nest here!

Mel ;o)

11.12.2014

children's books. Christmas. and the cross:

Hello friends,
I've mentioned in the past various books that I've found helpful to read for myself.
But, I thought today I would highlight some great reads for the kids!
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We love thrifting, receiving, and buying books.
We have all sorts of fun ones crammed into the corners of our nest here.
(Anything illustrated by John Patience is an instant purchase for us).

Today's book list, however, is going to focus on those reads that most beautifully point the hearts to Christ.  Because, that's our deepest joy, and we want to share that with the kids.
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*The book titles will link you directly to their order site on Amazon if you're interested*

The Jesus Storybook Bible - by Sally Lloyd-Jones. 
If you don't own these... I can't recommend them enough!  Every book she touches is gold.  She has a beautiful gift for conveying such profound truths in very simple and unique perspectives for a child to understand.  I did four years of biblical studies.. and I'm still floored by the things she can point out in the story of the Bible.  She also does you the favour of showing how every story in the Bible foreshadows (points to) Christ... wonderful!

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift - by Ann Voskamp.
We haven't read this.. yet.  Since we just ordered it hot off the press for this holiday season.
A scan of the pages has me eager to use it with the kids though.  It's a 25 day countdown to Christmas - using a daily ornament, story from Scripture and applications for how we can be a blessing to others.  I love that each story/ornament shows (once again) that every part of the Bible is pointing to the Christ-child.  The soon coming Saviour. I'm eager to use this book as a tool to encourage our hearts to savour the real meaning of this season.

Long Story Short - by Marty Machowski.
Doing family devotions after dinner is tricky.  Hands are sticky, hearts are distracted.  But, if ever there was a book to help succinctly point our spirit to the richness of God's Word, this book does it.  A great resource for families wanting to have a 'devotional' book that takes you through the Bible and asks questions of your kids (and mom and dad!).

Ok, that's the three big helpful resources of late.
As we enter this Christmas season.. just thought I would share this in case you wanted some fresh inspiration to stay cross-centered in your family.  I know that's not every reader here.  But for our family, in this season so prone to distraction, we want to stay at the cross of Christ.
In a time geared for commercialism.
 We want to tune our hearts to His voice.
In a culture eager to siren call our hearts to other shores.
We want to steer to deeper Living waters.

Don't pile us high with stuff. stuff. stuff.
Don't sell us the cheap lie that we can buy our joy.
Declutter and clear our mind.

Let us see Christ.
For is knowing Him we find the greatest gifts.
Love.
Joy.
Peace.
 
Mel ;o) 
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P.S... You surely have two minutes to watch this powerful video about 'spending less, and giving more' at this time of year?

11.08.2014

A.musing.mama! 4.6

So, I don't know about you, but when the baby is having a fit of 'ain't nothing going to make me happy' I start to go through the mental checklist:

hungry? angry? wet diaper? tired? sick? scared? full moon? voodoo curses? etc.

And when I come up empty.
Teething.
She is always teething if nothing else.

Because that one word still makes me feel like a have a 'clue' about this whole motherhood gig.  It's the answer to calm the fact that I don't have the answers.

Granted, she may be legitimately teething as well.
So, win win... or, something like that (where you still feel like you're losing).

A.musing.mama,
Mel :o)

**P.S: there's still time to enter the GIVEAWAY CONTEST and win your own personalised comic!

11.05.2014

your personalized COMIC giveaway:

Alright, alright friends... here it finally is!

I've been plotting and planning this curious comic giveaway for a while now... but the weeks have been a blur of bleary eyes, snuffles and sleeplessness (seriously cramping my creative mo-jo).

But I shall wait no longer.

So here's the scoop:  since all of us with kids likely have an endless list of hilarity worth sharing, I thought it would be fun to illustrate one of your amusing moments.
It will then be posted on the blog.
After which, the original sketch will be mailed to your doorstep.
We may even throw in a few originals from the younger artist in the nest too ;o)

How to enter the contest:

1. E-mail me a 'true-from-life' moment of hilarity from your home.
needleandnestdesign@live.com

done!

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The winner of the contest will have their silly moment sketched and published for next weekend's COMIC post. (Nov. 15).

I will then contact you for your mailing address and send you the original.

Looking forward to laughing with you,
Mel ;o)

10.29.2014

All things pink and purdy:

 The nest is filled with pink, tacky, girly-girl overboard vibes today.
A certain lil' princess is turning 5... five!!
The tom-boy in me is fighting a gag reflux at all this decor, but it makes her little heart happy, so that's good enough medicine for this mama.

 Annnnd, check out my first attempt at making a fun cake... ok, stop laughing!
We usually just opt for cupcakes each year, but this year it's cake.  I stared at a rectangle pan and wondered what to do (much like starting at a scrap of fabric envisioning a pattern to sew) when I realised I could just cut the bottom corners off and put them up top as kitty ears!
She also loves kittys.
Pink, kittys, princesses.
Need I say more?

 Another sweet moment: this morning she said "Baby Talia is my BEST gift ever!!  You know why?  Because she's SOOO cute!"  end quote.

Happy Birthday to our dear Azriel!
She's full of creativity, energy, spunk, imagination, sensitivity, faces, emotions, and sweetness!

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Stay tuned for the surprise post in a day or two.
Sorry for the delay, we've been in a never-ending, gauntlet of sleepless nights, fevers and all around exhaustion here lately.... wheeeeee!

Mel ;o)

10.17.2014

A.musing.mama! 4.5

Taking your kids out to walk in public... I've heard it compared to 'herding cats'... yeah, that.

Usually our kids are pretty civil about going to the Mall or places like that, but you're always secretly fearing that this time will be that time when the mall security escort your wild ones out.

Just walking together as a cohesive unit down the sidewalk is a victory for me.
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Sorry again for the delay in this A.musing.mama series.
I hope to get back to sketching these weekly, (although I won't use this marker pen again... ugh)!  I also have another surprise around the corner for you with this series too!

Happy weekend'ing friends,
Mel ;o)

 
 

10.14.2014

little fire.


The irony is not lost on me, friends.
That the more I try to teach my children.. the more I am learning myself.

Lately, it's about the power of our words.
I'll relay our little scenario for you:  the daughter comes home from school, saying she's been inviting one friend - but not that other one - to her birthday.  Saying she's done "eenie, meanie, miny-mo..." to choose who can come.  My eyes turn to dinner plates as I envision how painful this situation may have been to the girl 'left out'.  (All the while, I remember using this exact same threat as my own verbal arsenal when I was her age).

I take her aside one afternoon, and talk to her about the power of our words (James 3:5/6).
The poison or pleasantness of our tongues.
Do we want to hurt others, or help them with our speech.

She goes back to colouring,
I go back to contemplating:
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Our tongues are small fires.

Do I raise people up, or raze people down with my words?

Does this fire bring warmth or does it burn?

Does it illuminate the darkness, or sting with it's smoke?

Be careful little fire.

Mel
 

10.09.2014

In print! The making of our book:

 So excited!!
Here's where my creative energies have been focused for the past while, friends.
I've been illustrating the story my husband wrote to propose to me with!

13 watercolour illustrations.
Adding the text he had written years ago.
Formatting the book and ordering from an online photo book company (Picaboo).

It arrived so quickly!
Finally, a late anniversary gift for my husband, and a delightful storybook to now read to the three bunnies in our nest.

Here's a couple sneak peeks:
That sweet man nervously read me this story almost 7 years ago, over a plate of sushi.
I didn't even clue in until the final paragraph that he was using the story of two bunnies who fell in love in the woods to propose to me.  It's a tear jerker!

So, next time you come over for tea, I'll read it to you.

*P.S: the illustration on the back cover is the exact depiction of our wedding cake too.

Now I've got the bug to want to team up with him and make children's books! 

Mel ;o)

10.08.2014

7th 'heavens dew'.

If anyone needs a reminder of how fast the days keep moving.
Our little Talia - 'heavens dew' - is 7 months now!

She's all sweetness in the day, and all sass at night.

Enjoy your sunny day friends,
Mel ;o)

10.07.2014

same theme. different books:

Lets be honest, I would not make a very good book reviewer.
I'm the kind of person who picks up a book and thinks "this is GOLD!  I need to tell everyone to read this book!".  Then I pick up the next book and think: "wait, now this is really GOLD!".

So, yeah, while I still try to be a discerning reader... I'm pretty easy to win over if the subject is right.  Lately, (as you may remember from my last post on books worth reading)... my focus is still on parenting, and growing in God's grace.

For those of you who may be in the same boat as me, seeking to raise your kids to delight in the God of grace (not seeking to grow up little legalists who think they're good in their own rule keeping) may I recommend "GIVE THEM GRACE" by Elyse Fitzpatrick.
This book has challenged and inspired my parenting approach.
It has helped me see my own soul mirrored in my children.
It convicted me about how to show the 'prodigal' loving heart of the Father to my children... when I normally would have held on to my anger/frustration/resentment over their defiant moments.
It really opened my eyes to how I could turn small moments into deeper teachable moments about the goodness of God and the brokenness of our own hearts.  How to be humble and honest with my kids... to show them that Mommies need grace too.  A lot of intriguing conversations have happened with our oldest daughter (almost 5yrs) since I've read this book.
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Another gold book of encouragement for you mamas: "TREASURING CHRIST WHEN YOUR HANDS ARE FULL" by Gloria Furman.  She writes in a candid, honest and profound way that sees Christ in every crazy, exhausting, mess of daily motherhood.  Check it out.
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And, because I'm a slow learner... a lot of the other books on my nightstand are still hollering that same theme: grace, grace, grace! at me.
I just read Tullian's "ONE WAY LOVE" for more on that topic.
While my husband and I are also hoping to host a small group book study of "THE DISCIPLINE OF GRACE" by Jerry Bridges.

Yep, it's a lot of the same theme really.
I need to constantly have my focus clarified.
Because my heart constantly wants to make it all about my 'performance' and my own efforts to 'win' the love of God.  In fact, most of our world is based on that paradigm of cause and effect.  What others might call 'karma'.  We try to apply that to God when we think our efforts at being 'good' are what caused Him to save us.  Or, if we truly believe that He saves us through Christ's perfection alone.. we then start to think that it's now up to us to keep ourselves 'good enough' by our own strength.  Every day I need grace.
Every day I need the gospel to reorient my thinking.
The crossroads of my brokenness and His beauty intersecting.
My sin and His salvation exchanging.

I could read a million more books on this divine theme!

What's on your nightstand lately?
I'd love to hear your book recommendations as well.

Mel ;o)