It's starting to feel more real.

Friday, September 28, 2012

At 35 weeks pregnant, I guess it's about time it felt real.
... The nursery is coming together, slowly but surely. His crib mattress arrived in the mail yesterday, I hung some curtains, blankets are folded, baby clothes are hung. Still a lot to do (and buy), but it's coming!
... Shawn's sweet mom sent a huge box of Shawn's old baby clothes from Germany. Such a treat to see what he wore and what Baby L can wear soon! We've already picked out a couple things to display, and Baby L will be coming home from the hospital in the same outfit his daddy did. 
... At Chickfila yesterday, the lady at the counter asked if my baby would come any day now, and then said, "5 more WEEKS?! Oh no, honey... somebody got your dates wrong!" I wasn't sure whether to thank her? Or to cry? She then followed up with... "But you carry it well." Ha. Thanks.
... The Braxton Hicks contractions are coming on strong and frequently. I love when they do. Makes me feel like it's getting closer.
... Our hospital tour is set up for next week, and I really need to finish my Birth Plan to give the midwife at the next appointment.
... We're praying for an early delivery (isn't every mom?!) mainly because my dad is leaving the country the day or so before my due date and will be in South America for 12 days. We would all love for him to be around when L is born.
Come on, Baby! We're (almost) ready for you!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Happy Thursday, friends! Being on the home stretch of this pregnancy, it won't be long until I have to put Brighter Day & Brighter Day Baby on a mini hiatus. (Some ready-to-ship items will still be available, but no custom work for a few weeks beginning in mid-October.)

Before I do, I thought I'd offer a little sale... 
15% off anything in the shop when you use the coupon code FALLSALE15. 

It will run from today, 9/27, until 11:59pm on 10/5. Happy shopping!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yesterday morning while I ran errands, I listened to an NPR radio story about women on the front lines in Afghanistan. The story itself made me both uneasy and incredibly grateful for these women who feel a distinct calling that compels them to protect our freedom despite the cost to themselves. The 101st Airborne Division is trying out new combat gear that specifically fits women, and these women soldiers are able to interact with Afghan women and, in many ways, to help them. But besides all of that, what struck me was one woman soldier who had reached out to a young Afghan woman with a skin disease and had been ordering a skin cream online to help her. She told the woman to use the cream sparingly and hide it so the Taliban wouldn't notice, and then she said, "I know the risks. I just want to do what I can to help.  I know it's not always safe.

I've been reading through the book of Acts in the last couple weeks, and have felt awed and convicted about how un-safe it all seemed. The boldness of these early Christians is astounding - from Stephen who fearlessly proclaims the truth before he is stoned, to Paul who enters Jerusalem despite the warnings that he will be attacked. From shipwrecks to face-to-face meetings with powerful government figures. The book chronicles a litany of situations involving danger, risk, urgency, mission.

And then I think about Christians today. Why have so many of us lost that urgency? When did we stop risking things for Christ? How did we get so comfortable? Nowhere in Scripture do I see the words, "Get safe. Get comfy. You've got all the time in the world." In fact, I see quite the opposite. Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Make the most of every opportunity, for the days are evil. I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.

When I look around, I see comfort. Safety. I'm not excluded from this one tiny bit. So many of my days revolve around making myself comfortable: financially, emotionally, and physically. 

Perhaps it's the droll of a full-time job that really isn't what the Lord has called a person to, but it provides benefits and stability so it doesn't make sense to leave and take the plunge toward what he or she is really passionate about. Maybe it's the single woman who feels called to missions, but is trapped by the fear that she won't meet a man and she's afraid to go overseas alone. Maybe it's the young mom who wants to reach out to the new neighbors but is held back by the fear of rejection.

Maybe it's me... using "I'm almost 9 months pregnant" as an excuse to dream a lot and do very little. In fact, I know it's me. I'm preaching to myself here more than any of you. It would be so easy to hunker down in these next few months - and even next few years - and be fully consumed with the baby and myself. And yes, there's lots to be consumed with: the around the clock feedings, the lack of sleep, protecting him from germs. And in some ways, it has to be that way for a little while. But not for long. Not forever. I so desire that our son sees his mom and dad taking risks, living big, giving lavishly and sacrificially.

So what does that even look like? I think it looks different for each of us. Maybe it's reaching out to a new neighbor that feels like a huge step. Maybe it's as big as quitting a job. Starting a business. Forgiving an enemy. Praying for a miracle. Making a big move. Writing an uncomfortable blog post.

I don't have the answers. But I do have a lot of questions that I can't help but put out there. I'm inspired by Paul and Stephen. I'm floored by the women soldiers who believe in their cause enough to risk their lives every single day. I'm astounded by the faith of believers in the persecuted churches around the world that I will never meet who love Jesus enough to risk their pride, their comfort, and their earthly lives.

If it's any solace, the safest place to be is in the center of God's will. Do you believe that? It's not comfortable, but it's safe... because God is there. Your Shield and Protector. The One who loves you beyond what you fathom. If He won't let a sparrow fall apart from His control, and He knows every hair on your head - don't you believe He'll guide you and provide for you in what He's called you to do?

Indulge me.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

When my mom called and told me she watched this with tears in her eyes, I knew it was bound to be good...

Oh my. As if I needed another reason to get excited about this. Does it not bring tears to your eyes, too?!
Cannot. Wait.
PS - Can't say I've ever been the biggest Amanda Seyfried fan and I was kind of sad when I saw she was cast as Cosette, but she has the perfect Cosette voice! I'm so impressed!

Baby shower, in pictures.

Monday, September 24, 2012

I was blessed to be given a beautiful baby shower for Baby L this weekend with some precious family and friends. I'll let the pictures do most of the talking, but I'm just so thankful looking through these - not only for all the amazing gifts we received, but mostly for the love and support I felt by all these women I've known for so many years. Baby L is already very loved, and that means the world to me.
Little Shawn in Germany :)

Instead of a game, I requested we do a DIY project - so we decorated onesies! We had lots of iron-on fabric prepped and some shapes for inspiration, and we went from there. I wish I had a picture of each one... they turned out adorable. I can't wait to see him wearing them and think of the hands that made them for him. :)

Thank you, sweet friends!

The hostesses: Jan, my mom, Missy (my aunt), and LeAnn

My sweet grandma who doesn't miss an important event in my life... and drove from Ohio by herself to be here. She's amazing. 

The little girls doing their own craft

See the onesies in the back? All made by my amazingly creative friends! :)

A little Friday announcement.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Baby L has inspired a new venture for me...

Yep. I've opened a second Etsy shop!
I wasn't planning to announce it until I had at least 20 things in the shop, but because a few things have already sold as I've listed them, I thought I'd go ahead and let everyone know!

Right now, there are baby boy bow ties (perfect to pin on onesies and bibs) and bibs, but I'm also planning to add a few stuffed animals and possibly some baby bedding soon. And everything in the shop is ready to ship. Happy shopping!

PS - I really can't wait until Baby L is here so he can model these things for me... little does he know. :)

Nursery art.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

This verse has meant so much to me in the last several months (especially surrounding the scary/overwhelming/joyous time when I found out I was pregnant), and I thought it needed a special place in L's nursery. We can't wait to tell our sweet baby about the goodness of the Lord!

If you'd like to print it out for yourself, just click on it to make it larger and save the file (or drag it to your desktop). It'll print as large as 8.5" x 11" and looks great on photo paper.

The weekend: his, hers, ours.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Catching an early flight to Chicago
Sipping Intelligentsia coffee
Walking down Elm Street
Officiating his first wedding on the deck of a boat in Lake Michigan

Catching up on orders
Lunches and dinners with friends
Soaking up alone time at a coffee shop before baby comes
Watching You've Got Mail twice

Sunday naps
Pot roast at Mom and Dad's
Skyping with family and friends in Germany (a big birthday for Papa!)
Sushi dinner with friends
Lots of hugs to make up for lost time

Hope your weekend was sweet!


Friday, September 14, 2012

I knew it was only a matter of time. 
Though Baby L's room is far from finished, I have been inspired to make a few little things for him.
A whale that will be larger than he is. A stylish onesie to match his dad. A baby quilt that's still in progress.
Each project was very much on-the-fly. I freehanded the shape of a whale with a highlighter on the back of fabric, cut two pieces out, stitched on a doily, sewed it all together, stuffed it, and added eyes. For the onesie, I used iron-on backing to attach the vest and tie, then added buttons. And the quilt is just strips of leftover fabric I've cut into equal pieces and am sewing as I go.

7 more weeks of this kind of inspiration and he's going to have a whole zoo full of chevron and doily animals, a closet full of onesies, and a pile of blankets. I hope he knows how much his mama loves him.

Helpful articles for small business.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I've recently stumbled on some very helpful online articles for running a small (online) business. Since Brighter Day is currently demanding full-time hours, I'm on a steep learning curve, even though I've had the business for more than 4 years. Shawn and I often remark how people have no idea what goes on behind the scenes when a purse (or 10 purses) is purchased. There's responding to customers, buying fabric, ordering mailing supplies, ironing, cutting, pinning, sewing, paying business bills, responding to more customers, printing custom labels, standing in line at Joann's, designing business cards, scheduling USPS pickup, weighing packages... and that's really just skimming the surface. And yet, with all of it, I really love the challenge. I'm so grateful to be able to stay home right now in the last few weeks of my pregnancy and sew - for a living! I don't take that for granted for a second.

Onto the articles I think you'll like...

How to price your work on the Etsy blog
Pricing your work is tricky and takes time to figure out what's fair to both you and the customer, but this little formula is a very helpful place to start.

Sending a well-branded email on the Poppytalk blog
It's good to remember that your "brand" is established, in large part, by your attention to customer service. I love the advice in this post.

How to package and ship from home by E Tells Tales
We have come a loooong way in the shipping department. It's rare that I go to the post office anymore (and seriously... thank you, Lord, for that!) because of USPS pickup and packaging everything from home. This is a really helpful guide to how to ship from home - and I really love ULINE, too!

Jumpstarting your Etsy business by Handmadeology
These are some more general tips that I think would be especially helpful for people just starting an Etsy business.

Any articles you've seen lately that I should add to the list? 


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

There are certain (stereotypical) things I crave when Fall rolls around: pumpkin spice lattes, apple cake, a trip to Gentry's Farm, a walk in downtown Franklin, a honeycrisp apple.

Then there's this: I crave Central Park.
Last Fall, I had the privilege of spending an afternoon there alone while my dad rehearsed for his upcoming performance at Carnegie Hall, and it was pure magic. A cup of Argo tea in hand, I walked through the bustle near Columbus Circle, reminiscing on when I'd last been there and caught a carriage ride just before becoming engaged. I took a walk past hot dog stands and children of every color playing together, and landed on a rock where I watched the light dance through the trees and breathed in crisp Fall air.
I just had to relive it for a moment. While a trip to Central Park isn't in the cards this Fall (for hugely obvious reasons) it's in my heart today.

So in love.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The weeks are flying by before Baby L makes his entrance into the world (7 weeks or less now). In early pregnancy, that very thought would have quickly compelled me to tears... not because I'm dreading having a baby around, but because my time with just Shawn is dwindling.  

These days, though, excitement has replaced the sadness; anticipation the fear. But I'm still savoring the sweetness of these last few weeks of just me and Shawn. This weekend it was homemade pumpkin spice lattes, prayer walking Radnor Lake, an afternoon reading in the hammock. Last night, it was a long dinner on our back porch next to a fire Shawn had built in our chiminea, watching the stars. It's uninterrupted conversation, undisturbed sleep, last minute plans to head out the door to dinner. What a privilege to walk through this life by his side, and I'm so thankful he'll be there for the next season, too.

Friday Five.

Friday, September 7, 2012

1. If I had quilting skills (someday!), I'd start with this one. I love the pattern and the colors so much. Really, I love everything in her shop.

2. I cannot wait for Fall! Our baby will be here in the Fall (well, actually, in less than 55 days), and there will be apple crisp and pumpkin spice and cool, crisp air. Tennessee does Fall really well. I'm ready.

3. I'm still adjusting to this diabetic diet - and testing my blood sugar all day long. It is not fun. At all. It's been the hardest part of this pregnancy by far. But if it's good for baby and for me, I'm up for it. Thankfully, I got a good report from my doctor this week that, based on my glucose records, I won't need medications but can keep it diet controlled for now. That's really great news. I am praying hard that it will all normalize after birth and I can have a glass of orange juice again. :)

4. Shawn and I attended our first birthing class last night! To say some parts were awkward is an understatement, but I'm excited to be gaining tools for natural birth and I know we're going to learn so much. I'll be posting about what kind of birthing we've chosen after Baby L is here, when we see how it all really worked out.

5. I've yet to make one single thing for the baby. It's hard to sit down and sew for him knowing I have 70 clutches to sew with brides buying more every day. I have made a Pinterest board, though! That's a start, right? On my list right now to make before he's born: a boppy cover, a stuffed animal, a sling or wrap of some kind, and a blanket to go over his carseat. Manageable?

Happy Friday, friends!

32 weeks.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I'm 32 weeks today, and this past weekend, we had a little photoshoot in our backyard with Shawn's brother Erik and sister-in-law Shannon. I love what they captured, and am so thankful we have these photos for years down the road. So excuse the photo overload... consider yourself warned.  

Oh, and our son has a name! I will be sharing it on the blog, but not until he's born. I guess it's pretty obvious what letter his name starts with. :)

Personal Prayer.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

In the last several years, there's been no one more influential in my spiritual life (and Shawn's) than Dr. Timothy Keller. Dr. Keller pastors Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City - which makes us want to move there on a weekly basis - and most of his sermons are available online. There's a Tim Keller sermon playing in our home at least once a day, and recently, it's been such a joy and a privilege to work from home and to listen to him speak as I sew and sew... and sew. :)

Today, I listened to this sermon: Personal Prayer. I don't know about you, but personal prayer is an area I really struggle with. Always have. And yet it scares me to think how much I'm missing out on by failing to  quiet my heart and soul and commune with the living God. I want to hear Him speak, but I'm often not still enough to hear. This sermon left me convicted, challenged, inspired, and excited about prayer.

Many of you have written to ask what I do for quiet times, and while it varies, this sermon gives such a practical and meaningful template to what personal quiet times of prayer, Scripture study, and meditation can look like. I can't recommend it enough.

Because my brother-in-law is a genius...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

He took this photo and, with his amazing techy knowledge, created a cinemagraph that we love a lot.  Thank you, Erik! 

Saturday, in pictures.

Monday, September 3, 2012

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