And the Winner Is...

Anthropologie Aurora Multicolored String Lights!

Never thought the day would come that I would like colored lights for Christmas decorating (in my old age that is!) but it has come!

I wanted to do something fun for Christmas this year. You know, be the FUN mom.

So, I did it. 

I bought COLORED lights!

These puppies right here.

I bought the Small 6ft battery operated strand, one strand, for our boy's room. These boys have been through quite a bit in the past few years. All good, but still so much change, I wanted for their sake a little twinkle and fun right in their room. I put this in a large jar on their night light! (The Hungarian glass jar by Restoration Hardware) and walla! A little colorful sparkle to get them in the holiday spirit. They really did LOVE them and they work GREAT as a nightstand!

I want to put beach shells in the jar the rest of the year, but for now I am loving the function of this night light.

There you have it, my single winner for what one Christmas decoration to spend money on this year. Twinkle lights. I bought them on Black Friday with 25% off and free shipping. And yes, also purchased a 50 ft strand for some birch tree lighting, three more white 6' strands, and one 100 ft strand that I ended up having to return because half the lights weren't working. It was an investment, but one I am so happy with! Glad to spend money on lights and just lights this year. Simple, minimal Christmas decorating and loving it.

Hugs everyone, sleep well. I'm looking forward to blogging again more. Just my random finds and thoughts and home stuff.

xx

AnaLisa

On Walking into the Unknown

"Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, And rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:18-19

God is taking me on a journey of trust and walking into the unknown without looking back, without doubting or questioning or asking why. It was so easy for me to walk in faith and obedience, taking a leap of faith and just going when he said go. But 14 months later I'm asking myself a few questions, second guessing. That's not something I usually do! It has me in a bit of a stoop. But God is faithful and I am handing it over to Him, laying it down. He knows exactly. 

He knows my love for my former home. He knows my love for the exact placement and perfection of where we were placed. I let it all go. Loaded the moving truck and off we went. And now 14 months later, still living with my parents here in the new place, and completely unaware of what lies ahead. I have no plan. Gasp. 

Friends ask when we're going to buy our own place. Well-meaning strangers probably find it interesting when I invite them over to my home for some lemonade come summer and a get-together.. and oh by the way my parents live here too. 

Living with my family is all part of it. I see healing living here. My kids have a Papa around when their dad works all evenings and weekends. They go to Huskies college football games, a few Seahawks games, Mariner's games, go to the gym together to shoot hoops. It is very sweet. Annabel of course loves living with her Nana it is unspeakable how sweet those two are together. And seeing them day after day with their special looks to one another, priceless!

And yet here came Thanksgiving, and I wanted to fly back to my home in another state, but wait we sold it. I wanted to journey back to my home, watch the snow fall out our huge southwest facing picture windows, snuggle by the fire and play Christmas music. But wait, we actually brought money to closing and essentially gifted this home to someone else. I knew at the time that I was looking at it like a gift. I knew the equity would go way up. I knew they were getting a great deal. I knew what it was worth, more than monetary value, I knew the friendships, relationships, family friendly community and I knew how I could picture my kids growing up there and spending the next twelve + years there until college and building church community and living life with our big oak trees out back and tire swing I imagined in my mind hanging from that tree.

Life. It's all good. I can see both sides. I can see what was there, and I know too what has occurred here. I know the friendships I have made here, the people we have met at church, the people in our neighborhood and community here - lifelong friendships, friendships for the kids.

But here I am at the holidays, and I want a place to call my own. I want to paint all the walls white, keep everything polished and clean and play Christmas music all day and re-arrange the furniture however I want any day. Don't get me wrong, I do that here too. And I have total support. :) Well pretty much, but somehow it's just not the same. I want my home to be a reflection of me. I tried living here 14 months without that, just tried to live in someone else's home if that makes sense. But I've learned something, and that is that it's ok to want to make a space beautiful. It's ok to want to maximize and transform and perfect and beautify! I love to do those things and even more so I love to see the finished result and live in a beautiful, clean, finished space! 

So where to go from here? Handing it to Jesus, because he knows friends. He knows right where you're at, and right where I'm at. I sure I hope I didn't make a wrong decision, but I can't look back now. Only press on ahead into the unknown. Life is an adventure. I am thankful for Seattle Children's Hospital last January when Annabel was in the ICU for ten days. We needed to be here then. I am thankful for the very first day at church here when we immediately were introduced to the exact people who continue to be our friends today and who we look forward to doing life with. I am thankful for my family, love that we get to do life with them every day after fifteen years of being in another state. So joyful, thankful and blessed to have them near. Thankful for the mission today, and the mission ahead. I know there's a plan, and I know it's good! We just don't always get to see it all unfold immediately. Who knows the plans, but God does. And I trust him most. The same God who brought me to Uganda 34-36 weeks pregnant to adopt my son, the same God who took a subchorionic hemorrhage and healed it for my sweet girl to survive in the womb, the same God who created life inside of me when doctors said it wasn't possible, the same God who moved mountains to get our embassy appointment in Uganda, have all the witnesses show up with impeccable timing, the same God who parted the red sea for my children to come home, the same God who gave me the son, my first born, who I prayed and prayed for, the same God who was with me through so many months of staring at those pregnancy tests with sadness, the same God who walked me through the valley of the shadow of death and miscarriages, the same God who led each step of the way through our whole adoption process and home buying process and home designing process, he is with me today. Leading the way. Doing his thing. He is unchanging. Always the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Thankful for the unknown.

Praising him tonight.

xx,

AnaLisa

Tiarra Sorte Photography

In love with these pictures.

In love with my family.

Thank you, Tiarra, for spending your evening with us. And for giving me the gift of a make up artist to come to my home. We all know I needed the help! And a shout out to Jessica who colored my hair morning of. :) It takes a village people. Ha.

I love you Alex, Andrew, Asher & Annabel. 

You bless me more than you know.

xx, 

Mom

The Art of Giving

What comes to mind when you hear the word generosity? Do you think of a specific person? Do you get excited? Cringe? Explode with joy on the inside?

When I think of the word generosity I get excited. Living a generous life is deep within me! My Papa, my mom's father has set a beautiful example for my entire family on living a generous life. He has once said he just can't seem to give fast enough and it just keep coming. The more he gives the more he has to give.

Call me crazy but I have been thinking about Christmas. I seriously don't know what's gotten into me other than I think I'm craving some sort of normalcy. In some ways looking back on the past few years I may be in some sort of shock! So much goodness overflowing at one time and on top of that two moves both with the intention of forming and building a brand new community, my dog was put to sleep, my oldest enrolled in a brand new school the day before it started. I live here? In WA? I'm not even sure when that happened. Our house sold? Also not quite sure how all that happened. I have honestly been taking everything day-to-day, soaking in each moment and all that it has in store!

With Christmas in a new state and all Fall birthdays for my kids I got excited to enjoy giving to them this year. In particular, choosing things that I know would really bless them. I wanted to be a great gift-giver but do so on a budget.

A friend recently shared with me a few things she thinks about for the whole year. I wrote down every word from our text exchange! It's good to have a budget! And that way when occasions arise you can still stick with your year long financial goals. I found my gift-giving total for the whole year was quite high when I added each individual occasion together and what I would ideally spend!

Kid's Birthdays. Set an amount. Decide what you want to spend. What my friend does is she chooses one thing she knows her kids will LOVE. And one need, whether it be clothes or shoes.

Kid's Christmas. Set an amount for presents and stockings. Choose one thing you know your kids NEED, like socks or underwear and a few things you know they will want. Simple and easy!

Nieces and nephews. Small toy or book. Keep it simple. 

Kid's Friend's birthdays. Set an amount per party/occasion and stick to it. Enjoy the art of giving! A small book or toy works great.

Anniversary. Give only cards. And set some money aside for an outing or getaway. I noticed that my friend seems to go away and enjoy time with her husband every year on her anniversary! It inspires me! How fun. When I asked her, she mentioned they give only cards to each other. I also love this because it sets a precident that there SHOULD be cards! Hello?! Sweet words are the best.

Christmas to each other. Decide if you're going to give gifts to your spouse or not, and maybe it's a not. That's ok! 

Relatives. Families can do a name draw and then perhaps each spouse would be getting one member of the extended family a gift. On top of that still getting moms and dads some kind of joint gift or individual gift. 

Relatives out of state. Consider whether or not this will happen. Sometimes it's nice to be person to person.

Mother's Day. Cards

Father's Day. Cards

Easter Baskets. Few small eggs with candy and maybe a few small things.

Christmas stockings to each other. I thought it was sweet that even though my friend and her husband don't exchange gifts, they still make a stocking for each other. Cute!

This friend is someone who always seems to show up with a little something. When I had a baby she brought a little baby toy, when we moved into our home I'm pretty sure she brought something when she came over! So thoughtful! She was surprised to hear I think of her when I think of a great gift-giver but I do! It just goes to show that setting up an idea and some kind of overall plan actually does work to allowing the freedom to give for every occasion and choosing to say no at certain times as well and that being ok! Gift giving is supposed to be fun!

Give cheerfully friends! 

xx,

AnaLisa