Monday, April 30, 2012

Beach Scenes from Northern California

I went back through some of our photos from our visit to the coast. It's easy to forget how quickly the place sets my soul at ease, how it lets me see things with new eyes.

A long view of the coast, looking south:

Looking across the meadow to catch a wave crashing in to the rocks:


Little Zoom plays with the rocks on the beach:
Sea Ranch Feb 2012 094r 

Sharing with:
Happily Mother After

Friday, April 27, 2012

Our Journey to Find a New Home

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind, as we have been house hunting. Somehow the market in the San Francisco area has turned, very quickly, into a seller's market. Homes are getting multiple bids, people are putting up cash, paying more than the house appraises for,  just to get a house.

Some say it's because of the upcoming Facebook IPO, the LinkedIn IPO, so much activity in the tech sector. I don't know what it is, I just know we happened to be looking around the same time as a lot of people.

And I know we had a great realtor who was tireless, who called quickly on another house when I saw it pop up on the listings. It turned out it was back on the market, back as an approved short sale. She worked some magic, the two agents bonded over the buyer who walked on the property and over our losing out on three properties. For whatever reason, the other agent agreed to hold off accepting offers until we had seen the house.

We went. It was cute, it fit us. It has a yard, two bedrooms, two baths. It is close to a great elementary school, a community pool, closer to my sister and her family than the other places we'd looked at. It's half the distance to work for me. The mortgage will be less than our current rent.

We met the other owner there, and our little boys played together. It felt like a home.

The other agent held the place until we'd made up our minds. The owner called my realtor and thanked her for bringing us by, which has never happened to my realtor before.

We put in an offer and the owners accepted. Our new home is off the market, we're just waiting for bank approval.

I don't know how all this happened, how so many things just clicked, how this home seemed to pick us, and how we lucked in to just the thing we'd been looking for. But I really look forward to moving in, to settling in, to getting to know our new home.

homesweethome


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friday favorite things | finding joyPhotobucket
GettingDownWithJesus

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday Kid's Crafts Linky Party #11: Crafts for Kids and by Kids

It's time for the Kid's Crafts Linky Party :) The Most Clicked Award goes to Repeat Crafter Me's Window Bird House. You really need to check this out - it's a bird house that lets you see inside. Zoom really loves birds, so I can see this being a great craft to tackle when we move to our new house! (yes, you read that correctly :) )
The Best Craft by a Kid Award goes to Kara, for her Earth Day Necklace. I like the idea that you could give this one as a gift for mother's day. You will need to head over to Pam's blog to check out the cute idea that goes along with the necklace.
The Editor's Choice Award goes to Two Sasters for their kite (for the letter K) craft. I love that the girls went with a princess theme craft :) So sweet!
Congratulations to the winners, please grab a button and display it with pride!


It's time to link up for the Kid's crafts party :) A few rules for the linky party:
1. Link to your specific post, not the main page of your blog.
2. Grab the party button and post it on your blog or post so other people know about the party.
3. Please become a follower of Welcoming Spirit :) when you join the party.
4. Please do not add links that promote other giveaways, link parties or online shops. And please only add links for crafts that you have not submitted on Welcoming Spirit before.

The link party will start at 10:24am Thursday and end on Wednesday at 11:59pm (Pacific Time). By entering your link, you are giving me permission to use any part of your post including pictures in a spotlight on Welcoming Spirit. (I can't wait to highlight your work and give you credit and links back :)!

What have you all been working on this week?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Welcoming Spirit Blog Hop #7

It's time for week 7 of the Welcoming Spirit Blog Hop :) I can't wait to see what kind of inspiring, authentic stories and posts you all have to share.
What the World Needs
Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.
- Howard Thurman

Looking for some other hops? Stop by a couple of other fellow Wednesday blog hops:  Winsome Wednesday at My Daily Walk in His Grace and Women Living Well Wednesdays.










It's time to link up and get hopping! Please share an inspiring or positive post below. If you'd like to support the hop and grab the code for your blog, that would make me smile, too :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Inspiration on a Sunday: The Lord will Fight for You; You Need Only to Be Still

In Exodus, when Moses is leading the Isrealites out of Egypt there is that famous stand off as they reach the Red Sea. With the Egyptians behind them, and the water stretch out before them, many of the Israelites argue if they should give up, or hand themselves over to the enemy. They've become rash, feeling desperate, alone. I love the passage that follows, after there's been such struggle to leave a land where the people were enslaved, where they are so scared, so frightened they are ready to give up.

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

via Your Grace Drowns Me

I love this moment and the message. Moses has come in to his own as a leader, bravely stating what God has promised all along. Moses is full of faith when it would be so easy to be afraid.

And even more stunningly, he's mirroring what we hear in the Psalm 46:10, the message of "Be Still and Know that I am God."

This was one of my big lessons in Lent this year, the lesson of patience and faith. This idea that by being still, I leave room for God, for God's work, for something bigger to happen than the next thing I might do if I were to act on my own. Being still gives me time to think, to listen, to wait.  Being still means that I know, in act and deed that God is with me, leading me, and I have surrendered to His guidance. Being still says I am faithful, and that I need and love and trust God. One simple action that holds so much silent, purposeful meaning.

I'm find that I'm just beginning to know and to love the art of being still.

Sharing with:
GettingDownWithJesus

Friday, April 20, 2012

Popularity, the Star Bellied Sneeches, and a Material Girl

The next retreat I'll be working on is in August. Right now, we're talking about a topic that will cover the "Orientation, Disorientation, and Reorientation" that happens somewhere mid-life for so many of us. I think there's often a set of years, or maybe a single incident or set of moments that often leads those of us in our 20s to 40s to feel like nothing is quite what we thought it was.

It's probably that quiet revelation that ego is not king, that material possessions do not define us, and that our possessions do not completely well, complete us.

The original Material Girl via Stylish Curves
As a child of the 80s, this notion was quite a shock to me. I don't know if every generation is bombarded with the social pressure to conform, to buy the right things, to look just a certain way. For me, middle school was the pinnacle of this strangeness, that clothes I wore and the brands I wore defined WHO I hung out with. High school became an extension of that, but by the time I got to high school I was aware that it was a game. A strange popularity game that I didn't really want to compete in. A strange popularity game that seemed very much like the "Star Bellied Sneeches" by Dr. Seuss.

Do you remember that book? The sneeches kept changing their minds about if bellies with stars, or without stars were the most desirable. To try and keep up with each other, they kept running in and out of the star belly machine, adding or removing the star on their belly. Pretty soon, no one knew if stars were popular or not, and it made the point that it really doesn't matter, that those external things are just superficial.

And at some point, I think each of us comes to that realization, that the superficial things don't matter so much. That there is more to each of us than what we wear, who we hang out with, and how we dress.

But beyond that, there's also that realization that perhaps that longing we have for something "more" isn't for more material possessions, more stuff, more wild friends. I think we start to realize that there's something bigger, deeper, more meaningful that we're trying to find. And that really is when we start to wonder if maybe we had it wrong to begin with? That while our ego tells us to be fearful, to put up our guard, that really, the blessings of this life really begin when we embrace love. When we start to recognize each other for the divinity that is in every person. That through love, and acceptance, we start to live bigger, fuller lives.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thursday Kid's Crafts Linky Party #10: Crafts for Kids and by Kids

Last week's top entry was Repeat Crafter Me's (what a cute blog name!!)10 Restaurant Waiting Games. Sarah shared a great set of games to play while out to dinner.
Please grab your featured button, Sarah!




I also found a couple other awesome crafts on Pinterest that have really the gears in my head turning. I can't get over how adorable this little "Wee mouse in a tin house" is by Oh! Sweet babies. I adore mice and would have loved this as a child!
How about making this DVD coloring case for a car trip by Stacy at handmade by Stacy Vaughn? What a clever use of a DVD case!!
It's time to link up for the Kid's crafts party :) A few rules for the linky party:
1. Link to your specific post, not the main page of your blog.
2. Grab the party button and post it on your blog or post so other people know about the party.
3. Please become a follower of Welcoming Spirit :) when you join the party.
4. Please do not add links that promote other giveaways, link parties or online shops. And please only add links for crafts that you have not submitted on Welcoming Spirit before.

The link party will start at 10:24am Thursday and end on Wednesday at 11:59pm (Pacific Time). By entering your link, you are giving me permission to use any part of your post including pictures in a spotlight on Welcoming Spirit. (I can't wait to highlight your work and give you credit and links back :)!

It's that time of the week again to link up! What have you all been working on this week?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Welcoming Spirit Blog Hop #6

I'm excited that the blog hop is now in it's sixth week. It's so cool to see what each of you write each week, how our stories compliment each other, and how each of us does God's work every day. I really loved the posts shared this last week. I was moved to tears by Steph's entry about her work as a labor and delivery nurse. I cheered with Emily as she celebrated her reflections on being thankful. Martin shed light on simple moments that glorify God,  and Deidre looked at how living one's dream can change lives. MrsP reminded me that God is always near, and Natasha shared a very real secret of not feeling very "Eastery" this year.

I love reading your entries. I love it when we are honest about who we are, and where we are on this journey. Thank you for sharing those moments with all of us :)

moving sea between the shores of your souls

"But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls." - Khalil Gibran

Do you know about Khalil Gibran? His work, "The Prophet" somehow shares a special place in our family's library. There is always a copy of his work in our home. That book is the gift that keeps being given, mother to daughter, in love. I'll share more about my copy, the story, in the next week.

Looking for some other hops? Stop by a couple of other fellow Wednesday blog hops:  Winsome Wednesday at My Daily Walk in His Grace and Women Living Well Wednesdays.










It's time to link up and get hopping! Please share an inspiring or positive post below. If you'd like to support the hop and grab the code for your blog, that would make me smile, too :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Church Tour: Wai`oli Hui`ia Church in Hanalei, Kauai

Even before we arrived in Kauai, I knew I needed to visit the Wai`oli Hui`ia Church. It's a traditional green sided Hawaiian Church, nestled in the little town of Hanelei. It dates back to 1834, when it's original mission was founded, and the Mission Hall is the oldest surviving church building on Kauai.

Outside: Wai`oli Hui`ia Church








The day we stopped by a volunteer was doing some work on the grounds, with his dog Smokey. Zoom made fast friends with Smokey right away and hugged him about a hundred times. 



Here is another view of the outside of the church.The church grounds have the dramatic backdrop of the mountains behind them. It had just rained really hard the day before, and if you look closely, you can see a waterfall that sprung up from the heavy rain.


The side of the church is lined by these beautiful flowers:


 The stained glass windows inside the church are striking. I love the simplicity of the lines. These are the ones that are the largest, looking out toward the street:


  And here is another set, this is the window above the main door:


The services are done in a mix of English and Hawaiian, as evidenced by the front of their hymnal:


  I left a prayer card for my family at the church. It was a lovely place, and I left feeling quite peaceful and renewed.
Linking up to:
GettingDownWithJesusHappily Mother After

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Welcoming Spirit Blog Hop #5

I'm just back from vacation :) We went to Kauai and it was just lovely. I will post some updates in the next few days. So much inspiration to share!

This last week I spent a lot of time thinking about Holy Week. And, by this quote by Emily Dickinson. I love that the Resurrection instills that kind of hope, the hope"that perches in the soul." Poetry so often captures those little moments in time, those otherwise indescribable things, and I think this snippet just gets at the heart of hope.


Hope is the thing with feathers



Looking for some other hops? Stop by a couple of other fellow Wednesday blog hops:  Winsome Wednesday at My Daily Walk in His Grace and Women Living Well Wednesdays.












It's time to link up and get hopping! Please share an inspiring or positive post below. If you'd like to support the hop and grab the code for your blog, that would make me smile, too :)



Thursday Kid's Crafts Linky Party #9: Crafts for Kids and by Kids

It's time to link up for the Kid's crafts party :) A few rules for the linky party:
1. Link to your specific post, not the main page of your blog.
2. Grab the party button and post it on your blog or post so other people know about the party.
3. Please become a follower of Welcoming Spirit :) when you join the party.
4. Please do not add links that promote other giveaways, link parties or online shops. And please only add links for crafts that you have not submitted on Welcoming Spirit before.

The link party will start at 10:24am Thursday and end on Wednesday at 11:59pm (Pacific Time). By entering your link, you are giving me permission to use any part of your post including pictures in a spotlight on Welcoming Spirit. (I can't wait to highlight your work and give you credit and links back :)!

It's that time of the week again to link up! What have you all been working on this week?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter!

In the celebrating, there is unity.
In our restoration, we are family.
Happy Easter dear friends :)

Good Friday: Pondering the Meaning of 'Forsaken'

Good Friday is an amazing day, a terrifying day, and a day full of conversion. Somewhere along my own faith journey I became obsessed with the verse "Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?"

When I started at Yale Divinity School, I was a student in love with the Old Testament. My journey to and through Yale was "decidedly" one of strict academic pursuit, if you had asked me. And then, a few years after I graduated, this verse kept entering my head. It was a strange meditation that would strike me at random moments.

 "Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?" North Shore Sunrise, Kauai
I would wrack my brain over what this meant. Why would a dying savior yell this out to his Father, our God. Why? What would cause the Son to question his Parent? When and Why and How would someone feel ... forsaken?

I know now that that popular theology says that this is a moment when Jesus feels abandoned by God. Left, dying, alone. Certainly this is one of the great human fears.

And I'll admit that my dance and meditation with this verse started shortly after I was divorced. Perhaps somewhere I had started to understand abandonment. That even when two souls enter in to something with the best of intentions, knowing they are making a sacred vow, that they can realize they are doing more harm than good for each other. I think somewhere along the walk towards a divorce, I felt I had let down God, I'd abandoned my promise to stand by this other human. That human relationship did not work, and finally I realized that one of the choices was to walk away. For both of us to abandon the relationship.

As I dug deeper though, I have come to think of Jesus' cry as one of true unity with God. Not that He felt pushed away, but rather, in that moment He was simultaneously granted the knowledge of every human heart, the good, the bad, the pure, the evil, all of it. In one breath, He realized what all of humanity is and was capable of, and in one moment, He wondered what in the world He had gotten Himself in to. Not abandoned, but unified. All knowing, all in one moment.

Sure there would be anguish, and there would be a sense of the forlorn. Our Jesus was in the process of becoming The Christ, as He died. He had lived as a human, and was dying as a human. He had seen what humanity was capable of, even amongst his dearest companions. And surely, even though He knew he was to fulfill the prophecy there were moments in His dying that could not have ever been comprehended until He lived them.

This is all part of the conversion. For us, for our hearts, for our journey with our God. This one verse contains the mystery of Jesus for me. That from time to time, we will each feel forlorn, overwhelmed, perhaps abandoned. We may even call out to our God, questioning, crying, desperate - "God, why have you forsaken ME?" It is part of the human spirit, and even God's Son felt this, knew that we felt this. And God loved us so much that he sent his own Son to experience it as we experience it, to feel what we have felt, to understand us as only a human could.

After spending awhile with this line (which is found in two places: Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34), I found a new fascination with a poem by the Persian poet, Hafiz. While Hafiz is not Christian, his words seem to fit so closely with my new understanding of Jesus' cry. A cry that acknowledges the broken-ness of humanity, but in the same breath admits our need for God's loving presence in our lives.

My Eyes so Soft

Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly
let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you
as few human or even divine ingredients can

Something missing in my heart tonight
has made my eyes so soft
my voice so tender
my need of God absolutely clear.

--Hafiz

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thursday Kid's Crafts Linky Party #8: Crafts for Kids and by Kids

Another week of cool crafts! Thank you all for your entries :)

The entry that received the most clicks was Celery Virtues by Meaningful Mama. Jodi does an awesome job of posting thoughtful and thought provoking crafts and projects for kids, and this week her Celery craft has a great message for little ones - "And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right." - 2 Thessalonians 3:17. I will definitely be doing this one for Zoom when he gets a little older. I really like that couples science with a bigger idea, too!




The "Best Craft by Kids" award this week goes to Kara at Pam's Practical Party Tips for her Bunny Craft. Kara has become a power house of craft inspiration! As a kid crafter herself, she has her own weekly column on her mom's blog. It's great that her mom encourages her to come up with her own original crafts, and it's something I very much hope to be able to do with Zoom. I love this bunny craft - it's adorable!


The "Editor's Choice" award goes to Two Sasters for their Toddler Felt Easter Basket. Once I'd seen this craft, it brought back great memories of being a child and playing with felt farm animals on a sticky barn background. The Easter basket is a great change up of a toy I once had, and it gives me lots of inspiration on how to make some easy, yet very engaging, games for Zoom. What about a fish themed felt board?


Thank you to everyone for your submissions - and if you've been featured, please grab a button :)














A few rules for the linky party:
1. Link to your specific post, not the main page of your blog.
2. Grab the party button and post it on your blog or post so other people know about the party.
3. Please become a follower of Welcoming Spirit :) when you join the party.
4. Please do not add links that promote other giveaways, link parties or online shops. And please only add links for crafts that you have not submitted on Welcoming Spirit before.

The link party will start at 10:24am Thursday and end on Wednesday at 11:59pm (Pacific Time). By entering your link, you are giving me permission to use any part of your post including pictures in a spotlight on Welcoming Spirit. (I can't wait to highlight your work and give you credit and links back :)!

It's that time of the week again to link up! What have you all been working on this week?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Welcoming Spirit Blog Hop #4

I was overwhelmed by the number of posts that were shared last week! We hit 13! It's awesome to be able to go through the list, and read so many meaningful posts. I really love that this blog hop lets us all share positive, inspiring stories. I hope you will keep linking up :)

Blog Hop #4 is coinciding with a special day - my birthday, and it's funny to me that it's also going live on 4/4, when I'm turning  .... 40! Oh dear. So many 4s :)

 "Be though the rainbow in the storms of life, the evening beam that smiles clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray." - Lord Byron



So please share an inspiring post! After you've posted, please take a moment to visit a couple of other blogs and leave a comment of support for each other. Looking for some other hops? Stop by a couple of other fellow Wednesday blog hops:  Winsome Wednesday at My Daily Walk in His Grace and Women Living Well Wednesdays.











It's time to link up and get hopping! and if you'd like to support the hop and grab the code for your blog, that would make me smile, too :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Stations of the Cross: A Modern Approach for a Rainy Day Retreat

This last weekend, at our retreat, we created a modern twist on the Stations of the Cross. Late on Thursday we realized that it would be too rainy to plan on using the outdoor stations of the cross at our retreat house. So we needed a new plan. I started searching flickr for pictures of the stations of the cross.

And I found so many! I decided that we'd divide up the stations (there are 14) and let retreat goers CHOOSE which image they wanted us to use for their assigned station. I printed out four or 5 images for each station for the retreatants to choose from, and then we placed the chosen images up around the covered portion of the courtyard.

Instead of walking in the rain, we walked, covered (while it hailed!) and viewed a myriad of images from all over the world, representing Jesus' journey to the cross. As we walked, we read "The Way of the Cross at the Colosseum" which was led by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. It was moving, unique, and something I will never forget. I loved that each image represented a retreat participant in some way, as well as the artist who created it. And I love that this kind of stations of the cross could be done virtually anywhere, as it does not rely on any kind of space to create a moving and meaningful experience.

Come, join us in seeing which images the retreat participants chose!

Station 1: Jesus is condemned to death
http://www.flickr.com/photos/31561549@N08/6364464221/
image by: jmartyk, taken at St. John's in Stevenston, Scotland

Station 2: Jesus accepts the cross
WESTBROOK - SAINT MARK CHURCH - STATIONS - 02
image by: Jerry Dougherty, taken at Saint Mark Church in Westbrook, Connecticut, USA


Station 3: Jesus falls for the first time
Chapel at 3rd Station_1914
image by: ermyj, taken at the chapel at the 3rd Station, Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem, Israel

Station 4: Jesus meets his mother, Mary
De Grazia: Stations of the Cross
image by: Welcoming Spirit (Paula Jenkins), painting by Degrazia, photo taken at the De Grazia Gallery in Tucson, Arizona, USA

Station 5: Simon of Cyrene carries the cross
OLD SAYBROOK - ST JOHN CHURCH - STATIONS - 05
image by: Jerry Dougherty, taken at St John Church in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, USA


Station 6: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Station 6: Veronica wipes Jesus' face
image by: bott.richard, taken at Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Montreal, QC, CA.

Station 7: Jesus falls the second time
 Station 7: Jesus falls the second time
image by: bott.richard, taken at Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Montreal, QC, CA. 

Station 8: Jesus meets the woman of Jerusalem
8th Station - Jesus meets the woman of Jerusalem
image by: gracearcs

Station 9: Jesus falls for the third time
A cross above Dili, Timor Leste
image by: kdixon (Kate B Dixon), taken above Dili, Timor Leste


Station 10: Jesus is stripped of His garments
Stations of the Cross - 10
image by: elycefeliz, taken at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Station 11: Jesus is nailed upon the cross
Jesus is Raised Upon his Cross and Dies
image by: MartinJon

Station 12:  Jesus dies on the cross
Stations of the Cross
image by: elycefeliz, taken at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA


Station 13: Jesus' body is removed from the cross (Pieta)
pietà 1
image by: borablu, sculpture by Michelangelo, Vatican City

Station 14: Jesus is placed in the tomb and covered in incense
14 Jesus is laid in the tomb and covered in incense 3
image by: dgbb1979, taken in Cebu City, Central Visaya, PH

Linking up to: