Monday, August 3, 2015

Present: How one woman pulled the plug on distraction to connect with Real Life (A Book Review)

I was so pleased to be given a copy of this book for review. I have long enjoyed Keri Mae's blog, and I loved being able to read more of her story.

My life is very different for Keri Mae's, and I would guess I actually use the internet more and that I rely on it more for relationship cultivating (for talking to friends and family back in the states), and honestly I see that sometimes other things  (hmmm....... sometimes even DIY projects perhaps) as bigger distractions to my true priorities. But I loved being inspired by her journey to simplicity, quietness, true connection, and being Present in her life.

One of my favorite parts in the book is where Keri Mae decided she  was tired of how media over-consumption was causing her to skim through life, and she desired full cream instead. This book makes me continue to desire a life of full cream as well. Her message is such a great reminder to "choose the best and leave the rest" for a truly fulfilling life.

And like great french cuisine this book is very rich, but has small portions. I appreciate the author's ability to be inspiring, but brief, and avoid packing the book with extra fluff.

The one thing this book is doesn't have a strong emphasis on is step by step "how to unplug" type information. This is a memoir style book, not a formula, so if all you are looking for is simple action steps this book may not be for you. However,  I personally loved the memoir style without "how to"s mixed in and Keri Mae is going to offer a journal to accompany the book. If you purchase the book through Amazon on August 4th, she will send you the ejournal free.

I love how the author's "decluttering" of her life made room for more peace, stillness, and time with those most important to her. I think that is what many people are searching for in our busy era.

You can purchase Present on Amazon or visit Keri Mae for more information on her book launch at her blog here.

Monday, February 23, 2015

DIY Lent or Easter Countdown Calendar

This year I finally got around to finishing a Countdown to Easter Calendar for our family. Perfect? Oh, no.

But neither am I, and I still love how the calendar turned out despite its imperfections.

Advent calendar and countdown ideas abound, but rarely do you see a Lent or Easter or Resurrection calendar.

The way I made mine is a pretty simple idea that could be adapted in many ways.

I made the calendar in a cross shape with 47 numbered pockets, ending on Easter at the sign with INRI and 47 written on it at the very top of the cross.

Traditionally, it is said the the season of Lent has 40 days, but that doesn't count the Sundays, so putting the Sundays back in brought my total up to 47. You could adjust the number of pockets to include more or less, bring the number back down to 40 or 30 or however long your family wants to anticipate the coming of Easter.

I used a very pretty patterned cotton fabric I received as a gift for the back and upcycled a pair of felted-wool-like gray pants for the pockets. By using the felt and making the pockets in long strips, I reduced my sewing time significantly.

For the numbers I simply wrote them using a fabric marker. I'd prefer the look of embroidery, but don't have the time to devote to that big of a project right now.

The cards in the calendar are from our Rising of the Son: A Family Devotional Celebrating the Coming of Easter printables which are original hand drawn artwork I drew specifically for this devotional. I cut out each ornament, glued them onto black cardstock, put contact paper on both sides, punched holes, and put a ribbon through each one.

You could make your own ornaments, verse cards, symbols, activity ideas, etc. to include if you'd rather.

I attached each ornament by safety pinning the ribbon to the calendar from the back, so the pin wasn't visible. I originally thought I'd sew buttons on each pocket so you could take the ornament out and then hag it on the pocket, but then I didn't want to spend that much time sewing on buttons either. And the safety pins keep the cards from accidentally falling off better anyway.

Not 100% sure if I'll unpin everything for storage or be able to fold it carefully enough. We'll see.

Either way I'm really happy with the way this project turned out and hope that we get to use it for many years to come.

Each night as we get ready to read from our Devotional we pull out the next picture ornament, and the kids take a treat from their hanging Easter baskets. It is a highly anticipated event in our household, and I just love all of the memories we're making.

Another idea that you could use in conjunction with or instead of a Lent or Easter Countdown Calendar would be a Jesus Tree.

How do you anticipate Easter or Resurrection Sunday in your home?

DIY Jesus Tree

A great decoration to focus on Jesus at Easter time is a Jesus tree.

The popularity of using a  Jesse Tree during advent to focus on the coming of the Son at Christmastime is growing.

You can use the same idea to focus on the rising of the Son at Eastertide as well.

For this little Easter tree I used just the holy week ornaments from our Rising of the Son: A Family Devotional Celebrating the Coming of Easter printables. I cut out each ornament, glued them onto black cardstock, put contact paper on both sides, punched holes, and put a ribbon through each one. Then I hung them on a simple tree branch in a vase (a.k.a. old vinegar bottle). You could certainly use all 47-50 from that book to make a much larger tree. Or you could put one on the tree each day/night for however many days you chose to use that devotional book.

Or you could make your own ornaments, verse cards, symbols, activity ideas, etc. to include if you'd rather. You could even make symbols for Resurrection Eggs and then hang them on a tree if you wanted.

You could also make a paper or cloth tree to hang on a wall for a different variation as well.

I think we are going to just use our Easter Countdown Calendar alone this year since I finally got it done. But Last year we did this mini Jesus tree during holy week and the kids really liked it too.

What are your favorite Resurrection minded decorations or traditions?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Lovely Devotionals for the Whole Family

My husband and I love using holidays to help teach our kids important concepts and at the same time get them really excited about the things their learning and the holidays. One of the main ways we've done this is by creating our Family Devotional books.

These books pull together important scripture readings, discussion questions, suggested hymns, as well as activities and some little extra fun decorations. Now in our house we add some special treats and family countdowns to holidays, done and done!

This year we've been moving our Family Devotionals over to our educational site Greenfield Education, so people can access all of the PDF versions in one place. We are also working on updating them, making them all available in Kindle form and adding new books as well.

This year we were able to finish Rising of the Son: A Family Devotional to Celebrate the Coming of Easter, which was a huge project for us. To celebrate we are giving away the PDF version of Growing in Love: Garden of Charity Family Devotional.

This short ebook focuses on what true love really looks like and is packed with bonus printables at the end (which are already worth more the the regular price).

You can get it for free until February 15,2015. All details over here at the Greenfield Education Blog.

Here is some photos from last year showing us using some of the included printables.


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