Giveaway plus free printables for sharing joy

photo (7)Friends, this week we are fortunate to have an embellishment kit from the very talented Freckled Fawn to give away! This is a monthly subscription kit, and each kit contains a crazy-cool pouch filled with goodies to decorate letters, scrapbooks, journals and planners. Click here to enter.

I’m always looking for fun things to send in the mail to kids and others who might need a bit of encouragement, so I thought I’d use some of these Freckled Fawn embellishments to create pocket letters.

To make pocket letters: Take a plastic sheet that is designed to hold trading cards. Cut pretty paper to fit the pockets. Fill pockets with fun items (like stickers, washi tape, decorative paperclips and seashells) and tuck a little letter inside.

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photo (14)There are thousands of YouTube videos about making pocket letters. They can look pretty intimidating, especially if you don’t have a room full of craft supplies, so I’m sharing two faith-inspired designs I made. All you need to do is print, cut and start filling the pockets!

If you haven’t already, please slip your email address in the box on the lower left of this page. Then, click here for the beach-themed pocket letter: BEACHFAITHPocketLetter. Click here for the pocket letter with the doughnut and globe: FAITHPocketLetter.

My hope is that these pocket letters will bring joy and share God’s love. Enjoy!

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about how writing letters can be a ministry, click here.

 

And the stationery giveaways start… now!

photo (1)Friends, remember how last week I told you I’d be giving away great stationery? Well, it’s starting now!

You have a chance to win the April “Sincerely Box,” which comes with four hand-lettered (crazy cool) greeting cards and four postage stamps to make keeping in touch easy. I’ll pick a winner Wednesday morning, so act fast.

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For those of you on Facebook, click here to enter. For those of you not on Facebook, just comment below and tell me why you’d like to win.

Also, we’ll have another stationery-themed giveaway next weekend, along with some free downloads. I hope you win!

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Day 39: The day it seems hope goes dark

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She slipped it into an envelope and through the mail, just on the chance that I’d include poetry in our Lenten project. She wrote how in 2012 a sudden, puzzling illness put her on life support. How her husband was told to prepare for her death. How this poem tells her story, the story of Rosanne Stiehler.

Like Lazarus,

I was breath-less,

bound up for the grave.

 

Like Lazarus,

my family wept,

four long days.

 

“Lord, if You would come,

she could still be saved!”

 

Like Lazarus,

the Lord showed up,

“Come forth!” is what He prayed.

 

Like Lazarus,

that vital shout

gave me life again.

 

Today, when all feels dark, He can give us all life again. When the past-due notices come on bills and relationships and old harmful habits, know that it’s not too late to start over. Know that Jesus, He paid it all.

May this holy weekend help make you whole.

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Day 33: What a sunset and nature teach us about hope

Remember how Pat Costigan has an entire exhibit of paintings dedicated to hope? Well, take a look at this one and then enjoy her artist’s statement:

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I spent much time exploring sources of hope and asking others what are the sources of hope for them.

Many of the respondents to the question “What gives you Hope” gave this answer:

  “Nature gives me hope.”

Day33Today’s journal page comes to us from Maureen Phillips. She says: My life and hope for the future is focused on my faith in Christ.   In recent years, it has become clearer to me that my hope only grows through the joys and disappointments that come my way.  I am certain that the love Jesus has for me is perfect, so when my life isn’t I rest in knowing that His plans for me are good. My husband and I will be celebrating 20 years of marriage in April and we have have two beautiful children.  Our daughter is 18 and our son is 14.  Our favorite pastime is camping.  We love to get away with friends and family and just enjoy nature. To download, just click here.

Day 31: Welcoming the hope of spring

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Today — on this first day of spring — may you welcome a rebirth of hope.

And if winter seems to be lingering in your life or in your soul, I pray you’ll have strength, courage and the peace of knowing that seasons do change.

We have a few more journal pages to finish out our 40-day project.

This one, from Nancy Hoffmann, seems perfect for the changing of seasons. To download, click here.

Day 15: The day I could only think of eye shadow

Eyeshadow2Most nights we gather as a family to read, to write in journals and to sit by candle light. It calms my husband who struggles a bit with insomnia and reinforces the importance of reading to the little guys. And the journal writing, well, it builds us all up. We start by writing something good about ourselves and then we pass the journals around and each family member writes something good about you in your journal.

Eyeshadow1It’s a beautiful way to wrap up a day — unless you’re arguing with your husband and have been harsh with your bickering children. Then, you have trouble thinking of something nice to say about yourself. That’s what happened to me anyway. I’d already said I was good at family traditions and celebrations on an earlier night and that I was a pretty good writer. Frankly, I was hard pressed to come up with anything else. So, out of desperation, I scratched down I can do eye shadow pretty well.

It was pitiful, I know. But in that moment, still fresh from angry words, it was all I could think of that I liked about myself.

By morning I was able to laugh at my note and by the weekend I was throwing a tea party for my boys.

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That’s the funny thing about hope. It’s slippery, and when times are dark, it’s easy to lose sight of. You can be socloseto what you’re hoping for or socloseto Who your hope is in — and miss it because you can’t see it with your eyes.

tea party2Still, it’s powerful. It heals. It lifts. It inspires.

It gives second and third and fourth chances.

To me, that makes it worth searching for even when all you can think of is eye shadow.

Day 14: Hope in a snapshot and a free journal page

Because both of my little guys woke up two hours early (thank you barking Pomeranian) I’m only sharing a journal page — but it is a good one, with a good story! And I think I can tell you about it while holding a wiggly toddler.

Leanne Martin picToday’s journal page is from Leanne Martin. Her passion is coaching figure skaters. She was an engineer for many years, too many years, until she realized her calling… teaching. She also teaches as an adjunct professor for Syracuse University on the side. She is married with an active 11-year-old son. She also loves working at Camp Ta-Kum-Ta in Vermont every summer where she learns to love, cry, laugh and celebrate hope.

Here’s her artist’s statement about the journal page:

The picture of the baby deer (that I took in my yard just before mowing the lawn) represents new, beautiful, fragile life.

It’s love that ties us all together.

The picture in the lower right corner represents hope. This is a picture of my dragon boat team that raced in Ride the Dragon for Charity in Vermont this past August. We were raising money for our charity Camp Ta-Kum-Ta.  My husband and I volunteer every summer for a week (we have for the last 14 years) at a kid’s camp called Camp Ta-Kum-Ta in Vermont. This is a camp for kids that have or have had cancer. A few of our rowers in the Dragon boat race were former campers that are now camp counselors. Now that is hope!

To download the page, click here.

Here’s a glimpse:

Day 14 Leanne

 

Thank you, all of you, for joining us for the 40 Days of Hope project. Each day during Lent, we’ll share something about hope here — something that we pray inspires you or encourages you. We’re also planning to share free journal pages for you to download. We don’t quite have 40 yet, so if you’d like more information on submitting one, please click here.

Day 13: Another shade of hope, through the eyes of an artist

Remember Pat Costigan and her paintings of hope? We’re sharing another one today titled Spiritual Resistance.

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Here’s the bulk of the artist’s statement…

The inspiration for this painting was how the Jews practiced Spiritual Resistance in the Ghettos during World War II. The prisoners in the ghettos at that time drew upon their:

gifts,

talents,

life giving abilities

to survive, not to succumb to hopelessness and fear and transform their dismal, dark lives, if for only a moment into something that lifted their souls out of this world into another dimension.

Their lives were filled with:

starvation,

pestilence,

extremes of cold,

lack of warm clothing,

want of decent living conditions,

the everyday threat of death for themselves and their loved ones by

violence,

hatred

and cruelty.

They performed music, theatre, created art, gave lectures about science, literature, art, music and performed many, many unselfish acts of kindness.

How do we combat the hatred that destroys and tears down?

When we do acts of good where we are, it affirms our humanity.

When we experience forces from outside trying to get to our inside, the darkness in…

We can transform the darkness of pain into Light, Joy and Hope.

We can embrace the world.

We can embrace the dark, diseased world.

We can throw our loving arms around this world in order to change it.

We can speak words of encouragement

We can try to understand our enemies

We can practice courage to speak out for silent victims of injustice

We can join in the dance of Light

We can join in the music of Peace

We can join in living in Hope

Pat Costigan and her husband, Bob, have four daughters, Clare, Beth, Anne and Irene. Before children, she earned a BA in Art and an MA in Special Education, taught and always made art. Through the years she has been involved with local and international social justice issues. Pat recently completed a series of paintings on “Hope” and is working on a new series titled “Grace.” Pat co-authored, designed and created the artwork and illustrations for the newly published book, “Mothering: An Art Of The Heart” (www.motheringanartoftheheart.com). When she is not busy in her studio, she is often found walking their rescue dog, Bella, around the neighborhood in Fairport, NY.

Rachel Doll picToday’s journal page is from another artist (and friend), Rachel Whaley Doll. She is also an author and musician — mostly because she wondered what she could do with her gifts and decided to try. Her newest book, “The Exquisite Ordinary,” is available on Amazon.  Vocal recordings, murals, contact information and other writings can be found at threadsofcreativity.com. And she has been gracious enough to write about having a peaceful dwelling and share it at Simply Faithful.

Here are Rachel’s suggestions for the journal page: 

Gather your journal paper and crayons, and set a timer for five minutes (so you won’t keep wondering how long it’s been!). For five minutes, find a comfortable position and close your eyes. Focus on calm breathing, and on the colors that present themselves as you breath gently with your eyes closed. When the five minutes are up, and you are ready, let the colors and shapes that presented themselves in your meditation guide your hand on the page. Don’t try to create anything, just enjoy the color and movement. As you look at the page, write something on it that you dream of accomplishing, and hang it somewhere you will see it often.  Happy dreaming!

To download, click here.

Here’s a glimpse:

Day 13 Rachel

Day 10: An illustrator’s view of hope in Psalm 23

 

As much as I love words, sometimes a picture — an illustration — conveys a message that might not otherwise get through. That’s why I’m sharing some snapshots I took of a book that just released this month, “Psalm 23,” illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson. Take a look at these images and see if you can find hope…

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And some of my favorites are the children inside the front and back covers:

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I had planned to use a journal page from a friend today, but due to technical difficulties, you’ll find one that I pulled together this morning. I’ve pulled words from Sandra Fox’s devotional, “Lord Renew My Hope.” I’ve been so enjoying her book, and she has written a piece just for you. Expect that in mid-March.

To download, click here.

Here’s a glimpse:

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Day 9: On one side despair, the other hope

I cry at the Hallmark channel and at the occasional country song, but even I was surprised when my eyes started to well up while checking Facebook the other day. A friend from long ago had posted a video made at her church, and it featured what they called cardboard testimonials.

It’s a simple concept, really. You cut up a cardboard box and on one side you write a problem you faced. On the other side, you write how God helped you through it. In my friend’s case, people took turns coming up to the front of the church. They showed their signs and then flipped them to show what God had done. One after another, after another.

  •  Breast cancer – survivor
  • Used drugs to feel good – Use God to feel ecstatic
  • Orphaned with no family – God provided a family
  • Brother killed by drunk driver – I have forgiven
  • $$$$ bondage – freedom obedience

For close to eight minutes the people stream by on the video, sharing some of the deepest parts of their souls in fewer than 10 words. I cried because of the pain they must have felt and I cried because I’m in love with hope, with overcoming the impossible. And every time the cardboard signs turned over, there she was – hope scratched in black marker.

I’m sure many of us could hold up our own signs. I know I would have trouble deciding on just one:

  •  Will I ever be loved? – married April 18, 2003
  • Drs said arm might not grow or move – played sports, trombone
  • The adoption isn’t going through – celebrating 5 years as family

I also have signs waiting for their happy endings, waiting for God to help me over, around – or even through – mountains of doubt and troubles. But those signs will come, too. Eventually I’ll be able to flip them over and share testimonies of hope.

My marker is ready.

car crashToday’s journal page is from Tammy Riedl, who knows something of hope. Nine months ago, her oldest son was in a car accident that ruptured his spleen, crushed all the bones in his left pelvis area, broke his arm, collapsed his lung and bruised his heart, liver and kidneys. He spent 22 days in the hospital but — when the cardboard sign flips over — he returned to work full-time in late December.

To download today’s journal page, click here.

Here’s a glimpse:

Tammy