Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The best is yet to come...

I feel a little weird writing this post.  I never, ever, thought I would be doing this.

Except that, then again, it feels so right.  So right, in the sense that I have prayed and that I feel really strongly that this is where the Lord is leading me.

Have I been vague enough yet?

Sorry about that.

The big news is that this is my last post here at Glory in the Valley.  I'm shutting this blog down.

If you had told me a year ago that I would be writing those words, I would have cried.

This little blog has meant so much to me over the last four years. 

I started this blog in March of 2010 after I had returned from a missions trip to Haiti.  I knew God had something for me.  I knew I felt a calling to missions but I had no clue what that was.  I knew that He was doing something, was up to something, and this little space was a place for me to write all of that out.

As all humans are capable of, I veered off the path a little bit. I succumbed to the pressure of "being like other bloggers" and became a little too obsessed with being noticed and with gaining more followers for my blog. 

Then about a year ago, I started being really honest about my infertility.  I started sharing the hurt and you responded.  I didn't realize there were so many women out there who were struggling too. 

God showed up and started to heal the dark places in my soul. The places I thought He had forgotten about.  The places I had forgotten about.  I wrote through that time and I read and prayed and I began to see my God and my infertility in a whole new light.

This year has been a year of big changes for our family.  I've changed.  We've changed.  There are now 4 of us.  (That is still surreal to me.)

The changes have been good and have been hard.  Having two kids has really kicked my butt.  (Just ask all of my family members whose Christmas presents arrived late!)

I've been doing some reflecting and I realized that I never set out to be a blogger.  I actually made  a list of my top goals for my life and after I wrote it, I realized that blogging was no where on that list. 

But other things were. 

And that's when I made this decision.  I'm shutting down Glory in the Valley.

My two primary goals this year will be (this is a little scary to write and share)

1.  To really work on Livi Joy.  God has given me big dreams for this little business.  More products.  More designs.  I'll be redoing our website over the next month and our new site will have a blog attached to it so I'll still be able to share things that are on my heart but without the pressure of being a "blogger".

2.  I feel really strongly that the lessons I've learned about my Savior and about myself in my infertility need to be documented in a book.  (That feels really self-promoting to say.  I don't say it in a sense of "I need to write a book" but in a sense that I just want women who are waiting and searching to know there is hope and there is peace and that God does indeed see them in their suffering.) So I'm going to spend this year writing a book proposal and writing more.

Even though this blog will not exist, you can still keep in touch with me in several ways.

Email:  You can email me at livijoytees@gmail.com.

Instagram: You can follow along at @livijoytees

Twitter: You can follow me at @livijoytees

Facebook:  You can find us at livijoytees

And in about a month, you can find us at www.livijoy.com.

All accounts associated with Glory in the Valley will be phased out in the next few months. 

Our little family really appreciates all of the support and words of encouragement and prayers during our adoption and missions trips over the past four years.  I have really loved the community that I have found through this blog.  I have met friends and a community that have really gotten me through some very hard days.  I hope that I have done the same for you. 

I am so excited for the direction that God has for our family.  I truly do believe that He orders our steps and that the best is yet to come.

Happy 2015 everyone.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014 Book List Update

It's that time of the year.  The time to reevaluate our goals and make new ones.  It's also the time when I have a tendency to be overly critical and regret things that I didn't finish or accomplish.

I really only made two goals this year- to finish this book list and to be BRAVE.

This year was a bit crazy for me- finding out about Toby and running off to Florida to pick up our son, starting a business, moving- so, naturally, I didn't finish everything or accomplish everything I wanted to.

At the beginning of the year, these books seemed like the fit me.  They were on topics I was interested in and I was really looking forward to reading them all.  But then, my life changed a little during the year and I changed and suddenly I wasn't really interested in some of them anymore.  And I'm not a believer in reading something just to finish it or just because it's on some list.  There are too many good books out there to read something I'm not truly, deeply interested in.

So, I didn't finish all the books on my list.  Some of these, I'll revisit this year.  Some of them, I may never read.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Growly Books: Begin by Philip and Erin Ulrich (currently reading)
Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary
Self-Publish: Moving from Idea to Product by Erin Ulrich and Teri Lynne Underwood
French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon
Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick (currently reading)

I did add some books to my list this year.  I couldn't help it.  And I'm glad I did.  All of these books were awesome!

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

I'm working on my 2015 Reading List.  Do you have any good book recommendations?  Did you finish your 2014 Reading List?

Friday, December 12, 2014

hello weekend

Every once in a while I like to make little compilation lists of my favorite things from around the internet.  I think it's the perfect way to clear my head, share some fun, and get the weekend started.

So here goes!

I ordered a pair of these little shoes for Toby and they came in the mail this week.  I am in love!  Go check out Kerry's shop on Etsy.

Alivea and I just finished the second Ramona book.  I was so excited to share these little facts about Ramona's character from this article.

I was so excited to find this book Give Them Grace on sale for $0.99 for Kindle this week.  It was on my 2014 Book List and I've only read the first few pages and my heart towards parenting has already been challenged.

A little birdie told me that on Monday Zulily will have $0.99 kids toys. What the what?

I shared one of my go-to Christmas gifts this week.  Get the recipe for DIY lip balm here.

I am going crazy over these little booties.  I put them on my Christmas Wish List.

Alivea is so into jokes right now.  I love this little list of 25 Christmas Jokes for Kids.

Mom sets the tone.  I definitely needed this article.

My internet friend, Lauren, wrote this post this week about a trip to the grocery store with her family. Denny and I have definitely been there.  Feeling like you stick out in public because of the way your family looks and then having your child have a melt-down which then feels like a thousand red flashing arrows are pointing at your family.  I love the grace and kindness that this stranger showed her.  We need more people like that in the world.  If for nothing else, but to encourage us.

There you have it!  Have a great weekend everyone!  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Make & Take

When we first moved I knew right away I wanted excuses to bring people together.

And with Christmas coming up, my first big shing-ding (yes, I said that!) had to be a crafty one.

I scoured Pinterest and came up with some easy DIY gift ideas.

I gathered some girlfriends together and we spent a few hours crafting, eating Christmas cookies, drinking coffee and tea and laughing. There was lots of laughing!

I chose four projects for our afternoon together.  My main goal with choosing projects was that they be easy and inexpensive.  I had all the ladies chip in $15 to purchase the supplies that we needed and they each left with 6 crafts to keep or give away.  

Here are the projects we chose:

Painted Wooden Earrings.  You can find the tutorial here.  I couldn't find the wooden earrings at my Dollar Store so I just purchased these wooden earring blanks from Hobby Lobby. 

DIY Gold Leaf Vase.  We followed this easy tutorial for this project.  I did not, however, use the same gold paint.  I simply purchased acrylic paint that could be used for glass.  It was much cheaper.

Dry Erase Board.  I got this idea from this list and I just love how it turned out.  This board can be used for anything- grocery lists, notes you need to leave someone, a changeable piece of art on your wall.  And the grand total to make this baby - $1.50.

And lastly, our favorite project.  DIY Lip Balm.  I used the recipe I found here and used everything except the Vitamin E.  I figured coconut oil has enough vitamins and moisturizers in it already. I purchased the little jars and the beeswax pellets from Amazon.  The only addition I would make to the directions would be that once you melt the beeswax and the coconut oil, divide that wax solution in half or even in fourths and then add the flavorings.  This recipe makes a lot of lip balm and we ran out of containers.  

These little containers are so cute and they look adorable tied up with a ribbon. These would make great stocking stuffers. 

I will definitely be making the lip balm again.  It was so easy and it feels great on your lips too.  I can see this being one of my go-to Christmas gifts.  The possibilities are endless with the different ways you can flavor them.  I'd love to try combining flavors in the next batch.  I'm thinking cherry + peppermint or spearmint + vanilla.

Do you have any go-to DIY Christmas gift ideas?

Friday, December 5, 2014

the earth is full

The news, this week and last, has been constant.

Bad news.  Scary news.

I go to bed worrying about this world.  About my neighborhood and my community and what may come.

I go to bed worrying for my children.  For the world they will inherit.

The earth is full of bad things.

The earth is full of murder.

... of injustice.
... of pride.
... of racism.
... of disrespect.
... of blood.
... of orphans.
... of widows.
... of hatred.
... of war.
... of selfishness.
... of vanity.

Weeks like these.  Nights like the last few nights I find myself awake at odd hours because my mind simply won't turn off.

Last night was one of those nights.  I opened my bible, not because I'm some super-Christian. But because at 2 am when the world looks bad and I know I have no other hope and nowhere else to find any answers, I have to run to my bible. I need to get my bearings and come back to the truth.

The world looks bad and feels bad and the people in it scare me.  I scare me.

I opened my bible to where I had left off in the Psalms and read this.

For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.  He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. (Psalm 33:5)

The earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

The earth looks like it's full of a lot of other stuff that doesn't look anything like the steadfast love of the Lord.  But my bible says that's here too.  That His love is here.

That brought me some peace in the middle of the night.  It righted my mind and my heart and helped me to rest.

Isn't that the point?  That we run to truth when the world looks scary and that we allow the truth of His word to right our minds and steady our hearts so that we can rest.  In Him.

I have no answers for this age.  I have no answers for the events of the last weeks or heck, of the last decades.  I have no answers for why things are still the way they are.  I have no answers for why we just can't love one another.  I have no answers. My little brain cannot comprehend the weight of such things.  My little heart simply cannot take the burden of such things.

My little heart and my little mind have to trust the one who can.  The one who fills the earth with His steadfast love.

Linking this post up here

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Knowing and Being Known

The other night after Toby finished his bottle and I put him down in the middle of our bed, he started sneezing.  And I knew that he would sneeze three times before he was finished.  I just knew.  When that thought popped into my head, I remember this feeling of gratitude and I started thinking about how great it is to know things like that about people.

It was around 3 am and I was laying there thinking about this awesome opportunity that I have to know the people in my life.

Take Alivea, for example.  She loves pink.  So much so that if given the choice between several items, of which there is no pink option, she will choose red and call it "pink" because she simply does not want to live in a world where "pink" is not an option.

Alivea also has this fierce connection to family.  On the way to our Thanksgiving meal last week she commented from the back seat that her favorite thing about Thanksgiving was being with her whole entire family.  And the way she says "her whole entire family" just fills my mama heart with the warmest of feelings.

My husband.  He's the shy one in our relationship.  He also doesn't stand up for himself much.  But he knows that I am so overprotective of him.  He came home last night and told me a story about how someone questioned his commitment and I about flew off the handle. He knew I would, which is why he told me not to overreact before he told me.  Oooops!

I am overwhelmed lately by the sheer privilege I have to watch these people and to know them.  I don't know them completely yet.  Toby is new to our family and I've known my husband for over 20 years and I feel like I have so much to still learn about both of them.

It's really a blessing to be given this opportunity to know these people.  I think that's the beauty of the human experience. The fact that we don't have to live this life alone.  That we get the chance to learn about people.  To learn the good and the bad.  To learn the joy and the pain.  To learn what makes them happy and what makes them hurt.

This Christmas season, I am determined to learn more about my family.  I want to know them more.

And in learning more about them, I hope they get to know me too.

Monday, December 1, 2014

december {goals with grace}

It's December.  Crazy, right?  It's the one month out of the year when we all are busier preparing to show our friends and family that we love them and yet we seem to be more stressed and don't have as much time for our friends and family.

I'm determined to break that cycle in my home this Christmas.

I'm setting some goals again this month to give myself something to reach for.  Something to aspire to.  A destination.  I'm giving myself grace, though.  As a business owner and overall type-A personality that isn't easy to do.  I tend to be very hard on myself and put goals ahead of people.

Before I get to this month's goals, let's recap from last month.

November's goals:

1.  To finish reading Beezus the Pest to Alivea. (We didn't finish but we are so close.)
2.  To hang some pictures on the walls of our new house.
3.  To have some guests over.
4.  To get family photos taken. (Our budget didn't have any room for family photos but I did have a friend get some great shots of the kids.)

December's goals:

1.  To relax.  I'm learning that because of my type-A personality, I am a pro at multi-tasking and it's starting to really stress me out.  I need to able to just relax and not feel like I need to be accomplishing something every second of every day.
2.  To finish reading Beezus the Pest to Alivea.
3.  To watch Christmas movies with my family.
4.  To make some cookies or bread to send to our neighbors.  

That's it!  Thanks for reading and have a great first day of December.

**I'm linking up with the Tiny Twig and her Goals with Grace.