Monday, December 5, 2011

Guest Blog: Scraps of Soul

I have a dear friend that I have known since I was three.  Her name is Amanda.  We grew up together, went to college together, and have stayed connected through Mommydom.

Several summers ago I led a group of about 25 women through Beth Moore's The Patriarchs.  If you have never done this study... I highly recommend it!  It is Beth's best, in my opinion.  If you have never done a Beth Moore study, you must.

Anyway, in this summer study of 25 women, I think there were maybe three that had not experienced some form of infertility or miscarriage loss.  Amanda was one of the ones that was in the midst of the storm.

Over the weekend I read a posting on Amanda's blog, Scraps of Soul, that was so beautifully written and so poignant, I asked her if I could share it with all of you.  Please check out her blog... she's so wise, but enjoy this posting here.  I hope it touches you, as it did me.

The Age of Miracles
The age of miracles is not yet over, and that you may tie to.
--Susan, Anne of Ingleside

Having a baby is like falling in love. While you're waiting for both to happen to you, it seems everyone around you already has what you so desperately want. To those struggling with infertility, to lose "unlucky" in love: both feel like a right is being denied them.

But then when you fall in love, or you become a mother, you discover that both are a privilege you could never actually deserve. (Neither is actually as romantic as you imagine, either, but that's the subject of another blog.)

Before I "tried" to have a baby, I didn't think much about what it took to get pregnant, in terms of the inner biology, that is. The mysterious union of cells, all the ways that the right things have to happen at the right time? No, mainly, conception seemed like something that could happen at any moment and needed to be prevented. But then once I was ready to be a mom, I thought of little else. My first pregnancy happened fast. My second, well, it took about a year, one of the longest, most frustrating, face-up-to-all-my-control-issues years of my life.

Almost eight years into motherhood, and surrounded by women in their childbearing years, I now appreciate the miracle that each pregnancy and each birth is. And though we know a lot, scientifically, about fertility and biology, in my personal experience, babies often come without seeming to play by any of these rules.

Just a few examples from my inner circle:

*A mom who sought medical help to get pregnant the second time and was told that biologically, she shouldn't have even been able to have her first. The mom's reaction? Appreciate the first as a miracle.

*A mom who spent her life savings on IVF treatments, and through it had one son and then fraternal twins. And then got pregnant with Baby #4 by accident one year later. The mom's reaction? After the initial panic, she thanked God for the miracle.

*A mom who was "done" having children and using preventative measures, and got pregnant with Baby #3 anyway. Again, initial panic, followed by thanking God for the miracle and asking Him to now provide what she needed as a mother.

*A mom who spent years in fertility treatments, had given up, and then suddenly had her first. And then five more, in a span of six years. (That one is my grandmother.)

*A woman whose cycle was so out of whack that she decided there was no hope of getting pregnant without intervention. And then got pregnant without it that very month. (That one is me.) My reaction? To praise God for the miracle, Olivia Faith, named for the peace I found on my journey to have her, and the faith that got stronger for having walked that road with God.

On my personal journey, what I've decided is that if God thinks its the right time for you to have a baby, He gives you a baby, no matter what science or medicine says. I was thinking about this in church on Sunday, hearing the story of the angel Gabriel telling Mary that she was going to have a baby that would defy science -- even simple first century science -- altogether. And when she asks, well, how is that going to happen, I don't even have a man here, the angel tells Mary that even her "old and barren" relative Elizabeth is pregnant too, "For nothing is impossible with God."

It suddenly occurred to me that in bringing about the Messiah, the Savior, he performed several fertility miracles. It started with Abraham and Sarah, father of Isaac, who would become father of all Israel, the line from who Jesus would come. God told Abraham that his descendants would be as great in number as the stars, even though his wife was barren and was now in her "old age." When Abraham told Sarah, she laughed with incredulity. And God struck her mute for a while as punishment. "Don't believe I can do it, huh Sarah? Why don't you just be quiet and think for a little bit about who I Am?" God delivered on that promise, and then Sarah laughed for another reason: joy.

Then, thousands of years later, God blessed another "old" and barren woman with a baby, Elizabeth, who gave birth to John the Baptist, who Jesus called the greatest man to have lived. When God told Elizabeth's husband, he laughed incredulously too, and he too was struck mute for a while. "You know the scriptures, Zachariah, and you're still laughing? Now you go sit quietly and think for a while, too."

And then finally, God does his greatest fertility miracle yet: he makes a virgin a Mom. This is a stumbling block for a lot of people. This is too hard to believe. To some it doesn't even seem necessary to believe in the virgin conception; Jesus can be who he says he is even if he had a biological earthly father. But me, I think it is literally true, and falls right in line with what God was doing all along. "You think I can't do what I've promised? I brought the earth out of nothingness. Now, watch this."

I have walked the infertility road with a lot of women who love God, and this thread through Scripture of God blessing women in barrenness, conception, and motherhood touches my heart. I love that He chose to bring Jesus to us through women, through moms. I think he really loved those women, and he really has a heart for women today, whether they are mothers, or want to be mothers, or are mothers of spiritual -- if not biological -- children.

I love my mighty God, even though believing He can do anything -- absolutely anything -- challenges me because it means I have to still trust Him even when he chooses not to. I watched one dear friend face up to this just this year, a clear word from God that he was not going to give her any more children. She accepted this with faith, and came out the other end of her long struggle with a sense of satisfaction and a clearer picture of who her Father is than she ever had before. Another miracle.

I'm grateful for the miracles of my daughters, for the privilege, the unearned gift of being their Mommy. I'm grateful that the age of miracles is not yet over. Because though they have been conceived, carried and issued forth -- a process that challenged my sense of control at every turn -- I'm even more in need of God's miracles now that my kids are out. A lot of things seem impossible. How can I keep them safe? How can I teach them what they need to know to live in this world? How can I prepare their hearts for eternity? How in the world will I pay for college? I can't really do any of these things. But I'm waiting on God, because I know he's already said to me, "Oh yeah? Seems impossible? Just watch what I can do."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sale Extended!

I have decided to extend our Small Business Saturday Sale through Cyber Monday!


To remind you:

I have not one, but three great deals for you!

Buy 3 or More Day Planners {excluding the Months Only versions} and get The Whole Shebang Add-Ons for FREE*
That's a $14 value for each Planner!

Buy 1 Large Desk/Wall Calendar and Get 1 FREE
{no limit}*
That's a savings of $24 for each FREE Calendar!

Spend over $150 and get 
on your entire order**

*Just include a note in your Message to Seller at checkout that you would like to take advantage of the Small Business Saturday deal, do not add the free items to your cart.

**Shipping will be refunded through PayPal within 24 hours.

Take advantage of 1 or all of our offers, but hurry... they are only good until midnight!

Also remember that this Thursday, December 1st is the LAST DAY to order for guaranteed Christmas delivery!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Support Small Business Saturday

Check out this posting on my Much Ado About You website for the

Think FREE, FREE, and more FREE.

Support Small Businesses this Saturday... they are keeping our country afloat.  Happy shopping!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hair {Yes, I am Posting about Hair Again}

Why is it that you can be going along with a hairdo that you like, day after day, and then all of a sudden it stops working.  That is how it always goes with my hair.  I like it.  I like it.  I like it.  Poof!  I hate it.

Or, your color is fine.  It's fine.  It's fine.  Poof!  You have inch long roots!

The last several days my hair has not come out of the ponytail holder.
It's time for a haircut.

So, what do you think?

There's the messy bob:

Source: via Emmy on Pinterest

The random super long front piece bob:

The heavy bang bob:

The Paris:

The side part bob:

Or, the if i could just have her eyes to go with it bob:

Are you sensing a theme?  I'm thinking a bob.  I love bobs.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Something has been on my mind lately.  Perspective

This word is troublesome to me at times.  It can be the center of an argument.  It can be the reason two people cannot see eye to eye.  It can cause frustration and disagreement and hurt.

But lately this word has brought me humility, comfort, and a sense of blessing.

I told you that I broke my toe.  Well, it still hurts, and I am still wearing this boot.  It has slowed me down, kept me from doing fun things with my family, and in general been an annoyance.  But I realize that it could be worse.  I could have had to wear a cast, which would mean I couldn't shower or shave... two of my must-do's for every morning.  I could have had a more serious, permanent injury, or been given a terminal prognosis.  This toe has given me perspective.

Last week I was working on the finances for my business {my least favorite part of small business ownership}, and I was frustrated that no matter how much money comes in... it seems that there is always as much money going out.  I have felt many times over the last few months God's confirmation that this is where He has me, and yet I was frustrated that I seem to spin my wheels in the profitability department.  But then, almost audibly, I heard God tell me, "Emmy... when did you hear me say that this business was for YOUR blessing?"  I was reminded of my employees, who get to come to work when they want, for as long as they want, wearing what they want, and then get to take a paycheck home to their families.  I was reminded of Penelope's amazing Nanny that gets to play with the cutest baby on the planet a few days a week, and then work on her own developing business on her days off.  I was reminded of the many emails I have received from customers that LIVE by their planners.  And most importantly, I was reminded of the opportunity that this business has given me to share God's glory with countless people that would otherwise have never heard my story.  My finances have given me perspective. 

Over the weekend I learned that a couple very close to me is getting divorced.  There is no evidence of any tangible reason for this split other than that they are just two people that don't get along.  My heart is broken. How quickly the devil sneaks in and whispers lies that tear people apart.  I ache for this family and the devastation that is coming.  I am reminded of how important it is to love our children, but keep our spouses as our first priority.  I am reminded that the little things become big things when we aren't intentionally loving.  I am reminded of how blessed I am that after 16 years, I still love my husband as much as the day I fell in love with him.  This news has given me perspective.

Last night I saw a posting on Facebook that led me to this blog.  I read Ashley's story about going in for a D & C, and waking up having had an emergency hysterectomy, and now facing chemotherapy for possibly cancerous cells that are attacking her body.  It was a painful reminder of the day that I went in for a laparoscopy, and woke up having had both of my fallopian tubes removed, which meant that I officially could never again get pregnant naturally.  Her husband's side of the story reminded me of my sweet husband, forced to make a decision on his own that would forever effect me.  I am praying that Ashley's body will be fully healed and that the chemotherapy would wipe out anything that is trying to harm her body.  And I am grateful that a very painful part of my life ultimately resulted in Nathan and me opening the door to adoption, which brought us the greatest treasure of all... our Penelope.  Ashley has give me perspective.  

What all of this is reminding me is that every day we have a choiceWe choose the perspective that we are going to use to evaluate the circumstances in our lives.  We all know a person that chooses to live life from the perspective of a victim.  These people choose only to see the negative results of the circumstances that surround their trials.  These people ask questions like "why me?", "what's next?", and "when will God bless me?"  These people are tough to be around.  They miss out on the flowers that grow after the rainstorms.

I want to be a person that chooses a different perspective.  I want to be a person that says, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." {Job1:21}  I want to choose the perspective of finding ways to share God's glory in every season of my life.  That is my perspective today.

What is your perspective?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sacrificial Love

I broke my toe last night.  I have broken toes many times, but I have never really been 100% sure that they were actually broken... until last night.

I stubbed my right pinky toe on the coffee table.  When I looked down at it, I saw what may have been the grossest thing I have ever seen.  My cute little pinky toe was at a 90 degree angle to the rest of my toes. 

I covered my eyes and screamed for Nathan to "fix it... fix it... fix it!!!"  Here's what happened next:

My husband reached down and popped my toe back into place.
I heard a sound and felt a feeling I hope to never hear or see again.
Then I hyperventilated.
Then I started laughing/crying so hard that I snorted several times.
Then Nathan told me I should take a shot of tequila for the pain.
Then I had a glass of wine. {After the shot of tequila.}
Then I got mad at Nathan for not taking a picture before he popped it back into place.
Then I "slept" with a bag of frozen corn taped to my foot.

This morning when I noticed that my foot was swollen to twice its size and bruised halfway up my arch {with only a little exaggeration added for drama}, I decided to go get x-rays.

Turns out that my toe broke in half. 

The doctor was super impressed with Nathan's popping job, because he said it was lined up perfectly.  This only served to encourage my husband's "I'm practically a doctor" stance.

The doctor said that since I didn't want to use crutches {because how does one use crutches with a 6 month old baby???}, I have to wear this hideous shoe for the next 4 to 6 weeks!

I am now gimping all around, trying not to bend my foot, icing and elevating, and just generally a disaster.

But you know what?  {Insert radical shift in tone here.}  I have a heart and lungs that work.  I can survive without the use of my pinky toe, but Sharlie will not survive without a new heart and lungs.

Have you Shopped for Sharlie yet?

I told you last week that my husband and I are going to match the donations of the first 100 people that purchase my Meal Planning Tutorial and Printable.  I heard today that we have sold 69 so far!!!  That is so amazing... I am blown away!  Thank you so much to each and everyone one of you that has purchased it already. 

But I want to sell 100.  That is my goal: to raise $1,000 for Sharlie from this little blog. 

So won't 31 more of you consider buying it???

Our Youth Pastor spoke in "big church" this week on a series called "Livin' Large".  He said something that really hit me.  He said, "Imitate your Father by living a sacrificial love for others."

It made me think about Sharlie, and this whole campaign.  For myself {and I am guessing nearly all of my readers} $5 is not a sacrifice.

It is a skipped trip to Starbucks. 
It is one less bag of chips at the grocery store.
It is one less magazine to read this week.

But it is not a sacrifice.

So now I am going to ask you to do something. 

I'm going to ask you to go buy the $5 printable, but I am also going to ask you to give more

Buy another printable or tutorial from one of my super talented and creative friends.
Buy advertising space for your blog or shop from one of the many blogs that is donating their proceeds.

Or just give.  Give.  As a sacrifice. 
Give to show Sharlie love. 
Give because Christ would give. 
Give because you want to be more like Christ.

And then feel joy, knowing that you were a little more like Christ today.

I would love to hear what you are going to sacrifice this week in order to give a little more.

Now I am going to hobble up to bed, grateful that I have a mostly functioning body.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Become a Sharlie's Angel

Good morning dear blog friends.

This morning, I am feeling inspired and blessed after an amazing day at Blog Sugar yesterday. I had a wonderful time seeing old friends, meeting some friends face-to-face for the first time, and making some new friends.  And I am reminded that even though some people don't understand it... my bloggy friends are real friends.  The relationships that I have built in this crazy blog world are real and important to me, and I value each and every one of you!

One of the panels I attended was run by Julie of Joy's Hope and Jeanett of Life Rearranged, and they reminded us all that whether we have 5 readers or 5,000, we have a captive audience that is actually listening to what we say, and that we should be using that platform to do good and share Christ.

So today I am so excited that you amazing people have come to read my blog, and I hope that you will allow me to share an incredible opportunity to do good.

My dear friend Jessica of Allora Handmade asked me to join her and an amazing group of women to help her best friend that is fighting a battle for her life.  Here's a little bit of what Jessica would like you to know:

Sharlie is a wife and mom.
She loves to read.
She loves to laugh.
She has an infectious smile.
And the best hugs on the planet.
Sharlie is also awaiting a double lung AND heart transplant.
She is an inspiration.
A fighter.
A miracle.

Please go read Jessica's post to hear the whole story... as Jessica said, Sharlie has Cystic Fibrosis, and is awaiting a double lung and heart transplant.  She is a woman that has beaten the odds, and then some.  But she has a 4 year old son that needs her to come home.

Sharlie's family needs to raise about $250,000 to cover her medical bills.  That seems daunting, I know.  But if you break that down... If every person donated just $5, then it would take 50,000 donations.  If every person that blogs about this fundraiser has 500-1000 readers, then only 50-100 bloggers would need to get their readers involved.  That is totally do-able.

Let's do this!

Jessica has put together a shop full of goodies including some awesome tutorials and printables {all of which cost just $5} from some amazing women, and I am so humbled that she asked me to be a part. The best part is that 100% of the proceeds are going directly to Sharlie's family.

Please check out the shop, and check out my Meal Planning Made Easy tutorial and printables and tell me what you think!

My husband and I have been touched by this story and have decided that we would like to do a little extra.  So for the first 100 of you that go and purchase my tutorial, we will match your donation!  Please come back here and comment to let me know that you purchased it.  I just know that we can do this!

Let's be one of the blogs that raises over $1,000!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

I Have a Nemesis

I have a Nemesis.

She doesn't know she's my Nemesis.  In fact, she probably doesn't even know who I am.

But she is my Nemesis.

She makes planners.  She started out her business doing invitations and announcements {just like I did}.  But a few months after I started my calendar business, she introduced a line of planners.  Don't get me wrong... I am NOT insinuating that she copied me.  I guarantee that at that point {and, like I said, probably still} she had no idea who I was.  It was just an unfortunate coincidence.

She is a much bigger deal than I am.  She has a real office, and big giant printers the size of cars.  She has a beautiful website and great products. 

I want those things.  So she is my Nemesis.

One of my employees is on her mailing list, and every time she comes out with something new and great my friend forwards me the email and I say, "Curse you, {insert Nemesis name here}."

It seems like I am constantly bombarded with her name.  Yesterday, a bloggy friend of mine posted about her fabulous new planner that she just purchased from my Nemesis.  It made me sad.  Doesn't she know about my fabulous planners???

A few weeks ago I got an email from a customer telling me how excited she was about finding my plannesr, and how they are so much better than the ones my Nemesis makes {and she didn't even know that she was talking about my Nemesis}.  It made my day.

I think I will frame it and put it in my office.

I realize that the heart of this matter is that I am jealous of a person that has already reached a level of success that I aspire to.  I know I should not be coveting her business.  I know that God has blessed my business, and will continue to bless it, and that maybe someday I too will have a real office and a giant printer the size of my car. 

But in the meantime, I will just continue to refer to her as my Nemesis.  Like Dr. Doofenshmirtz does with Perry the Platypus.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

In a Stunned Daze

I am a little speechless this morning, so I will try my best to put my feelings into words.

When we got Penelope, I knew that I had to take a break from my business.  I waited a very long time for her, but even if I hadn't, who wants to miss those precious moments that you don't ever get back?

But I love my business.

For many reasons, including the fact that in less than 3 years I sold over 1500 calendars with almost no advertising, I know that God called me to this business and has blessed it beyond measure.

But there are days that I daydream about throwing in the towel and "just" being a housewife {believe me... I know that is not a just}. 

This business is overwhelming at times.  I work hard.  I work a lot.  And to be honest... up until this point, even though we sold almost $30,000 worth of calendars last year, I have made no money.  No profit.  Not one dime.

That is actually typical for a start up business.  Normally, the first three years are profit-less, which is why many businesses fail.  And I have to admit that after working nearly 15 hours a day last fall... I had to wonder if it was worth it.

But, like I said, I love my business.  Love it, love it. 

Then my sweet friend Lysa TerKeurst contacted me and asked if she could blog about her calendar that she loves.

I have done many blog giveaways.  They generally don't generate many sales.  I think this is because people are waiting to see if they win, and then by the time it's over they forget to order.

But I also know that Lysa is kind of a big deal.  She is a New York Times Best-Selling Author, the President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, and one of the coolest people I know.  So I expected that I would get at least some orders out of this promotion. 

Like, maybe 10.

Yesterday at about 11am our time Lysa's blog went up.

By 11:45 I had received 20 orders.  20!

By day's end... 56 orders, and over 60 calendars sold.  The highest single day sales we have ever had.

I spent the majority of my day running back and forth to the computer to re-list items as they sold out.  My parents kept calling me to tell me all the wonderful things people were saying about Much Ado About You on Lysa's blog.

When I woke up this morning, I had 8 new orders.

There are currently 578 comments on Lysa's blog posting.  {Head on over there and comment if you want a chance to win.}

I am amazed.  Stunned.  Shocked.  Overwhelmed.  But mostly grateful.  Grateful.  Grateful.

Oops... I gotta go.  Two more orders just came in... I gotta go re-list some items.

Friday, July 29, 2011

So Much Excitement

I am on the edge of my seat

I can't wait for the shop to re-open on Monday!!!

There are so many things to tell you about... so many new features and products... a new website... LOWER PRICES!

I am going to be working all weekend to get everything in place, but for now, a sneak peek:

EEK!  Are you excited too? 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Christmas in July

Today I drove by a house that had icicle Christmas lights up, and a light-up plastic Jesus, Mary and Joseph on the roof.

Clearly, they do not live in an association, but don't you think just one of their neighbors would suggest they take it down?  Or take it down for them in the middle of the night???

Maybe they are just really efficient and they put them up for this Christmas.

Regardless... it made me feel much better about the state of affairs in the Blakely household.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Don't Bother Me... I'm Pinning

Some things I have been pinning lately:

Chore Blocks!  How much fun are these?  I LOVE this idea.

Source: None via Emmy on Pinterest

I am obsessed with this backsplash!  I want it.  Now.

If only my office were ever this clean.  Right now I'm not even sure you would be able to tell what color my desk is.

We made this for dinner last night, and it was delicious!  Big hit.  If you're looking for a super easy recipe to feed a big crowd this summer... this is it!  We also grilled some pineapple slices, and I made rosemary infused white rice.  If you have a rice cooker {which everyone should}, cook white rice in part water and part pineapple juice and add a few sprigs of rosemary on top.  I removed the rosemary when it was done cooking.  Yummy.

My friends say I have a knack for repeating the same story with the exact same details every time.  Hey... at least I don't exaggerate.

Alright... of to try to get some actual work done.  ONE WEEK UNTIL THE SHOP REOPENS!!!  EEK!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Drive an Hour

I want to know what you would drive an hour for.

Today I drove an hour for a Bob's Big Boy burger.  It was worth it.

That's my mom and Penelope... and Bob.

I love a good burger, and Bob's has one of the best.  And you know what the best part is?  It's $7.99 for a burger {which means a double burger, because that's how Bob makes them... yes, I know that Bob is not actually the chef}, fries and a salad.  That's a good deal.

So what would you drive an hour for?

Monday, July 11, 2011

If I Marry Nathan Again, Can I Have Another Wedding, Please???

I had an amazing wedding.  It was a beautiful, fun day.  It was {almost} everything I had ever dreamed of {and yes, I was the girl that had started my wedding portfolio when I was 10 years old}.

At the time, I would not have done much differently.  {Except for my dress.  I hated my dress.}

But I have to admit, if I was getting married today... it would be so different.

I would have a destination wedding.
I would get married outdoors.
My bridesmaids would all have different dresses, and the men would not wear tuxedos.
I would have a small wedding.
It would be very eclectic, and very vintage.
I would not do my own flowers.
There would be a swing band.
I would wear leopard print shoes.

I envy today's bride.  With the popularity of DIY and handmade products I feel like there are so many more creative options for adding a personal touch to your wedding. 

I keep telling Nathan that I want to have another wedding, and I think he's starting to worry that I may go looking for a new groom.  NOT A CHANCE.  But can I just marry Nathan again?

I recently came across Erin + Brett's wedding on green wedding shoes.

Oh.  My.  Gosh. 

This might be... no, this is the most fabulous wedding I have ever seen!  I wish I had been there.  Plus, they look like a super fun couple.  I want to be friends with them.

Here's a little sampling {photos by Gabriel Ryan Photographers}:

Isn't it fabulous???  You must head over to green wedding shoes to check out the entire posting.  There are so many details that you are going to want to see.  You can also check out Erin's blog here.

Oh, and my wedding would have umbrellas.  Somewhere.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mani-Pedi Time

For the fourth of July I decided to give myself a festive mani-pedi.

Then I remembered why it is worth every penny of the $29 to have it done at a salon.  I kind of made a mess of my nails.  I wanted my toes to be blue with white polka dots, and my fingers to be red and white striped.

The stripes didn't happen.

But in my attempt to figure out how to make lovely stripes I went on Pinterest to search for nail art.

Now, let me be clear about one thing here: not unlike my feelings about clear bra straps, I think nail art has a time and a place, but for the most part is tacky.  Sorry.

If anything, I prefer the fanciness to stick to the toe region.

I have to admit, I found some pretty cool options that I would love to try {read: have someone try for me}.

Source: via Emmy on Pinterest

Source: via Emmy on Pinterest

Source: via Emmy on Pinterest

But I also found these beauties.  Ladies... please don't try this at home:

Source: via Emmy on Pinterest

Source: None via Emmy on Pinterest