Thursday, December 15, 2011

An Artist's Life Includes ... Art!


Here is my newest scarf design, for all those school-spirit-filled CU students!
I'm quite proud of the design, and hope you like it too! It is definitely a challenge both on paper and while crocheting. (I think that's why I like it so much!)

I've also been on a crochet kick in an effort to use up my scraps of yarn from previous projects. Here are two (currently unfinished) blankets that are (as of right now, but needing more than scraps to finish) completely made from yarn scraps I had on hand!






The one above is using this awesomely large crochet hook I bought a few months ago. It is crocheted with two strands of yarn at a time -- a colored yarn (blue, pink, yellow, etc) and a white or off-white yarn. I am excited for yarn to go on sale again so I can finish it!

The one below is using my dark-color yarns, with some 'pop' from gray and blue every so often. It's coming out really great, and I am looking forward to coming back from vacation and finishing it!



What do you think of my art? :-)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Snowstorm = Sleepover

Fluffy, white snow!!
It gave me a snow day! ;-)

My husband and I spent the night at our in-laws (he has Sunday night soccer games in the area), and helped out with cars and shuttling people around all day Monday. So, that was most of my Monday.

Not too much was accomplished, really, other than me making some awesome CU scarves! I'll hopefully have some photos, and maybe an Etsy post up before the end of the week.

Do you have a favorite college sports team that you want to cheer on with your wardrobe? I'd love to make a scarf for you that does just that! Check out my Etsy shop, or send me an email through my profile page.

Here is my delayed Thankful List, day 5.
  1. Time on the weekend to relax with my husband.
  2. Playing in the snow with my husband.
  3. The way snow looks like glitter when it's blown off of the roof.
  4. Email.
  5. The way email lets me keep up with friends' lives even when they are traveling all over the world.
  6. Rice packs that can be heated in the microwave to make my feet (somewhat) warm, like normal people.
  7. The person who discovered that epsom salts help relax sore and tired muscles.
  8. Bubbles.
  9. ITunes now letting you rent movies (Blockbuster's disappearance can make that hard).
  10. Comedies, and the way they make days seem more enjoyable.
What are you thankful for today?

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Beautiful Snow Continues

© Jessica Van Eaton 2011
This is a picture of the creek by my home about, oh, 20 minutes ago. Isn't it absolutely beautiful? On the way to and from physical therapy I felt so overwhelmed by how beautiful the world can look when it's covered in a blanket of snow. (It's a little colder than I would prefer, but the sun is nice and warm!)

So, I spent about an hour taking pictures of the pretty snow! My guilty pleasure for the day. ;-)

Now, onto my promised Thankful List, day 4:
  1. Beautiful blankets of snow.
  2. Time in my day to photograph beautiful nature.
  3. Family living nearby.
  4. My super nice camera that I was given as a present from my amazing husband.
  5. My husband's love and care toward me. (He texted me to warn me about black ice, and to make sure I got home safely!)
  6. Encouraging comments about my crochet work.
  7. The smell of a wonderful Christmas tree that fills my home.
  8. Sharing childhood ornaments with my husband while we hung them on the tree.
  9. Having a large bucket of ornaments filled with memories.
  10. Old church hymnals.
What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What a Wonderful Day For . . .

© Jessica Van Eaton 2011

. . . how would you finish this sentence?

If you managed to not miss my picture, you should know my answer:
awesome snow!

My husband and I got up this morning, looked out of our living room window (it's more of a sliding glass door, really), and saw a world covered in inches of snow! What a fun surprise!

I was completely not expecting snow, especially considering I have done a horrible job of checking the weather on a regular basis. I was also not expecting a phone call from my sister-in-law (my husband's wonderful sister) and a half-hour of random conversation and catching up! It was a wonderful morning, and I couldn't help but think of my wonderful list as everything was happening. :-)

So, the continuation of my Thankful List is here!
(for clarification, these numbers should start at 21)
  1. Living in beautiful, relaxing Boulder, Colorado.
  2. The winter wonderland that the morning brought.
  3. Telephones.
  4. Surprise (happy) phone calls from loved ones.
  5. The people who read my posts. ;-)
  6. The people who read (and respond to) my facebook posts. :-)
  7. A working heater in my home.
  8. My husband's crazy awesome skills that fixed our heater.
  9. Humane societies and animal shelters.
  10. People who are kind enough to let me volunteer at the humane society. (I get to work with dogs!)
I am totally excited to be volunteering with dogs! We can't have one in our complex (unless it's a service dog, and as much as I am willing to go for the service dog to have a dog in our home, I really want to not need one), so it's a great way to enjoy doggy-company. :-)
I am not sure if I will be waiting until after the holidays to start my volunteering, but I am already excited to share stories and photos with everyone!

What is your weather like today? Why do you enjoy it? (and if you aren't enjoying your weather today, can you find one good thing that it has caused?)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Learning: Being Thankful, Day 2

Here is the continuation of my Thankful List:

(Unfortunately, I don't know how to start the numbering at 11)
  1. Not being allergic to the live Christmas tree in my home.
  2. Hiking through the mountains with my husband and friends to find said Christmas tree.
  3. My husband's incredible strength. I didn't have to worry about helping with bring the tree safely down the mountain, and could focus on getting me down safely! :-)
  4. Christmas music to play all day long.
  5. The amazing and wonderful gift of Jesus Christ.
  6. Random opportunities to make good friends.
  7. Sunshine streaming through the window.
  8. Physical therapists.
  9. Insurance to help pay for said physical therapists.
  10. The warm, salt-water swimming pool that our condo complex has.
I have a feeling this list will get very long and complicated rather quickly. I have decided that I don't mind ... it's good to be thankful!

Also, for those of you who were asking -- I have finished my IIT scarf that I was working on! You can check out the pictures here, and even order one for yourself! (fyi: they make great stocking suffers!)

What is one thing you are thankful for today? Who is one person in your life that would benefit from a few words of gratitude?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Learning: Being Thankful

This past Sunday, my pastor spoke about the trials and tribulations of life, spiritual struggles, and the lies that Satan speaks into our hearts. He also spoke of how, in almost every situation, the Bible offers a thankful heart as a way to stay strong despite our weak human nature.

He called every person listening to a simple challenge. When you awake in the morning, write down ten things you are thankful for. If you are married, at least one needs to be related to your spouse. If you are living under your parent's roof, at least one needs to be about your parents. The challenge is to continue this process of list-making for 30 straight days, to help build a heart filled with thankfulness.

It is amazing how much good a thankful heart can accomplish!

I have taken up this challenge, and I would love if you would take it with me.

Here is the beginning of my Thankful List.
  1. Cuddling with my husband before starting the day.
  2. My warm and cozy home.
  3. My voice was made for singing.
  4. Being able to walk without too much help.
  5. Warm baths.
  6. Grocery stores with a seemingly unlimited supply of food.
  7. Fresh fruit.
  8. V8 fusion juice. So delicious! (and healthy!)
  9. Skype. (or any other means of video chat with family and friends)
  10. Airplanes. So helpful for visiting family!
I will do my very best to post my 10 each day, so come back tomorrow!

What 10 things are you thankful for today? I would absolutely love for you to share them with me!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ideas: School Spirit

For a little over a week, I have been dealing with some sort of flu bug (or other annoying virus). I've had aches and pains, been tired all day long and have been hardly any help around the house.

Worst of all, I haven't been able to crochet for a whole week!

Seriously, that is akin to torture for an artistic spirit like myself.

I am feeling much better this week. Yesterday I was able to crochet! I finished a blanket that I hope to photograph and post online soon, and started on another one. :-)

Even better than finishing blankets was working on a new idea (I have to utilize my pent-up creativity!). I designed an awesome way to add warmth, style and school spirit to your wardrobe.


This is the start of my newest scarf, monogrammed with my college alma mater: Illinois Institute of Technology. School name, school colors, school spirit!

It is incredibly warm, and unbelievably soft! (btw, I'm keeping this one for myself ... creator's benefits!)

What do you think?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Etsy: New Lower Prices!

© Jessica Van Eaton

My new design is complete! I have my wonderful Etsy shop up and running with all new prices, now set to be donated for charity!

Ninety percent of the proceeds from each sale (excluding the cost of shipping and materials) will be donated directly to the Emergency Family Assistance in Boulder, Colorado.

I cannot wait to see the wonderful benefit this will have in the lives of those in need!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Etsy: A Whole New Me


I love to give.

At my core, that's basically who I am: a giver. I prefer to think of others, I find joy in sacrifice and I smile the most when everyone around me is already smiling.

My Etsy is undergoing a change to reflect this. It's my shop, my products, things I have lovingly made by hand; so, I want it to reflect all of who I am.

Ninety percent of all sales will be donated directly to an awesome program in my new hometown: the Emergency Family Assistance in Boulder, CO. The Emergency Family Assistance Association works in Boulder and Broomfield counties in Colorado, with the purpose of aiding families. They provide food, temporary housing and monetary aid for utility bills, medical needs and housing costs to prevent homelessness.

I am excited to continue learning more about this wonderful program, and to be a part of its efforts for aiding those in need!

I hope you will join me on this journey, and prayerfully consider giving to this wonderful cause ... all while gaining a beautiful heirloom blanket!

My Etsy shop is on vacation while I am undergoing these changes. It will be back online on Monday. Until then, please visit my other shop, and be inspired!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Slipping In and Out

© Jessica Van Eaton

Once again, I have managed to let time slip away from me.

Sorry!

These past few months have kept me rather busy. I've married an amazing man of God, enjoyed a wonderful honeymoon that he planned, experienced the beauty of an island and the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon, drove a whole horde of miles to my lifetime of things, decorated a new home, spent hours playing with my new macro adapter for my camera, cooked a lot of new foods and learned more each day about what it means to live as a Godly wife. I have also been working on projects for my awesome Etsy shops and might possibly have a temporary assignment that relates to my love of architecture and my expertise with the amazing program Revit. *phew* It's been an adventurous time!

I've been quite busy, yet every day I feel as though I can be doing more things to help others.

I have been researching lately about the various volunteer opportunities in my area. I can help at the animal shelter, the food bank, the library's reading program, Big Sister programs and so many more!

What I still want to do, however, is find a way to help people through my love of crochet (and my awesome ability to finish projects quickly!) and good interpersonal skills. How could I do this?

I wanted to sell my blankets and give the profits to the Storehouse, which is doing awesome things in Chicago. It seems, however, that no one is willing to pay the asking price for my blankets, which includes paying me for my time.

What, then, am I to do?

Maybe I should start by giving my time away. Would I still ask the buyer to cover the cost of materials? Or would that still be too much? How long do I have to price a beautiful, time-intensive, hand-made blanket before someone actually wants to buy it?

Or maybe I should find a way to auction my awesome, soft and beautiful blankets to people who would appreciate them, and the good their sale would be doing.

Maybe I should just stick to my area of the world, and find a place in Boulder to donate. Then maybe the people I interact with throughout my week would actually be interested in helping.

Or maybe, in the end, no one really cares.
Maybe I'll just donate the blankets straight to the homeless and needy. At least I would be giving them something.

Maybe I'm not meant to make a huge difference in the world.

But maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to make a small one.
Where do you choose to make a difference? Do you take a few moments of your day to make someone smile? Or do you take a whole lot of moments and put in thought and effort to make a difference? Both are important. Which do you do?

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Craziness of it All

No matter how big or seemingly small, every single wedding is filled with fun, laughter, and tons of planning. The type of planning that takes over your life and every moment of your day. The planning that never seems to end until the moment before you finally walk down the aisle.


This coming Saturday I will be marrying the love of my heart, and I am so excited! Sadly, I have managed to be so busy with planning that I haven't written a single blog post that I intended to.

So, this beautiful blog will be stagnant for a few more weeks while I go through the wonderful new process of starting my life as a married woman.

Keep us in your prayers!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sorry for the Delay

Once again I have managed to not blog in a while ... sorry!

It is so hard to come up with a time to write down all of my thoughts, find awesome pictures of mine to illustrate (or at least to look at), and then decide on a short and insightful blurb when sharing my post across the crazy internet.

Here is a wonderful little list of things I hope to be writing about over the next few days:

  • The awesome time I had helping out at Vacation Bible School at Northpoint church in Corona, California
  • A few fun times during my month-long stay in Colorado with my fiance and his family
  • My abundant excitement about getting married in less than two weeks
  • Things I have learned about simple relaxation, such as laying on the floor
  • How quickly the monthly of July has passed
  • The awesome new purses I designed and have been making 
  • Groups that are helping the poor and hungry throughout the world
  • Some random fun thing on the internet so this blog isn't boring
I hope you will come back soon (and find that I actually posted something!).

Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Learning: Be Offensive

Here is another little fact about your wonderful blog-writer:
I have often epitomized the role of 'people-pleaser.'

There are many people who can say the same for themselves -- both male and female. It is easy to have a desire in your heart to bring happiness and comfort to everyone around you!

Once that desire has entered your heart, there is great difficulty in acting outside of that desire.

Confusion is inevitable. What could compel a good and godly woman to seek out the struggle of not bringing happiness and comfort to others? To invite more believers to join in her strange struggle?

As Christians, we proclaim that we are followers of Jesus Christ. We (sometimes too rarely) seek to emulate Christ in both thought and deed. It is certainly a struggle to do, because Jesus did a great many wonderful things!

One thing which I often forget, especially in the guise of a 'people-pleaser', is that Jesus willingly offended many, many people.

If we choose to follow Jesus in everything, does it then mean we are to be offensive?

As believers, we should not only bring comfort, but discomfort. We should draw out not also joy, but sometimes sorrow (such as what Jesus does for the rich young ruler). We are called first to bring God's Word and His love, irregardless of expected reaction.

As we all know quite well, there are many people who find God's Word to be offensive! That, however, should never prevent us from sharing His Truth . . . never.

I was not made simply to please and comfort people, but to steadfastly follow God and bring Him praise.

And that is also true of you.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Seeking Inspiration: Little Miracles

Three days ago, the hungry of Delaware were blessed with a miracle.

Bags upon bags of potatoes were donated to the Food Bank in Delaware, and its 440 hunger relief program partners throughout the state. It's a really incredible gift, especially during a season that is so far from the Christmas holiday (which is when many people think about donating food and toys to those in need).

The background to this story is not one of simple generosity. On Sunday, July 10, Samuel Frymoyer somehow drove a tractor-trailer (more commonly known as a semi) into a freight train. The details of the crash have not been revealed, so I have no way to paint a better picture for you. The two biggest highlights are that no one was injured in the crash and that the contents of the tractor-trailer managed to spill onto the ground.

The trailer was filled with potatoes, which were then donated through the initiative of the Department of Transportation.

It seems that all it took was something random for a miracle to occur.

I might offer that this little incident was not actually an accident (in the big picture, that is). God created this little blessing, and does so more often than we tend to think.

When was the last time you witnessed a blessing from God, either for yourself or someone else?

Did you stop to give Him praise?

Please leave your thoughts, comments and stories below.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Etsy: Beauty in Comfort

Every so often I will see someone sitting in a wheelchair with a small blanket across their lap. In Chicago, many blankets would be needed, since sitting in the wheelchair doesn't allow someone to stay warm in the way that a brisk walk might. A normal blanket might get caught in the wheels, so the designated 'lap blanket' is just the right size for the warmth and comfort they would need.

This is the inspiration for my lap blanket, as well as the color for this one in particular: sage. Sage is one of many herbs that are used for medicinal treatment. It is considered to be healing, for many different ailments.

I crocheted this blanket with love, and many thoughts of healing and comfort for all who wrap themselves in this beautiful and calming blanket.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Storehouse: Summer Lunch Program

Every year, more children are added to the National School Lunch Program for the free or reduced price. This program provides lunches, and sometimes breakfast, to students throughout the school year. In 2010, over sixty-five percent of students using the NSLP are under the free or reduced price program. This percent is steadily increasing every year, as more families are coming under the national poverty level and simply cannot afford to pay for their children's lunches.

What happens, however, during the summer? If parents cannot afford healthy lunches for their children during the school year, and most schools have no way to provide for the students over summer, how are the children to be helped?

This year, the Storehouse has partnered with Catholic Charities and the Compassion and Justice Ministries of the Evangelical Covenant Church to help some of these children. From July 5 through July 29, they will be providing lunches for youth and children from ages 1 to 18.

This is an amazing ministry that will not only give to those children who need the help with nutrition, but will also provide invaluable opportunities to share God's love to them!

If you would like to donate to help this cause, please check out the Storehouse website and their Facebook page for more information. As of right now, the refrigeration unit at the host school is needing repairs, so unexpected costs have arisen for large coolers and large amounts of ice. Any donations are welcome!

Want another way to give? Donate to the Storehouse and also receive a handmade blanket through my Etsy shop.
Or give your time...volunteers are always welcome! If you are in the Chicago area and would like to help, email me or write on the Storehouse's Facebook wall to find out when you are most needed!

The details:

For children ages 1 to 18 years old
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 through Friday, July 29, 2011
(Monday through Friday only)
Pershing Elementary School
3113 South Rhodes Ave
Chicago, IL 60616
11:30am - 12:30pm

The goal is to serve 1000 meals during the month of July!
Spread the word about this great program!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Seeking Inspiration: Simple Solutions

Every so often there seems to be a day that you just can't get through. It's like a giant brick wall, as black as darkness, blocking every way you try to turn. Nothing seems to go right, no one understands what you are trying to say and, by the end of the day, you just want to fall into your bed and hope it was all just a bad dream.

Have you ever had a day like that? I'm sure you have, at least to some degree.

The amazing part is this: no matter how long or bad the day seems to be, somehow it always ends and you are eventually able to move forward.

Some people are fortunate and able to find their own patterns, to figure out a portion of the workings of their minds, to help themselves make that black brick wall simply disappear out of existence.

For myself, there are days where I simply need to stop, take a nap and listen to a happy song. It's amazing how such simple steps can turn your day around!

Sadly, there are times where I forget these steps. I continue to feel stuck until my wonderful fiance gives me a hug and smile, looks me in the eye and says, 'You'll feel better after you sleep.' What a simple yet important reminder!

How do you help yourself out of life's little dramas and into some peace? What ways do you remind yourself to simply take a break?

Some people prefer to be inspired when they are feeling down. For some that would mean taking a walk in the park, smelling a flower or looking at a beautiful photograph. You can find some beautiful nature photography here.

What inspires you?

And how can you inspire others?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Etsy: Ups and Downs

Last Wednesday was a very interesting day for me.

To start, I wanted to make chicken in the crockpot ... but couldn't seem to manage to get the frozen chicken out of its packaging. (My fiance saved the day!)

Then, I made pasta for my fiance and I for lunch. While straining the pasta, I managed to pour half of it down the drain. (We really need one of those sink strainers...)

So, the entire time I was making my delicious chicken-and-stuffing dish, I was really nervous I would somehow ruin the whole thing. (It turned out delicious! I was very thankful, considering my day)

Earlier, however, I managed to do something absolutely wonderful. I made this beautiful crochet piece for my very first Etsy customer, and got it shipped out one day ahead of schedule! It looks absolutely beautiful, if I do say so myself.


Check out the listing here, and let me know if you want to order one of your own!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Etsy: More Options


Let me introduce you to my newest super-soft blanket: Chocolate Raspberry Twist!

This beautifully delicious blanket is made of Caron Simply Soft yarn, in the colors Chocolate brown and Autumn Red. Delectable to the eye, it is an incredibly comfortable and very warm blanket!

Not only is this blanket comfortable and beautiful, it also comes in a new size! Measuring as a 4-foot square, this afghan is the perfect size to sit on your lap and help keep you warm and cozy!

This blanket is not yet listed, but I wanted to give my awesome blog friends a preview of what is to come! Be sure to check out HelpfulBlankets on Etsy. Look at the other colors available, request a blanket to fit your style, or patiently wait to snatch this blanket when it becomes available!*

Enjoy dreaming of a hand-made, super-soft blanket to curl up in!

*The Chocolate Raspberry Twist lap blanket will be available by Friday, June 10, 2011.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Storehouse: Resource Fair

Today, the Storehouse held a resource fair for low-income and homeless individuals in the Chicago area. This resource fair sought to help in a number of ways.

Held in the Quinn Chapel of AME Church (who also provided food baskets and clothing), this Resource Fair provided:
  • Housing assistance
  • Employment possibilities
  • Health and Mental Health assistance
  • Veteran's Benefits assistance
  • Social Security Benefits assistance
  • Domestic Abuse assistance
These are only some of the ways that the Storehouse is wanting to help the struggling of Chicago. It's absolutely wonderful to see the efforts being taken to provide aide to those in need.

Would you like to help the Storehouse continue to provide for Chicago in these ways? My Etsy shop donates all profits directly to the Storehouse!

What other ways do you think the Storehouse can continue helping the low-income and homeless of Chicago?

How might you make a positive impact on those around you? People don't need to be homeless to be in need of help. Take a moment today to pay attention to the needs of those around you -- be of help!

Please leave your thoughts and comments below. If you know of a community service project that you would like to appear on this blog, please email me through my Profile page.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Seeking Inspiration: Perspective

copyright ANTILIMIT
Several months ago I was using StumbleUpon and found a website titled ANTILIMIT. The slogan of this website is 'anything worth seeing.'

As you may very well know, I absolutely love photography. I not only love beautiful photographs, I love being the photographer! Being behind the lens of a camera can provide a very different perspective on an event or location that you can only really understand through experience.

Fortunately, photography is an amazing way to share that experience ... all you need to do is develop the photograph you took to show others the uniqueness that you saw while behind the lens.

It is not always so easy to share our perspectives with one another. It is commonly hard to accept the perspectives of those around us. Certainly how we view things is the only accurate way, right? Sadly, you are quite mistaken if you still regularly think this way. The good news is that perspective is something that can be learned by practice.

Take a look at ANTILIMIT. These photographs are absolutely stunning. I could look through them for hours, and possibly go back through them again!

What could possibly be so stunning about them?

  1. They are photos of the mundane
    Daily life can be quite boring, don't you think? People walking near you in a bustling city, old cars rusting away in a neighbor's rural field, weeds growing in someone's unkempt lawn ... how could these possibly be beautiful?
  2. They are at interesting angles
    How often do you tilt your head when analyzing something? It's a pretty common thing to do. It may even be a way to help us focus (as it is common when listening intently to someone).
    A better question is: how often do you tilt your head on a normal day? Odds are that you rarely utilize this unique form of focus and analysis on a regular basis. Is that something you should be okay with?
  3. Color captures the imagination
    Some are black and white. Most have glowing whites and strong contrast. Colors are altered to seem unreal and beautiful. Color and b/w and sepia are mixed together to create art.
These photographs display an intentional viewing of the world through the lens of art rather than mere reality.

Have some fun today looking at the world from a different angle. (No, that doesn't mean you have to walk around on your hands ... but if you can, that's amazing!) Paint a picture, write a poem, make a photograph. Enjoy the beauty of the mundane, and remember that God gave you these simple blessings.

Enjoy!

In what ways have you tried to see the world differently? What do you think you have learned?
Did you make any art or write anything down while learning to look with new eyes? Please share! Either leave a comment below or email me through my Profile page.

Monday, May 30, 2011

To Honor a Memory

copyright Canon23 - Dreamstime
Today is a day to stop and remember. To set aside work and worries and troubles, and simply remember.

Today is Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is a national holiday intended to honor and remember the men and women who died in the service of our nation. This holiday was originally called Decoration Day, possibly in acknowledgement of the women who decorated graves of soldiers prior to the end of the Civil War. Throughout the world, the poppy has become a symbol of remembering the dead, and is often sold on or near Memorial Day (or other similar days of remembrance in other countries) in an effort to raise money for those families who were widowed and orphaned through such losses.

In December of 2000, a resolution was passed called the National Moment of Remembrance. This resolution requests that all Americans take a moment of silence for remembrance at 3PM local time on Memorial Day. This silence is intended both to honor the soldiers who died in service and be reminded of the true purpose of Memorial Day (which is not, in fact, to allow you a day off of work).

More information on Memorial Day can be found here.

If you see someone selling poppies today, take a moment to remember it's meaning. Are you willing to spare some change to help a family who has lost someone they love?

As you pause today to remember the sacrifice made by these men and women and their families, I would also like to encourage you to remember the sacrifice made by your Creator. He loves you, He died for you, and He lives so that you may also live. Take some time today to be thankful.

Want to do more to help others? Visit my Etsy shop or read this article to learn about one way.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Some Simple Joys

Here is another wonderful fact about me, your amazing blog writer!

I love to read!

Even if you are my friend, you might not know that fact. Sadly, I haven't had time to leisure read in over four years! (okay, so I've shoved a few books in there by speed-reading, but that's not the same!)

For me, reading can be a wonderful way to escape from the world and unwind. There are so many stressful parts of our daily lives that it's hard enough to break away for time to eat, sleep, and maybe even hold a conversation. Sitting down for an hour or more at a time just to read a book? Well, that's just getting ridiculous!

I'm serious! When was the last time you felt like you had a solid hour of your own? To do whatever you might please? To ignore the pressures of life and simply smile?

If it was recent, then I want you to take a moment and reflect on your life. God has truly blessed you with opportunities for a mere hour of peace. I hope in the days to come you remember to be thankful for those!

I am so excited to have more time to myself now that I have graduated from college. Sure, I need to job-search and cook for myself, and I can't be entirely selfish because I have a family to love and cherish (and a wedding to plan!), but I definitely feel a release in pressure and stress.

The type of reading I did in school just wasn't the same as the relaxing leisure reading I remember having during all of my summers leading up to college. To curl up in a chair for hours on end, with the sun streaming in through the window; or laying outside under the shade a tree with a book that transported me to another world! This is the kind of reading I truly love!

If I've enticed you to set aside some of your day for the joy of reading, you should definitely check out this website. If the online format of book-reading isn't your cup of tea (it's not my preference, either) and you have some time to browse around as well as read, I'd encourage you to visit your local library. It's amazing what treasures you can find!

Have a fun day reading!

There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and a tired man who wants to read a book. ~ G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Helping the Homeless: Rebuilding Haiti

posted on the Circle of Blue website: 01/28/2010

Author's Note: This post was supposed to be published on Thursday, May 12, 2011. Due to a technical error on my part (and the hectic life of a newly-graduated woman who is also planning a wedding), it is just now being posted.
Sorry for the delay!

One year and four months ago, on January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake turned Haiti into a pile of rubble. For months, people lived in increasing poverty, sleeping under tarps and doing their best to stay safe at night. They searched for survivors all day long, and cries of distress covered the streets. Many, many lives were lost.

Now, over a year gone by, little progress can be seen. They have given up on searching for survivors, but they are living in the midst of rubble in the depths of poverty. Haiti is considered 'one of the poorest and least developed countries of the world,' and as of April 4, 2011, reconstruction of the capital, Port-au-Prince, had barely begun. That's only one month ago.

To this day, millions of Haitians live under tents, surrounded by the rubble of buildings and roads that were hardly well-built to begin with.

There are many groups who are seeking donations so they might help relieve Haiti of many of their struggles. These include rebuilding roads and structures, providing long-term medical care, and offering humanitarian assistance. The NetworkForGood is considered a secure site for donation, and even allows you to choose the individual group you want your donation to go towards.

Remember: even $10 can help save someone's life.

Do know of a cause or charity that you would like to see featured? Donating of time, money, food, clothes, talents, etc. are all ways that we can show our love to the world as Godly men and women.

Want to do more? Check out my Etsy shop! All of the profits are donated directly TheStorehouse.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Seeking the Inspirations Around You

An adorable baby squirrel!

This week has certainly started out rather fun! Without school in the way, so many more things can be accomplished...

This last Monday I spent about an hour outside, sitting as still as possible, clutching my camera in my hand. By taking my seat I had scared off plenty of birds, a baby rabbit and two baby squirrels. What fun to wait for them to come back, and simply enjoy the beauty of the birds chirping while I waited!

As I once mentioned before, I absolutely love photography! Mostly of beautiful flowers, but pretty much anything will do. For whatever reason I have yet to understand, I find it to be so much fun!

Especially when those adorable baby squirrels meandered back! Sadly, I don't think I captured them very well with my camera; they were so fast! The experience, however, was well worth the wait, as I was able to enjoy watching them scamper about and dart past me up a tree! (So cute!!)

Those adorable squirrels, as well as the beautiful work of Vladimir Kush, have inspired me once again to try my hand at painting! Unfortunately, I don't have access to those materials right now, so we shall see if the inspiration still exists by the time I do have access. Until then, it is so fun and enjoyable to think of all the things I would love to paint!

What things have you been able to do this week? Certainly, life does not always seem very enjoyable, but there are always little things that we can find to brighten our day! (like adorable baby squirrels!)

I would encourage you to take some time today to enjoy the little things. I challenge you to make a list of five things you saw or experienced today that brought a smile to your face, and maybe even inspiration to your thoughts. Five is not that large of a number – I know you can do it!

How have you been inspired this week? I would love to read of your inspiration, and to see what you created through it! Please leave your thoughts in a comment below or send me an email!

Some inspiring things you can be looking for:
  • Smiles
  • Flowers
  • Adorable animals
  • A stranger's kindness
  • A few moments of silence during a busy day

There are so many more! Add to this (rather short) list in the comments below. :-)

Enjoy being inspired!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Your Mother is Beautiful

Discovering the essence of beauty...

Happy Mother's Day!
(Yes, I know I'm a little late.)

To all of the mothers out there, thank you for bearing the burden of giving birth to your children. Thank you for the times you have kissed bruised knees, given free hugs, and shown how much you care. Thank you for giving love even when life gets rough.

'Thank you' to my own mother, for the example she has given me of a patient, Godly woman.

Did you miss Mother's Day? Send your mother a loving e-card, and help other mothers around the world at the same time.

There are multitudes of women around the world who lovingly give of themselves to make others' lives more enjoyable. They give until they are spent, and then give some more.
How many of these women, however, truly believe that they are loved?
How easily can that simple thought be forgotten?

For one, the thought of being loved is not simple. For many women, to be loved is to be found beautiful.
I am not talking about physical beauty, although that certainly is a part of the definition.
In general, women desire to be beautiful in a sense that encompasses their entire being. We desire to be seen in that way by everyone around us.
We want to be beautiful.

A few days ago I had a slumber party with a few of my close friends (all women, of course). They are a part of my accountability group, so we talked about everything going on in our lives before diving into a chick flick.

For myself, I am in the process of planning a wedding, and just went through the crazy week called 'finals' where all of my projects for the college semester were due, along with plenty of tests to take. Needless to say, I was a little stressed. I started talking about some of my fears of the future. The pretty common ones that often arise, that is.
Will I be a good wife? What if I become a burden? What if the wedding is a bust and I let everyone down?
Certainly, these questions are pretty ridiculously. My fiance himself (he's so kind!) has already decided I would be a good wife: hello, he asked me to marry him! And he loves me with all that he knows how, so my problems could never outweigh his love. And the wedding could only be a bust if we somehow didn't manage to get married ... since that's the only truly important part of the entire day.

So, why do these thoughts even arise?

One of my lovely friends nailed the problem right on the head by asking a pretty simple question.
Do you think you are beautiful?
To be honest, right then I couldn't really answer. Mostly because the answer is both no and yes at the same time. Often, like many women, I don't consider myself beautiful. However, God has made me beautiful: which plays into why women desire to be found beautiful!
So, I know I'm beautiful, but I just don't see it.
Fortunately, many people around me do see it, and they have been so kind as to tell me so.

However, not every woman is so fortunate to have people around her that mirror her beauty back to her.
Not every woman has someone who stands behind her and tells her the truth: You are beautiful.
Pure and simple.

Yet not simple at the same time.

Take some time today to tell a woman the truth: that she is, and always will be, purely beautiful.
Then watch her face light up with a smile.
It is always amazing how the simplest things can change someones life for the better.

Please be aware that not all women are immediately willing to receive these words. Many people have used such words to abuse the hearts of women, leaving them suspicious of such truth. Be kind in your approach, and do your best to not appear conniving or otherwise distrustful. Thank you for your desire to help the women around you learn to love themselves, and to see their beauty through God's eyes!

Did you share these words with someone today? I would love to read your story! Please leave a comment below or send me an email.

Have a blessed Monday!
I would love to start selling prints of my photos. If you are interested in any that you have seen, or would like to see more, please email me! (You can find my email on my Blogger profile page.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Easing into May

A sunset mixed within the beauty of a flower...




It's three days into May, and a lot of things have happened!


For me personally, I am on my 'finals week' of college, where I have plenty of tests to take, essays to finish, and packing to accomplish (and yes, I haven't finished yet!). Each day I grow more excited about graduation, getting to see my family and my fiance again, and getting ever closer to start my life as a 'college graduate.' A part of me dreads how many friends I have to say good-bye to, knowing fully that there will be few opportunities to visit with them again. However, God is pulling my heart in the excitement of everything that is changing around me! He is making everything so beautiful!

What new things have happened in your life? The start of each new month is an opportunity to remember the ways that God promises to renew our hearts - and our lives!

I would like to encourage you to take some time over the next few days and really evaluate what God has been doing in your life. How has He been growing you? What miracles has He allowed you to witness? (and were there any that you forgot to notice and rejoice over?)

Even the littlest of miracles can be an amazing blessing from God.

Enjoy your May!
-JLR

Friday, April 29, 2011

April Showers Bring...

... some beautiful flowers!
For those of you who may not have noticed:

Tomorrow is the last day of April!

There are many things that this can mean, of course.

  1. Storehouse Food Drive
    These are the last two days to donate for the April food drive of the Storehouse, which I mentioned in an earlier post. If you would like to donate still, but aren't sure quite how, please either read my other post, comment on this post, or email me! I will be glad to help you donate!
  2. One Month!This beautiful blog is just over one month old! It's been so fun sharing all of my fun findings with you!
  3. GraduationFor those college and high school students out there, the end of April means that graduation is just around the corner! Congrats!
Since graduation includes myself this year, I have been quite busy with homework, studying and packing. Unfortunately, that means I haven't had time to come up with any new creations. Request your own design, and give me a reason to get back to crocheting (it's so much fun!).

What does the end of April mean to you? Is it near your birthday? Do you have a wonderful celebration or anniversary coming up? Does it simply remind you of something fun from your childhood? I would love to hear all about! Please leave your thoughts and comments below.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Meandering Thoughts

A few weeks ago I watched a really interesting seminar video about inspiring others simply through the way you present information.
Aside from doing bunches of homework, I have spent these last few weeks mulling over my shop on Etsy.

How am I, merely through words on a page, to present how much I desire to help the homeless, the needy and the struggling citizens of Chicago?
To share about how I spent the last three years working (albeit slowly) on one very warm blanket to give to one of the homeless men and women who depend on blankets to survive the bitter cold winters?
How excited I was to finally have said blanket given away this last Christmas to someone who truly needed it?

And how I realized that I wanted to do more than simply provide some temporary warmth to a person who already had six or seven blankets piled atop them during those crazy winter nights?

I love making blankets: I love crocheting! It is something that brings me great peace and relaxation.
My blankets are a delight to create, and I am even more delighted to combine that with the joy of helping those in need.
Rather than giving my blankets to the needy, however, I am choosing to sell my (beautiful, warm and colorful) hand-made blankets to those who consider themselves even slightly more fortunate than those men and women who cannot always afford to buy themselves a meal, let alone a home. I am choosing to give a portion of the sales to a group that will use the money to help the needy of Chicago.
I found this wonderful CDC (Community Development Corporation) that is starting up in the middle of what I call the struggling Chicago. This CDC, called The Storehouse, wants to provide not only the clothing and warmth that I want to give, but also the wonderful gifts of food and medicine. The new location they are in the process of acquiring will allow them to provide access to a hospital clinic, professional counseling and Social Services.
And beyond all of these wonderful gifts, this CDC is run by a Christian church called the Storehouse, and being led to love the men and women of struggling Chicago with the overwhelming and unabashed love that God freely gives.

I don't think I could express what an amazing influence The Storehouse will be making in Chicago.
But I want to be a part of it.
Will you?

Visit HelpfulBlankets on Etsy and request your favorite colors!
 "Request custom item" is under Shop Info on the left side of the shop.
It is absolutely free to sign up on Etsy, so don't be shy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Silly absences...

Hello, again!!

I wanted to write a quick post simply to apologize to you, my faithful blog readers:

I am sorry for being absent! :-)

I hope you will forgive me, and will not be put off from checking back every so often!

I am in the middle of finishing up my final semester of college (and planning a summer wedding, to boot!), so I'm afraid I have allowed homework to creep up and swallow me!!

I will hopefully be able to post after this next Tuesday, when my super crazy school project is due, and then we can go back to exploring some of the awesomeness of the internet ... and the crazy-awesomeness of you!

Enjoy another week off!
;-)

-JLR

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Endless Giving

What was the last thing someone asked you to give?

Think about that for a moment.

Now, what was the last thing that someone needed to receive from you?
...something that they didn't actually ask for?

Did you even notice? Were you too busy?
Or did you actually take the time to give what they needed?
Whether you gave or wish you had given, I would love to have you share your story either by email or in the comments below.

I read this amazing blog article a little over a week ago on a site called the Everyday Giving Blog. In it, the author talks about his daughter and her friends, and how they were blessed by an unexpected financial blessing from a complete stranger. They weren't out of money, but this woman went out of her way to pay for their breakfast, tip the waitress and share with them the love that God has for them.
Now those young women have been inspired to give to others.

It's absolutely amazing what simple giving can do for those around you ... and everyone around them!

That blog post reminded me of the movie Pay It Forward, which I watched several years ago. It's a definite tear-jerker, so be sure to have some tissues! This movie was a blessing to watch, because it was an amazing reminder that the innocence of caring and giving can make an incredible impact in some pretty unexpected ways.

Read the blog post. Watch the movie. Be inspired. Give.

Be sure to share with us the ways you have and will be giving! This is to be your community of support for all of your endeavors. Go ahead, be bold!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Searching for Need

I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers. ~Claude Monet




Sometimes, all you need is a single inspiration to make a great idea come to life.


Sometimes, all you need is a fleeting thought and the confidence to pursue it.

Sometimes, all you need is to have eyes that are willing to see ...that are willing to see a need.
And a heart that is willing to give ... to give with everything in a desire to help that need.

Are you aware of the needs of those around you? Those other students who sit with you in the classroom? The people you work near? The people you walk by on the street?
How is it that you can meet their needs?
In what ways are you already trying?
Please leave your thoughts and comments below, or send me an email. I'd love to hear from you!

Here's an inspiring story of how a need is being met.

Go ahead, make a difference.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Where is Your Moment?

The butterfly counts not months but moments,
and has time enough.  ~Rabindranath Tagore

I grew up in Southern California, only a short jaunt from that wonderful whirlwind called Los Angeles. A bubbly little girl, I made friends with everyone I met. Being shy was a phase saved for much later in life. I never failed to say 'hello,' and always wanted to be a part of the mad rush of movement.

When I was pretty young (my guess is around 5 or 6), I got involved in modeling. It was really fun! I got to try on all sorts of clothes, strut my stuff down a short little runway, and smile for all of those cameras. Sure, I was the spunky little munchkin who looked like she was only 3, but I loved that they loved me!

Not too long after, my agent got me started in acting. Mostly behind-the-scenes stuff, like voice-overs for radio commercials and things like that. I have to say, sometimes the auditions were more fun than actually recording! I guess you could say I have a slight competitive streak...

The biggest thing I remember about my acting days, however, was the first time I got a check in the mail. It wasn't much ... probably around $200. My parents sat me down and showed me my check (with my name on it!) and a magazine I'd never seen before. It was a magazine for a charity organization that worked in third-world countries; if I remember the name, I'll update and let you know! Every page had an adorable picture of what could be given, a price in US dollars, and the number of people that could be helped by one donation. There were wells that could be dug, tiny homes that could be built, animals that could be bought, etc. For less than $50, enough baby chicks could be bought and raised to support almost 20 people, knowing that they would lay eggs and make more chickens once they were old enough.

In a matter of moments, my parents taught me one of the most wonderful lessons some people never have a chance to learn.

It does not matter how much you make, for giving of even the little that you have can be an amazing blessing to others.

What great lessons have your parents taught you? What lessons have you learned from others?

There are so many ways to help others. Sometimes, all you need is a little perspective.

Live in this moment, and live with an abundance of love.

How can you start helping others? What ways are you giving already? Time, money, food ... anything! Please leave your comments below or send me an email; I'd love to hear from you!

Be sure to check out my newest blanket, debuting tomorrow!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Being Courageous

No one needs to stand alone.

Here's another random fact about me:

I am a part of the 12% of the US population that has a non-severe physical disability (meaning I can do most daily activities on my own, though they might be more difficult). You can check out other stats about disabilities here. I have a neuro-muscular disorder called Charcot-Marie Tooth that can have an impact on the seemingly simple parts of everyday living.

I might have a disability, but this can't stop me from doing what I love; and I absolutely love to help others. I know there are times that I need help, so I am overjoyed to pass it on!

I just read a really awesome article about a man who also loves to help others; his name is Craig Grimes. Stuck in a wheelchair after breaking his back in a tree-climbing incident, Mr. Grimes has not let his unexpected disability keep him from living the adventurous life he loves. Through learning about the difficulties of traveling while in a wheelchair, he has also learned ways to overcome many of them and still be adventurous. His knowledge and enthusiasm has propelled his desire to encourage others in the same thing: being adventurous despite a disability!

He is a man of courage despite his physical challenges, and an encouragement to all of us to find ways to help others.

In what ways do you think you can help others? Comment below or email me with your thoughts.

There is nothing that can stop the heart's desire to share God's love.

Check out my Etsy shop. It's pretty cool.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's Almost April

Isn't nature beautiful?

Will April showers bring May flowers?

I most certainly hope so! I absolutely love flowers!

While I can only hope for flowers, I do know something else that April will bring:
Food for the hungry!

During the month of April, the Storehouse is doing a food drive to collect (non-perishable) food they can then distribute to those individuals and families in need.

And you can help! Even one or two cans of food can make an incredible difference.

Send your donations to:

The Storehouse Food Drive
1801 South Wabash Avenue
Chicago, IL 60616

...or email me to find out how I can help you give your donations!

Another great way to support the Storehouse: HelpfulBlankets! Check it out.

Enjoy the start of Spring, and be thankful for the wonderful things God has blessed you with!

If you have a charity you would like to spotlight on this blog, or even just have thoughts on ways to help people around you, I would love for you to email me!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Bit of Candy

photo from Candy Chang's blog post: Before I Die

As the day goes on, how often do you become overwhelmed by the multitude of things that need to be accomplished, people that need to be chatted with, emails that need to be answered? I am certain that the list each of us 'needs' to do would be enough to fill an entire blog post! In this day and age, time is no longer possible as a leisure (though that was the initial hope from mechanization of daily processes), but as a necessity to determine how profitable of a mover and go-er each person can be.

Everything moves so quickly!

Certainly, we love it when our machines mover quickly. Have you recently tried to use a computer built in 1990? It can be very frustrating, as you might expect it to move at the same speed you are trying to, which tends to be very fast for such an old computer.

Does this mean that we ought to move quickly through our lives, as well? Some might argue that there are too many things to be done, so it is not possible (financially or otherwise) to slow down.

I disagree. Time might keep going through the day and night, with the sun falling behind the distant horizon and the moon and stars becoming visible in all of their splendor, but that is no excuse to try and move time more quickly. Everything was created by God with a timing and a rhythm, in a way that is beyond our understanding of beautiful. Why else do you think that, after days upon days of running around, when you finally grab a small chance to relax, it feels as if a giant weight has been lifted from your shoulders? I would think that it is because you were fighting the beauty of your life's timing, so you had placed an unnecessary burden upon yourself to go against how you were made!

Focusing on what needs to be accomplished each day is certainly a helpful mindset. What, however, might come from focusing on what you want to accomplish in your lifetime? In the entire time you have to live?
Do you think you might stumble upon God's purpose for your life?
Would you then pursue it?

It is hard to live with the end in mind. It is even harder to encourage others to do the same.
While I do not profess to know her purpose, Candy Chang has created an incredible space amidst the sorrows of New Orleans in an attempt to help people focus on their dreams rather than their present problems. It is a beautiful project, and I would recommending checking it out.

In living where you are right now, surrounded by the same people every day, how could you encourage change? What project could you pursue to encourage others (along with yourself) to live with the end in mind? How could you help others find the purpose that God has for their life?
How might you help others believe they truly have a purpose?

Comment below or send me an email: I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, March 28, 2011

HB Update


Let me introduce you to my newest super-soft blanket: Mint Chocolate Stripes!

This beautifully delicious blanket is made of Caron Simply Soft yarn, in the colors Chocolate brown and Sage green. Delectable to the eye, it is an incredibly comfortable and very warm blanket!

This blanket is not yet finished, but I wanted to give my awesome blog friends a preview of what is to come! Be sure to check out HelpfulBlankets on Etsy. Look at the other colors available, request a blanket to fit your style, or patiently wait to snatch this blanket when it becomes available!*

Enjoy dreaming of a hand-made, super-soft blanket to curl up in!

*The Mint Chocolate Stripes blanket will be available by Tuesday, April 5, 2011.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Animal Love

My wonderful desert tortoise, Speedy!

Another interesting fact about me: One of my top three favorite animals are turtles! (I include tortoises in this statement for the sake of simplicity)
Case in point: I have two really awesome (and photogenic) desert tortoises as my pets!
[For those who know that desert tortoises are endangered, these tortoises were given freely after being hatched in captivity. The parents were removed from the desert many years before they were considered endangered. It is now illegal both to remove tortoises from their natural habitat and return to the wild tortoises bred in captivity. It is also illegal to sell desert tortoises.]

Knowing my love for tortoises might explain why I love this story so much!

To summarize, a baby hippo in Kenya was almost drowned due to a tsunami. Miraculously, it survived, but sadly lost its mother in the process. Upon returning to land, the baby hippo found a really old tortoise (about 100 years old) and somehow developed a friendship! The tortoise has essentially become the adopted "mother" of the baby hippo!

It's such an adorable story that I could not help but share!
Be sure to check out the link, as there as some incredibly adorable photos!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Walk MS 2011

A good friend of mine, Joel Meno, has decided to join Walk MS in an effort to raise money to benefit those individuals and their families affected by Multiple Sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis is a rather complex disease, mostly characterized by nerve damage due to an autoimmune disease. It is not currently known how genetics affects the appearance or progress of the disease. More information can be found on this site.

Right now, MS is considered a life-long disease, as there is no known cure. Not only will the donations for Walk MS be used to research MS in hopes of a cure, but they will be used to provide programs and services to help those directly affected by the difficulties of MS.

Any amount can help, so go ahead: be generous.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Being Helpful

Friends are like flowers, beautiful flowers. ~Unknown

In getting to know me better, I must confess one portion of my nerdiness:
I am absolutely fantastic at spelling!

And, aside from that, I just plain love learning new words!

You may be wondering what this has to do with being helpful (or the pretty picture of a flower).

I strongly believe that everyone has different gifts for a reason; and that, no matter how obscure, those gifts can be used for very good things!
In comes FreeRice: a website where you can learn new words and help end world hunger at the very same time!

Ending world hunger seems like a pretty immense goal. But just think: if everyone with access to the internet used FreeRice every day for just 100 grains of rice each, then the World Food Programme would have more rice than they have the manpower to deal with! (Assuming 3000 grains of rice in one "bowl" or meal, that would equal approximately 66 million meals a day! While that won't feed everyone, it's an incredible notion!)

It's definitely more beneficial than playing games on Facebook all day. ;-)

Have an awesome day, and enjoy learning new words!

What do you think is a good way to help others?

Leave a comment or message me with your thoughts and ideas!

Tip for the Day: Give a flower to someone you care about. Wildflower or bought from the store, you will bring happiness to their day!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Making Friends

This sad zebra wants to make a friend!
Hello, again!

So, now that you know what my blog is all about, I thought it might be good for you to get to know me -- the blog writer!

There are a few things I'm sure you've already noticed.
(1) I really, really like helping people. It's a passion, and a consistent desire, even if I'm not sure of the best way to go about it.
(2) I'm new to this blogging thing and have no idea what I'm doing! But I'm so excited that you are here with me to point me in the right direction. :-)

But, certainly, there are more things to find out about me than just those! I mean, if we are going to be spending almost every day together, you may as well know where my random thoughts are coming from.

(3) I get distracted ... really, really easily! I'm sure it will come out in my posts -- in due time. :-)
(4) Photography is my friend. [Did you notice the really cool zebra? He wants you to be his friend!]
(5) I absolutely love dancing! I mean it, I really do. I find it to be one of the most fun things there are to do with my time. Anything with a good beat -- be it salsa or hip-hop -- turn it on while I'm in the room and you'll know I'm not joking. First you'll see my foot start tapping, then my head start swaying, and pretty soon I'm up on my feet moving to the rhythm with a smile on my face. It's a good stress reliever, and an excellent workout!

Enjoy a stress free, music-filled day!

By the way, I'm not kidding about the dancing -- you should try it!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Start of a Dream

Welcome to my little slice of blogging life!

I'm just starting out on this adventure, and I would love to share with you what it's all about!
Right now I am in the process of finishing up my four years of college at Illinois Institute of Technology. That's four years that I've spent undeniably close to downtown Chicago.

Have you ever been to downtown Chicago during winter? I'm not just talking about walking around by the shops. Have you ever seen the large number of homeless men and women who sit bundled in 10 blankets, living on a strip of concrete next to the underground road called Lower Wacker, just trying to stay warm.
My freshman year, the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship on my campus gathered clothing and food donations. We went downtown to hand these items out in person, to those people who sat bundled up with no place to call home. It was a really moving experience.

Over the last year, however, I have come to realize that the homeless of Chicago are not the only people in great need. There are countless men, women and children who hardly have enough money for food, clothing or medical help. I have been inspired by a church called The Storehouse.

The Storehouse is a church currently led by Pastor Mike (Michael Miller), and is working to expand its impact in the community. The outreach of this church not only focuses on spiritual growth, but on physically helping those in need. The Storehouse is currently in the process of moving to a new location in order to better provide for those in need, right where they need it. Through the new building, they will be able to provide professional counseling, a health clinic and pharmacy, and aid from a Social Service agency.

This blog, and my new Etsy shop (http://www.etsy.com/shop/helpfulblankets) are my little way of bringing attention and help to this church and the community of Chicago. For every item sold from HelpfulBlankets on Etsy, 100% of the profits will be donated to the Storehouse.

This is my crazy adventure, and I hope you will join  me!

-JLR