Tuesday, January 29, 2013

HB Changes

It's a little sad to have absolutely no feedback on what I should do with my HelpfulBlankets donations over this coming year...

It is certainly expected, but I was hoping to have at least one or two comments with feedback. (I can hope, right?)

I guess this is why large businesses have all sorts of 'teams' that make decisions -- about everything! It makes it far easier to come up with solutions or consensus when there are multiple people with the same (or at least similar) goals in mind.

Alas, my businesses are sole proprietorships ... they are just me!

So, here is what I have decided to do with my HelpfulBlankets shop on Etsy. (Which will hopefully be a good thing in the long run, rather than a regrettable decision...)

I am going to do two things:

1) Lower the donation amount (still to the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless) to 50% over the cost of materials and shipping
2) Change the cost of each blanket to 2.5x the combined cost of materials and (expected) shipping. Anything left over after the donation and expenses will go to putting HelpfulBlankets back in the happy 'black' of budgeting. Once that is accomplished, half of anything left over will go toward buying materials for a prayer shawls mission that I will hopefully gain momentum in soon.

Feel free to leave any thoughts, opinions or questions in the comments below!

Update: 02/01/2013

For the purpose of taxes (oh, those wonderful things), I will be considering HB to be a part of my other Etsy shop, ColorMeCrochet. It doesn't change anything for all of you wonderful people, but I would like to make it a permanent connection for future tax stuff.

In addition, all custom order blankets not purchased through the Etsy shop will not be limited to the donation requirements listed above, unless specifically requested by the customer.

I hope you have a wonderful start to your February!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Snow Day!

I guess it doesn't truly apply as a 'snow day', since I work from home and my husband still went in to work today ...

But the photo shows the awesome amount of snow we are getting, so I just had to share it with you!

I hope you are having a fun and blessed Monday!!

*Don't forget to enter the Color Me Crochet 2013 Contest! You could win a custom crochet product from my Color Me Crochet Etsy shop! There are only four days left before the contest ends, so enter now!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tiny blessings

It is amazing how busy our lives can get.

Oftentimes, we aren't really accomplishing that much of importance. But we are all always busy!

Being busy might possibly be one of the most secretly destructive activities our society leads us to.
When we are busy, we have no time to relax, or focus, on anything that is not a part of our 'busy-ness.' We often don't remember to 'smell the roses' or reflect on 'the little things.'

One thing God has increasingly blessed me with is the ability to see His blessings as they are happening (rather than waiting 20 years and finally saying 'Oh! That's why that had to happen. I see the Good in it now!'). What's funny to me, though, is that His blessings often come in tiny ways, for things that many (including myself) would never even think to notice.

Once, it was that I mis-read my calendar the morning of a doctor's appointment. Totally freaked me out when I missed the appointment (and I was very confused), but it happened to solve something I had been worried about the night before. Not what I thought I wanted to happen, but it was truly a blessing!

Recently, I received a request through one of my Etsy shops that had my nerves all in a bundle. I would have to do something that I had not done before (ship something breakable! eek!), and those sorts of 'new things' frighten me! There are so many unknowns that could go wrong, and it could directly impact my customer!
Even though it means that I won't make as much from the sale, God sent me a little blessing the following morning by having the customer choose to change her order ... which means I won't have to be shipping anything breakable! (secret yay!)

God is truly amazing!

And it is overwhelmingly wonderful how He never ceases to be present in our lives.

We just need to have the time and patience to seek Him.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rejoicing for Ahna

There are some times in life where it seems like words have no substance. No matter how many of them you can find to use, they never seem to quite cover what needs to be said.

Perhaps it is because there is nothing that can be said.

Or maybe all of the words that need to be heard have already been written down for us.

I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name forever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All you have made will praise you, O Lord; your saints will extol you. They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.
The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name, forever and ever.
   Psalm 145
His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."
   Matthew 5:1b-9
The Lord's promises bring hope in this time of mourning. We rejoice in knowing that Ahna Pollock, the beautiful daughter of the Most High King, is now rejoicing in the presence of our Lord and Savior. We rejoice in the midst of our mourning, for our Sovereign God has promised forgiveness of sins and everlasting life for those who believe in His loving Salvation.

I wish I had better words to honor the memory of a sweet woman who was taken Home before I had the chance to know her more deeply.

But even in the short times where I enjoyed Ahna's company, it has always been evident that her love for and trust in God defined her as His child, His precious daughter.

May God bring comfort to her family, and to all who knew her.
And may He use each moment of this emotional time to bring more hearts to Him.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The CMC Contest

Monday marked the start of a contest through my Color Me Crochet shop on Facebook!

So far, I have had ten awesome people tell me their thoughts about my products, and I am excited to watch that number grow!

Unfortunately, it seems like there are a few bugs with Facebook interacting with iPhones and iPads and the like ... Links don't work, tabs disappear, and there really is nothing I can do about it right now. (that I know of, at least)

Hopefully these problems and errors don't dissuade people from participating in the Contest, because I would love to get as many opinions and ideas as possible about what crochet projects I should focus on this year!

Have you entered the contest yet?

PS: I've been trying to start this year by writing Monday through Thursday every week ... and already I'm falling behind! (it's so hard to know what to say...) Cross your fingers for me, as I'm going to keep trying! Also, be sure to encourage me in my efforts by commenting on any blog posts you read :-)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Art and Ideas

Over the past few days I have been toying around with a new design idea for my blankets.

It involves putting the name of God onto the blanket (or prayer shawl... I've been thinking about those lately, too)
... in Hebrew!

My wonderful husband gave me an awesome Hebrew-Greek-English Interlinear Bible this past Christmas, and it has continued to ignite my desire to learn Hebrew and study the Bible on an even deeper level!

And the third Hebrew word of the Bible is ... you guessed it: God!

To be more specific, it is 'Elohim,' which means 'God' and 'Strong One.' Jewish tradition equates Elohim with "the Name of God as the Creator and Judge of the universe."

There are so many names for God! And each one helps teach a little bit more about who God is. That is part of why I am so fascinated by reading the names in their original languages!

What do you think would be a good word to write on a blanket?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Contest Giveaway

It's almost here!!

I am so excited to start my very first contest on Monday! Even more than that, I am looking forward to learn what your favorite crochet items are from my store!

It's super easy to enter -- only 3 simple steps!
Just go to the 2013 Contest tab on the Color Me Crochet Facebook page to get started!

  1. Like the Color Me Crochet Facebook page
  2. Enter some basic information
  3. Comment on any of the product photos that you like. Be as brief or as detailed as you want; I would love to hear all of your thoughts and comments!
As a Thank You, I will be giving away one awesome custom crochet product to a lucky winner! I am so excited, and I hope you are too!

Be sure to check out all of the Rules before the contest starts!

And don't forget to share this awesome contest with your friends!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

More HB Changes

One year ago, almost to the day, I decided to update my HelpfulBlankets donations. I chose to not only change who the donations went to, but also to lower the percentage. It was really hard for me to lower the percentage, as someone who really loves to give, but I hoped it would give me more opportunities to give blankets away to those who needed them (I gave two baby blankets away!) and give me more 'play' money to experiment with different styles of blankets. I've had a lot of fun coming up with some pretty cool designs.

With your help, I was able to donate over $100 to the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless!

cheers! applause! hurrays!

Unfortunately, after going through all my sales, expenses, and donations, my budget analysis of 2012 ended up in the red. Not very far in the red, thankfully, but that is certainly not where I want my business to be, even if it is for the sake of charity.

So, that means more changes are in order!

Unfortunately, I don't really know what kinds of changes would work best for HelpfulBlankets.

Here are a few of my thoughts / ideas. I would love to get your feedback on this stuff!

1) Lower the donation amount to 50% over the cost of materials and shipping.
2) Lower the donation amount to 20% of the total cost (including materials and shipping).
3) Switch to a Buy One, Give One mentality. For every blanket that is bought, one blanket (or possibly, one prayer shawl) will be given to someone in need.
4) Lower the cost of each blanket to 2.5x or 3x the cost of materials and shipping. Any profit will go directly toward the current negative balance. Once I'm no longer in the red, anything over will go towards making blankets and prayers shawls for those in need (both materials and shipping).

What are your thoughts?

I could really use your feedback on this, so please be sure to leave a comment!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Meditating on Meditation

What is meditation?

From experience, I have found that many older Christians draw back at the mere thought of the word 'meditation'. Some are so against meditation to the point that they might consider you to be sinning if you were to even consider meditating!

Surely, then, there must be something about meditation that is truly outside of God's will.

But, what is meditation?

My old-school print dictionary (yes, I still have one!) defines the word meditate as "to deliberate or consider; to spend quiet time in contemplation." By extension, then, the simple definition of meditation is "spending quite time in contemplation; deliberation or consideration of something."

That's a pretty broad and simple definition, but I can't see anything in there that seem so horrible as to not even consider its use. Not that broadly, at least.

We should also consider that the Bible itself speaks of meditation ... on multiple occasions.
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
  Joshua 1:8
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.   Psalm 1:1-2
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart by pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.   Psalm 19:14

One generation will commend your words to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.   Psalm 145:4-5
Meditation is referenced several more times throughout the book of Psalms. Clearly, the Bible makes it known that meditation can be something that is pleasing to God.

What is it, then, that makes meditation seem so frightening to some Christians? And how can we be certain, as Christians, to approach meditation in a way that is pleasing to God?

I think the term 'meditation' has become too often associated with Buddhism and other forms of religion. We have become more focused on a definition like: "Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or as an end of itself." That quote is from Wikipedia, which unfortunately has become a 'truth basis' for learning and defining things in our lives. A 'popular' form of meditation involves focusing on your breathing, attempting to empty your mind, and trying to reach some sort of transcendental level or spiritual ecstasy. I don't believe God wants us to 'empty our minds' (we should be instead filling our minds ... with His Words, His Truths, etc), or wants us to simply try to find some sort of other-worldly experience.

Certainly, I don't know everything there is to know about meditation, especially in relation to the ways even other forms of religious meditation have been perverted through our culture, but I do know one thing:

You don't need to 'induce a mode of consciousness' to meditate on the Word of God!

As Christians, I truly believe meditation should be an important part of our spiritual growth. Just like we are told to spend time in prayer and read God's Word, we should also meditate on the God's Word! Using the first (and better, in my opinion) definition I gave of meditation, that means we are called as Christians to spend quite time considering and deliberating over the Bible.

Now, there are a lot of different definitions for these two words, even in my old-school dictionary. The variations on the word consider (consideration, considered, etc) have definitions like
To carefully contemplate
To bear in mind
Given careful thought
To believe
To be respectful of or toward
Taking into account
Where contemplate means "to study or ponder intently; to consider as a possible course of action." And (circling around) one definition of ponder is to meditate, along with consider carefully.

Deliberation has very similar definitions, including "discussion and consideration of all sides of an issue" and "careful consideration," as well as "contemplative" and "intentional."

Looking at all of this broad definitions, I think we can create a pretty good picture of what it means to meditate on the Word of God.
We as Christians are called, through Biblical example, to meditate on the Word of God, as well as the works and character qualities of God. We are to meditate through the use of quiet time, where our thoughts are focused on learning, considering, studying, understanding, and deciding how these things (the Word of God and the works and character qualities of God) are to direct the actions in our lives.
Deliberation and discussion should certainly also be mentioned, as it can be quite difficult to completely understand the Word of God, and God Himself, through your own thoughts and consideration. This may not necessarily be a part of meditation, but I do consider it an important part of growing as a Christian.

What are your thoughts on meditation? Have you always considered it to be something that Christians should shun or avoid? Has this evaluation of the basic definition of meditation, as well as scriptural references, broadened your understanding of meditation in any way? Do you think I have missed an important part of meditation that needs to be addressed?

Personally, I am going to start attempting to meditate. I am sure I will do a very poor job of it at first (especially in allowing myself to be distracted by the 'to do' list I always have to finish...), but I have managed to convince myself that it truly is an important part of my spiritual Walk.

Will you join me in Biblical meditation?

I would love to hear what God teaches you, and how He grows you through this!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Wall Art through crochet

Hello friends!

I thought I would start off this week by sharing a fun project with you!
Update -- changing the background color can really make a difference!

To be honest, I had this project mostly completed way back in August ... but didn't manage to get it on the wall until December!
Oh well...
I am glad I finally got it done, though. I really like how it turned out!

Here are the super easy steps to making this project your own personal masterpiece:

Step 1: Crochet Doilies

Check out my PDF Pattern for the crochet flower doilies specific to this awesome project!
For my set, I also chose to crochet some small doilies to fill in the holes. Simply stop any of the patterns at row 6 or earlier!

You can also come up with your own crochet designs!

Don't know how to crochet? Custom order a set of these doilies from my shop, or find inexpensive ones at the thrift store! Mix and match for an eclectic look.

Step 2: Buy Your Materials

What you will need: one corkboard, some fabric, push pins and a stapler.

I chose to buy the Artist's Loft Corkboard 23x35 inches from Michaels (it was pretty inexpensive). Don't forget to remove the packaging before you start!

Once you've picked your corkboard, head to Joann's (or other fabric store) and pick out your fabric! I would recommend bringing your doilies with you, to make sure everything will fit well together.
Be sure to buy your fabric at least 4 inches longer and 4 inches wider than the corkboard measurement!
Iron your fabric to remove any wrinkles.

I bought simple green push pins from Staples (they were on sale!), but would love to hear of your own decorative ways to hold your doilies in place!

Make sure your stapler can open up (like in the photo above), and you are good to go!

Step 3: Cover the Corkboard

Lay the fabric on the floor, with the side you want visible facing down. Lay the corkboard on top of the fabric, also facing down. Try to center the corkboard on the fabric, but don't worry about being exact!

Starting on the bottom side of the corkboard, staple the fabric into the cardboard backing. Continue on the opposite side, being sure to pull the fabric taught (both vertically and horizontally) to prevent any wrinkles or future sagging of the fabric. Staple the fabric on the right and left sides, also into the cardboard backing. Be sure to leave at least two inches on the inside of your staple, to keep the fabric from tearing and coming loose.

Find the holes for hanging the corkboard on the wall, and cut a line along the hole. Make it large enough to allow the screw or nail head to fit through.
Cut off excess fabric, leaving at least one inch past the staples.

Finish off the back of the corkboard with tape (I used clear packaging tape). Run the tape along the edges of the fabric, tucking in the corners so they won't be visible from the front. The tape also prevents the fabric from fraying and coming loose at the spot of the staples.

Turn your corkboard over, and admire your great work! Some 'waves' are expected, and will be easily hidden once you add your doilies.

Step 4: Decorate!

Arrange your doilies on the corkboard, making sure that they are inside of the wooden edging (or whatever kind of edging your corkboard has).
Play around with the arrangement, and be sure to find something you love!

(Not to worry, you can always change it later!)

I put one push pin in the corner of each 'flower petal' for my doilies, with 3 push pins for each 'little doily'. It is a great way to make certain that they are not only in the position that you want, but that none of the 'petals' will sag or flop down over time!

Step 5: Hang it on your wall!

Don't be like me and take forever to get this last step done! It is really great to complete a project all at once. :-)

You have now finished your own artwork!


I look forward to hearing about your own experiences with this fun project! I would especially love to have you share photos with me! To make it super easy, just send me an email!

Have any thoughts or questions? Please add them to the comments below!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Upcoming Contest

Eclectic . . .
That's a pretty good description for the current state of my Color Me Crochet shop on Etsy. There are so many different items to crochet!

Last year, I had a lot of fun experimenting with my crochet! There were the basic crochet staples (hats, scarves, shawls, blankets) in as many variations my daily muse would help me create. Then there were the custom orders formed from the inspirational minds of my awesome customers! Additionally, I found myself caught in the web of crocheting with tiny string -- nameplates, earrings, bookmarks, and even adding beads!

It has certainly been a fun year of creating, but I would like to start off this year by focusing on my products and ideas that really catch the attention of you, my awesome readers!

Right now, I am working my way through the Facebook Page apps and regulations to figure out the best way for you to tell me what crochet stuff you love! As an encouragement for you to share with me, I will be giving one lucky person one of the items that he or she voted for! (some rules apply ... those will come soon!)

Be sure to check this blog and the Color Me Crochet Facebook Page on or before January 15, 2013, for more information about the upcoming contest.

I am so excited, and I hope you are too!


01/07/2013 Update:

The Color Me Crochet Facebook Page now has the 2013 Contest Tab up and ready for sharing!

The contest is now set to start on Monday, January 14, but I was too excited to wait until then to post the Tab! You won't be able to enter any information, or comment on any photos of products just yet, but I wanted to give extra time for you to share this awesome contest with your friends!

I've also posted the Contest Rules here on this blog, for your perusal. Let me know if you have any questions, so I can make sure to answer them all before this contest starts!

I hope you are as excited as I am!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Who has control?

Yesterday I started a wonderful new medicine to try and mask some of the daily pain I experience through my disability.

I don't actually know if I am typing a sarcastic 'wonderful' just yet, since I have not been on it long enough for any sort of effect -- whether good or bad.

It is an interesting feeling to face, knowing the number of failed attempts I have had with pain-reducing medicines. It can be hard for me to believe that there is even a small chance that this new one will work.

In some ways, though, the struggle is forcing me to a good place. A tough place, but it is good overall.
Over and over again I am being presented with medical information that tells me I have no power to change or control the chaos my body goes through. It is a very hard thing to face, and it can be easy to become burdened and depressed by some of the realities I may physically face in the coming years.

And I have absolutely no control.

I think that can be one of the biggest spiritual struggles for the wealthy and/or healthy -- God desires for us to relinquish our 'earthly need' for control. For us to recognize and accept His command over every aspect of our lives.

And at the young age of 23, I don't even have the option of control over my physical health. Not for the big things, at least. God is forcing me to accept total trust in His control over my life.

I have no idea where He is going to lead me physically, but I have complete confidence that He will be the One leading me.

And no matter how difficult it can be to live with so much uncertainty and lack of control, it is very comforting to be confident in the promises of God's plan.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.   Romans 8:28
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.   Jeremiah 29:11

I have absolutely no control.

And that really is a good thing.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2013!

There were some who thought the world would not make it this far...

And others who thought we would have flying cars by now!

No matter how it has come for you, God decided to give us each one more day to live, and that is certainly something to celebrate!

Undoubtedly, many of you will be writing (and reading) countless New Years' resolutions over the next few weeks. They may range from the silly, to the wise, to the seriously important.
But the odds are not in our favor! (I think, as a whole, people have short attention spans)

This blog is part of my own personal set of resolutions. I have certainly not been proactive at maintaining a good rate of blog posting over the past few years, and I intend to change that. (I probably said this last year, too, so we shall see how my attention span fares)

This blog will continue to have a variety of focuses, which completely fits with my artistic personality ... it is hard for me to settle on only one thing!

I hope you will continue to join me on my blog-writing journey over this next year, and will not hesitate to share your thoughts and comments on any and all articles!


Seriously, though, I would love to start each day reading your awesome comments!

Have a wonderful January 1st!

May God bless you in this coming year, and may you grow more each day in the ability to recognize His hands at work in the world!