Thursday, April 26, 2018

Sending digital cards... my new BFF!

I'm the kind of gal that LOVES making, creating, sending, designing, and giving cards. I used to make my own stationary with all the bells and whistles. Stamps, ribbon, markers, stickers, you name it. I always had a stash of blank cards waiting in the drawer for me to scoop out and splash some color and meaningful words inside to give to a friend.

And then... well... kids happened. Life happened. Cleaning a house full of caged monkeys happened. (Kidding. Not kidding.)

As time went on I was more drawn to the "pre-written cards" at the store to keep on hand. Anything from, "Thinking of You" to "I'm Sorry" or "Happy Birthday"... I adored having creatively worded cards on hand to grab in a pinch.

After moving across the country in January and flipping our lives upside down, it has been a whirlwind of change, adventure, and adjustments. With good intentions, I bought two stacks of ridiculously adorable Thank You cards from the store when we first moved here. I think I have actually written in a total of 4 of them. I keep meaning to write them out, my mind swirls with thoughts and words to paint across the pages... but it never actually pans out. And then I am left feeling a little guilty and frustrated with myself.  I walk past that drawer with all the empty, unwritten cards and all the lovely people in my life who deserve one, and my stomach turns in knots.

Recently I was approached by a company that creates digital cards, Paperless Post. Honestly, I had never heard of them before. Sure, in the past I have used websites to send eCards for birthdays to friends and family, but I had never heard of a website quite like this. I was given the chance to try out the website and give my opinion on the cards through my blog. I excitedly downloaded the app onto my phone and started creating digital cards for the ones I love and appreciate in my life. I wish I had an event or birthday party I was planning and I would have used this website to create digital invitations! The next time I have a big event to host I will definitely use this website. For those of you that know me well, know that I love throwing a good party!

The neat thing about PaperlessPost is that you can search hundreds of pre-designed cards or create your own design. There are so many adorable ideas, I was literally drowning in the adorableness of it all. I had a hard time choosing designs! The neat element is that you can search for a particular design idea when creating your card. My sister-in-law adores cats, so of course, I had to find the perfect cat card for her. I am in love with anything cactus right now, so I jumped at the chance to use a cactus design for my good friend at church. My other friend loves unicorns and I wanted to send her a thank you card, so I typed in "unicorns" and found just the right card for her. I wanted to show my gratitude toward Sitora and Peter's teachers where they go to school one day a week through the public school system, so I found some sweet Thank You cards to send as well. 

 If you sign up with your email address, you automatically are given 25 free coins to start making your own cards! It takes only a few coins to create and send a card, so you could easily send several digital cards with your free coins.

On my parents' anniversary I wanted to send something sweet and cute to share my love with them. I never would have thought ahead of time to buy and mail an anniversary card, so using this app was just perfect!

I have sent my hubby a couple of "Thinking of You" cards during the day while he is at work. I love him dearly and have so many emotions and thoughts of gratitude to express to him but it was so helpful to search some pre-made "I love you, you are the love of my life, you are the best person in the world" type card ideas with cute and sassy phrases. I hope it was a fun surprise that made his day ;)

 I appreciate people all the time and think about what a blessing they are to me, and because of the ease of the app right on my phone, I can create and send a lovely little card within minutes and have it sent directly to their email inbox. A fun option is that recipients can reply to your card and you can continue a conversation back and forth. Through the app you can create cards, check the status to see if cards have been opened, work on saved drafts, buy more coins, and save your favorite cards to work on later.

I haven't used the desktop version, but I constantly use the app when creating cards. I would be sitting down to eat a snack, getting ready for bed, or just waking up in the morning and think of someone I felt led to write. It was so simple to open the app and create a card that exceeded my expectations within minutes.

And to be honest, in this generation, we don't hold actual paper Thank You notes in the same regard as the generation before us. I often laugh at baby showers and tell the expectant mamma, "Please don't worry about sending me a Thank You card! It seriously doesn't matter to me one bit. I find joy in just celebrating with you today and seeing the happiness and thankfulness on your face in this moment." Maybe I'm crazy... maybe some of you out there in my generation still really appreciate and expect paper cards. If someone gives me an actual card, of course, I am thrilled and tickled pink. But then I wonder, should I keep it? Throw it away? Take a picture of it? But with these digital cards, they can be saved in your inbox to look back on time and time again without clogging up your drawers and storage folders. I'm sure if you really wanted a paper copy you could print the screenshot taken from your phone or computer.

There are some other fun options on top of creating the card. You can design the backdrop behind the card and also the inside of the envelope. There are some super cute ideas like polka dots, flowers, pineapples, confetti, stripes, baby clothes... the possibilities are endless.

Even though I haven't tried the invitation option for a party, I think this would be a fabulous idea. That way people have a digital copy of the invitation and they can't possibly lose it like a paper copy. The details of the party are safe and secure on their phone to keep until the day of the event. I'm sure you can save on postage and envelopes by doing it this way as well. It's really genius!

The unique element about the website is that you pay for cards with coins. You purchase coins through the website then keep the coins in your account. The coins are depleted when you send a card. Each card has a cost of coins. If you were planning an event then it would cost more coins to send the invitation to multiple recipients. In my opinion, this online option is cheaper and easier than actually purchasing and mailing a real card. 

So was exactly is Paperless Post and how did they get started? Click here to read an article about the founders and their story here on CNN. On their website, it states that Paperless Post is a collaborative group of artists, designers, and letterers who create the original artwork that defines Paperless Post’s product. Every year, over a thousand unique invitations and cards are designed in their in-­house studio and with their design partners. Paperless Post allows customers to create online and paper stationery that reflects their individualism. Users can send invites and greeting cards online, or via traditional mail.

The company was created by brother and sister team, James and Alexa Hirschfeld. James was planning his 21st birthday party in 2007. He had finished all the details for the party, but when it came time to send out invites, paper invites were too costly, and digital options didn't reflect "all the care that went into the event." He grabbed at an opportunity to connect people in real life using technology to create stylish online invitations. James started the company while in school and had little experience, but thankfully his sister, also a Harvard alum, had gained some real-world lessons. James says they complement each other while working and that they've done well as partners because their sibling bond allows them to "communicate incredibly directly."

Well, there you have it folks. I'm so glad this company approached me because I will definitely be a customer for life! Don't mind me as I drink my coffee, eat my KetoCakes, and design cards for the loves in my life on my phone. I'm such a millennial.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Lean into cleaning

Every day. I dreaded it.



Cheerios mixed with dried spaghetti sauce plastered on the kitchen floor.

Cluttered toys.

Books scattered everywhere.

My hubby's socks. (*Hehe, for more on that story, check out my post about it here...)

It was never-ending. And I despised every minute of it. I could be doing SUCH bigger and better things for God like writing songs on the piano, counseling a friend's broken heart over coffee, creating a sermon, planning a church event, something... anything outside of cleaning where I could change the world. 

Ehem. Cue the humble pie.

I remember the exact day I was scrubbing dishes with disdain looking out the backyard window. My attitude smelled about as awful as the dirty plates in my hand. "I am wasting my time cleaning this house day after day when I could be doing something of actual worth in Your Kingdom, God!" I muttered under my coffee-stained breath. 

As quickly as the words tumbled out of my heart I heard a still, soft voice whisper, "Oh my child, but you are."

That moment began the long and winding path my heart would take through the jungles of humility and servanthood in my home. That moment sparked a fire in my bones that would soon engulf my attitude and change it for the better. What was left became ashes of beauty... as I began to lean into cleaning. 

I've loved being a stay-at-home homeschooling mom from day one. Not one person coaxed or forced me into this lifestyle, I felt God calling me to it from day one. There was no doubt about that. But the cleaning part... well... that didn't come so naturally. 

Oh I could clean, that wasn't the problem. I could clean like nobody's business (thanks to my mom and Bible college practical training work assignments). The problem was my attitude. Every minute spent scrubbing and folding and dusting and vacuuming and organizing felt like moments lost for the Kingdom. 

But the Kingdom starts right here, in my family, my house, my heart. 

I felt the Lord impress upon my heart that if I couldn't serve my own family with a heart of gratefulness and humility, how was I equipped to serve God's people outside of my home?

Conviction. Boom.

Now don't get me wrong, my husband bears a huge part of the load in taking care of our home. He cooks, cleans, fixes things around the house, puts the kids to bed, wakes up with them in the night, yadda yadda. But as a homeschool mom, there is much to be done during the day while my husband is at work. We take turns, which is such a blessing, but I was disgruntled when my turn came. 

It was like a lightbulb clicked on inside my head that day and suddenly I could see the light. Why not embrace and lean into my cleaning roles instead of fight against and resent them? Why not use those hours to better my relationship with the Lord, encourage my mothering heart, and seek direction and inspiration for ministry? Why was serving my family not ministry in my eyes? Why was cleaning inside a different box in my head than homeschooling or loving my children? 

I realized that I had a plethora of tools at my disposal to help my cleaning routine that women all around the world do not have access to in regards to technology. I then started listening to my audio Bible app, podcasts, sermons, music, and audiobooks while I cleaned. After a few days, it dawned on me that I was actually beginning to look forward to my cleaning routines. My heart would sing, "It's almost time to soak in God's Word and listen to my favorite podcasts!" I liken it to an animal performing tricks at the sound of a bell or hand signal from a trainer knowing full well a delightful treat is on its way. My hard work would be rewarded by time spent with my Creator and buckets full of knowledge and wisdom attained! I would end my cleaning sessions encouraged and challenged in my walk with God and I began to actually feel sad when it was time to stop cleaning. 

Hold up. Shut the front door. Can you even believe it? Feel sad that cleaning time was over? Who was this woman I was becoming???

I cherish the feeling when my husband and kids walk into a clean and organized room and they feel at peace. Not only was that room disinfected and decluttered, but it was filled with God's words through Bible reading and music. I was soaking our home in the presence of God and prayer while scrubbing the physical dirt off. I was declaring God's promises while wiping the grime and dust away. 

I know it sounds silly and a bit cliqué, my friends. But it worked. And oh... how my heart has changed. 

My prayer for you, dear one, is that you can lean into your work, your responsibilities and obligations with gratitude and praise as you dedicate it to the One Who gave you breath. Our earthly work may not be our favorite, but we can ask Jesus to change our hearts and attitudes in order to fully embrace the joy and mundane beauty of it all. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Light the Night

Our little jaguar, Spiderman, and Olaf had a blast trick-or-treating tonight with dear friends while Danny and I helped with our church's Halloween outreach. It is SO simple and yet SO amazing at the same time! We hand out hot chocolate and candy to the kids and parents as they walk through the park trick-or-treating. The atmosphere is so light-hearted and friendly as we chit-chat with old and new friends while they stop to warm up with their hot chocolate. It is a great way to bless our community and get face-to-face conversations and smiles. 

My kids helped me prepare the night before by stuffing bags with candy and tracts sharing the gospel message in a fun and kid-centered way. We watched "When Calls the Heart" on Netflix while we worked and prayed that God would show His love and truth to each and every child who would read the words in the pamphlet. 

My husband and I have been serving together in ministry since we started dating over 12 years ago. Nothing makes my heart beat faster than serving alongside my best friend and the love of my life. Days like today make my heart happy. 

I hope you can help Light the Night in your community in the future if God leads you too!