January 2015 Background & Calendar

Happy New Year! I LOVE January. I love it for so many reasons, but as I get older the list just gets longer and longer. A few changes will be coming this year to this little forgotten blog of mine, but before all that I thought we should celebrate such a beautiful month, full of fresh starts and new beginnings and crisp cold air. So here's a little desktop decoration... because who isn't looking forward to the adventure of this new year?!

You can find the desktop backgrounds as well as phone backgrounds (without the calendar) here for download.

Happy New Year to you and yours. May 2015 be full of blessings and growth and joy.

Amelia's Birth

Disclaimer: Some of this might be TMI. So proceed with caution. Although, if you know me, you know I've seriously toned down the personal details... I'm generally an open book. Three months removed, I think I can talk about it now.

I mean, I talked about it after it happened and told the story, over and over, to visitors and family and interested parties. But for some reason I kept putting off writing Amelia's birth story in her baby book. I finally realized that I didn't want to write it down because I wasn't really ready to deal with it yet. Everything went almost completely opposite of what we'd hoped, and while I thought I'd prepared myself for that, I had a lot of mixed emotions to sort through afterwards.

So three months later, I have healed. Physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Birth is a traumatic experience. People told me this - that even if things went perfectly according to plan, it is a major life event and the gravity of it can easily crush you. So here is our story. I've probably forgotten some details at this point, but honestly I think I needed to.

We chose to deliver with the Vanderbilt Nurse Midwives and have an unmedicated birth. We attended Bradley classes and learned everything there was to know about pregnancy, birth, and the post-partum period. It was very important to me that my daughter was born on HER time table and not anyone else's. Not mine, not family's, not anyone's but hers. Unfortunately, at 42 weeks the risk factors go up in a lot of areas, so we gave her as much time as we possibly could. I carried her for fifteen extra days - and I wouldn't change it for anything. Those last two weeks were full of prayer and long conversations with my sweet baby, and ice packs and waddling - but I also love looking back and knowing that she was comfortable, and growing, and developing her brain and taking her time. I also loved being pregnant - even then! Haha. Knowing her now, her extra two weeks are characteristic of her nature: sweet and laid back and content. The last thing I wanted to do was rush her to arrive before she was ready and it was important to me to respect her in that way. So 42 weeks it was!

After I tried everything (literally, EVERYTHING) to go into labor naturally, and nothing worked (even doing that made me feel guilty - but I knew it was better to coax her out than to forcer her out), we were scheduled to be induced at 8am on September 3rd. We woke up, had a hearty breakfast at Fido, prayed, and made our way up to Labor & Delivery. The first 26 hours of our induction were spent trying to get me dilated. Yes, at 42 weeks gestation I was a "tight" 1cm and no where close to labor. Go figure. After three rounds of cytotec, some scary contractions on the second round, and lots of walking up and down the corridors of the fourth floor, I was at a 2. Stubborn, much?! So next we used a foley bulb to manually dilate. I would go into this, but it's pretty horrifying.... I wouldn't even google it if I were you. Just pretend you'd never heard of it and NEVER let them suggest it to you if you're being induced. Ignorance is bliss. In fact, there's a whole other story of how I reacted to this and the complications that arose and I don't hardly remember them because I've blocked them from my memory. Ick.

We started Pitocin while the foley bulb was still in, and I started having mild contractions pretty quickly. Finally! Active labor!! After about an hour, the foley bulb finally fell out which meant I was at 4cm. I loved this part of labor. Logan was an incredible coach, and I reveled in the pain of the contractions. There was some deep satisfaction I found in feeling my body gearing up to birth my sweet child. However, because I was no where close to labor when we came in, Amelia had not dropped. I think if she'd been engaged when we were induced, and maybe if I had gas, I would have lasted at least a bit longer. After four hours of unmedicated labor (we're not sure why I never got the gas... we told them we'd be interested but they never offered it and we totally forgot about it - I think this was the Lord's hand but I'll go into that later), I was no longer reveling in the pain, but absolutely crushed by it. I felt like my bones were being slowly split apart and I could hardly breathe as she dropped lower and lower. Usually people's babies drop over the course of weeks. She was dropping literally in the course of minutes. OUCH. The Pitocin also caused my contractions to be VERY close together, with no more than 5-10 seconds between them for recovery. I finally asked for pain relief. The funny thing is, out of my options (stop Pitocin, get in the shower, but then start it again later on / narcotics for only two hours then back to unmedicated labor / epidural), I chose the narcotics so I could rest a little and then get back at it. Well, when they left to go get the narcotics, I had another contraction and immediately decided we were going for the epidural. Then I screamed at sweetly asked the anesthesiologist to get the epidural going before my next contraction "or else," so they gave me narcotics while I got my epidural. (So no, since so many people have asked me, the epidural didn't hurt! Haha.. but I guess it wouldn't then, would it?)

I also loved this part of labor. I have absolutely no regrets for getting it, even though in the moment I thought I would. Suddenly our delivery room went from incredibly stressful to incredibly calm and peaceful. Logan and I talked, prayed, cried, slept, and enjoyed the process. I honestly think I may do this with our next child (Lord willing): labor unmedicated, and then get an epidural. Both parts were so wonderful I can't decide which is better! So after a couple of hours (we're at six hours now total of active labor - on the afternoon of September 4th), my midwife checked and I was 10cm and ready to push! However, throughout all of this Amelia had been dropping her heart rate when I was anywhere but on my left side. I still think that's all sort of bogus, especially with what I've read about continuous fetal monitoring, but I wasn't about to argue with the professionals. So because of this, our midwife wanted us to labor down and wait as long as possible before starting to push in hopes that Amelia would cooperate when I got on my back to push.

So after another hour (seven hours now), I started getting these awful body shakes. At first I thought I was cold, but we piled blankets on and nothing helped. They got worse and worse. Finally, I couldn't hardly breathe or talk they were so bad and in the moment I honestly felt like it was the worst part of the labor yet. The nurses kept telling me it was a hormone rush because my body was in transition and knew it was time to push, but I felt like something was wrong.

Because my shaking got so bad, they finally decided we were going to go ahead and start pushing in hopes that they would stop after birth. In a routine check of vitals, they took my temperature and heart rate and realized I had a 103 fever and my heart rate was soaring. Our labor quickly turned into an emergency delivery.

They called in an OB who specialized in forceps delivery who kindly told me, "This baby has to come out NOW." (I foolishly thought this meant that I was going to the OR so I mumbled out "Am I going to keep shaking during surgery?" and he smiled and said, "Oh you're not going to have a c-section. We're doing a forceps delivery RIGHT NOW.") After about five minutes of pushing (and vomiting - ugh), I saw this amazing wet little body being held up at the end of the table. Unfortunately, our birth plan went out the window (as if it hadn't already - ha!), and she was rushed to the NICU doctors in the room who had been urgently called in for her. I just remember looking to my left, straining to see her, while they weighed her and checked her vitals, wanting so badly to hold her. I didn't ask because I knew that the docs knew best and I wanted her to be taken care of. I insisted Logan go over to her and not stay with me. He wouldn't leave my side. While they cleaned me up and.. you know.. finished the birth... they informed me that she would be going to the NICU immediately because she had a high fever as well as an elevated heart rate and was having difficulty breathing. They brushed her by my face so I could kiss her, then whisked her away, and I insisted Logan accompany her to the NICU so he reluctantly left. So much for the golden hour!

This is when things got ugly.

I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out, which I'm sure is probably expected and common after giving birth! Haha. So I didn't think much about it, but the doctors immediately became incredibly concerned when my blood pressure bottomed out and my heart rate still had not come down. I was in and out of feeling light headed and feeling fine, but the doctors remained concerned. They had estimated that I lost an average amount of blood, but later revised that to suggest that I'd lost three times the normal amount. The shaking was determined to have been fever chills, and my fever subsided shortly after I gave birth. At some point during my labor, I developed an infection on the placenta which affected both Amelia and I. Luckily, after only an hour in the NICU her fever had broken, and her breathing and heart rate had normalized. I, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky.

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The doctors insisted I be hooked up to the telemetry machines, so they could have all my vitals at all times. This meant I had to stay in Labor & Delivery and wasn't cleared to move to the Post Partum wing. I got to meet Amelia five hours later in the peace and quiet of our room. I will never forget staring at her picture on Logan's phone over and over again while I waited to see her. I still tear up when I see that photo because it was the first time I ever set eyes on her. I remember thinking she looked like she was smiling, as if to say, "Don't worry, Mom! I'm here! We did it!" Words can't describe holding her for the first time. It was incredible, especially after that long wait.

Those first few days are all very fuzzy to me now... I remember continuously saying I felt fine to all the doctors, and I know I did, but looking back I think I was much more incoherent than I realized. I can't quite place what events happened in what order, and who visited when. The story was that my bloodwork was terrible, a transfusion didn't help, antibiotics weren't helping, and I still had the infection according to my labs. My blood pressure didn't come up for several days, and my heart rate took about two days to normalize. I was put on strict bed rest and was closely monitored. They wanted to place me in the ICU, but I insisted repeatedly that I felt fine, so they said "my demeanor" was keeping them from moving me. I remember a nurse telling me that the doctors and residents were puzzling over me in the hall - that I had everyone stumped. Thankfully, Labor & Delivery became very crowded while we were there and after my blood work started looking slightly better after three days, they moved us to a different room (likely to accommodate other patients more so than as a reaction to my improvement). I was SO thankful to be able to breastfeed without having to work around twelve cords all tangling up on my chest and arms. Things continued as before, but I was finally encouraged to stand up for short periods of time, and then after another day, I was told to try walking.

Okay, giving birth in general is pretty hard on the body. But then try chaining your body to a bed for 4+ days, left to swell from the lack of movement, in addition to the swelling that was already happening anyway. I couldn't even straighten my back. It was horrible. Just standing up took me about five minutes, and it took every ounce of my strength. I was desperate to go home with our baby, so I was determined to walk two laps around the floor (they said I could be discharged once I did that). It was miserable, but I somehow managed.

They finally moved us to post partum for our last night. I think they only did it because I felt so defeated and disappointed that we never got to be there with our baby. We never got to have normal visitors - just people who we had to give "visitor passes" to. I had a sweet little banner for our post partum door that I never got to use. I was so defeated by the aftermath of Amelia's birth, that they gave us the "best room on the floor" (it had a wall of windows) for our last night I think just to boost my morale. We had a few friends visit us there, and it meant the world to me to feel NORMAL. Six days in the hospital, and we finally got to go home.

It took me about three weeks to walk normally, but we made it. And she was worth it all. (And I have a new appreciation for chiropractors.)

I am convinced that the Lord guided me to that epidural. Having a forceps delivery with no medication, and the ensuing procedures (catheter, etc.) with no medication would have been agony. I was confined to lay on my left side shortly before the epidural, and laboring in bed would have been much more painful than being able to move about. It's amazing how He works for our benefit, even when it seems like things are completely out of control.

Thank you to the Vanderbilt staff - especially the nurses who took incredible care of me and my OBs who spent hours trying to figure me out after our delivery. I owe our health to Dr. Spetalnick, who delivered Amelia, and Dr. Newton who was my high risk OB after she was born and I was still recovering. Three months removed, we are doing famously. <3

Home

Well, obviously taking the time to blog has not been a priority of mine like I always want it to be, so I apologize for the big fat break in writing.

Our little lady will be here within the next 2-7 weeks (due date in 5), and as you can imagine my brain has been in overdrive with getting everything ready/washed/put away/organized/assembled/scheduled/etc. However, in true form I recently sat down to map out the last few big to dos and make sure I had a schedule for everything, knowing that it won't get done otherwise. And I realized: there is NOT that much left to do. Like, not much at ALL. Beyond packing the hospital bag (this weekend - eek!) and shopping for labor/delivery/hospital clothes and a few other items, she can come any day she likes. Knowing this, it has been a huge breath of fresh air to be able to just enjoy these these past few days and next few weeks. I can nap without feeling like I should be doing something. I can rest when my feet and back hurt after 10 minutes of putting things away in her nursery. I can put things off if I don't have the energy. It is w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l.

Which has also made me realize how incredibly thankful I am to be home now. It took me about three weeks to adjust to being home full time, but once it clicked... I was all in. Sure, our budget is slightly tighter, and some days I'm a little stir crazy, but I feel so unbelievably blessed to be able to have this time to myself and to prepare. For the first time in my married life, I can actually keep the house clean without feeling like I'm sacrificing some other priority. We (generally) have groceries in the fridge, and clean sheets on the bed, and fresh laundry and clean floors. I think I've enjoyed taking care of our home even more than I've enjoyed being able to do my business full time (am I allowed to say that?). I feel like my life is finally balanced. I close my eyes at night and I don't have an urgent fifteen item list of things that hang over me like a black cloud.

And amidst my daily business/home life, it has been so fulfilling to be able to spend all the time I want preparing for our baby girl. It has been such a joy for me to nest and plan and organize and create a cozy space for her to grow in once she gets here. 

Although I wish I had taken more advantage of this time for my business, I would not change these past three months for anything. And since the list has dwindled, and looks to be right on track, I am taking these next few weeks to soak up my last days as a party of one during the day, and rest and read and pray and work and take it easy. I'm sure once she's here everything will be turned upside down again - which will be fun and exhausting and hard and awesome. I will rest in this calm until then, and embrace the chaos when it comes.

Introducing Jill Hartline

Today is the day I get to share my big news! Lemon Tree Paper Co. is officially changing its name to Jill Hartline. I am so excited and nervous for this big change, but it's been over a year in the making and it feels so right! Introducing

Along with the name change will be a few minor shop changes. Most importantly, you can expect the same quality, attention to detail, and service that I have offered in the past. While my Etsy shop will still be offering small party/wedding invitations and stamps, it will become more focused on helping others turn their offices into their own sanctuary with desktop and wall accessories. One of my favorite challenges at my old job was taking my little tiny cube and making it mine. From hanging photos and prints, to making sure my morning coffee was held in the cheeriest of mugs, I always looked for ways to drown out the mundane, and inject a shot of color and joy into every piece of my surroundings. In looking toward the future, my retail offerings will be more catered to office life and infusing personality into the small things.

On that note, to celebrate, I'm having a little giveaway of a few of my favorite desktop items! To enter, simply like my brand spanking new Facebook page, and be sure to follow me on Instagram. Then, tag a friend in a comment on any of my Instagram/Facebook giveaway posts so they can have the opportunity to enter too (maximum of one entry per day). Easy peasy. No reposting photos or anything like that - just a fun way to celebrate my new business name! (Of course, if you'd like to share... you would make my whole day!) The giveaway closes at midnight on Friday and the winner will be randomly selected and announced on Saturday. Woohoo!

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Items included in the giveaway are:

An August 2014-July 2015 Whitney English Day Designer: I could not function without mine! In thinking about my favorite desktop items, this was very top of the list. And, they're sold out! I'm so glad I bought it in time to include it! :)

A Yummy Candle: Because I am 10x more productive when I feel cozy in my environment.

Washi Tape: To use in that fabulous Day Designer (and for happy mail, of course).

Colorful Sharpie Pens: To jazz up a to do list, and keep things interesting.

Notes Mousepad/Notepad: One of my most popular products throughout the years - and I have some new notepad sets in the works, too! I have used up two of these babies jotting down notes, working out quotes, and doodling. I love it!

Choose Joy Mug: I love having something warm in the morning (tea for now since decaf coffee just isn't my thing while pregnant), and having it in something cheery makes it all the sweeter! These will be coming to the shop in the next couple weeks along with a handful of other mug designs.

$25 Starbucks Card: So you can fill up your mug with whatever strikes your fancy, and get the morning started off right! :)

Things are still changing over on Etsy, the website, and my e-mail, so you may still see remnants of Lemon Tree here and there. Over the next few weeks I'll be working through those kinks and ironing out all the nitty gritty. I appreciate your patience in the meantime! :)

So there it is! I hope you are as excited as I am for this new and exciting chapter. I have lots of new products in the pipes but I don't want to over promise anything before Baby Girl gets here... So more on that as they are ready to be revealed! :) I'll also be sharing a coupon code or two on Instagram later today, so pop in to celebrate in the shop as well if you get a chance!

Happy Tuesday!

Jill

 

Christmas in April

So after F-I-N-A-L-L-Y photographing a few of my favorite projects from last year, I can share our Christmas card with the blogosphere! hartline-1

Now, I'm not terribly skilled at styling and our Christmas card was the first to be shot, so needless to say I'll be reshooting these (or at least ironing that fabric... oopsies) at some point, but in the meantime I could not help myself but finally showcase my favorite project every year: our family Christmas card. (Also, for the record, the rest of the shoot went really well despite these sad photos... and if you want to see for yourself, hop on over to my portfolio and check out all the new work I added!)

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I love using our Christmas card as an excuse to experiment with different mediums I've been wanting to use for Lemon Tree clients, so this year I went with wood veneer for our main card. Since my rubber stamp sales basically bought our house in 2013, I thought it only fitting to create a Christmas card with zero printing involved (err.. except the labels, because I ran out of time to do calligraphy.. early pregnancy = too tired for anything). As always, credit for the beautiful photo goes to our favorite photographer, Justin Wright. He's amazing you guys - professionally and personally.

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The stamps worked GREAT on the wood, which was a huge bonus. It takes a little practice, but with the perfect amount of pressure on both the stamp pad and the wood itself, we were in good shape (the same goes for the paper, in fact).

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We also closed on our house right before sending these out, so naturally I had to throw in a moving announcement. We decided to keep it simple and list it on the back of our "happy holidays" generic message shipping tag. I felt like I had so much to say, I used every surface for a different piece.

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Belly band: life updates, wood: a verse that got us through the later part of 2013, and tag: generic holiday greeting and moving announcement.

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Overall, I was thrilled with how these turned out. The wood held up well in the mail, and the hard work of cutting and stamping was totally worth it.

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Now to see what I can drum up this year... :)

My New Office

Image Oh my goodness. First let me say, my office has come SO far but still has so far to go. That being said, I could not be happier with the progress I've made in the past couple of months! These are all of my favorite parts of the room - sources for each are listed below. Maybe one day if I can get my act together (and find a few new shelving options) I'll actually do a real office tour. ... Maybe.

1. Wall Color: Valspar Blanket. The softest, prettiest blue green you ever did see.

2. Rug: RugsUSA.com. The black is the worst possible option with a dog with (mostly) white hair, but I love it so much it's worth the extra vacuuming. (Gracie loves it, too. Sigh.)

3. Curtains (that I stenciled with coral Dalmatian spots): Ritva panels from Ikea. Inexpensive and HUGE. Which is awesome for my huge windows.

4. Stencil Supplies: I used a coral paint, foam brush, and this stencil. Inspiration for these beauties was found here and here.

5. Desk: World Market, but unfortunately they discontinued it. I LOVE that desk.

6. Office Chair: West Elm. A little pricey but not nearly as pricey as the legitimate office chairs I looked at originally. No thank you, $2,000+! Plus, if I'll be sitting for longer than a period of three hours, I'll likely be moving to the couch anyway!

7. Cart: Probably my favorite item. Gifted by my mother-in-law after she found it left as trash at work, it's a standard library cart that I spray painted white. And it is a BEAUT!

8. Work Table: Also World Market. Wheels, storage, perfect size... plus (like my desk) it's solid wood. For a great price, too!

9. Floor Lamp: Target. Because sometimes you just need a little ambiance. :)

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Lessons

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I've had this week off of work and I was a little nervous to see how it went, knowing that I'll be home full time pretty soon. Of course since I won't be at home until May, I naturally crammed the whole week with major projects that need to get done, but overall I feel like it's been a good test week for May.

And I have to say, I have loved it. I've made sure to actually wake up when Logan wakes up, and start my day early instead of sleeping in and wasting it away. I've put on makeup every morning (except for yesterday and today - which have been painting days) even if I had no where to go - because I hear that in working from home actually getting ready is key to feeling great. I've budgeted my time between ongoing Lemon Tree jobs as well as special projects and actually stuck pretty closely to my plan - which is rare for me. 

It's just been surprisingly uplifting and refreshing to see that I can in fact build my own schedule and not be a total bum. This was one of those fears I had in making this decision... but I am thankful this week has given me the opportunity to banish it.

So with all that said, I'm hoping to have a fun office update once the painting is finished, curtains are hung, office chair comes in, etc. But until then - it's back to work!

Today

BeHappy

I had high hopes this morning that we may be able to find out the sex of our baby sooner rather than later. We had an appointment with our midwife (one of a few, it's a practice), and I was crossing my fingers that they wouldn't be conservative and make me wait until 20 weeks to have the anatomy scan. After all, I am technically far enough along to have the ultrasound now.

Nope. We're waiting until 21 weeks.

But, in my disappointment this morning as I drove from the clinic to work, I reminded myself that this whole thing is a journey. It's a process. If the midwives think it's best to wait, then wait we will. I can't will my child's anatomy to show up on an ultrasound just because I'm impatient to start planning a nursery. It doesn't work that way.

Just as I have learned through my miscarriage and through this healthy pregnancy (heard a beautiful little heartbeat today!), there is nothing I can do to will my body to produce this little human being. It's completely out of my control whether or not my body will perform this major miracle. I am just a vessel of the good work that is going on inside of me. Oh the metaphors for life!

So, with that spirit, I am choosing to soak in these last precious four weeks of getting to know my sweet baby without having any identity in mind. I don't have a gender preference, but I know I'll start to connect all sorts of ideas and dreams to our baby once we do know the sex (not that there is anything wrong with that), so for now I'm just breathing and enjoying this beautiful process.

Things I love about being 16 (17 tomorrow!) weeks: I'm big enough for people to recognize that I'm pregnant, but not big enough to be uncomfortable yet. I am full of energy and feeling amazing right from the sound of my alarm in the morning. Some of my old clothes still fit, but my maternity clothes don't feel so huge anymore. I am 16 weeks into making a life and I am so thankful for all that I've experienced so far.

So here's to taking life one day at a time and enjoying the season we are in right now. As desperately as I want to count down the days until our next appointment, I'm choosing to enjoy this moment and this beautiful growing belly that God has gifted me. What a treasure it is to open our eyes to the fleeting moment we are in. I'm soaking it up.

It's March Already?!

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How, oh HOW, is it already March? I can't even believe my eyes! I'm starting to feel like I can't keep up with my own life and that I should just get used to that inevitable sinking feeling every night around 9pm that there aren't enough hours in the day.

Yesterday Dave Clayton shared a great message at church. I was caught by a little side story he told to illustrate one of his points. I won't go into all the details, but basically there was a point in his life when a mentor and friend, out of love, told him that he was living a sinfully busy life. His mentor said, "If you're not careful, the work of God through you will kill the work of God in you," referring to his lifestyle at the time of "work work work for the Lord."

In reflecting on his overall point of the entire message (what part of my life is Jesus trying to put a finger on and help me break free from?), this notion of sinfully busy kept running through my head.

For the past three years, I have lived a lifestyle that consisted of little sleep, little margin, and lots of "things to do." I can't think of the last time I went to bed at night feeling satisfied with myself in terms of productivity and my check list. I thought it was a season, and in some part it has been, but I think I'm beginning to realize that it is an addiction. I've always thought I was lazy - I still do on some level - and I think this addiction helps me soothe that self-consciousness.

Of course, I'm already half way to seeking help by having an end date for one of my two full time jobs. But I don't want to allow myself to fill up all that freed time once May rolls around. There will be much to do (especially with a special little one on the way), but I am determined to keep that additional margin sacred. I was telling my good friend Keela at church on Sunday that for the first time in my life, beginning in May I won't have an excuse for not doing everything I want to do in terms of personal and spiritual development. My schedule will be 100% what I make it. And I want to reclaim balance in my life, and most importantly, in my heart.

So in preparation for May, I am taking steps now to begin living more wholly and confidently in balance. Because I know life will only ever get busier, and even if I still have two full time jobs in the meantime, there has to be a way to make it all work and not feel like I'm giving up a piece of my soul doing it.

So with that, my March goals.

Simplify: I envision this as taking a deep breath every morning, really sifting through everything that feels important and boiling it down to what is important. I'm the kind of serial to do list maker that ends up making 35 lists every day of every imaginable thing I've ever wanted to do.. from stenciling curtains to building a porch onto our house. Yeah. Obviously THAT probably isn't going to get checked off (and I wonder why I don't feel satisfied at the end of the day!). So I'm making an effort to filter through all those floating goals and only focus on the concrete ones on a day to day basis. (Of course with long-term projects picking up steam as I have time for them.)

Slow Down: I never used to be a bath person. I thought they were gross: to sit in your own dirt and get hot and sweaty. It sounded the opposite of relaxing to me. But then for the first three years of our marriage, our bathtub drain was broken at our apartment (I can't say I would have bathed it in if it weren't broken, but you always want what you can't have). I have to say - now that we have a working, sparkling clean bathtub I LOVE THEM. I think pregnancy forced me into becoming a bath person, but it has become a wonderful way for me to take thirty minutes to myself, read my Bible, or just reflect on my life, and pray. I plan on finding other activities like this to add to my life (I can't wait to start walking the dog again when it gets warm!) because when it's something as easy as a 30 minute activity, I can always make time for it, and I'm always glad when I do.

Organize: This is all encompassing in my life right now. Our house is still only 50% unpacked, I need to carefully manage my remaining two months at work to make sure everything gets done before I leave, and our new house has left me with a million projects floating around/taking up room in my brain space. Even if this just involves making lists and setting them aside, or unpacking one box every week, I want to get it out of my brain and into action. However, I also don't want this to become another to do, so I prefer to think of it as a mind shift rather than an activity. I want to be diligent and organized with the time I have, so that I can make more margin in my life. Perhaps instead of watching TV to relax on a Saturday, I can get to work on the pile of clothes that need to be put in my dresser (that my amazing father-in-law REBUILT for us after it broke!!) instead. I find things like that equally relaxing - but sometimes I just default to watching TV instead of thinking about other, more helpful options.

Finally, be realistic: Again, I am the queen of making lists that make me want to take a nap. I feel burdened by them more often than I feel relieved by them. So, at least for the month of March, I am vowing to keep my expectations for my day realistic. (As for long-term projects/planning lists... the sky is the limit! Woohoo!) It's when I am unrealistic in my expectations of what I can get done that I end up running myself ragged and falling back into that addiction of a busy lifestyle. Again, this is what leads me to feel so unsatisfied and "behind" when my head hits the pillow. Unfortunately, it's just not feasible that I will finish all 30 items on my to do list at work. So I will pick the most important ones, and chip away day by day, allowing myself grace that it takes time to finish things. This is hard for me, but the hardest things bring the most growth!

So there it is. I expect to be held accountable to these - so please don't hesitate to ask me how my goals are going. Am I still living a sinfully busy life, pushing off the most important things to pursue those that don't really matter - or am I pursuing a life of balance and grace, with margin and meaning in the mundane? (That alliteration was totally unplanned!) Please do ask me about it. I hope I have good news to report. :)

What are your goals for March?

 

Faith vs. Fear

Image It's official. As of May 1, 2014 I will be at home full time working only for Lemon Tree.

After three years of growing Lemon Tree in the evenings and on weekends, I still can't quite wrap my mind around only focusing on one job instead of two. I have so many dreams and fears - I don't even know whether to be excited or scared out of my mind.

With the baby coming in a little under six months, several factors (Logan's new salary, Lemon Tree's massive growth last year, etc.) helped us come to this decision. Our plan has always been for me to be a work-at-home mom with Lemon Tree providing extra support for our family while Logan's salary paid most of the bills. But despite the plan, I still can't believe it. Every day that I'm at Lipscomb I just want to dig my heels down into the carpet and dare anyone to make me leave. I love it so much - I can't imagine not seeing my coworkers everyday, but I also know this will be the best for our family in the long run.

In making this huge decision (and telling my boss and office), I have realized that I have an incredible amount of fear in going into this next chapter. During last year's Lemon Tree growth spurt I started to get the hunch that maybe God was pushing me to something. Maybe He was helping my little business thrive so that, if nothing else by necessity, I could quit my job and pursue my passion full time. I kept burying that feeling, but inevitably it would rise back up again in the strangest of moments and during late night shipping sessions. I just kept telling myself that it wasn't time yet and I'd know when it was (even though, in my heart, I knew it already was time).

Of course after I got pregnant the conversation came up more and more, and I just kept telling Logan that I'd hold out until August when the baby was born and then I could transition all at once. I used insurance as an excuse, and then my relationships in the office, but deep down in my soul I knew it should be sooner. I'd been feeling the need to do this for months now and I just kept pushing it off. It was (is) too scary!

In a moment of honesty with myself and in front of God, I prayed one evening that He would make His desires mine. That I would know the right timing for this major life change, and that I would feel 100% confident about it - despite my fear. Within the week, May 1 kept popping into my head as the date. I mentioned it to Logan, and sat on it for a few weeks until I couldn't see any other date that made sense for us. 100% confidence. I felt so confident of it, in fact, that I told my bosses the next day - something I was dreading doing for months and yet it was such a great experience. God is so good.

So now that I have a date, I am terrified of moving forward. What am I going to do for three and a half months before the baby comes? What if I get stir crazy and hate being home all day? What if I can't find a routine and become an old hag with a failing business? Am I going to be in sweatpants all day and never shower? What if Logan isn't attracted to me anymore? How will those around me perceive me? Will people think I'm selfish for making this decision? What on earth am I going to do with free time? Not to mention... What if I'm a terrible mother? What if I hate staying home and blame the baby? How am I going to feel in six months? Will I regret this decision? Will we be able to make ends meet?

The list goes on.

But I know that if it doesn't scare you, it isn't worth doing. And the best decisions I've made in my life were the ones that I was most afraid of making. I feel so confident that God is ushering me into a new and beautiful season of life, but also so terrified of what that will mean for me personally and professionally. I am so thankful that I even have the option to be a work at home mom, and I'm leaning into that.

So here I go. Holding my breath, closing my eyes, and taking the leap.

2013 to 2014.

So I know I'm (very) late in posting this, but the past few months have been very different from any other in the past, and for a variety of reasons I haven't really been able to stop and reflect on 2013 and plan for 2014. The biggest of these reasons: I'm pregnant! And while it has been an absolute JOY and such a blast so far, I've truly been engulfed in a fog of first trimester fatigue and zombie-dom since early December. Add that fatigue that Logan graduated, started a new job, and we MOVED... Well, January just slipped right through my sleepy little fingers.

SO. In reflecting on 2013, I have so many thoughts. We had the highest highs and the lowest lows in 2013. We had a pretty average year for the first half. Besides Lemon Tree growing like crazy, everything else was pretty peachy and normal. Then, August. I found out I was pregnant (round one, due April 9th) the day after I got home from Amber Housley Inspired (a conference I attended for Lemon Tree). Long story short, we miscarried about three weeks later so needless to say, we were on quite a rollercoaster in the month of August. The pregnancy was a HUGE surprise and I think intuitively I knew something wasn't right... so we were never really able to enjoy those three weeks. After that, it sort of felt like our world fell apart for awhile. Logan and I were stronger and closer than ever - we grew in ways we never knew we could - but suddenly everything in my life just felt.... empty. Fast forward a few months of mourning and healing, and we decided that our hearts were changed from the experience and we were left wanting to start a family. We decided we'd wait until after Paris so we could enjoy that trip and not worry about morning sickness or miscarriages, and that's exactly what we did. A few weeks after we got home it was the week of Logan's graduation (and the first full week at his new job), and bam. Positive pregnancy test! It. Was. AWESOME.

Everything else seemed to fall right into place. We'd been looking at a house in Donelson, and we finally were able to close and move right after Christmas (the same day of the pregnancy that I miscarried with my first... thank goodness I was distracted!). It was a CRAZY (and I mean C-R-A-Z-Y) few weeks for us between the pregnancy, the job, moving... But so wonderful and sweet and exhausting all at once. We learned a multitude of lessons in 2013, and most importantly we learned how to weather a storm together and lean on each other and look to God for guidance in those darkest moments. As painful as it was, I'm so thankful for how we grew through that experience. And now look where God has lead us!

We're due August 20th (yay!), so that obviously plays into a lot of our plans for 2014.

For Lemon Tree, honestly, I'm dying to do so many things with the business. It's been neglected since August last year just because of everything going on in our lives... but this probably won't be the year I really get to really pour myself into it. I keep reminding myself that my story is different from everyone else's and while I take so much joy and pride in friends of mine who's businesses are going gang busters - I won't allow myself to be unhappy that I can't do that right now. I have a baby in my belly! That's my first priority, and Lemon Tree will just have to wait a little bit to get the attention I truly want to give it. So we'll see. For now, I'm just hoping to maintain what I have currently and possibly add a couple of products IF I have the time and energy. I'm purposefully setting my expectations low for this year so I won't be discouraged... I hope I can over deliver! :) I know it seems backwards to spend the pregnancy focusing on the baby and hope to focus on the business once the baby's born, but trust me... for a lot of reasons this makes the most sense for us. (Yes, I know, having a baby is not easy and I will be busier than ever and what am I thinking. Just please, go with me on this. 2015 will be a Lemon Tree year with a little one as my new assistant!)

Lipscomb is just wonderful. We're still figuring out what maternity leave/our plan looks like for our future, but right now I am soaking up every moment in that wonderful office full of friends. I feel so lucky to get to work with people I love and enjoy being around. I look forward to going to work in the morning - and that's something I never want to take for granted.

On a personal level, our goal of buying a house has finally been reached (how did that happen?!), so I really just want us to focus this year on strengthening our marriage and preparing an unshakeable foundation for our baby. I don't want our child to become the center of our marriage, so Logan and I are brainstorming ways we can intentionally focus on each other and support each other as we transition into parenting. I'm going to be someone's MOM. That. Is. CRAZY!!!

Overall, I hope that 2014 holds more growth and hopefully an uneventful year beyond the birth of our firstborn. With the storms of last year, I'm looking forward to hopefully just hunkering down and spending time together this year as a family of three (Gracie included!) and later a family of four. But we'll see. I guess only God knows what lies ahead, but I know in all things He does a much better job of planning than I do! :) In the meantime, I am LOVING growing this little baby and taking it all one day at a time. I already can't believe that we're already public... I know I'll have a baby in my arms before I know it, and I don't want to wish one moment away. :)

My apologies for the lack decent writing in this post... I'm desperate to start blogging more (just for myself) and I'm taking the pressure off of myself to blog for anyone other than me. It's therapeutic to put your thoughts into words, so I'm leaning into that and leaving the fluff behind.

Thanks for reading. Here's to 2014! :)

February

Oh my. So much has happened in our life that I've been dying to do a 2013 recap, but we moved in December and as a result I have been absolutely exhausted. As someone who LOVES the clean slate of January, and planning and goal setting - I couldn't believe my attitude come new years. 

So. I decided that I would take January to recover from December, and start my new year in February. I think it's a great idea - and so I'll be back in February to recap 2013, share my goals for 2014, and update the blogosphere on the many current events in our life.

Also - one major goal of mine in 2014 will be to blog regularly. Let's see if I can stick to it! :)

Happy (late/almost) new year,

Jill

Moving!

I am so content. This is our last calm weekend before a flurry of activity the next few weeks and I could not be happier sitting here on our couch, watching NPT, sipping hot chocolate with Gracie laying on my feet, and soaking in the memories of our tiny first apartment. Because guess what. WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!

I know, I know. It's crazy! Well, we technically haven't bought it yet, but our offer has been accepted and as long as the inspections and appraisal go well, we're closing on November 22nd! I'm awash with emotion, unsurprisingly, but overall very excited for this adventure. We found the perfect little ranch house in Donelson (the area of town we were really wanting to relocate to), and the outside is 100% midcentury. It's perfect! The inside was flipped, so it's brand new but still with the character of the 1950s and a few quirks here and there. We absolutely fell in love with the tiny bedrooms, beautiful hardwoods, and spacious backyard - among other things.

In addition to this huge blessing, Logan was offered a job he originally didn't even intend to apply for. God works in such mysterious ways, doesn't he? He will officially start on December 6th at HCA in the IT & Services department as a User Interface Visual Designer (that's a mouthful, huh?).

Besides those two things, Logan is finishing up his Capstone for graduation and I'm working a holiday show for Lemon Tree AND we leave for Paris/Rome in two weeks - hence the last restful weekend for awhile. :)

I am so thankful for the incredible ways God is moving in our life - especially after such a difficult valley this summer. Hopefully as life calms down in the new year I'll be able to write a little more and perhaps begin to chronicle all the projects we have planned for our sweet little home! :)

Xoxo, Jill

Waiting

This season of life has proven difficult for Logan and me. Have you ever just been waiting for the next season, desperately, clinging to every shred of hope that it will in fact eventually come and you'll wonder why you were so desperate in the mean time anyway? Well, I feel like I've experienced that twice over in the past couple of months. Begging God to give me peace in my current moment, then suddenly I'm in a different moment - the one I was longing for - and I'm right there again, begging.

I'm learning that waiting is not something I will ever be done with. There will always be something, and especially for future-minded people like myself, I will always be looking for what's next. The journey of contentment and peace in this very moment is one that I have fought hard through, and I make progress, but inevitably I take steps backwards as well. I know that God works through waiting. He is most alive in me when I am most uncomfortable, and I know this, but it doesn't make the waiting any easier. What is next, Lord? What am I working toward? Do you have peace ahead, or more rough seas to endure? I know I can do it all with His help, but the whiney little person inside of me just doesn't want to sometimes.

So I will continue to wait. And as sure as the sun will rise I know that I will be rewarded for my patience, be it with more life-giving struggles or with a season of joy.

There is strength within the sorrow, there is beauty in our tears. You meet us in our mourning, with a love that casts out fear. You are working in our waiting - sanctifying us. When beyond our understanding, you're teaching us to trust.

Your plans are still to prosper, you have not forgotten us. You're with us in the fire and the flood. Faithful forever, perfect in love, you are sovereign over us.

I am clinging to this truth. May I be sanctified in this season of waiting.

Scatter Brained

With wedding season in full swing, my weaknesses are really becoming more apparent than ever. I am a head-in-the-clouds dreamer type, and I have a really hard time pushing through the mundane tasks that owning a business necessitates. This is why my feet-on-the-ground planner type husband is incredibly helpful, but lately we've both been so busy I haven't had time to ask for help. I have 1,000 ideas for new products for Lemon Tree and things I've had on my to do list forever, but I can't seem to muddle through getting them organized and making it happen. I didn't know this was a weakness of mine until I planned a wedding. Oh, boy. I won't even get started on how I ordered my flowers A WEEK BEFORE MY WEDDING.

So while I juggle clients and administrative tasks and accounting and shipping, please forgive me if I told you I would do a favor and I didn't. Or if I forgot to respond to your email asking if we could get coffee. This is the biggest part of my business and just my life that I am working to improve and I am so sorry if I have made you feel unimportant. I'm just not very good at the multitasking required to be a business owner.

With that, I'm going to actually go work on two custom jobs now that I am hitting the time crunch on.

Xoxo, Jill

Making a Move

Image If you've visited my website lately, you may have noticed a few things have been moving around. After a lot of consideration and lengthy discussions with my business-savvy husband, I've decided to move my main shop to Etsy.

I'm still deciding whether or not I'll keep some products for sale on my website, but with Paypal checkout only - or if I'll just do it all in one place, so that may be subject to change.

There are a lot of reasons for the move, and I feel a lot of my experiences could help other small business owners, so let me elaborate. Please forgive my verbose nature - it's just who I am. :)

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COST

Any online payment gateway is going to cost, and I fully understand and expected this. When I created my new web shop, I also created an Authorize.net merchant account and working with them was an incredible experience. However, a lot of small business owners don't initially realize the obligations that come with hosting your own payment gateway. In February I was due for my PCI Compliance check up and I failed, miserably. I wasn't doing anything illegal with credit information - in fact, I never even saw or stored that information, but as a one-person business, I just didn't have the resources for a CIO and weekly security monitoring (a requirement for PCI Compliance). The platform I was using for my shop was (and still is) a very secure platform, but it simply didn't meet the standards of PCI Compliance. Therefore, I had to add a second platform on top of my existing platform to process credit cards through their website (similar to how Paypal takes you to their page when you check out with them, rather than staying on the shop page). It wasn't ideal aesthetically, and it added another cost factor to the pre-existing transaction fees and monthly charges. I honestly wonder how so many small shops process credit cards directly on their site - or if they just fudged their way through their PCI Compliance (trust me, it was tempting!). With Logan currently finishing a Masters of Information Security, he helped me sympathize a bit with the laws... but sheesh. It was a nightmare.

Beyond the additional cost of the second platform (which truly was reasonable - just annoying on top of my pre-existing costs), I decided to open a sister Etsy shop in January to see if that would help my sales. Within about a month, I had sold more than my web shop sold in three months. I've already surpassed my entire 2012 year's revenue last month (on Etsy alone - not even taking into account custom work), so I'm definitely loving my Etsy experience! Of course, now that I had two shops, I was paying for payment processing in two places. My heart and soul wanted to only have my web shop, but I couldn't turn down the consistent and large volume of sales Etsy was providing me. So after five months of running both, it just seems natural to close the one that's not bringing in as many sales. Sigh.

WORK FLOW

Another difficulty with having two shops is keeping a consistent work flow. Due to the volume and regularity of my Etsy sales, I have a daily routine of processing orders and accounting, and it's difficult to juggle that work flow with spontaneous orders coming in from my website. For instance, I print all of my shipping labels through Etsy, but I have to use USPS.com or visit the post office to ship web shop orders. Therefore, those orders were taking longer to process since they were out of my streamlined Etsy work flow. Additionally, I work an 8-5 job every day, and managing both of these work flows (on top of my custom projects) was getting a little confusing and overwhelming at times, and I think I can show my customers better service by having 100% focus on one single work flow, for timely ordering and processing. If I do end up reopening a small shop with Paypal check out, I'll really have to look into how to manage both work flows simultaneously. It's an arduous task on top of managing my custom work as well, but as all things are in owning your own business, it's a labor of love!

DEVELOPMENT WOES

The platform I used for my website is an awesome service and worked beautifully with my amateur experience in web development. However. It seems the nature of the internet is to change the moment everything is figured out, and it was getting difficult to keep up with the development issues my web shop would encounter with new updates. I felt for awhile there I was constantly emailing my ever-generous developer friends with random questions and favors in exchange for help to get my shop up and running again. Every tiny update would cause a kink somewhere which would inevitably mess up the thumbnails, which would then cause the product page not to load, etc, etc. It finally came down to Gravity Forms not working properly (read: products would not add to cart) that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I had been thinking about making the move for a few weeks at that point, and it finally seemed like the most logical decision.

--

Again, I may be reopening a portion of the shop with Paypal checkout only, but until then I am excited to be converting my main website into a hub to showcase my custom work, rather than treating my custom work as my second priority, which I felt my current website organization suggested. I will be transitioning the site into a full portfolio site, and directing retail shoppers to Etsy for their shopping pleasure. :)

I hope you will come along on this journey with Lemon Tree and embrace the creative community that Etsy provides. It's kind of weird going from running my own web shop to just having my shop through Etsy, but financially and administratively it really does make the most sense, and I am so grateful for the opportunities my Etsy expansion has brought me in 2013.

Please feel free to leave any thoughts or suggestions in the comments - I'd love to hear your opinions and ideas on the matter!

Cheers,

Jill

Meeting Myself

[I feel the need to apologize when I haven't written in awhile, and then I feel silly because this is MY blog and I can do whatever the heck I want... So. I'm sorry, but I'm not sorry.] The lesson at church today reached down deep into my gut, grabbed something, and ripped it out so I could look at it and realize how ugly I was becoming. Thank you for that, Dave.

We're going through the Old Testament and we talked about Judges today and the cycle of the Israelites. First, they start taking God's commandments as mere suggestions, then they start worshipping false gods because they stray from the truth, then they become oppressed by their gods, and finally God sends a rescuer to lead them back to home.

Oh, how deeply this hit my heart.

Dave said his mentor once told him that you can identify gods in your life by examining what you run to when you feel lonely or upset or out of control. You can find them by looking at what you do when you don't have the energy to do anything - and what makes you come alive in those moments.

Like. A. Ton. Of. Bricks.

I have house fever, in case you didn't know. I've really tamed it and come a long way in the past year - from an impatient urgency to a quiet, growing excitement, but despite the location on the spectrum it's just plain old house fever. And lately I just obsess over the money we're saving and how much Lemon Tree is making me and are we meeting our goals and how much more can we save and do we really have to spend money on that because we could instead put it in savings... and when Dave said that this tiny, timid voice for a split second wanted to say "No.. a house is different." but before the thought could even form my heart knew the truth.

And when I can't do anything about getting a house - when our savings goals are met and I don't have more Lemon Tree money to allocate and our budget is caught up - instead I obsess over nesting and fixing up our little apartment. And it's just the same.

So, I was convicted, and I am convicted, and I am deleting the Zillow app off my phone and I will limit the time I spend on our banking and budget.

But it goes on.

We learned about the cycles of the people in Judges and how their children were impacted by their parents' lack of faithfulness. One generation would begin to fall away, and the next would 'divorce' God altogether. The thought of divorcing our very creator is disturbing and frightening to me - and to think that if I don't take my relationship with Christ seriously, I could indirectly CAUSE my child to DIVORCE their creator is terrifying! And humbling. And altogether motivating.

--- Enter, title.

So we got home from church and I've done the things I need to do today and I've been aching to sit and read my Bible and pray, because I do want to take God seriously and I know we will probably have children in the next few years and I don't want to wait to take Him seriously.. And I decided to go revisit my old blog from college, which I merged with my old blog from high school (yes, I blogged in high school.. I was a dork).

I can't even begin to express the way God has used those old words to stir my heart. It was like He knew I was feeling empty and amateur and I read words I wrote in high school and especially college - and I was so filled with peace. I have a long way to go, I always have, in my relationship with Christ, but seeing my heart through my words during years that I look back on and feel that I wasted was so reassuring. I'm not completely lost. I have grown, and I was growing then - and I don't know why I so easily forget where I've been, but sometimes I just feel like I haven't moved in decades.

So I pledge to take my relationship with Christ more seriously. And I am thankful for His affirmation in showing me that I have grown, although I have a lot more growing to do.

And hopefully I can break the cycle of the Israelites as it appears in my life - and I can show my someday children what a mighty, awesome, and loving God we serve.

Amen.

A Hartline Christmas

I love designing our Christmas cards. I start mulling over it around Halloween, and by November I'm ready to get to work. This year, I ran a little late, but all was well and the cards got out a week or so before the big day. I wanted them to be different and fun, but not break the bank - so we threw in a printed glassline envelope and some fun envelope work. Although I'm a little out of practice, I had a blast getting to do the calligraphy on all 125 of our cards. As you can see on the main page of this website, our pup Gracie is pretty much the love of our lives. We wanted to really feature her this year, as she's become such an integral part of our family and infamous among our friends and families. We shot our photos in our living room (big thanks to Justin Wright - www.justinwrightphoto.com - for the photo!), featuring Gracie and her bone, and I had a rubber stamp made of her paw print that we stamped the envelopes with. She likes to pretend to do quality control on all Lemon Tree products (she sniffs and sniffs until she's satisfied with what she's found), so we kind of meant it as her seal of approval, as well as a fun way to incorporate her into our Christmas greetings.

I hope everyone had a happy holiday season!

HartlinesHartlines-10 Hartlines-9 Hartlines-8 Hartlines-7 Hartlines-6-Split Hartlines-5 Hartlines-4 Hartlines-2

Looking Back on 2012, Looking Forward to 2013

As with everything in my life, this post is probably a little late. At this point, I've come to accept that as a daily reality and I can roll with it.

2012
I feel the need to do a "Year in Review" post just for my own memories, but honestly, I'm ready to look forward. 2012 was a ... different year for us. It certainly wasn't hard, but it wasn't easy either. I think it's those transition years that can seem the dullest and end up being the most fruitful when you look back.

Our year was characterized by studying, late nights of designing and managing our small businesses, studying, hours of TV-watching and couch cuddles with laptops and blankets and spots, and, well, studying. Although my masters was a million times easier than my undergrad degree, I didn't anticipate the incredible relief I've felt being done with it. Just the mental energy it takes to have your heart and mind in one extra place is exhausting. That just-graduated feeling still hasn't quite worn off. I hope it doesn't for awhile.

Logan's masters is WAY more rigorous than mine was. He took 15 hours his first semester (August-December) and if you know anything about grad school, that's A LOT! I took 9 hours at the most, and usually 6. He has been working his tail off. I'm pretty sure he's started keeping a highlighter in his shirt pocket just so he can catch up on his reading homework every second he has a chance. Amazingly, he will be done with his coursework in July/August and will graduate in December so we're praying the good Lord will bless him with an industry-related job around Fall. And then... who knows!

It seems our world has been consumed by assignment deadlines, papers, and text books so once he's done with his classes it feels like we can finally start our lives. That is so dramatic, but really. That's how it feels.

I'm not sure why 2012 was lackluster. We have absolutely nothing to complain about, and I won't complain about 2012, but suffice it to say I am full-steam-ahead and already excited about the glittering possibilities of 2013 and beyond.

2013
This year will still be categorized for us as a "transition" year, but not in the magnitude of 2012. We are both ready for a fresh start, and I think just a new year in general holds that for us. Logan will hopefully be officially closing his design business this year (providing he is able to find a new job), and forging into the world of information security. We're both really excited about this for a variety of reasons, but most of all I am so proud of him for following his heart and taking the plunge into a new career field. He is an incredibly hard-worker, and I have so many dreams for him as he continues to grind through these last few months of school. I know his hard work will pay off, and that God is guiding him through these tireless months, and I am just dying to see what comes next for him.

Lemon Tree is still thriving, and I'm still trying to whittle down my list of Lemon Tree goals for 2013. 2012 brought a lot of unexpected (good) change, and at this point I'm not exactly sure where to go next. I've recently hired a good friend to handle administrative work, and so far the future is looking bright. Barring some unforeseen drastic change of heart (or accidental pregnancy - HA!), I will definitely be staying in my Lipscomb job this year and continuing to pursue Lemon Tree on the side. I go back and forth between wanting to do Lemon Tree full-time, but I think I've finally resolved that until we have kids, I'm sticking around at Lipscomb. I love it so much, and I want to take advantage of the people, environment, work, and pay for as long as I possibly can. I don't think I would ever regret staying longer at Lipscomb and pushing back a full-time Lemon Tree career until kids. It makes a lot of sense to me I guess. So that's my story and I'm sticking to it! :)

Beyond our jobs, it's hard to say what else is in store for 2013 - which is what's so exciting. At this time next year, we would be happy to be in the exact same "place" as we are right now, or in a completely new one. We're leaving that up to God for now, and I guess we'll see what happens.

In all things, whether good or bad, I hope God is glorified in 2013, and our lives only point more towards His goodness and mercies. 2013, get at me!

Advent

This year for Christmas my husband and I are making a concerted effort to stay focused on what really matters. Ever since I read the chapter on Advent in "Bittersweet" by Shauna Niequist, I've been looking forward to it this year.

 

Longing, grasping, waiting for the King.

 

So in honor of the importance of our longing, and to remind us of why we celebrate this season, I made our home an Advent Calendar. Displayed for all who enter, with a scripture for every day of December until Christmas (running late, as usual!) telling the story of Christ, day by day.

 

I hung mine in little muslin bags I stamped, but you can just put them in envelopes or even just display them as they are. The options are endless.

 

I hope you enjoy this timeless treasure. Take a moment to dwell on the beauty of our savior's birth and the weight of his life.

 

If you have A2 cards (4.25" x 5.5") perhaps from Paper Source or otherwise, you can download this file.

 

If you're printing onto letter paper and you're going to cut your cards down, these are pre-made with a template for cutting, and laid out for letter sized paper.

 

I hope your holidays are merry and bright!

 

Xoxo,

Jill