Friday, January 15, 2016

Family Newsletters and Support

Let me start off by saying that this post isn't about money, nor will I be asking you for money. In fact, I try not to talk too much about money around here, because awkward. For those of you who don't know, Adam and I run a non-profit (Blueprint 58), and Adam's salary is nearly 100% provided by personal donations from individuals. Most of our amazing village of supporters reads my blog, because they are also family and friends and some of the most crazy encouragers around. But here's the thing about being a support-raising missionary: it can be hard to feel free to tell the truth. I trust that our support team believes in what we do in Atlanta simply for the sake of obedience to Jesus, and not based on "results." But that doesn't always make it easier to be completely honest about discouragement, about losses, about failures. All that to say, I've been trying to figure out the best medium to write about the hardest parts of all of this life, because sometimes (usually) it might not be the public forum (duh).
If you received our Christmas card (which I just mailed last week, because #winning), you saw our handy QR code with a link to our family newsletter.  We've decided to send out a monthly newsletter that isn't a "ministry update" or a blog post (meant for anyone/everyone), but more of a "here's how we are really doing and what's going on with our family."

Be warned: don't sign up if you'd rather just not know about the hard stuff. Or if you don't want even more pictures and possibly poems, and the occasional recipe from Adam's kitchen. 

Interested? You can sign up for The Pretty Gritty: The Stanley Clan Newsletter and get it in your inbox once a month. Also, I promise you won't get more emails than just the one per month!
Also, I realize I never shared pictures from our Christmas in beautiful Colorado. You guys, we got a foot of snow on a mountain house in Breckinridge: talk about a picture-perfect time! Also, Zack is an amazing skier, and so is Jayci. I was totally impressed with both of them.

I am also amazing, mostly at sitting in the lodge and drinking coffee and/or wine.
Also, cookie-making contests and all-day pajamas? Ok fine.
Thank you (times a million) to all of you for the ways you continually love and support us. Also, if you didn't know anything about our non-profit and want to learn more, you can read about it on the Blueprint 58 website. Or you can email me with questions! And don't worry, I'll still share and be vulnerable here, because I'm usually not even aware I'm being "brave" in my authenticity until y'all inform me of that fact. I just wanted to have a safe space dedicated to sharing our deepest hearts and pieces of our lives. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Fresh Starts

"Life is amazing. And then it's awful. And then it's amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful it's ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That's just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it's breathtakingly beautiful." - L.R. Knost
My fresh start this year has already been all-scuffed-up.

In case you hadn't noticed, my goal of writing more in 2016 is not looking great (as in, I haven't written one-single-word yet this year).

I'm realizing that without careful attention, the busyness of last year will creep right into this one. Without consciously saying no and taking time for rest, I will quickly find myself tumbling through days and weeks until I blink and my baby is five months old (today!)

Adam and I apparently produce babies who dislike sleeping and naps. Throughout my pregnancy, I would rub my belly and tell people this one is going to be my sleeper. The one who takes three hour naps like my friend's babies. Um, apparently not. Despite all the not-sleeping, he's basically the most adorable baby ever (no bias here). We are still in a full-on state of completely-smitten. Sleep-deprived, but smitten might be the perfect description of my life so far in 2016.

Because I haven't been able to find time to write many (any) words this year, here's a few good ones you can read that I've found around the internets the past few weeks.

Now What? A Note on Small Beginnings (Flower Patch Farmgirl). You guys already know how much I love Shannan, and surely you've already started following her blog; but if not, I'm not sure what you're waiting for. And while you're at it, be sure to pre-order her book!

Shannan mentions this talk from Michelle Higgins at Urbana15 in her post, but I wanted to link here separately just to be absolutely sure you don't miss it.

This piece resounds somehow both hard-to-read and absolutely perfect (as is most of this lady's writing): The Cross, the Lynching Tree, and the Playground (D.L Mayfield at Christ and Pop Culture).

I loved my friend's Sarah's piece on her blog about the importance of friendships with people who are not like you. I so completely agree: Why We Need Different Friends Now More than Ever (A Life with Subtitles)
"If you were wise enough to know that this life would consist mostly of letting go of things you wanted, then why not get good at the letting go, rather than the trying to have? These exotic revelations bubbled up involuntarily and I began to understand that the sleeplessness and vigilance and constant feedings were a form of brainwashing, a process by which my old self was being molded, slowly but with a steady force, into a new shape: a mother. It hurt. I tried to be conscious while it happened, like watching my own surgery. I hoped to retain a tiny corner of the old me, just enough to warn other women with. But I knew this was unlikely; when the process was complete I wouldn’t have anything left to complain with, it wouldn’t hurt anymore, I wouldn’t remember." —Miranda July

One good thing about 2016 so far has been my 365 project. I basically do one of these every other year, because I'm too tired after one year to think about doing it the next. But then I get sad because I love the finished product put into a book so much that I decide to try again the next year. This time, I'm collecting all my images in an instagram account, which you're welcome to follow along with right here (thestanleyclan365). 

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