The Grace of Seasons

To put it mildly, it’s been a while. It has been a while since I’ve come back around to the hobbies that help me breathe deeper on long days, and the days have indeed been long. Of course I’m not unique in this… Living in a big city full of people hurrying to keep up with the ever-increasing race of life, I see the busyness craze all around.

Some seasons are unavoidable; work swells to capacity when the school year begins. Most of us are no longer in school, but our lives are still ruled by semesters in seasons. Eventually, the steadiness returns. The waves break into a much more manageable lull after the storm is over, and the ebb and flow is good.

The seasons mark changes and remind us to mark where we have been, where we are going, and how we are to get there. Life cannot always be simple, as much as I try to press into that word, but Jesus came to bring us freedom.

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How lovely is this print from Naptime Diaries? It’s the only print shop I attempt to keep up with these days, but I consistently purchase the “monthly printable bundles” for only $5. Well worth it, my friends.

I was in over my head with commitments this Summer (typical), but God’s grace met me as I kept swimming. Hopefully this time I’m learning from the mistakes. I don’t want to look back at weeks/months/years in the future and wonder why I never had any margin in my life. I’ve taken steps back and steps forward and of course I stumble often. Just, learning.

So, slowly, one step at a time, I’m gingerly stepping back into the things God has given me. Writing, being one of them. I don’t know how other people feel about hobbies, but I tend to be a little severe on myself. I constantly seem to be asking if something is the best use of my time, and I end up over-analyzing everything. (Therefore wasting more time. Cool.) I think the answer can fluctuate. Sometimes, yes. Other times, no. Seasons change and that is okay and good.

Truth be told, in the midst of crazy busy, the end of Summer was wonderful. There were retreats and new friends and iced coffee and sore muscles and new marriages of dear friends and birthday parties of little siblings and new babies born to best friends. There were all kinds of gifts all around and they were seen in the deepest ways.

The Fall has entered in now, (at least on the calendar), and it’s no perfect Spring, but new seasons are always welcome and refreshing. Here’s to crisp air, extra grace, and football season!

Whoop! xo

Summer Reading

I love keeping a running book list going all year on my phone. There are actually two lists: one for “books to read,” and one for “books read in 2014.” Keeping track of both of these has helped me read more books, read more books that I actually want to read, and also to feel encouraged when I look back over the list! Win-win-win.

Blogging about my favorite books this year has been so fun, especially because so many friends are taking me up on the recommendations! I love that!

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately::IMG_6449

1. The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence by Gary Haugen [2014]

Gary Haugen is the President and CEO of International Justice Mission (IJM), and this book explains why their work is necessary and crucial in our world. To be clear, this is a difficult book to read. However, as a member of a generation full of non-profit startups out to save the world, it is incredibly important to understand the systems in place. For example, a micro loan or a job won’t actually help a widow buy a house if her property is seized unjustly by men in her village. The loan or job becomes pointless when the police and justice systems won’t step in to stand up for her. This book is important and extremely well-written.

2. North! Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson [Book 2 of 4 in the Wingfeather Saga] [2009]

On a lighter note, you’ve heard me talk about this beloved Wingfeather Saga before, and I think #2 is miles ahead of book #1. If you enjoyed the Chronicles of Narnia, you’ll love these books. These stories take creative writing to a whole new level. I love them!

3. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion [2013]

I hesitated to put this book on the list, because I didn’t love it as much as the others, and there was a fair amount of language in it. However, I read it over a month ago and I’m still missing and thinking about the characters! Set in Australia, a quirky older professor with Aspergers sets out to find a wife in true scientific form, called “The Wife Project.” This is a quick read, and I have heard a few movie rumors for the future.

4. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand [2010]

If you haven’t read this yet, stop what you’re reading and go buy it right now. Seriously. It is THAT good. Apparently I’ve been living under a rock because everyone else I know seemingly has read this and loved it as much as I did. I don’t say this lightly, but this may be the most inspiring stories I have ever read. It’s also the craziest; I was sitting in our living room gasping out loud during 60% of it. This true story is being made into a movie releasing Christmas Day 2014!

5. Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist [2007]

Shauna has become on of my favorite people ever. Yes, we’re on a first name basis. No, we’ve never met. ((Although, I did see the back of her head and sat in the same room as her in February at the IF: Gathering. So we could probably totally count that.)) She’s a beautiful writer/blogger/speaker, and it’s a little crazy I didn’t read this book till this summer! My roommate Rebe told me it was a life-changer for her, so I picked it up immediately! It’s a memoir format, written with one story per chapter so you can pick this up & put it down as often as you like. Truly lovely.

6. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens [1838]

I’m convinced I need more classics in my “book diet,” so every once in a while I’ll tackle a highly-referenced one like this. To make life easier, I checked this one out at the library on audio book, and settled into some highly detailed prose every day. I can see why Oliver Twist has become a classic though, and why it’s one we should all read. Dickens does not shy away from difficult topics, including a lot that still exist today. As someone invested and interested in the plight of the orphan in the world, this was a significant read. If you only read this back in 8th grade, it might be time to give it another go.

 

Full Disclosure:: Some of these books were heavy. And we went to the beach. While we were at the beach, I wanted to read something light and escape-like. Enter the NYT bestselling series: The Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter [2007-2013]. Feel free to mock my young-adult fiction taste, but this six-book series was so perfect! My sister and I could not put them down, and they were such fun to read! So, if you’re up for a page-turning, fun, clean, girly spy book, this is your jam.IMG_6461

Happy reading! xo

Beach Trip!

A couple of weeks ago, we took a family [road trip] vacation to Gulf Shores, and had such a blast!

On our way there, we made one very important this-is-much-more-than-just-a-bathroom-break stop because we just HAD to:IMG_6106

Yeah, it was about as weird and funny as I expected it would be…

This was James and Betty’s first time to see the beach, so naturally they were ecstatic the whole time. After being landlocked in the car all day, we ran straight to the sands at sunset so they could get their first taste of those waves.IMG_6251

After trying hard not to get all of their clothes wet, we laughed and watched them fully submerge because who can stand staying dry in such perfect waters?

Sidenote: no matter how many times you emphasize the ocean is salty, nothing quite prepares you for that first mouthful. Whether 27 or 12. 

It was glorious. I’m a beach person myself, so personally I was thrilled we had such a hit on our hands. I’ll just be crossing my fingers for many more beach trips to come! IMG_6163

This picture was a hit on instagram; the girl is talented! She’s also surprised at how impressed we are about it, because until just over a year ago, this was a normal means of carrying things.

Everything about the beach brings me joy: the distinct sound of waves hitting the sand over and over again, the salty ocean air, the miles on miles of perfectly straight horizon, and looking down to see my toes under the water. James loved finding fish, catching baby jellyfish (no one got stung), and he even stepped on a sting ray in hiding at one point.IMG_6178IMG_6180

((do you think she liked it?))

We rode waves and built sandcastles as long as it was daylight, stopping only to eat. It was tons of uninterrupted family time (all six of us in one place!) right before we each enter back into the super busy seasons. It was perfect! Here’s to many more sunny days & salty waves.IMG_6269IMG_6273IMG_6270IMG_6278xo

Best & Brightest | 09

My trick to getting through a busy day? Pretty Instagram feeds. Here’s a sample from one of my favorites, @lucylaucht. (She’s the gal who runs the social + digital media at J.Crew. #dreamjob)20140710-221555-80155935.jpgPlus, it’s dahlia time and ohhh do I have a soft spot for giant dahlias. So fabulous.

In other news, this week was big for fun & interesting stories; there were so many to choose from! Trust me, these are gems.

Brilliant: What to Pack Going to Europe {would also make a perfect capsule wardrobe}

5 habits to a balanced life

Adorable teeny-tiny house!

I always love this series: Surprising things as Americans parenting in London

Jen Hatmaker’s renovation show has a starting date! & a name! eeeek!

Harry Potter’s been busy lately (!!) The talented JK wrote an update!

Teach your kids how to be rich: simple ideas to build generous hearts

Happy 5th Birthday, Ssekos! Amazing company!

News in the life of my courageous friends being foster parents

A brave blog post this week: Kicking fears to the curb

Totally great shoes

How to Noonday Party Like a Boss {got me super excited!}

Top 50 cities in the world to see in your life {I thought I was well-traveled… I got 4 of 50. Oops.}

Made me laugh: What if we all acted like we were in the World Cup? {definitely watch till the end!}

SO excited to start following the Style for Justice trip with Noonday + IJM in Rwanda- starting today!

Have a lovely weekend, friends! xo

Parade Life

How was your 4th of July? A friend told me this weekend (he was born & raised overseas) how weird he thinks it is we refer to a holiday simply as a date on the calendar. To which I replied intelligently, “Mexico does the same thing!”

Right.

Regardless, what a fun holiday we have! Quintessential summer. I was looking forward to celebrating with fireworks and family, cookouts and swimming, and you know, all the normal stuff.

About a week and a half ago, Dad reminded me of a project his co-workers had been constructing, and (typical Chelsea) I rolled my eyes. {One of these days I’ll learn it’s never a good idea to mock people’s hobbies. Unless it’s video games. Sorry. That’s on you.}

Anyway, Dad’s boss decided a few months ago he would buy an old school bus and refurbish it into a parade-worthy ship.

Money + ideas can have some pretty impressive results, kids.

In spare afternoons, using old wood cleared from job sites, the guys toiled away and built A SHIP. {no joke!}20140707-221327-80007907.jpg

They entered the ship- with a patriotic Boston Tea Party theme- into the Arlington parade, well known I’m told as the largest 4th of July parade in Texas.

Full disclosure:: I wasn’t planning to participate. It just, sounded so… well I guess I should say I just couldn’t see its full potential. And, I hadn’t seen the ship in all of its glory yet! I showed a few “in-progress” pictures to my co-workers, and they all but forced me to say yes. So I was in!20140707-221336-80016697.jpg

As I waved atop the ship in my colonial “peasant dress” I saw jaws drop across the crowd and spontaneous applause. It’s a strange experience waving at people from a parade float, for the record. This was my first run. But yes- you read that correctly- the whole family (minus camp counselor Caitlin)- dressed up as best we could and represented our nation’s history very patriotically! We had so much fun!20140707-221334-80014901.jpg20140707-223622-81382500.jpg20140707-223623-81383481.jpg

These are just the funniest most ridiculous pictures ever.. I still can’t get over it!

Dad was dressed in traditional British dress, so he and a few others dressed similarly walked alongside the ship, while the rest of us rode and waved proudly. We were dressed as colonial women and Indians of course. I loved seeing the kids catch on before many adults in the crowd- “Hey! We just learned this in school! It’s the Boston Tea Party!”

Awesome.

Also? The ship won (I assume by a landslide) the Peoples’ Choice Award for favorite float.20140707-223623-81383707.jpg

Coming to a parade near you?! If it does, it will not disappoint. Dream big, friends… {and obviously, always say yes to being in a parade.}

 

Best & Brightest | Celebrate!

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!

I spent last night watching an impressive fireworks show next to James and Betty, who were exclaiming at each explosion, “oh, that looks like a ______!” (including, but not limited to: okra, hamburger, hearts, faces, etc.)

One of my more interesting 4th of July experiences was spent in the Sydney airport. We stopped off at McDonalds to celebrate, and were unimpressed with the teeny tiny drinks with no ice and no refills. America really is where it’s at people.fireworks(source)

As you’re in between a parade morning and a backyard BBQ this weekend, here are some fun links from the week::

Take your 4th of July to the Next Level [still giggling]

Perfect treat for the weekend: Shauna’s blueberry crisp. [made it yesterday. YUM]

Even I thought this was cute: dog really wanting to play fetch with a statue

Tips for raising siblings

For the girls in my life: I’m dying to go glamping. Can we please make it happen?!

Oh Tim Howard, we appreciate you. First for the saves, then for the jokes you made possible.

The Noonday #StyleForJustice trip with IJM starts next week, & they’re having a giveaway to help spread the word!

Pippa Middleton gave her first TV interview this week, and you better believe I DVR’d it. Watch the full interview here. She’s the coolest.

Speaking of, did you know Pippa has a super cute book out?

Ever thought of getting false lashes? This made me laugh.

This is the best weekend of the year to shop: so.many.sales. {anthro, j.crew, gap, loft, everywhere. even better? summer’s still in season in Texas for a good 4 months. get your money’s worth!}

Whimsical pictures of happy children playing all over the world

Waiting on God well

My most favorite worship song of right now:

Wishing you & yours a very happy Independence Day weekend! May we all take a moment to glance around the well-decorated outdoors with a thankful heart as we celebrate. xo

More Noonday!

Every once in a while, there are decisions that just make sense. Maybe not at first, but as I mustered up enough courage to say out loud what had been rolling around my brain the past few months, no one was surprised. There are people who really know me well out there in the world, and when they heard I was thinking of jumping in further with Noonday, they patiently listened to all of my reasons why it might not work, and then they smiled politely and gently gave me the nudge I needed.Noonday  LOGO

I have become passionate about this idea of redemption in all areas of life. If I, a mess of a person, can be redeemed to be used for God’s Kingdom work, then why not everything? I’ve always been into fashion, sometimes admittedly to an unhealthy extent, but what if even fashion could be redeemed for Kingdom work?

It sounds crazy. It sounds “not holy enough.” (That’s not a thing, by the way)

But then I heard Jalia & Daniel’s story in Uganda.. [only 4 minutes long]

God has created us in the most amazing ways; He even designed work, which brings dignity to people’s lives unlike anything else. Certainly I’ve never lived in poverty, but I remember my job-hunting days as some of the lowest points of my life. Even then, I had incredible “support nets.” After visiting Uganda, I saw poverty and felt a helplessness I couldn’t shake. Surely there was something I could do?

Noonday Collection’s mission is to create economic opportunity for the vulnerable. We partner with artisans in the developing world, empowering them to grow sustainable businesses. By creating a marketplace for their goods, we create dignified jobs at living wages.

This allows our artisans to earn more in order to support their families. We also offer no interest loans and make advance payments on orders. This way we are able to shoulder the costs of materials and build a lasting relationship based on trust.

Noonday Collection is not a charity and we do not believe that providing a hand out is a sustainable long-term solution to poverty. We aim to be a sustainable business that gives women across the United States a way to make a lasting difference in the fight against poverty and injustice.

-from Noonday Impact page

I’ve decided to jump in and be an Ambassador for Noonday, mostly because I’m already talking about it all the time, and it seems like a perfect opportunity to combine my passions & gifts. I already have an awesome full-time job, so it won’t have to be a stressful thing, but more of a fun outlet on the side. {more info on what it means to be an ambassador here}

Basically, it means if you ever want to host a Noonday trunk show, I’d love to help you! I’ll bring all the samples & you bring your friends. Together, we can share the vision of “purchasing for purpose” to impact the lives of families across the globe. Also, if you ever want to just buy a few pieces, you can buy directly from me here: chelseawilliams.noondaycollection.com

I’d also encourage you to spend some time learning about the Who, How, + Where of the Noonday impact. With partnerships in 10 different countries, from Guatamala to Vietnam to Rwanda, the stories abound. Be inspired!splash-map

{story of Noonday}

{shop here}