{ Velella Velella (DAY 523) }

photo(80) photo(79)This past Saturday I ran away to the beach with one of my best friends. The weather was sunny and the wind brisk but that’s the Oregon coast for you. It was lovely. I needed to unplug and get away.

There’s something about getting in the car and just going. Let the miles slip behind you and the past be in the past. The road twists and turns before you and you’re not quite sure what’s around the bend. Sounds like some cliché poem but that’s really how it was.

You know what I discovered at the beach? Velella velella. I just like saying it like some tantalizing perfume or something. Although the smell of the little creatures covering the sand were anything but fragrant… The cobalt blue was stunning and the little clear sail fascinating. These tiny sea creatures are nicknamed “Sailor by the wind.” The wind takes them to and fro and thousands of them congregate upon the waves in the ocean. Yet a south west wind had blown hard and landed them stranded on the beach enabling us to see them.

I’m curious and I like asking questions and discovering new things. I especially love nature and science so I was in my happy place. When a lady on the beach was able to answer my marine wild life questions I was thrilled. I could have stayed at the tide pools looking around for hours if it wouldn’t have been so cold.

Here’s the thing…I hope you keep asking questions. I don’t want to stop the learning process. Last week we were discussing a book my dad read called A More Beautiful Question. My dad mentioned that the book talks about how children start out asking hundreds of questions a day but then that number takes a dive once children enter school age. Isn’t that sad? I think so. I hope you never stop asking questions and that you ask a lot of them and that you ask follow up questions. Please don’t stop learning and having a zest for discovery. You really might discover “new worlds” if you’re willing to look for them and seek out answers.

Posted on May 5, 2015 by | Comments { 0 }

{ FOUR (DAY 522) }

4thblackdressanniversaryEasel pics 9If you make it all the way to the end of this short blog post I commend you! (It’s not what you think it’s about!)

What if I told you I was going to….

go to India?

Would you be willing to help me get there so I could meet my kiddos? I don’t know about you but I’ve received my fair share of “mission trip” letters and I’ve even sent a few myself. What would happen though if we took all the money that went towards short terms mission trips to help build schools and such and actually just donated the money straight to the people in need?

I know this is a big issue and at some point I want to dive in and discuss it but I’m still processing and in the meantime I really don’t want to needlessly step on any toes. Why you ask am I thinking about this? Well today marks the four year anniversary of starting my black dress for 100 days project. It feels like a lifetime ago that I made the decision that would change my life. I’ll be honest…I’ve had days where I’ve wondered if I made the right choice to derail the way my life was headed to raise funds for children in India. YES! It has been 100% worth it. I need to get outside of “my” life and plans more than I do. Will you join me?

Today in honor of the dress project that began four years ago to help orphans will you invest in the lives of children in India?   They need the basics like school supplies. Every child should have the opportunity to have an education. Emma Watson sums up how I feel, “In my moments of doubt, I’ve told myself firmly: if not me, who? If not now, when?”

So, dear friends will you stand with me today for change? Will you be a world changer today by making an impact for one child? Will you donate $20 dollars or whatever you can afford to help orphans who do need our help? Your investment in future leaders, doctors, teachers, moms, dads, and business people is important.

UPDATE! $91,874.82 :) Let’s see how far we can get today!

P.S. Wanna see past years?  Day 1, 1st anniversary, and 2nd anniversary, and third anniversary posts!

( Photos by: Christa Taylor, Kiersta Rhodes Photography, and F. Robert Openshaw )

Posted on May 1, 2015 by | Comments { 4 }

{ It’s that simple (DAY 521) }

IMG_3341So often themes emerge in my life.  Sometimes it’s because I’m looking for them but mostly it’s totally unexpected.  Like the same verse popping up in different places or people in totally different contexts saying the same thing.  This week a theme emerged (again, because it’s the most important one) and it was so simple, something I’ve heard often, but it was spelled out the past few days.

Two things, love God and love people.  I tend to make this way more complicated then I need to half the time so it was really encouraging to just go over the basics.  Do I love God?  Am I delighting in him and him alone?  Is he my source of joy?  Next, do I love people?  Do I serve where needed?  Do I care for others?  Do I make them feel valued?

Those two questions (Do I love God? Do I love people?) are really important for us to filter our decisions through I think.  If we can honestly respond to those then I think then we are headed in the right direction.  I don’t know about you but I’m always looking for direction (specific direction) from God but it doesn’t always work that way.  He has already told us what to do in His word, I just need to do it!  If you’re struggling to know what you should be doing right now then maybe those two questions will help bring some clarity.  And I’m thankful for you, yes YOU!

Posted on April 28, 2015 by | Comments { 0 }

{ Faithfully (DAY 520) }

photo(78)We count things in numbers most frequently.  Approximately 367,920 hours, 15,330 days, 540 months, or 42 years have gone into my parents marriage by tomorrow, April 22nd.

When I look at them though I don’t count the days and hours that have made up their marriage.  I count the ways they’ve loved one another.  I count the almost daily meals eaten together and made with love.  I count the hours they’ve walked and prayed together nearly every morning of their lives.  My oh my they have logged miles. I count the ways they have laid down their lives for one another.  I count the ways they’ve withstood the storms of life and been best friends.  I count the ways that they have served others side by side.  I count the ways they have both supported and encouraged each other and not held one another back.  I count the ways they’ve been faithful.  I may be able to tally the days and hours you’ve been together but I cant count the ways you’ve loved well because they are so many.

Mom and Dad, thank you.  Thank you for walking out what an excellent marriage looks like.  Thank you for really truly living life as a team and showing me a beautiful picture of Christ and his church.  I love you two so much! Here’s to the next amazing 42 years!

Posted on April 21, 2015 by | Comments { 0 }

{ Bleeding Hearts (DAY 519) }

photo(77)Dear human, these gorgeous flowers are called bleeding hearts. Maybe your heart is bleeding today. Maybe that job still hasn’t come through or the loss of a loved one stings as fresh as the day you said goodbye to them years ago. Maybe you’re missing something or someone from your life. Maybe you’re in constant pain. Maybe you’re just plain tired. Maybe you’re smiling on the outside but carrying secrets of what others have done to you buried inside. I don’t know what your struggle is today but I pray you can take heart that you’re not forgotten. “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18

Bleeding hearts are alive hearts and they are beautiful and precious.

“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”  Psalms 33:18-22

Posted on April 14, 2015 by | Comments { 4 }

{ Front Porch (DAY 518) }

IMG_4124It’s a flight of steps up to her front door.  I’m not sure how many it is precisely but there are two sections of stairs.  Right now wild purple and white baby flowers are creeping out of the cracks.  Last week I went over to visit one of my dearest friends.  When I texted her about dropping by her reply went something like this “Totally fine! But I warn you, the house is in shambles.”  Right then and there I loved her even more.  It’s not the first time she’s let me come over when she thinks her house is a mess.  This woman has been grace to me for many, many years now.  She’s one of my longtime friends and when I went to her house the other day she let me in, like she always does, with a smile and warmth.  She lets me in.  Time and time again regardless of her house or how she’s feeling or what’s going on.  That, my beautiful readers, is amazing.  When she lets me into her home just as it is that speaks volumes of love to me.

In a day and age where social media allows us to have whatever “storefront” we choose, vulnerability and real connectedness are rare.  Yet this friend consistently lets me in.  We laugh hard, we talk about gritty stuff we are dealing with and processing, we pray for each other, and so many other things.  You know what?  Every time I think that I could say something that will make her think I’m insane she just keeps right on loving me.  She doesn’t judge me but she helps me.  She sees right where I’m at and she sits with me in that place and then shines a ray of light into it.  More than most people she probably knows just about everything about me and she keeps on loving me.  We sit on her front porch and the minutes turn into hours faster than we can imagine.  Last week we laughed that it’s not even really a front porch where we sit but I feel like it’s the most wonderful place.

A while ago I was going through an especially hard time and several people in my life at that time were more discouraging than uplifting.  Then she listened and helped love me back to life in the way I needed.  It’s not easy to love people in the way that they need.  It takes work, it takes truly listening, it takes caring, and it takes time.  We can’t be close friends with everyone so choose your friends wisely.  Today I just want to say thank you to my (few) but amazing friends who are real, vulnerable, and trustworthy.  I love you.  And I thank God for you.  To my front-porch-sister-friend you are incredible and it is a joy to be in your life, thank you for always letting me in.

My hope for all of you is that you find your “front porch” person/people. :)  <3

P.S. My friend is so awesome that she totally took this photo for me while her baby napped because I had forgotten to do so…

Posted on April 7, 2015 by | Comments { 6 }

{ Light seeds (DAY 517) }

IMG_0769Lately I’ve been mulling over the thought of sowing light, like seeds, in the darkness. Years ago I went to a conference and a speaker repeated this mantra over and over: “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.” Sometimes I get distracted with other things but for me I want my song to be loud and clear, “Jesus you are the main thing! You are the One who is light ‘For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.’ I want people to know that Jesus is supremely beautiful and that being loved by him is better than anything else life offers.

Giving my life to know, love, and serve him has been THE best thing. I know first hand how life can bring deep sorrow and pain but that doesn’t have to be the end of the story in your life and I know it’s not for mine because Light came down and gave an earth quaking “NO!” to darkness and it must retreat. The pain won’t win. There is hope and I 100% believe it comes from Jesus. If you’re hurting, confused, or questioning and you’re gasping for air please feel free to email me at misselaini [@] gmail.com (remove brackets and spaces when you copy and paste). ❤

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

Posted on March 31, 2015 by | Comments { 4 }

{ Cinderella (DAY 516) }

IMG_0692For weeks now I have been wanting to see the new Cinderella movie.  I watched the trailer and every little single space belonging to my young girl heart got giddy.  I’m almost (but not quite!) ;) embarrassed to admit just how excited I was, I even thought about dressing up in my vintage gown that is nearly identical to the one Cinderella wears in the film.   The costumes looked extravagant and gorgeous, the landscape glorious, and the “magic” perfect.  It seemed like it was going to be a film of pure delight.  So when I got the opportunity to go on opening weekend my dad looked straight at me and said, “Just go.” (I had had the flu 24 hours earlier and wasn’t sure if I should go out of the house yet…)  So I wanted to share a few things that stood out to me from this beautiful film.  Just from watching the trailer you know that the film’s message is all about having courage and being kind but I wanted to highlight some other wonderful messages I picked up.

Pain often proceeds beauty, struggle before victory.  Following the classic story of Cinderella this version has both her parents pass away.  It was heart wrenching.  To see her walk through the grief of loosing her parents and still staying true to who they raised her to be was powerful.  It’s so easy to think of a Disney story and immediately make fun of “happily ever after”.  There is nothing easy about death though and this film shows that.  I swear I almost cried when the prince looses his father.  Both Cinderella and Kit (the prince) have experienced severe grief as well as the step mother.  Yet Cinderella and Kit allow it to make them stronger in healthy ways while the step mother lets her grief turn her bitter.

Cinderella gave what she had.  From the scraps on her plate she gave to her little friends, the mice.  She knew that it wasn’t about lace and parasols.

I love that she learned to see memories as treasures.  I’ve always wondered why Cinderella didn’t realize it was closer to midnight until the clock starts chiming.  I mean that was an important detail that everything would return to the way it had been and she seems to have completely spaced that!  While this is just speculating I think Cinderella had learned to live in the present and be fully engaged in what was happening at the moment. Alright and the prince is good looking and sweet…so there is that too. ;)

Another thing I loved was how her house was a scared place and a haven for their family.  Their family had owned it and passed it down for generations and that mattered.  Where she came from, although simple, had significance.  There’s such a thing as a “spirit” to a place where love has been and that should be cherished.

Cinderella knew that true beauty came from within and while someone can be pretty on the outside, if their hearts are ugly they are to be pitied.

I also appreciate the fact that while Cinderella does take a lot of abuse (made me so mad) in the end she stands up for herself and the ones she loves.  Also note here for anyone experiencing verbal abuse: IT IS NOT OKAY! You are valuable and just because others tear you down doesn’t mean their words have to define you.  I loved that Cinderella realizes the power that words have.

One random note: she’s not into the whole side saddle thing and I was like “Thank you!”

My favorite line from the whole movie though goes something like this, “The greatest risk we will take is to be seen as we truly are.”  I also think that’s one of the bravest things we can do: showing up and being seen without our facades.

Have you seen the film?  What did you think?  What was one positive thing you took away from it?

Posted on March 24, 2015 by | Comments { 6 }

{ Will you? (DAY 515) }

D5KCsWKB64m5wJcsA1Z1j4B3xoXiKxQbtxTGWdRJv0o,2GrQm3mKCy5XLA36kq2ofzjxDdiN6dkZw9vz3mC8pOg,DhKKjQE7swW0yRIAz2DwrrK9cnG43JG-ptJqj1ogIgU 9FRcmO2NoWIVOWWZh86l9YrIoyGjYiHwV9dvKca2p50,b-mNWjbjz_pLJyF_H0u77Uxa3k8IL6rOvcN_mWmw0mM,yt2qG6URwyVrlK1GNzxNkugjmTVIHSwIFazqEkze7DA,l4HnB_Ha9uGF6j2xaXyczMPhfolA0yyMrFRsOW1iD_4Will you be giving to charity this year?

Would you be willing to invest in a child’s life?

Would you be interested in donating $50 to help a child out today by clicking on the link and doing just that?

These are things I think about often.  I wonder what I can say or if it’s the right way to say it.  How can I tell you just how beautiful it is to give?  Some things you have to experience for yourself.

We still have 185 kiddos who need school supplies.  I hope you’ll be a part of their story today.  :)

Uniforms - 2 uniforms – 1 the colors for their school and 1 for Saturdays which is white – $30 for 2

Shoes and Socks – 1 pair of black shoes for Monday – Friday and 1 pair of white shoes for Saturday and 4 pairs of socks – $12 for 2 pairs

School Bag and Supplies – $8 for school bag and supplies (pen, pencil, eraser, sharpener)
TOTAL – $50 for one child

Psst- it’s also tax deductible. ;)

UPDATE: $91,764.82

{Photo by F. Robert Openshaw}

Posted on March 17, 2015 by | Comments { 2 }

{ To Do Before 30 (DAY 514) }

IMG_0755A couple of months ago I kept seeing articles with titles like “30 awesome things to do before you’re 30″ or “Ultimate 30 things to do before you turn 30″.  Most of these articles had a theme of travel, fitness, and nixing bad habits.  While I agree that all of that is wonderful I realized I felt like I was missing things.  I was fed up because they seemed pretty darn selfish (I’m selfish enough as it is without someone helping me out that way).  So I decided to make my own list.  Yes, these are things for improving yourself but they also go deeper than that.  These are things I hope to continually be learning and growing in for the rest of my life….far past 3o.

Please note this list is no where near exhaustive…it’s just a starting point for me of things I want to think about.  Feel free to leave a comment on what you would add to the “list”! Also those of you past 30 please give us some wisdom!

Serve.  Bam.  Right off the bat let’s go with that conversation starter.  Want to have a glowing face and radiant smile?  Seek to help those around you.  I promise it will make you prettier.  Do the dishes that your roommate left in the sink.  Offer to walk your elderly neighbor’s dog.  Make a meal for a sick friend or someone that just had a baby.  Take flowers to someone who is sad.

Give, give generously.  Now I realize you need to save money and that that is being responsible.  I fully support that but make sure you put a hefty amount towards giving in your budget.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” Anne Frank  

                   We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

Practice staying after a party is over to help clean up.  No, really, this is courteous and if there is one thing to cultivate before you turn 30 it is being thoughtful.

Be trustworthy.  This means that any juicy bit or non juicy bit that your friend told you (and didn’t say to keep secret) stays with you.  It means being a person of your word and when you fail saying you’re sorry.  Once trust is lost it is very hard to regain.  Better to not loose it in the fist place.  Watch your words.  They have the power to heal or tear down.  There is a lot we could cover with this one…and yes, it can be insanely hard to watch your words.  I’m definitely always needing to work on this one.

Read.  This will serve you in so many ways.  It will give you a broader perspective on life and people and everything else in between.  Plus it will help you serve others when you can strike up a conversation or help along a struggling one by knowing about many topics and genres.

Make a habit of gratefulness.  I’ve found again and again that truly thankful people are more joyful.  Don’t you love being around people who appreciate the people and things around them?  I do.  Plus I’ve found that the more I am truly thankful the happier I am.  Writing out your gifts can be immensely helpful.

Be a good listener.  You learn a lot by listening and you bless those around you in the process.  Withstanding a few exceptions we all want to be heard.

Never stop learning.  Soak up as much wisdom and knowledge as possible (yes, they are different).  From birth to the time we complete our formal education we spend so much time learning.  After that period so many people stop actively investing in learning.  Why do we do this?  Lately I’ve been realizing just how important it is to purposefully stimulate your brain.

Unplug.  Yes, I do mean turning off your phone and computer and any other devices that count as social media now and then.  At first it’s hard to do but I guarantee you that you’re not missing much and that you will feel so refreshed after a fast of this kind.  It is 100% worth it.

Posted on March 10, 2015 by | Comments { 1 }