It seems like just yesterday that we left the NICU at Akron Children’s Hospital. I have very many mixed memories of that place. Some of the scariest times of my life happened behind those walls and some of the happiest.
In the midst of a dark time we did our best to make the NICU home. Years ago I bought an art print that says, “Home is wherever I’m with you.” (Yes, it was bought from Urban Outfitters and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros were popular…ok now listening to them on repeat).
Since our marriage, Dustin and I have moved six times. It’s funny to add “NICU” to that list. We spent most nights there but spent 17 at Ronald McDonald House and once a week at home to rest up. I plan on writing a lot more about making the NICU home and our experiences there. In the meantime, enjoy this video I took near the end of our stay. You can tell Bella is much more stable and is even in an open cot!
Easter and Spring is officially right around the corner! As the weather is warming up and my coffee order turns from hot to iced, my mind is on bright colors and outdoor fun. I don’t think you’re ever too old for gifts and bright colors. For this fun DIY, I decided to mix both. With some of my girlfriends in mind, I made these “Mason Jar Easter Friend Gifts.” Every single thing I purchased was found at the Dollar Tree and they only took a few minutes to put together. The best part in my opinion? The mason jars have glass handles so they’re more like summer mugs – perfect for iced drinks in the warmer weather.
I began with some adorable mason jar mugs I bought. I didn’t bother to remove the sticker on the bottom. I’m not as OCD as some other DIYers.
Next, I thought about what would go in my adorable Easter basket-esque Mason Jars. Along with the traditional candy, I wanted to add some items my friends could use everyday. I also wanted to keep the colors the same to make it look extra cool. My main focus was on a yellow, bright gift. I made sure each item I purchased had a yellow option. I bought:
-Neon mini gel pens
I figured the girls could always use writing utensils, the paper straws would be perfect for the mason jar glasses, and your hair always needs to be put back in the warmer weather so the elastic bands were the perfect touch. I also kept in mind the size of the jars and the size of the bright Easter eggs I purchased.
It was a little bit of a struggle to find yellow candy! I picked M&Ms, Butterfingers, and Juicy Fruit. Other candy not pictured included Sixlets, Taffy, and candy necklaces.
Of course you can’t have a gift that’s inspired by Spring/Easter without this fake grass stuff! I began by stuffing some in the bottom of the glasses.
You may need to take a pencil or longer object to stuff it in.
Once all the fake grass is in, it’s up to you and your creativity to fill the jar up with color coordinated/or not so coordinated items.
I thought a yellow elastic hair tie would work well in the smaller yellow Easter eggs.
I also had a little yellow gel pen ready after placing some paper straws (aren’t they cool) and a neon yellow pencil in.
The candy was ready, too!
Silly kitty, this gift isn’t for you!
If an item doesn’t match the color scheme, like these Sixlets, I placed them in a yellow egg!
Once the jar is filled, it’s ready for giving! After I was done, I realized a little tag that says “For You” would be really nice. I added more fake yellow grass and made sure there was no empty space in the jar. What a cup of sunshine!
I had planned to do three filled with yellow items, but I remembered my one friend loved pink. Since I had a lot of pink items…I went ahead and did a different color theme!
Hot pink rules. I placed the hair tie inside the pink egg. Don’t you love the mini gel pen?
It doesn’t matter if you’re 10 or 30…Disney Princesses rock. So do candy bracelets. My bestie Jess will love this.
I didn’t have pink grass, but you still get the idea of the color scheme. To make this gift more personalized you could write the recipient’s name in sharpie on the cup.
Behind the scenes picture…the kitty loved bedding down on the fake grass.
Since the mason jars didn’t have a ton of room, I had extra supplies. I thought outside of the “Easter basket box” and used little clear plastic punch cups for mini baskets. These will be given to a few of our family members.
This was a memorable Easter for me. Dustin and I attended the Maundy Thursday service at our church. It’s been an interesting development for me as a Christ-follower because I never celebrated this day. In fact, NONE of the churches I attended had a service dedicated to this day. So, the last few years we’ve been learning about Maundy Thursday and what it means. Basically, Maundy Thursday is the day when Jesus and his disciples went to the upper room and had communion and he washed their feet. (And yes, even some Christians think it’s strange that we do this)
Maundy is Latin. It comes from mandatum, which means “command.”
Washing My Husband’s Feet. It’s Awkward As It Sounds.
We were asked to serve and as most things go at Mosaic, our church, (on the fly) we found out once we arrived we may be needed to wash feet. Now, the whole thing is awkward. Anyone who tells you different has either 1.) been doing it a long time or 2.) isn’t aware of social norms in the 21rst century!
You’re on your knees. You’re touching someone’s (you may not know) feet. You’re not sure if you should scrub it, rub it, or go in-between the toes. It’s vulnerable and sacred and scary all at the same time.
So, we embraced the command and followed in Jesus’ footsteps and washed others feet. Men on one side, women on the other. We pour water over the feet, rub it a bit, and then dry it with a fresh towel. It’s all very hygienic and you don’t have to worry about the man in the back with athlete’s foot since we don’t share water. It takes a minute or two. Getting your feet washed is just as humbling as washing. It’s a very special moment.
I didn’t get a chance to wash anyones feet at first because all the women were doing one another’s. Dustin, on the other hand, was on his knees at the first pew washing from the beginning. It was a very special thing to watch him serve his brothers in Christ and reflect Jesus. At the end, I felt as if I should wash his feet, a prodding from the Holy Spirit. It’s a strange feeling and I’ll be honest: I didn’t want to do it. I touch his feet all the time (rubbing them, laying on the couch, etc) but it was awkward. I still knew it was important and would be a very special way to pray over him and humble myself.
So, we washed each other’s feet.
It was a super sweet moment. One I will never forget. To follow in the footsteps of our Father and submit to one another in love. Phenomenal. I prayed prayers as I touched his feet. God, give him strength. Give him Hope. Give him more and more love for you. Before long, we switched and he washed my feet. It was a very intimate moment.
I had a good understanding of washing feet before engaging in this symbolic ritual, but others may not.
Why Do We Wash Each Other’s Feet As Believers?
Today, as I was reading my devotional, I was shocked to come across the passage where Jesus washes the disciples feet. Now, I do a devotional at random. It’s not a date specified book and is a book about prayer. It’s Whispers of Hope by Beth Moore. When I came across this section, I was encouraged. God knows I needed a reminder again about why we wash feet.
The passage can be found in John 13. If you take the time to read it, (and I encourage you to do so) it paints the story of Jesus washing his best friends and confidant’s feet. It says “he loved them to the end(John 13:1)” and “knew that the Father has put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God. (13:1)”
It was a simple process. He “poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
Ok, so, Jesus did this. Why do we? He was doing this with his disciples, why do I need to do it for others and my family? The answer is in verse 14.
“Now, that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
Washing feet is a symbol. It’s not just about washing feet. It’s about humbling yourself both ways and allowing someone to serve you or serving another in a very real, raw, awkward way. It’s about putting someone before yourself.
We can wash other’s feet everyday without picking up a basin of water. Simply by putting others needs in front of your own is obeying this command.
Today, while I make the bed, mix up some lunch, or kiss my husband I’m reminded that I can wash his feet and humble myself like Jesus without physically washing his feet every day. Who in your life can you serve and put before yourself?
One of my all-time favorite things to do is send others snail mail. There’s just something about a handwritten letter that makes life seem worth living. I began sending cards when I was in college and now I use every excuse to send cards, letters, and small packages. When I began thinking of beginning this blog, I wanted it to be a space where women could be encouraged and inspired to bring a little sunshine into the world.
My great grandma is in her 90s and lives in Florida. I try to visit as much as I can but haven’t seen her since last May. Unfortunately, she has really bad hearing and a phone call is difficult. About a year ago, I began writing her little cards and notes to update her on our life. Little did I know that it became such a special thing for her. When she’s at home, she can get bored and lonely. A little fun card in the mail or a small package really makes her day seem magical.
It’s also helped me think outside of myself. Sometimes we can become so self-centered. This little habit of writing a card to my grandma helps me remember to be thankful for what I have and where I’m at in life.
For this month, I was inspired by “a box of sunshine” that I saw on Pinterest. A few years ago a friend was dealing with some really scary stuff and had to have brain surgery. While she was recovering I grabbed anything yellow that I thought she’d enjoy at the store and packaged it up. It meant a lot to her and I’m sure it made her smile. As the sun began peeking out of the clouds this month, I decided to send other boxes of sunshine to my great grandma, grandma, and little sister-in-law.
Here are the items I included in my happy mail packages:
-Juicy Fruit Gum
-Yellow Washi Tape
-Wooly Willy Toys (Remember these?)
Most the items were less than $1 and the bright yellow bag was only 25 cents at Walmart. I used the bags to gather the materials inside an envelope to mail out. They look like little goodie bags. You can also purchase yellow shredded paper to add some fun to the package. A little does go a long way though! (We had it everywhere in the house and had to keep the kitties from eating it) Yellow shredded paper filler is available at the dollar tree. I had at least 1/2 the bag left after putting together these happy mail packages.
When I was putting together the happy mail packages, I tried to think of each person. Would they enjoy a notebook? How would they use the printable? My grandma reads her Bible every morning and likes to use bookmarks. This fun little printable can help hold her place or she can put it up on the fridge. I also know my great grandma loves chocolate. She would be someone that would love the Reese’s Egg.
I picked out the two printable’s I found on Pinterest. I simply typed “free spring printable” and these came up! When looking for a printable, make sure they really are free and always give credit to whom you use them from.
Can you think of someone in need of a little spring cheer? This type of happy mail project is simple and doesn’t need to cost a lot. I choose to print the printables at the UPS store on cardstock but you can do it right at home. Also, it’s fun to have a sense of humor about the gift too! The Wooly Willy boards are fun and quirky. I picked them up at Walmart in their Easter section.
Other ideas of items to include:
You can include as much (or as little) as you’d like in your happy mail gift. As you can see by the pictures, you can mix and match items and find the perfect fit for the recipient. I placed the goodies in my yellow bags and then tucked them into bubble mailers. I think shipping for a few light items will be between $3-4. I also wrote cards and included a fun few photographs. Whenever Walgreens has a picture printing deal (less than 10 cents each) I buy a lot of photos of our house, us, the cats, etc. My great grandma loves to get pictures of us since she doesn’t use Facebook or other social media.
If you’d like to give more happy mail, keep a list of items you’d like to send/receive on your iPhone or in your wallet. As you shop at the Dollar Tree or Target, keep an eye out for sale and clearance items that you can add to your happy mail stash. The more items you have acquired, the cheaper and easier the process of sending mail will be. I always keep an eye out for sale bubble mailers with pretty designs and buy tissue paper in bulk! If you can’t think of anyone you know personally that needs Happy Mail, call your local nursing home or church and ask for referrals. Chances are, there are widows or others in need that you can give happy mail to!