Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Upcoming Live Animal Christmas Play 2016!

It's that time of year again! The time when our days all run into each other and we transport ourselves into another time to sew, build, sing, act, record, + bring to life the most beautiful story all time...the story of JESUS.

The Live Animal Christmas Play is a ministry of our church, Marion Avenue Baptist. Every year our church family joins together to put on this drama. It is one of our highlights of the year and an amazing gift God has given to grow the relationships of the church family. Working together so hard, hours upon hours, for investment in the Kingdom of God, is so incredible! 

The public is invited! That would be YOU! And your friends + family. No tickets are needed and no reservations necessary. Every year several thousand join us and watch the show as we celebrate, through drama, the true reason for the season! 

Our 2016 Showtimes are 
Saturday, December 10th, @ 11am + 5pm, 
+
Sunday, December 11th, at 11am + 5pm. 

{We also have a special reserved showing for our bus ministry outreach on Friday night, and two private showings on Saturday + Sunday, at 2pm each day, that are only for reserved group seating of 20 or more. Note: if you are interested in bringing a group, please contact for reservations for one of those reserved group showings!}

LIVE ANIMAL CHRISTMAS PLAY from Marion Avenue Baptist Church on Vimeo.

If you are interested in reading more about the play + seeing pictures from past year, visit the following links! 2015 Behind the Scenes + 2015 LACP Recap

Just make sure you come early! (as in, 30-45 minutes early!) to ensure that you get a good seat! We often have to turn people away and we'd hate for that to be you! So make sure to arrive in good time.

Please call the church office with any questions. (phone number at the end of the video commercial above)

We can't wait to see you there! I love meeting blog readers at the play. You might have to look a little harder to pick out the faces of my family + I---we look a little different on play weekend than we do here on the blog. =) Dad has a full beard, Mitchell will be in black catching chickens + assisting with running the fog machines, Allison will be flying from the ceiling in full angel costume, and Elizabeth will be the miniature Mary...just to give you a few hints! =)

It's the most wonderful time of the year!
-Chels

Monday, October 31, 2016

"You Know You Might Be In A Campaigning Family If" + My Thoughts on the Election


The other day I discovered this little draft entitled, "You Know You Might Be In A Campaigning Family If". I was meaning to post this long ago-I actually wrote it months ago, right after we had finished out biggest chunk of campaign work in the south, but it got stuck in drafts and I totally forgot about it until I recently discovered it again. I almost hit "delete draft".
I mean, we are way past that now, and in someways it's a little painful to reflect on that season (just being honest).

But as I scrolled down through and laughed with the memories, I decided against deleting it. I want to remember and document those times. It was a good cause, it was a good work, and we made some great memories that I don't regret. And sometimes even when everything looks so extremely dark + dismal for our country, it is still good to remember to laugh.

God is on the throne, after all. We are called to do our part, and to leave the results up to HIM. Thank goodness that is all we are called to do. If the results depended on us it would be constant depression, I'm afraid, with the current state of things politically. But with obedience for us, and the results with Him...it's just a really safe place to be, if you think about it.

So this evening I'm going to take you down memory lane with me, and laugh a little over some of these moments from the good old campaigning days-those days of fighting for a good cause with my favorites (that would be my family) and learning so much more about life + public relations + public speaking + public debating + public EVERYTHING than I could ever have learned anywhere else.

I'm still really thankful. It wasn't a waste. It was good.

All that to say, here you are:

"You know you might be in a campaigning family IF....."

...even your eight year old uses political lingo, always, even in bedtime prayers: "And dear Jesus, I pray that Allison would please get married, and I would endorse _________ for brother in law." (if Rebs got a dollar for every brother in law endorsement she has given she would be one rich little woman! =))

...
a sibling "endorses" you for a work project

...for that matter, everyone in your family "endorses" (or doesn't endorse) everything and anything. Who needs the world "support" when you can "ENDORSE" someone or something? It just sounds so much more...important and political. =)

...speaking of all of that....the children would turn anything and everything from assignments to jobs to WHATEVER into an election: "okay, so who do you endorse to do the morning milking? Who would be your second choice, and why? Okay, time for the vote! It appears that Mitch has received the most endorsements and Carson second, HOWEVER they are almost tied for delegates so this may have to advance to a broker convention!" =)

...you get the news that Crispy Creme Chris Christie has dropped out of the race, and your ten year old  brother promptly exclaims "I wish he would've stayed in because he was helping to split the establishment vote!" Like what ten year old even knows what "split the establishment vote" means?
One who has watched all of the debates. =)

...You use nicknames to discuss candidates (see above example =)) 
And there are many more examples from which I will spare you. =)

...the sibling group chat has politics ALL THROUGHOUT it.

...you have specific emojis that you use to more accurately convey your emotion when discussing dealings with "Trumpers".
And they are not complimentary emojis.

...you avoid the use of one certain emoji like THE PLAGUE because it looks EXACTLY identical to the way Trump crosses his thumb and index finger and HORRORS to imitate him.

...your eight and ten year old siblings know exactly the meanings of GOP and establishment and broker convention and delegates and winner takes all and caucus.

...you develop basically a whole new language with friends you campaign with.

...all of your siblings have the Cruz app and i360 Walk App on their phones and all of you have used them in ?? states.

...you dread checking comments after a political post because there are truly all sorts of people in the world and some of those very unique types always have lots of negativity to share about how wrong they think you are.

...you have to bring a more level headed family member in to proof the comments and help determine which ones would qualify as too inappropriate to post and which ones will slide by.

...one of you who isn't at the watch party texts a sibling who is: "How is it going? What? Seriously they said that? Those liberals are crazy! I say, down with the aristocrats! Ahem, the establishment. Umm, my apologies----been immersed in too much French revolution history." =)

...every single meal time we talk about politics. And lots of other things, of course. But always politics makes it in there too.

...your siblings make up charts before each primary/caucas and go around to each person in the family to get everyones predictions on what they think will be the final rankings of each candidate.

...your brothers give you hassle because once upon a time you were a Rubio fan and now of course you're not... but the brothers just can't let you forget about it.

...even the few times you all consciously try to divert the conversation and just discuss other things politics comes back in.

...we older ones were at a church's college/career class valentines party, and were playing Catch Phrase. Two of our boys were on the same team, which was bad news to begin with. The hilarious thing about it all was that with every question that came up, they used their political knowledge to figure out the answer. Case in point was the question, NAME THIS FOOTBALL TEAM. Denver looks at Josh and said, "Josh, the team that Rubio's wife was a cheerleader for"! Josh immediately named the team and the game kept moving...except that literally every else in the room is still reeling trying to put all the information together: "DID HE REALLY JUST SAY THAT? WHAT WHAT WHAT?!" And I looked at the guy next to me who was giving me this incredulous "whoa, your brothers are hard core!" type look, and said, "That, my friend, is what happens when your brothers live, eat, and breathe politics and know way too much about the candidates." =)

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And that's a little humor for your evening. =) I hope that in the middle of all of these very serious and very heartbreaking dynamics that are surrounding every aspect of this current election...I hope that this post maybe gave you a laugh or two, and will remind you that we can always have JOY when we are on the winning side!

Ending out on the serious side...a number of you have asked me how I will be voting next month. Please watch the following two videos and read the linked article. I could write my own long post but these three people explain it so well that I am just going to share their views with you instead of writing a long post and trying to say the same thing all over again.
For a more serious view of things, such as how I am planning to vote and what my beliefs are in that,
watch this video of my brother Mitchell.
This one also says it SO WELL and I highly encourage you to take a few minutes and watch it!

Last but not least, if you have time, check out this article that a friend of mine wrote on the subject. So good.

Do what's right. Stand for truth. Vote biblically.

"Of the two evils, choose neither."
-Charles Spurgeon

Have a blessed evening, friends!
-Chels

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Bell Sleeve Pattern + God's Bigger Picture

I've been finding in my life that God delights in working through the non-ordinary. I've also been realizing that He has little lessons prepared for me in literally EVERY area of my life, if I just am in tune with Him and watching for them. 

Last December, He taught me a very powerful lesson through a bell sleeve pattern, of all things. I started this post in February and here it is now, just a little while later. =) I feel like for some reason, this timing of posting this now is perfect, and that there is someone out there reading this that needs this truth in their lives today. TAKE HEART that God has got your life in His hands. This truth impacted my perspective in such a huge way, that it is my HOPE that it can do the same for yours. It doesn't matter how big or small your trial is, or how unique to you-I want you to know that GOD CARES and that He has a bigger picture in mind.

At the time of this particular sewing project, I was going through the greatest struggle of my twenty-four years of life. I was dealing with major trust issues (both with God + with several people in my life) and I literally felt like things were spiraling out of control. It was one of the first times in my life that I felt I was deeply invested with a situation, deeply affected by the results, and yet completely and totally out of control with the entire thing.

I needed this lesson. Jesus in His grace knew that and sent me this truth at the perfect time, to strengthen my faith and remind me that He cared more than anyone else could.

It was a cold December afternoon. I was knee deep in fabric, frantically trying to meet a looming deadline and sew two new costumes for our church's annual Live Animal Christmas Play. (why is it every time I sew something I am behind and frantic? Agh!) 

Here I was again, with little time to spare and no extra time for something to go wrong. I was combining and tweaking patterns which required extra time and major extra mental capacities which I felt were seriously lacking. 

But when it came to this sleeve I determined to follow instructions. I knew better (from past failures) than to attempt to throw a sleeve together without a concise plan in mind. 
I've sewn sleeves before. Many times. The first time I tried making up my own pattern and cutting out the fabric how I thought a sleeve should look. 

I can hear all you fellow sewers of sleeves laughing. I know, how ludicrous. Can we just say EPIC FAIL for that first sleeve project those years ago?! =) 

Needless to say I learned my lesson. And since, even though I love veering from the patterns and combining ideas and coming up with my own, I always (and I mean ALWAYS) make sure to *mostly* stick to whatever sleeve pattern I am using. No more cutting out my own ideas. The pattern makers know best in the sleeve arena!

I've always been infatuated with bell sleeves. They're just so awesome-I love the flow of the extra fabric and the regal feeling I always get when I'm wearing a top or dress with sleeves like this.

I was very excited about this pattern and sewing these dresses for several reasons, one of which was that I was combining multiple patterns (and that always excites me because then its kinda original with me!) but also because I had only sewn short sleeve and sleeveless styles before, and hadn't previously done long sleeves. 

I laid the sleeve pattern out and began to cut. It looked crazy for sure but being a seamstress who has sewn a lot, I have learned by now that sleeves, more than any other part of a sewing project, look totally not like a sleeve when they are first cut out! It doesn't matter if its a cap sleeve, or half sleeve, or long sleeve...the pattern piece (before sewing) just doesn't resemble a sleeve at all.

I was pinning along (see above picture) and had just finished cutting out the first bell sleeve, when my youngest sister Rebecca walked through the room. She came over to observe my progress and asked, naturally, "So what part is that supposed to be?" 
Me: "Its the sleeve, Rebs!"
Her: "Wait. The SLEEVE? Are you sure, Chels? There's no way that's a sleeve! It doesn't look even close to a sleeve!! I think you are wrong!" =)

I smiled at the thought of her giving me sewing advice. =) As I opened my mouth to answer her, it was like Jesus gave me this lesson on the spot. I began to explain: "Yes, it's a sleeve, honey! I know it doesn't look like it now, but its gonna be the most beautiful sleeve you can imagine, and when it's all finished, it won't look anything like what you are looking at now. See, a sleeve doesn't start out looking like a sleeve. In order to get that beautiful bell shape, I have to cut out something that looks very different. I have to follow the pattern. If I follow that pattern, this sleeve will turn out looking just like what its supposed to look like, and it will fit me perfectly. But I have to stick to the pattern for that to happen. So even though it looks really strange right now, I know for SURE that it will look like a perfect sleeve if I just keep going with the pattern. And you know something, Rebecca? Life is the very same way. Often what Jesus tells us to do doesn't make sense. We think 'this isn't what I had in mind! This isn't what my life is supposed to look like!' There are going to be times when this will happen to you. But don't worry about how things look at the time. You can know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that JESUS made the pattern (His Word) and listening to it and His still small voice will get you successfully through whatever you might go through! The circumstances and results will very well look completely opposite to what you were wanting. But trust the Designer-He put the time and thought into this pattern (your life) and He has a beautiful sleeve (story) just waiting at the end, if you will just trust and obey, no matter what!"

I'm not sure how much of the lesson she retained, but I continued to mull on this after she left, and in the weeks to come...
Does the pattern always make sense? Ha, NO. Not in the slightest.

So why do I still choose to follow it?

Because I have seen the picture on the cover of the pattern, and I know that that picture's costume was sewn directly by following the instructions of the pattern. I know that no matter how "unlike" it my current piece of fabric may look, the maker of the pattern knew what they were doing and had a very definite plan in mind. And I KNOW that if I follow that plan, I will get a sleeve exactly like the one on the cover of the pattern.

Why do I still choose to follow God's Word and listen to His voice even when it looks like everything is falling apart and there is no possible good ending? 

Because I have seen His Word. I have seen it change lives. I have seen it change my life. I know that it is real and alive and LIVING. I know that Jesus is real. I have heard His voice. He gave me pattern instructions and even though it went against everything that I felt like doing...obeying that "pattern" of His voice is always the greatest decision I could make. No, I might not understand. I very well might feel like making up my own and not following His. And I might not even get the chance to see the fully "finished product" of that circumstance, for years to come. But following it will always yield the sweetest results, in the end.

From my heart to yours, I am praying that Jesus would use this to touch whatever heart or hearts are needing this reminder today-that although your trial looks like a sleeve pattern to you, and you think "how in the WORLD could anything positive and beautiful come from this distorted shape?"yet Jesus looks at your "sleeve pattern" story from a heavenly perspective. He sees the beautiful picture of what can be, what will be, if you continue to follow the pattern. He knows that the final product will look beautiful, and intricate, and amazing, if you are faithful to follow HIS design. Don't take that scissors and cut out what YOU think looks like a bell sleeve. Just keep following that pattern. Don't stray from it. The person who created that original sleeve pattern? They knew what they were doing. They measured + analyzed + planned out that bell sleeve pattern, right down to the smallest measurements. Everything was prepared for a beautifully finished product, IF the pattern will be followed. 

"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, 
though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory 
at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 
Whom having not seen, ye love; in Whom, though now ye see Him not, 
yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
1 Peter 1:7+8

This is the story of life. Stay strong. Keep going even when you don't understand.
Don't veer from God's pattern. His instructions are the best every time.
-Chels

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Happy National Coffee Day!

I've always thought that the whole national whatever day idea was kinda weird. 

I mean, really...there's apparently a day to celebrate pretty much anything. And why?

But in spite of all my prejudices against the whole idea, I felt that National Coffee Day deserved its own little corner of recognition in my world. =)

So here's a little humor in your coffee-filled day for all you fellow coffee lovers out there! Coffee cheers!
More than once...
 Did you know this, mom?!

 Love it. 
 How I feel some days. My days like this are rare. But they do occur. =)
 Can I get a witness?
 Been there!
 Absolutely.
Gotta end with the best one. =)
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Hope y'all are having a lovely, "guilt-free-although-five-cups-consumed", kind of a day! 
And don't forget whipped cream! =)
-Chels

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Denver Elliot || Senior Photography

Definitely these are my favorite senior shots to date of all the seniors I have done. (sorry to everyone else!) Brothers are just the best. 

I never really thrived off of guy seniors because to be honest they tend to be stiff and awkward and very much like "I don't want to be here but my mom made me". Just saying! 

It so happens that Denver is extremely photogenic and loves fashion + style + ideas + pretty much everything involved in a photo shoot, so we were totally on the same page with this thing. 
He was the one coming to me saying, "Could we do pictures here?", which I loved. =)

We took them these summer while we were out on tour. I told him that he should consider himself blessed to be probably the only senior in the history of forever whose photographer took him all over the east coast + PEI for their senior pictures. What an opportunity! =)

Denver is an outdoor-enthusiast, sports-lover, people-person, fashion-forward, and conversation-starting kind of a guy. He is the life of the party whenever he goes. He loves everyone equally and I love to see him in constant conversation, making friends literally as he goes, with people in every stage of life, from little ones to the elderly and everyone in-between. Denver loves Jesus passionately and has a heart for doing everything 100%. 
This picture looks EXACTLY like one we have of Dad when he was near the same age. It's wild because Denver definitely favors mom's family in his looks. 
Apparently he's a perfect mix! =)
Oh goodness, I love this guy. Can't wait to see all the adventures Jesus is gonna take him on these next few years. I'm 100% sure it will be a wild ride but he will ride it well! =)
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Hope y'all have a fabulous Tuesday, friends!
-Chels