Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Word for 2014

Reflecting on 2013 and a word for 2014
I can hardly believe 2013 is coming to a close. It’s been a good year, most especially punctuated by the birth of our third child in January. After a quick labor and an all-natural waterbirth (I share just a bit about the experience here, if you’re interested), she joined our family with great joy. She has been such a welcome addition and has added light and life to all of us with her sweet demeanor. It has been an incredible blessing to watch her grow this year, and we look forward to celebrating her first birthday shortly!

And now I’m looking ahead to 2014 with excitement (placing an order for a new planner ASAP) and a bit of sadness. Sadness that the baby’s first year is coming to a close, that another year is winding down, that the hands of time never slow their onward march, and yet excitement for a fresh start and all that the coming year holds. There are new habits I’d like to instill, new things I’d like to learn, books I’m aiming to devour, skills I want to hone. I have aspirations for my husband, goals for my children, and wild hope for the new home we’re building. But more than that, there is a word that’s been echoing in my mind. It’s the banner over all my other plans for this new year.

I’ve been meditating a bit on the word serve, and this morning, as I opened Philippians and read through the first two chapters the words of chapter 2:1-11 jumped off the page.

Reflecting on 2013 and a word for 2014 | Faith and Composition


“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, (2) then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. (3) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, (4) not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (5) In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

(6) Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
(7) rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
(8) And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!
(9) Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
(10) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
(11) and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

And so I’ve chosen serve as my banner for this new year. I want to cultivate an attitude of service done in love toward my husband and my children. I want to be open to the ways I can serve the needs of others. I want to do less out of selfish ambition and more out of humility; and I want to do it all with an attitude of joy, void of grumbling or complaining.

As any mother knows, the very role of motherhood is defined by servanthood, and yet if I’m honest with myself, I frequently serve the needs of my family with a begrudging spirit. That’s certainly not the atmosphere I want to foster in my home, thus the crux of this matter needs to take root in my heart. As Proverbs 14:1 says: “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”

So here’s to 2014 and all that it holds, dear friends! I look forward to sharing more of this new year with you right here on this little space, and I hope that 2014 holds promise and growth for each of you.

Have a word for the new year? Share your word or a few specific resolutions in the comments. I’d love to celebrate the coming new year and all that it promises with you!  

Free Christmas Printables {My Gift to You!}

Free Christmas Printable | Faith and Composition

With Christmas just a few days away, I’m going to be stepping away from this little space for a week or so to spend time with family. But before I go, I wanted to leave you with a little something to make your holiday a bit sweeter. Whether you’re simply looking for a visual reminder to keep your celebrations focused on Christ, or you need tags to top off those last-minute presents, here are two free printables to celebrate the season. It’s my little Christmas gift to you!

Free Christmas Printable | Faith and Composition

Free Christmas Gift Tag Printable | Faith and Composition
The verse prints as a 5×7, and the gift tags print as an 8×10 document. Simply print them onto card stock, cut and enjoy. The gift tags would also be darling used as place settings. Simply write your guests’ names on the tags, punch a hole and use twine to tie the tag around a napkin with a sprig of rosemary. Click here for the verse and here for the hand-drawn deer gift tags.

Merry Christmas dear friends!

Please note that these printables are free for personal use only. The wreath is a hand-drawn Photoshop brush by the very talented Tristan at Besotted Blog.  

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A Holiday Interview {with Mary Beth at Annapolis & Co.}

A Holiday Interview with Annapolis and Co. | Faith & CompositionToday I have a little treat for you! The lovely Mary Beth is popping in to answer some questions on how she keeps the focus on the things that matter most during this holiday season. Mary Beth blogs at Annapolis & Co., where she gives glimpses into her life with three littles and inspires readers to find creativity in the everyday. I can’t remember how I first discovered her charming blog, but it’s one of my daily reads. She has a special knack for elevating the common into something of beauty! Take a moment to hop over to her site; you’ll be delighted with her little space. She also has a lovely Instagram feed where she also hosts the ongoing Everyday Project, which I adore! So now, without further adieu, welcome Mary Beth! And thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share some thoughts with us!

A Holiday Interview with Annapolis and Co. | Faith & Composition

A: We keep it all about Jesus’ birthday. And that’s what we hype up…not presents. We plan a cake every year for baby Jesus and read passages from our Jesus Storybook Bible. We rarely ever talk about presents.  Q: What tangible things or activities have you implemented into your holiday celebrations that return the focus to Christ?    A: We hang an advent calendar and the girls get so excited about the countdown and the little crafts we do along with it. I downloaded this ebook and while we aren’t super faithful about doing it every day, it has really helped in training them and preparing them for Christmas day.     Q: When your children are grown, what do you want them to recall when they reflect upon their childhood Christmases?  A: I hope they remember simple love.  It’s so easy to get caught up in traditions, acts of service, shopping and baking, that we so often forget to sit and savor the ultimate Love that was manifested at Christmas. There’s a verse I find myself coming back to time, and time again….   “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.”  I hope my kids feel love in our home…not just at Christmastime, but all year long.   Thank you so much for having me! I feel so honored to share bits and pieces of my heart with you and your readers. Merry Christmas to you all!!!!
Q: Christmas means many things to different people. There are different emotional attachments, varied memories. What does Christmas mean to you?  

A: Christmas means quiet and still. Birth and death. Redemption and mercy. Twinkling lights and popcorn bowls. Movies and play. Cinnamon rolls and cranberry bread. Giving and receiving.

Q: You come from a large family (one of 14, right?). How did your family celebrate the holidays with that many children, and how did they manage to keep the focus on Christ?

A: Yes! I’m the second oldest of fourteen children and our Christmases were very simple. When I was really young and times were hard, I remember getting those dollar store puzzles and play dough on Christmas morning and that was pretty much it. As the years went on, we would get a few nicer things, but it was still never extravagant, even though we had the money. Looking back at photos, you would see the biggest grins and faces full of joy as we held our little gifts. I really don’t think it takes much to please children.

My parents never, ever put the focus on things at Christmas. Or Santa. Or the elf on the shelf. (I don’t think he was around then!) We never did elaborate Advent calendars or even read the Christmas story faithfully every year, the focus was more in our daily conversations. My mom would weave in the birth and death of Jesus in our everyday and I grew up knowing that we were celebrating Jesus, not presents.

I’m really, really grateful for that.

A Holiday Interview with Annapolis and Co. | Faith & Composition

Q: How has your upbringing influenced the way you celebrate Christmas with your family?

A: A lot! Our first Christmas together as new parents, Steven and I decided that we wanted to start out simple. We bought a few little things and spent maybe $75 total on gifts that year. When the season was all over, we looked back and really felt grateful that we hadn’t gotten caught up in a whirlwind of shopping or “keeping up”. We weren’t broke and our families and friends felt liberated.

Q: I’m trying to be more intentional about slowing down during this holiday season; taking time to savor the things that matter most. You are a champion of that lifestyle on Annapolis & Co. In what ways are you intentional about slowing down and not letting the holiday rush overtake you and your family?

A: I wish I had that figured out! Every single day is a work in progress. The biggest thing I’ve learned in the last few years is to not say “yes” right away to anything. I gradually began weeding out commitments the more kids I had, simply because I saw that it was wearing me down, not filling me up. I don’t go to every thing I’m invited to, or sign the kids up for every holiday event. We stay home a lot and keep ourselves busy with projects, cooking, reading, and playing. The pace is much more controllable when you are at home, versus out in public at the mercy of other people’s timetables. As the kids grow older, I’m sure this will change some, but I would like to keep our activities centered around the home as long as I can.

A Holiday Interview with Annapolis and Co. | Faith & CompositionA Holiday Interview with Annapolis and Co. | Faith & Composition

Q: It’s easy to get caught-up in the non-essentials during this time … the perfectly appointed mantle, the Pinterest-worthy Christmas cookies, the impeccable gift presentation, the play-list, the tree, the parties. How do strike a balance? And how do you resist the pressure to create a “perfect” holiday?

A: I realized that my impeccable tree was never going to happen with three little kiddos, and I gave up pretty easily after that. My schooners love to “dress” up our tree with their scarves and their paper creations, and I would rather my tree look like that than a spread in a Real Simple magazine any day of the week. If you allow yourself to see the bigger picture, you begin to realize that all the pomp and circumstance is overrated.

Q: In my previous post, I wrote that “the older I get, the more my heart is burdened by the over-commercialization of the holiday.” How are you teaching your littles that Christmas isn’t about material gifts, but about the incredible love story of God sending His son to be born in a manger so that He might be grace and redemption for us all?

A: We keep it all about Jesus’ birthday. And that’s what we hype up…not presents. We plan a cake every year for baby Jesus and read passages from our Jesus Storybook Bible. We rarely ever talk about presents.

Q: What tangible things or activities have you implemented into your holiday celebrations that return the focus to Christ? 

A: We hang an advent calendar and the girls get so excited about the countdown and the little crafts we do along with it. I downloaded this ebook and while we aren’t super faithful about doing it every day, it has really helped in training them and preparing them for Christmas day.

A: We keep it all about Jesus’ birthday. And that’s what we hype up…not presents. We plan a cake every year for baby Jesus and read passages from our Jesus Storybook Bible. We rarely ever talk about presents.  Q: What tangible things or activities have you implemented into your holiday celebrations that return the focus to Christ?    A: We hang an advent calendar and the girls get so excited about the countdown and the little crafts we do along with it. I downloaded this ebook and while we aren’t super faithful about doing it every day, it has really helped in training them and preparing them for Christmas day.     Q: When your children are grown, what do you want them to recall when they reflect upon their childhood Christmases?  A: I hope they remember simple love.  It’s so easy to get caught up in traditions, acts of service, shopping and baking, that we so often forget to sit and savor the ultimate Love that was manifested at Christmas. There’s a verse I find myself coming back to time, and time again….   “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.”  I hope my kids feel love in our home…not just at Christmastime, but all year long.   Thank you so much for having me! I feel so honored to share bits and pieces of my heart with you and your readers. Merry Christmas to you all!!!!A: We keep it all about Jesus’ birthday. And that’s what we hype up…not presents. We plan a cake every year for baby Jesus and read passages from our Jesus Storybook Bible. We rarely ever talk about presents.  Q: What tangible things or activities have you implemented into your holiday celebrations that return the focus to Christ?    A: We hang an advent calendar and the girls get so excited about the countdown and the little crafts we do along with it. I downloaded this ebook and while we aren’t super faithful about doing it every day, it has really helped in training them and preparing them for Christmas day.     Q: When your children are grown, what do you want them to recall when they reflect upon their childhood Christmases?  A: I hope they remember simple love.  It’s so easy to get caught up in traditions, acts of service, shopping and baking, that we so often forget to sit and savor the ultimate Love that was manifested at Christmas. There’s a verse I find myself coming back to time, and time again….   “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.”  I hope my kids feel love in our home…not just at Christmastime, but all year long.   Thank you so much for having me! I feel so honored to share bits and pieces of my heart with you and your readers. Merry Christmas to you all!!!!
Q: When your children are grown, what do you want them to recall when they reflect upon their childhood Christmases?

A: I hope they remember simple love.  It’s so easy to get caught up in traditions, acts of service, shopping and baking, that we so often forget to sit and savor the ultimate Love that was manifested at Christmas. There’s a verse I find myself coming back to time, and time again….

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.”

I hope my kids feel love in our home…not just at Christmastime, but all year long.

Thank you so much for having me! I feel so honored to share bits and pieces of my heart with you and your readers. Merry Christmas to you all!!!!

Thank you Mary Beth! I hope each and every one of you has a delightful Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus. Merry Christmas!  

The Cure for Christmas {whether you’re a perfectionist or not}

The Cure for Christmas | Faith and Composition
The baby is sleeping, and the older two are resting when I pick up my phone to do a little browsing. Almost instantly I am overwhelmed by images of what-seem-to-be holiday perfection. Garland strewn across well-appointed mantles, Christmas cookies decorated with impeccable attention to detail, gifts wrapped with inventive materials, trees decked with enviable finery. I’m no stranger to all this; in fact I am drawn into the charm and whimsical beauty of it all.

The Cure for Christmas | Faith and CompositionThe Cure for Christmas | Faith and Composition

But then slowly, silently, I feel it. The pressure to create a perfect holiday wells up from the pit of my stomach and begins to tighten around my throat. The images can be overwhelming; the expectations stifling. I glance around my own house and see a half-finished handmade garland with pine needles littering the tabletop, remnants from lunch sitting on the counter, toys strewn about the living room, and opened boxes of Christmas decorations serving as a tripping hazard in the hall. I haven’t started my Christmas shopping, and I haven’t iced a single cookie. In those moments, stylized images and my own unrealistic expectations collide with my current reality, and suddenly the holidays can feel like a high-stakes performance punctuated by the bitter taste of disappointment.

Since when did excessive commercialism subvert the birth of God-made-man in a lowly stable? What covert factors have worked to replace the gift of salvation with soon-to-be forgotten gifts that reek of materialism? When did cookie exchanges, visits to Santa, an elf on a shelf, coiffed trees and hot chocolate bars take precedence over the incredible miracle of God bending low and sending His son to take on flesh so that He might die on a cross and ransom us from the death we all deserve?

What has happened that we would rack up credit card charges to contribute to the accumulation of things, yet we wrap a tight fist around our cash when impoverished need stares us in the face? Why do we trample people on Black Friday yet tread on tiptoes when we speak His name? What has happened to Christmas?

The Cure for Christmas | Faith and Composition

The older I get, the more my heart is burdened by this over-commercialization of the holiday. For the past couple years, as this time has rolled around, I find myself longing for a pared-down simplicity. Yes I appreciate the beauty in a well-appointed mantel, I delight at lights glittering on a tree, I breathe in the scent of fresh pine, and I relish in the joy of friends and family gathering together, but I long for less Santa, less pomp, less fuss and more of the baby in a manger.

The Cure for Christmas | Faith and Composition

Because the only cure for the disappointment caused by the intersection of high expectations and our daily reality is to focus on the intersection of grace and sin through the person of a baby born in a Bethlehem stable. So this year I’m trying to focus more on the heart of the matter and less on the materials. Yes, I have holiday-inspired posts coming your way, but they’re meaningless if this heart attitude isn’t the priority. We’re still doing a fun activity-focused advent calendar with the kids because I love to see their faces light up, but we’re also reading Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift at dinner. It’s a bit over the five-year-old’s head, and the three-year-old wiggles out of her chair and asks to be excused … but it’s God’s word penetrating our hearts and it’s a disciplined commitment to turn toward Christ in anxious expectation of a shining star and his manger arrival. 

The Cure for Christmas | Faith and Composition
If we get caught up in the striving to make CHRISTmas perfect, we’ll miss CHRIST. Because at its core, Christmas is really the antithesis of perfection. After all, a perfect world doesn’t need a Savior, a broken world does. Christmas is about God’s son taking on flesh to be born into a filthy stable. He was wrapped in dirty clothes and laid in an animal feed trough. The awaited Savior arrived in a package nobody expected, and salvation came to sinful people through a means no one could imagine. He is redemption for a broken world, grace for imperfect people. And that, my friends, is worth celebrating, today, tomorrow, on December 25 and for a lifetime.

What do you think? How are you keeping your focus on Christ during this season, dear friends?

I’m linking this post up with Emily Freeman’s Tuesday’s Unwrapped and with Casey Wiegand.

Mini Fall Photo Sessions {A Glimpse at Some of the Shoots}

A family photo mini session | Faith and Composition

It’s the start of the Christmas season, and my head is swimming with ideas and posts to share here … a gift guide, some of my favorite seasonal DIYs, whole-food holiday treats, and more. I have a list that’s seemingly a mile long filled with good intentions for this little space.

And yet, the reality is that I have been up to my ears with photo editing. I am still so pleasantly surprised at the friends-turned-clients who have trusted me to archive their memories! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all of you who have taken a chance on me! Couple that with the demands of a busy household that includes three children five and under, and I’ve been non-stop busy. But it’s a good busy! And as the warm December sun shone down on me this morning (yes, it was warm today!), my heart was literally bursting with gratitude.

So all that to say … I’m hoping to work on a few of those aforementioned ideas for this little space during this week, but until then, here’s a glimpse at some of the photos I’ve been snapping. These were from a few of my recent mini sessions. Each family was such fun, and the weather cooperated beautifully! Also, if you’d like to follow along with some of my day-to-day snapshots, be sure to join me over on Instagram.  A family photo mini session | Faith and Composition http://instagram.com/faithandcompositionhttp://instagram.com/faithandcompositionhttp://instagram.com/faithandcompositionA family photo mini session | Faith and Composition A family photo mini session | Faith and Composition A family photo mini session | Faith and Composition A family photo mini session | Faith and Composition A family photo mini session | Faith and Composition A family photo mini session | Faith and Composition A family photo mini session | Faith and Composition A family photo mini session | Faith and Composition A family photo mini session | Faith and Composition A family photo mini session | Faith and Composition A family photo mini session | Faith and Composition A family photo mini session | Faith and Composition A family photo mini session | Faith and Composition A family photo mini session | Faith and Composition A family photo mini session | Faith and Composition A family photo mini session | Faith and Composition