Friday, September 30, 2011

dancing monkey bear

One of things I enjoy most about working with Azizi Life is product design. Watching a sketch come to life into exactly what you imagined is a magical experience. However, just doesn't work our so great the first time, and you have to go through several cycles of communication with the artisans...

...for example:

This is what we gave the artisans to provide the general idea of what kind of wooden monkey toy we would like:
And this is what we got...
We are rather fond of dancing monkey bear, even though he is not exactly what we were looking for.

We have discovered that not only can he break dance, 
...but he can also ride an elephant like a cowboy.
So here's to monkey bear and all the samples that go awry, yet leave our hearts warm and happy.

Much love,
Emily Elizabeth

P.S.  monkey bear is also very he is with his friends, eye-less giraffe and flat face lion

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

today is the day...

...that my favorite band graces us with another wonderful album about the struggle that is to exist between this world, worldliness and the Kingdom.
And this is why they get so much love from Emily Elizabeth. Jon Foreman, lead-singer of Switchoot, writes for The Huffington Post about their newest album, ViceVerses (I know it's a lot...but it's so good):

Yes, humanity's song is the absurd, the tragic, the comic; the profane and the beautiful; the fallen and the redeemed. Our society is fraught with inconsistencies and absurdities. We claim to believe that all of humankind is created equal in a country torn apart by racial tension. We deem killing to be punishable by death but honorable under the title of war. We claim to serve a God who loves the poor in rich cathedrals and gold plated steeples. We objectify women and wonder why daddy's little girl has low self-esteem. The highs and lows, the dark and the light. This is the absurdity of our bipolar existence. Stretched thin between the dichotomy of death and breath, ashes and cash, pain and beauty. The scope of it all is enough to drive a man crazy.

And yet, we are yearning for certainty, yearning for authenticity. We are longing for the final absolution, the face that will never go away. The tension drives us to look for resolution. We look for safety in possession or position. We look for redemption at the bottom of the bottle, or on the tip of the needle. We look for justice in the overfed breasts of the government. Looking for enlightenment in the numb conformity of the suburbs. We're looking for deliverance, for the melody among the cacophony. The vices. The verses. And yet, all of these vices offer only a temporary release.

For me, the song has always helped to restore sanity. The melody can help to string broken things together, bringing me back from the ledge of from depression. Sometimes, the music says it better than the words do; the melody brings the tension and release into a dance rather than a struggle. This isn't to say that music stops the pain. Rather, music contextualizes the pain within the larger human experience and thus brings a certain timeless meaning and depth to the temporary despair and hopelessness I feel. And to this end, I love music. I love to find myself there in the songs of others. I love to find joy writing my own songs. Yes, even songs about the madness: trying to push through despair towards hope, singing into the storm.

Recently, my friends and I recorded an album about the the struggle that we call life. We wanted a record that would speak to the polarity of our existence, the darkness and the light, the despair and the hope along the way. These vices of ours, we wanted to make 'em sing. We wanted to make a musical world that was held in tension by the poles of darkness and light. Maybe my songs have always come from the tension, the things that terrify me, the things that stretch me thin and keep me up at night. As much as I want to run away from these things, I can't. The strings of our hearts were not made for safety. No, these strings are made to dance. I cannot to hold the temporal too closely for the final freedom I long for was never hers to give. Safety cannot be found in the transients. I struggle to look beyond all of this. The transcendent alone can give meaning to the tension, purpose to the release. So I give up hoping for safety. I've given up hoping in the overstuffed pockets of the powerful and well fed. I've given up hope that I could ever buy what I truly need. Indeed if the world knows no justice, we're better off staying maladjusted. Stretched thin...

And indeed, I'm still optimistic; still looking for the final release. That final chorus which will conquer pain once for all. I want more than simple cash can buy. I'm looking for "that majesty which philosophers call the First Cause." The eternal Redemption who taught us how to die. I look for him among ashes of American flags. The dust of Babylon, the remains of all of our the broken promises. I look for him in the ashes of our fathers. I see his face in passing glances on the streets- in the eyes of a single mom, trying to make ends meet; in a faded photograph; in the hands of a homeless woman talking to herself. Yes, I'm still idealistic enough to believe that everyone matters. That the kingdom of the heavens might be at hand, knocking, beckoning me to pursue. I run like the oceans, longing for the shore. I'm still looking for a place where open arms still welcome the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Bigger than rock and roll. Bigger than America. Bigger than the darkness. I want to sings songs for the disenfranchised, for the ones on the edge. Stretched thin. Somewhere below me, Lady Wisdom still crying out in the streets. "To them's that's got ears let them hear." I look for her among the ruins of postmodern despair, where the last shall be first, and he who is not busy being born is busy dying...

You see I had a hard time just picking a few words from his article. This album is a little harder rock than resonates with my soul presently, but the words are pure truth (like always). So thanks again, Switchfoot, for being so free to be.

Much love,
Emily Elizabeth

Monday, September 26, 2011

sister love

A very special Happy Birthday to my sister, today! I love you very much, and am very thankful to have such a caring, creative, fun and cat loving sister such as you :)
We are ever so stylish...just another thing we share :)
And here is a pic of the present I got her...and her cat, Dori.

The hubbs and I dream of a day where we can share life on a daily basis with you. I hope that day comes sooner than later :) Love you!

Much love,
Emily Elizabeth

Thursday, September 22, 2011

this one is for Pawpaw

I thought you would appreciate this. Love and miss you!

Much love, 
Emily Elizabeth

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

they are here!

One day, you will both realize how much you are loved. That realization will spur a life driven to love others as much as you have been loved. That will be a beautiful day.

Much love,
Emily Elizabeth (or Auntie Em, if you will)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

a week of expecting

This week is a very important (and exciting!) week for two very important people in my life. By the end of it, I will have TWO NEW BABIES in my life!...and they both are BABY GIRLS!
One will be my BFFB (best friend forever's baby) and will have two of the most awesome people on the planet as her parents...I am SO excited for Anna + Stu as their family grows just a little bigger. Anna has refused to tell anyone her little one's name before she is born (and I have attempted to guess this name will all of my might...and come up with every other name BUT the one they chose....or so they say), so needless to say...WE ARE READY TO MEET BABY GIRL SANDERS!

Anna also posted this very sweet comment on my Facebook:
If you were in the USA right now, I'd INSIST that you spend all next week with me. I love you and I miss you and even though we can't be together, don't you think for a second that you aren't gonna be a BIG part of our sweet baby girls life!!
I would say that she knows her best friend pretty well...because I really needed that comment...I feel like I am missing so much not being there!
The other is my only roommate in college's I guess Allie can be either Roomie Jr. or Squirt Jr. ( can decide :)) Laurie and I have talked about what our children will look/be like for a very long the day of truth is just around the corner and I look forward to watching this precious little one grow be, hopefully, just like her mother :)

Here are some goodies I made Allie Girl:
I know you both are past your due dates or are ready to pop (or both)...but I am praying and thinking about you and your baby girls every moment of everyday until they make their entrance into the world. You are both going to be amazing mammas...and I know that because God is the love of your lives and the center of your worlds. These little girls are going to be brought up with true love, and that makes my heart happy.

Much love,
Emily Elizabeth

Thursday, September 15, 2011

random tidbits

Sometimes some thing happens and I just want to stop time, take a picture, and post it on my blog. Here are some of those moments:

1. I love this picture
My coworker, Sheila, took it today when we visited Azizi Life's artisan group Zamuka. See more about our trip here.

2. We were taking this picture on Tuesday, during Sheila's one year Azizi Life anniversary celebration, and instead of saying "cheese" like Americans do, we said, "salade"...which is salad....and it made my heart happy.
Sheila, Tom, me and Jeannine (Christi is taking the pic...but she made everything on the table. It was soooo good)

3. I looked out of the window at work on Monday and saw tiny orange dots on a hill across the way. After watching them move around the hill for a while, I realized that they were prisoners working outside. I took a picture, but it did not come out very well...but if you look closely at the long building in the picture, you can see a huddle of orange must have been lunchtime.
Just some little things I wanted to share with my lovelies.

Much love,
Emily Elizabeth

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

family is where the heart is

When I was growing up, I was very lucky to have most of my family within a 3 hour drive. But as I have gotten older, the little clump of home markers has expanded just a bit. Not to mention, that when I got married, the population in Arkansas quadrupled :)
I would enjoy show all the different places my heart is. 

Much love,
Emily Elizabeth

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

azizi life giveaway!

Come one, Come all! And tell your friends! 

Thanks friends!

Much love,
Emily Elizabeth

Friday, September 9, 2011

a fragrant offering

{Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God}
-Ephesians 5:1-2

Christi shared this verse during devotions with the artisans on Wednesday. We even did an exercise to help us memorize Ikenyrwanda. Let's just say that it was not a successful exercise for a native English speaker, such as myself. The artisans, however, did a great job and proved that their memories are sharp!

The most meaningful part of the devotion was when the artisans began to share how they can be a "fragrant offering and sacrifice" to God. As some of the women began to share, I was reminded of several Spiritual Formation sessions we had at Eastern about culture clashing with Christianity.

A woman shared that one way we could offer sacrifices to God is sacrificing what our culture says is acceptable for what we know is acceptable in God's eyes. She shared that when someone in her family is sick, or even herself, and they had been to the doctor and not gotten better, that her friends or neighbors would tell her to take them to the witch doctor. 

This is just the kind of conflict we had discussed time and time again in our Spiritual Formation sessions. I had prepared for this discord to show its nasty face.

But what I had not prepared for is this woman's response to the conflict. She basically said that when we choose Christ's way over our culture, we are offering a sacrifice. We may be talked about by our neighbors or criticized by other family members for going against the "norm", but God will recognize our faithfulness as a fragrant offering.

I began to think about how many places in my life where my culture clashes with Christ. There are so many times when I have let culture win, and it wasn't even as serious as someone being sick. So if I could sum up what I learned from this beautiful, wise artisan, it is this:

Choosing Christ's truth over the cultural norm is honored by my Father as a fragrant offering.

Simple as that. Yet, not so simple at all.

Much love,
Emily Elizabeth

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

things I dream of in Africa

I bet you wonder, especially if you have never lived outside of the states, what it would be like being away from home for so long.

Well, I will not keep you guessing about my thoughts any longer! Here is my Pinterest board where I document my most reoccurring thoughts...check it out!

Much love,
Emily Elizabeth

Sunday, September 4, 2011

couple pintresting

The hubbs and I spent a good hour this afternoon "pintresting" I said on my post on The Newlin is more fun to find little, silly things exciting if you are with someone who finds the same thing just as it was great fun for both of us...we even picked pintresting over watching a movie together. I love that the hubbs and I find most of the same things equally as funny.

Here are some of the goodies we found:

1.} I really hope this will be found in our home in Arkansas if you ever come to visit...
2.} I inherited a taxidermic deer head recently...and let's just say I was a little intimidated about displaying it in our home (even though Arkansas is the prime place to have a deer head) until I saw item number 4 below...hello crochet buck head
3.} Button pins are generally pretty useless unless you have a backpack you want to decorate...but alas, you can use them to decorate your home!
4.} For my sister (since this is her birthday month...although, I don't know where to buy it)
5.} To put on file for my sister's 30th birthday...number pinata how-to
6.} Cute crayons for small gifts...and I even have a Texas state shape ice cube tray that would make for some very cute Texas Party favors :) Perhaps I could also make a Texas pinata with the above how-to
Did you get overly excited or a smile out of any of the above? If, so...let me know. And if you have more to share, let me know! 

Much love,
Emily Elizabeth

Friday, September 2, 2011

I just realized today that I will miss Fall for the first time in my entire life. After I dwelled on the sad fact for about 10 seconds, I was reminded that I will not be missing Christmas with family this year. And that made it all right :)

Much love,
Emily Elizabeth

P.S. A very Happy Birthday Month to some of my awesome sisters: my sister, soul sister, mother's sister, Aunt Debbi...and my sister-in-law, Kellie! I love you gals!