Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One Year in Aggieland: Leadership & Discipleship


Sunday December 18th marked our one year anniversary of being here in College Station!  You can read James' post about how we got here on his blog, here.  Reaching this milestone has made me a bit reflective on what it has meant for us so far, being one year in to living our church-planting dream.  Over this last two weeks, I'm blogging about some of the lessons we've learned and the ways that we've grown during our time here.  God is (as always) on the move, and I want to document some of what He's done and is doing in our lives.

Today I want to talk about what I've learned about leadership, and kind of as a sub-category, discipleship.  And of the people who read my blog, some of them have discipled me, some of them I have discipled in the past, others I currently disciple, and plenty of others are friends or family in lots of other capacities.  What a funny and diverse audience to read my thoughts about this!  :)

So, leadership: You NEVER feel ready!  :)  In our first several years at Antioch, I'd look at the pastoral staff or the church planting teams and think, "Wow, they have really arrived!  They must have it all together, to be leading that or living there, etc."  Now I read that last sentence and laugh.  As we started stepping into leadership, first in Waco and then here in College Station, I realized something-I may have grown and changed some, but I'm still ME!  I have my same issues and tendencies and weaknesses and fears and being given a certain title or role doesn't make those things go away!  What?  Join training school staff while I still struggle with effectively sharing the gospel?  What?  Start a new training school while figuring out HOW to spend quality time with Jesus with a baby in the house?  What?  Lead the family section of lifegroups when we still forget to plan lifegroup until an hour before it starts?  Who is in charge here?  Oh, yeah...God.  :)  My mom likes to remind me of the saying, "He doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called."  It's true.  I think I need to extend that to say that He doesn't always even qualify you when He calls you, He just chooses to use you anyway, in spite of all the places you mess up!  :)  So I know this may come as a real shock to some of you, but while we may be in leadership, we don't have everything all figured out.  We still struggle with our flesh, we still have to apologize for things we say or do, we still have SO much room to grow and learn.  But God is faithful and sovereign and uses us anyway.  It's so encouraging and FUN to get to be a part of how God is moving!!!

Another thing about leadership (this may feel redundant, but I'm going a different direction): You are the SAME person you were before!  In the Matrix movie, if you needed to learn a new skill, you essentially could plug yourself in to a computer and download the skill.  Suddenly you know karate or can fly a helicopter!  I wish there were something like that for leadership, but the truth is, you don't change when someone promotes you or gives you a title.  When you are put in charge or something new, you don't automatically know how to do it, but you have to move forward because you're in charge!  As you move forward, you learn.  You may have to adjust your course, make some changes, etc, but you have to do it as you're moving.  It's funny then when people tell you how great is was and you're just thinking, "I'm SO glad it worked!"  This is very similar to teaching, where students (or parents) ask you questions.  You answer them the best you can, of course, but if you're just starting out, your answers come from what you've heard from other people, or what you read on the internet.  But those students or parents trust you because you're the teacher, so they do what you say, and it works!  What a relief!

Discipleship has also been a learning experience for me.  Obviously, this isn't new this year, but I've grown a lot this year, and a big part of that has been learning to speak with authority.  I have long had this mistaken idea that to be loving, I need to be really gentle in how I speak.  Even if someone is doing something wrong or stupid, I think I need to be really polite and timid as I address it.  "Oh, you don't think you need to wear a seatbelt?  Interesting.  Well, in my experience, it's been helpful.  Plus you might want to avoid getting a ticket.  Plus it could maybe save your life, I mean, I hope you're never in that situation, but still...maybe you should think about it?"  That's not a challenge!  I'm realizing that when I disciple someone, it's because in some area I'm ahead of them.  Maybe I've just lived longer than they have, maybe I've just had more training than they have.  Maybe I've been a mom longer or been married longer or something.  I have definitely learned through the experiences that I've had and I DO have something to offer, something to pass on to people.  I don't need to apologize for lessons learned.  The kindest thing for me to do is to tell them!  So I'm growing in speaking truth without apologizing for it, and hopefully that's benefiting the people around me! 

That's just my thoughts about leadership.  There's more I could say, but those are the big ones, and guess what?  They probably apply to anyone reading this!  ;)

Other posts in this series:
One Year in Aggieland: Living on Support
One Year in Aggieland: Changes

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Twelve Days of Christmas


I want to share a super fun thing that I did for James this Christmas season.  The idea came from here, and I just LOVE it!  The idea is to give your spouse one small gift each day for twelve days ("On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...").  At first I wasn't going to do it because I found the idea mere days before I would be starting, but then I thought about how much James LOVES getting presents, and how fun it would be for him to get them for so many days in a row...and I had to do it!  As soon as I decided I was in, I got super excited and then couldn't wait for it to start!  I'm sharing this because it's soooooo fun, and maybe other people can use this idea in the future!  I'm thankful to Trina from Passionate Homemaking for inspiring me-what a great way to love my husband!!!  I used several of her ideas, and then read through some of the comments on her post to get other ideas.  I made a little card for each day on Word, and used pictures I found online to go with each day.




He says this is his favorite of all the twelve presents!


Actually they were normal white socks, but I thought I'd give him a little scare first.  :)
 The sweet little printables attached to the candy came from here.  There are actually more than seven, but that's the number I needed.



9 Reasons My Husband Rocks




 And yes, I realize there are a few days that are conspicuously absent, thank you.  Let's just say that those gifts are none of your business.  ;)

And yes, I also realize that the official twelve days of Christmas are between Christmas and Epiphany.  Artistic license, friends.  It doesn't hurt anything!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

9 Reasons My Husband Rocks

I would like to take this opportunity to share with you 9 reasons my husband is the best, absolute most wonderful man God could ever have possibly given me!


1. Love
James loves so well.  He loves me well, he loves Elijah and Roo well, he loves Jesus well, and he loves the people around him well.  One way to say this is that James loves fully.  He doesn't hold back, afraid of getting hurt.  He doesn't wait and see how someone else will respond to him before he jumps in.  James gives of himself generously and loves completely!  He is so loving to me-he pays attention to me, he knows me, and he loves to make me happy!  He loves Elijah so wholly-he plays with him, reads to him, throws him up in the air, and tickles him! 


2. Humility
James truly chooses the low road.  He is a learner, not afraid to ask questions, and receiving correction well.  Even if we have a disagreement that is my fault, James finds something to apologize for!  The Bible says that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.  James receives much grace from the Lord because of his humble spirit!  James wants to grow and learn.  In our marriage, he consistently asks for feedback and ways he can improve.  Before the Lord, he worships unashamedly, rejoicing in his position as servant of the Most High!


3. Creativity
James is a creative person.  :)  He is visual (as he likes to remind me), so he sees potential in places I don't.  He has great ideas for how to make our home more welcoming, for how to set up a photo, for how to phrase a difficult thought.  James does an excellent job sending out our newsletters, in part because he loves to create a quality product!  I'm so thankful for his creativity to balance my practical side.  We make a great team!  His creativity shows up also in unexpected places: when I'm anticipating a difficult conversation, I can talk it through with James and he comes up with ways to communicate more clearly!  When I need help thinking through a problem, he can usually come up with solutions I haven't thought of. 


4. Joy
James is a rejoicer!  We celebrate little milestones and we laugh a lot!  If you know James at all, you already know what a sense of humor he has, but even when he's not making jokes, there is joy in his heart, in his words, in his face.  James finds ways to make little things special, and to bring laughter into situations.  He can be deep and serious, yes, and I really value that he isn't one of those who always awkwardly cracks jokes at the wrong time, but overall, there is a joyful lightness about him.  I think this is very much like Jesus!


5. Listening
James is a listener.  He loves to play this joke whenever I talk about his being a good listener where he instantly replies, "Huh?" so I'm tricked into repeating what I just said.  Joking aside, though, he is an excellent listener.  He reminds me of things I've said that I've forgotten about!  He knows me well because he pays attention to things I say and do, and it makes me feel so treasured!  James also listens to God well.  He does not just forge ahead, doing his own thing, but waits on God's direction to lead him.  On a less serious note, he also listens to music so well, I call him the human jukebox.  James can hear a song once and is able to sing it back to me.  Many times I don't even notice that there's music playing, like in a restaurant, and James is singing along!


6. Sincerity/EnthusiasmJames tells it like it is.  If he says he wants to spend time with me, he really means it.  If he says he will help with the vacuuming, he really means it.  James speaks truth and is trustworthy!  Not only that, but when he's in, he's all in!  James doesn't do things halfheartedly, he really gives himself to what he's doing so that he'll do it well.  Again, James does quality work-on newsletters, relationships, conversations, etc!  He doesn't participate in things begrudgingly, even if it's not something he anticipated helping with/being a part of.  He jumps in with enthusiasm and gives it his best!


7. Patience
I'm so thankful that James is so patient with me!  He consistently provides such a safe place for me to be myself, even in moments where I'm still trying to figure out what exactly that looks like.  He is not put off by my tears or my fears, patiently helping me figure myself out and speaking truth and life and love into me!  Especially lately, as we have to repeat conversations I forget (I blame pregnancy brain), he is kind and patient with me even when it's inconvenient.  He is even patient with my emotions when I know I'm not being super-rational.  He is an excellent husband!


8. Security
James is sure about who he is.  He has wrestled with the hard questions and come to a place where he is confident in his identity.  James knows and walks securely in his role as beloved son of God, faithful husband, loving father, and diligent worker.  Because of this, he doesn't apologize for speaking with authority in the right situations or for taking on what God has entrusted to him.  This is a beautiful challenge to me to grow in confidence in my own identity and authority!


9. Gentleness
James is a man of strength, but I LOVE seeing and experiencing his gentleness.  There's nothing stronger than a man who chooses gentleness!  The most clear way to see this is in how he treats Elijah, as a newborn and currently, though he also treats me with such gentleness and tenderness, as well!  James doesn't bulldoze or thunder, he speaks and acts with kindness and compassion.  Love it!

I love you, James!  You are the most wonderful treasure God could have given me and I am SO thankful!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

One Year in Aggieland: Living on Support


Sunday the 18th marked our one year anniversary of being here in College Station!  You can read James' post about how we got here on his blog, here.  Reaching this milestone has made me a bit reflective on what it has meant for us so far, being one year in to living our church-planting dream.  Over this week, I'm blogging about some of the lessons we've learned and the ways that we've grown during our time here.  God is (as always) on the move, and I want to document some of what He's done and is doing in our lives.

Today I want to talk about the journey that is living on support.  Just to summarize what I'm talking about by answering some of the more commonly asked questions: we are employed by a church that's about 70% college students.  As it grows, the hope is that the pastoral staff would be paid a salary by the church that's enough to live on.  Currently, we receive a small stipend that's gradually increasing (hooray!), but it is not enough to live on yet, so we raise support by asking friends and family to pledge a monthly amount, like missionaries living overseas, except that we live in the US!  Our work IS a full time job!  James alone puts in about 50 hours a week, and I've honestly never counted mine...probably about 10-15, plus raising a future world changer and preparing our home to be used for ministry.  We count our jobs as a privilege and really enjoy serving God in this capacity!

How it works: We are blessed to be a part of an amazing organization, the Antioch International Movement of Churches (used to be AMI...I guess now we're AIMC?).  As we meet with people and they pledge monthly amounts or give one-time amounts, it goes through home base (in Waco) where an awesome accountant handles all of it!  We get paid twice a month, just like a normal paycheck, but we have the added blessing of knowing that so many individuals (around 60 each month) are partnering with us!  How's that for encouraging? 

Where we are: Our numbers are constantly changing!  We are currently at 97.72% of our monthly budget, which is awesome!  Only two months ago, we were at 91%-what a big change!  We have people who give to us in large and in small amounts.  Every one of these gifts is precious to us, because we know that people are often giving out of their own need.  When someone gives to us, it feels like they're saying, "We believe in what you're doing and want to be part of making it happen."  It's AWESOME!  The reason our numbers change a lot is just because life happens.  Some people support us for a season and then, for a variety of reasons, need to end their support.  Others see our newsletter updates (want to sign up to receive these emails?  Click here) and decide they want to see our % go up, so they give more or sign up to give regularly.  In addition to these monthly gifts, when people give us a one-time amount, it goes into our account at AIMC and makes up the difference of what's lacking in our monthly support.  So, get this-in our time living on support, we have NEVER ONCE received a paycheck less than 100% of our monthly need!  Isn't God kind?  And sometimes really awesome random cool stuff happens.  Like this.

What I've learned:  Living on support is such an adventure.  Starting out, I wasn't at all sure if I'd be in panic mode all the time (I can't make this happen!!) or if I would be able to walk peacefully, living out what I know in my head (that God provides) so that it showed from my heart.  Well, at different times I'm in different places about it, but the truth is, God is ALWAYS FAITHFUL to provide for His children!  I may not always know where an amount is going to come from when the need is looming, but He always makes a way.   Sure, sometimes I'm tempted to wish for something I can't afford-who isn't?  But even if we lived on $10,000 more a year, there would probably be things that came up that we couldn't afford!  We live in a great home and we eat well and we love our lives.  The boundary lines have fallen to me in pleasant places and I lack NO good thing.  That is the truth!  Plus, it is such a treat to see people partner with us in what we're called to do.  It is so humbling that people will entrust their gifts to the Lord to us, that they feel that the difference we're making here, in little (big!) ole Texas is worth their giving.  It reflects love and confidence and such a neat understanding of how things work in the Kingdom of God.  I should also say, we in NO way feel that if people can't give to us that they don't agree with what we're doing.  We've had to say no to people, too, when asked for financial support, and are confident that God will make a way, for us and for them!

Anyway, living on support is a fantastic adventure.  We constantly experience the kindness, faithfulness, and provision of the Lord in ways that we might be tempted to miss if we received a regular paycheck from a "normal" job.

And just in case you're wondering, if you want to give to us, you can!  You can send a check to AMI at 505 N 20th St Waco, TX 76707 and just attach a sticky note that says it's for the Wises.  Or you can email me if you want to give regularly and we'll hook you up with the auto-draft form, if you'd like.  No pressure, just wanted to share these details, too!



(James really does a fantastic job with our newsletters!  If you don't receive these emails (twice a month) and would like to, click here!)

Other posts in this series: One Year in Aggieland: Changes 
One Year in Aggieland: Leadership

Monday, December 19, 2011

One Year in Aggieland: Changes


Sunday the 18th marked our one year anniversary of being here in College Station!  You can read James' post about how we got here on his blog, here.  Reaching this milestone has made me a bit reflective on what it has meant for us so far, being one year in to living our church-planting dream.  Over this week, I'm blogging about some of the lessons we've learned and the ways that we've grown during our time here.  God is (as always) on the move, and I want to document some of what He's done and is doing in our lives.

Today I want to talk about changes.  What has changed in the last year?  Well, when we moved here, Elijah wasn't even crawling, he was almost seven months old, and he hadn't yet cut his first tooth (I was so proud that he fit with the "all I want for Christmas is teeth" idea!).  Now he's working on teeth #s13 & 14, he runs all over the place, and is 18 1/2 months old!  I'm now six months pregnant with a child we had yet to even start trying for, the first ATS class hadn't begun yet while now we have 12 proud graduates, and there was so much unknown about this place!  We didn't know the half of what James' job at church would really look like, yet now he plays huge roles in implementing Sunday service, ATS, and many other things.

The way I do relationships has changed since being here.  Community, vulnerability, speaking the truth in love, all these "Antioch-isms" we throw around, they've all become a lot more real to me in the last year.  I've experienced what it is to step into relationships with people who have just chosen to be intimate friends with me instead of building those relationship over years (yes, they still have to be built, but there's already a choice there-how sweet!).  I've experienced more confrontation-type conversations than ever (you hurt my feelings when___, I felt _____ when you did _____, etc), but friendships are deeper/stronger for it.

Obviously, our parenting has changed since being here.  It feels like this is where Elijah has become a real person.  His personality has blossomed, and I've loved getting to experience who he is.  I also have access to some truly awesome parents in our church, and love getting to ask questions of the ones who've gone before, and bounce ideas off of the ones who are walking through the same situations.  Parenting is sure not meant to be done alone!  We've had to step into the world of discipline, figuring out what our rules for Elijah are and how to enforce them.  We've had to adjust schedules (of course!), learn to make plans and participate in community while guarding sleep and peace for our little one.  We're learning how to operate as a family instead of merely a couple, and Elijah is thriving!

Our marriage has changed since being here.  Several friends on the team who planted this church learned the hard way about living within healthy boundaries and margins, and not just "leaving it all on the field" all the time at the expense of health and family, etc.  Because of the lessons they've learned, we've had some GREAT modeling about how and when to say no.  I've learned that not only is it permissible, but it's healthy, to avoid making discipleship appointments on my husband's day off.  I've learned that I don't have to sacrifice the things I need to do around the house to accept every invitation.  James and I have grown in our communication, in self-awareness (well, he's always been pretty self-aware.  I'm growing!), and in true intimacy.  It's great!  I'm even more thankful for James now than the day I married him!

My whole lifestyle has changed since moving here.  This is where I've truly gotten to experience being a stay-at-home mom.  In Waco, I was teaching until Elijah was born, and then we were in the school of church planting, so while I was with Elijah all the time, I wasn't at home all that much.  I've gotten into the world of blogging (now I read lots of other blogs in addition to writing my own), I've jumped into sewing and DIYing, done furniture refinishing, and expanded my decorating style.  Sometimes I take Elijah to library storytime, we go play at the park, and we go grocery shopping during the day (gasp!).  I LOVE getting to stay home with him and be the Mom I want to be!  :)


Edit: Other posts in this series: One Year in Aggieland: Living on Support 
 One Year in Aggieland: Leadership

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Prayer

Elijah prayed for the first time yesterday!  It was so precious, though of course he doesn't really understand what he's doing.  But it was so sweet I just burst into tears and hugged him.  And then he burped in my ear.  That's the way these things go, I guess!

So we usually hold hands and pray before our meals.  Often, I forget, but we do better when Daddy's home, too!  Sometimes Elijah doesn't want to hold my hand so he just keeps eating, and we don't push it.  Yesterday at lunch, he didn't want to, but then as we started eating, he must have decided he was ready, so he reached for my hand and we prayed again.  But when we were finished, he didn't want to be finished, he hung on to my hand.  So James asked if Elijah wanted to pray, and he nodded yes.  So I started feeding it to him, "Thank you Jesus for food.  Thank you Jesus for Mommy.  Thank you Jesus for Daddy."  He did his sign language thank you and seemed to repeat the other words (hard to distinguish, but he's trying).  Then he started pointing at some of his favorite things and so we thanked Jesus for snowmen and nutcrackers, etc.  It was so precious!

Then later he wanted to do it again at dinner!  I know he doesn't really understand, but I think it's so sweet to see these patterns being laid down for a solid foundation later.  :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Table Runner Pt 2


So I made another reversible table runner, but this is the first day I got the table cleaned off enough to show it to you!  These first two pictures are the fall side, obviously, from November.  Also notice my fall decor.  I finally got some vases out and put some seasonal stuff in them!
 These second two pictures are current-the Christmas side, with our festive snowmen!  :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jesus Take the Wheel

Looks like we've got our priorities right.  Look who's driving Elijah's airplane!!  :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Support System

I just want to say that I'm thankful for the friends I have who are doing this parenting thing with me.  Whether they're 10 or 20 years ahead of me, or a month or two, or a year or two, or even months behind, there is just something AWESOME about not walking these roads alone!  I am SO thankful that when I have a question about baby feeding or sleeping or illness or toys or anything, I have several people I can shoot emails to or call or text, and I can great advice back!  A couple of those lifesavers for me have been Mandy, Stacy, Lauri, and Autumn, just off the top of my head, but I want to give a special shout-out to Autumn!  I feel like every time Elijah starts doing something new or I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do next, she says, "Oh, Mia did that SAME thing.  Here's what I did..." and it's always such solid advice!  It happened again this week, about nap-dropping, etc, and she sent me a quick, super-informative email that was really helpful!  And yesterday, Elijah slept for three hours in the afternoon!  Can it get any better?  I submit that it cannot!!  I realize that's just one day and we have NO pattern yet, but still.  I was encouraged!

So I just want to encourage everyone to ask questions of those "who have gone before" (haha) in whatever circumstance you're facing, and to be willing to gently offer advice or encouragement to people who look like they need it.  It makes a difference!  Of course, there's a flip side.  There are lots of people whose advice I'm not frequently seeking out, and there are definitely ones I mentioned above that I ask specific things.  Mandy does a GREAT job nurturing her children's hearts and having a structured life for them.  So those are things I want to know about from her!  Stacy is a superior household manager, and her kid spread is a couple years older, so she's past some of the things I deal with and has a longer-term perspective.  Lauri's kids are also older, and she disciplines SO well.  Autumn thinks like I do about routine and schedule and organization.  Find the people who you want to learn from and ASK questions!  Yes, there are people I love and respect who parent differently and I don't ask them tons of questions.  There are definitely people I love and respect who parent similarly and I just don't have time/opportunity to ask them lots of questions.  But it is SO helpful to have just that handful of go-to people that give me nuggets of truth!

So THANK YOU!  If you've EVER answered these questions for me, or just commiserated with me as I've been confused or frustrated (Uh, MOM!), or anything else, I just want you to know that I am SO thankful for you and I hope to also be helpful to the people around me!!

Proverbs 15:22 says, "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed."
Amen!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas at the Creek

Turns out I LOVE little town traditions and celebrations.  I don't think I knew this about myself.  Last night we went to a local "Christmas at the Creek" celebration, which was free and super fun!  We got free cookies and hot chocolate and got to watch some dance performances.  One of the performances Elijah just thought was awesome.  He kept laughing hysterically.  Maybe he has a future in hip-hop?  :)

Isn't Elijah just the CUTEST elf you've ever seen???

 Although this elf is pretty cute, too!



We loved it-we may go back next weekend!  :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sewing and Reading

 I've been doing lots of sewing over the past few days!

I did finish the three crib sheets, and while I did try one of them on Elijah's crib, I am not about to take a picture of the awful clash between the lavender/white/gray world and his sweet blue trains.  Maybe you can see pictures of those completed once the new (craigslist!) crib gets painted (maybe in the next couple weeks that can be my project) and the rest of the ensemble is complete so everything will match!

 For now, though, a couple other things.  I made the changing pad cover last night.  Seriously, super easy!
 When I tried it on the changing pad today, I thought it needed a little something.  So I added a satiny ribbon left over from the decorating for our wedding.  (Uh-oh.  I only just realized lavender must be one of my favorite colors.  I forgot it was one of my wedding colors!  But it was such a nice pairing with the dark green...).  Try to ignore the blue baskets underneath...it's just being tried on for size in Elijah's room, and then I took it right off!!  :)

 Then yesterday and this morning I did the dust ruffle!!!  Again, the new crib isn't set up yet (and won't be for a while, probably.  Let's be honest.), and I HATE making the crib up even after laundry is done, so I am not about to just strip the bed just to see how this all looks until the whole deal is complete.  And even then, we'll see!  But you can get the idea-here's the crib skirt!!  :)  So pretty!
 Elijah still loves to read, in case anyone was wondering.  Here are a couple shots of him in the last few days (where he happens to be wearing the same shirt...interesting!).  Side note: I actually opened his dresser drawer to let him choose what shirt to wear this morning, and he wanted to one that made the car noise.  I was showing him short sleeved shirts, but no, this one has tire tracks and is COOL!  :)

 The other night James was reading to Elijah.  I loved the facial expressions (James') that I caught on film.  Check it out!  :)


You know most of our books around here involve some kind of roaring or growling.  :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Roo's Room-The Plan

So you saw all the fabric samples I was playing with last week?  Well, we've made choices, I've done some super bargain shopping, located great online tutorials, and started sewing!  Want to see?  :)

These are the three fabrics I'm using for crib sheets.  This is the tutorial I'm using.  I've completed one so far and will finish up the other two tonight-they're super easy! 

 This will be the changing table pad cover.  I do wish the flannel were a solid purple under the dots, instead of mottled, but it's less obvious in real life.  This is the tutorial I plan to use, and it turns out this is the same tutorial my friend Autumn used to make the cover for Elijah's room!  :)  Hopefully I can do it as well as she did!  :)
 I LOVE this fabric!  This floral pattern will be the crib bumpers and probably curtains or valances, too.  This is the tutorial I've landed on for the bumpers.
 This stripey fabric is the original fabric I was searching for-I'm just so excited to really be using it!  This will be the dust ruffle, and I plan to also incorporate it into the curtains or valances.  This is the tutorial I'm using for the dust ruffle, though I'm making mine way shorter than the instructions say, if anyone cares.  :)
 I have done some serious couponing and bargain shopping in the last several days, and I have to admit I am feeling pretty proud of myself!  Check it out:
Two of the crib fabrics were 30% off at Hobby Lobby (saved $6):
 Used a 40% off coupon on the changing table cover material (saved $2.50):
 Used a 50% off coupon on the stripey dust ruffle fabric at Joann's (saved $19):
 Combined a TON of coupons at Joann's for the rest of the materials (fabrics, elastics, etc), including a $15 off, 2 60% offs, and a 40% off (saved $42):
 The big trip to Joann's ended up being a little complicated.  They didn't have enough of the gray and purple flower material and a very kind associate called several stores to get some transferred for me, but apparently everyone is shopping at Joann's right now and it took a long time and was super confusing.  So I ended up getting the flower material in pieces, which meant it didn't all come off under the big 60% off coupon like I was planning, and actually, at one point I think the lady double-charged me for a small portion of it, but it ended up being less than I'd calculated when I tried to do the math, and I was thoroughly confused, so I just took it!  I had been planning to use a $10 off your $50 purchase, but she got it to where I got $15 off my $75 purchase, so maybe she was helping me get to the $75.  Either way, I saved more money than I'd expected even though there are more items on my receipt (???), and she already had had to ring me up twice, but it worked out GREAT and I was so happy and excited!

SOOOOO!  Grand total spent on baby bedding: $88.26 (plus $12 for the original fabric samples)!  Right at $100!!!  I'm super excited-I LOVE the fabrics, and this would easily cost several hundred if I bought it already made.  If I could even find fabrics I wanted already made into these things.  :)  And from what I've started so far, I can tell I'm going to have a lot of fabric left over, at least of the stripey dust ruffle fabric, so we'll see what else I come up with to do with it!!!  :)

What do y'all think?  Do you like it?  :)