Friday, January 13, 2017

What I Learned from My Latest Blog Survey


     Thank you so much to the handful of you who took my New Year's survey. (It's still up if you want to take it here.)

     I learned some pretty cool things and thought I would share. This way, you can know which direction The Little Decorator is headed. :)

Stats about those who took the survey

83% are e-mail subscribers.
0-3 visits to the actual site per month (because they're so heavily e-mail subscribers).
83% are inspired by TLD.
67% have recommended TLD.
100% will recommend TLD in the future.
They read anywhere from 3-108 books last year.


Interest by Topic

100% liked to read about Books
83% liked to read about My Lord
67% liked to read about 6 Ways (my how-to posts)
67% liked to read about DIY
50% liked to read about Decorating
50% liked to read about Inspiration
50% liked to read about Organizing
50% liked to read about Writing
33% liked to read about Interviews
33% liked to read about Random Thoughts
17% liked to read about Parties
0% liked to read about Fashion

     Wow! These stats are some of my favorite. So you don't get lost in the numbers, I bolded the most important two: Books and Fashion. I LOVE writing about books and HATE coming up with fashion posts. That must come across in my writing. :) But really, I am so glad that I never have to write about fashion again.

Reader Responses

What would you like to see more of?

"Your funny posts about books and movies!"

"How to be intentional with your time."

"Writing tips."

"Simple things in everyday life. This can be in the form of almost all of the above topics!"

What is your favorite thing about TLD?

"You are so bubbly and funny and that shines through in your writing."

"That it reflects God's beauty in you."

"I can't choose!"

"Seeing your journey with God in written form. I see it in you personally, but I love the way you write about it. I mostly smile, but sometimes I cry softly because it is just so beautiful."

In what areas does TLD inspire you?

     Reading, decorating, personal growth, spiritual life, being intentional, and approaching the new day/month/season/year positively were all mentioned.

In conclusion

     I always enjoy surveys. It gives me new vision and intentionality for my darling The Little Decorator. I hope that it continues to inspire all of you!

~Madeline

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Book Review & Giveaway: Move Toward the Mess


     This week I read Move Toward the Mess by John Hambrick. Its two hundred or so engaging pages are written in the vein of Love Does by Bob Goff, Radical by David Platt, and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. (If you've read any or all of those and don't think this one will offer a new perspective, don't worry. It's a new perspective, written in a fresh way, and worth reading.)

     Here's an excerpt:


     The title of this book swept me off my feet. "Yes!" my heart cried. I want to move toward messy people. That is my calling and the calling of all the saints.

     The interesting thing about messes is that we are surrounded by them. We don't have to go hunt them down or travel the world. Messes don't just exist in huts and villages or in war-torn nations. Messes are here and now: up the street, in our church, in our city. John Hambrick does an amazing job focusing on the heart attitude rather than the actions that we are to take on.

     Jesus moved toward the messes, and we too shouldn't be afraid of them. The same spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives inside of all believers.


     The people the church marginalizes are the ones we should be reaching. Jesus didn't eat with the church people. He ate with sinners.

     Move Toward the Mess challenges readers to take action. It reminds us that nothing Jesus did was boring! If he had been boring, he wouldn't have had followers or enemies or have been killed.

     I gave Move Toward the Mess 4/5 stars (I LOVED IT) on Goodreads.

     If you'd like to read this book, I can set you up. Comment below by 1/31 with one way that you want to move toward a mess this year (other than that mess in your closet!) for a chance to win a copy!

~Madeline

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

100 Things I'd Rather Hold {Instead of My Phone}


     This post totally got me thinking about how much time I spend on my phone. I've written about this subject a few times, most predominantly here and here.

     I'm diving into this with the assumption that you too know you should spend less time on your phone for your mental health and general well-being. I'm starting with the precedent of wanting to reorient myself on my true priorities.

     Without further ado, I am joining Aliza in sharing 100 things I want to hold instead of my phone. It's perfect for my year of presence.
  1. My 2017 Rifle Paper Co. agenda
  2. A warm mug of tea
  3. The keys of this lovely God-given laptop
  4. My fluffy pillows while chilling on the couch
  5. The key to our mailbox as I enter a pool of sunshine
  6. My friends
  7. My family
  8. My favorite pens...with the black felt tip that rolls like magic
  9. Used books that smell good
  10. The skirts of my favorite dresses
  11. College scholarship letters
  12. Biscuits with honey
  13. Fuzzy slippers
  14. The straps of my backpack that tell of adventures past and adventures to come
  15. A softly-glowing candle
  16. Izzy, my succulent
  17. Statement necklaces that make me feel like a queen
  18. Washcloths that cleanse away the grime of the kitchen
  19. A cool glass of water
  20. Snail mail
  21. Books that came in the mail
  22. Bobby pins
  23. My novella, edited and complete
  24. Oscar ballots
  25. Movie tickets
  26. 3" x 5" cards for plotting books
  27. The pulls on my blinds
  28. My hair tied back in a bun
  29. The steering wheel of a car going anywhere
  30. An actual magazine & scissors for creating inspiration boards
  31. Colored pencils and a Jane Austen coloring book
  32. Snuggly sweaters
  33. A wristlet
  34. My paper calendar that I cross off daily
  35. The handle of the vacuum cleaner
  36. The TV remote
  37. A jar of almonds
  38. My new Bible
  39. A tin of cinnamon mints
  40. Loose leaf notebook paper
  41. A paintbrush and canvas
  42. The arms of my chair
  43. A bundle of wildflowers
  44. A handful of crisp leaves
  45. A friend's hand
  46. Cash
  47. Pennies
  48. Audition sides
  49. My library card
  50. Babies in the church nursery
  51. My blanket scarf
  52. Goldfish for my small group girls
  53. A letter
  54. A photograph
  55. A program for a play
  56. Keys to my house and car
  57. A box of things I plan to take to college
  58. Cookies for friends
  59. My journal
  60. Book darts
  61. A teabag with a fantastic quote
  62. A hammer and nails
  63. Washi tape
  64. Hangers for new clothes
  65. The bench by our pond
  66. The windowsill of a car on a roadtrip
  67. A book about Myers-Briggs
  68. Lipstick
  69. A globe
  70. A blank page for hand-lettering
  71. My resume
  72. The essay I wrote on my favorite word
  73. My new Eno
  74. A lightly packed suitcase
  75. Shared understanding
  76. Perky, Lily, Sybil, and Piper
  77. A hamburger
  78. A sassy remark
  79. Ballet flats
  80. A cd
  81. A borrowed t-shirt or jacket
  82. The hearts of loved ones, handled ever-so-gently
  83. My list of goals
  84. A letter from my Compassion child
  85. A prayer journal
  86. The handles of my bicycle
  87. My ringing alarm clock
  88. Writer's block
  89. A mental picture of the sky
  90. Fresh flowers in a vase
  91. Freshly laundered sheets
  92. My yellow shoulder bag
  93. A song, belted out with a friend or my brother
  94. An honest, deep conversation with a friend
  95. A chai tea latte in an independent coffee shop
  96. A grin from watching other humans
  97. Constructive criticism
  98. Eye contact
  99. Notes sent back-and-forth with my mom
  100. An invitation
~Madeline

Friday, January 6, 2017

What is Cassian's Prison?

Image from IMDb

     If you haven't seen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story yet, don't worry. No spoilers here! (But it might be hard for you to track this post since it is a character study.)

     This prequel story of how the Rebels stole the Death Star plans is my favorite Star Wars movie ever! Cassian is easily my favorite character, and a certain line in the film got me thinking. The line is said when several characters including Cassian are in a prison cell. Chirrut Îmwe says,

"I sense that you carry your prison with you wherever you go."

     It wasn't until the second time I saw this film that I thought to myself, "What is Cassian's prison? What is he trapped in? What does his past say about his current state?"

     (And naturally, this led to the little voice in the back of my head: "Blog post idea!")

     So what is Cassian's prison?

     At one point, Cassian says something like, “You aren’t the only one who has lost everything. I have been fighting in the Rebellion since I was six. It has been going on for a long time. There are some of us who decided to do something about it for a change.” (quote) He is talking to Jyn, and the fact that he mentions his own loss is key to his prison.

     He lost everything. Because he is comparing himself to Jyn, "everything" probably means he lost his family, home, childhood, etc., just like Jyn. But now he is taking action, doing something to fight back against, presumably, the Empire that took everything from him.

     Another conversation that points to Cassian's past shows how the Rebellion is his new home.

Jyn Erso: "I'm not used to people sticking around when things go bad."
Cassian: "Welcome home."


     Be still, my heart.

     What I said about Cassian seeing himself in Jyn? It's not unfounded. In an interview, Diego Luna (who plays Cassian) said, "It's interesting because…Cassian sees a lot of himself in Jyn. That hurts - the mirror hurts. When you get used to that, it's the opposite, I guess. The connections can be very strong."


     They both find their new home and new family in the Rebellion. They will stick together even when things go bad.

     Cassian: "Your father would be proud of you, Jyn."

     So maybe his prison was fear, a sense of not belonging, that he would disappoint his new family, or that he would become mired in inaction.

     Thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.

~Madeline

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The 50,000 Reasons that You Should Declare Your Goals


     We're setting out on a new year. Maybe you're a goal-setter, and maybe you're not. But if there is anything in your heart that cries out for change on January 1st, I believe you have a goal, even if you haven't fully realized it yet.

     You've probably heard the point of this post before: You should tell someone your goals to set yourself up for success.

     I pressed my hands resolutely against the sides of my mug. College seems to come up in every conversation of late. It's unavoidable.

     "You should throw my college into the mix. I can think of 50,000 reasons you should go. 50,000 students would love to have you."

     "I'm shooting for 5,000 students, thank you."

     It's hard to imagine that there are 50,000 reasons for anything. You probably balked at this title before clicking on it with an "oh, boy, here we go," attitude in your finger.

     But we are social creatures. (Yes, even you lovely introverts.) We need other people around us and beside us, encouraging us in the ways we should go.

     The people all around you are the 50,000 reasons that you should declare your goals. Tell your family, friends, roommates, neighbors, coworkers, fellow students, and (if you're feeling brave) the Interwebs your 2017 goals.

      Without further ado, I hereby proclaim my goals.

     There you go. I declared my goals. Now go out and confidently declare yours to someone.

~Madeline

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Truth. Goodness. Beauty.



“We think to determine three things: whether something is true, whether something should be done, and whether something commands our appreciation. In other words, we think to know truth, goodness, and beauty.” -Andrew Kern

     I think I just found my new favorite quote!

~Madeline

Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Word of the Year 2017


     I had quite a challenge picking my word of the year for 2017.

     In 2015, it was relationship. In 2016, it was hope. But tomorrow marks a new year, a new season, and I needed a new word.

     I considered a lot of words...basically anything that came up multiple times (which is how destroy got in there...sorry).
  • Destroy
  • All
  • Impact
  • Grow
  • Strategy
  • Brave
  • Listen
  • Abundance
  • Compassion
     As I finished up The Broken Way late last night, she kept talking about compassion. She used the verse that says, "Jesus was moved with compassion."

     I thought: "Maybe I should give up on a word of the year and just have a mantra or motto."

     And since Hakuna Matata was taken by Pumba and Timon, I thought maybe "Move with compassion" or "Move toward the mess" (which I got from the title of a book I'll be reviewing soon).

     So maybe I wanted "move" to be my word of the year. But then it sounds too much like "doing" instead of "being." I did want something practical that I could put into action, but I don't want to be judging myself on actions too much. It's a difficult balance to strike.

     But then it hit me: presence. It summed up all my other words in one. Being and compassion and listening and brave and impact all came back to presence.

     God's presence in me and the world. My presence with others. The simplicity of being fully present, what Madeleine L'Engle calls is-ness, is so rare. But in 2017, it won't be rare.

     Can I be fully present for a year? Probably not. I'll fail. I'll stumble. But I can take presence with me. I can take it on mission trips, to camps, to college. I can remember to be present anywhere and anytime. So it is more practical than hope and more of a daily word.

     I know how powerful presence can be. For me, it looks like...

sitting in silence with a hurting friend
holding a tiny baby while its mama sits in church
giving family my face and full attention
understanding where another person is coming from
keeping my hands open for whatever God gives me in my time with Him
resting instead of worrying about the next task
living out the rest of my senior year peacefully
paying attention in class
giving my presence to those who need it most
being myself
sitting by my pond, meditating on truth
staring out over the Amazon River as the skies change
not rushing or getting impatient

     Do you have a word of the year for 2017? If so, share it in the comments below!

~Madeline