Thursday, January 22, 2015

on creating. on art. on home.

Fresh. Warm. Inviting. Comfortable. Beautiful. I've been pondering these words for the past couple of weeks. This is how I want our house to feel. But more than that, I want our house to be a home. Not perfect and spotless, but our home. Lived in, but where love and security reign! Our place to dwell, to abide, purposefully!

And it is. We did some renovations on our house when we moved in 2.5 years ago. Gutted the kitchen and designed my ideal kitchen. Simple and crisp and farmhouse-ish. It's my favorite room in our home! Good thing, because I spend much of my time there and so do our littles!

But I've been feeling this urge to make more rooms "the oasis" that I feel in our kitchen. I'm content with our home, but making our space here feel fresh, warm, inviting, comfortable and beautiful just feels like the next step that I can do for our family.

Of course, when I say "I" can do for our family, I mean, Hubby and I come up with ideas and tackle some of them, but also know when to call in some help!

Aside from the big stuff though, I can make changes. I can create. I can make art. I'm all bought into the "We are all artists" thinking. And I'm not talking about painting a beautiful piece of art like several of my very talented friends. I mean, I'm just thrilled I finally put photos in frames the other day. Empty frames that had been sitting out for 2.5 years! Little things can be art!

But I did fall in love with a piece of art recently and decided I wanted to make one too. A book wreath. Have you seen them? I just read the Nesting Place (super inspiring my house into home desires), and discovered the book wreath. I'll admit, I don't think I would normally be drawn to it---or at least in the past. But it hit my "fresh, warm, inviting, comfortable, beautiful" and I'll even tack on "romantic and whimsical" button and so I went for it!

I'd read how people making book wreaths went and found books from the dollar store to rip up. Good idea from a cost perspective! But, I wanted to have my book wreath have a little sentiment behind it. I remembered that my old college lit books were still on a shelf at my parents house. I haven't wanted to part with them, however, they were sitting on a shelf, unopened and not even at my house! I love literature and thought it would be special to have my old lit book in a book wreath! So, I tore out pages of Wordsworth and Shakespeare, Bronte and Browning, Keats and Shelley and Tennyson, etc. and rolled them into cones!

The most difficult part was the excruciating glue gun burns I had on 2 of my fingers. NOT fun at all. I've never had a glue gun burn and never want one again. OH my stars!!! My sweet hubby looked up home remedies for burns and I sat with my hands in a bowl of cold milk, followed later by a bowl of honey when the heat just would not subside!

But it was worth it! I love this wreath! I can see some of my favorite authors and poets. I can see my starred poems and notes I've written along the sides. It's different for me, but it adds a calming and romantic piece to our bedroom! Love!!

And I'm inspired to do more. To look for the beauty in the imperfect, create art and a fresh, warm, inviting, comfortable, beautiful haven for my family. In our home!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

parenting and love and messy.

After some unusual events in our house this morning, (Hubby had both sets of keys with him at work) we were left with a couple of extra minutes to sit in our car before school. There was a whole bunch of tattling going on and just defensive attitudes all around. I predicted this yesterday, when we had a playdate (which was wonderful) that never ended--since it continued to Wednesday night church. I knew our boys would be tired today. Actually, they were fine this morning, until this small inconvenience got them off track and stirred up some anxieties about being late.

I shushed the tattling voices. I just couldn't take it any longer. I wanted no explanation of who hurt who and whose turn it was to sit in the middle instead of the back.

I just wanted love.

Thinking back to the Christmas season, I remember telling my boys all I wanted for Christmas was for everyone to show each other love. These people are your brothers. Your best buddies. Stop the bickering.

I knew it couldn't happen. I love my entire family, but I bicker and speak harshly and get frustrated and snappy right along with them.

I even sometimes think absurd thoughts like, "Yeah, but it hurts me more when they are mean to each other than it hurts them when I snap at them." Hello. Modeling? Ohhhhh, goodness.

And then, there I was reading John 13: 1-38 this morning with She Reads Truth. And there it was on the pages of my Bible. . .Jesus washing his disciples' feet, in the midst of his pending betrayal, serving and loving his people, anyway.

Debbie Eaton, from She Reads Truth, pointed out . . .

"Jesus knows what you will do to hurt, deny or betray Him, and yet He will always love you unconditionally and will forgive when you ask for it. Through His love and forgiveness, we can humbly serve another because it shifts our view from self to others—an act of love."

And it just hit me. It sucker-punches me every single time any of my boys are mean to each other. I feel sick to my stomach and it crushes my heart. I focus so much energy on figuring out how to make them show love to each other.

And then I thought. Oh my goodness. If it hurts me so very much when my boys are unkind to each other. How must my Father in heaven feel when I speak harshly to my children or snap at my husband or get frustrated or critical with so and so? He knows I'm going to hurt Him daily and he loves and forgives me every single day. What an extravagant, amazing LOVE that is!!

So, how do we fix ourselves and our attitudes? How do we start acting loving at all times?

We don't. We cannot. We are not perfect. But we can continue to follow the One who is. He modeled His love for us to teach us! So we pray daily. We confess our sins, repent and give thanks to our Extravagant Lord!

**And I just have to insert here, for my boys reading this in my blog books one day, that you do, in fact, love each other. Truly. But we are all sinners and we aren't always kind. However, there are so many days you do show love to each other! I'm so very thankful for you, each and every day, no matter what!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

"Glory to the New York king" (NYC Christmas trip recap)

Miles was singing his version of Hark the Herald Angels Sing this morning. Still singing Christmas! I love it! I love even more that this sweet 4 year old just sings the words as he hears them! "Park the hammer manger's sing, Glory to the New York king!" Precious! And still, I cannot change the lyrics for him yet. That will come too soon. Although, I was LOTS older before I realized the words in Silent Night weren't "All has come, all is bright" and were instead "All is calm". (Not that I needed to tell you what the right words were. Figure you know that by now!)

Anyway, Miles' version of Hark the Herald Angels Sing reminded me that I hadn't yet posted about our recent trip to NYC!!! I know I Instagrammed, but I wanted to get our trip down in this little spot too!

Welcome to New York!

We left on the 17th of December and went with the Stouts, some dear friends of ours, and it was just the four of us! We collectively left all 8 of our children in the hands of grandparents! People, if we can figure out a way to do it, then you can too. And you should!

Upon arriving in NYC, we were greeted in a taxi with TSwift singing to us! No, not really her. Well, really her singing, but not actually in our taxi. Anyway, perfect arrival if you ask me. I didn't stop singing Welcome to New York the entire trip! :)

Ohhh, we had a blast! We nearly ate our way through the entire city! We had our first brunch, more like pastries, at Ferrara's in Little Italy. And from there we dipped into Chinatown (and left quickly due to some shady dealings going on around us) and then onto SoHo! We window-shopped a smidge and popped into Happy Socks where the men bought some fun! And I stopped into Bite for a little splurge and designed my own lipstick!

We explored more, at in Little Italy, and headed off to see Aladdin that night! You can't pass up a hotdog stand on the corner of NYC. So, we ate again! The show was great! The Genie was quite funny and of course those Disney songs were wonderful! We soaked up some Time Square with a million other people and took Dana and Kevin to Carnegie Deli! Hubby and I had been before, but this was Dana and Kevin's first NYC trip. They, of course, had to experience the ginormous sandwiches! And because we were still hungry (HA!), we had to hit up Serendipity 3 as well! I can't even write about my frozen hot chocolate without salivating. And Hubby might have never had something so delicious--but his wasn't chocolate. Just heaven.

And that was just Day 1. OH my goodness!!
Over the course of our next few days, we went to the 9/11 Memorial and museum--something you don't want to miss. I get extremely emotional over the entire event and anything related, so I wasn't sure how I felt about going. So, so glad we did.

We also continued eating our way through the city and snagged some pizza in Brooklyn! Love these friends!! We naturally had to walk off our meals and chose to hit the High Line! It was cold and I'm positive in the spring and summer it would be an amazing site to see! We learned about the High Line from a book our boys have, The Curious Garden. We've enjoyed the book for a few years, so it was fun to go walk the High Line!

We, of course, kept eating, window-shopped the West Village, worshipped at Redeemer Pres. and heard Tim Keller, dreamed of moving to NYC, window-shopped 5th Avenue, and so much more!

And what's NYC without more Broadway, Central Park and Rockefeller Center???

Ahhhhh! I love the hustle and bustle of NYC! I loved it at Christmas--it truly is an amazing city to see during the holidays! BUT---being with my Hubby and our sweet friends was the best part! We are so thankful for my parents who held down the fort back home! We ALL love our 8 children, but to spend time as just a couple and with friends is priceless! It was a trip that we will always cherish! Love you, Stouts!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

the ever growing book list

Marcel Proust

I love compiling a book list! Every year, at the beginning of the year, I make a book stack (from the books I receive from Christmas) and get super excited to pour into them! However, these books are just the new books on my list. Since I make this stack in January, I have so many other books I add as the year progresses. I am never ever able to finish the list. My book goals/dreams/desires kinda match my current mood whether in January or July. Soooo, I still have some books from my last January's stack that I never tackled! And, I have other books I added to my list that I've already conquered! Doesn't really matter though. I read what I want to read, when I want to read it!

Unless, I read for my boys. Take one of Luke's current book interests. He begged me to read the first of the three book series he just finished. And while I think it's so sweet that he's dying for me to read one of his books, I just finished Unbroken. Yes, I know. Unbroken came out several years ago. Just started it in December and just finished it. A little behind, but I had to read it before and if I see the movie! Now, that, was a long and pretty intense book. By the time it was over, and I liked it, I was just ready to read a different type of book. Say, a much lighter book that I chose! But, Lukey grabbed me first and had an eagle eye to when I finished Unbroken. So I'm reading his book first! Truth be told, I'm kinda excited for him and to be following a book of his passion right now!

However, once I'm done with that book, I'll be tackling one of these. And then one from my other list of 48 books!

What are you reading? Do you have a book list? I'd LOVE for you to share! Always excited to keep adding more to my list!!!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 word of the year

Ah. A new start. You know new beginnings can come at anytime, right? I've said it before, because I hear it a lot from Hubby. He's one of those people. The kind with will-power and mental and physical endurance. He'll gladly make a new start on a Tuesday. Or Wednesday. Or just whenever and go with it!

I'm a New Year's kinda girl. Gotta go big and embrace that everyone else is on the same page with me! New calendars, plans, clean slates, new dreams and visions.

And a new word.

For the past 5 years, I've chosen a word of the year. I work better if I'm able to reflect, work through, work towards, etc. over an entire year. It's also broader and covers more of my heart than making a resolution. So I've had words like, illuminate, intention, focus, expectation and then my word of the year for 2014 was brave. It nearly did me in! I knew I would have opportunities to be brave, but I didn't know how brave I was going to need to be! Turns out, I had to make brave choices ( a 2 week mission trip to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, a school decision for one of our littles, saying yes to some new things, leading a small group of girls from church, saying no to some things, etc.) and we also had our youngest little boy have heart surgery. That's not everything and that was a lot for me!

So truthfully, I want to have my word of the year be peace. Kind of like if I call it, it will happen. Not entirely sure it works quite that way.

But after lots of thought and prayer and even a new word popping into the mix this past week, I've landed on my 2015 Word of the Year. . .

as defined by

1. to remain; continue; stay:

2. to have one's abode; dwell; reside:
3. to continue in a particular condition, attitude, relationship, etc.; last.

Abide has been on my heart since this summer. I want to abide in the Lord. I want to rest in Him. I'm tired of the world and from the world. I want to rely on Him and not what others think or want. I want to cling to the Lord. He is all that matters. I'm praying that as I faithfully continue to love my Lord, that my desires of the things, feelings, people of this world will fade. That my love for Him will grow and enable me to love His people better!

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High 
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, 
my God, in whom I trust."
--Psalm 91:1-2

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 blog header year in review

As I've been doing the past several years, it's time again for my blog header year in review! This is the only place to capture each header, since I change them every month. And when I print my blog into a book at the end of each year, I have them all right here! Love doing this--it keeps things more exciting to look at!

This year, I kept my June header up for July and August too---I just loved it so much and ended up changing it on the blog at the time to Summer 2014! Clearly, I like the June (Summer 2014), but I also like February, September and November---okay, I like them all!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Let your hearts prepare Him room!

Slowest December I've had in this little spot, probably because it's been one of the busiest for our family!

I'll be back afresh and renewed. I sure do love keeping records and memories for my family, but also sharing what's going on in life and in my heart with you all!

So until then, here's what's been going on! We've been enjoying our Christmas traditions. . .

From decorating our live tree . . .

to decorating our gum drop tree!

From Alpine Village and Starry Nights . . .

to days happy with hot chocolate!!

 And now on this Christmas Eve, when I've done all I can do and remember that Christmas is so much more than the buying and doing, I'm wishing and praying that all of you. . .

Let your hearts prepare Him room!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!


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