Monday, August 31, 2015

Beautiful Hope, in a Broken World

Open my eyes LORD to see you clearly. 

This has been my prayer chant for quite some time now. Every morning these words lay pressed against my heart and make their way off my tongue. They are a constant reminder that I am in need, that this world is broken and that I still have hope.

I've witnessed a lot of pain in this life, heart pains, emotional pains, spiritual pains and physical pains. Each one hard  with its own set of hurts. Somedays I think I've seen a lot. Enough. Then I spend an evening filled with those who have gone before me, and it puts everything back into prospective. 

A couple of weeks ago, my sister and I set out to catch up with our beautiful grandmothers, one in her 80's and the other in her 90's. 

Yes, we are richly blessed. 

As we sat there some in chairs, others in walkers, we were all fully there. Those hours I spent were some of the most truly beautiful hours I've had since then. To engage in conversation with women who have lived a full life. Who have seen and experienced so much more than me, is a wildly beautiful thing. They will never know how much their lives have impacted me. As a child would I have never expected to enjoy each of them this long or this immensely.  

When we walked into my first grandmother's apartment, she greeted us with a smile as she turned off her cassette tape player (yes it is as old as you would think, but evidently still works like a champ) and mentioned that she was just catching up on the latest sermon from her home church. Her days are full. Not the kind of full I am used to, but the kind that is life-giving and slow. She told us stories about many of the friends she has made, and how she convinced a new friend to "quiz" her as she recites her scripture memory. Oh and did I mention that this new friend wants nothing to do with Jesus. God works in mysterious ways, even in the library lounge of an assisted living home. After a beautiful visit, we said our good-byes as she watched us walk down the hallway, making sure we knew the way.

 My sister and I giggled about her quirks and awed at her beauty as we made our way for visit number two. 

As we arrived to the nursing home and rounded the corner to our grandma's room, we gave a little knock on the door and opened slowly. There she was gathering her things for a her shower before bed. She sat down and with a big smile waved us in to sit down. "I can shower any day" she said, "Come on in, that can wait, you girls are important!" That's all she had to say, and I knew it was going to be another lovely visit. We caught up on many things, and she knows Chase and I love Michigan football, so she was sure to ask how the team is looking for this year and if we plan to make it to many games. I love that lady! She smiled the whole evening, something I haven't seen her do in recent months, as her age has become more visible, and health weaker. My sister made note of it and told her how much we liked her smile. She just lit up again and confessed that she can't stop time or make herself younger, so she might as while smile while she is here. Beautiful. 

What you may not know about these two beauties, is that they have experienced more pain, in every arena, than I care to ever behold. Between the two, they have buried husbands, gone with little, confronted unfaithfulness, lost siblings, survived cancer, suffered heart failure, watched children go through lots of hard, and on and on. Yet here they are, praising the name of Jesus, through the hurts of the past and smiling through the hard of today. 

Even as I reflect on our time, I am emotional and undone as I bask in their living testimonies. Whatever you and I are facing today, whatever pain or hurt that has caused your heart to say " Isn't this enough yet Lord?" Let's remember that he doesn't promise to save us from the fire, but he does promise to walk through every step with us. We are living for so much  more than this world has to offer and that is our hope. That is why we can smile as our bodies fail us and sing to him when the waves tempt to overtake us. He hears you, He knows you, and He is with you

And so I say again, "Open my eyes LORD to see you clearly".

Friday, August 7, 2015

Thinking outside the Box - Home Design

Welcome to the weekend! 

Has this week slipped away secretly for anyone else out there? I am not entirely sure where this week has gone and at the same time I am ready, so ready for the weekend! But before I check out, I wanted to share a few things we have done around our home recently. My hope is that you might be inspired to create in your own space too however that looks. 

Trust me, you don't need tons of money and expertise to create and design your space, seriously! Anytime someone comments on our house or the things we have changed to make it our own, I say "thank-you" and then add something like, " It's so fun to have this little old house to create in, we have made countless mistakes and mess-ups, but we are learning and laughing so it's totally worth it."

Take it from an amateur like me, the experience will come with each new project. Sometimes learning how to do a new task isn't always fun in the moment, but the outcome is usually worth all the effort and builds confidence too. 

Don't buy new, or from the most familiar place to shop. Wait for deals, and sign up for coupons. 

These are the few nuggets of advice we have learned along the way in order to design on a budget. Without these, we honestly wouldn't be able to change up our space much at all. Chase is so gracious to go along with many of my ideas, but that wouldn't be the case at all, if everything I wanted to accomplish was bought on a whim. Usually I have to wait a while for just the right piece to come along and at just the right price. Trust me though, it can be fun and it forces me to get creative. Sometimes this looks like simply rearranging the things I already have in my house. It's amazing what you can dig up in your basement too! 

Here is our back entry in all of its "before" glory. Technically this is after we painted the walls white, so it actually looks better than the dark paneling that was originally there. Which reminds me, that paint is #1 on the list for updating. A little paint can go along way when trying to update a space. 

...And here is what it looks like today...

This back entry, which used to be my least favorite space in our house, is now one of my favorite things to look at. Along with painting the dark paneling white, we painted the doors blue (with leftover paint) which lightened up the space even more. We redid the ceiling (with leftover materials) installed a new light ($25) to replace the florescent light bulb that hung on the drop ceiling before. We found the coat rack out in nature and the hooks/ knobs were 50% off at hobby Lobby ($20) The "hello" sign and arrow were also Hobby Lobby clearance purchases, together totaling $25. To completely redo this space it cost us well under $100.

Welcome to our living room corner...

 This space is just one of those areas that has never been completed, and recently I have grown tired of what it looks like. We added the chair last year and that is what we had in the budget to spend. So I gathered things from around the house which were given to us (black table and lamp) to make do until the budget allowed. Also, the coffee table decor was getting to me too...but sometimes contentment is a good lesson to learn.

 Ahhh...Finally a space which reflects my personality better.

This adorable scale was given to me as a gift (thanks Summer) and the plant on top was pulled from my dinning room table. I had the metal lamp in our guest room and decided to swap it out for the lamp that was previously there. Next I found the round side table at an antique market. I was thrilled to pieces when I saw it and about 2 min. after talking the lady down a few dollars, I was the proud owner of this little treasure and out only $25. I added the little glass knob for $2, just to give it a little extra character. The wall hanging didn't break the bank either. The frame was given to me months ago and sat in my garage collecting all sorts of garage dust, until the other day when I pulled it out, cleaned it up, and painted it white. There was no backing to it, so I decided to get creative. I pulled out my writing techniques and got to work. In the end, this entire space from picture to picture cost me a grand total of $27.

Oh and remember how I snagged one of my plants from our  dining room table? I solved the one problem of having something to place on my scale, but the remaining two plants back in the dining room were beginning to look a little out of place without plant #3. Again I was trying to practice contentment, no big deal right? Easier said than done, at least for me, but then one day I was passing by or more accurately stated, perusing The "dollar" section at Target. $3.18 later here is what we have.

Observation: I am Just now realizing that I might have a lighting issue in our house. Apparently the lamps and lighting fixtures can make or break a space. This may not always be the case, but changing them out does dramatically change the look in my opinion. 

 Here is our kitchen coffee corner. The space I usually visit first thing each morning. What do you suppose is the thing that bugs me the most about this space? Of course, the lighting. I've known for a while now how I wanted this coffee spot too feel, and I've had some success in finding what I like, but definitely not for the right price...until last Friday that is...

 It truly is amazing how much surface space wall lighting can create. Eventually I will figure out the cord situation, but for now I am happy. The best part is that I had coupons upon coupons and walked away spending only $18 for the light. It was originally over $40 and everything else that I have looked at (some of which would have cost me even more for electrical work) ran from $50-$100 easily. As you have probably picked up, I don't go for the name brands most times, although good quality is important so that I am not always replacing, but in some areas, you can get around spending the pretty penny and still get decent quality. Notice also that the coffee canisters, used to hold pasta (first picture) and they are sitting in another target wire basket to add some texture. The black chalk sign was a hand-me-down, so I didn't feel badly spending the $2 on the tins for coffee making supplies. All in all $25 to freshen up and tone down my coffee space to give it that bistro look, instead of the juvenile color craze from before.

Last on the docket for tonight, the kitchen...

This change has more to do with season shifts than anything, oh and also the lighting sconce, because of course. Notice the black sign from my updated coffee corner? I am telling you people, use what you have, I am always amazed at how different the same piece can look in a new place. Maybe I am blinded and totally off, but at least I feel comfortable in my reused space:) 

Summertime was calling for a lighter approach, and when I saw this sign at World Market, I knew it would be just the thing to make it happen. The problem was, I couldn't justify spending the $15 on it, "just because" so I passed it up but couldn't stop thinking about it. Turns out we ended up buying all of our deck, (wait, we have a deck?? Yes! and that post is on its way upon deck completion.) furniture there and because we invested so much into their company for our deck entertainment, they decided to throw the sign in too! Well, really is was money back in the form of a coupon, but just as well, right? As you can see the dishes still remain, and we use them all so often that dust doesn't have time to collect:) I did change out the lighting sconce, which is hardly noticeable in this picture, but again, light an airy was calling out to me,  and so for $4 I made the switch. Final total for this transformation was a whopping $4.

I hope you enjoyed this little mini tour through our home. I really do hope that it inspires you to think outside the box when it comes to making your space your own. Don't get too overwhelmed with the projects that you see before you today. Trust me, I have lists upon lists of " to do's" and the changes that you see here from picture to picture didn't happen over night either.

I know from experience that it can be difficult even to decide where to begin, but sometimes you just have to start somewhere. Anywhere. What is that one thing that bothers you every time you pass by it? Is it a big fix? Is there something you can put there or do differently until you can truly make it look how you want? I'd love to help you brainstorm ideas if you feel stuck. Sometimes a little dose of community is just what I need when I'm in my own rut, maybe for you too?