Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Look Back on 2013

As 2013 comes to a close, I look back on the year and I see how much God has blessed us.
I am in complete awe as I look here and see what has been accomplished and what we've done.

We vacationed at Walt Disney World {Here, here, and here}

Overall, this year has been a milestone for us in our adult-hood.  We've made a lot of adult decisions, but it's been a fun year!  I am extremely blessed to get to do life beside my best friend.  

I hope and pray that your New Year will be blessed! :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Year of Grace

Last December, I came in contact with some Instagram friends who had a word for the year.  I wanted to learn more about this word...and how they each picked it.  What I gathered is that instead of making New Year's Resolutions, they picked a word to focus on for the year.  What a great idea!  

I think New Year's Resolutions are overrated.  They get made and about two weeks later, they get left behind in the dust.  So I decided that I wanted in on this little word-picking-for-the-year-shindig.  Boy am I glad that I did.




If you remember, I picked to word Grace for 2013.  Let me just tell you, I had no idea what the Lord had planned for me this year.  Oh goodness.

My mind was open to giving and receiving grace this year...but I shortly learned that my heart was not.  I knew that I wasn't grace-filled.  I knew that I needed to be working on it.  But my heart was completely shut to the idea of grace.  Oh I could receive God's grace...his forgiveness, but I couldn't seem to give grace to people who needed it.  Something was seriously wrong with that picture.

I am a fairly dense individual.  I don't get subtle hints very well and that includes when God is talking to me.  I feel that He has to hit me over the head when it comes things He needs me to hear and learn.

This year, what I didn't know was that God was working in my heart.  He was softening it little by little.  Then one day, He poured His truth on me.  My eyes were open.  My heart was listening, and I was broken.

The next few weeks were emotionally painful for me.  I was working through pain that I had held onto for years.  I was working through situations that hadn't been resolved.  I was working through a mountain of lies that Satan had been telling me through those years that I had chosen to believe.  Yes, I chose to believe those things.

I had even broken down and asked my small group for prayer as I was sorting through all of the issues.  I had been held captive to unforgiveness, bitterness, and even hatred.  I was tired of living this life.  I wanted a life of freedom.

You see when you harbor unforgiveness in your life, the only person you are hurting is yourself.  For some reason I thought that holding onto hurt and anger and grudges would be the way to go.  I thought it was the only way that I could live.  I didn't ever think that I could ever begin to forgive.  

I was right about that, though.  I couldn't ever forgive.  Not on my own.  If it were up to me, and only me, I would hold onto all of that for the rest of my life.  I would try to get even.  I would be filled with hate forever.  It is only through the grace of God that I could forgive.  It is only because I allowed Christ into my heart and let my guard down, that I could truly know what it meant to forgive.

Through lots of prayer, reading the Word, writing down my thoughts, and the encouragement and prayer of my small group, I finally found that freedom.  Slowly but surely, my heart is being healed of all the hurt, guilt, and hate.  I know that God is Healer.  But what I hadn't really known is how He can truly heal my heart...from a pain that I never thought that I would be rid of.  He can heal my wounds...the ones that cut so deep.  He can heal my attitude towards others.  

God has broken down those walls in my heart.  He has busted through and stamped out all the lies.  He has has restored my soul which has allowed me to forgive and extend grace to those in my life who have needed it.  This has been nothing short of a miracle.

God definitely gets all the glory in this story.  There is no way that on my own I would have been able to make this kind of progress.  There is no way that on my own I would even be talking about God's Grace today.

Friends, I am here to tell you that God can truly heal you...but only if you let Him in.  Is there an area in your life that you need to let Him in?  I kept this part of my life from Him for so long...it was such a burden to bear.   But when I finally let Him in, I found freedom.  I found peace.  Most of all, I found grace.  

No more am I a slave to hurt...guilt...hate...bitterness.  I am free.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Home Series: The Before--The Basement

Have you been keeping up with our home tour?  If not, you can catch up here and here.

One of the requirements on our list when house shopping was a basement.  Living in Southwest Missouri my whole life, tornadoes were something that we had to be aware of.  My parents' house doesn't have a basement, but I never felt scared.  We couldn't even hear the tornado sirens because we lived so far out of town.  I went to school many times and my friends were talking about waking up to sirens in the middle of the night.  I slept right through them.

Fast-forward to May 2011...I was home when the Joplin tornado ripped apart their town.  My hometown is just north of Joplin, but I have family and friends that live there.  The day after the tornado, we went down to see how we could help.  What I saw that day, I will never forget.  The stories that I hear are forever ingrained in my brain.

Fast-forward again to May 2013 when a tornado went through St. Charles and north St. Louis.  Many of our friends live in the path of that tornado and we saw the devastation from it.  

I knew that we had to have a basement in whatever house we decided to buy.  It was a non-negotiable for me.  We got lucky and found a home with a finished basement.




The air hockey table came with the house...and it's really nice!  It has been very fun to play! :)

We also have a full bathroom in the basement.



The people who lived in this house before us have always lived here.  They really liked brass and the nasty orange colored walls.  I can't wait to paint them. 

Not pictured:  the dungeon (our unfinished storage area).  It's scary.

Well, there you have it!  Those are the pictures of our home on the day we got our keys!  I hope to be back soon with some "after" pictures! Hope you enjoyed the tour! :)  Come visit sometime!  We would love to have you!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Home Series: The Before--Second Floor

Welcome back!  How do you like our empty house so far?  Did you miss the first post of our main floor?  You can catch up here.

The one great thing about not having too much to move in is that we can make the house our own.  I mean, we squeezed as much as we could into a 900 square foot apartment.  All of that seemed to have fit on our main floor.  We have empty rooms still...but they will eventually have furniture in them.

Upstairs, we have three bedrooms and a master suite.  Two of the bedrooms will be used as guest bedrooms and the other will be used as my craft room. 

These are the two guest bedrooms.  




My future craft room:




The Master Suite is what really made me fall in love with this house.  It is amazing.  We have a double door entrance into the master suite, and if you know me, you know how much I love double door entrances. :)

This is the sitting room.


This is the bedroom, taken from the sitting room.


Taken from the bathroom, looking towards the sitting room.



We also have a double door entrance into the master bathroom.





I knew when I saw that Master Suite that I could eventually turn it into a place that we would want to come to rest in.  I am excited to turn these rooms into the vision that I have. :)

Well, that's all for the second floor!  Be sure to check back for the rest of the tour, including the basement and the backyard! :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Home Series: The Before--The Main Floor

Welcome to our home! 

I know some of you are getting impatient about seeing pictures of our home. ;)  I really wanted to do before and after pictures, but those will have to wait.  Filling a home takes time, and I am picky about the things I want in my home.  So I decided to wet your appetite a little bit before I make you wait a little longer for the "after" photos.

Here are the pictures of our home on the day that we purchased it, taken by the iPhone.


Our gorgeous entry way.  A couple of the things that I fell in love with are the double closets on either side of the door and the beautiful wood flooring.




To the left of the entryway is our formal dining room.  There is a gorgeous "chandelier" hanging from the ceiling.


To the right of the entry way is a formal living room.  After our offer was accepted on the house, I was thinking long and hard about the rooms and what we would put in them.  One day, in church of all places, it hit me that this room would make a phenomenal piano room.  I could just picture our future kids practicing in here. :)


Through the formal living room, you walk into the family room, living room, whatever you want to call it.


We have a half bath on the main floor as well.




This picture is taken from the kitchen.  One reason we fell in love with this house is the open floor plan, which is great for hosting and entertaining.  We also have room for a kitchen table.


Our kitchen is fabulous.  I absolutely love the island.  However, to answer your question...I know you want to ask it...I do not like the dual colored cabinets/island.  I do love all the cabinet space and counter space.




On this floor but not pictured:  the laundry room, garage, and pantry.

And just for kicks and giggles...this is one of my favorite things of this house:


I'm really not kidding.  I grew up on a farm...on a gravel road.  We could hear people coming down the road from a half mile away.  We didn't have a door bell, so I really love that we have one now. :)

We are so blessed to have this home.  I pray that we can have many people stay with us and we will be able to have many over to fellowship with us.  Because everything that we have is not ours.  We want to use it to the glory of God.

Come back tomorrow for a tour of the second floor!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Miscellany Monday

I hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We sure did!  We got to stay home and all of our family drove to see us! :)

It's been a while since I participated in Miscellany Monday, so here it goes:

I did this about a week ago.  It's been over 6 years since I've had my hair this short.  I wasn't quite convinced that I wanted to go short, but I knew that I wanted something drastically different.  I am glad that I went short...and I can wear it straight or curly. :)





Thursday, we hosted Thanksgiving for Tyler's side of the family.  It was low-key and somewhat non-traditional.  We didn't eat turkey.  I did love getting out my China and setting the table.  (I will be excited when we do purchase a formal dining room table and chairs.)





It has been a tradition for me to make the pumpkin pie.  It started when I was young, and I have enjoyed doing it.  This year was the first year that I had ever made the crust from scratch.  I was pretty proud of how it turned out. :)


The last three years, Tyler and I have gone Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving evening.  It is such a fun, thrilling time.  This year, many of the things on my list were for our new home.  We had such a good time, got what we came for, and were home by 8 pm! :)


Tyler had the first present under the tree.  However, it was my birthday present. :)



This year, our birthdays fell really close to Thanksgiving.  Tyler's is the 29th, and mine and my brother's is the 30th.  So my family came up for the weekend to celebrate.  My mom made each of us a t-shirt quilt!! :)  




One of the most special things was when my Dad and brothers came carrying in my childhood piano.  I originally had said that we had a room in our house that would be perfect for a piano.  However, my mom had put up a fight.  My Granny purchased this piano for me when I was in 1st or 2nd grade.  I was really surprised when they brought it in my house!  I am honored to have it here, and I'm really excited about re-teaching myself how to play (I haven't played since high school).  


Our first Christmas in our new home!  I was so excited to buy a "big" tree this year!  I said I wouldn't until we bought a house....and here we are.  I have plenty of lights on it. :)



Linking up with Carissa today!

**Come back this week for a sneak peek into our new home!**

Friday, November 22, 2013

Coconut-Seared Shrimp with Kale, Avocado, and Fresh Salsa

Yay!  It's back!! Friday's Fabulous Foods!

This week I have a phenomenal recipe for you.  I actually found it here.  I changed it up a little bit to make it more cost effective for my family.

Ingredients:
5-10 stalks kale, washed and destemmed
1 avocado
A package of shrimp
Coconut Oil
1/2 fresh lemon

For the fresh salsa:
1 tomato
1/4 white onion
1 T cilantro
1/4 fresh lime



Directions:
I like to make my salsa first, because it takes up the most time.  Dice the tomato and onion.  Finely chop the cilantro.  Squeeze the lime over and mix together.  You can add some fresh ground pepper or sea salt if you would like to.



Add the coconut oil and turn the skillet to a medium heat.


Evenly sear the shrimp (or scallops as the original recipe calls for) on both sides.


Prep the kale and use it as the base of your plate.  Slice the avocado and divide it between 2 plates.  Place the shrimp over the greens and top with 1/4 cup fresh salsa.  Squeeze 1/4 of a lemon over the top and serve.


This recipe serves 2.  It is so yummy AND healthy!

Monday, November 18, 2013

FNP Meets The Attic

Friday night we had an experience that brought back some amazing college memories.  If I had to pick a year, I think my freshman year of college was my favorite.  Here's where my husband will interject and tell you his feelings are hurt {because I didn't meet him until midway through my sophomore year}.

Freshman year was my favorite for a couple of reasons.  I found three girls that were my age to hang out with.  We were inseparable.  We were in each other's rooms.  We "studied" in the library until it closed.  We drove around town singing at the top of our lungs.  We went splashing in the fountain at Jordan Valley Park.  We busted ice off each other's cars when it iced over that year.  We had sleepovers.  We attended Christian Campus House events together.  We got each other.

One thing that we did together...that I didn't fully remember until Friday night...was attend Friday Night Praise {or FNP}.  FNP was exactly that.  We gathered at the boys' house from Icthus {another campus ministry} and boy, did we pack that place.  I'm talking rows and rows of people...on the couches, on the floor, stacked up the stairway, in the kitchen and bedrooms and anywhere else you could find a place to sit.

Our favorite place to be was in the kitchen.  It was quite funny to see the boys' cleaning schedule up on the fridge each week...and to see that they might not have been the cleanest people, but they did try and that's what counted.  Friday Night Praise was acoustic worship with people from all over campus.  They had a projector with words, and if you were in the living area, you could see them.

It was that year that I really learned to worship.  I learned that you didn't have to be singing the words to the songs in order to worship.  Since we were almost always in the kitchen, we didn't see the words.  When we didn't know a song, we listened.  We closed our eyes and focused on praising the One who gave us that moment.  About midway through, they turned off the projector and turned off the lights.

It was that exact moment that I lived for all week.  It was in that moment that I felt closest to my Creator.  It was in that moment that everyone's voices got a little bit louder.  The foot tapping got a bit heavier.  The emotions were a tad higher.  It was in that moment that I could lift my hands and release all the tension, anger, stress, sadness, happiness, joyfulness, praises to the One who really loves and cares about me.



This past Friday night, Tyler and I attended The Attic for the first time since we've lived in St. Louis.  It was hosted at the church we attend, so we decided to check it out.  It was an hour of singing.  And in that hour, my mind was thinking back to my college memories.  It was thinking about what it really means to worship.

I want to get back to the heart, to the root of worship when everything is about Him.  It doesn't matter if I sing or pray or serve...if it's about Him, it's worship.  I want to put Him first in everything.  Some days are harder than others, but He's here to help guide us.  

What does worship mean to you?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Christmas List

I am in Christmas mode.  Usually I'm not this time of year, but something about buying a house has made me want to decorate!!  On Saturday, we bought a BIG tree.  I had been using my 4 foot tree that I got when I moved into the residence hall during my freshman year of college.  I told myself that I wasn't buying a big tree until we bought a house.  And here we are.

With that said, I've been looking for Christmas gift ideas and I want to share with you what I have found.  These are tooooo good to keep to myself!  Enjoy!


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First up, we have the shop Farmgirl Paints.

Becky creates custom cuffs.  You pick the cuff you like.  Then you pick the metal plate and finish up the customization by picking your word or phrase.  I love her work, and I even own two of her cuffs.  



My first cuff was the top one that says, "Redeemed."  I wanted a tangible reminder that no matter what I've done or what situation I'm in, God has redeemed me.

My second cuff {technically third...I bought one for my mom} was purchased when I was going through my tough time at work.  I really wanted a new job, and finally I got that option.  God knew what I needed, and I knew what I needed.  But He had a better plan...one that was more that I could hope for or imagine.  Ephesians 3:20-21 has always been some favorite verses of mine!

These would make perfect Christmas gifts!  But hurry!! Her shop is only open until November 20th.  Then it won't be open again until February 1st!


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Scrap Art By Nina is another one of my favorite shops.  Nina is such a sweetheart!  She makes signs for your home, as well as some other pretty things!  I am always tempted to purchase something in her shop, because she comes up with the cutest things!  

I currently have this sign waiting for me to hang in my new home:

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Nina is great to work with!  She hand crafts these beautiful signs herself.  These signs would make a wonderful housewarming gift, but also Christmas gifts as well!  

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Pen and Paint is a great shop to get more artwork for your walls!  Lindsay is very talented and creates prints that are encouraging for your home.  She also has various other things in her shop from time to time, and I'm so happy to have snagged a hand painted canvas from her!  I wonder where it will go?  :)  Her prints are gorgeous and it is hard to decide which one to get!  These would make great gifts and even stocking stuffers!



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Hope Homemade is a shop filled with beautiful things!  This mother-daughter duo is quite the team!  You can find some of the most beautiful, encouraging items in their shop.  From embroidered pictures to hand-stamped jewelry, you will definitely want to take a peek!

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I also just recently made a purchase from Katygirl Designs. She makes gorgeous prints as well!  These are the ones that I have and am currently trying to decide where to hang:


She makes beautiful prints that share Truth.  Be sure to check her shop out! 

Each of these shops are wonderful!  They take pride in their handmade businesses.  Hopefully I've shared something that will go on your list?  Or maybe you see something that would be the perfect gift for someone else.  

Small Business Saturday falls on my birthday this year...November 30th.  Please consider supporting a small business.  It's here where you will get most heart for your money. :)