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!**