Thursday, June 14, 2012

Baby Shower Decorating Ideas

Recently I had to the privilege of co-hosting a baby shower for a sweet friend.  My part was decorations so I have a few ideas to share with you - and as always they are budget friendly and super easy. 

Our color theme was hot pink and lime green and we were working with a rather ugly barren and large space (aka our church's fellowship hall).  I feel like I've set up a thousand events in this room and it always seems daunting to me.  At the room entrance we had a little table set up for guests to fill out advice cards for the mom to be.  I used a glass jar I already owned and just jazzed it up a bit with a little ribbon and pretty paper and a monogram - when all else fails just add a monogram, instant adorableness.  

Instead of flowers I used tissues poms and pinwheels.  They have adorable pink pinwheels with polka dots in the Target dollar section right now...although I did not get a picture of those during my fury of decorating and chasing a toddler.  I also picked up a few of these round table place mats at Target to add a little pop of color.

I added a little sand and a candle to these little metal pails and also found these cute sparkly letters in the craft section at Target.

Also, I diy-ed a chalkboard from a $2 thrift store frame.  This flower photo was printed on a particle board type material so it was easily paintable.  

I just spray painted a couple coats of primer and then a couple of coats of chalkboard paint.  

My edges around the inside of the frame didn't come out as crisp as I wanted (I may have rushed it a bit and not used tape).  So I just pulled out the twine and hot glued it around the edges to hide the imperfections.  I actually ended up really loving the twine detail.  This was such an easy and inexpensive project!

Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you have a wonderful Thursday!

Linking Up Here!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Share Your Story : Heather

Today's story comes from one of my sweet friends Heather.  I have known Heather since I was little and we grew up going to the same church and youth group.  She has the most beautiful family and I am so blessed to know all of them.  Heather is full of courage and strength and despite the many trials she has faced she has an incredibly positive outlook on life.  She's a great mom and encourager and I can't wait for her to share her story with all of you!!

Tell us a little about yourself!  I was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina and no matter where I've moved throughout my life, I've always ended up back here. My parents were high school sweethearts and even though they had their ups and downs, they taught me that when you make a commitment, you keep it. I have a younger sister who is married and they are the Godparents to my children (that's how much we love them!) Growing up was difficult, I was diagnosed with severe idiopathic scoliosis at 12 years old and put into a very uncomfortable and embarrassing back brace for 7 years. We made the best of it and I learned that if you want something bad enough, no matter what challenges you face, you can do anything you want to do with hard work, positivity and prayer. I LOVE to write, sing, design jewelry, laugh! I have so many hobbies, it's tough to list them all!! God and my dad have truly given me the mind of an entrepreneur. That gift, paired with my mom's non-stop positive attitude makes for an exhausting and productive combination! I LOVE being a mommy. I never knew how amazing it would be to actually have a child of my own and watch them grow and learn and become a...person! It is an incredible blessing and honor to know that God selected this child just for you. 

When was your first encounter with God and How did you become a christian? Who was influential in your salvation?  I grew up in church and my mom was the one who always took us. I remember singing in church all of the time and just adoring my youth group and the support and unconditional love I received from the people around me. After I was put into a back brace, I really started to worry about life, death and began searching for answers to the tough questions of WHY did God let this happen to me?!? I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior when I was 12 and was baptized at Salem Baptist Church. Somewhat out of fear, but I made the decision to follow Christ and since that time have learned that becoming a Christian is more about love than fear.  My mom was probably the most influential person when it came to my salvation. She “lived” her walk and that was the biggest influence to me when I see the person I've become today.
Tell us about a tough time/decision that you have faced- You know, it would have to be two things, the first would undoubtedly be my back brace years. I was in so much pain and people around me had no idea. I was picked on ALL of the time. It was just an awkward age anyway, but throw a big, bulky back brace into the mix - on top of that, I had to wear my mom's clothes because we couldn't afford to go buy a new wardrobe and those just are not the “best years” of a girl's life! But I learned SO much. I lost friends, because they were worried about what I had being “contagious” and it was different. But my mom would come back with “You are so lucky! Now you know who your REAL friends are and most people don't ever know that!” She was so right.  My “OMG Moment” had to be one particular day which had been extremely rough at school. I went into my room, cried and cried and threw my Bible on the bed asking God “why are You doing this to me?!” When I picked up my Bible, it was literally at the page that read “Who can straighten what God has made crooked?” I never questioned Him again. He knows what He is doing and faith is all about trust. Even though I still have moments of uncertainty, I always put my faith in God.

The second most difficult moment of my life was losing my mom. She only wanted two things in life: to go to Heaven and to be a grandmother. She got both in the same day. We had watched her go through a very painful cancer for 3 years. Night after night spent in the ER holding her hair as she threw up and waiting for help. It was just something no one should ever have to go through. To watch this woman who had taken care of us
and to feel so helpless as her child was unbelievably heart wrenching. Three years came and went and we had never left her side, not even for our 10 year anniversary. This was OUR battle and even if it was just a check up, we were ALWAYS with her at every appointment. The ONE night in 3 years my sister and I went to the beach to surprise our friends who just so happened to ALL be in town at the same time and share the news that I was pregnant, turned wrong over night. My husband and I were going to tell our family the news that weekend when I returned and mom was doing great, so we went. The next morning, we raced back home as my mom started to bleed out. I'll never, ever forget riding with my sister and two of my best friends as we flew back to the hospital, screaming into the phone as the nurse held it up to my mom's ear, “Mama, please don't go, you are going to be a grandma and I need you here!” Seconds later, my husband beeped in and told me that she had passed. As we pulled up to the hospital, I saw all of our friends and family lined up out front with arms opened wide and as I tearfully got into my dad's car, I looked at him and told him that I was pregnant. He had lost his wife and gained a grandson all in the same hour. It was so bittersweet.

How did God move through this situation?
  - Oh our God is a great and mysterious God! I have NEVER felt like more of a Christian than when I lost my mom. Heaven had become even more real and I could literally FEEL that “peace that passes all understanding” fight my human sadness! It was an amazing experience. Although going through a pregnancy and the realization of not having my mom to call and help me through a time in a girl's life when she needs her mom the most, I have become stronger and have grown into my role as a mother (on the job training!) I know where my mom is and I know I will see her again. There are moments when I am with my family and I get overwhelmingly sad because I feel like she is missing out on her grandkids and they will never know what an amazing grandma they had. But it all comes down to this: if God came to me and said “Ok, Heather, you can either have your mom back or leave her in Heaven” I honestly, would have to leave her where God needed her to be because He is all knowing. 

Through all of these trials and valleys I would write. My mom was a writer and taught me so much. But after having my first child, I went through a very low period and the realization that my mom was not coming back. Each day, I would write about the emotion I felt from resentment to hopelessness to regret, I was shocked at these feelings and that no one told me that I would go through this myriad of emotions! So, as I would find verses and prayers to comfort me, I realized that I had written a book. I slowly put it all together and started looking for a publisher. It got picked up and “The First 30 Days as Mommy” was released this year. I dedicated to my mom, of course, who taught me everything I know about being a mom. I pray that it helps other mothers through the toughest and most wonderful experience of their life!  Without going through these tough times, I would have never been able to share God's word with others who need it and that is what we are here for. 

Do you have any advice for someone going through a similar situation/circumstance? -
“Trust in the Lord with ALL of your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3: 5,6. That just says it all. No if's, and's or but's. Just trust plain and simple. We can beat ourselves silly trying to figure out the “why's” of life, but we never will. So don't waste your time asking why, spend your time seeking God's will and let Him handle the rest. You WILL have moments of anger and sadness and that's ok. Pray your way through it and repeat to yourself that you put your trust in Him. He will never forsake You.

Do you have any spiritual role models in your life? - ALL of my youth group leaders! Seriously. The Pressley's, The Andrew's, The McGeeHee's, The Cotten's, The Winstead's, The Jone's, The Hunter's, (oh gosh, if I leave anyone out, I will feel terrible!) But these people helped shape me into who I am today. I am AMAZED at the fact, especially after having kids and being so busy, that these self-less followers of Christ opened their hearts and homes to dozens of crazy teens without complaining or giving up on us. That is TRUE service to the Lord. 

What would be the one piece of advice you would give other young women? - I stayed a virgin until I was married and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Marriage is such a sacred and beautiful thing created by God, and He really does know what the best path is for us. Saving myself for marriage has created a bond with my husband that is ordained by God and so special that you really can only experience it if it you wait. It is SO worth i
t (difficult at times) but such a wonderful gift when you do!

What are some of your most favorite pieces of scripture and why?- Definitely Proverbs 3: 5,6 mentioned earlier. But I LOVE the verses in Isaiah, one in particular that my youth leader, Mark Pressley taught us “God sits above the circle of the earth”. Think about that. We didn't discover that the earth was round until 1492, but it was right there in the Bible the entire time!

“Be still and know that I am God” is another favorite that I try to practice daily! Just sitting, breathing and trusting in the Lord is amazingly comforting.

Thank you so much Heather for pouring out your heart with us today.  You are such a blessing to so many and I see so much of your loving and sweet mom in you.  Thanks for sharing your story!

If any of you are expecting or know a new mom, Heather's book - "The First 30 days As Mommy" is such a great book.  I know personally those first several weeks are definitely the toughest and I love how encouraging and totally relatable her book is.  Check it out here!!

Check in each Wednesday for a new story!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Conquering Closet Clutter

One of my favorite blogs around to read is a blog by Jen called I Heart Organizing.  There is so much awesome inspiration and organizing tips and ideas - I can literally spend hours reading her blog sometimes.  So this week she is hosting a link up party all about conquering clothing clutter.  A few months back we conquered our crazy closet and organized and simplified it to make it way more functional.  I know I've shared the closet redo before so here are a few things we did to help cut the closet clutter.

Sometimes the first step is always the hardest when conquering your clutter - especially when it comes to cutting back your clothing.  There is always the thing in the back of your mind wondering, what if I will need that one day?  I think the best rule when purging your clothing is - if you haven't worn in the last year - you aren't going to wear it again, so get rid of it.  Purging, cutting back and minimizing your clothing is a life changer.  For one, you will wear more of what you own - because you can see it easier and two, it makes it easier to choose what to wear when you have less to choose from.

Something I really realized when we moved was how ridiculous it was to have so much clothing.  There is no need for a ton of shirts, cardigans, shoes or jeans.   When we simplified our clothing it felt really good knowing that I wasn't over doing it and wasting money.  I think part of conquering your clutter is also conquering your spending.  You don't need seven black shirts - really you just need one.  Seriously, I could be sponsoring a kid through compassion (probably many) with the money I was wasting on clothing.  It was a perspective change for me.

By the way, I love these space saving clothing hangers (they are probably my most favorite thing in our closet).  I found mine at Homegoods - the best price I could find.  Also, it limits the number of items I can have in my closet at a time.  I won't add a cheapy clothing rack so if I don't have an extra hanger, then I don't need it.  Just a way for me to keep things in check.

These itso storage bins were perfect for this little space and it required no building for us.

More itso bins for Justin, which also doubles as a shoe shelf.

We really don't have a lot of storage space so this closet is just about it for us, adding these bins with doors made a huge difference when it came to organizing Justin's things and keeping them neat and tidy.

I love our closet space and the fact that it allows us to live a more simplified life.  Conquering your clothing clutter is absolutely doable, sometimes it's just taking that first step.

Make sure you check out Jen's blog - I heart Organizing and all of the awesome closet link-ups!
IHeart Organizing

Exterior Painting Progress

Wow, we have been extremely busy over the last couple of weeks.  Painting your house exterior is a ton of work - a ton.  At this point, we can't wait to be finished.  We are finally down to the little things, like a few edges, steps and doors.  We are hoping to be complete by the end of the week and I can't wait to share it all with you!

We are so thankful to have had so much help throughout this project.  There have been so many who have helped in so many ways, from painting, removing plants to watching Silas for us so we could paint.  You guys have been a huge, huge blessing to us and we couldn't have gotten it all done without you.

Nick and Will pretty much dominated this side.  Allison and Lizz have been trim painting (and window taping) phenomenas, Kristen likes to paint her name on the walls, Robert can roll like no other and Lindsey is a foundation-cement painting machine.  We love you guys.

This siding has proven to be tedious.  Rolling has been doable but because of the ridges we have had to  do a lot of brush work.  Don't even get me started about edging around this siding.  A paint sprayer would have definitely been way easier but when you are on a tight budget you just have to go the old fashioned way.  It's more work but we have saved cash so we are good with it.  And, this siding is looking amazing now. These first painting pictures don't really do it justice.

Oh, and remember these awful plants that I really hate?  

They are gone now!  Thanks so some patient and diligent work from Mike, Stephen and Chris.... the best plant removers in town.

Bye, bye ugly plants, we won't miss you.

This project has been a group effort and we are so blessed to have so many great people willing to come over and spend their afternoon painting (or plant removing).  Aren't they the best?

Thanks for stopping by today!  I have a little art project to share this week, a baby shower set up and another share your story so check back soon.  Have an excellent week!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Share Your Story : Jordan

It's Share Your Story day!  Today we are joined by Jordan, a sweet 16 year old.  She is full of so much joy and cheer.  Her bubbly personality spills out to everyone around her and she loves to see others smile.  Can't wait for you to meet Jordan!

Tell us a little about yourself!  My name is Jordan, and I am a sophomore in high school. I am 16 years old, and I enjoy teenage things like playing sports, hanging out with friends, eating and sleeping.

When did you become a Christian?  I was born and raised in a christain home, so a lot of different people influenced me in my walk with God; probably my mom the most, but also my sunday school teachers and friends. I accepted christ when I was 8, after I went to a camp called Masters Inn. My brother and I accepted christ together, and were baptized together also.

Tell us about a difficult time in your life that challenged your faith.  Throughout my life I have faced many different trials, and things that really tested my faith with God.  Of the many that I experienced, I would say one of the toughest things for me was when my best friend died in 7th grade. He was very close with me and I really cared about him.  When he suddenly passed away in 7th grade, I was heartbroken. At first, my initial reaction was denial. I didnt believe it had actually happened. Once I realized it was real, I was really angry with God. I ignored God for almost 5 months. I didnt want to worship a God who didn't save my best friend. How could I love a God like that? So I drifted for a while.

How did God work in your life through this tough circumstance?  How did you find healing?  I went to youth camp that summer and it was while I was there that I realized that God still loved me and everyhing he did was for a reason, and I asked for forgiveness for drifting away.  My heart began to mend and I knew God had never left my side.  He offered peace and comfort through the time of pain. You see, when I was angry with God, I was so alone. I always looked for happiness in friends, boyfriends or useless things that could not fill me like God could. All I wanted was to feel whole again, and I didnt realize God was the only one who could fill my hole. YOU need God to be first in your life -all of the time, He's the only one who can fill that emptiness and make you whole.

Would you have any words of advice for someone going through a similar situation? God worked in me even after I put so many other things first. God was always there by my side, waiting for me to turn back to Him. God always forgives people, no matter how much wrong you do. He still loves you. Having that reassurance really has helped me.  If you are going through something hard on you, and you dont think you can get through it, my advice would be this: set your heart, your eyes, and your everything to God. He can heal you in ways no one else or no other thing can. He will take care of you and pick you up when you've fallen and put you back on your feet. Pick a daily time to have a quiet time with God. Go to a bible study. God will work in your life when you are hurting - he wants to.  Sometimes we need valleys to bring us to a closer and deeper understanding of Jesus.

Tell us about one of your most favorite times or events in your life.  I think one of the greatest moments in my life was when I TRULY got close to God. When my faith began to grow, I saw everything around me in a different perspective - everything God did and created was so beautiful to me and I could see Him in it. I was able to help other people and give them better advice - because of God working through me and with His help I was able to pick myself up when I fell into a sin or a bad point in my life. To truly see God all around you is a feeling like nothing else.

What are some of your favorite verses?  My favorite bible verse is Romans 8:32 "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"

Thanks so much Jordan for sharing your story!!  You truly blessed us today.

Check in each Wednesday for a new story!