Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What's Buried Inside You?

I graduated with a design degree a few (*ahem*) years ago from UNT.  I used it for about 6 years and then never thought much about it again.  I wasn't the best in my class.  I mean--how did people remember which leg style was Queen Anne and which was Chippendale?

So, I moved on to sales and corporate training and then stay at home mama.  The best was when I was a kids pastor and people asked me what seminary I went to--the shock on their faces when I said I didn't and explained my degree was priceless. 

Fast forward to 2013 and the 1st season of Fixer Upper.  Watching Chip and Jo was bittersweet for me because, when Brian and I were dating, our dream was to do exactly what they were doing.  We wanted to flip houses--Brian handling all the building/structural parts and me designing the spaces. It started stirring something up inside me again that I didn't even know was there, but I kinda just ignored it most days--I had a job I loved that provided insurance for my family and paid the bills.

In 2015, Brian and I took a post anniversary trip and started dreaming again.  Road trips do that for us.  While we were in the beautiful Missouri outdoors (in a hotel room with no internet or tv), we started talking about "What if..." again. 

I won't bore you with the details, but there were several things that happened in the space of those short few days that caused us to know the time was right for Brian to leave his retail mgmt. job and start his company back up again.  I would stay on at my job until the end of the year and then I'd join him full time in the adventure of BR Construction.

Needless to say, we got comfortable again and it took another full year before we made the leap for me to quit my job.  And I was only going to manage the office for Brian because I was going to pursue some other things. 

Some of those things worked out (I have a part time job for a little non-profit that I LOVE, I was able to consult with NBCF and create a volunteer mgmt. process for them, I traveled a little as a meeting planner), and some didn't (I have gotten no further in writing my book). 

The last month has opened up a new aspect to working with Brian.  First of all, it's WITH and not FOR (which is how it started out).  Secondly, he's making me use my design experience again. 

At first, I was so very nervous.  It's been years since I stayed on top of the latest color trends and knew what was the next hot thing in design.  So I started looking on the internet and buying magazines and talking to realtor friends.

And you know what?  I found that the designer in me is still there!  I buried her under insecurity years ago, but as I talk color and shower tile and cedar vs brick with our clients, I've found that it's as exhilarating as that first time you hop on a bike and ride downhill with the wind. 

So, I wonder, what's buried inside YOU?  What have you pushed aside because it won't pay the bills or just seems impossible to pursue?  You may have to wade deep through your insecurities to find it like me or you may know exactly what it is.  But, no matter what, it's worth naming and claiming.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

We're just a Little Cracked

One of my favorite things about getting married was registering for new stuff.  Shallow, I know, but I LOVED looking at dishes and fajita pans and mixers and, and, and...I could go on forever.

It was fun to start over with new stuff. Kinda symbolic, don't ya think?

Then you start using the dishes everyday.  And after a few years, they get cracked or even worse, broken and you have to throw them away,

These bowls in my cabinet remind me of my marriage.  They are used often and show the wear.  If they don't have a chip around the rim, they have hairline cracks in the bottom of them--not enough to get rid of them, but definitely making them more fragile and definitely not looking new anymore.

Our marriage started out like a cabinet full of new and shiny dishes.

And then the every day happened.  Work and kids and finances and unkind words said in bad moods all created cracks.  There have been things we've had to throw away. In some cases, we've replaced them with a better model, in others, we realized we never needed them in the first place.

A few weeks ago, Brian and I had an honest conversation about our marriage.  "Is it better now after going through the hard stuff?"

What a loaded (and scary) question!  I wanted our answer to be YES! surrounded by heart-eyed emojis and general sappy-ness.  Brian said it best when he said "It's more real."

In the beginning, our dishes were seldom used (after all, when it was just the 2 of us, we ate out a lot and it took a while to rotate through 12 bowls), so of course they looked pretty and shiny. And that mixer was wiped clean after every use.

As life happened, we didn't pay as much attention when we took the bowls out of the dishwasher and accidentally hit them on the side of the countertop.  And the poor mixer started getting flour caked on it because there wasn't time to wipe it down before the girls woke up from their nap--it was a miracle that the cake got in the oven!

Real isn't always pretty.  And it's usually surrounded by the monkey covering his mouth emoji instead of the heart-eyed smiley face one.  Sometimes it's no emoji at all.

But real is GOOD.  In fact, it's real good.

It's truth and love and laughter mixed in with the hurt and the frustration and the hard.  It's eating on those cracked dishes and being thankful they've survived. It's not thinking twice about throwing away the broken and making do with what's left.   It's still loving the pattern and knowing you would pick the same one again if you had it to do all over again.

No cracks means the dishes haven't been used.  Or that they've been handled very carefully and never had anyone banging their fork on them or scraping the bottom of the bowl with their spoon. It's the china in the cabinet that seldom gets taken out--it's pretty to look at, but you can't always enjoy eating on it because you're trying to be so careful.  It's hand-washing slowly instead of rinsing and laughing as you casually put it in the dishwasher.

Cracked dishes tell a story.  Not always the easy story, but the GOOD and REAL one.



Tuesday, May 2, 2017

2017 Things to be Grateful for

I had this great idea to create a list of things I'm grateful for.  But it couldn't just be a list, it had to be a significant list--I would come up with 2017 things I was grateful for in 2017.  When I did the math, it came out to just finding 5 1/2 things every day.

That's not hard to do, is it?

Well, it's May 2nd and I've made it to 354.  To reach my goal, I should be at 671.  So, basically, I'm a little over halfway where I should be.  Or I'm halfway behind.  Whichever way you choose to see it.

I might catch up.

Then again, I might not.

But even if I stop today, I'll have 354 things I can look back on that I've been grateful for.  And yes, there may be several different types of food in that list, but there are also people.  So many people in my life to be thankful for.

What I'm finding is that gratitude breeds hope.  Some days that hope is brighter than others, but even on the darker days--especially on the darker days--hope can still be seen.

And it's good.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sundays are my Favorites

I'm sitting here in my bed, with a book and pen in hand, praise music blasting through the house, hubby making breakfast in the kitchen.  I was thinking what a great morning it is, and then realized that this is how I feel every Sunday.  It's truly my fave!

I don't set my alarm on Saturday nights.  I wake up when the sun comes streaming through my windows or Willow starts scratching on her kennel to be let out--whichever comes first.  After letting her and the big dogs outside, I begin the feeding ritual for the menagerie we have here at the Royal house.  Truth be told, sometimes I give the chickens a bit of extra on Saturday evening so I don't have to feed them as early on Sundays. Shhhh!  Bwahahaha!

When something is good, I find myself analyzing it.  Is it because I don't have to race off to work?  Because I don't have to deal with cranky teenagers and getting them to school when they would rather be sleeping? Because we are slackers and attend the latest service possible at church?  Yes.  And yes.  And yes some more.

Maybe it's the anticipation of knowing I can take a nap if I want it.  

Maybe it's because it truly is a day of rest for me.  

Maybe because I usually plan our dinner meal on Saturday and am not scrambling to find time to not only figure out what we are going to eat, but to actually cook it.

Really, who cares?  And does it even have to be Sunday--could it be Friday or Wednesday or Monday (okay--probably NOT Monday)?

I think it all boils down to being unhurried.  Enjoying and savoring every moment of it.  Being cognizant of the details and feeling gratitude for them--for however long they last.  Even if only this morning.  

I realize I NEED Sunday mornings.  I need the slow, unintentional time to just think and dream and read and maybe even create.  

Do you have a "Sunday Morning Day?"  Maybe yours is not morning, but evening--after everyone is in bed and the house is still and quiet.

What do you do with your "Sunday Morning Day?"


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Am I really a Consultant?

Last week I finished my very first big consulting gig.  I created a volunteer training management process for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. I still get kinda giddy when I say that--it's pretty awesome, huh?!?!

If you would have told me a year ago that someone would hire me to write down and teach them what I know, I would have laughed at you.  I mean, seriously, how many people get this opportunity?

It all started with a conversation with a friend.

Actually, it started before that conversation.  It was when I told God I would walk through any door He put in front of me and I would reach out to every person he put on my heart/mind.

I haven't kept track of how many people I actually met with over the last year, but it's been a LOT.  And there are still many more that I reached out to and either never heard back, or it just hasn't worked yet to get together.  And I won't even tell you how many doors I've walked through that didn't lead anywhere.

But back to that conversation...It was an early one--I think I met him at 6am (which meant I left my house at 5:15).  And it lasted for 3+ hours.  I just spilled what was on my mind and he took notes.  He had covered a couple of pages on his legal pad by the time we were done.

And here's what I learned in that conversation: What's ordinary for me could be extraordinary for someone else--and vice versa.  We have so much more inside us than we know.  SO much more that we don't even realize is buried under all the regular day-to-day stuff.  If I personalize that--I have so much more that I would have ever dreamed inside of me and there are people out there who are dying to have that info that just comes second-nature to me.  In fact, when I was meeting with the team I was creating the project for, I lost count of the number of times they would ask me questions and I would answer and then they would ask me to put that in the project--stuff I didn't even think to add because it was just "ordinary" for me.

And here's what I also know.  I met with that friend on the suggestion of another friend...because of a comment I made about wanting to write a book...which we barely even touched on in that conversation that led to this consulting gig.

In this season of life, I am learning that things don't always look like I thought they would.  In fact, they almost never look like the vision I have in my head.

My choice is to keep trying to make them fit inside the box in my head OR let go and just follow them in the form they appear in.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Meeting Mister B Herd

Have you ever been to Salado, Texas?  This past weekend, we stopped in on our way home from Austin.  As we were driving through, we were trying to remember the last time we visited and it was before our girls were born, y'all!  Way too long.  It has grown quite a bit and we showed up in town with only a little over an hour before all the shops closed so we didn't get to see much.

But that's okay.  We visited the one shop that mattered.

The B. Herd Gallery.

When we walked in, I was immediately drawn to the beautiful bluebonnet paintings hanging on the wall and sitting on the shelves.  The vivid flowers seemed to jump out and grab me!  I was engrossed so deeply in my ooh-ing and ahh-ing, that I almost jumped when I saw a movement in the corner and a voice asked us how we were doing.

I told him we were fine and continued looking at all the gorgeous-ness surrounding me.  Then, one of my girls grabbed my arm and told me that the man that spoke to us was painting a canvas.  I turned and had to get a look for myself.  Sure enough!  Mister B. Herd was smiling at us with a paintbrush in one hand and paper plate (being used as a palette) in the other--sititng in front of a canvas that was 3/4 of the way done.

I think I was still just a little dazed as I stepped closer to see what he was working on.  I mean, how many times do you walk into a gallery in a little town and see the very talented artist at work?  I went to school at UNT where there were tons of artists, but this is a different level than a starving artist sale.

He explained that he was working on a commission. A client had looked on his website and liked different elements from 2 different paintings so he was combining them into one.  And y'all!  It was gorgeous!!!

As we started chatting with him, he told us he had been painting for 50 years and loved doing it while he talked to guests in his shop--he wouldn't have it any other way.  He gets up every morning, looking forward to coming to work.

I took away a couple of things from that conversation:

  1. To love what you do that you keep coming to work at the age of 83 is just plain awe-inspiring.
  2. He was close to my age when he stopped working his retail job and started following his passion.
  3. Whether it was intentional or just a by-product of his people-personality, his presence adds so much to his paintings.  I went from liking them to feeling like I NEEDED one of his paintings hanging in my home,

We went into a couple of other galleries that day, but they just didn't compare--even the ones who had the famous painters that Brian and I have always loved.  Those just looked dim in comparison to Mr. B. Herd's beauties.

The next time you are driving to Austin, stop in and visit.  Let me know if you do--I'd love to hear if you are as captured as I was.

And if you've already been there, did you leave there inspired?


The B. Herd Gallery is located at 600 N. Main St. Suite 12 in Salado.  If you can't make it down there any time soon, you can visit him online at www.bherdgallery.com.  
  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Depression is Real...And H.A.R.D.

Depression is real, but not something I talk about except to those who are close to me.  It's not like heart disease or cancer where, when people know you have it, they have sympathy.  Depression elicits fear in people.

Fear that being around me will bring them down too.

Fear that they will say the wrong thing.

Fear because they simply don't understand it.

I've struggled with depression most of my life, but didn't realize it.  Looking back, I can't believe I missed the signs, but, I didn't even know what they were.  Even if I had known what to look for, I still might not have seen it because depression doesn't always follow a rulebook.

In fact, it never follows that damn rulebook.  That might make it easier to deal with.

Sometimes depression has looked like not being able to get out of bed.  Sometimes, it's felt like there's a cloud following me.  Other times, it's just been a feeling of tired-ness that blankets everything.

Yes, there are medications for it.  And yes, counseling can definitely help.  But true depression doesn't always go away, even with those things.

Depression for me isn't usually completely black--I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, but most of the time, the light is so far away and trying to figure out how to get there seems so very exhausting at the least, and impossible at the worst.

One of the hardest things about depression is knowing the struggles my friends have--loss of a baby, kids with major illnesses, divorce, parents with alzheimer's, etc.--and feeling like my pain is so inconsequential compared to theirs.  It creates feelings of guilt and shame and makes me feel helpless because I want so badly to do or say something that will help them, and I know it will take my mind off of my own crap, but I can't even handle getting dressed that day.  Which then leads to feelings of hopelessness.

Recently, I watched Beauty and the Beast and was thankful I was at the end of the row, because I found myself sobbing during a song in one of the scenes.  Here are the words:

Days in the Sun

Days in the sun
When my life has barely begun
Not until my whole life is done
Will I ever leave you.

Will I tremble again
to my dear ones gorgeous refrain?
Will you now forever remain
Out of reach of my arms?

All those days in the sun
What I'd give to relive just one
Undo what done
And bring back the light.

Oh, I could sing 
Of the pain these dark days bring
The spell we're under
Still it's the wonder of us 
I sing of tonight.

How in the midst of all this sorrow
Can so much hope and love endure?
I was innocent and certain
Now I'm wiser but unsure.

I can't go back into my childhood
One that my father made secure
I can feel a change in me
I'm stronger now but still not free.

Days in the sun will return,
We must believe
As lovers do
That days in the sun will come shining through.

I know this song isn't about depression, but it fits.  Some days, it's almost easy to believe the sun will shine through again, and that's the hope that pulls me through during the darker times.  When I shared this with a friend, he asked me to break down the parts of the song that spoke to me and explain why.

I love this line:
Oh, I could sing Of the pain these dark days bring...Still it's the wonder of us I sing of tonight.

I find myself so often stuck in the pain, but I don't want to.  When you sing of the good, it makes the pain more manageable--that's what the character in the movie learned.

How in the midst of all this sorrow, can so much hope and love endure?

Depression brings out the yuck.  It makes me want to turn my back on God.  Yep, I said it.  It makes me think that He has forgotten me--that He has bigger fish to fry--more important people to care for. I tell myself to walk away and move on in life without God.

But I can't.  As dark as it gets, I KNOW He's there. My head tells me I'm just a glutton for punishment, but in the depths of my soul, I feel like He is rooting for me.  Even though I can't feel it. Or see it.  Does that sound as crazy as I feel it does?

I'm stronger now but still not free.

Ugh.  No matter how many times I think I've figured it out and won't struggle with it again, it comes back.  This doesn't just apply to depression.  This is most things in life.  The only word picture I can think of is a butterfly that has it's wings, but is still trapped in the cocoon--there's room to flap them, but not go anywhere. It knows what to do, but can't.

Days in the sun will return, We must believe...That days in the sun will come shining through.

I MUST believe.  The only other option is despair.

Like the characters in this fairy tale, I WILL remember my days in the sun (or maybe it's days with the sOn) and push through.

And I will give myself grace when pushing through looks like laying in bed listening to music or watching a mindless tv show for a while.

And I will celebrate when it looks like having a drink with a friend or sitting in the backyard engaging with my daughters.  





Being Original--kinda

I didn't invent the hashtag "Asking for a Friend," but I have made it my own. 

A few years ago, I wrote a facebook post asking my friends which hair color they used if they dyed it themselves.  I made a joke about it being for a friend and had LOTS of comments--from people who had heard from their "friends" which ones worked best. 

I laughed out loud every time I got a comment--I have really funny friends. 

That's when my #Askingforafriend started.  I began posting 1-2 times a week with a question that I answered, "Yeah. me neither." It was usually dumb stuff and there were more chicken posts than I car to admit. 

But it's my thing. 

I'm not the most original person.  In fact, I really do best if someone else has the initial idea.  I can steal better than the best!



Tornado Warnings

We had a big storm tonight.  One with tornado watches and hail and big thunderstorms.  Of course it would happen on the night before Caroline has a big project due at school (that she waited to finish until tonight).

We knew all afternoon it was coming.  I even put the chicken food under the coop so it wouldn't get mushy on them.  We found flashlights and candles and Hope took her shower early--in case the electricity went out.  I took over typing Caroline's project as she read it to me so that we could get it printed before the weather got really bad.

It didn't help that Hope was yelling any time a change happened.  "HAIL!!!  THERE'S HAIL!!!  THERE'S A TORNADO COMING!!!  WE ARE UNDER A TORNADO WARNING NOW!!!

And Brian was being responsible and unplugging the electronics...including the printer we were madly rushing to get pages from. 

So we cleared spots in my closet, moved all dogs into the room and the girls hunkered down.  Well, actually, Caroline grabbed snacks for her and the dogs first.  And Hope was frantically searching for the portable charger in case she was in there for a while.  And I was gathering jackets and lighters and trying to keep the dogs from going back out.  Oh, and getting a paper towel for Brian's hand that had blood running down it from a cut that he didn't know happened. 

And just when we got everything settled, the storm passed.  And missed us all together. 

That's life in the Royal house for you.

Monday, April 10, 2017

13 Reasons Why...A Review for Parents

There's a series out on Netflix right now called "13 Reasons Why."  It's based on a book by Jay Asher.  If you have teens/pre-teens and haven't heard of the series yet, more than likely they have watched it or know someone who has.

We all have our own parenting style.  This post is NOT designed to tell you how to parent your child and what you should and should not let them watch/read.  That is up to you.

I read the book a few years ago and liked it--it made me think.  It's based on a suicide.  Hannah Baker takes her life, but before she does, she records tapes letting people know why.  I say people and not everyone, because each side of the tape is about a person and how they contributed to her suicide. Once they listen to the tapes, they are to pass them along to the person after them.  There are 13 people she names--hence the name of the book/series. The series goes way more in-depth/graphic than the book and there's talk of a season 2.

As parents, I think shows like this are critical for us to watch.  They are hard and definitely not how I want to spend my down time, but they are necessary.

Here are my 13 reasons why you should consider watching it if you are a parent:
  1. As parents, we need to know what our kids and their friends are watching.  Even if you choose to not let your child see something, they may hear about it from their friends.                                                                                                                                                                                             
  2. Bullying is not just physical.  This series does a great job of depicting other sides to bullying and how language matters.                                                                                                                                                            
  3. As much as we will protect them, they will be exposed to alcohol and drugs.  This series shows what that looks like in a realistic way--how things happen when they are not in complete control of their senses. How "harmless" drinking isn't harmless.                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  4. Popular does not equal Happy.  Remember when you were in high school and you thought how much easier life would be if you were the most popular kid?  Our kids need to know that EVERYONE has issues--no matter how well liked they are.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  5. Social media, while a great way to connect with friends, can have irreversible effects.  If you are like me, you probably harp on this all the time with your kids, but it IS real.  Hannah traces her feelings of despair back to one picture that was shared and taken out of context.                                                                                                                                                                              
  6. No one is an island.  Everything we do affects others.  Our kids need to know this. George Bailey figured this out in "It's a Wonderful Life."                                                                               
  7. Rape happens more than we want to think it does.  In looking for statistics, I found that 1 in 5 high school girls report dating violence.  I hated the rape scenes in this series--partly because I know it happens just like they were depicted.  It was so very hard to watch.                                                                                                                                                                                            
  8. It's okay to not be okay.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness--it's courageous.  Every one of us struggles at one time or another.  We don't have to always have it all together.                                                                                                         
  9. People will let you down.  No one person will ever be perfect--except Jesus.                                 
  10. There is hope.  No matter how dark things seem, there is ALWAYS hope. The suicide scene at the end was horrific.  It was depicted differently than the book and as hard as it was to see it, I think it was more realistic in showing how it's NOT an answer.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  11. Good kids make bad choices.  I once read that all teens lie to their parents.  We want to think ours won't do that, but chances are, they will.  They will not always get it right--no matter how well-grounded they are. They will disappoint us and maybe even themselves.                                                                                                                                                                                              
  12. One word/action has the power to change life for someone.  This sounds dramatic, but we've all had one of those days when someone says something kind or unkind to us and it changed the trajectory of that day.  There is a scene in one of the episodes where one of the students even says this--they each had the power to do something, but they each chose to do nothing.                                                                      
  13. We have to talk to our kids about these issues.  Even when it's uncomfortable. Even when we think they aren't listening.  Even when we didn't make good choices ourselves at their age. It's important for them to know we are their safe place and that our love for them is not conditional on their actions--even though we will always pray they do the right thing.  
Again, I want to re-iterate that I think PARENTS should watch this.  You can decide whether you want to let your kids see it.  BUT, I will also tell you I've talked to several whose kids are watching it already.

If you've seen it, I'd love your thoughts.  Are you letting your kids watch it?  Why or why not?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Waxing Made Me Sad

Hope waxed her eyebrows.  Or rather, her friend waxed them for her. 

And I am sad.

Not because she had them waxed--I have actually been telling her she should get them plucked a little. 

Not because they look bad--her friend did a great job shaping them.  In fact, I'm wondering if it would be weird to ask her to do mine.

And not even because I wasn't there--some things I don't want to miss out on, but if I had done it, there more than likely would have been yelling (probably from me) and tears (again, probably from me).  This is one experience I am really okay with missing.

I'm sad because it's just one more step in her transitioning from a girl to a woman.  When her eyebrows were unruly, I could close my eyes to the rest of her that was changing--all I had to do was focus on her eyes.  Now, the eyes looking back at me look more mature and less na├»ve.  More all-knowing and less innocent.  More aware and less oblivious. 

As much as I am sooooo ready for them to be grown some days (teenagering is occasionally H.A.R.D. y'all!), there are other days when I want to go back a few years (not all the way back to the diaper phase--puh-leaze!) and tell them all the things I wish I could tell them now--those things that would elicit an eye-roll or a "Mom, you're being overprotective."

But for now, I've got to figure out where to look at my daughter and still see the little girl inside her. 



Friday, March 10, 2017

Before You Remodel

Are you thinking about remodeling?  Almost weekly, I am stopped by someone who tells me they "think" they are ready.  After being in this business for several years, there are some things we've found that are helpful to think through before you begin.


The Green Stuff
Let's just get this out of the way.  How much can you realistically spend without eating ramen noodles the rest of your life in your beautiful kitchen?  Before going down the road to hire someone to create your dream, do your homework and crunch the numbers.  Similar to getting pre-approved before buying a house, this will help not only speed up your process, but will also keep you from being disappointed when you fall in love with those handpainted tiles that are not in your price range, but you can't get them out of your head. You may need to narrow down your project and cut some things out to get others that you really want. 

Pinterest It!
Figure out your real style--not the style you think you like. When I was in design school, we cut pictures out of magazines, but the unveiling of Pinterest has made this so much easier (not to mention less expensive).  You don't have to like everything in the picture--maybe it's just a floor or a staircase railing or a light fixture.  Create boards for elements that are important to you.  As you start to amass pics, you will probably see a theme or particular style emerge.

Let's Get Real
Let's face it--we all like things that are just not realistic for our current stage of life.  If you have kids and pets running amuck, white carpet or marble floors may not be your best options.  Subway tiles with white grout lines are beautiful on tv and in pictures, but if you are a messy cook who sometimes get spaghetti sauce or food coloring in places you care not to talk about, you need to rethink those. Will that beautiful sofa you pinned above coordinate with your current furniture?  Along with this, think through how long you plan to stay in this home.  If you will move in a couple of years, you may not want to invest in the heated floors and put that money into something else.

Party On!
Do you like to entertain?  Even when remodeling your bathroom, this is important to think about.  If your guest bath is also one that your teenage daughters use, you need to think through ways to hide the makeup and flat irons.  Can you widen the space around your kitchen island to accommodate more friends? Do you need an outdoor living space more than remodeling your current one?  Is there a good traffic flow or should you consider moving your furniture?

The Other Green Stuff
Are you environmentally conscious?  While appliances have undergone a huge transformation in the last few years, there are still many different levels of efficiency in windows and toilets and dishwashers.  Do your homework--look at consumer ratings, talk to friends and take a shopping trip to touch and feel before you make a decision. 

Stuff It
Is there a such thing as too much storage?  NEVER!  Can you turn a useless niche into a closet?  Is there room to add a shelf under the island?  Instead of leaving 12" at the top of your cabinets to collect dust, can you take them all the way to the ceiling and store your less-used appliances/dishes there?  Are your linen/coat closets placed in convenient places? Would a built in shoe rack or double tiered closet rod be beneficial?

Doing the Laundry
So many houses have itty-bitty laundry rooms.  I know it seems more logical to spend your square footage on living spaces, but, I find that I live in my laundry room more than my formal dining room.  Do you need a sink or clothes drying rack?  Are your bedrooms small?  If so, consider putting in a built-in hamper in the laundry room.

Have Patience and Be Kind
No matter how easy you think the remodel will be, it WILL take longer than you think it should.  I wish I could give you a "one size fits all" reason why, but there are so many things that go into a project.  The drywaller may get tied up on another job longer than he thought which then puts the painter and tile guy behind schedule.  Ask for realistic timelines, but be understanding that it's not a robot doing your remodel.

Dust, Dust, Baby!
It's gonna be messy--even if they put up plastic sheeting and cover all your floors.  Dust seems to just infiltrate all the cracks in all the areas of your home.  Prepare yourself for living in a construction zone for the length of your project.  If you have a more extensive remodel, you may want to consider moving out for a while.  We recently had a client sleep in their travel trailer in their backyard while their master bed and bath were being remodeled. 

Gossip, Girl (or Guy)
Before hiring someone, ask around.  Get the dirt on what your neighbors liked/didn't like about their contractor.  Social media and your neighborhood link are your friends--use them!  Anyone can create a good website and market themselves--be sure to go a deeper. Nothing is better than word of mouth.

Trust Your Gut
You are the best judge for your home.  Trust your instincts.  If you think you should make a room bigger/smaller than your contractor recommends, don't just ignore that feeling.  If you don't trust him or her, get a 2nd bid.  Just because he was right for your friend, doesn't mean he is right for you. 



Hopefully, these tips gave you some new things to think about before you start your project.  If you are thinking about remodeling or building, we'd love the opportunity to collaborate with you to create a space that you can truly will love to live in.  Comment below or call Brian at 972.259.0378 for a design consultation. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

You are Free (Be Who you Already Are) by Rebekah Lyons--A Book Review

I'm not the best at writing reviews, but I feel its important for me to give my thoughts about a book while its fresh in my mind.  As much as I love to read, books start to run together after a few years and this is definitely a book I want to remember. 

Rebekah Lyons has quickly become one of my favorite authors.  Maybe it's her down-home way of speaking, maybe its that she doesn't claim to have it all figured out, but is willing to keep taking steps of faith and encouraging others to do so as well.

I think believers and unbelievers alike struggle with feeling "stuck."  In the Christian circles, we refer to it as "in bondage."  We feel like there are a bunch of dos/don'ts that we have to live by and that every blessing from God, every good thing in our life requires us to DO something. 

This book was refreshing in reminding me that it's NOT about what I do--it's what I ALREADY AM.  Even if you don't struggle with these concepts, this is a book to read because it will help you understand what 90% of those around you feel. The questions at the end of each chapter were some of the most thought-provoking ones I've read--I'm still pondering some of my answers.

There were so many great quotes in this book.  This post will be long, but I wanted to capture my faves here:

"We weren't made to keep up.  We were made to be free.  To be who we already are."
"If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make ou useful in His hands." --Oswald Chambers
"And here's the thing about despair: It overtakes the place meant for hope.  It steals the belief that healing is possible."
"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."--Fredrick Buechner
"Calling is where our talents and burdens collide."
"As children of God, we have a corporate calling to love God and make Him known.  What's amazing is that this calling looks different for each of us based on our talents and the burdens we feel for others.  We don't have to stress about finding our 'thing,' but simply ask God to reveal His plans for us."
"No matter your calling, God chose you for a mission and he has appointed a purpose for you well before you were born.  This purpose is to bring glory to Jesus, to be his very hands and feet  And if the task is daunting, remember this: as he calls you, he leans in and whispers, 'Don't worry; I'll empower your work."
"Confession begins with repentance and ends with declaration."
"Public affection cannot heal private rejection."
"What God begins with the natural, he fulfills with the supernatural."
"What if disciple-making is not just talking about God, but inviting others to talk to God, to confess, repent, and then, with boldness, to petition to him?  What if disciple-making is about giving people the freedom to ask, no matter how big or impossible the request?"
"Falling isn't so scary once you lean into the wind.  After all, that's how baby birds learn to fly; they freefall to fly."
"Home is wherever God is.  And God is ever with me."
"You cannot see the unknown until you release the known."
"Sometimes it takes a stripping away of what we know in order for us to be willing to stop and learn."
"The old covenant was about what we bring to him: our annual offering, our covering of sin to become restored with God.  The new covenant is all about what Jesus brings to us: his offering, his blood to forgive our sins, and his righteousness credited to us, making us right with God."
"God doesn't measure worth in terms of ability, but in terms of identity."
"If we cannot grieve, we cannot be comforted."
"Grief is our most powerful confession, because it cracks our hearts open wide."
"Every time we express grief, we allow Jesus to absorb our pain.  When we live out the freedom we have been given to grieve, Jesus take our grief upon himself and replaces it with comfort."
"Mental and emotional healing can take longer than physical healing, because emotional ailments often stay hidden for much longer and therefore have deeper roots.  It is hard to heal what has been hidden and sometimes God calls us to sit in the emotional pain for weeks, months, or even years before the fullness of his haling comes."
"The secret to strength is weakness."
"Surrender says, 'The calling you've laid before me is too great.  I cannot fathom it.  Still, I will obey.  I will trust that you go before me."
"God chose Moses BECAUSE he was weak, God wanted Moses to know he was only able to lead the people because God was with him, giving him everything he needed to do the job."
"Joy is not the  absence of darkness.  Joy is the confidence that there darkness will lift."
"Courage is meant to en-courage others."
"There comes a moment for each of us wherein we must decide--will we be brave, or will we remain enslaved to fear?"
"Bravery is moving scared.  Bravery requires stepping out."
"Our bravest moments come from trusting, from falling into the plan of God."
"If he is the one who sets this thing in motion, he is the one who completes it."
"Freedom is for those who have nothing else to protect."
"Confession is the gateway to freedom.  We are nothing without him.  We are everything IN him."


Monday, February 20, 2017

Dear Mamas of Littles

Dear Mamas of Littles,

I know you are weary.  I know you are tired of hearing "Enjoy it now--it goes by fast."  I'll even bet you are hoping the day DOES go by fast to when you have reinforcements to help you tonight. 

This post is not to tell you to revel in their littleness and dependence on you.  I refuse to add to the mom-guilt that so many of us experience.  This post is written to give you permission to be real and authentic and to post the pic of the mess and not just the cleaned up version of kids with bows in their hair and clean faces.  Those of us who have been mamas know that the clean face happens only for an instant a day and is not how they look the other 23 hours and 55 minutes of the day.

Post it ALL!  All the hard, all the insane things they do that make you want to lose our ever-loving mind.  All the things that you hope will be funny in 5 years but are crazy-making in the here and now. (Seriously--TimeHop makes me laugh all the time these days when I see what a mess we were).  All the times when you think you are the only mom who struggles this much. 

Don't feel bad for not being perfect.  Don't compare yourself to the mom who makes her kids food from scratch and always buys organic.  Or the mom who has a clean house (and never uses cleaners with chemicals).  Or the mom whose kids love each other sooooo much and they are "so blessed" ALL.THE. DANG. TIME.

Post it all now because when your kids get older, you won't be able to.  Even if they aren't on social media, their friends or friends' parents or teachers are.  AND YOU WILL GET CAUGHT.  And it will not be fun at your house and you will ruin their life forever.

By posting it now, you are breathing life into other mamas who are too scared to be real.  You are giving them permission to pull the veil a little and let others see the truth of the man/mama behind the curtain. 

And most importantly, you are giving yourself the freedom to accept help.  I read recently "If we cannot grieve, we cannot be comforted."  (Rebekah Lyons in "You are Free").  I think that quote applies to whatever feeling you have at this moment.  We were created for community and while hiding behind your perfect beach picture may elicit several comments about how beautiful your family is, you will feel like a fraud.  Because we all know that for every perfect picture, there are 10 others that you hope were not captured on secret camera. 

Post away, mamas!  And know that as you post, I will not only be cheering you on, I will be praying for you--for rest, and grace and a little moment of peace, and forgiveness for yourself, and love.  The kind of love that joins you in the midst of the mess instead of trying to fix it for you.   

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

True Love Is...

...Standing outside in the rain at 4am with a puppy who needs to potty so your wife doesn't have to

...Taking your daughters to school at separate times so the youngest has a few more minutes to sleep in

...Buying the cheesy card because you can't keep a straight face when trying to say those things, but you really DO mean it


...Digging a splinter out of your hubby's toe with your good tweezers

...Washing the sheets an extra time this week so your hubby doesn't have to deal with the crumbs on his side of the bed from kids and puppies' feet

...Cleaning the kitchen after dinner 

...Not expecting a huge gesture on one day a year

...Helping to fold the laundry

...Filling your wife's gas tank for her

...Enlisting a friend to make bacon roses for your girls...Making sure your spouse has clean underwear in his drawer

...Doing the Walmart run with your wife the night before Valentines--even though you're tired and have to change your clothes


Monday, February 13, 2017

Old Covenant vs. New Covenant

"The old covenant was about what we bring to Him: our offering, our covering of sin to become restored with God.  The new covenant is all about what Jesus brings to us: His offering, His blood to forgive our sins, and His righteousness credited to us, making us right with God."
-Rebekah Lyons in "You are Free"

I used to get tired of hearing about old covenant vs. new covenant. I think it was partly because I didn't understand it--it seemed to be taught in a very lofty way (and I didn't feel "safe" asking questions)--and partly because those who "got" it seemed to be very theological types and not the practical day-to-day person.  As I look back, I often think there were many more who didn't understand it, they just went along because they wanted to be a part of those who did.  It felt like this special club that probably wasn't intended to make people feel left out, but it did.  And still does from my outsider perspective--even though I know that was NOT the intention. 

Rebekah Lyons explanation of this new vs. old is so simple.  Maybe it was taught this simply in the past to me, but I just didn't get it.  I certainly do now.

And it feels freeing instead of being a noose around my neck.

I'm not sure what the purpose of this post is except maybe to say that if something doesn't make sense, get a different perspective.  Cut some of the same noise you hear over and again off and listen to something different for a while.  It's amazing how clearly God sometimes speaks during those times.

The other thing I would say is never be afraid to ask questions.  If people look down on you for not understanding, then they may not be the right people to surround yourself with.  If you don't ask because you are prideful and don't want to look/feel foolish, then you need to step back and look inside yourself and ask why it's so important to you to not look/feel that way. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Village Moms for the WIn

 I'd like to share a secret.

There are seasons when parenting is just plain H-A-R-D. 

And when your kids get older, you can't do the #askingforafriend thing on facebook, so it can also be lonely. 

I don't know about you, but when I'm in that lonely place, I tell myself all kinds of lies about what a bad mom I am and how I messed up long ago and there is no hope to correct it at this stage of life.  And that my kids actions/non-actions are all because of my errors--basically, that I'm in charge of their heart instead of God. By the end of the conversation, I have allowed myself to be sucked into so many lies, that it's hard to distinguish Truth. 

But that's probably never happened to you, huh?

This week, I had 3 different adults tell me how great my daughter was.  And this morning, I was thinking how nice that was.  Not because their words brought affirmation to me and what I'm doing as a parent, but because it made me realize once again that Brian and I aren't in this alone.  That there are others who see and care about my daughter. It helped me to take a step back and look at the 50,000 foot view instead of being in the midst of it.

I love passion.  Even when I don't agree with that passion, I love seeing people stand up for their values and what they believe in. 

But what if we took just a little of that passion and put it into encouraging other moms in our life?  What if we became village people and instead of using all our words to bash/condone/praise a candidate, we used them to speak Truth into another mama?  What if we used some of our passion for the refugee issue and opened our eyes to situations in our own neighborhood?  I'm not saying don't care about refugees or candidates, I'm just saying what if there's enough passion for those AND our immediate village?

What if we all asked God to show us who to encourage today?  It may not even be a mama, but I'm pretty sure He will bring someone to mind.  And what if, instead of using our energy to make political posts, we used some to remind a friend that you SEE them and their kid? 

And the thing is, it doesn't take long.  As I've been typing this, 2 moms have come to mind--one of whom looks on facebook like her life is perfect and she doesn't need a village.

But let me tell you another secret (its 2 for 1 day here on the blog).

I'll just bet she questions herself.  Or has hard parenting days.  Or feels lonely. And a word from you would turn her day around.

Let's just make it 3 for 1 and I'll tell you one last secret (y'all are making out like bandits here!).

You can send a text and shoot up a prayer in a matter of seconds.  You can even do it while you're putting on your makeup or fixing your coffee or even going to the bathroom (don't pretend you don't take your phone with you). It won't take as much effort as it might seem at first.  You don't have to use eloquent words or find the perfect Bible verses. 

Who, specifically, can you be a village for today?  And you don't have to dress like this to be considered a village:






Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Moms aren't Supposed to be Sick


I'm sick.  The ache all over and abs hurt from coughing kind of sick.  It hit me on Sunday night and I thought it was just allergies again, but it hasn't gone away and it's definitely more than allergies. 

I stayed home all day Monday and Tuesday--didn't leave my house for anything and barely even got out of my bed.  Today I felt a little better, but still not enough to be running around town.

But I forgot one important thing...

I'm a mom.  I'm not allowed more than 2 sick days in a row.

My hubby has been great--he's been handling getting the kids to and from school, etc. and fixing me soup--even picked me up a Sonic Sprite last night.  But it's now hitting him and he's trying to work on top of all of it. 

So today, as I'm driving around town delivering lunches my kids didn't have time to make and basketball socks they forgot and depositing checks so I could pay bills and then picking kids up from school and dropping off/picking up from the barn, getting dinner and walking into CVS in my houseshoes and nappy hair (I was sweating bullets when I tried to blow dry it earlier in the day so I had just pulled it into a ponytail and baseball cap, but those made my head hurt worse, so now it was just hanging down in it's "natural" state aka--nappy), I realized I had used my allotment of sick days for the year--or at least this month. 

And THEN, the child who shall not be named, decided to try to push an old argument today of all days and when I asked her if she REALLY wanted to go there today, she had the audacity to tell me that I had not said anything positive and had only been negative in the car (yes, the very same car that picked her up and took her to get dinner and let her sit in it while I walked into CVS in my current state).  SERIOUSLY??? 

So, big surprise, I lost it.

And after I went to my room and folded a load of laundry and got my anger out on those stupid socks and underwear (because we rebel moms STILL fold clothes when we're sick), I started thinking...

I'll bet other moms have experienced this.  There are probably some really great stories out there.

What's the best (insert sarcasm here) thing your family has asked you to do or you have just done on your own when you were sick? 

I might even share some of my NyQuil with the one who has the most outrageous story...


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My Word for 2017

In typical Angel-fashion, I have not been able to find just one word for 2017...yet.  I'm still praying, but in the meantime, here is what I have:

less worry, more joy
less old, more new
less fear, more brave
less stress, more freedom
less mean, more kind
less busy, more margin
less yelling, more laughing
less panic, more rhythm
less doubt, more belief
less anger, more delight
less dread, more dream
less frown, more smile
less big, more small
less fighting, more healing
less judgement, more understanding
less wondering, more doing
less merry-go-round, more swings

What would you add?