8.29.2012

The Sweetest Neighbors

How can you not smile big when a neighbor brings this to your door?


And not just any neighbor, but a 6th grade boy who grew this from a seed in his family's garden! Love that kid! Like my girls, he loves old fashioned fun. We've already worn a path across the pasture! Oh, and get this: he and his brother go to the same school as my girls! How cool is that?!?! And his parents? Amazing. Love them already. We're feeling beyond blessed to live next to such a wonderful family. I can see us having big fun toegther for years to come.

And then there's the neighbor who took me to the Nashville Flea on Friday. She couldn't be any more dear if she tried. Nurturing, creative, sensitive...sweet to the bone. She found me because a friend of hers {who I didn't even know} forwarded my blog to her when I announced I was moving here. {Thank you, Lord! And thank you, friend!} She's the same neighbor who delivered these flowers from her garden to lift my spirits during the flea invasion.


And here's what she sweetly hauled back in her car for me from the Flea:

That big metal thing? It's a nesting box for chickens...with my husband's intials!
I just HAD to buy it! {We'll start our chicken adventure in the spring.}

And another nearby neighbor saw this sign at the edge of our driveway...


...and pulled right up with a plate of cookies! {We are LOVING our school, by the way.} We discovered we both like to walk in the morning {I hate exercise unless I'm praying or building friendship}, and next thing you know, we're walking buddies! I haven't exercised since I've been here {unless you count moving and unpacking}, so she has been a sweet blesing.

And this next neighbor story will really blow you away.

On Monday night, I was overcome with sadness. The enormity of the move and loss of familiarity was pressing in on me. I didn't want to feel sad because we're chasing a dream, and I know the Lord is in this. But I also know sadness is a healthy emotion. The tears needed to flow, so I turned off the distractions {phone, blogs, Pinterest, etc.} and and let the emotions well up.

I woke up the next morning and asked God to show me how He cares for me. I know He does; He says so in His Word. But I asked for a tangible showing of it on this very day. And right after I asked, a text message came my way:
I will be home until 1:00 today. I want you to swing by this morning. Drop everything! You need some mothering. I have been reading your blog. See you in a little while. No excuses! {From the Tennessee Blueberry Buckle Lady}
The Tennessee Blueberry Buckle Lady is a nearby neighbor who was reading my blog when we lived in Houston...with no clue we'd be moving to Franklin. When I announced the news and shared a picture of the house on my blog, she knew right where it was. When we moved in, she showed up with a fresh baked Tennessee Blueberry Buckle cake.

Can you believe the boldness of her text message? I read the words as if they were from God himself. Drop everything. The funny thing is, I learned that she really isn't that bold and direct. At the very same time I was aksing God to show up for me, she felt like God whispered my name to her...in a way she couldn't ignore. I'm BEYOND grateful that she followed through and didn't second guess what I might think of her boldness. I needed her nurturing that day. {Oh, and her house! Just sitting inside of it nurtured my beauty loving soul! French treasures and attention to detail at every turn. So inpsiring!}

I delight in sharing these stories with you because they are evidence that God hears the cry of our hearts. 

Before we even moved, I asked God to go before us and bring us friends whose hearts would receive us. He has certainly done that...in ways far beyond what I could imagine. He knows how to care for a homebody's heart. The fact that these people just show up on my doorstep is unbelievable! What a gift!

Do I miss a handful of friends in Houston? Absolutely. But I rejoice in the gift of sweet neighbors who have shown me such love here in Franklin.

Have a great week, sweet friends!


P.S. My sister and one of her baby boys are coming to visit this weekend! I can't wait for her to see our world!

8.24.2012

Feature Friday

I'm loving Kirsten Krason's "Feature Friday" post today!

Aww...my Houston home!

It's not everyday that someone asks to feature your home and your decorating style, so I was honored when Kirsten contacted me. She has a fabulous eye and a well-loved design blog: 6th Street Design School. I love the way she collected favorite images from so many different places on my blog. It's always fun to see what someone else finds inspiring about your home!

Let me just say...it was HARD to leave that house. {I didn't really get to say goodbye.} It was our dream home...and my dream kitchen for sure! I miss it everyday. We're working hard to make our farmhouse feel like home, but we're not there yet. The beauty that surrounds us is breathtaking, but the house needs a lot of TLC.

Finally, the fleas are gone...for good we hope. We had to take drastic {and expensive measures}. And my sweet husband has been fixing things left and right around the house. He's a SAINT. Slowly, but surely, we're making progress. Decorating has been on the back burner {which is hard for me}, but we'll get there. You know how I love to nest!

Despite all of the challenges here, I still believe this much is true: God brings beauty out of broken things. And the truth is, I'm as broken as this house. And every bit as much in need of transformation and refreshment. But you know what? He's doing a good work in me, and for that, I'm THANKFUL. I'll take the brokenness {and even the fleas...but please not more than once!} if it means beauty will rise in the end.

Speaking of beautiful things, this is why we bought our house:

The view of our pasture and beyond.

The view and location are beyond beautiful!
My dream spot.

And look at the beauty that has become a familiar sight
right outside our kitchen window:





Off they go!

Once I again, I was a little weary-hearted as I began this post, but I've unexpectedly moved right into THANKFULNESS after writing my heart out here. Thank you for "listening" sweet friends. You are dear...or shall I say deer! Tee hee!

Happy Friday!

P.S. The word "flea" finally had a postive association for me today. I went to the once-a-month Nashville Flea with a sweet neighbor and even found a few things! But the best part was being in good company. I didn't know how isolated and lonely I was. She was a real blessing.

P.P.S. I settled on a paint color...one I already had! No more paint paralysis! I'll share a photo soon!

8.21.2012

Paint Paralysis

Picking paint colors is one of the hardest things ever! {Can I get an AMEN?!?!} Designers make it look easy, but trust me, when it comes to their own homes, they struggle! And neutral palettes? They look so simple, but getting the tones just right can be really tricky! Yes, I'm writing about paint. And yes, I have a lot of silly stuff to say! 

Can't trust a photo. The sky is casting a blue hue on everything here.

You should have seen my crazy self in early July. I carried paint swatches with me everywhere. My girls thought I was nuts! Hard to choose paint colors when you aren't even in the house yet, so I just kept staring hoping that a few would speak to me.

Oh, and I googled and searched Pinterest like a mad woman...despreate for clarity. But here's the deal: looking at paint colors in other people's homes, with their lighting, their wonky camera settings, not to mention varying computer monitors, is no help at all! {I knew this, but couldn't help myself!}

No matter how much you love a color in a magazine or on a computer screen, it won't look the same in your house. Hence the need for sample...after sample...after sample.

I finally settled on a half formula of Fieldstone {far left} for this room.
{I highly recommend cheap foam brushes for samples. That way
you don't have to wash your brush in between colors.}

Everyone says that painting a room is one of the least expensive ways to transform a space, but painting a whole house? Not my idea of a bargain! However, I'll be the first to tell you that painting does do wonders. It makes a house feel much more fresh and more "you."

Here's Benjamin Moore's Fieldstone at 50%, aka "half formula."
But you can bet it will look entirely different in your home!

During the paint process, I learned...uh, remembered something about myself: I don't like to make mistakes. Part of it is the perfectionist in me. {I'm still recovering. This move is helping, but I've got a long way to go!} The other part of it is that I hate to waste money. But my sweet husband gave me lots of GRACE and encouragement...told me not to fear making a mistake. We could always repaint.

Sometimes too much freedom paralyzes me {still afraid to mess up}. But then again, so does indecision. So after sitting paralyzed for several days, I chose mostly familiar colors from my Houston homeI loved Benjamin Moore's Wickham Gray. It felt very Provence to me. Gray with a hint of blue.



Wickham Gray in my Houston home.

So when I couldn't decide what color to paint this dark, cave-like room...


...I went with Wickham Gray.

Nice color, but in person, it feels too blue here.
{Country light must be different than city light.}

It's actually not so bad in the picture. See? Photos can be deceiving!

Back to the drawing board.

Lord, help me! Not loving any of them. Have to decide tomorrow.

At least I have a good excuse to repaint!

An unexpected wall invasion during the internet installation. 

If you think I'm overthinking it with paint colors, you should see how meticulous I am about tweaking font colors! There's no such thing as basic red and green on my Christmas card designs! {This is why people pay me for custom work, right?!?!} It's not bad to have a meticulous eye. You just have to know when to stop. Clearly, I'm still learning!

One last thing to share.
 Before we painted, we wrote words on the walls. 


The girls loved doing this, and they wrote the dearest things. 



Writing words on the walls was by far the best thing about painting. We love knowing there are blessings, prayers and truths surrounding us in every room. Words are powerful!

Time for bed! I've got to get up early and look halfway decent for my new Tennessee driver's license. I've never had anything but a Texas one. Weird!

Hugs to you!

P.S. Can't wait to show you the wonders paint did for my kitchen! Feels almost new!

UPDATE: Just stumbled upon this paint post and was reminded of a great tip: ask your paint store for the formulas. Seeing what tints are added to the base may save you from buying so many samples.

8.15.2012

The School Story

I'm not sure when it will feel official that we really live here, but when school started on Monday, it started to feel more real. This is it. We're really doing this thing!

An early morning on the front porch of our new house.

I never imagined that our first day of school photo would take place on a porch swing with a barn in the background! In fact, I always imagined our back to school photos would take place right here:

Our front door in Houston.

A very different place from where we were last year. I remember it well. It was hotter than hot, but my girls were at ease and happy to go back to a school they loved...a school where God opened the door after another one was painfully and shockingly slammed shut. {For those that know the story, it's still shocking, but the outcome has been SO good.}



And now another door has opened...at a new school in a new town. And not because of closed doors or heartbreak this time, but because God put a dream in our hearts and then opened every seemingly impossible door to make a way for us here.

There are so many pieces of the Franklin story that I've yet to share {someday!}, but today, the school story seems fitting.

It started five years ago...early 2008. A good friend and faithful card client asked me to design an invitation for a Show Hope event in her home. {More on that amazing experience here. We fell in love with Show Hope and have been sponsors ever since.} I showed up early with programs and name tags, trying to be helpful and inconspicuous. I was just the invitation designer.

Little did I know that showing up early would mean a memorable kitchen chat with Mary Beth Chapman. I remember a lot of things she said that day, but for some crazy reason, I remember her saying how amazing this school called CPA in Nashville had been for all of her children. For some reason, it made quite an impression on me. {Though I had no dreams of ever living anywhere but Houston at that time!}

A year later, I saw Mary Beth again...same event, same friend's house. This time it was just months after they lost Maria. Heartbreaking story...one she tells with total transparency and courage in Choosing To See. Again, in this same friend's kitchen, she mentioned CPA...how the school was like their family...loving them and carrying them through their pain.

Another little seed. One I never imagined I'd need. Thank you, Mary Beth!

If you've moved with children, you know what a huge factor school is. You don't want to uproot your children from a happy place and drop them into a tailspin...especially as a middle schooler. So, when we started getting serious about pursuing the dream of a simpler, slower-paced, beauty-filled life in Franklin, Tennessee, God reminded me of those kitchen chats with Mary Beth Chapman. CPA. {Shocking that I remembered!} We never even looked anywhere else. Our steps felt very much directed to this school. Why else would I remember it after all these years?

JD and I met with the headmaster, and as he spoke about the school's mission, my eyes filled with tears.  I'd never heard anything like it. I knew this was the place for my girls. We applied in January not thinking that everything would come together soon enough for us to move this summer, but we applied just in case. Our first step of faith.

Both girls were offered a spot {the first door to open for us to move}, but it was a little crazy because we still had a business, a home and a school we loved in Houston. But as another step of faith, we visited CPA during our Spring Break trip {my girls shadowed the Chapman girls and loved it!}. We loved the school but couldn't take the spots they offered until more doors opened. The headmaster kindly asked what we were waiting on to make our decision, and when we said we needed to sell a business, sell a home and find a new home, he said with a knowing smile, "Small things for God! We're praying for you."

And the rest is history. In only a few short months, every one of those HUGE obstacles was cleared and we were free to move. Free to follow a dream. Free to jump off the cliff of familiarity and safety and take the biggest leap of faith of our lives!

So far, so good. Even with the fleas. Though I'm happy to report that there are no fleas this week! Glorious!!!

Thanks for joining us in the journey, sweet friends! Wishing all of you mamas a happy back to school season!

Hugs,

8.10.2012

Friday Night Ramblings

Since I can't park myself in front of the Olympics, and since I've hit a wall when it comes to unpacking, organizing and cleaning, I thought I'd blog on a Friday night. Yep, I'm that cool! Wink!

The coolest thing that happened this week: I met a blog reader in person...at a shop in Franklin! My whole family was together, and she recognized us! {How many times does my entire family walk into an antique shop together? Almost never!} So fun to feel "known" in our new hometown. She knew about the fleas and was as compassionate in person as all of you have been through comments and emails. {Thank you!}

This same blog reader is also responsible for connecting me {anonymously} with a neighbor! And look what that very sweet neighbor dropped off at my house this week:

I love that she included herbs from her garden.

A happy addition to the wine tasting table in my favorite room.

For those of you wanting a flea update: we hit them hard under the house...with chemicals. I had a headache the whole day. We're still using natural, chemical-free methods inside our home {and keeping the house way too cold for my taste}, but we had to get aggressive under the house. Chemicals and traps. You don't even want to know how bad it was under there. Yuck! Grossed out just thinking about it! Praying the fleas are gone for good.

Most of the rooms in my house still look crazy. You can't tell that a first-born, type A, perfectionist lives here, that's for sure! {I'm recovering, remember?!?!}

My dining room still looks the same way it did weeks ago.

But I did manage to make some progress in my girls' rooms while they were with my parents in Maine a week ahead of me. Here's my youngest daughter's room...since she's the one who made her bed!


The cupcake sign was the big surprise I had for her. She flipped!

It's not finished yet, but here are a few details about her room for those interested:
  • Painted the inside of all the doors bright pink since I didn't her color of choice on the walls {because you can see her room from the downstairs entry}.
  • John Robshaw quilt with a different pattern on each side...LOVE IT!
  • Cupcake sign from World Market. Serving as her headboard for now.
  • Chandelier from Lowes.
  • Paint color: Benjamin Moore Halo w/ Swiss Coffee on the ceiling. Heartbeat on the door.
That's about all I've got for a Friday night. Oh, but wait. All the unpacking has taken it's toll:

Lost a diamond. Boo.

But as usual, all is not lost. We have lots to look forward to...like the deer that pass through the back of our property each evening:


Each time I see these deer, it reminds me of a favorite book: Hinds Feet On High Places. I'm reminded that even though it looks like I'm going the wrong way some days {fleas, struggling to unpack, feeling loss, etc.}, God is leading me to places higher and more glorious than I would ever journey on my own.

Happy weekend, sweet blog friends. Thanks for joining me in this journey. You've been a sweet encouragement to me...each and every one of you!

Big hugs,
 
P.S. I almost forgot: the girls start school Monday!!! Praying for sweet friends.

8.03.2012

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Hi sweet friends. Would you like to have a seat in one of my favorite chairs? I'm going to write as if you're sitting right here with me. {Watch out, I may give you an earful!}


I'm having a bit of a struggle here today, and you sweet friends, are my listening ear. Thank you. As you know by now, writing is therapy for me...a way to massage the kinks out of my heart so that goodness and gratitude can flow again. So here I go.

I always knew that chasing our dream of a simpler, slower-paced life would be like real life anywhere this side of heaven: laced with imperfection. Just because you leave the whirlwind of a big-city life and move onto a small farm in a beautiful setting doesn't mean life is perfect, peaceful and easy. I was prepared for that.

But what I wasn't prepared for was this: an all out battle with fleas in our new house. Yes, they persist, despite the fact that we've treated the house three times, vacuumed every day, replaced the carpet, cranked the air down to a chilly {and expensive} 68 degrees {fleas thrive in humid environments, which apparently describes our house}.

Replacing the carpet with seagrass.

If you read my last post, you know that I was looking forward to returning to our house. Even though it meant leaving the beauty and peace of Maine. I knew we were returning to lots of hard work, but I was ready to work together as a family to make this house feel like home.

The seagrass is in. Now washing all the slipcovers.

Side note: would you believe this was the very first time in my entire life that "going home" meant somewhere other than Houston? I was a wee bit disoriented when we landed in Nashville, but as we drove to Franklin, I started to feel a little giddy...even at midnight. I couldn't wait for the girls to see the progress I made in their rooms {and the new fun things I added while they were away}.

We entered our house {humid despite running the A/C constantly}, turned on the lights...and fleas. Everywhere. Apparently, a fresh batch hatched while we were away...despite the Borax we sprinkled all over the floors the night before we left.


Borax supposedly dehydrates them.

Bombing the house with chemicals isn't a good option for us {our youngest is extremely chemically sensitive; her behavior is off the charts with too much chemical exposure, not too mention headaches, nausea, etc. More on how we discovered her chemical sensitivities here}. We had a natural pest control company come out three times, then we added our own natural treatment: Borax. {You wouldn't believe the number of hours we spent researching natural ways to eliminate fleas!}

We thought we had the problem solved. We even added prayer to the mix! {I literally put my head in my hands on the airplane and prayed that we would return to a flea-free house.} Hearing my girls scream made me want to cry. I hear you girls! So we prayed some more. Prayed for deliverance from these fleas...and for God to show us how to get rid of them so that we can enjoy our house.

And this is where some of you may think I'm going off the deep end, but I believe God can cause the fleas to flee. I mean really, He parted the Red Sea. Surely He can drive fleas away! So why didn't He? Because He is God, and His ways are higher than our ways. {Isaiah 55:8-9 explains a lot of things!} Does he hear my prayers? Absolutely. Does He know how much I hate the feeling of an unclean, infiltrated by fleas home? Without a doubt. He knows me so well that He just might have a higher purpose for me in all this than just getting rid of fleas.

Do you see where I'm going with this? Maybe I don't need to write that part out. Same song, different dance. Back to that deep, heart-level struggle I have with imperfection. I want victory in this, and the Lord knows it. {Isn't that part of why I left a perfect home in Houston for this imperfect farm house in Franklin?} I think the Lord continues to allow imperfection into my life...because He loves me and wants the best for me. At least that's the best sense my heart can make of it today. But knowing God, He's up to far more than I can see!

Clean slips and new seagrass. This room is taking shape...
though beneath this room is where the worst of the moisture lies.

We've concluded that the flea problem goes far beyond previous pets in the house. I remembered that our next door neighbor in Houston had a big flea problem years ago, and it was because possums were living under their house. Talk about flea bags! We've now got the Tennessee Trappers on the job! And another thing we've got to resolve: the constant moisture issues beneath our house. So here we go: doing the deeper level things in our hearts and in our home!

* * *

You know what happened while writing this post? I started looking up again...instead of down at my feet in search of fleas. Dare I show you what I see when I look down? 

Is that good looking or what?!?!
My flea defense system: dark pants tucked in
to my husband's long white socks...with flip flops.

But now that I'm looking up again, here's what I see:

A happy, hard working family.

A very happy husband. Hard work suits him.

A bottle of wine with one last glass waiting for me!
Funny label, but fitting, don't you think?

Thank you for sitting and "listening" to me process out loud, sweet friends-o-mine! My heart is "unkinked" and I'm ready to give thanks again...for you, for my family, for my farmboy husband, for happy girls, for the baby bunny I saw out front this morning and the deer I saw out back this afternoon. I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be: giving thanks.

With renewed joy,

P.S. We don't have a TV signal of any kind, so I'm missing my beloved Olympics. Can anyone chime in with some epic moments that I should try to find replays of somewhere?

P.P.S. Little known fact: I wanted to be an Olympic athlete. I was quite sure I'd be one of the first women's fast pitch softball pitchers for the US Olympic team. I lost my drive, but watched former rivals win gold. That was fun!
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