Tuesday, June 21, 2016

One Voice

Over the years, Caught in Grace has become a place where I have opened up my home and invited you in to share with you all the fun things we're doing around our house.  I love blogging about home decor and design, painting furniture, and our latest house projects. But I have felt the Lord stirring me to begin opening up my heart here too and sharing my spiritual journey.  It feels risky and vulnerable and scary, but He is asking and I desire to follow Him.  So (Lord-willing) this little blog will probably become more of a mixture of sharing both my heart and my home with you.  I don't know exactly what it will look like, but I hope you'll stick around with me through these changes.  And I hope you'll be encouraged.



I realize that their are already so many voices out there talking about Jesus.  With this age of social media, there is just no shortage of thoughts and opinions, experts on every subject.  It seems that everyone is blogging, writing a book, sharing their thoughts on IG, or making podcasts.  Sometimes it feels like their are so many voices talking about Jesus and how to follow Him, that it can actually take away from me hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit leading me.  And the last thing I want is to add to the noise.

So here's the thing… There is only one voice whose words brings life, transformation, and hope to your life.  Just one voice calms your stormy sea.  One voice brings comfort to your soul.  One voice turns your darkness into light.  One voice tells you the way.  Only one voice can bring you lasting freedom and healing to your heart.


I am learning that when I listen to others speak or read what others write about their journey with Jesus, I have to listen for His voice within their words. Otherwise I end up following them, their steps, and their path, which is not the same as following Him.  Too many times, I picked up a christian book, did a bible study, or listened to a sermon and thought that because God told them something or did something in their life a certain way, that that was how He was going to do it in mine. I tried to do what they said to do, attempting to get the same results with God or in my spiritual life or with my kids that they got.  And over and over and over I found myself frustrated with God and myself and confused about why it wasn't working.  And then I felt lost and discouraged in my own walk with the Lord.

Early one morning, in the midst of some of my frustration, God showed me a picture of me in the front seat of a rocket ship that wasn't moving or going anywhere. In the next instant, I was in the back seat of the same rocket ship and the Holy Spirit was in the front seat.  And immediately, the rocket ship blasted off.  God was showing me that I had to learn to let the Holy Spirit take control of my spiritual life.  He is the driver and guide, not me.  He leads, I follow.  I just go where He takes me and allow Him to do what He wants to do in me, in His way, in His time.  It isn't my job to figure out where I'm going or how I need to get there.  It's His job to lead me.  That brings such a deeper peace to my heart.  

God has given each of us His Holy Spirit to guide us into truth and freedom.  He walks with us on our journey, leading us and guiding us along the paths we need to take, opening our eyes to certain things when we're ready, and speaking encouragement, truth, and freedom into our hearts and minds along the way. He's very personal and specific with each of us.  He doesn't lead us all or work within us all in the same way.  Realizing that has been very freeing to me.




So, I don't want to be just one more voice out there on the internet saying "I know the way.  This is how it's done!".   Because I don't know your way.  And how the Lord leads me will not necessarily be how He leads you.  And not one word written on this blog has the power to do anything in your life unless Jesus chooses to empower these words with His very life and breath.  So before I start sharing any more of my journey in this little space, I want to remind you to listen for His One voice among all the words I may write.  It's only His voice, His words that can transform your life.  I am so convinced of this.  Listen for Him.  Look for Him.  Whether you're reading my blog or scrolling through IG or reading the next best selling christian book, let the Holy Spirit's voice be the one you hear through all the noise, advice, and opinions.  The world is loud, so listen carefully…you'll hear Him.

And just as a reminder, the Holy Spirit's voice brings peace and confirmation to your heart.  His voice is gentle and kind, not harsh or demanding.  I have found that He is also very patient and He will persistently keep telling me things when I am unsure if I'm hearing Him correctly or if I need extra encouragement.  He loves deeply and draws us to Him with loving kindness. If you read something on here (or anywhere) that doesn't set right in your spirit, feel free to let it go.  If it confuses or frustrates you more than it helps you, let it go.  If it brings heaviness or discouragement, let it go.  Trust the Spirit in you to lead you.  He is a faithful guide.

Here are some words I have felt the Holy Spirit speak to me over the last few months and I'm hoping they encourage you too

I am doing something different in you, so let me lead you.  Listen for my voice above all the other voices.  Don't compare your path to the path of others and don't try to be like them.  Let me lead you.  I am here with you as your personal guide.  I know the way through for you.  Eyes on me.  Listen for me.   Just because I had so-and-so do such-and-such does not mean that's what I'm leading you, teaching you, or asking you to do.  I am forming you for my plans and purposes and I'm very intentional in what I'm doing.  I have kept your eyes blinded and the way unknown so you must look to me to guide you.  I am the way.  Don't look for the path.  Look at me and follow me.  I will guide you in peace of heart and mind.  My ways are not your ways.  You must trust me to show you the way, one step at a time.  Just hold my hand today. 






Thursday, June 2, 2016

Around the House

Hope you all had a nice Memorial Day weekend!
 
Tim and I just celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary earlier this week.  I'm so thankful for our thirteen years together and for all the ways God has worked in us and in our marriage to always hold us together.  We have been blessed!



Tim took a day off from work last week when the kids were in school and we went to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch.  It was nice.  We don't go on date nights very often, but while we were sitting there eating, we decided that lunch dates while the kids are in school work pretty great for us.  It's nice to be in a stage of life where that's an option.

Well, I got a little off track because originally this blog was going to be about the little things we've done around the house.  So let's forget all this sentimental anniversary gush and get back to house stuff!

About a month ago, I decided to give our closet a makeover.  It all started with a trip to Ikea, where I picked up several packs of wooden hangers.  After getting home and getting ready to take all of our clothes out to re-hang them, I thought I might as well de-clutter and paint while I had everything out.  It just made sense.  I knew if I didn't do it then, then most likely I would never get around to doing it.  And I had visions dancing in my head of a calm, clean, minimalist closet space and I wanted to see if I could make that happen in real life.  I got most of it done in that one afternoon, so it wasn't a big job, but it sure made a big difference.  Our closet doesn't have a door (we took it off years ago to make things simpler) so we see straight into the closet from our bed and since I am such a visual person, I appreciate the new view.

Afterwards, it looked like this


And kind of surprisingly, a month later, it still looks basically the same.  I've found that when I spend the time to really clean out and organize a space in a way that works for us and looks pleasing to my eyes, it helps motivate me to keep it that way. 


On to the next project… I was inspired by a picture on Pinterest to create a pot garden to cheer up our back deck.  I had a few old terra cotta pots sitting around and then we found several more listed cheaply on Craigslist that already had an aged patina.  We planted daisies, dahlias, tomatoes, a rose bush, and a few other things.  I also have a small herb garden growing out there.  I don't have the best green thumb, but maybe I can keep these growing for a while.  The hardest thing for me is remembering and taking the time to go out there to water them because the hot sun dries them out so fast and then all my flowers start wilting. 



A few weeks ago, a friend and I went to an open house in our neighborhood.  I just love walking through houses.  Sometimes I think I should be a realtor just so I can visit lots of homes. Ha! Anyway, this particular house was the same ranch style as our house, so it was especially interesting to me to see how the owners arranged their furniture and what additions they've done to their house.  I've always struggled with the layout of our basement.  Because of all the entrances and exits, doors, and windows, it's not an easy room to work with.  But after visiting the open house, it gave me an idea to try out in our home.  Later that afternoon, I got Tim to help me move things around.  It's definitely much cozier with the couch closer to the fireplace.  The rest of the room feels slightly unfinished to me, but maybe it will just take a few little touches and some time to get used to it.


Have I showed you guys my grey Annie Sloan chalk painted piano yet?  I can't remember.  It used to be turquoise, but I re-painted it grey a while back because I've moved out of the turquoise phase.  And then a few weeks ago, I decided the top of the piano needed a little freshening up for summer so I switched it all up.  Right now, I'm loving splashes of pink and gold with lots of white, gray and a little bit of black. 



Which brings me to my pink peonies!  I think I mentioned in my last blog that I've been patiently waiting for them to bloom.  All my neighbors peonies had been blooming for weeks before mine barely had buds on them.  Every day, I would walk around my yard and check them for progress.  Well, finally last week, mine all started blooming.  I enjoyed going out each day, looking for opening blooms, cutting them and bringing them inside to enjoy.  



I was pretty excited about how many I got this year.  





I had enough to fill a big jar on the kitchen table.



And another smaller jar in the living room.  I love the white peonies too!  And look… more pink, gold, white, gray and black.  I think it's becoming a thing around here. 


I can't wait to see how many I get next year!  





Friday, May 13, 2016

A Spring Makeover: The Outdoor Edition

Although Spring has been so slow in coming this year (and extremely rainy), the slightly warmer days have inspired me to get outside (when it's not raining) and give the exterior of our house a little bit of extra love.  Our front porch, as well as our flower beds were looking quite sad and dismal after the long winter and they both needed some freshening up.

Before:





The first thing we did was buy a few ferns to add to the front porch.  And with the help of a new doormat, our porch felt a lot more welcoming afterwards.  It's amazing what a little bit of greenery can do.



I also decided to dig up everything in the flower bed to the right of the door and completely start from scratch.  I hated the overgrown bushes and my daffodils were past their prime and resembled weeds.  I removed the Hostas and re-planted them in other places. 

Before picture:



In the middle of the process of deciding what to plant in the empty flower bed, I decided the bed was too large and overwhelming, so I moved the edgers in a few feet giving me a smaller space to work with.  I kept it simple with one Hosta, three Boxwoods and two Peonies.  Boxwoods are classic and they will stay green year round.  And Peonies are my absolute favorite flower.  I've been adding one or two new Peony plants every year to the flower beds around our house and now I have six.  Most of them are still so young that I don't get many buds, but a few of them have quite a few buds on them this year, so I'm excited.  I can't wait to cut them and bring them inside to enjoy.  I also re-planted my Daffodil bulbs so they will hopefully come back next Spring.



For Mother's Day, Tim made and hung flower boxes for me.  So far, I've filled them with Impatiens and Ivy.  I'm hoping they grow and fill out until my boxes are overflowing with flowers and greenery.




I ended up painting the front door black (it was white).




As much as I love white everything, black doors are classy.


I found a sweet little Gardenia bush at Trader Joes and brought it home.  My mom had a Gardenia bush when I was growing up and I can still remember stopping to smell it when I was outside playing and bringing a few flowers inside to enjoy. 



Here's an after picture.


I feel like it's quite the improvement from where we started, but I can't stop thinking about painting the brick white. 


Here's an idea of what that could look like.  



It looks so charming, doesn't it?

Tim is not quite on board with this idea though, so we'll see if we actually ever do it.  

Do any of you have a painted brick house?  I would love to hear about it if you do.  Did you paint it yourself or have someone else paint it for you?  Do you love it, hate it, or regret it?  Does it require much upkeep or re-painting?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Painting the faux fireplace


Apparently, I can't go very long without painting or rearranging something in my house.  It's my creative outlet.  So even if every room in my house looks finished and put together, I just start getting this impulse to switch something up after a while.  

You may remember that about a year ago, I took down our faux fireplace and put a desk up here in its place.   

(See picture below)



Well, I liked the desk and it looked good there, but I just kept having this urge to paint the faux fireplace black.  I ignored it for weeks until finally I just had to do it and see what it looked like.  As much as me and the color white have a thing, surprisingly I am also falling in love with black.  Black makes such a statement.  And I've read that every room needs something black in it to ground it. 

So after painting the fireplace, I fell back in love with it.  And now, the desk has moved downstairs to the basement room and my fireplace is back upstairs, front and center.  



We also finally switched out the light fixture in here.  Since this room was originally intended to be a dining room, it had a chandelier hanging in it when we moved in.  And three years later, Tim was still hitting his head on it every time he forgot to duck when he walked through.  I just had the hardest time finding a flush mount light that I liked, so I stayed stuck with that ugly chandelier for way too long.  But finally, I settled on this light from Lowes.  It's simple and classy.  And bonus, it was fairly cheap.  We have this same light hanging in our foyer now too.  Eventually we plan to switch out all the out-dated flush mounts downstairs with this one. 



I hung our House of Belonging sign over the mantle, cut some fresh limbs from our tree outside, and stuck them in a vase.  This was a simple way to brighten it up and add a hint of Spring inside.  There is nothing like plants that liven up a room.



And I placed some birch logs on a basket to make it feel a little bit more like a real fireplace.



Do you ever get the urge to switch things up just for fun too?