Faith & Family, Home DecorFavorite Things Gallery Wall November 7, 2017 I know it’s been longer than usual without a post, friends, and this seems like a fitting one to start back with. As I said in our living room reveal post, we have so few walls for art in this house. It’s small and open, so I wanted to maximize what I could. So much of the goal for this house was purpose and meaning, so I knew I wanted meaningful art and more family photos than I’ve had in previous homes. I wanted this wall that welcomes you right inside the door and the main view from the living room to be filled with meaning for our family. I went back and forth between calling it My Favorite Things Wall and My Reminder Wall in my head because I really wanted it to be both: a wall filled with our favorite things BECAUSE of what they reminded us of. I decided to do this wall several months ago as we were moving in and God knew what He was doing. I was in a great place then, but I didn’t know a season was soon coming where I would cling to these reminders that filled this main wall of our home. It’s been a bit of a rough season these last few months. August was the first month where I started to really notice changes in my mood that I couldn’t seem to “fix.” Obviously, our family had a ton of change during the spring and summer, but all of it was behind us…so why was I just starting to struggle? I figured I was just tired. I mean we did some crazy things…sure they were worth it for many reasons, but crazy nonetheless. And I crashed. Since then, I’ve been on a bit of a roller coaster. I’ve had a lot of emotional ups and downs and keep telling Chris that I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel. I’ll “conquer” one thing and have a good day or two, then I’m right back down about the same things. I haven’t felt like myself in many ways for awhile now, or at least not for very long. I think what’s most upsetting is how I’ve started to question myself, what I know to be true, and how we felt certain God was using us as a family. In so many ways, I feel like I did after Rosie when my thyroid struggles began, but I keep having it checked and all of that is regulated this time around. After a lot of talking with other mama friends, I’ve realized that some level of postpartum depression/anxiety has set in. I’ve been broken down with my hormones all over the place and am weaker than usual to fight off the lies that always come. And during this season, they’ve wreaked havoc on me and where I find my value. So many lies and questions about my work mainly have flooded in. I have so much less time to devote to it now with two. It seems I’m often dropping balls everywhere and I just have such dreams for this baby of mine and so few are possible in this stage. With my dreamer nature, it’s hard to see purpose in something when I feel like I can barely chip away at the dream list. I’d spent a long time adjusting and accepting what little time I had for work after Rosie came and now with two, I’m realizing that’s cut in half. Also, coming on the heels of so much spiritual refining and changing of our hearts this last year (I detailed this in Our Story #5), a lot of doubts about the purpose of what I do have come as well. Why does this even matter? Is it just contributing to the rampant materialism and comparison our world is now filled with? Is there a shred of good in it? I’m sharing this today for a couple of reasons. First off, I’ve felt called from the very beginning to share our life and my heart with you. I feel like too often, we keep personal things too private. The problem with that arises when others with similar struggles feel isolated and alone. Our sharing can help create community and take that away. Also, I have to say thank you to all of you. Every single time that I’ve been in a really bad mental place with these lies, God has nudged one of you to send a comment about the purpose you’ve found here. It isn’t me. I gave up trying to write this thing a long time ago after failing miserably so many times. Anything that y’all find here is Jesus, pure and simple. I know I’m broken and don’t do a perfect job at this, but all I want is for Him to use it as He sees fit. The fact that it also helps put food on our table is a blessing that I really can’t wrap my head around. He’s just too good…more than we can imagine. I’ve saved those comments and have read many of them over and over. I’ve never seen your faces, I only know your names and the kind words you sent my way, but God used you to bring me out of dark moments and back into His truth-filled light. I’m grateful for the community God has woven together here and that even though none of you knew I was struggling in this way, He still used your words and hearts to remind me of His purpose and plan and the role this blog plays in that. I’ve sat down to write posts so many times throughout these last few weeks and just haven’t had the words. God is working on me so deeply through this time. He’s reminding me of my status as His chosen, beloved daughter. He’s reminding me of my extreme value to Him completely separate from anything I do for work. He’s reminding me that though I’m broken, drop balls, and do seemingly very little right these days, He is a steadfast provider who can take my broken shreds and turn them into a beautifully woven and complete tapestry that has purpose and that He uses to change lives in the name of Jesus. I’m trying to give myself a lot of grace and time, which isn’t the easiest thing for me to do. But while I’m walking through these dark days of questioning, as strange as it sounds, He’s used this wall in our living room to help get me through. When I look up at it, I see the wonder He’s filled my life with, the unique gifts He’s given me and tasked me to use for His glory, and I see the vision we feel He’s given us for our life. Here is what made it onto this reminder wall. They were first on the list to fill this wall. Photo after photo of this family God has entrusted to me and tasked me with caring for…it’s good stuff, y’all. I’ve always heard the design rule that you don’t use family photos in a well-designed room or in a living room. They’re for private spaces instead of where you would entertain guests. Really? Who are we designing our homes for? The funny thing is, I always thought that rule was dumb. I’ve never believed in or followed design rules and yet I’ve subscribed to this one without even meaning to. I’ve hardly ever used family photos in our homes. I love colorful art that is just perfect for a space and with my love of design, that’s always been my first go-to. It makes me so sad now reflecting back on all of the beautiful spaces I designed that we loved, but were lacking the faces of who I designed them for. No more. Looking up and seeing photos of my partner in this life, remembering how God brought us together and wrote a story of adventure with us we could’ve never dreamed up or planned on our own uplifts me. Seeing the faces of my two babies reminds me daily of my purpose in this season that I wouldn’t trade for anything. They are so worth it all. That sign at the top has our first address on it, the one where it all began. I made it for Chris for our first Christmas. I love having it here. It reminds me every time I look at it of the crazy adventure God sent us on that I still can’t believe when I look back at it. Recently with all I’ve been questioning about our life and my work, Chris has kept telling me to go back and watch The White Buffalo Story videos I did back in the spring. It’s funny, you wouldn’t think I’d need to re-watch those. I mean it’s our story after all. But wow. God’s used them in big ways this last week to remind me of how He’s gifted us and how He’s using us. He’s using them to reignite His purpose in my heart and this sign reminds me of all of it. Gifts, Calling, Purpose, Adventure, Freedom…the list goes on and on. This old painting of a little white church has long been a favorite of mine. Growing up, I remember always seeing it at my grandparents’ house and a few years ago, they gave it to me to have and to remember them by. While I love it just because it was theirs and it brings up a lot of happy childhood memories, it goes so much deeper than that. You see my grandparents are special, special people. My grandfather has been a pastor for 65 years. He’ll retire this year at the age of 83. The ministry they’ve had together is staggering. Their ministry has spanned states and people of all walks of life. They’re masters at taking churches in need and loving them back to a thriving place. But even more powerful to me than their ministry in churches is simply how they live every single day. Every single person they come into contact with they love on. They’re the people who literally never meet a stranger. Even now, when you go out to eat with them, within minutes they know the waitress’ name, her kids’ names, and a good bit of her life story. They look people in the eye, they ask questions, they tell them in love, “You matter.” They’re never in a hurry when it comes to loving on people, no matter who that person is. And that is something Chris and I both have been so touched by. It’s how we want to live, it’s how I want to see every single interaction God brings my way. I have a long, long way to go, but this is my prayer. They’re leaving a beautiful legacy of loving others and I love having this reminder here on this wall every time I leave the house. “Love others. They matter.” This blog wasn’t born out of a way to make money. It wasn’t born out of trying to follow trends or please readers. It was born out of a simple love of creating that God put firmly in my heart. I have loved the art of creating since I was young and as an adult trying to make our first home on nothing but pennies and a prayer, getting creative was a necessity. First off, that meant that my first choice for a space was hardly ever possible. I had to think outside the box. That tall abstract taped to the wall above? Yeah, that’s an Anthropologie shopping bag. I finished this entire wall with meaningful pieces and I was determined not to put anything up here because it looked pretty or filled a space if it didn’t mean something, if it didn’t spark something deep inside. But this long space was empty and driving me crazy! I bought a few dishtowels for the kitchen, (will be shared so soon! yay!) at Anthropologie and after bringing them home, couldn’t throw away the bag. I loved it so much. I had it sitting on this console for a few days and I realized how much I liked the colors in this space. Inspiration struck, I grabbed a pair of scissors and cut it open/apart. Wouldn’t you know it, it was the exact size and shape I needed. So I taped it up and have loved it…think outside the box. Y’all may remember that set of three blue abstracts up top from our Shed Turned Screened Porch. Those were a similar situation as the gift bag. The day before photographing the reveal, I couldn’t find anything to fill an empty space and I needed a set of three. I had some blank canvases, got outside that afternoon and had the absolute best time painting something for our space. I’ve never really taken art classes and don’t remotely claim to be an “artist”, but painting is something I’ve fallen in love with in recent years. It’s one thing I started doing just for me, just for the love of creating. And that floral. I love the changing seasons and I love florals. I decided to paint a new floral each season for this little spot to remind me to just create….not for the blog, not for a big reveal, but because it makes me feel like me, most in tune with who God, the ultimate creator, made me to be. Painting this cotton-filled floral for fall is some of the most fun I’ve had in months. I LOVE celebrating the change of seasons too, so this is a fun way for me to get in the spirit as well. So many pieces up here fit in this category. They spark special memories. But there are a few I want to touch on. Do y’all remember the “Waiting on Rosie” paintings? I got it in my head the afternoon before my water broke the next morning that our house had to have the abstract paintings I’d been envisioning for awhile. Like, she just couldn’t be born and live in a house that didn’t have that! Hello, last burst of crazy nesting energy! That was the first time I’d ever really painted and I spent an afternoon spread out on our backyard picnic table experimenting and creating with no pressure, no end goal in mind. It was beautiful and if I look back, I really believe that act started shaping how I viewed design thereafter…more meaning, less perfection. So seeing it there brings back a lot of good, inspiring memories. And that blue floral down in the corner. I bought that for Rosie’s nursery when I was expecting her. It was the first thing I found for our little girl and I actually found it before we knew she was a girl! But I was so drawn to it and I just felt this peace that it was hers. When I look at it, it reminds me so much of the girl I was before mama….the girl that dreamed of nothing more than having babies to love on each day, to raise up to know Jesus…pigtails to make and cookies to bake, tears to wipe and boo-boos to kiss. There was nothing I wanted more. Now, when I have hard days, remembering that girl and all of her motherhood dreams overwhelms me with so much gratitude. While the eternal impact and purpose of motherhood has been more and more revealed to me over time, I got it back then. And I craved it. And while there isn’t a day that goes by now without moments of pure bliss and thankfulness (though some days it may only be a fleeting second amidst the chaos), it’s so easy for the joy and purpose of what I’m doing to be lost. It’s so easy to resent my seemingly “on-hold” dreams. It’s so easy to miss the eternal impact in the mountain of diapers. And this reminds me. Being mama is my greatest calling and my greatest gift right now, and it is one I prayed for, longed for, and dreamed about for many years. At the end of the day, if not one thing on the to-do list is done but loving them well, we’re going to plop that day firmly in the WIN column. A few days ago, a new sweet friend at church asked me how I was doing. The usual me would give a forced smile and say “I’m good, doing just fine. How are you?” though I was crying out inside. And lately, God has been wrecking that keep it together part of me and saying “Be real!” Before I could answer her, I teared up and launched into a bit of what had been going on lately. She so lovingly encouraged me from her wise, mother-of-four perspective and I felt God moving and lifting the burden from my shoulders with each of her words. She said something so profound and it hit me deep down in the dark places we often don’t share with others…the places that say “Is this motherhood thing enough for me?” “Am I enough to do this well?” The place where the lies live and take root and grow if we let them… Her words of encouragement were water to my parched soul in that moment and I’ve been telling myself this over and over since. There is such beauty in this thing called motherhood, but it’s messy. It’s filled with crazy, raging hormones, tantrum-throwing toddlers seeking independence, endless crumbs on the floor…it isn’t pretty. But oh, it is just so beautiful. And this wall and the pieces of our life represented here reminds me just how beautiful it is. One thing I didn’t touch on that’s one of my very favorite things on the wall is my new letterboard! It’s the only thing I purchased for this wall (other than some plain white frames for family photos). I’ve wanted one for so long and I love having it here to change out the reminders over time for whatever we need: something seasonal, scripture, song lyrics, a poem…I found it on Amazon for a great price compared to others I’d seen! I had no clue how expensive these could be until I started searching for one. And now I need to change out that October quote…we’ll get there! It’s a journey, right? Maybe this new favorite quote above needs some time on the letterboard. Thanks so much, friends…for listening today and for being the vessels God used to encourage me. After weeks of not having words, this post sure felt good to write.