Fall comes too late in Georgia

Or maybe school starts too early…either way, it’s September 5th, my son has already been in preschool for three weeks, and it is 85 degrees outside. Everything that starting school ushers in – crisp air, turning leaves, cozy fires, pumpkin spice lattes – is still months away out here. It is one of the ways in which Seattle has Atlanta beat. In Seattle, the beginning of preschool meant buying new jeans for Jacob (not new shorts). It meant going to my friend Hillary’s house and having cups of coffee while we sat on the couch and talked (not iced lattes). It meant Phil buying eight thousand fall flavored candles at Walmart (“I just really like them”). In Atlanta, I’m still drinking ice water at 9 am and reapplying deoderant three times a day. But fall will come. And I really do want to enjoy the heat while I have it. I can’t complain about drinking ice tea and watching the little boys (my youngest son and my nephew) play in the baby pool. So to scratch this fall itch I have, here are some beautiful things that I would love to find in my house when the cool weather hits.

~ Book page decor. I think book pages bring a perfect, cozy neutral into the room with some character and a story (pun intended). To of my favorites are a bookpage wreath and bookpage decopage. I also have a great idea brewing for a bookpage chandelier, which I will post on if it turns out as cute as it is in my head.

Book Page Wreath

Book Page Wreath via Jones Design Company

Book Page Decoupage Pumpkin

Book Page Decoupage Pumpkin

Book Page Decoupage Fruit

Book Page Decoupage Fruit

~ Felt/wool. A pillow, or a few flowers in these fabrics are so autumnal to me. I’ll definitely make some flowers to pin on my pillows or maybe make bunch for a wreath.

Felt ampersand pillow via Pinterest

Felt ampersand pillow via Pinterest

Felt flowers

Felt flowers

~Plum. Although purple is not a color you will find a lot in my house, I am becoming increasingly enamored with plum. I especially love the way it looks next to gold and brown and orange and other fall colors. Last year I bought Oatmeal Raisin soap from Bath and Body works because of the amazing color of the bottle. Unfortunately, it was not a good smell for washing your hands (way too sweet). Here are some other beautiful ways of bringing in plum besides yucky soap.

Artichokes in a bowl

Artichokes in a bowl

via design seeds

via design seeds

32211899193d8497f56e82a2686d27a2

~ Rust orange pillows. I found this ad for wallpaper a long time ago and have held onto it, crinkled up in a drawer, because I love the pillows so much.  Phil bought me some amazing orange silk from Cambodia last summer and I think I can mimic these. I especially like the raw edges on the pillows.

photophoto_1

33-cheery-orange-wedding-ideas-11-500x682

More orange pillows

~Foliage. I love flowers in the spring, but as fall hits, it’s nice just to be able to throw leaves in a vase and call it a day. The greens, browns, oranges and yellows warm up a room. Plus it’s free and ever changing.

via Good Housekeeping

via Good Housekeeping

via Better Homes & Garden

via Better Homes & Garden

via Pottery Barn

via Pottery Barn

via Pottery Barn

via Pottery Barn

So here’s to all of my dear friends in Seattle whose children started school this week.  Drink a pumpkin spice latte and walk around crunching leaves for me. I miss you.

Advertisements

Imitation Hardware – Vintage Army Officer Desk

On a rare childless date last week, my husband and I went to a huge antique store in Roswell, GA (Canton Street Antique Market). It is not the kind of store Phil loves being in, but it was our anniversary so he humored me.

Before I go on, I have a little bone to pick with some of you “antique” dealers. A beat up chair from Ikea is not a “rustic antique painted chair” worth $50. It’s a new chair, worth $20, that you probably dropped a few times.  I am surprised by how often I recognize art, or furniture, or fabric, from other sources pawned off as “antique.” But at the same time, if some rich lady wants to buy Target print for $200 from an antique dealer instead of $50 from Target, I guess it’s a way to make a living. Just be honest about the source. Ok, I’m done.

Anyways, as we walked from bay to bay, our eyes both fell on two army officer desks. One was set up, and one was put together. Because they are desks that had to be brought into the field, they fold up really neatly and compactly with handles. Maybe because it was our anniversary, or maybe me wearing high heels has an affect on him, but Phil was drooling over these desks as much as I was. As any savvy shopper would, we looked them up on Ebay to make sure they were priced as well as we thought. The cheapest we could find them online was twice as much as these were, so we decided it was a good deal. I was giddy all day waiting to get them home. I set one up in the boys’ playroom, and my 4-year-old colored for over an hour on it. That in itself is success. The other success is how much I love they way they look.

Image

Both tabletops set up, during playtime (i.e. legos everywhere)

Both tabletops set up, during playtime (i.e. legos everywhere)

photo-001 photo_3-001

Although RH doesn’t have something that looks just like this, vintage, rustic-looking furiniture has been popular for awhile and this desk looks like it’s right out of a catalog.

Image

Restoration Hardware baby and child vintage locker desk

I love it so much. I opened the other desk and set the table top on the other side of the drawers to make two desks. The additional drawers are now being used as a side table in another room.  The posters are just $4 each a Paper Source. They are actually wrapping paper. Who would cut such beautiful things?

photo_4

Additionally, Jacob started school today, so the timing was great. It was fun to give him a desk as a big boy present. Happy first day of school, Jacob! And Happy anniversary, me.

What I believe

Ten days ago I had a miscarriage. I was 16 weeks pregnant.

That past few weeks have been filled with emotions from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Agonizing pain at the loss of a child {I feel like it was a girl, so I think of her as such, although we may not ever know}. Gratitude for my healthy sons. Anger that my body couldn’t sustain this little life. Relief that this didn’t happen later in my pregnancy. Fear that there was something I could do to stop it. Frustration that I have to “start over” getting pregnant. Guilt that I even care about something as petty as starting over. Sadness at the dreams that won’t come true. Regret that that I didn’t sing to her yet, or think about her more. Heartache at the memories of experiences I had while pregnant that now mean more than they did before. Overwhelming thankfulness for my friends in Seattle that poured out love to me and my family in Atlanta that all showed up on our doorstep that weekend. Grief. And above all, hope.

These are the moments in our lives where theology crashes into reality and we look at what we say we believe and weigh whether we really believe it or not.

Here’s what I believe. Jesus died because death is the wages of sin. Where sin is, death is close behind, demanding its payment. Jesus paid death with his own life. But Jesus is stronger than death. He rose. And he rose with a real body, a body that people could really see and really touch. So I know my little girl has a real body. She isn’t floating somewhere, she isn’t an ethereal spirit that ‘hope’ I get to see one day. She has a real body, real hair (probably blond like her big brother Rohan), real, sparkling eyes (probably green like her mama), and one day she is going to give me a real hug and tell me that she is so happy to meet me and daddy and has been waiting to show us where she lives. And we are going to walk, hand-in-hand, as she shows me the beautiful new earth God has redeemed, and we’ll eat amazing food, and watch clouds, and play games, and laugh, and spend time all together as a family. But right now she’s already there, playing with her cousins and her best friend named Eleanora. She is really alive, and really happy, and she doesn’t know that there is something like pain, or fear, or death. That’s what I believe.

I believe death is our enemy. I hate when people say death is a natural part of life. Have you ever experienced death? I am the first to say that what Phil and I went through and are going through is on the low end of tragedy. To lose a child later in pregnancy, an infant, a young child, an old child, parents…all of those are more tragic. But if you have experienced death at all, you know that it is the most unnatural thing we as humans face.

It rips us up. It destroys something in us. Humans throughout history have spent time, money, resources, and lifetimes trying to avoid death. We write about it, we watch it on TV, we sometimes even let it entertain us, all in an attempt to have some control over this thing that we know we will one day face. And that one thing is what we fear above all else. Because we were never, ever made to face death. Is goes against everything we were created for. Death is our enemy. It prowls around, looking to claim us.

But you know what else I believe? Death loses. There is a verse we don’t hear often, 1 Corinthians 15:26, and it makes me smile.

“The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

Death is real. It is a normal part of life in the sense that we all will experience it. But it is not natural. It is our enemy.

And it does not win.

It didn’t win two thousand years ago with Jesus and it didn’t win last week. My baby slipped right through death’s grasping, desperate fingers into the arms of Jesus. And I have news for death. It won’t ever, ever win with my family. We serve the Author and Creator of Life. We are on a mission to reconcile the earth back to God and be a part of His story of redemption for all mankind. We bring light into dark places. We live to destroy death.

We belong to Jesus.

 

The 2013 Atlanta Designer’s Show House

Last week I was lucky enough to be able to go to the 2013 Atlanta Designer’s Show House. I say lucky because 1) Phil let me spend $25 on a ticket, 2) Phil let me pay a babysitter, and 3) it is only about 10 minutes away from my house. People travel a long way to see this thing so it was fun to be a local. I do realize it sounds like I am married to a stingy ogre, but let me set the scene. This month, we travel to Seattle for ten days (plane tickets, eating out every meal, hotel) and then to Orlando for another seven (plane tickets, eating out every meal, hotel). So it is a tight month, and $50 for an afternoon alone was a high cost. So really, I am married to an angel who knows how important this was to me and how much I needed an afternoon alone.

This year’s show house is an 18,000 square foot house called Tuffeau. It was designed by William T. Baker, a renowned Atlantan architect. The architecture is based on of french design, with zinc dormers, a slate roof and French limestone.

Tuffeau

Tuffeau

The Design House Association comes out with a publication each year featuring the rooms (which I will be requesting for Christmas), so there was no photography allowed because of publication rights. Of course part of me wants to inundate this post with pictures, but part of me is glad I was able to just enjoy the house without stopping every five seconds to snap a shot. I will post some pictures that are on their website, however.

In an 18,000 square house, suffice to say there were too many amazing things to mention. But here is a list of the highlights of things I loved or new products I saw.

1. White bronze – This metal looks kind of silver with a gold hint underneath. With a little bit of research, I found that white bronze is not really bronze but an alloy of zinc, tin and copper. Because it is inexpensive, it is often used in jewelry and because of its sturdiness, is used in grave markers. In this house it was featured as the hardware in the kitchen. I really liked the appearance of it.

White Bronze Door Handle

White Bronze Door Handle

White Bronze Shield

White Bronze Shield

2. Pewter Countertop – Another feature in the kitchen, the pewter countertop on

one of two islands may have been my favorite thing. I looooved the way it looked.  You can tell it’s a metal but it is so matte that it almost could pass as a dark concrete. The countertop at the house was slightly hammered, but I imagine it could be smoother or more dented depending on your taste. Pewter is an alloy (like white bronze) that is fairly soft and will show some of the dents that will inevitably happen in a kitchen. But you could mask some of those by having it hammered on purpose. I don’t think I would mind the dents – give it some personality to make it seem more antique and genuine.

Wade Millwork

Wade Millwork

a441501d

Brooks Custom

Brooks Custom

Francois & Co

Francois & Co

3. Pewter accessories – Before I even got to the kitchen, I noticed how many designers used pewter platters and pitchers in their designs. My mom has an old pewter pitcher and I have always admired how it looked. It effortlessly gives the feel of an antique, and you could imagine it anywhere from  an old farmhouse to a vineyard estate. Many rooms had pewter plates displayed up on the wall. I think I’m going to hit a few second-hand stores with these in mind.

Antique Pewter Pitcher and Plate

Antique Pewter Pitcher and Plate

Apothecary Pewter Soap Dish

Apothecary Pewter Soap Dish

0000282.1L

1390

4. Paint colors – Here are a few that caught my eye:

Benjamin Moore Collingwood – This was used in a huge space downstairs and it felt just right. Light and airy, but a great tone. “Beige” can just be so yellow or so pink. I thought this one was a perfect linen shade.

Benjamin Moore Collingwood

Benjamin Moore Collingwood

IMG_1786

Benjamin Moore Pacific Sea Teal – This dark, intense color was used in a small bathroom. It’s a lot of color so it was well placed in a little space.

Benjamin Moore Pacific Sea Teal

Benjamin Moore Pacific Sea Teal

5. An espresso room – Designed by The Consulting House,  this was one of the highlights of the house for me. In fact, on the floor plan the homeowner switched the espresso bar and the wine cellar so that the espresso room had more square footage. As a recent transplant from Seattle, I thought it was a great move. Good coffee is hard to find in Atlanta, so I appreciated this emphasis. The room wasn’t exactly my style but there were a few things in it I did like, such as the Moroccan tile on the bottom half of the wall, wall mounted coffee dispensers,  and a picture of St. Peters Cathedral.

Espresso Room

Espresso Room

ExpressoRoom_2enf

ExpressoRoom_6enf

Interestingly, they featured emerald green at the entrance of the house as an homage to Pantone’s color of the year, but I only saw it a few more times in the entire house. A few dining chairs and a tufted ottoman, but no window treatments or pillows or bedding that I remember.

Thank you to my sweet husband for letting me have such an indulgent afternoon of walking around looking at beautiful things. Next year I’ll save up and make him come with me.

Three things I tell my son

Theoretically, I am a fantastic mom. I know the way I want to mother, I know the things I want to teach my kids, I know what kind of people I want to raise them to be. I know how to discipline in most situations, I care about their eating habits and sleeping habits, and I think TV should be a last resort.

Of course, in reality, I’m just a regular old imperfect mom. I get lazy. I don’t follow through on the discipline I know how to do. I let TV be a first resort. I lose my temper. I am inconsistent.

But I am always working on bridging the “theoretical” and the “reality.” I want to constantly move toward being a better mom. Lately, as I am asking God what things he wants to work on in my character, he showed me three things. They just so happen to be three things I am working on with my oldest son, Jacob.

1. “Not immediate is disobedient”

My husband coined this phrase for our son. We don’t count to three, we don’t “give warnings” (I mean, theoretically of course). But our goal is that Jacob would obey immediately, and any arguing or ignoring or bargaining from him is the same as being disobedient, even if he plans on obeying after fixing one more Lego.

Yet this is not the way I always view God’s voice. I have found myself thinking, “If he really wants me to do that, he will tell me again.” Why would I think like that? Is that the way I want Jacob to view my authority?

Immediate obedience is sometimes about convenience. “Come here please” because I don’t want to stand at the fountain at the mall any longer. “Come for dinner” because I’m starving. But most of the time, I want Jacob to be obedient right away for his safety or for an opportunity. If I tell him to stop in a parking lot, it is because he is running out into an aisle where cars are driving. If he is not obedient immediately, his safety is at risk. Or if I tell him not to touch something, it is for his own good. Sometimes I ask him to come to me because I can see something he can’t and I want to show him. For instance, there is a train going by and I know he will want to see it, but he has to come to where I am. If he delays in his obedience, the train will pass without him seeing it.

It’s the same with me and God. Sometimes I think he just wants us to do what he says right away out of honor and love for him. But most times, I think it is for our safety or for an opportunity. If God wakes me up and tells me to pray for someone, I need to do it right away. Who knows what is happening in the spiritual realm that I am fighting against with my prayers? And if I go to sleep and think, “If he really wants me to pray he can wake me up again,” what am I forfeiting? If God tells me to go give a word to a random person at the park, and I falter in obedience, thinking he will tell me again if it’s important, what opportunity could I miss because in that time, the person leaves? What did God want to say to that person that I forfeited on their behalf because of fear?

2. “Don’t let the way other people act determine the way you act.”

This is a big one for all parents, isn’t it? We tell our kids, “It is never ok to hit/bite/say mean things, no matter what someone else does.” We expect them to have consistent character traits, regardless of the situation. Just because someone steals a toy from you does not give you the right to steal a toy from them. And just because someone else breaks the rules does not make it okay for you break them as well.

We expect this from our kids, but not from ourselves.  So often we are vindictive, mean-spirited, sarcastic people, but we think it is justified because of what someone has done to us. Do you know what God has been showing me?

If I think I am a kind person, but I say biting things to my husband when he disappoints me, I am not a kind person.

If I think I am a gerenous person, but I withhold giving to others because I don’t like the lifestyle they are living, I am not a generous person.

If I think I am a forgiving person, but I don’t forgive until the other person has made it up to me, I am not a forgiving person.

The substance of my character is how I act in the face of injustice, cruelty, disappointment, frustration. I, in most situations, let other people determine how I act. I hate that. I want to be bigger than that. I want to be someone who, no matter what, is kind. Who, no matter what, is generous, and forgiving, and patient, and sweet.

3. “Share with your brother. If you are sharing, I promise you will always have enough.”

For Jacob, this is very specific to food. Jacob loves his little brother, and doesn’t withhold his snack out of spite or to be mean. He doesn’t want to share because he is afraid he won’t have enough if he gives some to Rohan. At the core, this is selfish, and in an older child I would address the idea of sacrificing for the good of others.  But for a four year old, this is a very natural thing to worry about, and instead of telling him to sacrifice, I promise him that as long as he is sharing, he will always have enough. What Jacob sees is his small bowl of cheddar bunnies. What he doesn’t see is the Costco size box I have on the counter. I have more bunnies than he could ever, ever eat. And if I run out of those, I can buy more. I have, in essence, an infinite amount of cheddar bunnies. And I want to give them to Jacob! I have them for the sole reason of giving them to him! I just want him, in turn, to give some to Rohan.

Most of the time, all we see is our bank account. Or our debt. Or our bills. What we don’t see is God’s Costco size box of resources. We don’t give generously, not because we don’t want to bless others, but because we are afraid of not having enough for ourselves and our family. If you believe in the God I believe in, you must know this – money is not an issue for him. It’s just not. He is the author and sustainer of life itself; a human tool like money will never, ever stop him from his intended purposes. I don’t believe in the prosperity gospel – that if you give generously to God you will be rich. It’s not a formula. In fact, Jesus himself was homeless. He relied on the generosity of others to sustain his lifestyle. But I do think it is a principle. If you are a good steward of what God has given you, whether it is much or little, he will rejoice in giving you more because he knows you are responsible and generous with it. And God doesn’t always provide through dollar bills. It is often through the generosity of other Christians that God provides food, and clothing, and housing and education and networks…and also money.  He no doubt also wants to use you to provide for someone else. Isn’t that the greatest idea? In the church family, if we are all always giving, then we will all always be receiving. May I be so bold as to make you a promise on behalf of Jesus? Give generously this month. Or tithe a simple 10% if you don’t already. And I will promise that all of your needs as a family will be met. It might be miraculous and it might be mundane. But if you give with a generous heart, not for the formula but out of the principle, God will bless you.

So those are the things I am working on right now, in Jacob and in myself. It’s kind of fun to have the same project as my son, so to speak. I can use what God is teaching me to guide how I am walking with Jacob through these situations. I think that the greatest lesson comes from me watching Jacob’s responses to my parenting. He is much better at it than I am. I’m trying to be as good of a parent as God is and as good of a child as Jacob is.  And somehow, in the busyness and seemingly unexciting day to day life of mine, God is giving me opportunities to practice both.

Why the joy of the Lord is my strength

In full disclosure, I have had a hard time moving to Atlanta. I’m not sure how to explain it well, but the fast way is to say I’m never really happy. I love my boys and I enjoy doing fun things, but I find that I’m never smiling. I never feel filled with joy. I’m just kind of doing life right now.

I know a lot of it is transition and probably mourning the loss of our life in Seattle. But knowing this is normal doesn’t make it better. Some days when I’m in the shower I just stare at the wall and think “I have no motivation to do anything at all today.”

I’m sure you have been there. Whether you are going through a tough time or you are just an exhausted mom/student/employee, there are days we just don’t feel anything, the least of which is joy. It’s on those days that I think about the verse that says “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” And you know what I think? I think, “Yeah. Sure.” We hear this verse and assume that, by knowing Jesus, we should be filled with this inexplicable joy that just surges us forward in our day with renewed energy and delight. To instantly fix our problems. To battle depression. To gloss over real emotions that we have regarding real life situations. And when we don’t feel overwhelmed by joy and strength, we think something is wrong with us.

I do believe this kind of joy exists, that can fill us and overwhelm us. But I don’t think that’s what this verse is saying. Have you ever read it? It’s from a great book called Nehemiah. First, though, a very brief historical setting –

Go back to around 586 B.C. Israel as a nation disobeys God and disregards his law and is taken into captivity by the Babylonians. Years pass, many Jews settle into Babylon, make it their home, and start a family. Babylon, meanwhile, is defeated by Persia. The new Persian king decrees that anyone who wants to go back home to Jerusalem can (Read about it in the book of Daniel). Some do, most don’t. The ones that do go back rebuild the temple (read about it in the book of Ezra). That brings us to the story of Nehemiah. He was a second or third generation Israelite living in Persia. Not only does he live there, he works in the service of the king, Artaxerxes. He cares about Jerusalem and asks around one day to see how the progress of rebuilding the city and nation is going.  The men say, ““Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire” (Neh. 1:3) This overwhelms Nehemiah with grief. He asks God to give him a way to go help, and then talks to the king, his boss. Artaxerxes lets him go back to Jerusalem. When Nehemiah gets there, he starts crafting a plan to rebuild the wall.  In ancient cities, a wall both figuratively and literally defined the city. Without a wall, you had no city. He chronicles his work and his struggles against a lot of opposition. Finally, the wall is rebuilt and he gathers all of the people living there to dedicate the wall.

Now, remember, these people have been separated from the way of their ancestors by generations. They have either been raised in another country, or they were the children of people left in a devastated Isreal because they weren’t important enough to be brought to Babylon. They don’t follow the law of God, but it is because they don’t even know it. They don’t even know their God has a standard of living for them. They have never heard it.

So during the dedication, Nehemiah has the priest Ezra read the law to the people and explain it. And here’s what it says (Nehemiah 8),

“Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.”For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

The people were weeping because they understood how much they had missed the heart of God. They had no idea how wrong they were living, and when they were faced with their sin, they mourned. They were saddened that they had turned away. They repented of the way they had lived. But then Nehemiah says the most amazing thing.

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Do you understand how powerful this statement is in light of the context?? The people are convicted (as they should be). They are sad (as they should be). They are mourning and crying and trying to show God how sorry they are. And instead of letting them mourn, and cry, and punish themselves, God says, “This is a day to celebrate, not to mourn.” Why? Because he is filled with joy in this moment. His people came back to him. He never sees a repentant heart as a reason to be sad, but a reason to celebrate. And how were the people to wipe their eyes and get enough strength to celebrate? Because they knew that the Lord rejoiced over them.

The joy of the Lord in this verse is not some supernatural joy imparted to us. It is the joy the Lord feels over his people when they are running toward him. THAT is what gives us strength. When I posture my life and will toward him, it THRILLS him.

Now whenever I think of this verse, it holds a lot more meaning for me. No matter what I’m going through, how I’m feeling, or even when faced with things I have done, I can choose to ignore the self-pity and self-depricating thoughts that pop into my head because I know that my savior is rejoicing over me. The joy the Lord has over me gives me the strength to love myself, to be content with who I am, and my perceived shortcomings as a mom and wife. Does this mean I always feel joyful, or full of strength? No. But it does mean that if I am enough to make God smile, I am enough.