The Bird.

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source: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=66107&picture=robins-eggs

Last week, Lucy got a baby bird. I often think of Lucy as our very own precious, little pup, but she sure seemed like a giant with that tiny, fragile robin chick in her droopy, slobbery muzzle.

We know from experience that any time the beagles collide with nature’s fauna, the results aren’t pretty. From the shrill bays over passing deer, to that baby rabbit they tossed around like a stuffed toy, to the last few birds who’ve mistakenly fallen or landed in our yard, tragedy is sure to follow.

This evening, I wandered in and out, yo-yoing aimlessly as I do (I’m the queen of piddling around at home and can begin 5 chores in an hour without ever accomplishing one). A little pause to thin out the zinnias, back in to organize my bathroom drawer, back out do a little weeding, back in to google tomato cage styles, back out to admire the gladiolus, back in to do my hair for dinner with girlfriends from church.

But as I picked up my flat iron and fussed with my hair, I heard THAT bark. Dog lovers know what I mean; we’re well versed in what each bark, whimper, snort, and growl means. They’re distinct when you really know your dog.
Not the “Let me in!” bark.
Not the “A neighbor is walking!” bark.
Not the “You have a toy I want!” bark.
This was the very particular, “WE HAVE SOMETHING AMAZING!” bark. Urgent, high pitched, and panicked, this bark told me a simple, “No” wouldn’t do.

I looked out and saw it. Lucy’s mouth. And from it, a wing. And beside her, the little maple sapling that had held the most precious robin quadruplets.

Not again! The second bird this month. And yet, this time it hit me harder, like a punch to the gut. Dismay.

I loved those birds, y’all. From finding bright blue shell fragments while mulching; to seeing their bare, alien skin; to watching them cry out to their mother for food; to seeing their feathers fill in, I’ve loved every second of them living in our yard (though Mother Bird always complained loudly from a nearby fence or tree when I would take a quick peak).

I knew Lucy would rather do just about anything besides walking away from that bird. To her, my horror and dramatic yelling was just her master trying to rob her of a wonderful surprise.

I sprayed her with the hose in desperation, and that little bird dropped to the hard ground while Lucy dashed away to hide in the hydrangea bushes.

Before I knew it, I’d run to it and had scooped it up in my hands. The warmth of its tiny body radiated through the skin of my palms. Though its neck was flopping and its legs were limp, I began to search for signs of life.

Was its chest rising and falling?
No.

Could I see a tiny heartbeat?
No.

Could I feel a little heartbeat?
No. 

I found myself hoping and praying and pumping with one finger on its tiny chest, expecting it to spring back to life. Nothing.

After a moment of horrified stillness, I raised made some raucous noise.

I burst back into the house, bird in my open hand, and slammed open the door to our room, where my precious husband was sleeping soundly in preparation for his night shift.

I woke him, tripping over my words as I spat them out, “Wake up! There’s a bird! Lucy got him! Is he dead? Is he gone? Can we save him? Look! Wake up! Hurry!”

He jumped from the bed, took a good look, and tenderly touched my shoulder as he calmly said, “No, Lindsey. He’s gone. I’m so sorry.”

Friends, if you know anything about my husband, you know his job is to deal with things much darker, sadder, and harder than the backyard bird. Just this week, he told me about a couple of young people whose time had come much too soon.

I cried anyway, feeling the folly of my tears in front of a man who has solemnly and calmly told me about true human suffering many times. Yet here I stood, weeping to him over a bird.

He could have corrected me for my folly. Of course this bird was a goner.

He could have reminded me of how desperately under rested he is.

He could have shamed me for being so insensitive after the losses he’s seen lately.

But instead, he quickly dressed, suggested we take the bird to the front yard, and quietly went to find a shovel as I slumped on the porch stoop and wept.

“This was so silly, I knew it was gone.” I stammered apologetically.
“It’s OK,” he replied kindly.

He squinted in the sun as he dug a hole for the bird in our shade garden bed. I apologized again, thanking him for helping me, guilt sinking in at how ridiculous and childish it was to wake him up over a dead bird instead of calmly discarding it in my hands.
“It’s OK,” he said again, sincerely.

I thought about the fragile, hopeful, newness that is a baby bird. And how, in an instant, it was gone.

I ranted about how warm he had been, then admitted he was getting cooler in my hand as minutes passed. “I know,” he said gently.

I sat right beside him, shoulder to shoulder and asked him to pray. For a bird, y’all. Like he shared my feelings of loss. Crazy though it may sound, it felt like his little life needed to be acknowledged, and I could barely speak.

So, my strong husband prayed on my behalf tenderly, if unsure of exactly what to say at a bird funeral on the spot.

He thanked the Lord for the bird’s short life. He expressed sorrow that he never got to fly. He thanked the Lord for his wife’s tender heart.

Then, leaned back so I could gingerly place the bird in the hole, carefully arranging his legs and wings like he was in a nest, settling in for slumber.

“There, he looks nice.” I said. He nodded back. Then, he buried the bird.

We used a little stepping stone to mark his grave. And I apologized again.

“I’m sorry. I should have let you sleep. You’ve seen so much and this must be the dumbest thing.”

“No,” He said, “Always wake me up for things like this. I love your heart. It’s good not everyone is just like me.”

And, as the spouse who couldn’t even bring herself to pronounce a clearly-dead bird “dead,” I could say the same about myself.

Being married to someone so the opposite of me has been quite an adventure for us both. But, in Jesus, it’s been the sweetest journey of inching closer to the middle.

Me loving his tough. Him loving my tender.

Thank you, Lord, for a man who is strong enough to do the hard things, and kind enough to give a bird a proper funeral.

Updates All Over

Here’s a quick photo update of our progress on our sweet little first home. 

We are so grateful for it, love to fill it with people we love, and hope to stay here for a long time! After a year of planning, our layout is how we’d like it for a while! We have some pretty low-end furniture here mixed in with a few “grownup” pieces. I’m going to resist the urge to replace until I have peace about investing in more.I hope to enjoy our kitchen table for decades to come! This little sideboard was actually our Homegoods media stand until we mounted the TV above the fireplace his summer. I refinished our guest room dresser. This is the one we inherited from my parents who got it from my grandparents. Updated hardware and Mindful Gray by Sherwin Williams gave it a fresh look. We also finally found a mirror that’s better scaled for the piece. There’s so much painted furniture in here that I wanted to incorporate more natural wood. Nearly everything in this photo was in our apartment, and it’s all just found homes here. The side table served as my nightstand, but I only keep a Bible, commentary, and journal at my bedside, so this piece now houses our very-small collection of movies, remotes, leashes, and not much else. I’m determined not to overstuff our home. Little lambs that were found last Easter have returned. They remind me of several sweet scriptures. We love to light the lamp and copper lanterns at supper instead of the harsh overhead lighting. We’ll always prefer a soft glow after crazy days of work. I brought in the rug and side table form the living room into our bedroom. We’ve swapped our heavy curtains for sheer linen, too. 

I searched for over a year for just the right bench for the end of our bed; it needed to be wide enough to look proportionate at the foot of our king-sized bed. I have enjoyed having a landing spot for our pillows and a place to put on my shoes in the morning. It’s the little things! I printed this free botanical art from The Graphics Fairy blog! I already had the frames on hand. The euro shams are from the Southern Living collection at Dillard’s. Harley can finally get on the bed independently. Mr. S pretends to protest, but deep down, he loves this! I found the large-scale vase at a Franklin antique store and liked that this Lowe’s lamp feels somewhat symmetrical. Someday, we’d like to replace this dresser. I’d prefer natural wood in our space, and a few bottom drawers need repair. This would be perfect for a guest room, but for daily use, it may be time to upgrade this piece to something we’ll keep for many years, Lord willing. Recently, I’ve really fallen for the online store Everyday Occassions thanks to the influence of a friend whose style I admire. I was particularly excited about these labels for cleaning supplies, since I have always had a (totally silly) dislike of busy product labels. Why not have a little more joy when doing the dishes and cleaning house? 🙂 My Rosemary topiaries are still thriving in this South-facing window. I’m so pleased! 

A Few New Additions

My favorite thing to do is to have people in our home. I love to brew people coffee, make people meals, and encourage them to kick up their heels and rest!

A couple of months ago, I rearranged our living room to make room for two new chairs. 

The sofa was moved to right against the wall, and the two chairs we brought from the apartment were left in front of the patio door.The TV was hung above the fireplace. This was probably the first time I’ve truly done the opposite of what Mr. S wanted. Truthfully, neither of us are fans of this look. However, it’s a small sacrifice to make considering that this means we can welcome more people into our home.A pair of swivel gliders has arrived from Ballard Designs. The shape and function of these chairs have captured my eyes for a few years, so I was so excited to grab them while they were on sale. Our bookshelf has moved back, too. I haven’t bothered to style it.I knew I wanted everyone to have a place to set their drinks, but because of our small space, the side tables needed to be petite.

This brass side table from Urban Outfitters did the trick and on a budget. I decided to use the same table on both sides of the room to unify the mismatched pairs of chairs.This side is shaping up, and this place if finally starting to feel as homey to me as the apartment. This lovely poster from Tanmachi goods arrived this week. It brings to mind one of my favorite scriptures:

“Seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you”

Bright and sweet and happy. Maybe it’s not like a designer room, but it’s certainly a lot like home. 

I’ll Drink to That!

Better health, that is!

This fall marks the beginning of something I’ve neglected for years; self care.

I am sometimes consumed with the idols of work, busyness, and people pleasing. I need to begin with that confession. 

I have neglected caring for my body and my mind these last few years. As I inch (more like race) toward thirty, I am beginning to feel that lack of care. A less trim waist is one thing, but tired eyes, an achey body, a weak immune system, and a scattered mind are not acceptable. I have too much good work to do to let my body become a hindrance.

I realize that these years before children will set a precedent for the rest of my days and the way I care for the well being of my whole future family. 

So, I have a few specific goals:

  1. Exercise moderately. 20 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes of strengthening just three little times a week. This may seem like a small goal, but for me, it’s a far cry from where I have been
  2. Make meals at home, eating out only twice a week for any given meal. I always choose health groceries, but I always choose unhealthy options away from home. I may also have to skip eating with those who will make unhealthy choices until I have practiced self discipline, since I always fall off the wagon when others do. I will instead recommend little coffee dates, walks, and hikes. There are many reasons to get together besides food. 
  3. Sleep. 8 full hours a day. I want to go to bed in time to do that. I think a big part of this can be accomplished by simply leaving my phone on my dresser instead of scrolling through it before bed time.

So, onto the eating front for now:

I know how good fruits and veggies are so good for us, but I could always incorporate more. Especially vegetables!

Their nutritional value and lower sugar make them so healing for our bodies, but if I reach for any healthy snack on the go, it’s much more likely to be a piece of fruit than a veggie.

But you can fit the nutrients of so many veggies into a single glass by simply juicing them. 

My favorite juices  are veggie heavy with just a little fruit, but there’s no harm in easing your way in with extra fruit until your palate adjusts.Now, this is no substitute for the fiber found in whole foods, but it sure makes a nice supplement.

Look at all the gorgeous, fresh-washed produced that fit into my glass.

I can hardly wait til Mr. S is home and I can surprise him with a glass of veggie juice. He would love it!

Today

I had a quiet day of solitude, bluegrass music, hymns, hot coffee, and laundry. Between loads, here’s what I did: Reworked these shelves to include just a few decorative touches.Did some serious online shopping to prep for future guests (and switching slowly to more faux flowers for a little less maintenance in this life)Took in Brother’s girl, Remmington, for the week. Played with things that have been in storage since we moved.The rug is only gone because of the extra pet around here and my desire for easy clean up.Washed the soap dishes I hoard (I’m too ashamed to show you how much hand and bar soap I have).This.
Thanking the Lord for the blessing of peaceful days. For bills to pay and work to be done. And for the beauty to be found right here without ever leaving the comforts of home. 

The Start of Something Beautiful: Women’s D Group Binder

Our church is focusing heavily on discipleship, and I couldn’t be more thankful for this!

I wanted to share a few materials I created to keep my little group (and my silly self) organized. I first want to tell you that, though I love my church, I am not an official representative of it, and don’t feel I have any authority to represent it publicly, so I’ve included a million links in this post to more “official” sources.

Second, I want to share the D Group materials I created tonight based on materials from our church. What’s a D group, you ask? Well, I’m so glad you did.

The process goes something like this:

We individually read the F260 reading plan. Our pastor and his wife designed is as a Biblical overview that can be completed in 260 days. You can read right along with us here.

Then, each week, Pastor Robby chooses one scripture reading from the week and preaches an expository sermon based on that passage. If you want to know what that fancy-pants word means, you can click here. To watch one of our messages, you can click here.

We have Life Groups that meet each week. These are sort of like Sunday school classes, and we keep rebranding them. I am giggling as I type (for the record, I like all of these names). Through the years I’ve been at LHBC, they’ve been “connect” groups, “small” groups, and “life” groups. We’re flexible people, y’all. But, just because the name changes, it doesn’t change the heart of Life Group! You can read about life groups here.

We’ve gotten to enjoy being in the same Life Group with a few of the same people for about 8 years now. This means that, when I show up, I am known and loved! When I’m away, people check in on me. When I’m having a hard time, these are the friends I can text or call any time. And we actually like each other enough that we hang out, call, text, Facebook stalk, and pray for each other (even on days besides Sunday, hence the name Life Group).

Fair warning. This was not automatic. It took time, trust, patience, and many years of loving each other well to build our little community. I hope it continues to grow! Also, only kindness intended, but if you hate absolutely every life group you’ve walked into, it’s time to take a good, hard look in the mirror (Are you giving as much grace as you’d like to receive? Or are you just judging everyone harshly, sensitively being “offended” about every little thing, and generally being a bit egocentric? If so, I guarantee you won’t find the right group for you… I know this because I have foolishly done all of these things). 

Life Groups are mixed gender and up to about 30 people. If they grow too much bigger than that, you start to walk in and feel anonymous again, defeating the purpose. So, at that point, our church encourages groups to multiply (not divide) into two different groups.

Life Groups engage in open-ended discussion based on the sermon. Everyone is encouraged to contribute, and we always end the discussion with applications and real-life takeaways.

From those Life Groups form real, authentic relationships. After praying (for months) and talking with our college pastor, a group of girls were highlighted to me who were growing already in their relationship with the Lord, who consistently attended and served in our church, and who were eager to learn more. I approached them and invited them to be a part of a Discipleship Group (D-Group)

D Groups are much different than Life Groups. D Groups are intentionally closed, small, single-gender groups. This means I get to walk closely alongside those few, precious girls. We get to go through The Word together, pray together, enjoy accountability, pray together, share insights, memorize scripture together, and so much more! You can read about D Groups here. Then you can get information about the books we chose here.

So, in summary, we have a large-group sermon/message with teaching and worship on Sundays where everyone is welcome, small classes called Life Groups where we talk about that week’s message and where everyone is welcome, D Groups with single genders that are itty bitty and exclusive so people can be totally transparent and grow deeply, and one-on-one time with the Lord (which I call “quiet time” but which you may have heard called “devotionial”) which consists of daily praying and reading  His word (and, for me, includes worship).

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Poor girls.

The girls in our group have totally different schedules, from full-time students with part-time jobs to a recently-graduated night shift nurse! We are using an app called “Group Me” to keep in touch during the week. With it, I can send the girls videos (like one today of me fumbling through my scripture recitation), reminders to keep up with their reading, encouragement, and even photos of daily journal entries. So cool! Best of all, they can mute me (Haaaaaaa! Sorry, Ladies.)!

But, as much as they probably will want to throw their phones across the room and kill me after I bombard them with messages (on the daily), how cool is it that we can touch base all week (without everyone’s phone going off all the time)?

I was blessed to be mentored by a couple of incredible women during college and my first year of teaching. My walk with the Lord, my marriage, my professional life, my home, and my heart itself all grew so much from those times (more than I can say in a tiny little blog post). So I’m so grateful to be able to do the same! However imperfect I may be (which is VERY, in case you were wondering) and however much I don’t know (which is a LOT), I get to rely on The One who IS perfect and all-knowing!

I wanted to help the girls, who are living VERY busy lives, stay on track and organized. So, like any (former) teacher, I created a binder with a little too much glee.

The content of each item is straight from our church publications, but I made things a little… Girly. Because, to me, that is worthy. That’s right. Fancy-shmancy notetakers, pretty fonts, and doodled embellishments excite me, and I can’t lie about that.

I’m giving each girl a binder with a pretty cover, a copy of the covenant they’ll sign, a copy of the scripture we are memorizing (the girls voted to learn the ENTIRE book of Philippians; go big or go home, amiright?) a reminder about the daily disciplines, and a weekly notetaker to help them remember how to pray for our group after all the inevitable gab is done.

These are not meant to form a legalistic checklist for the girls. However, they are meant to help wandering minds (like mine) stay focused and encouraged.

Click on each item to download it yourself. Feel free to print and reproduce the items for your own D group.

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Click on the above image to save the Binder Cover

D Group Covenant.pngClick here for a PDF version of the D Group Covenant: d-group-covenant. I took this right from our church, but modified it a little just because of the scriptures I personally wanted to read with my ladies as we read each item.
D Group Weekly Note Taker.pngClick here for the Weekly Note taker: d-group-weekly-note-taker

The above resource is only expected to be used as it is useful. Not every area has to be filled in each week.

HEAR Journal.pngClick here for a daily H.E.A.R. journal: hear-journal

 

Daily Disciplines of a Disciple.pngClick the above image to save a copy of the Daily Discplines of a Disciple IMG_4331.JPG

I hope this is useful to someone. If this blesses even one lady, it was worth frantically typing at nearly 4 in the morning. 🙂

Warmly,

Lindsey

 

Painting the Door with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Like all poor bloggers, I forgot to take a before picture. But it was BAD. The white paint was chipping off our fiber glass door in large, hard, sharp, flaky chunks.

I had been dreaming of replacing our door with a wood-and-glass entry like this: 
From farmhousetouches.com

I’m always a fan of natural wood and traditional, simple style. I’m also a big fan of natural light. Since this side of the room faces North to a covered porch, an extra window would do us good! 

However, Mr. S (wisely) has insisted that we need to protect our privacy, and that our typical, tract home neighborhood isn’t the ideal setting for a view straight through to our home.

Also, this kind of door is a real budget buster. They’re expensive! 

So I decided to go with a classic black door. 

Source: Pinterest, uploaded by another user

While I haven’t gotten around to the outside, I really felt our interior needed the contrast most of all. 

I knew I didn’t want a true black, but more of a charcoal color. 

Then, a sweet neighbor gave me her left over Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Graphite as a surprise!

I wasted no time and got my door knocked out the next morning (my birthday). It took two coats to get all-over coverage, but three to get every last stubborn corner.

 This image has only chalk paint, and you can see the door is lovely and dark, and also matte (one of my favorite qualities of chalk paint). 

As great as it looked, I knew it would get some serious wear and tear, so I needed to protect this finish to make it more durable. 

I considered using Annie Sloan clear wax, but because this door gets intensely hot from exposure to our swampy Tennessee summers, I knew I needed to go a different route. 

I chose General Finishes High Performance Water Based Topcoat in the Flat formula from Then & Again Home Marketplace, the store where I work. 

I already had used this product to reseal my kitchen table and loved it. 


Even though I was carefully to use long strokes, the top coat dried and gave the appearance of short, choppy strokes. 

I poked around online and found that the chalk paint probably is absorbing the product unevenly before it dries, resulting in this spotty look. 

However, the great news is that this unsightly layer acted as a barrier for the next two. 

Here it is after two coats. A huge improvement! The imperfections you can see are actually present in the door itself, not a result of the finishes I chose. 

The topcoat dried pretty rapidly in my house, whose thermostat I set right at 70 degrees. I turned on the overhead fan after each application, and the process flew by. 

And finished! Such a huge improvement from chippy, flaking paint, way cheaper than a new door, and some much-needed masculine contrast in this space! 

Early Fall

Fall is our favorite season.

This year, it’s far too hot this September, and Mr. S is away, but rather than pouting, I figured I’d just make believe. 
My first batch of dried limelights turned out beautifully! Next year, I hope to have plenty to share with friends. I adore them beside white pumpkins.I found this sweet orange plaid throw at Michaels while grabbing fabric for a client. I used a gift card to grab two of those sweet pumpkin pillows from Pottery Barn. I went a little crazy and even grabbed some curtains at World Market with a bit of turquoise, burnt orange, and brown in them. 
Same orange pillows as last year. I made them out of Target kitchen fabric (can’t remember now if it was a tablecloth or dish towel) when I couldn’t found an orange plaid I liked. Grabbed the gray throw from Pottery Barn, too. 

Soultatos Baby Shower

Lisa, Kaytlyn (friends from church), and I threw a baby shower for a couple in our “life group” at Long Hollow Baptist. 13903221_10155156465097796_7784223863330451777_n.jpgThis couple is obviously so loved; just look at this turnout!

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Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

Sweet tea, lemonade, and water were all available to cool off on the hot summer day.

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Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

We went with a tea party theme. I found sweet little teapots at Target and from a friend and used them as flower vases. The hydrangeas are from our yard, and the other flowers seemed just right for a baby girl. IMG_3284A generous co-worker, Nancy (or Queen Nancy as I call her), let me borrow this beautiful bunting! She actually loaned us the majority of the items for our shower. So grateful to her!

The little teacups were inherited from my grandmother. IMG_3293-1We gave sweet baby Sailor a children’s Bible called “The Jesus Storybook Bible.” It’s my very favorite children’s Bible as it is jam-packed with good theology and truth! Guests signed the book and addressed it to the already-much-loved Baby Sailor Elise.

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Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

Then, they wrote notes of encouragement for Mom and Dad to read on those weary nights. IMG_3295The goal was to make every inch of the space girly. IMG_3297This was snapped before I nestled the last of the flowers in place.

 

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Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

And here they are in place!

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Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

My friend Kaytlyn’s ultra-talented mother in law made us treats in the mint-and-pink theme.

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Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios
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Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

We served chicken salad croissants, pimento cheese, and fresh fruit.

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Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

Love seeing these ladies laugh and giggle. They couldn’t be kinder or sweeter!

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Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios
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Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

Ever-gorgeous Brittney.

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Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

Ever-smiling Jonathan.

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Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

This little lady is destined to be a happy little beauty like her folks! Soultatos family, we hope you know you are always supported as you seek to raise up this little one well. We are here for you and praying for you!

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Photo by Gretchen Demonbreun of GW Studios

Our Life Group ladies with the parents-to-be in the center. Sweet Cheryl on the left has seen many of us through a lot of stages of life! From college to marriage and children of our own.