Design Obsession: Pam Pierce Design

Sometimes, you just find something so beautiful, you HAVE to know more. That was the case with the simple, classic design of the Christmas decor I found on Pinterest one day. This led me to the designer, Pamela Pierce.

I’ve been intently studying her portfolio and trying to glean what lessons I can. While each photo screams “MONEY” to even the most casual observer (any one of these homes are clearly worth many millions), I can’t help but be inspired.

My source for the entire post is the Pierce Design & Associates website found here, Do yourself a favor and view the entire gallery starting with the first photo.

What struck me most is her simplicity in accessorizing; whether the interior is romantic and feminine with ruffled slipcovers and billowing curtains or whether it is masculine and rustic, the accessories are few and far between. Where someone else might use several trinkets, she uses one large piece.

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Lovely patina and texture galore. Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 7.36.04 PMThe rumpled linen upholstery, chippy antique table, and simple floral arrangement are sweet.

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 7.33.50 PMSee the skirted chair? Her upholstery is often skirted like this. You’ll have to visit the gallery to see the romantic, dramatic rooms that feature more like this.

The contrast of the somewhat industrial island with the warm stone and wood, the exchange of traditional upper cabinets for perfect windows, and the clean-lined open shelving all win my heart.

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 7.33.00 PMThis traditional dining room feels unfussy and organic in every way. Notice the lack of a chandelier in favor of candle and natural light.

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 7.31.50 PMThis arguably more streamlined and modern residence looks warm and cozy . The brass reason lamp behind the richly-hued armchair (plum? chocolate?), natural wood, chunky planter, and textured linens beg you to sit down and rest. I find that the unfussy bed’s fluffy loft ensure that it doesn’t appear lacking in anything. Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 7.29.35 PM

Though the palette and choices are traditional, the layout of the room and scale of the items are anything but ordinary. I admire that risk and vision. I also adore what I’ll call her “soft” symmetry. For instance, though she does have two cream pieces of upholstery with wooden side tables on opposing side of the fireplace, there’s nothing identical about the arrangements. Instead, she marries them with color and texture.

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 7.30.25 PMThere are too many lovely elements to name in this picture. But the three that caught my eye immediately were the black muntins and stiles, the reclaimed wood head jambs, and the fresh greenery as a focal point. Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 7.32.17 PMAnd finally, this loveliness. The soft stripes, lamp shades, lack of an area rug, the simple pendant, tone-on-tone walls and trim, and the oxidation on the antique mirror.

Here’s the link for you one more time. Enjoy!

Happy New Year: Goals and Changes for 2015

IMG_6672Happy New Year, Friends!

I want to share some changes, dreams, and goals around these parts. Forgive me as I don’t even bother to proofread and let my dreams take the reins for a few minutes.

First, Mr. S enjoyed a (well-deserved) military “leave” recently in which he was able to grow a beard. Ha! This is nearly impossible for a police officer and soldier, so he took advantage of the opportunity. The bright-red beard bit the dust in the final days of 2014. Bye, beard! See you after retirement or on a future deployment!

IMG_6684 Secondly, I’ve begun a process I am calling “The Great Un-Decorating of January 2015.” Yep! I’ve realized that, though I love home decor, I will forever be terrified of clutter and knick-knacks. Have you ever been in a decor-lover’s home that was such an unrestrained jumble, you couldn’t focus on anything, but just the magnitude of everything? Friends, I realized I have the potential to be that friend. Yikes!

I love homey, cozy, and inviting. I don’t love unedited rooms full of everything that’s ever caught my eye. I love to share and donate. I don’t love to hoard. I don’t want to love our living space, I want to love living in our space.

Does that make a lick of sense to anyone else but me? Basically, unless it’s functional or irresistibly lovely, it’s going into storage until it can be used in our first home or donated to someone else who can enjoy it now. Silly and trivial though it may seem to some, I take homemaking seriously and am praying over these decisions. I pray our home is a sanctuary for friends, family, and strangers alike. A place of peace and restoration.

OK, now I’m ready to share some scary New Year’s goals and plans. I say scary because writing them here makes them feel more concrete.

This year, I plan to read My Utmost For His Highest from cover to cover. It’s a classic, and I think it’ll be a precious starting point to my quiet time. I also want to read the One-Year Chronological Bible to improve my Bible history knowledge.

I want to commit to doing a workout three days a week, and will change my routine drastically from what it’s been in the past. Running distances truly hurts my knees, and after talking to our chiropractor and my fitness-loving husband at length, I’ve decided I will stick to 2-3 miles or running for me (it’s still my favorite) or 20-30 minutes of cycling paired with strength training. It’s a modest goal so I know I can stick it out. I will also eat fried food only one day a week. Again, not a drastic change but a realistic change, and a change worth making!

I want to intentionally pour into a girlfriend every day. I have been hugely blessed with many sweet women I just love to pieces from childhood, college, church, and work. I want to invest in other women the way older women have invested in me.

I am going to cut down on coffee. I’ve already cut back to a daily two-cup limit (another order from our chiropractor) and hope to reduce that to one. Let’s be honest, I’ll never quit completely, friends.

I want to intentionally continue my education. I am truly a lover of reading, learning, and listening, but haven’t chased after my areas of interest with purpose. I want to pursue the things that interest me with vigor. From U.S. history to Geometry to Spanish, I want to learn it all!

Last but not least… This one is scary to put into words, because I don’t know what it is… I have a vague goal and I am still praying through it. I want, and almost need, to have a creative outlet. I don’t know what that will look like! I have so many dreams, from refinishing furniture to doing wedding invitation calligraphy, to selling prints, to helping friends decorate and organize their homes, to someday owning a little shop of my own. I want to help make other people’s lives beautiful. I truly just hope the Lord will show me what to do and how to add that to full schedule and my first love (teaching). For now, I’ll cultivate these things and wait.

Thanks for letting me share with you in this little dream space! ❤

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Mr. S, Daddy, and Momma on New Year’s Eve in Nashville
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The final, splendid sunset of 2014. Revealing glory!

What are your dreams for 2015? Thanks for stopping by!

Freshly-Tilled Heart

I could declare it “The Time of Sorrow.” Not just for us, but more importantly for many of those we love dearly.

It is with near-certainty that I declare that you, too, have probably been through a season (or twelve) like that. At every turn there seems to be, another grieving, hurting friend. Messages bearing bad news arrive by the dozen through e-mails, texts, and calls. There is always a visitation, a funeral, a mourning friend. It can feel like the world is declaring, “Here I am again; I’ve come to pull you down with me.”

Dark? Maybe.

But the Word gave me is this truth:

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”
1 Peter 4:12-13

We are guaranteed hardship as a result of living in a fallen world, but in God’s gracious sovereignty, all toward revelations of His glory!

Have you seen a farmer prepare a new field? He travels over the expanse of hard ground to retrieve a rather frightening machine. With twirling blades, he pierces the surface of the earth, breaks up clumps of clay, and transforms it into light, loose soil perfect for spreading his seed. He takes the unyielding ground below and transforms it so that he might grow something beautiful and nourishing where scraggly weeds once thrived.

Suffering is certain.

For some folks, when their hearts are attacked by trials, blades piercing through, thick scars commemorate the site of the wounds. With every hardship, they become a little tougher, stonier, and withdrawn.

For those of us who call Jesus “Lord,” that tilling and overturning does something different. Our stony hearts become hearts of flesh. When the world slashes our hearts open, they are transformed into yielding ground ready to be sowed with seeds of truth, watered with grace.

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ”
1 Peter 6-7

Take heart in your suffering, and know that you are being grown, cared for, and refined through every painful moment. Praise God that when we’re cracked open and left raw, we’re in position to produce a harvest of good fruit beyond what would have been possible if we’d been left alone.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 5:1-5

Memorial Day

My heart is too full, proud, and heavy this Memorial Day to pen words of my own.

So instead, I’ll share an excerpt of Mr. S’s favorite speech, President Ronald Reagan’s “A Time for Choosing,” in his honor today.

Though it covers several of President Reagan’s core values, I have highlighted the portions I believe hold greatest meaning to Mr. S, whose heart is mostly that of a soldier.

Now let’s set the record straight. There’s no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there’s only one guaranteed way you can have peace—and you can have it in the next second—surrender.

Admittedly, there’s a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face—that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand—the ultimatum. And what then—when Nikita Khrushchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we’re retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary, because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he’s heard voices pleading for “peace at any price” or “better Red than dead,” or as one commentator put it, he’d rather “live on his knees than die on his feet.” And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don’t speak for the rest of us. 

You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin—just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard ’round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it’s a simple answer after all. 

You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance.” And this—this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater’s “peace through strength.” Winston Churchill said, “The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we’re spirits—not animals.” And he said, “There’s something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.” 

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. 

We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness. 

We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.

Thank you very much.

Plenty Pretty

Dear Friend,

You are beautiful.

But you don’t always feel that way, do you?

Have you, too, been in that moment? The one when you try on item after item in your too-tight wardrobe, face heated, emotions rising, eyes brimming with tears, hating your own body?

Or the one when you catch a glimpse in the mirror at the end of a day? Your skin is either shining and oily or alligator dry, your makeup is smudged away leaving blemish scars on display, and maybe there’s a humiliating stray hair or two sprouting somewhere embarrassing. As if on cue, images of airbrushed-beautiful models come to mind, and you quickly turn from the mirror.

There have been moments when I feel, not frumpy or haggard, but downright ashamed when I look in the mirror. Have you felt it, too?

I could talk to you for hours, seated on a comfy couch and wrapped in a blanket, about my insecurities and hang ups. I could tell you the times I was mocked for the acne on my skin. I could tell you about when, as a teenager, I heard girls snickering about my “almost pretty face” just loud enough so I could hear, and how I went to the girls’ bathroom and wept. Little comments that are lies of the world.

And, sister, I know you have your share of heartaches and hurts, too! Did your mother tell you, “If you’d just lose some weight…” Did someone gasp when you walked in the room without makeup? Who or what filled your mind with lies?

We could talk about our hurts and wounds all day. But those thoughts and feelings are lies, so instead, I want to share truth with you.

Friend, I am plenty pretty enough, and so are you.

“For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,”
Psalm 139:13-14

Oh, the folly of my wandering heart that cries, “I disagree with You, Lord.”

“Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear:
Forget your people and your father’s house.
The king is enthralled by your beauty,
honor him, for he is your lord.”
Psalm 45:10-11

Did you read that with me? The Lord doesn’t think you’re OK. He’s enthralled by you. You are loved, beyond reason or logic, and pursued relentlessly by the King.

And the best part is, the things we do to make ourselves acceptable to this world we’re passing through are totally without value.

Do not let your adorning be external
   —the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry,
or the clothing you wear—
but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart
with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which in God’s sight is very precious.”
1 Peter 3:3-4

Your tattered jeans, your summer frizz, and your scuffed up shoes mean nothing in the eyes of the Lord. The gentle tranquility of your heart makes you lovely.

The bump in your nose was planned and is actually adorable (I’m speaking to myself here). The stretch marks around your waist from bringing forth new life are gorgeous. Your skin was made with pores on purpose.

Look at yourself! Really.

Look, with wonderment, that when your friends and family look at your smiling face, their hearts feel joy. Do you see that wide smile? It’s contagious. Your giggle? It is infectious and makes others join in. Are there lines around your eyes? They tell every stranger you meet, “This woman has laughed and cried and lived life with others.”

Do you see the Lord’s perfect plan for your face? When we look at you, friend, we feel happiness and adoration.

Have you seen your child smile and reach up from his crib at the sight of you? Did your groom, like mine, cry as you walked down the aisle? Has your grin in a coffee shop made the stranger passing by grin, too?

To me, there’s no sweeter, more joyful name than Jesus. And guess what?

“he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.”
Isaiah 53:2b

However you stumbled upon this little musing, I pray for you, right now, that you see yourself as you really are.

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
Proverbs 31:30

With Love

Wildly Undomesticated

Mr. S. doing what he does best with our nephew and niece.
Mr. S. doing what he does best with our nephew and niece.

My husband comes alive outside.

At home, he rests, re-energizes, refreshes and washes. He loves tenderly, laughs heartily, and sleeps soundly.

I love that. I see this as my life-long ministry to him, to create a place of just that in our home. My greatest pleasure in marriage is to see my husband walk in the door, sit down for dinner, or crawl into bed and sigh a happy sigh of relief and contentment.

And lest you think I’m claiming victory over the domestic sphere (ha), let me confess that I’ve made our home a less-than-lovely place many times in my (grumpy, lazy, ugly) sin. Yet we have the luxury of living under abounding grace, and so in spite of our failings, the general pattern of our days at home is one of joy and tenderness.

And though home is good for him, he doesn’t thrive here like I do. The reason is simple. In his heart, my husband is wildly undomesticated.

Continue reading “Wildly Undomesticated”

The Humble, Lowly, Common Man

Today, my students and I were privileged to hear a beautiful piece of music performed by our capital’s talented symphony.

Photo by Weston Demonbreun (http://www.gwstudios.biz/)
Photo by Weston Demonbreun (http://www.gwstudios.biz/)

High-toned brass communicated triumph. Lower timbres gave the piece regal depth. The music swelled with such power and prestige. As I listened, I pictured mountain peaks, soaring birds, grand processions, nobility, and more. Chills spread across my skin, and my heart soared as high as the symphony hall’s gilded ceilings. It wasn’t just the music. It was the title.

Any king would be honored to be represented by the song. In fact, it has been chosen to communicate triumphant entrances by politicians, producers, professional sports teams, and the Queen of England herself. But its composer, Aaron Copeland, instead titled his piece, “Fanfare of the Common Man.”

And, friends, does the common man not deserve fanfare?

Every morning as a girl, I listened to my father’s boot-clad footsteps thud across the floor downstairs as I lay cozy under my quilt, head on my pillow, only half-awake and still half-dreaming. I would listen silently as Dad would microwave his instant coffee, head out into the cold alone, and make the drive (that he still makes today) to his factory far away. Never once did I worry if we’d eat dinner, stay warm, or sleep safe. Dad took care of those things. If he worried about the future, I never knew. Away he’d go, faithfully every morning, to care for us all as we slept in our beds, safely abiding in the home he created for us.

Sometimes, I’d sneak away for a slumber party at a friend’s house. We’d be reminded not to make too much racket as her father, dear to me still, had to work in the morning. We would ignore that request and get carried away telling secrets, writing stories, and giggling through the night. I remember well his patient reminders on a couple of occasions that we needed to stay quiet so that he could sleep. The night would continue with careless ease until we finally settled down, well after midnight. Then, before we drifted off, before the fingers of daylight had even slipped above the horizon, he’d walk through the living room, into the kitchen, heavy boots resounding, and head off to his fire hall to provide for his family and to protect and rescue strangers.

My husband and his sister were raised by their mother and her husband. Though not his father at birth, he became a dad to them in every sense of the word. He taught them, protected them, and provided for them like they were his own. He spent weeks at a time on the road, driving alone as a trucker, while they attended school, stayed home, and led the care-free lives led by well-loved children. When my husband affectionately says, “Dad,” this is the man I instinctively know he is speaking about.

My best friend’s parents separated when she was young. Not long after, while she was still a girl, her mother was in a horrifying collision that left her with several severe health issues that would forever alter her quality of life. Her father could not shake the feeling of responsibility. He has since spent nearly two decades loyally caring for her and raising their daughter virtually alone. He has not asked for praise. He hasn’t held it over anyone’s head or felt entitled to special recognition. He is a man who has dutifully put his family first in spite of intense hardship.

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Mr. S’s very own dirty boots.

I now watch my own husband show love in more ways than I could imagine. He has started my car and brewed my coffee on cold mornings. He has worked through the night in sub-zero temperatures to serve our city and provide for our family. He has traveled around the country and world to serve our country. He has run on virtually no sleep without complaint to care for his family. He dutifully gets our oil changed, takes out the trash, walks the dog, and serves me daily. He has reminded me to rest, to eat, to sleep, to relax, and more for my own good.

I propose that every one of these men deserves a fanfare of their own. Because the act of leading and protecting a family is as important and noble as anything worth writing in the pages of a history book.

Quietly, men around us toil and overcome the world day after day.

Whether a man waits tables with excellence and care, writes laws to improve our cities, prepares in singleness for a family of his own, collects the garbage while others sleep, leads a ministry through prayer and intentional seeking, or makes sales with integrity, I propose that he is worth celebrating just as he is.