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!
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.
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:
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
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
Click on the above image to save the Binder Cover
Click 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.
Click 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.
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.
Lisa, Kaytlyn (friends from church), and I threw a baby shower for a couple in our “life group” at Long Hollow Baptist. This couple is obviously so loved; just look at this turnout!
Sweet tea, lemonade, and water were all available to cool off on the hot summer day.
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. A 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. We 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.
Then, they wrote notes of encouragement for Mom and Dad to read on those weary nights. The goal was to make every inch of the space girly. This was snapped before I nestled the last of the flowers in place.
And here they are in place!
My friend Kaytlyn’s ultra-talented mother in law made us treats in the mint-and-pink theme.
We served chicken salad croissants, pimento cheese, and fresh fruit.
Love seeing these ladies laugh and giggle. They couldn’t be kinder or sweeter!
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!
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.