A photo by Crew. unsplash.com/photos/rCOWMC8qf8A

Have you been through a season where you just can’t get a handle on “normal” tasks and commitments in your life?  When you just can’t get it all done? I just experienced one of those times.

Our family is just emerging from a season of change and transition with two house moves, a mission trip to Haiti, wedding in Yosemite, a home remodel and getting our oldest ready to head to college in Nashville (two trips out there) all in the past two and a half months.  All of this squeezed every last bit of margin out of my normal schedule, and I found myself doing things that I try hard never to do.

Like backing out of commitments (big ones).  Or saying no to invitations that came my way.  Or putting off meeting with good friends for weeks because I couldn’t find the time, and telling clients that I had to postpone or cancel their design projects for now.

I am a recovering people-pleaser and don’t ever want to appear flaky, so realizing I couldn’t show up or be reliable or even be present if I was there rubbed everything the wrong way for me.  But life just got too full.

The act of backing myself out of events or relationships or work obligations didn’t happen right away. Even when I knew this abnormal season was approaching I had difficulty switching gears.   The “I can do it!” attitude initially prevailed.  This revealed itself in my conversations with clients; “Sure, I can squeeze your painting project in (between an unpacking boxes and an international trip),” or with friends; “Yes!  We definitely should plan that camping weekend (even though I had no idea where any of our camping gear was buried in our post-move basement of boxes).”

The rational voices in my head went on red alert, “Don’t commit to that!! Don’t say yes to that!!”

Fortunately, I started listening to those voices this summer when the stress and un-manageability of my schedule knocked me upside the head.

I had to change my responses to invitations from “Yes!” to “No, I’m just too busy.” Or had to say no right off the bat (which is not easy for me to do).  I had to be honest with clients about my overbooked schedule.  And I had to tell good friends I just didn’t  have time to get together with them right now.  I said sorry a lot.

I even have struggled with this blog because I would say that I was going to post on a certain topic next and then I didn’t because weeks would go by with no time to write or focus.

All of this has meant possibly disappointing people or losing clients.  It has meant potentially hurting friend’s feelings.  It possibly affected the way others viewed my reliability or engagement with them.  And I may have lost readers on my blog because “zero posting does not make a blog reader well”.

But I have had to wrap my brain around the fact that all of this is sometimes necessary and actually okay.  Sometimes we go through seasons of change that derail our normal.  It could be an emotional struggle or starting a new job or taking care of a loved one or becoming a new parent.  It could be any number of things.  These seasons remove any margin we previously had to engage or commit or show up for people or things.

And we need to give our people-pleasing-highly-responsible selves a break.

 We need to accept that for a time (and we usually don’t know how long) we are shifting our focus to other, more important things.

I have learned this summer that people are incredibly understanding. My clients actually responded with huge amounts of grace and said it actually worked for them to do the projects a little later. My friends are my friends because they love me and know I love them, even when I can’t be present with them.

And the invitations I declined…well there will be more.

God knows there are seasons in our life for all different things (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). We can ask Him for courage to say no, wisdom to know what is important (and what is not) and for grace for ourselves when we feel like we are letting others down.

 

~Amy

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Cite Soleil

The Tap Tap jostled over the uneven road causing me to reach for the red rubber hand-hold dangling above my head. I peered through the enclosed metal grates that kept our group safe in the back of the truck as we traveled around Haiti.

We were headed today to Cite Soliel, where we would deliver water to the residents of this three square mile slum village built upon a garbage dump. Our family had arrived in Haiti two nights before, a culmination of years of praying and months of planning for a mission trip the five of us could take together. Now we were here, our eyes wide, absorbing what felt like another world.

I had been told Cite Soleil was the poorest place in the Western Hemisphere, yet I couldn’t imagine any standard of living any lower than what I had already observed in the short 36 hours since we landed in Port-Au-Prince.

The initial shock of the last day had not yet worn off. There was trash everywhere, in piles, strewn along gutters, and burning on the side of the road. The smell would wind its way through our open-aired vehicle and then disappear as quickly as it had arrived. There were people everywhere also, sitting in groups in the blazing sun, walking endlessly, selling their wares and stacked four deep atop motorcycles that swerved between traffic. Car horns honked endlessly, the Haiti version of turn signals, and dogs and people and goats wandered through busy streets without hesitation. The city hummed with activity and sound.

And the concrete. It formed endless walls throughout the city and I found myself straining to see behind openings to peek at scenes within. The buildings were cement, the roads another version of hot, solid material, and the homes built from cinder-block. This was the cinder-block and cement that fell on and crushed over 300,000 Haitians in the 2010 earthquake.

Half finished structures created a sense of permanent rubble. The scene formed a dusty, light tan contrast to the yellow bananas and green mangoes splayed out on sidewalk blankets in hopes of catching the eyes of hungry shoppers.

I kept waiting to see the “nicer” area of the city, which never revealed itself.  It was like the city had been forgotten by those who might renew some part, any part.  The paved roads would suddenly turn into deeply pocketed dirt roads, the writing on buildings long faded from years of heat and sun, the only investment being bars and heavy metal doors to protect what little everyone had.

There was nothing familiar, nothing my American eyes were used to seeing.

Our vehicle bumped down a different road now, following a large truck filled with free clean water for the people of Cite Soleil. This truck was owned by Healing Haiti, the organization leading our trip for the week. Six days a week they deliver free water to the residents of Cite Soleil, where there are no wells or running water. They serve the people of this country with Christ-filled love day in and day out.

The scene now changed slightly. Walls turned into small rusted tin structures that all attached to each other, as if they were locking arms for support. The cars were few, the children barely clothed if at all, and heat and desperation hung thick in the air. We turned down a smaller road, almost as narrow as an alley, lined with more shacks.

Three long blasts burst from the water truck’s horn. I thought it was warning people out of the way, but then realized it was a joyful announcement to the Haitians deep within the village that their water was here. Out of nowhere women and children poured onto the street as our vehicles slowed to a stop. They carried plastic five- gallon buckets, thirsty to be filled.

We had been told to prepare for the swarming. The children instantly surrounded the tap tap, yelling and smiling and reaching out arms. They didn’t want water, they wanted us. We exited the vehicle literally sweeping up children in the process. Most of us had two or three in our arms, which wasn’t difficult since they were so slight of frame. Many were naked or barely clothed.  None had shoes.

Some just wanted to be held, and stayed expressionless but content on our arms. Others clamored for our camera, wanting to have their picture taken and then asking in Creole to see themselves in the frame. Huge smiles and squeals of glee at the sight of themselves smiling back at the camera. I wondered when was the last time they had looked in a mirror, if ever.

All around us there was organized chaos. Young women formed a line behind the water truck as the hose poured gallons into the buckets at record speed. When the buckets reached capacity they would deftly lift them onto their heads and turn to walk home. Children crowded around those of us with strange white skin, wanting to touch our hair and not letting go of our hands. We all worked fast, our time needing to be quick to not only make our other stops but for safety.

Cite Soliel is run predominately by gangs. It is how there is any order at all. Guns are prevalent, and tensions between gang members can run high. Violence is a common resident here.

Our four Haitian translators (who reminded me more of body guards) kept watch on the scene. They had insider knowledge of where the gang activity existed and would usher our group into the Tap Tap and out of the area at a moment’s notice if needed. Yet our team of thirteen did not feel nervous. On the contrary, we were overflowing with joy of helping (for this one day) to give love and water to people who desperately needed it.

Sweat trickled down my neck, and the dust stuck to my teeth. The men were noticeably absent–a few hanging out on the fringes. This was women’s work, gathering water. It was the women who carried out household duties, while the men struggled to find any work in general. Haiti has an 80% unemployment rate, and my estimation is the numbers are even higher in Cite Soleil.

Out of nowhere a small girl appeared, possibly ten years old although she looked much younger than her age as all the children did here. She tugged on my shirt and on my Aunt’s shirt, pointing to her bucket sloshing with water and then to the street and somewhere beyond. “Do you want us to carry you water to your home?” We asked pointing also. She nodded and smiled.

We had been told that this might be asked of us, and that we needed to check with the Haitian translators before we left the water truck area to carry water. I asked Brenee, our driver, who stood surveying the scene along a wall with arms crossed.

“Can we walk back into the alleys here?”

“Yes” he responded in a thick Creole accent.

My Aunt Marj and I picked up the handle to the bucket, its weight pressing the metal wire into our palms. All around kids were dragging water, mothers carrying containers with grace and skill, children asking to have buckets lifted on their heads. How could they carry this much weight?

We followed our new little friend, down a main dirt street lined with shacks and people sitting and cooking on the sidewalk. She suddenly turned left between two homes, glancing back to make sure we followed. We wound back between narrow tin walls, water splashing between us. As we went deeper into the slum I looked at Marj, “How far do we go?” She glanced around, “A little farther.”

We had been told to be careful–that it was easy to get lost. I did my best to observe the turns, and just when I felt nervous enough to call it quits, the young girl disappeared into a doorway–her home. She pointed to the exact spot she wanted the bucket–tucked under a thin wire shelf.

I paused to look around. A bed. The wire shelf. Dirt floor. Rusted metal walls.

That was it.

Where were clothes, dishes, food? A place to sit?

What about the stifling heat, holes in the roof, endless dust and dirt?

What happens when the rain comes?

There was so very very little.  Not even the bare minimum. But this was her LIFE.

For a moment, time stood still.  There was such intimacy being in this family’s one room house, just my Aunt, myself and this young girl. It was a gift I will forever open, being allowed to see how she lived. Her home.

A piece of my heart broke.

Thin arms reaching for my neck snapped me out of my daze. I bent down and this dark skinned, bright smiling little human gave me the biggest, tightest bear hug. We didn’t speak each other’s language, but I have never heard the words “Thank You” so clearly in my heart. She was grateful that we had brought her family water for that day.

She turned to Marj, and with a huge smile gave her a thank you hug also. And then she turned and waved us to follow her out.

I couldn’t speak as I fought back emotion the whole journey back out to the busy street and as I write tears come again to my eyes. This sweet girl, whose life I cannot fathom, was so very thankful for our journey to deliver water to her home. Water! Yet the experience of having my eyes opened to a life so unlike mine brought me waves of gratitude just as deep.

In that instant I understood how poverty and extreme lack can live in beautiful companionship with gratefulness and deep joy.

The water truck and our team appeared as we rounded the last corner. Something inside me had changed in those few minutes, and while I couldn’t explain just what, I knew it was so very good.

The hose eventually ran dry and we were told to return to the Tap Tap. I said goodbyes, gave last hugs and then felt a tug again on my sleeve. It was the girl. I reached out my hand to hold hers and she placed her second hand on top of mine–such a mature gesture for such a young life.

I looked into her eyes and she nodded her head– I think saying thank you one more time.

As we drove away, bouncing along the trash filled road, my heart was so very full, and so very empty at the same time. I didn’t know poverty like this existed. But I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to step into the lives of these strong and surviving people for one day.

And this, combined with several other experiences we shared on this trip has convinced my husband and me that our connection to Haiti will not end when we return home.

There is hope in Haiti and we want to be a part of that.

The next post will be all pictures of Haiti and what we experienced there!  I can’t wait to show you.

Blessings,

Amy

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This is pretty normal for us! Our son being goofy while we try to take a family picture.

 

Hello Friends!

It has been far too long since I’ve posted, a result of our life “derailing” from normal after selling our house two months ago.  Since then our family of five has moved three times, lived in a friend’s basement and then a home we rented, and finally in to our new home three weeks ago.

All this was planned, thought out, and expected (although much of the process had unexpected twists), so it surprised me how challenging it was for me personally to “get through” these past few months with a positive attitude.

During this interim time our family of five lived out of seven blue tubs we had packed with clothes and personal items. We existed on dinners of Chipotle and Kraft Mac and Cheese because of limited kitchen space and and stretched thin mom who wouldn’t love cooking even in ideal conditions.  Our family felt disjointed not having our “normal” routines and space, and the rainy cold spring added to the unrest.  Our dogs found their own form of crazy (one of them peeing indoors and barking neurotically, challenging at one’s own house but really fun when it’s at your best friend’s house).

For a while I thought I was struggling to stay positive because there was no end in sight–we were having an extremely difficult time finding a new house after we sold ours. But then, we found a great house, and had a closing date and everything, but my restlessness grew as our familiar “more comfortable” life seemed just a reach away.

Why was it so important for me to find normal again?

I asked myself many times, “Why is this so difficult? God has blessed us with wonderful friends to house us temporarily, we know we will find a home eventually, our kids are healthy and handling this transition better that expected.  So why the discomfort?

The answer came to me once again, as it has over and over in all the unknowns over the last year with our moving story.

Our strengthening comes in the discomfort.

This time has felt like “how to keep a positive attitude boot camp,”  and I know that like the true military boot camp, with the purpose of strengthening physical muscles and endurance, this time for me has been an emotional and spiritual strengthening.

I have been forced to release my grip on managing everything the way I want it to go.  I have had to let go of normal, which involves me having a lot of control over my life.

 And that is good.

God is stretching and teaching me to let go, to again, trust him.  To again, remember that the little daily comforts and order I am used to need not to be taken for granted.  To believe that he has a purpose for every difficult time we go through–to decrease our self-sufficiency and increase our God-sufficiency.

One of the largest parts of “me” that I have had to release in the past couple of months is writing this blog.  I think about it every day, but feel like I have been in survival mode for so long that it takes sitting in a hotel room with my family sleeping to find head and heart space to finally write.

We did move into our new house three weeks ago and it is so very good.  I am so grateful for the little things like a desk to work at and some of the homey decorations we had packed away.  And the big things, like our family re-connecting and bonding over settling into our new space.

But normal is still to come.  In a few hours our family is about to get on a plane to Haiti to serve with a Healing Haiti team in the poorest part of the world.  Here is an excerpt from a woman who returned a few months ago from this trip as she relays vignettes of people she met:

Hello. My name is Mardy. I am 23 years old. I’ve been living in front of the hospital for a while. A few months ago I got raped and now I am pregnant. I’ve had a stroke and I am in the hospital now. I can’t move my left arm but that’s not the worse part. I am all alone; with no one to help me. I don’t know how I will take care of my baby once it’s born and where I’ll go and how we will survive.

This experience we are about to have, the conditions and desperation we are about to encounter will feel as far from normal as we have probably ever known.

But we can’t wait.  If there is anything I have learned recently is that God shows up when I feel helpless and out of control.  It is during these times I have eyes that more clearly see Him at work.  I have a heart open to what he needs to speak into it.

So I ask you, where is your normal being challenged?

Where can you find God’s hand in your story right now?

What is he teaching you?

Whether your lack of “normal” was a choice (like ours) or unexpectedly happened to you, I hope that you can find some peace as you wrestle through this time. Whether it is temporary or permanent, I pray that you will see God’s handiwork in the plan of changing your heart to rely more on Him and less on you.  These are certainly the lessons He has taught me.

God bless you,

~Amy

 

 

 

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Summer Mom

As school ends and summer gently drops its bags inside our front door for a good long stay, I picture myself sitting on our back patio sipping a cool drink, writing in my planner, reading a great book or paging through the my most recent Good Housekeeping magazine.  This relaxing would happen while my children are happily entertaining themselves with something educational or productive after making their beds and cleaning up after breakfast.  We would rest, play, and I would still accomplish the daily list that I had when they were in school all day.

Why do I picture that which never occurs?

In reality, the transition from school to summer feels more like being dunked into a basin of shockingly cold water. One week our three teen-aged children are gone for 8 eight hours a day, busy with tests and school and end of year activities, and the next week they are sleeping until ten…ish, and then needing forty-two rides around town, and eating all the food in the house.  It’s normal, and I am happy to stock up on extra food and increase my gas budget, it just happens so suddenly and every year it throws me for a loop.

Now that I have walked through 13 summer transitions (starting when our oldest was in Kindergarten), I have learned some things.  Things that I would like to share for those of you who are starting to feel a little panicky right about this time.  These “things” are not magic, you will still feel like you are dunked, but the water won’t be so shockingly cold:

RELAX for the first two weeks.  On everything. On schedules, on eating, on how everyone should be getting along, on expectations. Throw them all out the window.   I used to, in my panicky state, structure much of our kids’ lives from the first day of break–bible studies, chore charts, even asking them to set their alarm so they didn’t sleep the day away (I know, not fun mom). I was just terrified of NO STRUCTURE.  If I kept my kids busy, they wouldn’t be bored or argue or completely shrink their brains with screens–all things I feared. But I noticed after a couple years of this that it made everything worse.  They fought more, they were stressed with my expectations and I was just plain frustrated.
So one year I decided to not to have any structure for the first two weeks.  Let them sleep, be totally unproductive, and watch TV longer than I preferred.  And they were okay! In fact, they worked out their sibling issues with in a week or so, they got bored watching TV and started getting outside and being creative, and they slept–and that is so good for their growth and development. So give it two weeks and see what happens.


LIFE GIVING ACTIVITIES  I listened to an audio recently of Gary Smalley and his wife being interviewed about how they managed their family summer.  They shared how each family member should find both REST and LIFE GIVING ACTIVITIES in their summer structure. Sometime in those first two weeks, sit down as a family and ask each person what their ideal summer would entail. What would make each person excited? More sleeping?  A great vacation?  Time with friends? Reading a novel or two? Try to honor everyone’s wishes within reason, and then remember when your teenage son is still sleeping at 11:00AM, that this is life giving to him.


BE INTENTIONAL Now be intentional about making your family’s hopes happen. Put them on the calendar.  Make them a priority.  If your husband really wants to take the family camping, honor that and find the time.  If your daughter would like to learn how to do pottery, sign her up for a class.  And figure out what YOU would like, and honor yourself enough to make it a reality.  If in the family meeting you and your spouse valued doing something together as a family each week, then you will need to say no to certain things, and move others around to make that a priority.


SET ASIDE YOUR AGENDA–or slow it down.  For me, this is the hardest part of summer.  I have a design business, love to write for my blog, errands, housekeeping and exercise when I can.  I am full steam ahead with these activities while the kids are in school and I find that when I forget to make the shift to kids being home I just feel frustrated that I am not getting things done.
MOMS, WE NEED TO CHANGE HOW WE DO LIFE IN THE SUMMER.  If we want to be engaged and present with our kids, we need to rework what our days normally look like the rest of the year.  For me it’s rising early to get a couple of hours of work in before the kids wake up.  Then I try to be available to them and enjoy the chauffeuring and sitting at activities.  I slow my workload WAY down, and if you are not able to do that, consider hiring someone to take care of your kids while you work so you can be present with them the rest of the time.  I also shift my expectations of how clean my house will be–I will be vacuuming and picking up more, and that’s okay because it means there are lots of little people around enjoying their summer.


ALLOW YOUR KIDS TO BE BORED.  For some reason as a mom of young children, boredom scared me to death. It meant whining and fussing and I was often tempted to never allow boredom to happen by over-scheduling our days. Yet boredom forces our kids to be creative.  It causes them to engage a part of their brains that is not used when we are constantly entertaining them.  Put up with the whining for however long it takes–an hour, a day?  And then watch what your children begin come up with to creatively fill their time.

As a mom of a child heading off to college this fall, I know the blessing and gift of summer for our family.  It is where we treasure some of our best memories, and it is also a time that has caused me stress over the years. I was truly that mom that had bible studies ordered and chore charts made and alarm clocks set.  And our sweet kids tried to accomplish all the “goals” I asked of them.  While some structure and contribution is so good for our kids, my hindsight perspective is that I wish I would have relaxed more, let there be more unstructured time, and investigated each family member’s desires for their summer and made sure they happened–including mine which would land me back on the patio with a Diet Pepsi and a magazine!

Summer MOM Challenge:  Spend some time thinking and praying about what your summer stressors are.  What is frustrating to you?  What are your fears?  Ask God to give you clarity and then come up with some ideas about how to change things up this summer to relieve those issues.

xoxo,

Amy

 

 

 

 

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(This post contains affiliate links)

Hello!  I dare say it’s finally spring here in Colorado.  After weeks of below average temps and way above average precipitation (i.e. seat heaters in car and socks in bed required), the sun is warming the air and everyone’s spirits around here.

Something else is warming my spirits and I wanted to share it with you.  I found out about a magazine that is chocked full of resources for those of us who strive to make our home organized, our children connected to God, and our marriages thriving.

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Molly Green is for HOMEMAKERS, HOMESCHOOLERS, and if you are so cool to be this: HOMESTEADERS.  You can imagine all the topics covered and resources provided on this site.

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But, my favorite part and the reason to subscribe is just one thing.  With a yearly subscription, you also get FREE access to an online video library of hundreds of videos on topics such as PARENTING, MARRIAGE, FINANCES, LEADERSHIP, CONFERENCE SESSIONS (like “IF’), MEN’S ISSUES, WOMEN’S ISSUES, BIBLE STUDIES,  and more!

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Through Right Now Media, you have access to all of these videos for a yearly price, but if you subscribe to MollyGreen.com, you get the magazine PLUS all the videos included!

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It’s really quite amazing.  So, if you would like to check it out CLICK HERE.

To me, spring is about starting fresh, renewal, new growth.  I love seeing it bloom outside the kitchen window, and in our home.

I hope this provides some resources you can use for your own renewal.

xoxo,

Amy

PS: Please enter your email to subscribe!  I am going to be sending some special newsletters throughout the year that will only go to those on the email list.

 

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Decorating with Style

I think we innately all love the peaceful feeling of a home that is tastefully decorated–just the right amount of wall hangings, little to nothing on the counters except a few decorative items, perfectly coordinated pillows set in just the right spots on the couch, and bedrooms that show no trace of actual living except a well made bed and a matching dresser.

I’ve just described every new builder model home in America.

The fact of the matter is that most homes have too many wall hangings because we just love our darn family so much we want to display as many pictures as possible, the kitchen counters have practical items like used coffee mugs from the earlier in the day that just didn’t make it to the sink along with the recipe book you will use tonight and the stack of mail that practically needed the most convenient place to be dropped.  Oh and the couch pillows? Look behind the couch or on the floor–that’s where ours live 50% of the time.

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That is the reality of living (well, hopefully this picture is a slight exaggeration!).  So how do we make our homes feel peaceful AND practical?

Both life mess and decorating “overdoo” can cause our home to look cluttered.  When we are raising a family, socks, wrappers, homework, laundry, etc. are just going to exist.  But we can help reduce the overwhelm feeling by having our homes decorated with classy simplicity.

So how do you know if your home is overdecorated?  Take this little quiz (Y/N):

  1. My home seems mis-matched.  I have purchased things over the years like furniture and wall hangings that just don’t go together.
  2. I have a lot of furniture in most rooms. I don’t know what to get rid of.
  3. I have something hanging on almost every wall.
  4. I have several different patterns going on throughout my home.
  5. I don’t feel peaceful in my home.  It seems like my decor is just “off.”

If you answered 3 or more “yes” then this post series is for you!

For most of us, the answer is LESS is MORE.  More peace, more style, more happy.  But we tend to fill our homes with too much which works against that.

People who have a knack for design are able to put a lot of things on a wall or in a room, but that is because they know how to coordinate scale, color, size and patterns very well, like this picture to the rightdesign styleIf you are feeling unsettled in your home, it feels a little chaotic or busy, or just “not right” it may be because those elements aren’t flowing for you.  My word of advice is to pare down.  Take things away, at least for now, until you start to feel calm and peaceful in your home.

This post is one of three on a series of de-cluttering your home.  In this series I will share tips on how to create that peaceful, welcome feeling in your home by discussing three areas:  WALLS, FURNITURE,  and COLOR.

Today’s post will be all about our walls!

Re Working Our Walls

Cluttered, busy walls can easily create a feeling of chaos in a home.  

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I was a home stager for several years and walls tended to be one area where homeowners needed the most help.  Here are 5 common mistakes with wall decorations:

2.  Hanging pictures/items on too many walls:

There are only  few areas in your house where you NEED to have hanging/decorative items on walls: fireplace mantles, above beds, above dressers and over couches.

All of these areas have large visual impact on the bottom half of the wall and if we leave the top half blank it just looks unfinished.

The rest of the walls–well they are negotiable.

In rooms that have 3 or 4 walls, aim to have pictures or hangings on one wall only.  Yep.  Now, you can have items on more than one wall, but the truth is most people are not sure how to coordinate the items, or size them correctly, so the room looks mis-matched.   So, if you think you might struggle with this, just decorate ONE wall.   Pick the largest one, and hang away.

3.  Too many goupings of pictures throughout house: Replace small groupings of items with a large item–like a mirror, or a large framed print.  One large item often feels more simple and eye pleasing.

4.  Groupings with incorrect spacing: Hang pictures in a group with about 1.5 inches between the frames.  One mistake people commonly make is to hang pictures in a group too far apart from each other.

5. Hang pictures or wall decor at eye level.  When pictures are too high they throw off the balance of the room.

My challenge to you would be to go around your house and start taking things down off the walls or adjusting what you currently have based on those tips.  Put the extra items on the floor in a back room for now.  Live in your house that has less and see how you feel.

If you find yourself feeling lighter when you are in your home, maybe it’s time to give those items away or sell them.  Organize photos in an album or in some frames on a table.

Here are some pictures of peaceful, calm rooms:

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Just one larger picture above the bed creates a sense of calm.

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No picture on dining room wall–allows focus to be on chandelier and front entry table and mirror.

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Only decorative items on the counter and some empty wall space in the background.

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Picture over fireplace but not on stairwell wall.

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One large picture by dining room table.  Two coordinating pictures/frames over couch.

No matter what your decorating style, you can always declutter, coordinate and simplify your walls.

Hopefully you are able to give some of these ideas a try!  I would love to hear your comments or questions if you do!

 

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Prayer Schedule

Welcome to the third post in the War Room marriage series!  If you missed the first two, they are here: Three Marriage Lessons From The Movie War Room and The Perfect Place To Pray.  And at the bottom of this post are great free printables for you and your prayer life!

Today’s blog is about giving you strategy and tools for your prayer life–specifically for using in a War Room or Prayer Closet (see links above for more info on creating this).  I can’t figure out which title for this prayer place I like the best.  I’m pretty sure the producers of the movie “War Room” didn’t have this struggle…they knew the movie “Prayer Closet” wouldn’t be a Saturday night blockbuster.  But, I’m leaning toward Prayer Closet for my new space.  I think I will get less odd looks from my family when I say that’s where I’m heading for a little bit.

Back to the tools.  If you saw the movie, the main character, Elizabeth, learns specific strategies of how to pray in her closet.  I am a sucker for lists and bullet points and strategy, especially when it comes to prayer.  It helps me focus my thoughts and not wander to my “to do list” for the day during my time with God.

Here are the four strategies the movie shared:

Prayer Closet Steps to Praying

ONE: Acknowledge God in His Glory.  Praise God for all he is and does!

God deserves our praise.  Truly.  Let’s start our time letting him know how amazing He is. He doesn’t need to hear this from us–but it a posture we can take to move our hearts to a humble open place for praying.

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.”—2 Samuel 22:2-4

TWO: Confess Your Sins.

The bible says when we confess our sins before the Lord we are forgiven, washed white as snow, clean and pure to present our next requests before him.

Often we pray, “Lord please forgive me.”  He already has!  Instead, we can pray, “God, I confess my sin to you.  I confess…..”  It holds us more accountable to being truthful.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

THREE: Give Your Needs To God.

Here are some sentence starters to lay our requests before our heavenly Father:

God, I pray for ……..

Lord, please show me how to handle this situation through your eyes not mine.

Fill me with the holy spirit so I can ….

Show me where you can use me.

I need help or direction or wisdom with ….

Give me strength to endure….I want to be a woman of wisdom and courage and peace in the midst of all the chaos around me.

I feel hopeless or discouraged.  Remind me that you are in control and you are Good.

FOUR: Choose To Believe

At some point our words spill onto the floor with no power if we do not choose to BELIEVE in what we are saying.  Even a whisper of HOPE and FAITH that God is good and trustworthy can invite God to do powerful things in our lives.  Try praying this:

“God I choose to put my faith in you.  I choose to trust you and believe that you are all that you say you are.  Even when I cannot see the outcome, even when life swirls and confuses, I choose to believe you are present and working and have a good plan for my life.”

I’ve created a few PRINTABLES (I have to put that in caps because free printables are just really exciting)!   These are to help get your Prayer Closet started (remember it doesn’t have to be a closet–even just a corner or quiet nook of your home).   I hope they give you inspiration and direction as you take prayer to the next level in your life.

You can print them out and tack them to a bulletin board or tape them to the wall of your prayer area.  Use these printables to help you strategize your prayer time.  If you don’t have a prayer closet, you can use these anywhere you go to pray.

This first printable if to help you structure your prayer time:

Prayer Closet Steps to Praying

Click to DOWNLOAD: Prayer Strategy

This next printable is specifically for praying for your marriage:

Hi. It's me. I come to you today with confession, gratitude and praise. I confess _______. I am thankful for_________Click to DOWNLOAD:  Marriage Prayer

And for those of us who like a little scheduling in life..

Prayer Schedule

Click to DOWNLOAD:   Prayer Schedule

Think about how our perspective could change if we prayed the following every day:

Psalm Prayer

Click here to DOWNLOAD: Psalm Prayer

Hopefully these get you started!  I will be sharing more in future posts.

Subscribe to my email list to receive faith encouragement and decorating idea posts in your inbox once a week, and please share with your praying friends!

xoxo,

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IMG_2426

Alright, so who doesn’t like to see a room makeover?  If you raised your hand then I’m afraid I just can’t be your friend.  Just kidding. There is something about seeing a transformation that humans get all excited about–we love stories that tell of renewal or change or hope.

And it’s why so many of us have jumped on the Chip and Joanna Gaines bandwagon as of late.  We all want a bit of fixin’ up.

One thing I love about my job is I get to help people totally redo the rooms they live in, so that they feel GOOD spending time in those spaces.  I recently got to help a new friend makeover her family room and kitchen which were all connected in one big space.  Karen called me because they hadn’t updated or decorated this main space in their home and wanted a warm but designed feel.   She and her husband had in their budget room for some new chairs, a new coffee table and a new kitchen table and chairs.  Plus, all the goodies that go into accessorizing a space (art and curtains and plants, etc.).
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Any battle is won by planning, predicting, studying the enemy, and above all strategy. What if we applied strategy to the battles in our lives?  My friend, we can.  And one way is through setting up a place in our homes to fight those battles. Through prayer.

Hopefully you’ve had time to read the first post in this series Three Marriage Lessons From War Room.  Have you seen the movie yet?  It is quite amazing.  It will give you great context for what I am sharing today which is how to practically set up your own “war room” or prayer closet.

True “War Rooms” are the real deal. They are secure, private, important places where strategy is implemented, direction is decided, and great minds are called upon to help in defeating the enemy.  It is all serious business.  And that is the mindset we can also have when setting up our very own war room.  We are not messing around people.

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War rooms or prayer closets are places in our home specially set aside for prayer.  They are where we take the bitter and sweet of our life before God.

There is incredible power in prayer, yet most of us (including myself!) tend to pray inconsistently, often half-heartedly, and often only when we are in crisis as a last resort.  I have always struggled to pray as if my life depended upon it.  I push through pain or problems or stress on my own strength, throwing out an S.O.S when I run out of my own steam.  And when things are running smoothly in my life, well the necessity of sitting before God just doesn’t seem as urgent.
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Marriage--War Room

On a Friday night a couple of months ago my husband and I sat on our couch and watched the movie War Room.  Now if you don’t know the story of War Room, it’s about a marriage that is hanging together by threads, and a daughter who is grieving over the discord between her parents.  The wife (Elizabeth), played by Pricillia Shirier, seems resigned to the pain and disconnect she experiences with her husband (Tony/T.C Stallings) who is angry and distant.  Until Elizabeth meets an older woman, Miss Clara, whose direct and confident personality draws Elizabeth into relationship. In her wisdom, Miss Clara begins to encourage her to fight for her marriage with spiritual strength.   And the story unfolds.

Jon and I found ourselves surprisingly emotional watching the movie, as it spoke of so many issues that married couples deal with.  So, I wanted to take a blog post to share some of the powerfully important  “marriage wisdoms” we can glean from the movie.

If you haven’t yet seen War Room, put it on your schedule for family movie night next weekend!  What I will share won’t give anything away–if anything it will just lay out the welcome mat for the teachable moments.
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