MERRY CHRISTMAS!

(this post contains affiliate links)

By now my guess is you have most of your Christmas decorations unpacked and beautifully displayed around your house, but maybe this year you are still wanting to add a new look in a couple of areas and are not quite sure how to accomplish that.

I wanted to give you some ideas in this blog and make it EASY to copy!  I am including links at the bottom so you can just order and create this exact look, HOWEVER Amazon changes its supply often, or you may not be able to get it by Christmas.  So order for next year’s table setting OR search around and see if you can find something similar online or in stores and use these pictures as examples.

IDEA #1  KITCHEN TABLE CENTERPIECE

This whole look is from Amazon and is the perfect Christmas ensemble.  I started with the tray which is a distressed mirrored glass bordered by rustic wood.  Round trays look good on both round and square tables.

Then I added the pine tree in a pot.  The pot was a little deep so I crumpled up some paper to lift the tree up.  The deer figurine is small but beautiful, and could really go anywhere in the house, but I loved it right here.

I found this “Merry and Bright” wood sign which is small enough to perfectly fit on this tray, and then added the gold pinecone (which I love!) and tapered candle.  To pull it all together I cut some branches off a pine tree in our yard and circled them around the bottom (you can use any kind of pine branches).

 

IDEA #2:  DINING ROOM TABLE

Sometimes bringing a centerpiece together is a matter of collecting things you love.  This setting has a mix of old and new, gold and candlelight, farmhouse and traditional, with a few pine needles from the backyard.   And it all works!

These rope gold candlesticks bookend the decor and add a hint of traditional and formal.

And more gold pinecones..

(Note: Amazon recently changed their supply–this particular one is not available but I’ve included a link to a similar set)

 

I found this white deer at Lowes–they have great Christmas decorations this year!

And, from Magnolia Market…the salt and pepper shaker. 

A great table runner creates the foundation for any table setting.  The one if found has a warm, natural, creamy look.  I love it.

 

 

One more look:

I have listed below the links to find most of these items so you can create these looks if you want.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!

xoxo,

Amy

Links:

Round Mirrored Wood Tray

Gold Rope Candlesticks

Gold Pinecone Holders

Magnolia Market Salt and Pepper Shaker

White Deer with Wreath on Neck

Small White Deer Figurine

Small Pine Tree

Merry and Bright Wood Sign
DII Cotton Everyday Machine Washable Chindi Rag Table Runner, 14 X 72″, Natural

 

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Hello!  Welcome to another kitchen makeover!

In September I completed a kitchen cabinet painting project for my next door neighbor (who is awesome!).  Brooke is naturally gifted at decorating and pulling ideas together, but she invited me in on her project to paint her cabinets and to be a sounding board for her kitchen vision.  Here are the befores and afters!

BROOKE’S PROJECT LIST:

White Cabinets

New Countertops

New Lighting

Level Island to One Flat Surface

Leveling the island is a great function move.  It allows flow of conversation and                      connection between the family room and kitchen.  Lowering the bar also creates                    more visual space, making the rooms feel bigger and more open.

Didn’t she do a great job?!  As we were discussing the design for these areas, we wanted to bring in wood tones wherever possible to warm up the “cool” grey walls and white cabinets.  Brooke bought this great wood and iron shelving unit (to the left of the fireplace) which she did an amazing job decorating.

The quartzite countertops are beautiful, and the lighting she picked added warmth and a rustic touch.

I painted the cabinets my new favorite cabinet color, Banner White by SW….and, selfishly I got to spend some afternoons getting to know my neighbor better which is always the best part of my job!

Here’s one more before and after:

Have a great day and remember to take a deep breath and rest in the holiness of this season.

XOXO,

~Amy

Oh, almost forgot–I created this new free e-book!  Check it out!

 

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Not every year, but most, I give the ladies in our family (mothers, sisters, daughters) a devotional for Christmas.  It is my way of saying “I love you and here’s some hope and encouragement during the good and inevitable not-so-good days of the upcoming year.”  (Oh, and I always get one for myself too!)

This year I found mother/daughter devotionals that have the same theme for the year and they are at great Cyber Monday prices:

1. COLORING DEVOTIONALS (the new trend)

Wholehearted: A Coloring Book Devotional

Moms, do you daydream about slowing down? Here’s a way. Picture a morning cup of coffee, an array of pencils and a few minutes to color your thoughts on the devotional you just read.  Click on the picture or the link above to see more:


Faithgirlz: 60 Days Of Discovering God’s Hope and Love

This is for girls 8-12 years old..a great present for your daughters or nieces or granddaughters! I love anything that encourages creativity and provides an alternative to screen time.

 

2. PRAYER JOURNALS

My Prayer Journal: A Three Month Guide to Praise and Thanks

I shared in a recent FB video about how writing down my prayers has really helped me focus during my prayer time.  This prayer journal might be the perfect gift for yourself or for others who want to grow their prayer lives.

My Kid’s Prayer Journal: 100 Days of Prayer and Praise

What a gift to our children to help them learn how to pray and give praise to God! And, this is something you can share together if you both have a kickstart to your year with these devotionals.

 

3. QUALITY TIME WITH JESUS

JESUS ALWAYS: Embracing Joy in His Presence

These devotionals are timeless-I read them year after year and the truth is fresh each time. Of all the devotionals out there, Sara Young’s speak to my heart the most.


JESUS ALWAYS: 365 Devotions for Kids

This is one of my FAVORITE kid’s devotionals.  It is simple but full of truth.  We used to read it at the dinner table for our family dinners.

Hopefully you found one of these types of devotionals that you would love for yourself or for a family member (or friend!).  Starting the new year on the spiritual right foot is a beautiful gift!

xoxo,

Amy

PS: Please share with friends and family if you think they might like this post!

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In December on the Blog- another kitchen makeover, holiday design tips, and more Christmas spirit coming your way!

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Our daughter, Hannah, was home from college last weekend.  Jon and I took her out for breakfast one morning and I just couldn’t help but stare at her .  There she was, in the flesh, sitting across the table eating chocolate chip pancakes and telling us about life at school in Arizona. I reached across the table to hold her hand, and she laughed and said, “Mom, why are you being so weird?”  I laughed back, “I know, I just miss you when you are away and am so glad to be talking to you face to face.”  

I do miss her, but I am really thankful for this little technology marvel called Facetime that she and I use when she is back at school.  It is the next best thing to watching her eat chocolate chip pancakes in person.  I love Facetime because I can experience her world a little better.  Sometimes she is walking through campus, or washing her face in the mirror, or in line at Chipotle.  I’m right there, connected with her.  

It is a far cry from communication of the past.  My in-laws were in town a couple of weeks ago and they were telling stories of when my father-in-law, Vin, was stationed on an aircraft carrier at sea for six months at a time while in the military.  Letters were the only way of communication to his wife and kids except for the occasional phone call.  These phone calls would have no prior notice and my mother-in-law would have to just hope she was at home to receive the call on her land-line.

I am sure during those many months home as a single-mom, my mother-in-law longed for a face to face conversation with her husband, or to reach out and hold his hand, as did my father-in-law on a ship at sea for days on end.  And I’m sure they would have been thrilled to be able to FaceTime each other each night.  It would have dramatically changed the experience for them.  

I think that we often communicate with God in pre-FaceTime mindset. 

We send up a “letter” to God, a one way form of communication with hopes of receiving an answer back sometime in the future.  We perceive our relationship with him to be long-distance.  We hope we are listening and aware when he hopefully decides to respond to a prayer.   When we pray it is without assurance that someone is really listening on the other side.

And then we wonder why our connection to God is struggling and why he seems unreachable.

It’s time for a technology update in our prayer life.

I just finished reading the newly published book, Talking To Jesus, by Jeannie Blackmer.  Jeannie writes about how the bible records many conversations people had with Jesus, and if we took a fresh look at those conversations as “prayers” it gives us a whole new perspective on how reachable, close and present Jesus really is.

Men and women in the bible approached Jesus during his time on earth with different requests or situations.  And he responded.  Like when he was sought out by the grieving ruler whose daughter had just died of a mysterious illness.   Jesus responded by walking to the ruler’s house, taking the child’s hand and commanding her to wake up. She immediately began breathing again.

Let that sink in.  Regular folks like you and me approached the Son of God and asked for physical healing, or to understand him better, or to calm a storm, or for wisdom or direction, or to describe the cost of following him.   And he listened and had a response to their need.

Aren’t those the topics we go to God with every day? What if we truly believed we had direct access to him anytime.  What if we embraced the fact that Jesus wants to communicate and respond to our needs just as earnestly now as he did in biblical times? How would that change our prayer life?

While true face to face conversations with Jesus will happen only when we get to heaven, I do think we can liken our prayer life to a Facetime call.  He is right there, having a conversation with me and acknowledging my questions and concerns.  His responses are not random.  I can picture his face and his loving expressions…and maybe entertain the idea that he’s eating chocolate chip pancakes while we talk.

I realize this metaphor might be stretching it a bit…but here my point.  Let’s not treat our interactions with God as if he is far away, with time and distance preventing intimate, present, personal relationship.

And the disciples asked Jesus, “Where are we going to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?”   Matthew15:33

Personal, present, honest.

What if we asked Jesus for help in our lives today as assuredly as the real people who did 2000 years ago?  What if we got rid of our old technology mindset?

Jeannie explores this idea with beautiful conversations and written illustrations in her book. If you would like to understand this personal way of praying even more, I would highly recommend reading TALKING TO JESUS.   Not only does she share the conversations people had with Jesus in detail and depth, but she then invites us into personal reflection that encourages us to go deeper in our own prayer lives.

If you struggle with prayer like so many of us, this book is a must read…you may even begin to experience Jesus like he is sitting right across the table from you, listening to you talk, reaching for more syrup. 

You can get the book here:  http://amzn.to/2y2Y1Rf

Blessings to you this week!

xoxo,

Amy

PS: I am posting on my Facebook Community Blog page every week with design tips, projects I am working on, parenting thoughts and faith encouragement!  Like the page at: http://www.facebook.com/amyhayesblog/

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When I paint kitchen cabinets I usually have HGTV playing in the background.  So in light of that, I am going to start naming my projects HGTV Style.  Today’s “Barn Door Kitchen Remodel” reveal is amazing.

My friends Lisa and Steve had some great ideas for what they desired in their kitchen remodel and together we transformed their traditional suburban kitchen to a custom design that serves their needs functionally and beautifully–punctuated with some incredible barn-like doors for their pantry.

Let’s go back to the beginning.  This is what their kitchen looked like before we started:

The two requests Steve and Lisa had for their kitchen remodel were:

  1. To somehow change the layout that would allow better movement of guests between the family room, kitchen and dining room.
  2. Update the look.

As a pastor and wife to a thriving church, they often invited people over to gather and felt like everyone often ended up crowding in the kitchen instead of spreading out to the family room and dining room.

The peninsula was a major contributor to this issue, so the design idea I suggested was to remove the peninsula and replace it with a large island that would open up the space between the two rooms.

There was an eating area in the kitchen which would no longer exist because of the island, so in order to continue flow between all three spaces I suggested opening up the wall between the kitchen and dining room, where there would be a large farmhouse table to seat multiple guests.  See the small arched opening below:

Here was the result!

Design Points:

~ tear down peninsula and build an island

~ carry wood floors through entire kitchen family room to connect all three spaces

~ paint cabinets white ( I used my new favorite cabinet color: Banner White by RL) and add new hardward

~ add pendant lights over the island

~ replace pantry doors with barn doors (this was Steve and Lisa’s idea–they came unstained and Steve stained them himself. The doors totally make the kitchen!)

~ new stainless appliances

~ granite countertops, stone backsplash and some beautiful barstools

Steve and Lisa have a great eye for design and did a fantastic job choosing many of these options–I just was there for moral support and confirmation on choices!

In opening up the doorway between the kitchen and dining room, Steve and Lisa lost one bank of cabinets.  A small sacrifice to have access and connection to the main seating area from the kitchen.

 

Now these three spaces flow so nicely.  Their kids eat breakfast at the island each morning and dinners some nights as the busy teens rotate through.  Family and hosting guest dinners take place in their beautiful new dining room:

We also worked on the design and flow between the living room (to the left of the front door entryway) into the dining room.  We pulled blue and grey through the entire area so all rooms feel fluid and cohesive.

Here’s one last before and after:

Don’t you just want to sit down for a cup of coffee and conversation?

Steve and Lisa are dear friends and we are blessed to have them in our lives.  Like I have said before, one of the BEST parts of this job is getting to spend time with amazing people.

Have a blessed, restful, adventurous, productive, family-filled, football watching weekend!

~Amy

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This blog was written a few months ago and I am just publishing it now. I needed to let it percolate and seek the okay from family members, because it is real and a bit vulnerable…but hopefully encouraging to you as you know you don’t walk this parenting journey alone.

I do my best processing of life on airplanes. There is something about being confined to my own little space with no distraction except the occasional beverage cart or turbulent air pocket.  I am trapped and it is blissful. 

Out in the wide open world I have trouble containing myself. There is so much to see and do and be.  I am constantly pursuing and being pursued in wonderful friendships, pouring time into my family and my relationship with the Lord.  It too is blissful.  Yet my heart and brain are so busy and full that I don’t find much time for quiet reflection.  Which is why, right now, I am writing, almost 40,000 feet above the earth, traveling over cities and farmland and lakes, but in my own space of solitude with a blanket on my lap and a soda on the empty seat next to me.

Today I am thinking about parenting.  We are in the throws of teenage life.

My husband took me to the airport this morning, he taking his own flights, me on another route, and we will meet up in New Jersey tonight and spend the day in New York City together tomorrow, just the two of us on a little 24 hour vacation.  On the early morning car ride I brought up a sensitive topic—one of our children and how to navigate a promise we made to him and that we don’t fully agree on the appropriate reward at the end.

It is just one of the places we spend a lot of time lately-navigating our different opinions on parenting our teenager.  Me from my background, my husband from his, we circle the issues over and over, slowly, slowly coming together in the center.  It is taking time.  It hasn’t been easy. 

Up until our teenager parenting years we were always on the same page as mom and dad.  A unified front.  But what I have realized is that teenagers will peel back all the layers of ourselves, down to the tender core. The stakes feel high.  We can see the clock running out on their time with us and we care SO darn much about the people they are growing into.

Teenagers expose our messy, darker sides as we fight to control our emotions, have endless patience, and exhaust ourselves seeking the wisest way to handle each and every situation.

Growth.  It is a constant companion these days.

Just this week I smiled with clenched teeth at my daughter in the orthodontist’s waiting room as she argued with me in front of a room full of parents paging through magazines.  I reached for her phone after asking her to put it away several times and she pulled it away, thinking we were playing a game.  I. Was. Not. 

The playful arguing continued, evoking raised eyes and sideways glances from the people sitting around us. Until we got into the car…and I lost it.  Unfettered emotion and frustration and embarrassment spilled all over her.  She began to cry.

I had surprised her. She thought I thought it was funny, that we were just goofing around.  By all my outward signs she was right in her interpretation—getting publicly mad at my daughter and creating a scene is about as comfortable to me as sitting on a cactus.  So in the moment I play with fake smiles and clenched teeth “Please give me your phone…”. When inside I am wrapping up more and more tightly, like a coiled spring.

The emotion and tears and raised voices continued all the way home.  It was messy.  In our driveway, my daughter and I sat and talked it out.  I said I understood how she misinterpreted the situation, and that I was very sorry for not handling it better once we were alone.  She apologized for arguing and not being respectful.  We agreed to do better, both of us.

My tender core.  Needing growth, again.  So much stretching and learning and being humbled.   

And then last night, as we celebrated Father’s Day on our back patio on a stunningly beautiful Colorado evening, my girls called, “Mom! Come hold our feet!”  They were upside down, a 19 and 15 year old, in the grass trying to imitate a paired headstand yoga pose they had found in an Athleta magazine.  Giggling uncontrollably.

I walked through the grass, stepping on the thick blades and over dog poop land mines.  Holding the magazine in the air my girls said, “Hold our feet together this way!” Laughing, I tried…to hold their feet… but they couldn’t both stay in their pose at the same time. Breathless and giggling they kept falling over. 

I could only grab one leg and then as the other child’s leg came up the first one would fall. More giggling, “Try again!” More grabbing and falling and mismatched poses. Breathless laughing.  “Once more Mom!”  We never got it.  And it didn’t matter. The point wasn’t “getting it”. The point was the moment together, the laughing and trying and falling.

That is the Parenting Teenagers Experience.  Wanting to grab all their feet and connect them in perfect synchronicity to hold the perfect yoga pose.  No falling.  No multiple tries.  Spot on the first try.  Wanting the beautiful, composed image of a happy healthy family, like the sculpted Altheta models on a beach in Tahiti or somewhere.  Peaceful. Perfect. Balanced.

But instead, grabbing one child solidly only to lose grip on the other.  Lot’s of falling over, lots of trying, never quite in sync.

I call these “almost poses.” Almost always showing grace and patience and forgiveness.   Almost responding the right way every time.  Almost completely understanding each other’s point of view.  Almost perfect.

Almost.

Sometimes this place of “almostness” feels really discouraging.   I feel like I should have mastered how to react to stressful situations with my kids at this point, know the wisest call to make at every new issue, and how to always be on the same parenting page with my incredible husband by now.

Other times, when I am in a healthy spiritual place, I see this “not yet there” as a gift of the journey.  God has work to do in me, in my husband, in our children.  He can’t grow perfect people.  He can’t use perfect families to demonstrate forgiveness and mercy and grace and hope. 

God wants to sanctify me—the process of renewal and change for His purpose and aligned with his heart.

This is done, I am realizing, in “almost poses,” clumsy and surrounded by poop land mines, and meltdowns in the car.  It is where he can do his best work.

Not on a beach in Tahiti.

Those of us who are in this phase of life know what I am talking about.  I would encourage you to find a friend who is willing to share about the hard parts, who is striving to be the best mom possible, and walk this journey together.

I have several of those friends, but one in particular, who lives a over a thousand miles away and is walking closely with me through these teenage parenting years.  We text each week, sometimes call, sharing prayer requests, asking for advice.  We are brutally honest and completely real.  She is safe for me, and I for her.

We love our families with a fierceness that gets us in trouble sometimes, but we remind each other to embrace the process God is taking us all through.   We sometimes get off the phone completely validated, and sometimes completely challenged to get back in the ring of raising great kids and showing up well for our husbands.  It is awesome. 

Find your people.

So press on fellow parent. Strive not for perfection but for sanctification. 

I’m taking a sip of my Diet Pepsi now, gazing out at the patches of land below as the plane begins it’s decent.

We are almost there.

Xoxo

Amy

I don’t post blogs every week, but every week I do post content on my Facebook page–on parenting, faith, and design, so “like” my page and join in!  http://www.facebook.com/amyhayesblog/

 

 

 

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We just finished our first year of college.

Well, our daughter did, but from the parenting end my husband and I definitely felt like it was a first for us too.

We learned a lot of things this past year—what to do better, what not to do, and I will be sharing more of these lessons on the blog, but I wanted to highlight my top three best learned lessons and share them with you today.

The lessons I learned as a mom this past year of our first child in college were born out of an “imperfect” year for our daughter. She experienced heartbreaking rejection, the kind that made me want to crawl through the phone to hold her, along with loneliness and a struggle to figure out who she really wanted to be. Yet, she also formed beautiful friendships, honed her major and thrived in the education she was receiving.

Our daughter, after much thought and prayer, decided to transfer schools this fall.  In a future post I will share about that journey!

That being said, I don’t believe any of us would change this last year at all.

It was in essence, a perfect, “imperfect” first year of college—with all the ingredients that make for maturity and preparation for life. That is worth every penny (and there are a lot!).

And bonus! I garnered some “college mom wisdom” through it all, so here ya go:

1. Pain is OKAY. Your child will experience some pain this first year, possibly with a friend situation, rejection from a club or group, or with a roommate. They might be homesick, or struggle with the academic load. They may make bad decisions that cause them to struggle.

Our knee-jerk reaction is to shower advice on our child or “rescue” them.

But pain is good. It is really good. It is from pain that our child finds their inner strength, begins problem-solve, or best, learns to pray. Pain is the soil for maturity and wisdom. When we take the pain away we deprive our child of an incredible opportunity to grow.

Instead, try telling your child, “I believe in you and I know you will figure out this problem.” This empowers them and helps them believe in themselves. They are becoming adults and we need to let them stumble in order to get there.

2. Get off the Roller Coaster

This was a challenging one for me. One week our daughter would be struggling and I would be struggling emotionally right there with her, and then a few days later I was still struggling and praying and worrying and all the while things had turned around and were just rosy and great on her end! This happened enough times to teach me that I needed to get off my parental emotional roller coaster. Things change constantly in college—roommate issues, friends, academics, moods, etc.

The reality is, there is nothing we can or should do about what our kids are going through except be supportive and encouraging and pray for them. It is a waste of valuable time and emotional energy that can be useful in our present life when we worry about things we can’t control a thousand miles away.

And, our kids need us to be calm and stable when they do decide to reach out—not emotional messes that stress them out even more.

3. Don’t Ask Them About Their Grades

I was surprised by this one when the Chancellor of the college our daughter attended implored the parents not to focus on our child’s grades. He expressed how many parents continue to helicopter parent about college grades, which is understandable with all the focus on grades needed to get into college!

But now that our kids are IN college, they need to take full ownership of their GPA. “But what if my child is tanking and I don’t even know it?” Yes, I asked this one. Our daughter’s school said they would let us know if she had a D in any class. I would check with your child’s institution and see how you can be informed.

In general it was recommended that we ask not about GPA, but instead questions like, “What is your favorite class?” Or, “Which professor do you like and why?” Or, “Is there any subject that you are struggling with?” I liked the question, “What are learning about yourself academically from your experience so far?”

These are my top three I wanted to pass on to you because I think they are golden.

I don’t know if you noticed, but they all have the same theme: LET GO.

It’s time to let go. It is really really hard. My daughter experienced the biggest rejection of her life this past year. And had days of sitting alone in her dorm room. I desperately wanted her to come home so I could take her away from the pain. The only way my mom heart survived was being there for her on the other end of the phone…just listening. And A LOT of prayer.

God was good. He helped me through it….and my daughter survived, and is thriving.

She came home this summer stronger, wiser, and more confident that I have ever seen her. Something had shifted.

Priceless.

Like I said before, I wouldn’t change a thing. For either of us.

I wish you the very best in this journey of sending your child off to college! I am walking right there with you.

Join me on my Facebook page for inspirational posts, articles on parenting, home design tips and more!  https://www.facebook.com/amyhayesblog/

xoxo,

~Amy

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A few weeks ago I finished a kitchen redesign for a good friend of mine…it was so fun and it turned out beautifully!  My friend, Lori, has a great eye for design and so we put our heads together and this is what we came up with:

Here are a couple of before pictures:

The floor is partly pulled up in this picture, but this shows the original builder island.  It had a high bar and was angled to close off the kitchen from the eating area.   Below is the kitchen with island torn out before construction of the new one.

The cabinets were a beautiful dark wood–but they wouldn’t fit the new light, white look of the kitchen Lori wanted.  Painting them was on the remodel checklist!

We hired a contractor to do the project.  New floors, a couple of walls removed, the existing island demo’d and rebuilt square with the kitchen, painted cabinets, new lighting and backsplash, countertops and a stone fireplace.  It is breathtaking and I give so much credit to Lori who had the vision for what she wanted her kitchen to be.

I painted the cabinets with a Benjamin Moore Advance paint called Milk Paint.

The countertops are a marble looking quartz.

Lori wanted a backsplash that was unique and so when she brought home  samples from Floor and Decor (my favorite backsplash go-to warehouse) I jumped on this one.  In order to tone it down a bit, Lori went with a white grout.  It is definitely a statement piece!

I painted the island black…well not a true black.  It’s called Black Tar by Benjamin Moore. I liked the toned down color of this black–a little bit of dark grey in it.

When the contractors framed the island it had these two levels on the side. We capped it in wide bead board and framed it out with some trim for a furniture-like look.

Lori chose pulls for her island that were different than her cabinets in order to make it look like a piece of furniture. You can see the stacked stone and wood mantle on the fireplace in the background.

 

One more big picture look!

Some folks have asked me to teach them how to paint their own cabinets.  I am happy to explain!  Below is my 6 step process.  There are A LOT of tricks and details (like which brushes and rollers I use, and how to mix the paint for a perfect finish) that I have learned and would love to share but it is too much for this post.  I am going to create a small mini-course on this blog with all the tips!  So stay tuned for that, but here are the basics:

  1.  Remove doors and hardware
  2.  Sand all cabinet doors and frames (enough to take off gloss)
  3.  Prime all doors and frames
  4. Caulk where needed–usually where the raised frame of the cabinet door meets the panel.
  5.  Paint doors and frames with 3-4 coats of paint, until a the paint is even and smooth.
  6.  Re-attach all cabinet doors and touch up any paint areas needed

I have about 3 more kitchen remodels to show you that I have completed over the last year, so keep an eye out on this blog.  If you want to see all my design posts, you can enter your email below and you’ll get my Top 7 Design Tips for your house!

Have a great 4th of July celebrating our freedom!

~Amy

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A few months ago my daughter, Maddie, asked if I could help her with her homework.  I took a screenshot of our text message conversation because it was a painful (but important) truth for me about how she perceived my attentiveness toward her:

 

 

Maddie is my brutally honest child.  And I love her for it.  She felt the need to highlight my history of “un-devoted” or “distracted” homework helping skills in the past.  And she was completely right in asking for my complete attention.

See, I am a distracted mom. Ask anyone in my family.  I am usually thinking of or trying to do five things at once, because I think I can.  But I really can’t, at least not well.

This need to be power productive at all times causes me to forget things my family has said to me because I was half-listening to them in the first place.  They often talk to my back as I whisk around the house with an armload of laundry or watering the plants out back or picking up shredded toilet paper rolls off the floor (thanks to our new puppy).   Often I am on my computer, responding to emails or blogging–and it’s effort to peel my eyes off the screen and shift my thoughts from what I am writing to what they are saying.  I rarely stop and look them in the eye, bend down to their level, put down what I am doing….why? Because I think I can multi-task and meet their needs while meeting mine.

The truth is, I shouldn’t “multi-task” my children.  When I do, I am not fully present with them–they only get a slice of me, and the world gets all the other slices.  And that sends a powerful message to them about their priority in my life.

I remember through my childhood years and even into college when I would call my dad at work, he would always, always take my call.  And he was the president of the company he owned.  He had important things to do and important meetings to have.  But whenever his secretary let him know I was on the phone, he stopped what he was doing and talked to me.  It’s not that I needed to feel loved…I knew he loved me.  I think it meant so much because it showed me I was more important to him than all the other important things in his life.

That’s what our kids want.  They want to know that when they ask for homework, we think that time together is worth a king’s ransom.  They want to know that when they are talking to us, we have eyes for them only, and their words and thoughts they are sharing are more important to us than our phone or computer screen, or the pile of mail to sort through.

It’s not always easy.  There are times when our kids just can’t be our center of attention. Maybe we have an important work project due or need to get the dinner in the oven.  It’s okay, we need to have grace for ourselves, because it is not good for our kids to be the center of attention all the time.

My point is more this…the reality that for many of us our kids are rarely the center of our attention.  At least for me.  My tasking, productive, technology-wooed life is a distracted one.  I am often not a fully present mom to them.

How about you?

The good news is that change is not that hard.  It’s being intentional with some new habits like looking our children in the eye, shutting the computer when they are around or just sitting still and being available. We CAN push past the shiny objects in our day that beg for our attention, and instead give it to our flesh and blood standing right beside us.

I have created a “Distracted Mom Quiz” to help clarify our areas of most distracted behavior and where we are doing a great job.  At the end are some practical tips and encouraging thoughts to help us regroup and find our way back to where I believe we all want to be as moms…present and engaged.

So, are you a distracted mom?  Maybe ask your kids.  Have a conversation with them and listen to their perspective.

Technology and busyness are our greatest barriers to being fully connected with our kids.

How are these getting in the way of your best parenting goals?

I’ve created a quiz to help us figure out exactly where we struggle.  I’ve included some tips on how we can start being less distracted moms right now:

And please, don’t be discouraged!  This is a tough one friends, but it’s never too late to make changes.

xoxo,

Amy

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Who is my cute-mom/designer idol of the year?  You can probably guess.  Joanna Gaines.  I just call her JoJo because we are close.  She is on our TV, on the Magnolia magazine cover that sits on our coffee table, on a book by my nightstand, and her signature design inspiration is all over our house.  Yep, closer than bark on a tree. At least from my perspective.

But why?  Why do I and so many others just love Chip, Jo and their show Fixer Upper?  There are many reasons (so many…) but I think the heart of it is transformation.  We are suckers for a good makeover, aren’t we?  We love to see old and worn transformed to new and beautiful.  Our eyes fix on the story of renewal, restoration, and an amazing reveal.  This is human nature.  It’s why we love stories of brokenness redeemed.  And Chip and Jo create this inspiring experience for in every show.

But there is a greater story of redemption that Fixer Upper always reminds me of. In our own lives, when we take that leap of faith and decide to follow God, we begin to experience our own makeover.   It happens when we ask forgiveness for our sin and brokenness, and invite Jesus to walk with us in all the intricacies of our daily lives.

It is then the construction begins.

Once in our lives, we lived covered in fading wallpaper and peeling paint, our fresh foundation layered by flooring we no longer wanted, and our cracks and mismatched rooms (which we tried to hide) were not really hidden from anyone.  We genuinely tried to present a better outside to the world, but if the world was to open the door and peek inside this is what it would find– shame, guilt, pride, arrogance, betrayal, greed, selfishness, idolatry.  It’s an ugly list, and not a complete one, but we have all lived it in some way, shape or form.

But then, Jesus invited us into relationship with him.  And we took his hand, timidly, expectantly, and accepted.

He began to rebuild a new home in us.  Slowly…over time.  Tearing down old patterns and thoughts, removing walls we had built, opening up space and breathing room in our souls.  He peeled back the layers of protection we had covered ourselves with and like a life-giving balm, painted his word on our hearts.

This is what God does.

He is a restorer.  A redeemer.  A perfect designer of the life he has invited us to.

A life of confidence and peace and love and joy and grace.

And he hauls away all the old–that ugly list from before.  He heals the wounds of shame, he teaches us to not listen to the voice of guilt, he changes our pride to humility and grace, our arrogance fades away as we realize our identity in Christ, he forgives us for betrayal, he replaces selfishness with generosity, he asks us to worship Him alone.

God’s process of building is more than a few months.  It can take a lifetime.  So before the new home in us is finished, we can place a welcome mat at our front door.  It says, “Come in! I am a work in progress, but I have a master-builder crafting my soul.  Come in and see what he is working on today.”

So the next time you are watching Fixer Upper, think about these things.  Be reminded of how God is beautifully fixing us up!  He patiently works over our broken areas, with a good plan, carefully drawn.  If we let him, in his time he will do a great work in us.

And…if God created Joanna and all her talents, how much more can we trust his design work in us!

xoxo,

Amy

You can find more about life, faith and design on my Instagram @amyleehayes

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