Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tile & Typography

Today's blog will probably feel a bit disjointed, as that is how the past couple of weeks have felt. We are trying to "take life slow" in the midst of what feels like a lot of random bustling. Blake, Adeline, and I are counting down the minutes until we leave for our week long vacation to Florida! Blake and I always joke that every time we go on a real, actual vacation, the month before it is when we "earn" our vacation (because it is usually a really hard/busy/somewhat overwhelming month). Every day Addie asks, "Are we going to Disney World TODAY?!" We are only going to Magic Kingdom one day. Although, "only" is kind of a strange word choice for talking about DISNEY WORLD. Considering I won't be pregnant this time (or at least I'm not planning to be!), I am so ready for the in-your-face amount of entertainment and spectacle. And every other day, we will be laying on a beach all day and cooking meals in a legit kitchen. SO READY.

Major prep work happening for Magic Kingdom.

Speaking of the kitchen, we have actually begun a pretty big project: tiling! We have to finish a few little spots and grout still, but after that--even though our cabinets wouldn't be built yet--we could go ahead and install the oven to have some more cooking options. Obviously, the most important thing is the option of fresh-baked cookies.

We have tiled both the kitchen and the mudroom; the mudroom isn't nearly as close to being finished as the kitchen, though. Of course, the kitchen isn't "close" either, just closer.

Addie has self-appointed herself as our renovation inspector.

In the midst of work, fixer-upping, parenting, family-ing, and all of our other -ings, we have taken up a little hobby/side-business project. It is in very beginning stages right now, but Blake and I have gotten enough inquiries that we thought, hey, why not stick a name on this stuff and try to organize it into something a bit more tangible? I do hand-lettering, and Blake gets asked to work on some t-shirt design and logo stuff here and there, so we are considering opening up an Etsy shop and taking on a few projects together to see if we can earn a little extra to help with our fixer upper expenses. I launched our Instagram account today, but like I said, this is in the very beginning stages; Blake is working on our logo. Our project is called Simply Stated, and once we open an Etsy shop, I will let everyone know. We will do custom prints, cards, stationary, envelope addressing for special events (like weddings, graduations, etc), t-shirt design, and logo/branding design (depending on Blake's time frame for that last one). Our Instagram username is simplystatedok. We would love for those of you on Instagram to follow us and check us out. :) Depending on how interest grows, we will see what happens. Our fixer upper is definitely a project, but it's been fun already for Blake and I to work on this project together as well; it's a little more therapeutic and a little less stressful than the house. 

Here's an example of a collaborative project between the two of us:

Is it too late for Ron Swanson or Leslie Knope to run for president? Pretty opposite options, but much better options methinks.

I did the hand lettering and drew the fish, and Blake did the Photoshop work. You could buy this as an 11x17 poster print. Pretty cool, right? Also, hard to go wrong with a Parks and Rec reference.

After vacation, hopefully we will have the magic trifecta of necessary time, money, and energy to get back into a full (or at least fuller) swing of house renovation. But until then......catch you on the flippity flip, cause I'll be beach bumming it up!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Moving Back Home

Last weekend, we got AC working in our fixer upper.
Sunday, we moved back into our house.
Today, I don't know.

Yesterday was Blake's birthday, and we celebrated by kayaking and stand up paddle-boarding, going out to dinner, and seeing a movie, just the two of us. In all of this, we had a little time to kill and I begged Blake to take me to the new mural in the Plaza District in OKC that I have been dying to see in person. I have been freaking out about this mural for two reasons: 1. Why wouldn't you be excited about a giant, adorable, bright orange sloth?! and 2. The succinct little message he carries: "Take life slow."

While we are moved back into our house, that doesn't mean the waiting is over. I am trying desperately to absorb this message to "take life slow," because everyone knows waiting is hard, because waiting is not knowing. None of us like not knowing. Not knowing is almost unbearably uncomfortable. We fill the not knowing with busyness--what can I do? What can I champion? What can I fill the time with through social media, Netflix, and bombarding myself with (often aimless) information?

Instead of freaking out about the not-knowing, I am trying to embrace the not-knowing as an opportunity to rest in God's presence. When I dwell too long on how much I don't know and I can feel my heart-rate rising, I run to Him. He is all-knowing. He is perfectly righteous, and perfectly loving. 

I rest in God because I know I am obviously not Him. As a nation, we find ourselves in an incredible amount of not-knowing what is going to happen next. What do we do next in the wake of terror? Who do we elect to lead us through this tumultuous time? On top of this, there are those who are in the middle of not-knowing that absorbs every moment of their day: is my loved one going to get better? Will we ever be done with hospital stays and check-ups? Will I ever find the right job for the sake of my family? Will we ever find a place to live? Will I ever see them again? I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. 

I am trying not to be in a hurry to know. I think somewhere along the way, we decided that having all of the answers was the beginning of wisdom; but some of the wisest people I know are slow to offer trite answers that diminish the magnitude of the problem. 

Before I rush to know what is going to happen, or pick battles and choose sides, or force my way into whatever will make this waiting period shorter, I'm going to take life slow. I want to do more listening to God than talking. I want to do more listening to people than talking. I want to shut out noise and take my time in silence, asking the Spirit to meet me there in the stillness. No desperately seeking distractions. It would be foolish to expect a God outside of time to adhere to my perceived time limits. 

I'll take life slow. I know that God is good, and sovereign. I trust Him to equip His people. I trust Him to work out His redemption story in all of the ways that are beyond my wildest imagination. 

In the waiting, cry. Hug your people. Embrace the lump in your throat that feels like it will never go away. Waiting is hard. It's crazy to pretend like it isn't. Look for what God is doing in the waiting, because when the waiting is over you will need that wisdom. 

Sorry, but no fixer upper work this week. I'm not exactly in a hurry today. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Third Move's the Charm

Our sewer backed up.
The basement was flooded.
We couldn't get AC working while wading through four inches of standing sewer water.
Obviously, we have done nothing to the kitchen.
We moved back into Caleb's (Blake's brother) house.
That's three moves in three months.

I have been thinking about this week's post for four days. I almost decided I was going to skip it, and all blogging, indefinitely. Thanks to our family's screen fast, I was pretty sure I could get away with falling off this whole Fixer Upper blog train without bruising my ego too badly. For four days, I have wavered between blind optimism and weeping in the middle of making lunch.

We discovered that Blake has a tipping point, and that is two jobs, nursing school, and a fixer upper. As with most of us, there are seasons of life where whatever it is you're doing starts building up little things here and there that suddenly all roll into one another, and something gives. It wasn't really one thing, it was several little things at once that caused "home" to kind of crumble under our feet--or, literally, clog up and flood under our feet. Until we can start sloughing off some of the little things, the fixer upper is so many little and/or giant, overwhelming things that we needed to step back. Until we can catch our breath and clear our heads, we're going to stay at Caleb's house.

On one hand, this has been devastating for me. Sure, I was washing dishes in the bathtub and our main diet was one-pot-crock-pot meals, but I was making a home beautiful! I was learning to use a nail gun! I could patch a hole in a wall all by myself and make it look almost as good as Blake would! I was learning lessons through DIY-ing, and writing about it! I was sitting in the brand-new-carpeted bedroom with Addie reading more books in the past month than I have since graduating college! I was living like, the ultimate example of The Nesting Place, "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful" mantra. Sure, our house is half a construction zone, but we still decorated and made beautiful what was done and it was ours. We had a picturesque third birthday party for Addie at the park-let across the street! I don't want to live this weird pseudo-renter life!

On the other hand, this is the whole point of deciding "it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." Whether we stay here one month or for the whole summer, I have many more choices than just disappointment. There are many moments in the day where I feel sorry for myself and choose disappointment; but, I am fighting to choose moments of thankfulness. I choose to be thankful for the clean kitchen, flushing toilets and hot water, and AC. There are things I can do that can make it home wherever we are for however long we are there.

Making Not Home Feel Like Home
(Or Whatever in The World Is Happening)
In No Particular Order, Really

Step 1: Make special moments, big or small.

When we were houseparents, there were days when it felt like everyone was having a bad day. On those days, I made sure I had emergency special hot chocolate supplies on hand. Dump it all in the crock pot, and within two hours we could drown our sorrows in liquid joy. My philosophy is that calories don't count whenever your soul needs a pick-me-up (this philosophy has slowed my weight loss efforts, but sometimes you just have to cut your losses and make the right decision). It doesn't matter what the weather was like outside; this was special. And we drank out of pretty special cups. And I don't regret it for a second.

Step 2: Make it pretty.

It doesn't have to be much. It just has to feel like you're taken care of, and you can feel peace and ease when you sit down. For me, it was having my favorite family photo frame with my favorite reminder ("All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided"). Also, I wanted my Artifact Uprising albums, and my favorite candle. For Addie, it was her dress-up dresses. The fresh flowers were given to us by Rachel and Micah, as well as fresh baked consolation cookies, the night of our sudden move-in after midnight.

Step 3: Replace the things you miss with the things you have been longing to gain.

For example, I miss our room so much sometimes, but I have a kitchen to use now, so I went ahead and made several recipes that I have been aching to try as soon as our kitchen was finished. Also, Blake made time for us to get coffee together (even if he had to make a couple of quick calls), despite the fact that buying coffee may be a little superfluous at the moment.

Step 4: Capture each thought, and confirm or replace it with Scripture. 

The night of the move, I happened upon Hebrews 6:10, and repeated it in my head over and over for the first day to remind myself that when bad things happen, it doesn't mean you did something wrong. It might just mean something is falling apart because God is making something else fall into place. Since then, I have found not only verse 10, but 11-12 to be encouraging as well:

"God is not unjust; he will not forget the work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised."

So, whether you wake up to mouse poop and pee in the silverware drawer (again), or you're doing dishes in the bathtub, or your house is immaculate, or you love your job, or you hate your job, or you know how many bills you'll be able to pay this month, or whatever the circumstances going on, we have a choice. We can choose to work diligently and with integrity in whatever endeavors God has given us, whether the fuzzy feelings are there or not, and trust God to either give us those fuzzy feelings or change the circumstance. Or, we can give up. The latter, however, accomplishes little other than nursing our self pity. Truthfully, I am so completely done with the self-pity option.

If you're as emotionally invested in this whole Fixer Upper thing as I am by now, than would you please consider praying for our family? Right now, we are waiting again. While the circumstances are better than they have been, waiting is never fun. I have learned, though, that waiting is valuable. We rekindle intimacy with the Holy Spirit. Our trust and faith in God grows as we watch His faithfulness to us unfold. And something about waiting makes you a little braver, if you let it. Pray that we would be brave. Pray that we would trust God with our house, and more importantly, our home, wherever that is. And, while I can't say for sure what it will be about, you will hear from me soon.

To make a comfy bed out of the office couch, liberally apply: favorite quilt, favorite stuffed animals, and especially your best knitted friend, Cat.