life lately

Mar 31, 2014

photo via
moving, for real this time!
Remember that one time we were going to move and got all excited about it? And then remember when, after waiting for four months to hear something, it didn't happen? Well, we're actually moving this time! We'll be relocating to Chattanooga at the end of May. Michael will still be with the same company, but quiet a few things will be different about his position. We're working with a relocation company and are pretty close to putting our house on the market. His company will come in, pack everything for us, and move us - a huge blessing. They've been moving pretty fast on a lot of the details and we're looking forward to seeing what's in store for us in the next couple of months. Chattanooga is a beautiful city. We're excited to get back to living near the mountains and all that offers, and we're really excited about being close enough to the city to enjoy all it has to offer.

A friend and I joined our local gym together a little over a month ago. We're both moms and our boys are only a month apart. After unsuccessful attempts at the gym daycare, we decided to swap babysitting for each other so we can get a few workouts in during the week. I've been doing Yoga and Pilates and have loved both. My favorite would have to be yoga, though. I love how I feel afterwards and now that Noah is well taken care of during that time, I love that I can relax my brain (as much as possible for me!) for a whole hour and focus on energizing, balancing, breathing, and toning.

the blog & my heart
I haven't written much in the last couple of weeks.  I just haven't had the will to sit down and write. I needed a break. I feel like I have spent so much of my life making bold statements and having strong thoughts (not necessarily on the blog) and lately I've felt a quieting of my spirit, a call to rest in the silence and to really look inward instead of always looking outward and making drastic proclamations about people, things...anything. I feel humbled. I'm inviting love and understanding into a place that once gripped tightly to pride. I've also been overwhelmed...overwhelmed reading all the blogs I love, by the process of it all, by feeling like I don't have anything to offer, and I'm thinking that means I take it slow and write when my heart is ready and I'm inspired, not just so I don't become a forgotten space. 

It's amazing, and very irritating, how much my mood is dependent on the weather. If it's rainy and cold out, depression and anxiety like to come in and have an extra loud party. And since we've had a lot of cold weather and not much sunshine this entire winter, you can bet the past few months have been harder than normal. Today and the rest of this week is supposed to be warm and sunny and I feel myself lifted already. Sometimes I take things like the weather for granted, but today I'm going to be extra thankful for the sun, for Vitamin D, and for a day when things don't feel so dark and gloomy.

What about you? I've fallen off the blog reading wagon lately. Tell me something you've got going on!

Total Truth Thursdays 03 | Social Media: I'm overwhelmed!

Mar 20, 2014

Welcome to our third Total Truth Thursday! Kirstin and I started this link-up in hopes that it will be successful in creating a safe environment for us to share our opinions, beliefs, and thoughts- however strong, against-the-grain, mainstream, or out there they are! If this is the first time you’re hearing about Total Truth Thursdays, head back to this post and catch up on what it’s all about!

Before we dive in and link up, there are a few things that you need to know:
1 // You can find the list of topics for each week HERE 
2 // Kindness is key.Whether you follow the topics for each week or come up with something on your own, please remember that others may or may not agree with you, and you may or may not agree with them! Disagreements are natural, passionate opinions are welcomed, and constructive feedback is fine. However, we won’t put up with rudeness, ugliness, or name-calling. Just be nice! 
3 // To link-up, please follow Hey Kelsea Rae & These Moments Called Life on Bloglovin’ or GFC and copy and paste the button code to your post somewhere! We are so excited to get started!

Today’s topic is SOCIAL MEDIA!

I've got a huge love/hate relationship with social media these days, and most of the hate feelings are directed at Facebook. I've been a member since 2007 (the good old high school days), and its place in my life has escalated into something I'm just sick and tired of. I've considered deleting my account so many times, but am hesitant because 1. it's nice to keep in touch with family/friends  that I would otherwise never see or talk to and 2. Most of my family isn't on Instagram and I know they enjoy seeing pictures of Noah as he grows up.

What's got me close to hitting delete? I'm overwhelmed and overstimulated! With every single app refresh, I'm bombarded with articles or stories or graphics people have shared. Don't get me wrong- most of the time they're really educational, or insightful, or convicting. A lot of them are on parenting, shared by one of the many gentle or positive parenting groups I'm a part of. A lot of them are news stories about tragic things happening, or a political stance, or a new recipe. I see every natural living blog post known to man. Then there's the homesteading articles, the paleo theories, the diet drink pushing, the stupid cat videos, just to name a few. 

And I just can't take much more. I've gotten to the point where I skim the interesting article because I don't have time to read the entire thing, and I get what I should be doing, feeling, thinking, saying, eating...but I didn't read enough to really learn anything. Over time, all that does is file away short bits of information, incomplete information at that, into my brain...where it haunts me! 

And don't get me started on grammatical errors, or people who share way too much, or people who vague-book, or the looking-down-the-cleavage-duck-face shot, or the outdated parenting advice, or the cliche religious shares that tell me I don't love Jesus because I didn't hit "like". You know my favorite one floating around these days? A graphic that says, "If I spoke to my parents the way some kids do these days, I wouldn't be here to share this status. Share if you think kids should learn respect". Or something to that effect. So let me get this straight. You're telling me....that you would have killed your child? No? Then what? Beat them? That's your logic there? Get a better supporting argument! 

By the end of the day, I'm worn out just from browsing Facebook. How first-world-problem does that sound?! And the thing's my fault. I'm blaming ME and my lack of discipline. I could just as easily delete the app, or put my phone down, but I choose to pick it up an embarrassing number of times a day. I'm addicted and I hate it. It's like my problem with donuts. I know it's bad for me, but I do it anyways, and then I feel even worse about myself because I gave in. And it wasn't even that enjoyable. 

On a more serious note, something's got to give. I spend all day with Noah and my heart breaks a little every time he's playing and I realize I'm on my phone for the millionth time that day. It makes me angry. I really need to implement change in this area and I'm seriously considering ways I can go about that. I want to be more present and spend more time with a clear mind instead of being bogged down by all the distractions and over-sharing Facebook has to offer. 

The times I'm torn? When I think about all the things I have learned from things I've read or seen online. I'm part of parenting/mommy communities where I can learn about how to parent the way I want to, or where I can ask the new mommy question and get great, non-judgemental help. My natural birth with Noah was greatly inspired by birth story articles shared on Facebook and finding other moms who were encouraging and had loads of knowledge and experience to share. I've been inspired by the homesteading blogs and hope to use them as a resource when we get to that road. I've been exposed to different perspectives and been humbled by knowledge that is out there. I've connected with others and been inspired. It can be a good tool sometimes. But for me, in my life right now, it's a hindrance to peace, to contentment, and to simplicity- and those are all things I desperately need.

I'm not hating all over all social media.  Instagram is an outlet that I really enjoy. It's a picture and words. It's simple and concise. I can share about my day, share my creativity through pictures (something I love!), and be done. It's easy not to get caught up on IG for awhile and it keeps me connected without all the other distractions that Facebook provides. Twitter is okay, too, but I mostly use it for blog promoting. 

I knew how I felt before writing this post, but I think now that I'm at the end of getting it all out I'm even more sure of what needs to happen. Sometimes things, even things that can be used for positive, need to be cut out of our lives when they're affecting us negatively. 

How do you feel about Facebook? Is there a social media site that you love, or one that you can't stand? 

Alright, it’s your turn! Grab the button below and link up your Total Truth! Also, use the hashtag #totaltruththursdays to share on Instagram and Twitter!

MADE SERIES 06 // Stacia Baskin: Paper Swallow Events

Mar 19, 2014

 I'm really excited about today's small business feature! Our creative is Stacia Baskin and she is the owner and event planner at Paper Swallows Events! Wedding planning is always something I've dreamed about doing on the side, so it was fun to learn a little bit more about what goes on behind the scenes!
Stacia lives in Southern Tennessee with her husband and their cat Maximus. When not meeting with one of her brides or working on the behind the scenes parts of Paper Swallow Events, she loves creating and curling up with a book and a good cup of hot chocolate. Stacia hopes to travel the world planning weddings (she just booked a wedding in Chicago for next year!) and would love to live in Paris so she can draw inspiration from all the beautiful chateaus.

I asked Stacia some fun questions, including ones about her favorite event and any horror stories she might have! Here's what she shared...

When did you start your business/open up shop? 
I knew that wedding planning and I were meant to be once I started planning my own wedding. Once my husband and I were married in May 2013, I delved in to researching everything I needed to know about being a wedding planner/coordinator. I helped with my first wedding in a small capacity that June before diving in to being the full-on wedding planner/coordinator for a wedding that took place in October. The name, Paper Swallow Events, came to be shortly after that, and my website was launched in late October/early November 2013. Depending on how you interpret those dates will determine my official launch date.
What is the story behind your business/shop name? 
Name choosing is hard! That's a huge reason why it took me so long to launch my website. I knew I wanted something whimsical because I gravitate towards whimsical things, but I also knew that, though I didn't want it to be cheesy, that I wanted it to have some symbology and meaning. I finally landed on Paper Swallow Events for three reasons. 1. Paper. I love working with my hands and getting elbow deep in a fantastic DIY project, especially if it involves paper. I felt like this word captured my love for creativity. 2. Swallow. I'm a bird lover, for one thing, but more importantly I love the symbology of swallows and how they mate for life. It's such a beautiful image to me! 3. Events. Paper Swallow Weddings just fell flat, but I also wanted to a) give my name a descriptive word so people know what I'm all about, and b) give myself and my brand room to expand into other types of event planning in the future. Though weddings will always be my first love, I can see myself really enjoying helping people pull together other important moments in their lives.
What inspires your creativity when planning an event? 
Without a doubt my brides and their love stories. I absolutely adore sitting down over tea or coffee with my brides (it's even better if they bring their fiance!) and hearing their love stories. What made them fall in love, how he proposed, and all the things he does that make her laugh. The smile on her face inspires me incredibly. From there I work with her to create a wedding that is not only special to her, but that represents her and her fiance and their unique love story. As the couple talk about what's important to them, it's easy to pull out ideas and suggestions based on what they're saying. It's fun to work with the complete romantics that want everyone in tears during their sweet first dance, or to help a bride who hates over-sentimentality come up with a couple quotes on relationships for her photo backdrop, or to work with a bride who wants to show of the couple's nerd side and create a Lord of the Rings inspired wedding. Each couple is so different and I'm always looking forward to meeting my next client!
What's your favorite event you've done so far? 
That's a difficult one. Each wedding I've worked on so far has been so unique to the couple that it's almost like comparing snowflakes - they're each so beautiful in their own way! I am, however, greatly looking forward to the rustic outdoorsy wedding that I'm currently working on for this May. The venue is on the Ocoee River and it's just going to be stunning. I also love the elegant vineyard wedding I did. I was really happy with how the aisle turned out (pictured below courtesy of Memories by Missi Photography.) The bride and I had planned to sprinkle petals in her wedding colors all down the aisle along with candles, but the winds were really strong that day, so I came up with a new plan that used both the candles and petals in a different way, which still adding that pop of color the bride had been wanting.
Do you have an event/client horror story? 
So far I would say that my experiences have been fairly tame. Whenever something does happen I tend to chalk it up to how weddings are such a high stress environment and it's hard to predict everything. Maybe it's my background in theater, but I don't tend to let the little things get to me, I just go with the flow (it rained on my own outdoor wedding and I couldn't have been happier.) I did have one wedding where the caterer was a diva and did everything the bride and I had both specifically asked her not to. That was rough. I was making them move the buffet table at the last minute because I ran off to check on the bride and, when I came back, they had set the buffet table up in front of the doors the bride was planning on entering through. Thankfully they got them moved and the bride made her grand entrance none the wiser!

Aren't those events just gorgeous? Stacia has an amazing talent and I love that she gave us a peek into her world with so many pretty pictures! You can find out more about Stacia on her Paper Swallow Events website or her Facebook page, and you can also find her blogging at The Homey Owl!  

Being an Ezer | Guest Post: Living on Cloud Nine

Mar 18, 2014

Hello lovely readers. Today, the lovely Cassie from Living on Cloud Nine is my guest on the blog and she's got some wonderful things to say! Before I hand it over to her, I'd love if you checked out our Total Truth Thursdays link-up and plan to join us this week for our topic, Social Media. Come share how you really feel! Now, I'd love to welcome Cassie!
Cassie was born and raised in Greenville, SC where she still happily lives with her sweet husband. She loves to notice the little things in life since she is a firm believer that life is too short to be a glass half empty kind of person so she fills her glass all the way full thanks to her faith in God and the people that the Savior has placed in her life. Living on Cloud Nine is her blog where she loves to share all the many things that make her a happy lady!
Hello Everyone!! I’m Cassie and I am a sinner who is redeemed by God’s love, I’m also a newlywed {six months on the 28th!!}, but most of all I am a woman. I’m so happy to be here today and share a little bit of my heart with all of you about this powerful thing called womanhood. During the past two years I have been blessed beyond belief with the literature and studies from my church. I am a member of Grace Church and it has been such a wonderful blessing to me and my husband. During the women studies I have learned what an Ezer is and what that really means & I’m so excited to share some of that with you today!
Most of you have probably never heard of an Ezer. I know I had not until my church started to teach about it. In Genesis 2:20 the bible says but still there was no helper just right for him. Really… helper? It just seems so simple. We are here to help others. Okay… great, but an Ezer seems like such a strong word. A lot stronger than helper that’s for sure. 

Ezer, {Pronounced Eh’-zair} technically stands for, “ezer-kenegdo” which means an essential counterpart. Someone who comes alongside and lends strength. Not someone who follows along and only does what she is told. An Ezer has strength. Being an essential counterpart means that you are crucial and necessary. An Ezer holds power. One of my most favorite parts of the word Ezer is knowing that it is used in the Old Testament 21 times: twice in the creation story {talking about us, ladies!}, three times as a military term, and then SIXTEEN times God refers to himself as an Ezer. Military…? God…? Woman…? Obviously this is a term of strength and it is used to describe us as women and how God made women in His image. Seriously blows my mind when I think about it. 

We are called to help all of those in our lives. Lending strength to our parents, brothers & sisters, friends, husbands, etc. We are created as women in the image of God to be helpful to everyone in our life and this means we do not have to wait for a husband to serve in that role. We are able to express our strengths as a woman in many ways. We need to be fully engaged with those around us to impact the world with our womanhood, not just our husbands. 

Adam was not “good” without Eve. God knew this and Adam’s response was “At last!” because he needed her. We are needed and we are wanted. That is placed in us by God and if we learn how to use our “Ezerness” for His Kingdom we have an amazing power. 

“True beauty, true delight is found in a woman who is fearfully and wonderfully made and who reflects the image of God within her. Being a source of delight to others is not marginalizing, nor is it weakness.” 

So what do we do with this power now? Honestly, we share it. We come alongside those who need our strength and become that source of delight. Helping others and equipping the women in your life to know their true worth. My church has the curriculum printed in book form for study groups and I love hearing stories from so many different churches that have completed the study. It really is life changing. You can find all of the information here ( if you are interested. 

No, this is not a sponsored post from my church. No, I am not on staff or getting paid to write this. Yes, I am sharing my heart and would love for you to dig deeper in this calling we have as women. Feel that fire within you and know that is a gift from our Lord. Don’t be afraid, listening to the enemy and try to put it out, set it free and run with it. We are powerful. This is what we are called to do, lend strength and know who God has called us to become, not for ourselves but for His kingdom. All that we do should be for Him and that is my prayer for myself and for all of you.


Mar 17, 2014

11/52: Noah's bare piglets while playing on our back deck. 
We've been enjoying some warmer days lately. Anytime it's above 60, we're on the back porch playing and getting some sun. Noah loves to be barefoot and I love seeing his cute little toes and legs getting some fresh air after being bundled up all winter! Our wonderful neighbors let us borrow their water table and Noah has been having a blast. He loves splashing around and getting wet and it's a perfect activity to keep him occupied for awhile. The best days lately have been these warm ones where the screen door has been open, the breeze is coming through the house, and Noah has free reign to come in and out (thanks to the new gate Michael built!).

Have you been enjoying warm weather recently?

The Two Sides of the Same Whole | Guest Post: Mama Mermaid

Mar 14, 2014

Today, I'm so excited to share with you these beautiful words from Nicole at Mama Mermaid. She is a kindred mama soul when it comes to all things natural and her words about motherhood and balance are inspiring.
 Nicole Lauren is the nature-loving mother and wife behind the blog Mama Mermaid, a place where she writes about natural parenting and sustainable living made simple. She has a penchant for vintage fashion, making up new recipes and taking spontaneous adventures with her family.

Motherhood infused itself to my soul, not the day I held my daughter Rosemary for the first time, but rather months before that when I saw those two faint little lines. I don’t think any mother ever forgets the moment she realized she was no longer just a woman but now a person charged with the responsibility of raising another human being. 

Life before that moment feels like a vague half-forgotten dream. I have the journals, the photos that are like souvenirs to remind me of a different period in my life.
Even if, to be perfectly honest, at times it is like looking at someone else’s scrapbook. Back then I lived in a world where blowouts were what you got at a salon and Friday nights meant cocktails with friends.  

However, I am here to say that this journey isn’t necessarily about forgoing one’s old identity. Rather we must assimilate the two, the mother and the woman, in order to become a better version of the whole. If there is one thing I have learned it is that it is so important to nurture both these identities through finding a balance in ourdaily life’s rhythms. Because even if these days I rock a toddler on my hip, I know some things will stay the same—like my signature red lipstick and killer heels.  

In other words we must tend to our families but also ourselves, stoking the fires that inspire our passions—whether it means carving out an hour a day to read a book or taking a yoga class once a week. Or maybe keeping a blog. ;) 

When you find that balance the rest of your world comes together and you realize that the mother and woman in you are just two parts of the same whole.

Total Truth Thursdays 02 | Fashion: New Mama Challenges!

Mar 13, 2014

Welcome to our second Total Truth Thursday! Kirstin and I started this link-up in hopes that it will be successful in creating a safe environment for us to share our opinions, beliefs, and thoughts- however strong, against-the-grain, mainstream, or out there they are! If this is the first time you’re hearing about Total Truth Thursdays, head back to this post and catch up on what it’s all about!

Before we dive in and link up, there are a few things that you need to know:
1 // You can find the list of topics for each week HERE 
2 // Kindness is key.Whether you follow the topics for each week or come up with something on your own, please remember that others may or may not agree with you, and you may or may not agree with them! Disagreements are natural, passionate opinions are welcomed, and constructive feedback is fine. However, we won’t put up with rudeness, ugliness, or name-calling. Just be nice! 
3 // To link-up, please follow Hey Kelsea Rae & These Moments Called Life on Bloglovin’ or GFC and copy and paste the button code to your post somewhere! We are so excited to get started!

Today’s topic is FASHION!

I've never considered myself  "up" on fashion. I can put together a mean Pinterest board, but when it comes to actually going into a store, or my own closet for that matter, and putting together an outfit, I feel lost. I'm on two opposite ends of the spectrum. I can tell you what I really like and I can tell you what I really don't like, but somewhere in the middle it all gets lost in translation from the store to my closet to my body.
Noah's second day at home.

New motherhood made this harder. Not impossible, but definitely more of a struggle for me! Motherhood is absolutely amazing and I wouldn't trade it for the world- even that crazy, postpartum phase. But sometimes, all the wonderful things that come with it can give you a run for your money when it comes to fashion and finding clothes to wear. Here's my total truth of new mom fashion....

1. The In-Between Stage of Postpartum
The "still squishy" stage was hard for me, and because I was eating terribly and not taking care of myself, it was even more of a challenge all around- mentally, physically, emotionally. For the most part my pre-baby clothes fit okay, but I still had weight to lose and none of my clothes fit right. You wonder why some brand new moms wear sweatpants a lot at first? Because they're the only things that are comfortable and don't scream every extra pound at you when you pull them up! I had jeans to wear, but they came up way too high and were hideous.  Why didn't anyone tell me?! I was SO glad when changing my lifestyle for the better helped me get back to a healthier weight. It can happen fast or slow, depending on your body type and lifestyle, but there still IS an in-between stage, and it's not always fun.

2. Nursing-friendly wardrobe
I'm a nurse-in-public mama. I don't care, I'll do it anywhere. I don't use a cover, but I always nurse from under my shirt and have a tank on so my stomach isn't exposed. I'm not one of those mamas who pull down from the top and just whip it out, so this past summer, I had to forget any type of fun summer dress, or a light, flowy, strapless-bra top for a family outing. Nope. I stuck to some solid tees or a few sleeveless tanks that could be easily layered and covered my fuller-at-the-time goods. No cute racer-back with some shoulder skin exposed. I had to wear an extra sturdy nursing bra at first and an inch wide strap is just not summer-friendly! I was in that in-between stage for awhile, so I never went shopping in hopes that I'd lose the weight (the weight I was keeping on by eating cookies every single day!).

3. Nothing too fancy! 
Babies spit up. It's a fact of life. Also, sometimes nursing gets out of control when you're just starting out. So when I'd be planning an outfit I'd always judge it by how easily the fabric was wiped off, how much the spit-up or wet spot would show, and if it would be super obvious if I leaked. Thankfully, I figured out how to keep that at a minimum, but it happened!

When those are the issues you're faced with as a new mom, it's not easy stepping into the closet and putting something on that you feel good in, much less can be held up to Pinterest standards!

I hate when all women do is complain about motherhood and how it's so awful and on and on. It's depressing, not true, and skews the view for everyone else hoping to one day have kiddos! I truly feel being a mother is the biggest joy I've ever experienced, but I'd be naive to never admit that it's hard sometimes, even when it comes to something as seemingly small as fashion. Don't worry, you and your body eventually figure things out, your boobs get a little more predictable, and you find what clothes work for your body through each stage. But it's an interesting adventure getting there! 

Alright, it’s your turn! Grab the button below and link up your Total Truth! Also, use the hashtag #totaltruththursdays to share on Instagram and Twitter!

You're Still Here | Guest Post: Ashley Beaudin

Mar 12, 2014

Ashley Beaudin is a writer, relentless encourager and friend.  Soul stirring conversations, brainstorming home run hitting ideas and all things polka dotted and confetti fire her up.  Her latest life coaching program has hit the interwebs and you can find her chatting life with people to get to that fire in their bones. She believes in Jesus who is passionate about your heart. For real. You can connect more with her on Twitter or her blog.

It is almost as if when the wind blows, it is singing to me, "You're alive. Feel me blow upon your face, upon your cheeks, upon eyelids that flutter in the movement. You are wonderfully and beautifully and outrageously here."

It is this weird thing like we know we are, we're still here. We're still going to work, we're still waking up every morning. We're alive, of course we are. We know in our heads that we're still in this thing and we're still moving and we're still breathing. 

But yet somehow it is just so easy to forget, it is just so easy to forget that we are alive. 

We get stuck in our issues, the things that we are still working against, the situations we can't see the other side of, the mountains that we've been climbing for much too long, the storms that haven't faded, the cries that haven't yet grown satisfied.

We're constantly in our future thinking of the things that could be either in fantasy or in fear or we're in our past thinking "wasn't that nice?" or filled with the regret and the sting that darkness branded on our thoughts. 

We get caught up in our thoughts, in technology, in the demands and expectations, the performance and the strife, as if there is always something we are reaching for but we never know if we'll ever really attain. 

And it is like we just forget. 

That the breath that fills our lungs prophesies a glorious future and a heart that beats within the walls of our chest sings over us, "You're here. You're still here." 
Like if we could just pause in this moment right now and right here and just whisper to each other, "You're still here." As if in the exchange of those syllables that linger in between us, we're reminded that this isn't over. 

That in all the hurry and all the clutter and all the fear, you're still here. 
That in everything that has tried to take you out and destroy your soul, you're still here. 

That even in your brokenness and questions and wanderings of the heart, you're still here. 

That even in addictions and pain and failed marriages, you're still here. 

That even in the wrestle and the battlefield and in blood spilt, you're still here. 

That if we could stand before one another now and hold the shoulders of the other and look dead in the eye at each other and whisper with hope filled words,

"You're still here."

Feel the snow as it hits your warm hands and melts. Hear the sound of the wind as it blows through barren trees. See the sun as it rises because it always rises. 

Hear the joy in the laughter of children that seems to trail upon the streets. Feel the warmth and glory of being completely surrounded in embrace. See the life that emerges out of ashes if you'll just lean in and look. 

Feel your heart beating in your chest. Feel your lungs filling with breath. Feel your feet move to a rhythm that can only come from a soul within.

You're alive. 

Come on now. Open up those hands. Let go of that thing you have been clenching onto. Open up those eyes. Because those memories aren't as beautiful as the life you're now living. 
I promise you that this life is not a prison. I promise you that there is more than rules and expectations. I promise you that this life is an invitation. 

If you're still here and if you're still alive, it is not by mistake or by some whim or because two people got together and decided to be intimate and bam, here you are. 

But you were unbelievably and amazingly created. That inside of you is not just your heartbeat, but the heartbeat of a King, the mark of someone who has been so in love with you, pursuing you with passion and with a dream. 

That you are enjoyed by heaven, not because of the accolades, by your resume or even by your crowns, but you are enjoyed because you were created. 

That this life is an opportunity to be loved and to love. It is a chance to get messy and get in the dirt and ask hard questions and find the joy that comes in the wrestle. 

And that this life is an invitation to engage. To stop suffocating and escaping and to start living. 

To feel the pain even if it hurts like hell. But then to know the joy when it bubbles up within like it loves to do. 

To grapple with the mess of questions. But then to know the security when you stumble upon that hope that resurrects lives again. 

To walk through your stuff because you'll indeed have it. But then to know the freedom on the inside when you're restored, made whole, transformed. 

You're alive. You're still here. It is not by mistake. 
You've got on the treasure on the inside of you that this planet needs. 

So stop the suffocating, the escaping, the running, and let the syllables linger between us now. 

You're alive. You're still here.

Around the House

Mar 10, 2014

1// I love these barn wood shelves Michael put up for me. The brackets are from Ikea and give them a fun industrial feel. 

2// This kitchen scale was a Christmas gift from my mom and I'm seriously in love with it. We usually put out fruit in it, but it occasionally holds napkins, too. I love the feel it brings to my kitchen.

3// My piano is one of my most prized possessions. I don't put too much on top of it, but I love this simple stack of some of my music and this little beehive trinket holder from Target. 

4// This is what Noah's play area looks like most of the time. The basket in the corner makes it so much easier to contain the mess when it needs to be put up and hidden. 

5// I love this old coke crate. It used to belong to my parents but I took it from home when I moved. It used to act as a little side table, but now it holds a few blankets for the living room. 

6// I love this little collage in Noah's room. I made all of the graphics myself and enjoyed putting it together. "Forever Young" lyrics are in the large black frame and used to make me sob when I was newly postpartum!

These are just a few of my favorite little spots in our home. I feel like my style is constantly changing as I'm exposed to new ideas, and I have fun adding, moving around, and changing things as I'm inspired. 

What keeps you inspired when it comes to home decor?

9/52 & 10/52

Mar 8, 2014

In the past few weeks, Noah's interest in books has grown tremendously. He wants us to read to him all the time. We have a basket full of his books and he loves to walk over, pick one of his favorites, and bring it over to our laps. He loves to crawl up in our lap while we read and doesn't try to turn the page too soon anymore. It's really enjoyable to watch him take each page in and look at all the colors and shapes. His favorites right now are Goodnight Moon, Where's Spot, and Llama Llama Red Pajama.
Michael just finished a gate for our back porch so Noah could play without me needing to chase him up and down the stairs the entire time, and also so he doesn't go head first down them when he's trying to act like he's a big boy. The weather has been amazing the past two days so we've swung open the back door and enjoyed some sunshine on the porch. I wanted Noah to have some sensory play time, but all I had was water and dry beans. It sounds simple, but he loved it. He played with the water, poured the beans from one container to the other, and got all kinds of wet.


Mar 7, 2014

Noah loves playing with my hair while he nurses and always manages to make it look like I just got out of bed. Wearing a braid helps keep his damage to a minimum!

eating | lots of turkey sandwiches.
drinking | water, water, and more water.
practicing | positivity & surrender. 
mastering | going to the gym!Yoga is my favorite!
learning | to be content wherever we are.
listening | to toddler whines and trying to be patient! 
watching | an episode of Sherlock Holmes a night with the hubs. 
finishing | organizing Noah's closet and getting rid of things we don't use.
reading | Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts.
wearing | the same pair of jeans over and over again. Might need to go shopping!
cooking | caramelized Salmon and loving it!
working | on trying to create a "brand" for my blog. No more randomness!
traveling | nowhere and it feels good!
wanting | Noah's month-long molar teething journey to be done so I can get some sleep!

The blog has had quite a week this week! If you haven't been around, here's what you missed...

+ I talked about what it feels like to have a rough day as a mom and need to recenter.

+ I featured Samantha Black's shop, Anchors of Hope Designs and have a giveaway for you to enter!

+ Kirstin from These Moments Called Life and I hosted our very first Total Truth Thursday! We had a good link-up turnout and would love for you to read what it's all about and join us on the rest of our topics.

Total Truth Thursday 01 | Marriage: Why I Don't Read Romance Novels

Mar 6, 2014

Welcome to our very first Total Truth Thursday! Kirstin and I are so excited to be starting this link-up and hope that it will be successful in creating a safe environment for us to share our opinions, beliefs, and thoughts- however strong, against-the-grain, mainstream, or out there they are! If this is the first time you’re hearing about Total Truth Thursdays, head back to this post and catch up on what it’s all about! 

Before we dive in and link up, there are a few things that you need to know: 

1 // You can find the list of topics for each week HERE 
2 // Kindness is key.Whether you follow the topics for each week or come up with something on your own, please remember that others may or may not agree with you, and you may or may not agree with them! Disagreements are natural, passionate opinions are welcomed, and constructive feedback is fine. However, we won’t put up with rudeness, ugliness, or name-calling. Just be nice! 
3 // To link-up, please follow Hey Kelsea Rae & These Moments Called Life on Bloglovin’ or GFC and copy and paste the button code to your post somewhere! We are so excited to get started! 

Today’s topic is MARRIAGE!
Want my total truth? Marriage is hard. 

Oh wait, that’s the general consensus? I thought I might have it easy today.

 I had a hard time deciding what to share today, because my marriage doesn’t just involve me but Michael, as well. I’m pretty much an open book with most people when it comes to our marriage, but there are certain boundaries that I put up out of respect for Michael. So, with that in mind, I decided on the subject and title of this post.

 If I had enough room, it would be titled “Why I stopped reading romance novels and watching chick flicks, why I refuse to read 50 Shades of Grey, and why I think Nicholas Sparks is sabotaging relationships everywhere!”.  

 I’ll preface this by saying that I am a complete romantic. Some people have one of the love languages….mine are all five! I just love LOVE. Growing up, I had this picture in my head of the ideal man.  Many of my expectations and ideas about this ideal man I truly believe are realistic and good. But you know when I realized that I needed to take the word “ideal” out of the equation? When I got married. Before you go calling me a terrible wife, let me explain. I grew up reading Nicholas Sparks. My favorite movie is Pearl Harbor. I read Christian romance after Christian romance, stories that painted the picture of this man who was pretty much perfect. He apologized at the right time, knew exactly the right moment to grab his wife and kiss her, touched her in all the right ways, and said and did all the right things. 

And you know what happened when I got married? I committed my love to a human being. One who makes mistakes, one who doesn’t always know what to say or do, and one who doesn’t even know which love language he is! And I realized, I had been feeding myself this entire world, this entire man, that wasn’t reality, who didn’t exist. I mean, yes- there are guys out there who know how to romance well, and are great at communicating, and know when to buy flowers. But even then- he’s human.  

As a newlywed, I didn’t realize this right away, and every single time I’d crack open one of those books, or watch Ryan Gosling on The Notebook, a deep dissatisfaction stirred up inside of me. This might not happen to you. But for me, I found that it altered my view of my husband and added to the list of unrealistic expectations I was subconsciously placing on him. It wasn’t fair to Michael that I was holding him to these ideas that he could never live up to. Nobody can live up to perfect!   

For many of those same reasons, I also have not, and will not, read Fifty Shades of Grey or any book like it.  I don’t see reading such a sexually explicit and descriptive book any differently than watching porn. One, my husband is supposed to be the only object of my affection, sexual attention and appetite. When I allow something other than my husband to do this, I’m creating an opportunity for emotional and physical distance.  Also, in the same way that chick flicks give me unrealistic expectations and change my standard, I believe sexual novels, and even suggestive movies, do the same. When my body and mind are conditioned to respond to these perfectly plotted situations and dialogue, they will eventually not be as satisfied by something less perfect.  It will take more and more to get the same level of initial satisfaction.  My husband should be my standard, no matter what, and especially in the bedroom. 

 I didn’t wake up one day and decide all this, and I definitely am not laying it down as law. I guess you could say I phased out slowly. I remember times I would watch the Notebook over and over again, or swoon over Ben Affleck (my husband calls him butt-chin Ben, ha!). I remember a time when I enjoyed immersing myself in the wonderful world of Nicholas Sparks. But eventually, it began to affect me. I started to not enjoy them as much because I was constantly reminded that my reality was not that perfect reality. They began to steal my real life joy.  I found myself wanting to watch an action movie over the chick flick in which the bodies were perfect and smooth, the sex was amazing 100% of the time, and nobody had to deal with the realities of daily life.  I want my relationship standards to be set by us and our faith, not culture.  

What about you? Do you find it hard to watch these perfectly played out chick-flicks and then come back to reality?  

Alright, it’s your turn! Grab the button below and link up your Total Truth! Also, use the hashtag #totaltruththursdays to share on Instagram and Twitter!

MADE SERIES 05 // Samantha Black: Anchor of Hope Designs

Mar 5, 2014

Today's small business spotlight feature is Samantha Black, a newlywed who recently moved away from the big city to small town South Carolina. She's a therapist during the day and loves working with children, but creating art has always been a part of her life. She majored in art in college and has always loved experimenting with new materials! Her shop, Anchor of Hope Designs, features beautiful, nautically-themed jewelry!
Samantha was gracious enough to answer some of my questions about her shop & what keeps her nautically inspired..

When did you start your business/open up shop? 
This is going to sound crazy, but I opened my shop a little over a month before my wedding in August 2013.  I have wanted to open an Etsy shop for a few years now, and I guess I didn’t think wedding projects, moving to a different state and looking for a new job kept me busy enough?? But, I have loved every minute of it and it’s a great break from my day job as a counselor!

What is the story behind your business/shop name? 
My shop name is based off of a favorite Bible verse of mine Hebrews 6:19, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul.” It was very fitting and encouraging as I was starting so many new things in my life – getting married, moving to a new state, and starting this Etsy shop! It was an extra bonus that I love the beach and the anchor made a great logo!

Who has been your biggest encourager? 
My family and my husband! My mom and dad encouraged me to start the shop and helped me work out the logistics behind the business.  Mom is also my go to person to consult with about new ideas!  My older sister helps me photograph my work and is currently trying to teach me about “branding.”  My husband is my daily encourager – he has even been known to fold quite a few papers for me when I get a lot of cross orders at once!

What inspires your creativity?
I’m able to clear my mind and get a lot of ideas while I’m at the beach, but I also get a lot of ideas from flea markets or consignment stores.

What is your favorite item from your shop? 
That’s a tough question….I love my recycled magazine art right now because of how unique it is and I am really working at developing this line.  My recycled paper clock is my newest item, so I would say that’s my favorite right now.  My favorite piece of jewelry is probably the pearl bracelet, but this changes often. 

 I love the verse that inspired the name of Samantha's shop! I also really admire that her husband helps her with her shop when she needs it- that's a good man! Looking through Samantha's shop left me wanting warm weather and sand between my toes. Her designs and fresh and classic with beautiful stones and colors.
From now until next Wednesday, the 12th, Samantha is giving one of my readers a chance to win her sterling silver aqua necklace!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

motherhood, messing up, & grace

Mar 3, 2014

I like to keep it real here. So, that's why I'm going to tell you that yesterday was a rough day for me.

The weather was, and still is, lousy- cold, rainy, and with ice in the forecast. We didn't have extra money this paycheck to have fun in Nashville so we decided we'd stay home and be productive, instead. We cleaned the house up, stayed in our pajamas all day, and asked each other "What do you feel like doing?" so many times it was maddening.

I'll be honest. I haven't had too many rough days as a mom. Aside from some sleepless nights, it has honestly been pure joy to be Noah's mama. Of course, I'll always feel the pure joy part, simply because of how much I love him. I've not really had a day where I was overwhelmed and needed a mommy time-out. I've known it would come, and is normal, but I had yet to feel that. Yesterday was the first day I needed to say, "I need a break".

We were all bored and restless. A lot of feelings and emotions just rushed right in to take occupancy for the day and I was feeling pretty low. Noah is teething his two bottom molars right now and has been for weeks. They haven't broken through the gums yet and the poor little guy is in pain a lot of the time. He needed his mommy and daddy wouldn't do. 

If I sat at the kitchen table to check my e-mail, Noah was right there wanting up in my lap and to bang on the keyboard. If I went into the kitchen to make a meal, he followed, almost pulling down my pajama bottoms, crying and wanting to be held or fed. If I sat down to read a magazine, he wanted to be in my lap flipping the pages too fast. If I went to the bathroom, he cried until I came back. If I sat down with him in my lap, he was saying "De..De..", his words for nursing.

My baby's needs come first over anything else I'm doing. When he's trying to communicate with me, I stop what I'm doing, get down on the floor at his level, and try to help him work out what it is that he's struggling with. We believe in self-directed play and teaching him to entertain himself some, but if he needs me, I'm there. If he needs to nurse, we do, right there. If he needs to just sit with me a few minutes and calm down with a little song, we sing. If he needs a snack, we find something to eat. If he needs to be refreshed with hugs, love, and security, I'm there. I truly believe that there is nothing I'm doing at this point that is so important that my baby should be looking up at me and seeing me put that thing before him. It breaks my heart to think of him needing me while I'm busy staring at my phone, reading a blog, or obsessing over housework. I refuse to be that mother.

But you know what? I totally failed at all of that for a little yesterday. 

I was frustrated with Michael for not trying to distract Noah so I could just sit at the computer and do some blog stuff. I talked to Noah in a frustrated tone, and I know he picked up on it. I said too many words harshly and out of frustration. I couldn't make a move without being cried for, and I wanted to just scream at one point. I was touched out, I was cranky, I was feeling stuck inside, and I was losing patience. 

My last straw was while sitting at the computer while Noah pulled on my leg, cried loudly, and grabbed blindly for my pen on the table. I picked him up into my lap, stood up, and slammed the laptop shut. It wasn't that loud, but it was enough for him to look up at me with that look. That break your heart in two, confused, and a little afraid look. 

And I wanted to crumble to the ground and cry. I had let my frustration build up throughout the day and I had just made my little boy flinch from my anger. Anger over what? That he needed me and I was inconvenienced?  Didn't I just communicate that what I was doing was more important than he is? 

My heart immediately was broken, rebuked, and softened. The rest of the evening, I reacted how I wish I always could. I went down to him, enveloped him in my arms, and communicated without words that he and his needs were important to me. I whispered "mommy's sorry, buddy". My blog could wait, reading a magazine could wait, dinner didn't need to be made in such a hurry.

I hope the Lord is always that quick to wake me up. I hope that on the days when I'm frustrated, or dealing with whatever emotions that I'm struggling with, that I can still respond in kindness to my children. I'll fail, I know, probably in worse ways than this, but I hope that as my children are older and able to understand more, that I'm able to ask them for their grace and forgiveness when I need it. I want them to understand Grace because mommy both gave it and wasn't afraid to ask for and receive it.