How we turned our 1950's ranch house into an English Cottage

Tuesday, January 19

The "After" (above)
The "Before" (Above)

These next few weeks I wanted to share a few before and after pictures of our old house! As many of you know, we recently moved into a new house which we are loving! But, I never really got around to sharing any of the house projects we poured our hearts into these last 5 years at the old house! So, without further goes!! 

In the Fall of 2015, we pulled up to our old house for the very first time! To say it needed a little vision is an understatement, especially the exterior. However, I could see my dreams of a proper English cottage taking shape in my mind. I'm a total anglophile, and  I had all sorts of ideas on how to take it from drab ranch house to sweet little cottage. 

Surprisingly, the house only had one owner before us. A professor bought the home in the mid 1950's when it was brand new, and lived in it up until his death at age 95 in 2015. He was a bit of a recluse (so the neighbors told us) and had literally planted bamboo around the entire house in order to block all the visibility from the windows. 

Needless to say, the front yard (as well as the back) was a bit of a mess, a bit of a jungle. The first thing we did was start working on killing the bamboo, taking out the mess of plants, and making plans to spruce up the exterior. 

The FIRST task was painting the exterior brick! I normally love brick, but this was a dirty weird brown color and desperately needed some livening up. My mother-in-law was so kind to fly up and help me paint it. We chose the color China White, which is a warm white (which is what I was going for). We borrowed a friend's paint sprayer and it took about 2 days to accomplish. We were so proud of ourselves for doing it ourselves! (Girl power! haha) 

Our SECOND task was adding some charm in the form of shutters for the windows. I found a tutorial online for some basic wood shutters, and Kevin and I went to work building and painting them. I chose the color Cathedral Gray, and was so happy with how they turned out. 

Our THIRD task was redesigning the front landscaping. I wanted something simple and sweet. In the end, we chose a small brick patio and pathway, and a planter filled with all sorts of cottage plants (including lambs ears, poetry lavender, Russian sage, Peonies, Dusty Miller, etc). 

Lastly, (and maybe my favorite addition) was planting the climbing rose. I figured all good cottages have a climbing rose adorning their walls, so I needed one too. I did some research and chose a Cecil Bruner rose which is a soft blush pink. I could not believe how fast it grew and our second springtime it literally overflowed with the loveliest blooms! 

It's amazing how just a little creativity, paint and hard work can transform a place! What do you think?? While we no longer live here, I love to still drive by this old house and just smile at how far it's come!! xoxo 

My word for 2021

Monday, January 11

If you caught my last post, you saw that 2020 was a year I truly lived into the word God gave me...bloom! What a life changing year, where God tore the old roots out, and grew something even more beautiful in my life! Praise Him! 

So this I sought the Lord for a word for 2021, I thought maybe it would be a word in the same vein. NOPE! He went a whole other direction, haha! 

The word God gave me was....drumroll please...


At first, I wasn't quite sure if I heard correctly. "Words" is a weird "word" to receive, but lo and behold, God made it quite clear that it was for me! 

If you've followed me for any length of time, you know that during my blogging heyday, I was churning out 3-4 posts a week, reaching thousands of people within minutes of publishing my posts. Every time I sat down at my computer, God just downloaded what He wanted me to write...what He wanted me to communicate and say. It came so naturally, words flowed so freely. 

But in late 2015, when it was clear a major stronghold of fear (see here) began to dictate my life and  I deleted my IG and mostly stopped blogging, it felt like all inspiration came to a screeching halt. I no longer was able to just sit down and pour my heart out into the virtual world. Looking back now I can see it was because I allowed my fear of man to cloud the vision God had for me. I went into hiding, and so did my words (or more accurately, God's words that He wanted me to write). 

As 2020 lit a match that burned down my stronghold and lightened my load (PRAISE GOD!), I now feel ready to step into a year of listening, writing and sharing. 

I'm by NO MEANS promising any literary genius, because I know that I don't have any. 

But if God is calling me to something, and HE provides the inspiration, then I know I am in good hands. May deepest desire is to walk closely with the Lord, to hear his voice, and be used in any way I can to bring His Kingdom here on earth. 

Some of the "words" I hope to write this year....

- Continuing to share more of my freedom journey (which I alluded to in my last post where I talked about overcoming a major stronghold in my life and becoming aware of an actual diagnosis which requires me to manage my thoughts in a very concentrated way) 

- Writing my children's book about the travels and journies of young girls around the world! I'm super excited for this one. While my hope was to travel to each place that I plan to set my story, I'm not sure if covid will allow me to do that, so I will rely on my memories of each place to bring me through that one!

- Writing more on motherhood, mental health (as I am a therapist), and documenting some upcoming fun design projects we have going on at our house!! 

Anything else you'd want to see me write about?? 

So cheers to a year of listening and writing the WORDS He gives me. I hope you'll come along for the journey!!

Did God give YOU a word this year?? xoxo 

2020 & how I learned to "Bloom"

Monday, January 4

Frantic and feeble, I waded into 2020 with a hope that THIS YEAR would be different, holding my breath that maybe, just maybe, there would be healing among the ashes. 2019 was probably one of the hardest years of my life, as I came face to face with a stronghold that had plagued me for most of my teenage and adult years.

Seeking the Lord in prayer for a special word for 2020, I secretly hoped it would drip with sentiments like FREEDOM, HEALING, or VICTORY. Instead, the word He so clearly and beautifully gave me was BLOOM. (I wrote a post on God giving the word to me a year ago here). It surprised me, I recoiled at how quickly it came, and how out of left field it seemed. 

But this year has been a BLOOMING year, in all senses. 

A flower doesn't bloom, unless it first dies. 

And oh friends, how last year felt like a death. 

But let me tell you something magnificent...

out of death comes the BLOSSOM of beauty and life, and even though 2020 has been a total dumpster fire to some, it has actually been one of my favorite years of growth. 

Real, tangible, rip the roots up and send down new ones, kind of growth! 

But it wasn't without work, intentionality, and of course, God's grace in revealing the root and source of the stronghold. 

The first half of this year God began to reveal and rip out the spiritual strongholds I was drowning in.  In January, my church offered a women's Bible Study on Beth Moore's Breaking Free curriculum. I sat at church grasping for ALL the reasons adding another commitment during the week would be too much, but as clear as day, God said GO. I cannot tell you how transformation that study was for me. 

I put in the WORK...doing the devotions every day, filling out all the exercises, etc. And WOW, God did a miracle in my heart. If you haven't done this Bible Study and work book, please do it now. God revealed so much about what a stronghold actually is and how by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can break it down! 

The second half of the year, God began to reveal to me the mental and biological aspects of my stronghold. As a therapist myself, someone who deals with and diagnoses clients weekly, I was constantly trying to analyze myself to figure out what was going on in my life. So much of my stronghold didn't exactly fit into a standard diagnosis. But one day, after an intense session with my mentor (who is a seasoned therapist herself), God smacked me in the face with exactly what was going on in my head, and He led me to the exact diagnosis, which is a newer subset category of a more common diagnosis. When I read it, I couldn't believe how accurately it was describing what was going on. (I promise to share more about this diagnosis later, but that is a whole other post in and of itself!) 

Because I deal with many clients who face this exact diagnosis, I knew how to treat it, and began using the treatment on myself. YOU so so so much healing. 

In fact, the first time I pulled out my toolbox and treated myself, I could NOT believe how helpful it was. In an instant, I found myself praising God for this breakthrough. It felt monumental. It felt HUGE. 

Like imagine having someone throw a boulder on you and because you are weak you have no idea how to throw it off you. And then you believe for certain that each time the boulder is thrown, you will be crushed by the weight of it. THIS TIME, though, I knew how to deal with it, and I was able to throw that boulder right off of me. I cannot describe the FREEDOM that came from this! I stand at the end of 2020.

And truly, I have BLOOMED. 

I am a different person than who I was at the end of 2019. 

I feel light, I feel equipped, I feel AT PEACE (hallelujah!!), and I feel like ME! 

And for goodness sake, I feel ready to step into and live out the calling God has placed on my life. 

Friend, praying for you today. If you are struggling under the weight of a stronghold or diagnosis, THIS ONE'S FOR YOU! There is healing to be had, there is HOPE always. Yes, there will be pain and "death" but you too can BLOOM in the healing of the Lord, and I will hold that space for you. 

 I love you and I would love to pray for you, so please reach out to me!!