Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Interior Inspiration: Laundry Rooms

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I get all the heart eyes when I look at these photos. There's just something about a pretty laundry room that makes me so happy! But let's be real, at this stage in life, just having laundry in our unit makes me happy. :)

Our current laundry situation is two small machines that are in separate corners of the room, with the washer hooking up to the sink and the dryer venting out into the room. Not exactly ideal, BUT we have a washer and dryer! All to ourselves! That we don't have to feed quarters! Woo!

But let's just dream for a minute, shall we? Eventually we'll be living somewhere else, and maybe, just maybe, I'll get to have a bit more fun with a laundry room/space. And when that day comes, I've got some inspiration for it.

I love the natural, clean feeling of the above photos, and I also love that there are some bold choices going on. Because a laundry room usually isn't a space that you're in 24/7 and is often smaller, you can go with some crazier patterns and colors. I LOVE that wallpaper choice on the top right, and the large map on the lower left brings in the perfect pop of color. The wood countertops over the machines are not only beautiful, but functional for folding and stacking. There's just so much good going on in all these photos. I love how the owners have taken something as basic and drudgery-esque (totes a word) as a laundry room and made it into something beautiful and functional. Every room deserves some love, so why not give some to your laundry room today?

Thursday, March 24, 2016


I love this quote so much that I've actually entertained thoughts of getting it tattooed on my body (I'm not going to... but...). 

It sums up so well what everyday love looks like. It takes out the gushy feelings and the prerequisite of liking someone to love them. It shows that love is an action, a choice. Love has to do with me and how I act and what I do, not with how the other person makes me feel. It has to do with my response to situations, not the situations themselves. 

Love is serving when I don't feel like it, love is going out of my way to help another, love is inconveniencing myself for the sake of someone else. 

Easter is right around the corner, and if there's any greater example of how love is inconvenient, I don't know it. Jesus died and rose again for you, for me. He didn't do it because it was the convenient, easy thing to do. He didn't do it because we were so lovely and wonderful and created all these gushy feeling in Him. 

He did it because He loves us so much that He was willing to serve, go out of His way, inconvenience Himself, and ultimately sacrifice His life for us. He did it because His Father loves us so much that He was willing to send His only Son to save us, wretched sinners that we are. 1 John 4:10 puts it this way—
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
God sacrificed His Son, Jesus sacrificed His life. Both were enormous inconveniences, and both showed us their love. Both sacrifices have made a way for us to have new life and eternal relationship with our Maker.

This Easter, I'm thankful that God didn't only love us when it was convenient. I'm thankful that Jesus ultimately said "Not my will, but yours be done" in that garden so long ago. I'm thankful that we have the highest example of love as inconvenience. I'm thankful that I don't have to try and love like that in my own power.

I'm thankful that Jesus came to earth, lived a sinless life, died on the cross to carry my sin and shame, rose again three days later, ascended to heaven where He now sits at the right hand of God, and invites me into relationship with Him and offers me eternal life. And the offer and invitation are for any who would receive it!  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12). We can trust Him, because He is worthy of our trust. He loves us beyond measure!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Why The Hubs & I Go To Bed At The Same Time

Alright, things are about to get personal around here. Today I want to share with you why Brian and I make it a point to go to bed at the same time every night. Now please Don't get me wrong, I'm not here to judge what you and your spouse do and what works for your lives, but I do want to give you a few reasons in favor of having the same bedtime as your spouse.

1. Pillow Talk
One of my favorite parts of college was those unintentional late night chats with the roomie, whether they were about the flavor of ice cream served at the caf that night or the meaning of life. It seems that some of the best conversations happened in the dark, as we both lay there in our beds. And I'm happy to say that that hasn't changed in marriage! Brian and I have some of our best connecting of the day at bedtime, without the distractions of others or the TV or phones. It's just us and the dark, and sometimes that dark makes it easier to delve into the heavier topics as well. If for no other reason to go to bed at the same time, pillow talk would be reason enough for me!

2. Warmth
Uh, helloooo. Human bodies are warm. Especially boy bodies. And in the dead of winter, in our drafty old house, I am soooo grateful for my husbands warm body beside me so I can warm my ice-cold feet on his legs. Poor guy. He's such a champ. 

3. Cultivating Intimacy
The need for warmth leads to cuddling, and sometimes cuddling leads to more (sorry siblings/anyone who doesn't want to think about this, but yes, it's part of marriage). Plus, even when the cuddling doesn't lead to more, it still leads to feeling close, not only physically, but also emotionally, especially for those who have a high physical touch love language. There's not much I love more than being held in my hubby's arms at the end of a long day (I told you it was going to get personal!). Going to bed at the same time also helps cultivate our spiritual intimacy, as it's the one consistent time that we pray with each other.

4. Creating routines together

Brian and I live with the mindset that if we can do it together, why not? That includes household chores like laundry and dishes, hobbies, ministry, international trips ;), errands, and more! Sure, we both have responsibilities and activities that the other isn't involved in, but we like each other so we spend our time together if we can. And that includes bedtime. For all of the above reasons.

So there you have it! A few reasons that I L-O-V-E going to bed at the same time as my hubby. What about you? Do you and your spouse share a bedtime?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

3 of My Favorite Rug Sources

I have a confession. I am obsessed with rugs. This is very good for the cuteness/coziness factor of our home, but could easily be very bad for our wallet. But thankfully, I have found some pretty stinkin' sweet (and affordable!) rug sources! And when you've got a secret like that, you've just got to share it, right?

Ikea was the first place that my love for rugs was ignited! I bought a few rugs there back in '08 for college, and when we got our first (fully wood-floored) apartment, it was the first place I headed to cover our floors. I love the variety, and although the prices vary, there is a good selection of decent sized rugs for under $100. 
Rugs USA is like a magical place filled with millions of beautiful rugs that seem a little spendy until you realize that they ALWAYS HAVE HUMONGOUS SALES. Like, 70–80% off! You can usually get the best sales there on holidays, so if you can wait til some random holiday rolls around, you should be good to go! We got our gigantic living room rug there for right around $100 which is insane!

Thrift Stores

Last but not least, thrift stores can be a GREAT place to find rugs on the cheap! I say can be because you really have to be careful when buying rugs from thrift stores. Whenever I find a rug at a thrift store I always make sure to unroll it completely and look carefully for any stains or tears (and then depending on price decide if it's a big enough deal). And the most important thing is to get down there and take a big ol' whiff of the rug. Yes, not the most pleasant of things, but it will be better to do it now to catch any pet/smoke/pee/etc smell than to smell it in your house. I recently scored some awesome oriental rugs for $10 and $30 a piece and last year I got a grey and white (pictured above) West Elm runner in perfect condition for $15. So thrift stores can definitely pay off!

What are your go-to places to buy rugs?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

5 Things I Took Away From Our SE Asia Trip

Last month Brian and I went on a two-week long anti-trafficking trip to Thailand and Cambodia. That's not new news to most of you (and I shared quite a bit during the trip), but as I've had time to reflect I wanted to share some of the things that I've taken away from our time there.

I saw time and time again how God is in the business of redemption—whether that was redeeming people or places. It was amazing to see former child brothels teeming with happy, safe, protected children. Or people worshiping God in a building meant to be a hotel for the sex industry. Or women receiving a fair wage and good conditions for honest work in a factory that was once a place used to enslave them. What the enemy has meant for evil, God has meant for good.

I learned that in Thai culture it is the son's responsibility to be the spiritual leader of the family and the daughter's responsibility to be the financial provider for her parents and siblings. This cultural role is one of the biggest factors that leads to Thai women working in the bars as prostitutes. The majority of them come from the Northeastern part of Thailand that is a very poor, rural farming area. Women feel pressure from their families to work in the bars since it brings in better money than other jobs they could get, especially since they are often uneducated. The pressure and shame that these women feel is intense, and so it seems her only choice is to work in the bars and send money home to honor her family.

I gained confidence in my independence and traveling skills. One afternoon I stayed behind to rest while the rest of the team visited a school. We were going to meet up that evening for an appointment and the rush hour traffic was worse than expected so instead of being able to come pick me up like planned, the team asked if I would be willing to meet them there. I was a little nervous, but I walked a few blocks to a busy street where I hailed my own taxi (it took me three tries as the first two turned me down when they saw the address), communicated with the Thai-speaking driver where I wanted to go, and paid him in a foreign currency. I was super proud of myself because if you know me well, you know that was way outside my comfort zone!

I was faced with the depravity of man. The sinfulness of humans was constantly on display as we learned about the sexual exploitation of women and children, and even saw these men who travel across the globe to satisfy their sinful cravings. As we walked through the mall and saw couple after couple of old western men with young beautiful Thai women. As we walked down the dark alleyway lined with women waiting to be chosen by a man, waiting to make the money she will send back to her family. As we walked past the bars with the young girls dancing on tables. As we walked through the buildings that were once child brothels and looked into the tiny "rooms" where unspeakable evil occurred. The absolute wickedness of sexual exploitation was on full display for us.

I saw hope in the darkest places. I saw smiles on faces that have seen and experienced more horrors than I can even imagine. I heard stories about God lighting a passion to help others in those that have been exploited. I experienced the joy of Christ in people that should have no reason to be joyful. His love heals. His love restores. His love brings hope.

You can read more about our trip here, here, here, & here!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Living Room Updates & Dining Room Reveal

It's been awhile since I've shared our home here on the blog, and a lot has changed! (Because let's be real, change happens around here every week or so.) The last time I shared our living room, we had far less seating and the vintage mirror and bar cart hadn't made an appearance yet. Although we liked the spaciousness of the first arrangement, bringing in our other couch has been the best idea ever. Not only is our living room more cozy, but much more practical, which in the end is probably more important than the cuteness factor. 
I'm still so obsessed with this giant rug we got for the living room! I might have to do a post on good rug sources soon. 

Here's the cute little bar car that I snagged for $15 at a thrift store in Nebraska last year. There are some missing wine glasses on the bottom that are waiting to get washed from a little double date dinner we had the other night. It's my favorite when things like that are just a little "off" because it reminds me that we actually live here and this house "works" for us! 

Speaking of working for us, we've so loved this little 4-seater table, but are hoping to move on soon to something a little larger. (No, this is NOT a pregnancy announcement... we just really want to be able to invite more than two people over for dinner at a time!) So the last week has consisted of lots of internet research and checking things out at a few stores, and will hopefully result in a new big table that will allow lots of room for rambunctious dinners and more of those wine glasses getting used. ;)

Thanks for taking a peek into our living and dining room! Maybe one of these days I'll get around to showing you our upstairs. :)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Interior Inspiration: Southwest Vibes

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It's been awhile since there's been an Interior Inspiration around here! So as I did a quick scroll through my home board on Pinterest, I started to see a theme emerging from the images I've pinned recently... there are definitely some strong Southwest vibes going on! From patterns to plant life, textiles to colors, I've definitely been digging aspects of the Southwestern style lately. There's obviously some other styles thrown into the mix, but then again, when have I ever been one to choose just one style. 

So what's so appealing about the Southwestern style? To me, it's the beautiful mix of natural tones and bright colors, the rich variety of textures, the fun geometric patterns, and the combination of so many great materials, from leather and wool, to ceramics and natural woods. What's not to love? But I think my very favorite thing about the Southwestern style is that there seems to be a very mix-n-match quality about it. The more patterns and textures, the better! 

What about you? Are you a fan of the Southwestern style, or is it not for you?

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