Monday, October 22, 2018

DIY Home Sign + Gallery Wall

We recently freshened up the paint in our main living area (our life was in desperate need of some wipeable semi-gloss paint, considering how many dirty handprints touch them every day), and shortly before then I decided that I would use this opportunity to change up my gallery wall.

 I'm super happy with the way that it turned out, and how clean and fun and fresh everything looks.

This is what it looked like before. I feel like these look like Before and After weight loss pictures, you know where the Before Person is always really greasy and sad and the picture has intentionally horrible lighting? 
Well, the bad lighting on this wasn't on purpose, but it definitely contrasts what a nice change the new facelift is. 
The old wall served us well for the time being, but our pictures were all pretty outdated (the one of Luke and I in front of the red door is an engagement photo and we basically look like teenagers), plus the TV cords hanging down always made me really nutty. 

So we solved the ugly cord dilemma, got rid of all the glass frames, replaced our clock (which had broken multiple times and I fixed with a hot glue gun. #classy), and updated the signs and decor.
I think the only two things that made the cut were the framed J and the key.

I made the growth chart ruler myself, mainly because most of the ones available in stores or online only went up to around 5 feet. Like, I'm sorry but...who are these made for? The Lollipop Guild
Obviously I had to make my own for our very tall family and this one goes up to 6'6", WHICH WILL HOPEFULLY SUFFICE.
(Pretty sure if any of my kids go over 6'6", I'll be too busy going to basketball games to have time to lovingly measure them on my homemade growth chart.)

If you want to make one too, it's super easy and inexpensive- HERE's the tutorial I used.

The two clip picture frames are from At Home, but literally EVERYTHING ELSE is from Hobby Lobby. Another fun fact: every time I bought something (which was over a period of a few months), every single thing was 50% off.
So essentially that whole wall cost less than it would to take your family to Chipotle for lunch.

*Thrifty Shopper fist bump*

And then of course I made the HOME wreath sign myself, which was so simple that this hardly feels like it counts as a tutorial.
But either way, heres how I made it!

What You Need:
- 8" wooden letters - H, M, and E. (I got mine at the Walmarts for two bucks a piece.)
- A 1"x10"x6' wooden board, cut to be 32.5 inches long. (They can cut it for you at Home Depot.)
-a 10" mini wreath (You can find these at Michaels, Target, etc. I found mine at At Home for $4.99!)
-wood stain
- glossy black spray paint
-flat or satin white paint
-medium grit sandpaper
-wood glue
-heavy duty staple gun
-black drywall screws (1 5/8 in) OR D-Rings

What To Do:

1.) Spray paint your wood letters.

Funny story, my original plan was to make a sign that just said "Meh", but ended up changing my mind so I could add the wreath.

(Just kidding.)

2.) (Not Pictured) Lightly sand down the wooden board so that it's smooth, and then stain it. 
It doesn't really matter what color stain you go with, because it's just for the purpose of peaking through a bit after distressing the wood. But as usual, I used Minwax Dark Walnut.

3.) Paint the board white. I used spray paint, which worked just fine, as long as you give it good coverage.

4.) Once dry, use medium grit sandpaper to distress the wood.

(Fun Fact: Those gloves I'm wearing were a Mother's Day gift from my husband. He bought me legit mechanic's gloves for all of the projects I'm constantly working on. I love him. And the gloves make me feel very cool.)

5.) Find the right placing for your letters, leaving the right amount of room for the wreath, and mark it and/or use a level if you need to. 
Use wood glue to attach them.

6.) Lay the wreath where you want it and find a couple of good spots to staple it to the board.
If you move some of the greenery over, the staples should be hidden pretty well.

7.) Once the glue is dry, it's time to hang, which you can do multiple ways.
You can either use D-Rings if you have commitment issues or don't want to damage your wall, or you can be like me and cause MAXIMUM DAMAGE by screwing it straight into the sheet rock and studs.
For this type of home abuse, you'll need black drywall screws (1 5/8 inch).

Use a level and a pencil to mark where you want the sign to hang, because you are really committing here!
Drill in 3 screws, one into each black letter.

And voila! You're done. 
I love this sign because it's pretty, it's inexpensive (between $15-$20 to make), and for a DIY project it doesn't look homemade-y.

Another option would be if you wanted to invert the colors, by making the board black and the letters white! Or even if you wanted to just stain the wood and make the letters white. Lots of fun options.

Anyway, as usual, feel free to steal and copy as much or as little as you want. I swear, if none of us were allowed to mooch off of each other's decor inspiration, my house would probably look like a Dentist Office. Whomp whomp.

I'm so pleased with how my whole wall turned out. I love the creative energy it takes to plan these decorating projects, and the satisfaction of getting it completed.

But for the important purpose of always keeping it real, please do not ever mistake us for being The Joneses.
None of us DO live in or NEED to live in perfect homes.
Our house is small. It's got ugly wood baseboards and an unfinished basement. The tile in the bathroom is cracked and my couch has Sharpie stains on it. 
It never looks perfectly clean or organized and things are constantly breaking.
It's not the kind of house you use to show off how rich you are (which we're not) and it doesn't belong anywhere near HGTV.

And honestly... I love it that way.

I love decorating my small, imperfect house and making it feel like a home that reflects who we are as a family, which is one of the many ways that we express the artistic creativity of the God whose image we bear. 
But I want the beauty of our home to always be the warm and welcoming kind, not the cold, intimidating kind.  I love that people can be safe and real and messy in our house because IT is safe and real and messy, and so are we.

There is nothing wrong with having beautiful or newer homes, because God has us all exactly where He wants us for His purpose and His glory. But in this Pinterest/Fixer Upper world we are so immersed in, I think we all need the occasional reminder of the beauty and blessing of REAL life, including it's broken tile and imperfections.
It's all about perspective and thankfulness for the grass in our own proverbial yards. (Whether that is our homes, our bodies, our husbands, our kids, or our professions.)
When we stay focused on that, it will fight our discontentment and tendency to constantly compare and compete with each other.

What an awe-inspiring Creator we have, who reflects His glory in bright yellow trees in the fall and bright yellow clocks in living rooms.

And all God's Hobby Lobby Shoppers said Amen!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Ex-Boyfriends and the Blood of Jesus

A couple months ago I flew to Colorado, to be there to support and help my parents for the art and music event they were having.
It was one of the first times in a while that I had been back there without my husband and kids, which made it easy to feel all of the nostalgia (and, consequently, regret) that comes with being back in the city where I spent so many of my formative years.

One of the days before my parent's event, my mom and I were running errands to get all that we needed for the reception. On our way into the entrance of the grocery store by her house, a guy walked out of the store and said "Hey, you want this cart?"
My mom said "Yeah thanks", took it, and they walked their separate directions.

And there I stood, almost frozen, watching this random and casual hand-off between my mom and MY EX-BOYFRIEND.

He was right there. Two feet in front of me.
They didn't recognize each other and he didn't notice me.

I just stood there, like an idiot. Wide-eyed and motionless, all of my quick-wit and flair for on-the-fly conversation making were suddenly GONE LIKE THE WIND.
I watched him walk away, and not a single sound came out of my open mouth to stop him.

I staggered into the store behind my mom. "That was David!" I said.

"What? Seriously?!" We were both befuddled. What are the odds?

We went about our shopping, but I was still shaken. Why couldn't I just say something?

I don't know even know what I would have said.
It's been almost ten years since we met. It was at an Irish pub that he bartended at, where I was drinking with friends. (Under age, mind you! HOW CLASSY IS THAT?!)
He liked me from the interaction we had that night, looked me up, and I agreed to go on a date with him. We dated for a few months and enjoyed each other's company, until I eventually broke up with him. Twice, actually.
(Quick Pearl Of Wisdom: Getting back together with someone who you've already dumped for legitimate reasons is generally not wise.)
(And if you need me to needlepoint that on a pillow for you, I will.)

But the bottom line was that he loved me and although I cared for him, I didn't love him back. And that's a crappy feeling to walk away with.

The pit in my stomach that seeing him again brought stayed there for a couple weeks.
I mentally kicked myself for not saying anything. But what would I say?
Hi! How are you? Sorry I broke your heart! Bye! I don't know.. SOMETHING!

I went back to Colorado a month later, and when my dad and I happened to go to the same grocery store as before, I found myself looking around for him. I don't know why... it's not like he works there. I think I was just looking for a second chance.
But I didn't see him and I didn't get that chance.

I came home, still feeling annoyed with myself over this missed opportunity, and I cried out to God.

"Ugh. Why didn't I just say something??"

And what I felt from the Holy Spirit and His Word was this:

"Why do you need to? Why are you trying to earn forgiveness for something I've already paid for?"

Just like Jesus would.
Piercing our hearts in the hard places that He wants to break and heal back stronger.
And He was absolutely right. I wanted to tie up loose ends that weren't in my power to tie up and maybe weren't ever meant to be.

I saw this guy and just let myself feel haunted again by all the regret and shame.
It was regret that I dated him even though I never intended to marry him, and that my selfishness and boredom hurt someone. I had been hurt before in much similar circumstances, by someone who was bored and selfish and didn't love me the way I loved him. So I knew that pain and didn't want to feel guilty about being the one that caused it this time.
It was the regret and sadness that I spent those years of my life running from God (not that you can actually do that.) That I used drinking, smoking, pills, and the constant company of men to anesthetize the cloud of depression I lived in, the brokenness in my home, and the hurt I felt from the Church instead of crying out to Him daily and letting His Word make me whole. (And finding a Christian community that actually was safe.)

After years and years of His intervening grace on my life, He's made me a very different person than I was back then. New, even. He has healed and forgiven so much brokenness and shame, has softened my hard heart, and is continually growing me in what it looks like to give my burdens to Him DAILY. And He has used the Church to heal my wounds from the Church.
Even though I barely recognize the Old Elise, God still loves me too much to let me have a moment with an ex-boyfriend that could tempt me to feel like I get to earn some of my redemption. He gets all of the glory for the work He's done in my life, as it should be.

I was talking with someone recently about our human inclination to feel like part of the process of healing is to forgive ourselves from past sin.
But the fact is that WE JUST CAN'T. No matter how hard we try.
We have no ability to forgive ourselves for the sin of our hearts and our bodies and our words, because it's not a debt against ourselves and we haven't actually paid for it.

The debt was against God. And not us, but Jesus, paid for it. And His blood was enough to cover it all.

That, my friends, is the sweet sound of amazing grace.

I think sometimes we hate grace. Because we feel too good for it and our pride loves to feel like we've earned as much and deserve even more. Or because that same pride makes us feel like we're too bad and too ugly and too far gone to be saved. Like our darkness is somehow stronger than His light.

But His light is stronger. The nails in His hands were necessary. And His Blood was enough.

It was enough to wipe our slate clean.
It was enough to free us from our chains, the ones in our past and ones we still hold onto.
It was enough to make us new.

As painful and uncomfortable as it can be, I'm so thankful that He lets us feel the need for Him in our lives. And that He is so faithful to remind us of and flood us with His grace over and over again.

It's time for me to move on, feel free to join me.
We don't need to be hung up on the past anymore. If anything, we use it to display how beautifully stronger His light is than our darkness.
We can ask Him if there's anything we need to do or change or anyone we need to repent to, and then beyond that.. it's all Him.
We wash our face and look forward and trust that He will redeem it and that it's all been paid for.

Because His blood was enough.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; 
behold, the new has come.
2 Cor 5:17