Thursday, April 20, 2017

Smell Standards

We're currently in the process of moving to our new home. I love the flow of the floorplan. I love the shop. I love the potential. But I hate the smell. The day after we closed, I went to the new place with three large value-size boxes of baking soda to dumb on the carpet...and an hour later I went back to the store for three more boxes. I also bought odor absorbers at our local auto parts store. Then I set to work taking down all the curtains.

While all those efforts helped the main floor (though it's still not up to my smell standards), the basement is still a mystery. It smells different...and it's not pleasant. But I know that an air freshener just won't do the trick. So we will continue to work to solve the smell mystery.
In the meantime, this whole experience with smells really hit me between the eyes in another way....
Easter: Escape from the Stench
(originally published as Lipstick & Pearls in the 4.19 edition of the Hillsboro Free Press)

Allergies aside, the human nose is a pretty spectacular tool. It humidifies inhaled air. It prevents large particles from entering the lungs. And of course, it smells.
Some smells pass through the nose like a sweet perfume. Some smells have the ability to transport us to another time and place--like Grandma’s kitchen.
Some smells are headache inducers. I always take a wide berth around Bath & Body Works and Yankee Candle--the cacophony of smells can quickly make me regret my super smeller.
And some smells have the ability to turn up noses and maybe turn us a little green. The stinkiness of these smells generally indicates some kind of problem that needs addressed.
Sometimes those sour smells are readily identifiable--garbage rot, skunk spray, the stomach bug.
Others take a little more sleuthing.
I’ve had moments where I know the fridge stinks, but I just can’t pinpoint the source. Or the times I searched for a smell only to find a missing sippy cup full of curdled milk pushed far back into the dark abyss under the couch.
There are lots of products on the market made for mystery odors. But pulling out a fragrant air spray or said Yankee Candle doesn’t do much besides mask the stench. The best way to get rid of lingering stink is to find the root of the problem and then determine a course of action. For the random fridge smell, it’s best to pull out the rotting leftovers and then treat the odor. For a forgotten milk-filled sippy cup, it takes emptying the offensive contents and then washing the cup.
And this brings me to Holy Week and the Easter celebration of the Christian faith.
Really? How do bad smells relate to Easter? I’m so glad you asked!
Easter, in all of its glory, encompasses the eradication of the stench of sin in a believer’s life. The risen savior does so much more than send up a puff of Hawaiian Sunset or Lavender Rain. The risen savior overcomes the grave and tears the veil! In the risen savior, sin and death lose.
I remember when I started to comprehend the importance of the cross. I was a student at Tabor College, and I went with a group of friends to the movie theater to see Mel Gibson’s “The Passion.” The horrendous brutality was difficult for me to watch. Even so, I remember thinking, “I did that. My sin did that to Jesus.”
It was a painful, but necessary, realization.
Sin’s stench is offensive to the Lord, and it also has a ripple effect to those around us. It damages and destroys, and we don’t get to control the consequences.
A.W. Tozer, who has long since departed this world, still has it right. He said, “God’s wrath is His utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys. He hates iniquity as a mother hated the polio that would take the life of the child.” Sure, polio has since lost its potency. But other illnesses have taken rise. Just fill in the blank.
Sin is stinky. Sin leads to death. But Jesus, on that wondrous cross, gets to the root of the problem. He pulls out the rotten and replaces with life:
“Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.” (Matthew 28: 5-7)
Admittedly, there was a time in my life that I would have brushed off the implications of Easter. Shrugging, I would have thought, “I’ve turned my life over. No need to dwell here. No need to keep pressing into my shortcomings.”
How wrong I was. To avoid my shortcomings--to mask the smell by appearance, word or deed--is to take a can of air freshener and spray.
I have come to realize life is more enjoyable when I don’t mask my odor. Bit by bit, the Lord opens my eyes to my sin and its danger. To places I stumble. To places I fall. To places I slide down into a pit. Oh, to glory in my obvious lack, that the power of Christ may rest on me!
I’m finding great joy and great hope in repentance and the deep rooting that comes from submitting to a risen Lord.
As we move forward from the 2017 Easter season, may we encourage each other to take out the trash, for Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

HSH108 | Kitchen

Guys. We CLOSE ON OUR NEW HOUSE Monday. I can't believe we're at this point already! We're living in a sea of boxes at 108, and I will be glad to get some of them moved out. Due to the difference in closing dates of each property, we will be able to gradually move stuff to the new place...which is a blessing to me as I gear up for three track meets next week. I still might need to transform into Wonder Woman in order to get everything done...

Before the madness begins, and as I take a break from packing, I thought it would be a good time to get in another HSH post. We'll head to the kitchen this time.

To date, the following photo has been probably one of my top 5 interactive Facebook posts over the years, and it's not even a good photo! It was taken in August 2013, as I was trying to select a blue to match the vision in my head:

Despite people weighing in, none of these were quite right. So I just used the leftover gray from Case's room. It was sufficient for a time!

But before getting way ahead of myself, this is what the kitchen looked like shortly after we moved in:

I love wide trim...I will definitely miss the character and depth it provides!
What you can't see in the picture is that the cabinets on the left side of the photo had begun to sag. We often commented that there must have been an angel or two holding them up...because when we took them off, we realized they were only connected by short finishing nails.

This is how much they had pulled down by January of 2013:

After securing the cabinets, we started tackling the paint. If you've painted cabinets before, you know it takes A LOT of time. Good thing we had cute helpers...

And look how understanding our family is...they came to a dedication party while our cabinet painting was in progress! I had forgotten about that...

I also forgot that it took 9-10 months to get everything buttoned up in here...and I also forgot to take kitchen shots of the room with gray walls. Mom brain??? (I believe it's a thing...) Look beyond the birthday set-up, and you can at least see the gray on the walls. Definitely not bad...but I still wanted blue...

So, because I still had visions of blue dancing in my head, I started thinking about a change. Hubby likes darker colors than me, so I compromised. We do the kitchen again...and we go I like navy. OK, deal.

So that brings you up to are the most recent shots:

If I use navy again, I will go a little more muted...with more of a gray undertone...though it reads more low-key in person. It was fun to experiment with a bold color! 

Finally, artwork provided by my girls right after we moved in. Soffits always drive me crazy, trying to figure out what to do with them. This worked well! And, another piece I consider art...the for-real leaded glass window made by my father-in-law. I already have a place in mind for it at the new house!

If you made it to the end of this colossal post, congratulations! I will see you again soon in the rest of the HSH series. Have a lovely weekend 😊

Monday, April 3, 2017


Last week wasn't the best week. Probably one of the worst I've had for awhile.
My emotions were on overdrive and it was a battle not to let them be in charge. I failed a time or two. 

I spent a good portion downcast and on the verge of tears...sometimes sad tears, sometimes stressed tears, sometimes angry tears.

And the temptation to "prove myself" came on strong.

These battles are not new to me. If you've read my blog or my column for awhile, you know I've struggled with depression. With God's help and His insistence on working through the pain, I now know what it's like to live outside the pit. Praise Him! But in moments of intense stress and emotion, it's still easy for me to slip back in. We all have areas like that. So I'm not going to berate myself (which is also a temptation of mine) for slipping. 

God sees me through Jesus. He sees me as a treasure. I love that.

But I will not allow myself to justify my disobedience to the Word. Part of my sanctification process has been to fight to process my emotion through what I know from the WORD, not from what I know I FEEL. And the circumstance I've walked this week has been hard for me to stay on this side of righteous. My anger, in particular, has developed a sense of ungratefulness. Things didn't go as I expected, therefore it's easy for me to assume that the "things" must be wrong.

Oh, how easy it is to slip. Can I get an Amen?

But now, after days of processing, praying, confessing, confessing, confessing, where does this lead? 

Right into "BE STILL AND KNOW."

Be still and know...God is God. He is bigger than my emotions. Bigger than my circumstances. Bigger than my expectations. Bigger than ME. Most definitely BIGGER than me. (see Psalm 46:10) 

Be still and know...God's way brings hope. Through this wrestling, God's cutting off another branch that doesn't bear fruit. Does it hurt? Well, YES! Is it worth it? After following His intense pruning over the last few years, I know it's worth its weight in gold. So, Lord, cut away! (see John 15)

Be still and know...He will be exalted. This whole sanctification process is to bring Him glory. He uses the process to bring me to the place where I say a resounding "YES and AMEN" to Jesus, no matter the emotion or circumstance. (see 2 Cor 1:20)

Be still and know...He is strong in my weakness. Bit by bit, He opens my eyes to my sin and its danger. To places I stumble. To places I fall. To places I slide down into a pit. That's where His power is made perfect. Oh, to glory in my obvious lack, that the power of Christ may rest on me! (see 2 Cor. 12:9)

In this time of packing, negotiating, moving, selling, running from one thing to the next, I need MORE be still, not less. Maybe you do, too?

If you're also in a place of unrest, battle, turmoil, confession, take time to be still and know...we'll go through this cutting/pruning process together!

"Now, all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen." (Eph. 3: 20-21)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

HSH_108 | the Upstairs

I'm breaking from the lower level today and bouncing right up the stairs. Perhaps not showing you level by level is unconventional. But, I've never considered myself normal, per se...and I like to shake things upstairs we go. 

Daring. Bold. Adventurous. Yep, that's us!

Pretend you've climbed 14 steps. Or, if you really want to be unusual, stand up and act out a stair-climbing motion. I'll wait.

Now for the tour.

I've said it before...the top of the stairs is one of my favorite places in the house. It's friendly. It's light. It's filled with books. What a trifecta!

Here's a quick before:

I experimented with my office up there for a bit, but it just made more sense for the kids to have use of the space, and for me to utilize the room at the bottom of the stairs for my writing space.

If you manage to journey beyond the bookshelf without sitting down to read (are you up for the challenge?), you walk into the girls' space. This room started as Case's room--we painted both bedrooms right away--but once he was born, we quickly realized he would need a door for naps. So, we switched the rooms. Case lived in a pink room for quite awhile, and the girls lived in blue (which is NOT a bad thing. I'm not saying that. I'm a girl, and I LOVE blue. But I didn't love this particular shade, so I was glad to adjust!)

Here are a couple right after move-in, and one right before sweet baby arrived:

And then, an after of that particular side. We've done a lot of tweaking to these rooms. It's been a fun process to organize toys and utilize every space we can...including under the bed. I will take a lot of these ideas to the new house...even though it's bigger, the tricks will still be beneficial.

And finally, Case's bedroom...once pink...

now navy with blue and green accents (which will also carry over to the new house)...

My husband is amazing...he brings my design ideas to life. He made the toy shelves in Case's room, and also retrofitted shelving into the playroom (which you enter through the door by the dresser).

And now, a bonus for those of you who made it to the end. Proof that kids really DO live up here! 😃 

Thanks for breaking normal with me in my Home Sweet Home 108 tour! Stay tuned for the next posts in the's hard to believe it's about to time wrap-up life at 108!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Finishing Touches: hsh108_the Eatery

It's funny.
As I went back through my photos looking for pictures of our dining room, I didn't find many intentional room shots. It's not like we don't use the room. On the contrary! Three meals a day for almost five years, at least 20 birthday parties, a few other celebrations, plus an art studio for the artists in residence...we use this room all.the.time. But photos of the actual room were few and far between. 

I did find some though, so no worries! Brad's birthday was the first celebration in the house, not exactly sure what was happening here, but Miss G was enjoying it!
I spent a lot of time playing with furniture arrangements in the first months of living here...but one constant was a table and chairs :) The short buffet in the background wasn't a good fit in this house, and subsequently found a new home in Marion.

The room needed something with height, so the first major addition was the yellow hutch in the background. This guy was from a great vintage/re-purpose store, Rusty Tin Boutique & Vintage, in my hometown of Marquette. It's worth a trip to the quaint town--and if you go in the summer, take your kiddos to the's not crowded, and it still has a legit high dive!

This is the only photo I have that was taken shortly after we put the first new coat of paint on the walls sometime in 2013. It was always a hard color to photograph!

The teal dresser was added sometime before 2015. I seriously can't remember when. And the hutch got a fresh coat of paint in January of baby sister got in on helping with that transformation.

And then, in October 2016, the room got a second new color, Behr's Streetwise, to go with the living room. During that re-coloring, the hutch's location got shifted. I wasn't sure about it at first, but it seemed to give us more space, so we ended up leaving it. 

At one point, this room had a rug under the table...but I never got a photo of it...and it didn't last long. I liked the look, but it was much harder to clean.

We also got a larger table while living here. I still miss my old round one with the burn mark and fingernail polish stains from when I was a girl...but we needed a table with expansion abilities. The chairs also (finally) got repainted. (Read about it HERE)

Well, for a room with minimal photo attention I sure managed a decent-sized post. Go figure! Stay tuned for the next installment of Finishing Touches: hsh108! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Finishing Touches | hsh108 _ living room

Home Sweet Home 108. In a month we will close on our new house, and our current abode will (hopefully!) become hsh108 to another/others.

Change is natural. And I'm trying to hold everything and every opportunity with a loose fist. To proceed with excellence in all, but to hold tightly to none. Am I sad to leave 108? Yes. Am I excited to get the keys to 215? Yes. I've been a whole bundle of emotions in regard to this house-switch thing. Perhaps you can relate?

In the weeks leading up to our move, I wanted to open the doors with a series of Finishing Touches so you can all take a last peek of the place we have loved for approaching five years.

Today we start with the living room.

Here's a picture I haven't shared...move-in day in June 2012. I was *ehem* largely expectant, so I took pictures and directed traffic:

This is what the room looked like a few days after we moved in. Everything was fairly tidy in order to celebrate Brad's 30th birthday:

Fast-forward to March 2015, when I brought home my IKEA sectional. I had dreamed of that day for what seemed to be a VERY long time. I had seen it so many times in my mind, that once the couch was in place, it didn't seem out of the ordinary:

Surprisingly, the living room was the last room to be painted...other rooms were painted over a couple times before ever taking a brush to this room. I had visualized blue for a long time, but I never could find the exact shade I wanted...something subtle...but something friendly. Once I found that shade in Behr's Streetwise, the living room finally got some lipstick:

Once it was painted, the white curtains didn't give enough contrast (you can see that on the left of the next photo...I planned to switch those to a bamboo shade, but don't need to now!) So, I got some fun curtains from Hobby Lobby. (I ❤ black & white patterns! See, even my pillows have it going on!)

And I would be remiss not to guide your attention to a few new additions...shelving built by my husband...who has a knack for bringing my carpentry visions to life!

These corner shelves are his most recent creation (can't wait to have an actual shop for him at the new place!). I normally like to gradually decorate my shelves, but in the case of these marvelous things, our realtor was coming to take photos, so I quickly threw some stuff on them. I would imagine they will look different in the new place:

Brad also made this sweet industrial shelving unit a few months ago. Again, it took some playing and re-arranging (and a few new items) to get to this point:

Thanks for visiting our sweet Craftsman Bungalow living room. I hope you'll be back for more of the Home Sweet Home 108 tour!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Piercing my Affections

I'm trying something new this year, working to memorize 24 verses in 2017. One thing I've learned about myself is that if I can connect to a deeper place in my brain, rather than just surface memorization, I can retain things much better. So to correspond with my memorization, I'm studying each section of the verse as well: commentaries, Hebrew/Greek translations, footnotes. I'm trying to meditate bit by bit...and it really does help me!

My verse for the end of February is 1 John 1:5 (NLT); "This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all." I've split it up into smaller study portions: This is the message | we heard from Jesus | and now declare to you | God is Light | and there is no darkness in him at all.

I'm learning many new things, and it's so exciting! I love learning about the Word. And today I was inspired to write a short poem based on some of the definitions I found on Blue Letter Bible.

The section was GOD is LIGHT. These words pack a huge punch and say so much! (I will admit, I was caught a little off guard with the sheer volume of reading I could do on three words!) While I don't write poetry that often, it is a joy for me to create this way. I hope you enjoy!

{piercing my affections | a poem}

Rays of Light piercing my affections.
In all brilliance, 
emanating from Elohim, 
from Jehovah.

The Light shines from Divinity, 
manifesting His unity, monism, self-existence.
His immutability, eternity, universality, almighty power.
His infinite knowledge, creative power, absolute holiness.
His righteousness, faithfulness, love, mercy and truthfulness.

With eyes to see this, form and color.
Exceeding in His counsels, interests, things due Him.
A delicacy that defies the odds and overtakes the dark.

Inextinguishable is God-Light.
Ever-growing, my affections.

Monday, January 9, 2017


Journaling is a key component of my study time. I know, "but you're a writer..." Yes, that's true. But I really believe journaling can be tailored for anyone! So today I want to talk about a technique I turn to time and again as I study the scriptures: SOAP.

As pretty as Dove bars are, this SOAP takes us in a little different direction...though both are great at cleansing.

I learned of this method during a Bible study probably 10 years ago. While I will sometimes write free form with my scripture gleanings, more often than not, I find myself utilizing SOAP to hone in on specific scripture that stands out. 

You can write as much or as little as you are comfortable with, which means it can be tailored to anyone's writing style...or reading style for that matter.

I've found that when I use this method, I don't want to read large chunks (think yearly reading plans) because then I find lots of different verses I want to write about. But I'm sure there are others who prefer reading/journaling that way. I really don't think there's a right or wrong way to make use of this method.

This year, for instance, I'm participating in a scripture memory challenge through Living Proof Ministries. This challenge's goal is to memorize 24 scriptures of your choice over two verses per month. As I processed this, I realized that I memorize best if I'm also studying the verse in-depth. So, I plan to break down each verse using SOAP in order to capture different elements of specific verses.

Here is an example using my first verse, Philippians 4:8:

Anyone else out there use SOAP? Any other journaling methods you've come to love? Tips & Tricks? If so, I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, December 19, 2016

So Loved.

Looking back, I'm amazed at my journey to this place. It's easy to look at small-town, rural Kansas as unimportant, dull, lesser. But this place...starting with my time at Tabor College...has been anything but unimportant, dull and lesser. It's the place God started softening me and drawing me into His Word. Before I would have glossed over this week's Advent reading as something I would believe for others, but not myself.

How wrong I was. These words are for whosoever believes. And that's me!

So loved.
In this manner of intense feeling.
In way of deep affection.
So loved.
By Divine will in deliberate choice.
Without cause except in the nature of God Himself.
Entirely incomprehensible.
So loved.
The reason of Christmas.
The reason of the divine meeting the flesh.
The reason of obedience.
So loved.
A dearly loved Son who brings the Father great joy.
A dearly loved Son for a dearly loved people.
A dearly loved son as a holy sacrifice so a dearly loved people could be made holy by His truth.
So loved.
A love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
So loved.
Jesus spoke, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.”
A love to abide in.
A love to remain in.
A love that whoever believes gains life everlasting.
So loved.

Heavenly Father, we choose to believe we are so loved. Sometimes it feels incomprehensible. But your word says it, and today we stand on that promise. In awe, we thank you for your dearly loved son who came for a dearly loved people. May our hearts remain full of the wonder of Christ’s sacrifice long after this Christmas season ends. Amen.


I had the privilege of writing the Advent readings for my church this year. Over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas, I will post each one. I pray that they will, in some way, add to the wonder of your Christmas season.
With love,

Additional reading in the series: