Waking Up.

“We are not asleep, beautiful in our isolation.” - April M. Payne

I’ve found myself numbed in recent weeks, sleepwalking through my to-do list and long workdays and the chores that go on and on. But there’s life in pausing to notice, in collecting a handful of words when you can – a quiet rebellion against staying asleep to a higher calling. We are made in the image of the Creator, and creation is our birthright.

These are some words I’ve written and some words I’ve loved.

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Five house projects we want to tackle over the next year.

Where do I even begin?!

Life has been so full this season with the move and other good things, and it’s been a challenge for me to divide my time between creative projects, sharing those projects and actually living life.

One of these days, I’ll sit down and pull together a design board from all the inspirational photos I’ve saved. I’ll create actual decorating plans for each of the rooms, and maybe I’ll even learn how to render. Right now, the grand vision I have for the look and feel of our new house – Southern California coastal meets modern Spanish – mostly lives in my head, but I have a deep desire to document this making-of-our-home process, so I’ll start today with the easiest, simplest thing I can think of – an intro to our home and the five big projects we want to tackle.

A peek at our house – I love the arched doorways, the floors, the built-ins.

A peek at our house – I love the arched doorways, the floors, the built-ins.

Our new house is a five-bedroom Spanish bungalow in the sweetest neighborhood with recessed sidewalks and tree-lined streets. We’re in a cul-de-sac, sandwiched between two pocket parks, and the weekend after we moved in, there was a block party. We get morning light from the front of the house and sunset light through the back that makes our kitchen and master bedroom glow at golden hour. We have two sets of French doors – one downstairs, one upstairs for the master balcony – that if it weren’t for the bugs, I would keep open all day long.

We don’t have a dining table or chairs. Our couch is too small, our nightstands got damaged in the move, and I don’t have anywhere to set down my bag when I get home, so it lands on the floor. But we have windows everywhere and so much potential. This is the fun part – this blank slate and open space.

Our little coffee station that brings me so much happiness. Even my cookbooks have a home now!

Our little coffee station that brings me so much happiness. Even my cookbooks have a home now!

Another day, I’ll tell the story of our house. Meanwhile, here’s our top five project list:

  1. Repaint the entire house white and paint the stair banisters. We painted our last house Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray, but I’ve realized that I love the fresh, crisp and bright look of an all-white house with pops of black and warm wood accents. Choosing white paint is like traveling down a rabbit hole – there are literally thousands of shades. Currently, I’m considering Benjamin Moore’s Swiss Coffee and Simply White (see Studio McGee’s white paint guide) and Dunn Edward’s White Heat (that Amber Lewis used in the Client What’s the Story Spanish Glory house). I loved how Jenni from I SPY DIY transformed her stair banisters, and we may do the same thing with the Satin Black.

  2. Take the downstairs flooring throughout the entire house. The stairs and second floor are currently carpeted, which isn’t the worst thing thing in the world, but I love how easy the downstairs flooring is to clean (and it hides dirt so well!).

  3. Repaint the exterior and update the front door (dutch or glass paneled) and exterior lighting. We’re going with a modern Spanish vibe here – a crisp white (leaning towards BM’s White Dove) with deep brown and muted blue-gray accents.

  4. Get solar installed to bring down our electric bill.

  5. Get a fire pit installed in the backyard for post-dinner party s’mores and an outdoor/dirty kitchen to augment the built-in BBQ.

I love this piano room so much – high ceilings, lots of light. We can’t wait to put our Christmas tree in front of that window.

I love this piano room so much – high ceilings, lots of light. We can’t wait to put our Christmas tree in front of that window.

As a little girl, I dreamed of being an interior designer, so I feel like some big dreams are coming true for me with getting to design and decorate this house. This house marks a new journey for us, and I’m excited to share more in the coming months.

White Space.

We started off July by celebrating our ten-year wedding anniversary and ended it by selling our first home. We had a 15-day escrow which was, in one word – insane.

Our remodeled downstairs powder room in the house we sold.

Our remodeled downstairs powder room in the house we sold.

Before we listed, I spent days frantically packing boxes of clutter. I donated piles of mismatched sports equipment, old toys, handbags from my 20s, and cleared every single book off the shelves in our loft. When I was done, I felt like we were living in a new house, with entire walls completely bare.

I felt like I could breathe again.

White space has purpose — a place for your eye to rest, and maybe your soul, too.

It’s August now, and we’re in our new house (a post for another time). I took a ten-day social media break and took a reduced work schedule for the rest of the month. I’m learning that when I take time to create white space in my surroundings and in my schedule, my eyes and my heart have an easier time focusing on the present. I can better distinguish what I truly need in my life from the things that are no longer serving me. The voices of truth and compassion become louder than the chatter and noise, and I feel deeper gratitude for what I already have.

Our new house is full of blank walls. I could fill them easily with frames and photos and art, but I’m going to keep those boxes packed a little bit longer, so that I can enjoy the white space.

This post was written as part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in this series "Rest."

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Summer Reading List: Contemplation, Contentment & Creativity.

Summer is here again, and I am over the moon excited for it.

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It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for us, crazy in (mostly) the best ways. There has been stress, and there has been drama, but more than ever, I am grateful for the celebrations happening one right after the other this summer – my mom’s milestone birthday, our 10 year (!!!) wedding anniversary, answered house prayers, and sisters’ baby showers. I could ride the wave of champagne all the way to the end of the year, but there’s more to the story (isn’t there always more to the story?).

I believe that books, like people, come into your life at just the right time. The books in my life right now are focused on themes these that I need the most – contemplation, contentment and creativity.

Mindful Silence: The Heart of Christian Contemplation by Phileena Heuertz. This has been on my nightstand for months, but I just started actually reading it this past weekend at our cabin stay. She writes: “In solitude, we develop the capacity to be present. In silence, we cultivate the ability to listen. And in stillness we acquire the skill of restraint or self-control.” In just the first few pages, I’ve found so much wisdom for this journey of letting go of the “compulsions to be identified with what we have, what we do, and what others say about us” and learning how to fully experience God’s love. Hannah Brencher wrote recently, “Consume grace regularly, as if it were a vitamin” – wow, yes, one hundred percent. I fully believe in embracing practices that enable that transformation by grace and that also teach me how to cope with the unending pain and suffering in this world. Reading this book makes me even more excited to attend a grounding retreat with one of my best friends this fall.

The Contentment Journal by Rachel Cruze. I know that this is a journal and not a book book, but I love it. I listened to a podcast recently with Rachel Cruze, who also identifies as an Enneagram 3, and what she said made so much sense to me. This journal focuses on gratitude, humility, and contentment – all of which I need to intentionally cultivate daily. God is working on my heart in these areas, and the process of journaling through these values is a helpful one for me.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I’m sure I’ll be working through this book all summer, but two takeaways that I’m starting to implement in my life: morning pages (using Elise Joy’s #100dayproject tracker) and the artist date. I tend to live life on the full end of the spectrum, but I hit my capacity recently with all kinds of work and tasks, leaving me feeling creatively depleted. I believe strongly in creative work, so I plan to use this summer to recalibrate, reassess, and rebuild my routine. I came across a quote by Yung Pueblo on instagram that said, “As she shed the tense energy of the past, her power and creativity returned to her. With a revitalized excitement, she focused on building a new life where joy and freedom were abundant.” Yes to power, yes to creativity, yes to joy, and yes to freedom. I’ve heard so many good things about this book, and look forward to diving into it this season.

Reading and working through these books simultaneously, the more I see how these themes intersect. Contemplative practice teaches contentment in all circumstances. With contentment comes the peace and freedom to create well and tell the truth. Engaging with creativity enables the fostering of meaningful connections.

What books are you reading this summer that are helping you grow?

After the Rain.

It was the first sunny day after a string of rainy ones; we couldn’t wait to get out of the house. I texted my friend Heather, “Park date?” as I buckled the kids into their car seats.

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We arrived at the park at almost the same time in almost the same outfit – Patagonia jackets to ward off the wind chill and high-waisted Lululemon tights to rein in the postpartum sag (just me?), an unofficial South County mom uniform. We made our way from the row of SUVs and minivans to the play structures and bench seating. I unloaded the snack bags and diaper bag and extra bike helmet and the three-wheel scooter. The sky was a bright baby blue, with only traces of the clouds that covered the sky the night before.

Between us, we had five kids roaming in three different areas. Heather and I tag-teamed bathroom runs. My arms moved constantly – fishing for the fruit snacks in the zippered lunch box, catching a scooter before it tipped over, patting baby while I bounced him. We talked while the boys played, but our eyes never stopped moving either. I was mid-sentence, handing my two-year old a water bottle when I caught a glimpse of my four-year old climbing a rock structure meant for the big kids.

I hesitated, unsure of whether to move towards him or stay, when I saw her – another mom of a preschooler, with her arms outstretched to my son, ready to catch him if he slipped.

Thank you, I mouthed, when she looked back at me. “You had your hands full,” she said.

I could have felt inadequate and overwhelmed; a bad mom for having three kids and only two arms. Instead, I felt the cool release of the breath that I didn’t realize I was holding and the warmth of the sunshine after the rain.

There’s a hymn that I love called Hark! The Voice of Jesus Calling. It’s a hymn about answering the call from where you are; a hymn about doing what you can with what you have and trusting His grace to fill the gap. To me, on this day, it was a hymn about ministering as a mother.

If you cannot be the watchman

standing high on Zion's wall,

pointing out the path to heaven,

offering life and peace to all,

with your prayers and with your bounties

you can do what heaven demands;

you can be like faithful Aaron

holding up the prophet's hands.

That’s the visual I see – arms outstretched, hers in place of mine.

We can start on the playground.

We can hold up each other’s hands.

We can hold out our own.


This post was written as part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in this series "We're Better Mothers Together"