Tag Archives | Faith

Life Update

Well as you any of you work from home mothers already know- summertime is HARD.  I have so many feelings about cherishing time with kids and also getting any work done.  I tried my best to find that delicate balance, but as you know, whether you work or not, its just plain hard.  I had all these goals for once school started- we were geared up for a fresh start in so many ways.  I was going to start making lunches in the evenings, go back to the gym, start writing on the blog again, stay on top of all the school papers and signing folders, etc.  You know sort of a New Year’s resolution type fresh start feeling.  And then, as many of you know and experienced as well, after less than two weeks in school, our community was devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

While my home wasn’t impacted (though there was one very long sleepless night where we weren’t so sure) its been life changing in many ways.  Things that were once important just aren’t anymore.  Over a month later, there are still neighborhoods nearby filled with piles of moldy decomposing trash- once precious possessions and memories.  A few of those homes belong to dear friends.  Friends that are still displaced, living with family or friends and will be for weeks to come while their homes are repaired.  They’ve lost so much.  We’ve seen their grief but we’ve also seen their faith in the midst of hardship.  We’ve seen the church rise up and be the church. We’ve seen people give their time, their homes, their money.  So its been a time of sadness and a time of growth.  And it is still going on and will be for a long time.  Its not over yet.

All of that to say, my momentum for a fresh start came to a halt.  There was no return to routine.  The kids were out of school for two straight weeks and even when they went back and we settled in, we remember & acknowledge that for so many, it won’t ever be the same.

Thanks so much for reading. I know its been a long time.  I finally feel that my life is getting back to “normal.”  I’m regaining my lost momentum, I’m working on finishing up the farmhouse, and we’re looking forward to fall.  I do have updates to share about that farmhouse, by the way.  I’ve got lots of pictures to show you and I plan to do that very soon!  I’ve also got an awesome collaboration with another blogger that I’m doing this week, so you’ll be hearing from me again this week.
xoxo
Bethany

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My Winter Living Room

The House of Figs Winter Living Room

We’ve been busy trying to stay warm and get back to routine over here. I shared on Instagram last week that I always struggle with getting back to regular life after the holidays.  We’ve just spent so many days cozied up with our little family and then to see them all spread out in their separate directions again is tough.  It won’t be long before we’re stretched thin again and running around in every direction and I don’t like that.  Paul said its because its been easy to do the good stuff of life- to slow down, get a good night’s sleep, to read a book, to love our kids well, have great and deep conversations, play games and laugh together.  We’ve been anticipating and then celebrating God with us.  We’ve been giving gifts and receiving gifts with love and thankfulness.  We’ve been easily enjoying the very best and most important parts of life lately and now we have to go back to fighting for them.

I love how he put that because it reminds me to fight for those things.  To not just go back to the sometimes status quo of busy-ness and endless activity filled days.  To continue to fight for rest, laughter, joy.

So for these south Texans, these last few icy days have been just what we’ve needed: to huddle up and stay in for a while.  To sit around the fire under some blankets.  I’m not quite ready to jump back in to real life and am happy to enjoy the warmth of the fire a little while longer.

The House of Figs

While I did already put away the Christmas decorations, I’ve left up our greenery on the bookshelves.  It adds a little winter coziness and I always love bringing the outdoors in.  They are totally crispy and dry, but up so high that no one is bumping into them or causing needles to fall.

The House of Figs Winter Living Room

I found the blanket you see above at Target. Its actually meant for a twin size bed- which means much bigger and cozier than your average throw.  Perfect for afternoon napping and movie-watching cuddling.  I’m keeping books and magazines out in hopes that we’ll all keep reaching for them, and then I still have my morning spot that I love so much.

The House of Figs

The House of Figs

A comfy place to sit, lots of layers & textures, a big cozy blanket, and good books to read: that’s a recipe for a great winter living room in my opinion.

The House of Figs My Winter Living Room

The House of Figs

The House of Figs Winter Living Room

So that’s our winter living room.  Not a huge change, but just little ways I cozy it up to encourage continued rest and togetherness after the holidays are over.

Here’s a list of the sources in my living room:

Coffee Table: West Elm

Sectional: Unavailable, but find similar ones here.

Rug: Rugs USA

Blanket: Target

Pillows: Target & Pottery Barn & Etsy

Shelves behind couch: Ikea Hemnes

Pouf: Amazon

Paint Color: Olympic Willow Springs

Shades: Select Blinds

Curtains: Ikea Ritva

Do you change up your living room in the winter, after the Christmas decor comes down? Do you struggle with going back to routine like I do?

Happy New Year!  Stay warm, my friends!

xoxo Bethany

 

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Gettin’ Down to Bidness

a-holly-mathis-office

Saturday I drove to Brenham for Holly Mathis Interiors’ Creative Business class.  I spent the day in Brenham at her studio and then at her home for some serious inspiration and education from Holly herself.  I met a ton of other women at all different stages of doing this decorating/styling thing and the whole thing was EXACTLY what I needed.  It was like encouragement, inspiration, and a kick in the pants all wrapped in one.

First of all, walking into her studio space is inspiration in itself.  I couldn’t stop taking pictures of everything.  She’s dabbling in retail as well (her words) so it doubles as a cute little boutique: designer pillows, candles, local art, etc.

a-holly-mathis-pillows

And now I’m kicking myself- why oh why did I not come home with one of those designer pillows??

a-holly-mathis-gallery-wall

We sat down at chippy farmhouse tables with perfectly imperfect mismatched chairs to scones & pastries on blue & white china with mimosas and coffee.  We each (there were about 15 of us) had our own spot with a hand written name card that was actually the envelope for a letter from Holly and then our notebooks chock full of info and space for note taking.

a-holly-mathis-table

After introductions and a first session, we carpooled up and headed to Holly’s house for lunch.  We got to tour her house and also it was a great time to chat and find out how others in the business are doing things.  What program do they use for moodboards, how do they address pricing, how do they access “to the trade” sources, etc.  My big question was “What is the Dec Center and how do I get in??” Some of you may be laughing at me and some of you may also have no idea what this is.  It was just great because I could totally be myself and open about what I do and do not know about this business.

I’ll show you a few pictures of her house.  Of course it was adorable in every way.  It was recently photographed for a magazine due to come out in the spring I think.

a-holly-mathis-living-room

a-holly-mathis-kitchen

a-holly-mathis-boys-room

a-holly-mathis-porch

Here we are in the kitchen, spilling out into the foyer as Holly prayed before lunch.

a-holly-mathis-prayer

I loved how open she was about her faith.  If you’ve ever read her blog, you know this about her- that its a big part of her business. It was just great to hear her encouragement- to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us and to pray, pray, pray.  She was also incredibly authentic and down to earth.  I loved that so much.

After lunch we headed back to the studio eager to learn more and ask a million questions.  For me, the best part was the information about making myself a “real” business.  I’ve struggled with fear and intimidation about a lot of that and have just sort of taken things as they’ve come rather than going about this in a proactive, intentional way.  I’ve got some goals for The House of Figs.  And that doesn’t necessarily mean growing and being busier… for now at least.  It just means getting some things organized and made official, not being intimidated by the whole “to the trade” thing, and starting to see myself as a real business owner.

a-holly-mathis-studio

a-holly-mathis-workspace

a-holly-mathis-selfie

So in the words of Holly’s brother (did you know he’s Jimmy Don from Fixer Upper?  He makes all of Joanna’s metal signs!) It’s time to “git down to bidness!”

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

xoxo Bethany

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The Holly Mathis Creative Class

This Saturday I’m continuing my journey in learning more about business that I discussed in my last post.  I’m taking a class.  I’ve taken classes before- online.  In fact building this blog was part of a class I took through Jones Design Company.  But this class will be in the flesh and I will get to meet and learn from someone who’s work I’ve admired for a long time… and all in the atmosphere of this beautiful studio space.

holly-mathis-studio-space

Holly Mathis is an interior decorator who has her own shop in Brenham, TX.  I’ve followed her blog for a long time and can’t tell you how many of her images I’ve pinned over the years.  She has a way with fabric, pattern, rugs, and just knows how to create a beautiful classic Southern aesthetic.

holly-mathis-kitchen-design

And Saturday I get to spend all day with her!!!  Well, me and like 10 other people.  I’ll be learning from her in her studio and then we will have lunch at her house.

holly-mathis-nursery

Amidst taking down notes like a crazy person I will for sure be snapping away photos as well.  I’ll also try to do some insta-stories so you can catch my real-time excitement, though I’ll do my best to reign in the star-struckness and play it cool.  If I can, haha.  But in all seriousness, I’m excited to meet others on this journey, to learn and be encouraged about how to do this small business thing well and intentionally.  And hopefully get some questions answered about how the decorating/design business world actually works.

holly-mathis-study

Follow along with me on instagram if you’re not already.  And I’ll be sure to blog about it afterward as well.  Here’s to learning and growing and meeting others on this journey as well!

xoxo Bethany

 

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Thoughts Lately

Hey guys, its been a while.  I’ve had some posts brewing in my mind lately but how to push past the months long hiatus without some kind of explanation?  I was a bit burned-out.  Feeling dry.    I realized I had let some things slide in my own household while I worked on other homes.  I grew discontent with my own home while I perused Pinterest in search of what would make certain rooms just “perfect.”  I over stuffed our closets and drawers, looked with angry eyes at our comfy old couch, and just plain forgot about my love of lighting candles and playing music in the house.  Its like I just forgot about the whole beauty and purpose thing.  It was weird and it wasn’t me.

The truth is I took a break this summer from most things “work” related.  I took on a few projects that were simple and enjoyable to me, like a precious miracle-baby’s gallery wall here…

baby-nursery

baby-nurserya

And I took on a few projects around our house that I had neglected that I do want to show you.  I pondered ideas about minimalism and how we stuff our lives with stuff that we don’t truly care about in order to fill some kind of hole within us and that this practice actually has a much wider negative impact than we ever imagined (here’s a simple explanation of the idea behind minimalism that I love from a blogger I love as well).

But in the meantime I rediscovered what got me started in this whole thing in the first place- my love of beauty and my love of home.  One of the things that really helped in my thought process was this article by Emily from Jones Design Company.  She had just returned from a months long road trip around the country, and after living in an airstream trailer with her family of five she was wondering how she’d feel about returning to all of their stuff.  Would she despise it and long for the simpler life on the road?  Would she give it all away?  Would stuff even matter anymore or would absolute minimalism be the way for her? Here are my favorite quotes from the article:

Our homes are here to serve us. They are meant to be a place of comfort, protection and joy. They are where we do life, where we invite others in, where we gather and grow. They are the backdrop of our lives and important ones at that.

The idea of minimalism has its benefits; there is much to be appreciated and adopted about a life free from excess…

But there is also nothing wrong with surrounding ourselves with the things we love and intentionally filling our homes with beauty…

The goal of our homes is to be comfortable, safe places where we want to spend time and invite others in. Is my house serving me in this way? Is yours?

That’s the important question.

Are our homes doing their job?

I know that everyone is different and after a life changing trip like that, many people will come to different conclusions.  But as a fellow lover of home as well as beautiful things (yes, things), I started looking around my home and wondering how I’d feel after a trip like that.  Would this place feel like home to me?  What were the things driving me crazy here and did I have control over them?  Just a few examples:  my crazy over-stuffed disorganized closets & drawers; my master bedroom that had become a holding place for junk; my living room rug that needed to be replaced; my eleven year old couch that’s a little frumpy and bursting at the seams, but seems to be like that comfy old pair of jeans.  What were the things I could accept and make better not by replacing but by changing my attitude about?  What would make sense to actually replace? What could I roll up my sleeves and do something about without necessarily spending money on but just putting in some old fashioned elbow grease?  What needed to be purged and how could I think even more intentionally about what I bring into our home?

I know I’ve talked about this before and maybe I talk about this a lot.  I guess its just something God is continuing to teach me: contentment is the theme here.  The last thing I need more and more of is stuff.  What I do need more and more of is gratitude, contentment, love, and joy.  These are what make home feel like home.

Thanks so much for reading.  I hope to be back here more and sooner this time. 🙂

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The Ministry of Mediocrity

It came at a time that I needed it most. I was knee deep in comparisons; trying to keep up with the Joneses (and failing miserably) and that’s when I read it.  A friend of mine wrote a blog post about her “ministry of mediocrity.”  This was years ago and she doesn’t blog anymore but recently I contacted her to ask if I could write about it here. I still think about that post often and I’m so thankful she said yes.  It has to do with the “purpose” side of home-keeping, hospitality.  And it has nothing to do with a perfectly made bed, fluffed pillows, or a well curated gallery wall.

It has to do with being mediocre.

So what is this ministry of mediocrity, exactly?  Well, it could mean inviting friends over to hang out with a sink/counter/table full of dishes and not apologizing for them.  It could also mean not shaving your legs or repainting your chipped toe nail polish and still wearing shorts and sandals because its hot outside.  Its remembering that we’re all human, nobody’s perfect, and revealing your own imperfections creates a space for true connection.  Sound scary?  Maybe it is, a little.  But its also brave and leads to intimacy and realness- creating a sense of belonging that we all crave.

ministryofmediocrity2

When we furiously scrub our houses, selves, and lives to gleaming perfection before interacting with anyone, we give this impression that this is how life really is.  We appear untouchable and unreachable. Our homes may be even a little uncomfortable.

But what if instead of perfection we purposefully aimed for mediocrity with the intent of ministering to others?  What if we aimed for just “good enough” housekeeping?  Just “good enough” cooking, party-throwing, hair-fixing, decorating?  Whatever it is that eats you up because you’re just not perfect or its just not your thing- let it go. Enough of this super-woman “I-can-do-it-all” lie.  When we reveal our imperfections to one another, we actually minister to eachother, saying “you are free to be exactly who you are.”

ministryofmediocrity

When someone invites me in from the perspective of a ministry of mediocrity, I feel at ease, I feel comfortable. I know they are more interested in connection and friendship rather than creating a mirage of perfection. I am allowed to be myself and reveal my own imperfections: messy house, unshaven legs, at times ill-behaved children, and all.  They have ministered to my soul by just being themselves: which is at times genuinely, perfectly mediocre.

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The Struggle for Contentment

Last Saturday, Paul was working and the kids and I took a long drive to visit family for an Easter celebration.  We were winding through country roads, looking out the window for cows and horses, you know, anything to keep the kids entertained.  Spotting an old farmhouse nestled in some trees on acres of beautiful land, I pointed it out to the kids.  “Check out that house, guys!”  It was a harmless gesture.  I love houses.  I love looking at houses.  I appreciate beautiful houses.  I didn’t mean anything by it.

Joanna Gaines' Farmhouse

Joanna Gaines’ Farmhouse (not the actual one we saw!)

The first words out of my oldest son’s mouth were, “No fair!”  Then my almost six year old daughter started repeating it too, “No fair, no fair, no fair!”

Whoa.

As a parent I try my hardest to hide my shock in any given distressing situation.  Overreaction, I’ve found, is a fail-safe way to ensure a behavior will repeat itself, having the exact opposite effect you’d like. So I choked back my surprise and slowly constructed my response.

These ungrateful children!  How could they?  We give them everything they could possibly need!!  And they think its not fair they don’t have an amazing huge farmhouse on twenty acres of land?  The last time I asked them to come play outside with me they were so glued to the xbox I don’t even think they heard what I said.  We just went to Disneyworld for crying out loud!!!!  How about a little gratitude for what they have instead of wishing they had something else or someone else’s life??

Oh.

Flashback to a day last week when what I didn’t have was all I could think about.  When comparing my home to someone else’s left me ungrateful and dissatisfied.  As you can imagine I was grumpy that day.  It wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own.

Here I am, the believer, mother, and wife, the decorator & stylist, sharing with others on how to make the most of what they have, how to live a life of beauty and purpose; and yet I can fall prey to the trap of comparison.  The poison of discontent works quickly.  One minute I think I’m doing fine, the next minute I’m steeped in Instagram and Pinterest images, feeling like I don’t quite measure up.

I silently wondered as we drove on if they had learned it from me.  If they had watched their mom huff and puff in discontent with her stuff, comparing it with someone else’s.  If they had overheard the conversations about somedays and savings; about new bathrooms and new couches.  About all those things that never truly satisfy.  That are like chasing after the wind.

contentment

Don’t you love when those little children you’re raising become mirrors into your own soul?

We did have a little talk in the car that day about contentment and gratitude of course, but I was talking to myself, too.  Praying for eyes that see what’s right in front of me.

“It is better to be content with what the eyes can see than for one’s heart always to crave more.  This continual longing is futile- like chasing the wind.” Ecclesiastes 6:9 NET

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