Tag Archives | Faith

What I’m Reading: Spring Edition

Thanks so much for your kind words on my last post!!!  I could just hug you all!  And I feel so free to write more now knowing that I’ve just put it out there!

I know I’ve talked about books before, so I guess that makes it the easiest to start there- with what I’ve been reading lately.  I tend to read in spurts and get distracted easily, but I love to read.  For me its usually a mix of fiction and non-fiction, lately leaning a little more toward non-fiction.  I read a ton on our drive to Disney a few weeks ago and finished two books and got halfway through another.

WhatI'mReadingSpring

First up is An Unhurried Life by Alan Fadling.  The tagline is “Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest.”  He starts the book off describing Jesus as a relaxed guy.  Hmmm, I’ve never heard that before but I’m totally down with it.  He reminds us of Jesus’ patterns of early rising and prayer, of intentional communion with the Father, His “unhurried abiding,” and the evidence that he was never in a rush.  I feel like I underlined practically the entire book.  It also has questions at the end of each chapter that really allowed me to reflect on what I was learning.  This is one that I didn’t want to end and I know I will go back to it.

The second one was a much lighter read, in fact I read it in one long day in the car. Ever After by Vicki Courtney is “life lessons learned in my castle of chaos.”  Any of you other young moms out there relate to that tag line?  She talks a lot about how our expectations and dreams of being the princess in the castle and having Prince Charming along with the perfect home, perfect husband, kids, etc set us up for disappointment and frustration. Those things were never meant to fulfill and satisfy.   Its a funny and quick read, but still has some really great stuff.

Next on my list is the one I haven’t finished yet- a fiction book called The Distant Hours by Kate Morton.  I’ve loved everything else I’ve read by her and this one is no exception.  Her stories are usually set in some old home in England (think Downton Abbey) and span generations of families. There’s always a little romance and mystery.   I haven’t picked it up again since our trip, but I still really want to finish it!  For some reason I feel like I’m wasting time reading fiction and that I can only read it when I’m on vacation.  Anyone else like this?  So we’ll see if I finish it by summertime…

Lastly, have I talked about Big Magic too much for you yet?  Seriously, extremely inspiring if you’re doing any kind of creative work.  Or even if you’re not.  It has helped me think so much more lightly but also bravely about blogging and and about my design work.  I know I quoted her the other day but here’s one more, this time on fear… “It isn’t always comfortable or easy… but its always worth it, because if you can’t learn to travel comfortably alongside your fear, then you’ll never be able to go anywhere interesting or do anything interesting.”  So interesting for me especially as someone who has battled fear and anxiety in a lot of ways for a long time.  Living a creative life isn’t about squashing your fear or even necessarily living fearlessly.  That gives me a lot of hope.

What are you reading lately?  I’d love to hear!  I’m always looking for new suggestions!

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On Taking Down the Tree

Taking down the Christmas tree is always bittersweet, isn’t it?  There’s a part of me that wants to unpack from our travels, clear out the clutter, purge the unnecessary, and get back into our “routine” as soon as possible.  That same routine I couldn’t wait to depart from just weeks ago.  Ironic, right?

But as soon as I start undressing the tree, removing each ornament, I’m overcome with a desire to savor, to treasure, and to remember.

I start with the simple ball ornaments.  They’re easy to find and easy to remove.  Most of mine are shatterproof, too.  They get tossed into a big plastic box that was labeled “ornements, ornements, ornements, Merry Christmas!” by an enthusiastic 7 year old.  Sometimes when I’m setting up the tree in late November, surrounded by flailing overly-excited children, I think I will leave it only with these.  They look pretty and bright. Easy to put on, easy to remove and pack away.  That would be much easier wouldn’t it?

taking down the tree 3

But I always continue.  The next layer for me are breakable ball ornaments.  I bought these because I like the color and I love how they shine.  They are more fragile, so I had hung them myself, a little higher.  This year, as I’m gently removing them one by one, my thumb goes right through one.  Just a tiny cut, no blood, and little thin shards of glass everywhere that are almost impossible to find.  Now an empty spot in the box that will remain.  I already know what it will remind of next year- the pain of an impending loss in our family.  My grandma whom we dearly love, awaiting her last breath in a hospital in another state.  That pain is much worse than my thumb and I feel the tears burn my eyes.

taking down the tree 2

The next layer of ornaments I can’t really fit into a category because they are all so different.  Every one has a memory and a meaning-  we have so many by now and we’ve only been married 11 years.  Many were given to us, some bought as souvenirs of travels or markers of big events in our lives.  “Baby’s First Christmas.”  “Our First Home.”  A framed ultrasound from 2009.  A blown glass New York City taxi.  Many were from Paul’s aunt and uncle as he was growing up, one for each year. His uncle passed away just two years ago, but his aunt continues the tradition now, one for each of the kids.   They will have their own collection of ornaments when they’re grown.  Some have their own boxes that must be carefully wrapped and returned.  Taking these down is the sweet and careful work of re-wrapping and remembering.

taking down the tree

Then there are the hand made ornaments: the pictures, the snowflakes, the preschool photos, the hot-glued reindeer.  Back when it was November, I was wondering did we really need this many?  I was in a rush to get a jump on the holiday season, get my house ready for the friends we would host, prettied up for the pictures we would take.  I just wanted to get it just right so I could enjoy it all and take it all in.  We take these down in a bit of a rush too, ready to be finished with this chore by now.  They go into a bag, stacked on top of everything else.

We remove the garland and lights, our hands pricked by the dry branches.  The once feathery cypress is now brittle and cracking, leaving evidence of Christmas past all over the floor.  I reach both hands in to steady the top while Paul unscrews the base and the fresh evergreen scent is unexpected and overwhelming.  It still smells like it did when we first put it up, even if it doesn’t feel it or look it anymore.

Now is the slow work that doesn’t end with a pretty picture.  There is no reward of cozy lights.  Only a pile of needles that blend with the toys as I reflect on the year.

taking down the tree 4

There has been simple beauty, for beauty’s sake.  There has been fragility, pain.  Maybe even a “shattering” or two.  There has been great joy and meaning.  Fulfillment and celebration.

And now, as I vacuum up the remnants of the once lucent tree, I know that there is also hope.  Because isn’t that what the New Year is for?  One of my favorite songs says about the New Year that it’s “another chance to catch a glimpse of what is coming true.”  Because He’s making all things new.  He’s already with us… Immanuel.  Its what we’ve celebrated and now cleaned up and put away.

And now, Lord, make us new.

Happy New Year.

xoxo

Bethany

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One Room Christmas Tour…

Twas the night before the blog tour and all through the web, I was searching and fretting; it was going to my head.

One Room Christmas Tour

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, “but they’re old, they don’t match, they’re not cute enough to share!”

One Room Christmas Tour

Christmas Decor

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, and I freaked about garlands and flocked trees dancing in my head.

One Room Christmas Home Tour

Away to Instagram I flew like a flash, “why did I enter this contest??” I asked.

Christmas Tour

“I don’t belong, I’m not as good, I need to run back to Target” the thoughts all say.  When what to my wondering eyes should appear?  But a tiny plastic baby nestled in fake plastic hay.

Christmas Home Tour

And then in a twinkling, my doubts disappear.  The decorations are fun and they’re meant to inspire.  But the true inspiration was there all the while.

Christmas Tour

He’s humble, He’s meek; His yoke is easy to bear. He invites me to rest and be at peace with him there.

I so often turn Him down for what I think will fulfill. But tonight, for now, I just need to be still.

Christmas Home Tour

True joy is in Him, and in my darkness, He is the Light.

So, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

One Room Christmas Home Tour

See the rest of my Christmas home here.

If you’re here from My Blessed Life, welcome, and thanks so much for stopping by.  I don’t always write in rhyme, I promise, haha! Next up on the tour is Decor Chick.  You’ll definitely want to check out her beautiful home.

You can find the entire list of links to all the rooms and talented bloggers at Just a Girl Blog.  I am so very honored and crazy excited to have been chosen from my Instagram picture to participate in this tour among all these fantastic and talented bloggers, many of whom have been inspiring me for years.  xoxo- Bethany

Christmas Room 1

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A Few Things…

First of all, thank you so much for all of you who have celebrated with me this week over the Design Mom feature!  I shared it yesterday on my Facebook page and Instagram but I wanted to mention it here as well.  Some of you are new here because of that feature and some of you may have no idea what I’m talking about…

Our home was recently featured here and I share about my philosophy on living with kids, creativity, and my job as a decorator.  Gabrielle Blair, aka Design Mom, was so kind through the whole process and y’all she is absolutely the real deal.  I’ve been following her blog so closely since I submitted my pictures for a possible feature and I have to say I’m learning a lot from her about this whole blogging thing.  She posts so regularly and I don’t even know how she does it, but she also posts so authentically and personally.  Even though she didn’t have to, I felt like she spent time reading my blog and getting to know us before featuring my home.  Anyway, the whole thing was just one big gigantic happy exciting thing.  I’d love for you to check it out- you may have seen all the pictures here before but the words I shared may be a little something different.Design Mom // The House of Figs

Next, I just wanted to briefly mention Christmas decorating! I’ll be a part of a Christmas homes tour next week that I’m very excited about so I’m saving the “glamour shots,” for that day, but I did want to share a little glimpse with you and show you one of my favorite traditions we have.

Advent

I grew up doing a weekly Advent wreath with my family and this is a tradition Paul and I have decided to continue with our own kids.  Throughout the years we’ve tried a few different things, including some short daily devotions beginning Dec 1st, but honestly those are hard for us to keep up with.  This year I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to do when a Facebook friend posted a link to this weekly Advent devotional.  Its so simple and perfect for the ages of my kids (2, 5, & 7).  There are additional activities for during the week but I think we’ll mostly be sticking to the Sunday evening devotionals.  We already had the wreath and I just set it on the table along with some candles stuck into glass candle holders.  While the candles aren’t the traditional colors, its what we already had, so I think it will work just fine.

Advent2

 Lastly, I’ve said it before, but I’m just not a big seasonal decorator.  I like to design a room well and then just leave it alone.  I don’t like to rearrange or tweak very much and I know this makes me a bit of an oddity among home-decor loving people.  But I do have to say, as far as Christmas decor goes, I think the reason is just that it stresses me out a bit.  I end up sort of feeling like I’m only doing it for the sake of other people or to create this elusive magical feeling. I find I’m more overwhelmed than joyful and more focused on all the stuff than on anything that actually matters.  A little like my new hilarious friend Gayle. Have you seen this yet?

We have been quoting and laughing about Gayle for days around here.  I mean, she’s just hilarious.  But of course the reason it’s so funny is that there’s a little piece of it that I can relate to.  This is my first Christmas having this blog and being on Instagram.  So while I am doing the usual decorating and I’ve pulled out the twinkling lights and added in a few new ornaments for the year, I want you to know that I’m doing everything I can to stay true to what I came here to do- for both beauty & purpose.  I’m taking part in this big Christmas tour of homes next week and I’m so very honored to be joining in with some blogs I absolutely love and admire and have looked up to for a long time, but I’m approaching cautiously and tenderly.  I do feel the pull toward crazy-Gayle-ness sometimes.  I feel the pull toward “I’m going to be in a big blogger tour so I need to show everyone a perfectly decorated Disney on Ice home tour!!!!”   But then I remember that you come here for a reason and I never intend to take that lightly.  I want to share with you my home and our traditions and maybe even a few ideas, but I never want to lose sight of the purpose.

Thank you so much for reading.  Hope you’re having a great week!

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HandUp Global Goods Office Design

Office Design // The House of Figs

Now that I’ve shared with you about this nonprofit that has stolen my heart (missed that post?  read about it here) I wanted to show you how HandUp Global Good’s office design came together.  Here’s the original design board I created for it.

HUGG Design Board

I was going for a modern global feeling that was also light and bright.  We did make a few changes along the way that worked well for the function of the office, but I was so pleased to see how it turned out.

HUGG Office // The House of Figs

Please take note of the amazing original old wooden floors!  How gorgeous are those??  The gallery wall above the desks includes functional pieces like a dry erase board and a cork board but also some inspiration like this map of Haiti and a few prints from Lindsay Letters.  One says “Live Creatively” and another one “Be Brave.”

HUGG Office // The House of Figs

This company is giving sustainable work to former street children in Haiti that are aging out of an orphanage.  The young men are skilled artisans being paid a fair wage to make beautiful bracelets.  Read more about it (and even see a short video if you want!) on their website here.HUGG Office // The House of Figs

Everyone I know who works stateside for HUGG is incredibly passionate and has been to Haiti several times.  They know these hard working young men personally and have come to love them dearly.

HUGG Office // The House of Figs

Its been a huge blessing to me to discover this company and I knew I wanted to be involved somehow.

Office Design // The House of Figs

They don’t currently have necklaces for sale, but I have it on good authority that there are more beautiful things coming… check out this gorgeousness they have on display!

HUGG Office WM_2

HUGG // The House of Figs

Office Design // The House of Figs

This is a fantastic company doing great things.  Looking for some meaningful Christmas gifts that can make a difference in someone’s life this year?  Look no further than HandUp Global Goods. I’ve already been checking a few things off my list. 🙂  Happy Monday!

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5K and a Giveaway!

Updated to add: Giveaway is now closed.  Winner is @nicholeklawer.  Thank you to all who entered!!  I encourage you to consider these small businesses for your Christmas shopping this year!!!

This week on Instagram I’m celebrating a milestone of reaching 5,000 followers.  I know its not about the numbers, but having started out with zero back in February, this feels like a reason to celebrate!  My journey of blogging and ‘gramming has been so fun for me and to have “met” so many new friends and get encouraged and inspired by them everyday has just been the icing on the cake.

So to celebrate, today I’m hosting a giveaway!  All three of these companies fit in so well with the whole “beauty and purpose” thing and I’m so excited to share them with you.The House of Figs Giveaway

Especially with Christmas just around the corner, these three shops would be some great ones to remember for your shopping!  The larger print is from Naptime Diaries, which you may have heard of.  This is an 11 by 14 print of 2:Corinthians 1:20.  I just love all the color!Naptime Diaries Giveaway

Next up is a T-shirt and hand-made bracelet from a company that has completely stolen my heart, Hand Up Global Goods.  One bracelet equals one day’s fair wages for their artisans, former street children in Haiti.  The company has partnered with orphanages actively seeking sustainable solutions for teens transitioning out of their program.  The company’s story begins with 8 young men transitioning out of Grangou, an orphanage in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.  Read more about this company and see their other products on the website here.

HUGG GiveawayI absolutely LOVE this t-shirt. It is so soft and comfortable.  If you win, you get to pick your size!  And this bracelet is one of my favorites from the Hand Up site- the Akolad triple wrap.

HUGG Giveaway

Next up, a 5 x 7 print from another small business, Tone and State on etsy. Lauren makes beautiful hand lettered and modern paper goods and this is just one of her stunning pieces.  She also has gorgeous wrapping paper sets!  You’ve got to check out her  shop here.

Tone and State Giveaway

So how can you win all these hand-made and beautiful goodies?  Since its an Instagram celebration, I’m doing it all over there.  Head on over to my feed here and look for the Giveaway post to find out how to enter.

Giveaway : The House of Figs

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Weekend Reading: Favorites From Around the Web

Happy Friday!  Will you be Christmas decorating this weekend or do you wait until after Thanksgiving?  We are strict waiters around here because we love to cut down a fresh tree either the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving. I also start to feel a little crazy when the Christmas decor has been out for too long so in order for it to keep some of its magic I wait.  Anyone else get overstimulated by the extra stuff in your house or is that just me?

So since I’m not preparing for Christmas decorating, I’m doing some weekend reading and catching up with some of my favorite blogs.  I thought I’d share with you a few of my recent finds…

First off…

We Are More Than the Worst Thing We’ve Done by Jamie Ivey

Jamie Ivey

Next, The Nester made a video about sofa styling!  She talks about pattern and texture and how your throw and your pillows and your couch are like three friends working together.  Love it. Check out her post and cute video here.

Style a Sofa You Hate

Oh and speaking of Christmas, have you seen this video from Ikea (of all places??)?  A good reminder as we enter this season.  Warning, get your tissues out for this one!

Do you read Design Mom?  She does these wonderful Living with Kids home features and her latest one is one of my favorites.  Aside from having a beautiful home, the family featured also has a greenhouse that their kids use for painting and art. What an amazing spot to allow for creativity and not have to worry about cleaning up the mess!  Find the rest of the tour here.

Greenhouse

Lastly, I am just in love with this window seat and built-in reveal by Brit over at House Updated.  Check out her post here that gives lots more pictures and all the details of this beautiful space in her living room.  While you’re at it check out the rest of her blog, too, she’s got some great stuff happening!

House Updated

That’s it for now.  Whether you’re Christmas decorating or not this weekend, I hope you have a great one!

xoxo

Bethany

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