Tag Archives | Purpose

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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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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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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.

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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.

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 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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