name + nursery tour

Oaklee Allen Reynolds: The story of his name

August 1, 2017, will always be remembered as the day Gregg and I found out we were expecting.  It wasn’t long after we found out that we were discussing names…like maybe an hour.

Gregg likes very strong, traditional names, while I like names rooted deep with meaning, somewhat traditional, but different. Throughout the first couple of months, we talked about our family names a lot, the ones we liked, and the ones we thought were hilarious, and yet we kept finding ourselves coming back to the same name over and over for a little boy, Oakley. Oakley was the name of Gregg’s maternal great grandfather, Oakley Allen Patton.

Fast forward a couple of months, our dear family friend Mike Lee, the pastor who married us, and the one who baptized Gregg years ago learned he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Our hearts were broken. If you knew Pastor Mike, your life was brighter because of him. Your walk with the Lord was deeper, and if you had the privilege to be married by him, your wedding was one where the very presence of Jesus was felt by everyone there.

I look back at our wedding, and of course because of the growing world of Pinterest there are things I would change or do a little different, but our wedding…our wedding…I wouldn’t change a thing. Pastor Mike, being the creatively thoughtful man he was took our stories, our faith, and he made our wedding day what I’d always hoped it would be. A day for others to see very plainly, the faithfulness of God.

October was the month we found out that this life growing inside of me was a little boy. A fun fact, we found out we were having a boy on the same day, but 5 years later that we started dating, and Oak was born on the same day we got engaged, but 5 years later. October was also the month that Pastor Mike Lee’s faith was made sight, and he went home to be with Jesus.

Knowing the kind of man Pastor Mike was, the lives he led to the Lord, the love he had for “messy” people, I knew that he was the kind of man I wanted my son to be named after. That’s where the “Lee” comes from in his name, Oaklee. Gregg and I had agreed from the beginning that we wouldn’t share his name until he was born, but we were able to tell Pastor Mike before he passed, and I’m so glad we did. My prayer for our Oaklee is that he will radiate with the undying love of Jesus, just as Pastor Mike did.

Oaklee’s middle name is Allen. Allen is my mom’s maiden name. Her father was Walter Morris Allen.

When deciding on a “theme” for his nursery, I knew pictures of his namesakes had to be included somewhere, somehow. I want him to know that his name is special because of these three incredible, strong men. The frames we used I bought at Hobby Lobby and the name plaques we had made here in town at Signature Signs. This was a really inexpensive way to add a sweet, personal touch to Oak’s nursery. For me, it’s my favorite feature.

And lastly, the “Oak” part of his name, which is what we call him, goes back to one of my favorite verses out of Isaiah. “To grant those who mourn in Zion, to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” -Isaiah 61:3 

May our Oak be deeply rooted in Jesus, and strong like the oak tree.

Anyone who knows Gregg knows he loves America. So for Oak’s nursery just like his name I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to do an American theme, but with a southern living twist. That probably makes sense to no one but myself. I wanted his nursery to be very masculine, including a mixture of woods and metals, with touches of navy gingham, shiplap, a few flags, a couple of elephants and old memorabilia. His nursery, at one time was the worst room in our fixer upper, but has now become my favorite room.

For me, our chair and curtains took the longest to decide on. I wanted a comfortable chair, and I wanted blackout curtains because this mama knew she would need her baby to be a good, sleeping baby.  Don’t we all sleep better with blackout curtains? We ended up ordering the chair from Amazon and the curtains from Land of Nod. The pillow came from Lulu’s, one of my favorite consignment shops here in town.

The changing table (below) and crib are from Target. The small table to the left of the changing table we have had for years. When we moved this last time, I couldn’t really think of a good use for it. It had brightly colored teal legs (I went through a teal phase), and since most everything I own now or want to own is very neutral, soft and creamy (thank you, Joanna Gaines), we decided to paint it and put it in the nursery.  I must say it makes the perfect holder for diapers and wipes.

We couldn’t resist the elephant hook holder (below) we found at World Market. His nursery had to have a touch of conservatism, and the American flag hat was just what we needed to complete the entry way…for less than $5.00 at Old Navy, I couldn’t resist.

The letters below I caught on sale at Hobby Lobby for 50% off. I went on and got them once we decided on his name knowing that I wanted to hang them above his crib. Of course, I ran into a few people I knew at Hobby Lobby when purchasing these huge letters, but luckily they were already bagged when I saw them so no one could see.

Keeping your baby name a secret is hard, and having to explain to people why you’re keeping it a secret is even harder. Especially for those who feel like they have to explain, like myself, because I worry I will hurt someone’s feelings if I don’t explain (I’m working on it). It’s really hard when telling that to the older crowd, they just don’t really understand. There were several times I almost just told them, but I feared the word would get out at bridge club, and I would regret it. Did I mention I work for senior adults at a fairly large church here in Bowling Green?

Naming our baby and decorating his space in our home brought me so much joy. Let me just say that naming a child before you lay your eyes on them can be tricky, because you don’t really know if the name you chose will “fit” them. Once I saw him, though, I knew he was Oak, mostly because I gave birth to a baby man, a 9lb 5 oz. one, and his name just suited him.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, thank you so much for reading along!

 

 

thirty years.

Last week,  I turned 30 years old.  I left an entire decade behind filled with some of my happiest moments and hardest tears.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. -Roman 8:28

During my twenties, I graduated college, lived on my own, moved a ton, said some really hard goodbyes, had my first bout with the darkness of depression resulting in a season with very little Jesus, made some really poor choices, moved back “home” to Bowling Green, started dating and married Gregg, flipped almost three houses (along with Gregg and the help of many), and most recently found out I’m going to be a mama…a mama to a little boy.

Those ten years were filled with so much change, many unknowns, joy, some darkness, aloneness, love, heartbreak BUT Jesus, being who He is, carried me through it all.

He led me to a place of safety, He rescued me, because He delighted in me. -2 Samuel 22:20

I’ve thought so much lately about those years, and I’ve thought about the hand of God, and how He carried me, how He reached down in those deep waters of depression and how He rescued me, how He delighted in me, how He quieted my anxious heart over and over again, how He extended his hand of grace and gave me Gregg, how He loved me, and how He loved all of me.

I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. -Isaiah 49:16

I know that many have trouble turning 30 (when they’ll forever feel 24), I’ve certainly had my moments lately especially when Gregg is looking at mini vans for me almost daily, while others it doesn’t phase a bit. I’ve been thirty for almost a week, and I have to say I’m just thankful to have life, abundant life, and to know that the same Jesus who carried me then, carries me now, and not just me, but now this little life inside of me.

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. -Psalm 139:16

So I say all of this to say if you’re struggling to find hope in your heartache, don’t try to fix it anymore. Give your life to Jesus, and not just parts of your life, give Him your brokenness, your what if’s, your worry, your fears, your dreams, and may the same Jesus who looked in the eyes of my darkness and told it to leave, be the one you put your hope in tonight.

Here’s to 30, and probably driving a mini van, and probably getting that mom haircut. Bring it.

 

Daddy.

In honor of father’s day, I thought I would share a part of me that I don’t talk about a lot.  A part of my story that I think about when I need a reminder of God’s faithfulness in my life and His unwavering hand that’s held me since the time when I was first created.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” -Psalm 139:13

I never knew my dad. Although, according to pictures I am the spitting image of him. My eyes are his eyes; my smile is his smile. Yet, if you asked me to name one personality trait about him, I wouldn’t be able too. He left months before I was born, and the only thing I do know is he was good to my mom until I came into the picture.

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While momma’s pregnancy with me was totally unexpected, God had a plan. When she felt as if things couldn’t get worse (divorced and a single mom to two little girls and pregnant unexpectedly), God continually held her significantly placing people all around her to remind her who to trust in. God’s plan was much bigger.

It was through a Sunday School class at church that led my mom to meet Sam. A single and widowed dad of two little boys, who had recently walked some dark roads with the sudden loss of his beloved wife, Grace.

It was Sam who pursued my mom amidst her brokenness. It was Sam who bought her meals and brought her flowers. He was never embarrassed or afraid someone would ask questions, and he never let her circumstances keep him from pursuing her. He knew my mom’s heart. He knew that she had made a mistake, but that didn’t stop him from loving her during her darkest days. He was a gift of kindness to my mom…kindness she so desperately needed in a time where her sin was shown so outwardly and was so obvious to the world. She couldn’t hide it; she couldn’t deny it.  But, he…well he just loved her through it.

“Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.” -Proverbs 14:26

In February 1988, they were married. Then, I was adopted by Sam. Both my mom and I got a new last name, and I also got a daddy to love me forever.

“He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” -Ephesians 1:5

I’m writing all of this because maybe you need a reminder today of God’s faithfulness in your life. Maybe you need to know that Jesus loves you and cares for you. His light shines bright, and the darkness you may be facing, while it may seem big right now, it cannot overshadow His light.

Maybe you feel alone, ashamed, or broken because of your sin, and you need to hear that God can work things for your good. Let this be an encouragement to you to turn to Jesus. He knows what we need before we ask, and His plan and mercy is much bigger than any sin.  And, when we know Him, we are covered by His blood. Will you know Jesus today?

He knew that my momma would need Sam. She would need him to look past her mistake, and point her to purpose through her pain.

Sam willingly chose me. He stepped up to provide for me when he absolutely didn’t have too…much like God chooses and willingly adopts us as His own. Sam pursued and loved my mom in a way she had never been loved before…much like God offers to love us, only if we would let him, and even when we don’t, He still does. Sam pursued and loved not only my mom but a baby girl who wasn’t even his.

Daddy, thank you for the countless ways you have provided for me. I never had to worry growing up because I knew you worked hard for us. Thank you for showing me what a provider looks like, and lastly, thank you for seeing my mommas heart through the eyes of Jesus. Happy Father’s Day.

I love you.

Erin Katherine

 

 

 

new york city-country comes to town-part three

We began our final day in the city at the studio taping of Good Morning America. We woke up at the crack of dawn, got ready, and headed straight for Times Square.  I had put in a request for tickets 2-3 weeks prior to our trip, and a couple of days before we left they emailed them to me.  The fun thing is the tickets are free, but we didn’t really know until we got there to stand in line to get our wrist bands, that we still weren’t guaranteed to get in. Luckily, on this rainy Monday morning they scanned our tickets and we got to go in. I thought once we got our email confirmation, that we were good to go; however, it really just depends on the day.

Pictured above are two very exhausted people, who had ran from their hotel on 42nd avenue to Times Square, and who also stood in line (in the rain) with no guarantee of getting to meet Robin Roberts or Michael Strahan, but who happily did so for the possibility.

Once in the studio, I was completely enamored with the set, the cameras, and that being a camera man on the set of Good Morning America was actually someone’s job. The cast was so nice. They walked around during commercials, took pictures with everyone, and asked us where we were from.

This was my second time meeting Michael Strahan, the first time was at the Kelley and Michael Show a few years ago, and the one thing I can say about both times of meeting him is he is SO nice. He takes selfies with everyone, and he thanked us for getting up so early to come to the show. I got pictures with them all except for Laura and George. Laura was taking care of business on her cell phone it appeared, and George stayed on one side of the room, and waived.

That day on the show, the bachelorette Rachel Lindsay made an appearance as well as Priyanka Chopra, the girl who plays Victoria Leeds on the new Baywatch movie. Here’s the link below to the episode we were there for if you’d like to watch.

http://abc.go.com/shows/good-morning-america/episode-guide/2017-05/22-052217-trump-visits-israel-1st-foreign-trip-president

After we left GMA, we headed straight for the closest Starbucks to get some caffeine, and then back to the hotel to take a little nap before heading out to check off the last few things we wanted to see, do, and eat before heading home.

After a long nap, our first stop was for pizza in Little Italy at the cutest restaurant named Sofia’s.

We split a small pizza, and each had a coke to drink. It was delicious. The thin crust was flaky and golden with butter. They also gave us fresh bread with a dipping sauce of herbs and olive oil. It was the perfect amount.

After lunch, we stopped by the cutest Christmas shop a few doors down to buy an ornament. Every time Gregg and I go somewhere for vacation we always buy an ornament. It’s a sweet little tradition we’ve kept for almost 4 years, and every year I look so forward to putting our ornaments on our tree. I can’t wait to hang our NYC ornament next to our beautiful glass pineapple ornament from Charleston, South Carolina. Ornaments are just fun, and I love the stories they tell and the memories they bring back while hanging on our Christmas tree.

After we made our ornament purchase, we headed to the infamous https://www.cookiedonyc.com/ for a cup of edible cookie dough, only to be greeted with a sign that read “closed on Mondays.” I didn’t think anything was closed in New York City. That just means we’ll have to go back and visit.

From there we got a cab to the Financial District, to see Wall Street, and the cute little park named Bowling Green. Gregg and I call Bowling Green home, but in Kentucky not in New York City. By this point, it was pouring, but we didn’t mind.

 

After checking off these two things, we hopped on the subway and headed to Grand Central Station. The Subway is by far the cheapest way of transportation aside from walking. We got off, I snapped a quick picture of Gregg and I people watched for a good little while. There is every kind of person walking through that place. It was neat to see it in person, rather than through a tv screen, as there are so many movies that include this beautiful place in them. After people watching, and thanking the Lord I don’t have to ride a subway to work or home,  we headed straight for https://www.magnoliabakery.com/ to check off another dessert I’ve been wanting to try. I’ve read so many wonderful reviews of their banana pudding, but I found it to be almost identical to my mom’s recipe. I still loved it, and thought about my sweet mama while eating it. She’s the best cook.

 

By this time, we needed to head back to the hotel, change, and make our way to the theatre to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. We needed just a little snack to tie us over so we headed to https://www.juniorscheesecake.com/  for a small meal, cheesecake to share, and a cup of coffee. Only in New York can you consume so many desserts and treats in one day, and justify them by how much walking you did to earn them, and on this day we even ran (to Good Morning America) so I think that deserves a few extra calories. I don’t run for anything.

We saw our last show. All I can say is what a way to cap off a trip to New York City, it was incredible. Also a little fun fact the guy that played Passerino that night was a guy that Gregg went to high school with right here in Bowling Green. Even though we don’t really know him, it was still a little piece of home in such a large place.

We ended our night with none other than another dessert. I’ve always wanted to go to the restaurant Serendipity, and even though it was late, Gregg made my dreams come true and we caught a cab to Serendipity, and had a frozen hot chocolate. The restaurant was absolutely adorable,  so whimsical and fun.

 

When we consumed our final dessert of the evening, we caught our last yellow cab back to our hotel, packed our bags (so we wouldn’t have to early the next morning), and drifted off to sleep. We had an early flight to catch, and by this point, this southern girl had about all the concrete views she could take… I was ready to be home. I love to go, see and do, but I was ready to be back in the land where people say “bless you” when you sneeze and to see some green grass.

The older I get, the more of a homebody I become. I missed my spot on the couch where I always sit, I missed my coffee here at home that I drink every morning, and lastly I missed the slow pace life we live. One thing I noticed so much this time, is the rush New Yorkers are always in. Talking a mile a minute on their iPhones, while walking their dogs, while crossing the busy streets and intersections. They would be bored to tears sitting on my front porch listening to the birds chirp here in Kentucky.

I’ve tried to describe how truly dreamy this trip was to New York City, but I don’t know if my words and pictures do it justice. What can I say? It was a trip of a lifetime, all thanks to the one who knows me better than anyone, my kind husband. I hope you’ve enjoyed these posts, and I hope more than anything that if you haven’t been there that you’ll go, eat every dessert you desire,  and you’ll have a ball!

Thank you for reading!

new york city-country comes to town-part two

Sunday

We started off the day by going to the 9-11 Memorial. This is definitely something to add to your itinerary if you’re planning a trip to New York City any time soon. We spent the majority of the morning there. We read, walked and listened for hours.

I was in the eighth grade when the catastrophic day known as September 11, 2001 happened. I was in Mrs. Bollenbeckers class, and I remember precisely where in the room I was sitting. Little did I know years later I would be at the exact location where it all took place, viewing only what was left behind from that day. It was definitely a day I won’t ever forget, and the sadness I felt as I touched the glass boxes where the remains from that day were displayed, a woman’s shoes, a mans wallet, someone’s briefcase. Those images will forever stay in my mind, much like the case of shoes has from the holocaust museum in Washington, D.C. They were real people, just going to work that day, unbeknownst to them they kissed their spouse for the last time, and ate their last meal the night before with their family, they had no idea what the next day would hold for them. Probably one of the most touching things I saw were a man’s glasses. I thought about him a lot, the man who wore those glasses.

For me, it was really hard to just leave the museum and carry on with our vacation, knowing so many are still affected from that day, mothers lost their sons, daughters lost their mothers, but I found great comfort in knowing that while that day was as an absolute unforgettable day, and while how big that day seems now as history, Jesus is bigger. Each one that lost their life that day was His creation, His handprint was on each one.

After we left the museum, we headed to the Gershwin Theatre to see the Broadway show Wicked. It was everything I thought it would be and more. Before leaving for New York City, I was so excited to see Lion King again, but after seeing Wicked, it rates right up there with Lion King. The talent absolutely blew my mind. I could have listened to the girl who played Elpheba all day long. Not to mention, we sat by the sweetest couple. They were in New York to see their granddaughter be sworn in as an attorney, so they made a little vacation of it, and we had the pleasure of sharing the same row, and this wonderful show with them. They were from North Carolina, Methodist, and had been married 45 years. All of this information is thanks to my social husband, who is not shy, and has the gift of getting people to tell details of their lives, and to feel immediately comfortable with doing so. No wonder he’s an insurance agent.

After Wicked, we headed back to the room to get dressed for a date night Gregg had completely planned on his own, and I had no idea any of the details, just that we had a reservation at 6:30pm, and he told me to purchase a “Fancy” dress for the occasion earlier this year, in March.

The Uber driver picked us up at our hotel at 5:50pm sharp, and took us to Broadway to the Marriott Hotel, upon arriving I still had no idea why were at the Marriott, and where we were eating. I was starving, and I didn’t have my “buffett britches” on so I knew whatever I ate, better not be a ton, because this sparkle dress didn’t have a ton of room.

We arrived at “The View,” New York’s only revolving restaurant. It was on the 43rd floor of the Marriott Hotel.

We started out with crab cakes, and a teeny tiny salad. It was devine.

We then each chose New York Strip, baked potatoes stuffed with macaroni and cheese topped with bacon for our main entrée. Can we just say a big ol’ hallelujah amen to that? Oh and I can’t forget the basket of bread on the table, with a side of the most creamy butter ever.

While waiting for our food, we decided to take a few pictures of one another looking out at the view, and boy was it beautiful. I felt so fancy, and so incredibly spoiled by my husband who knows that delicious food is the way to my heart. Thankful for the time he took to plan this night for us, and the thought he put into it.

It. was. divine. Every single delicious bite. For dessert, I got a chocolate lava cake, and Gregg got the raspberry sorbet.

While eating dessert, Gregg said the driver was waiting for us, so I quickly ate every last bite of my dessert thinking at this point it didn’t matter how much my sparkle dress had expanded because of how much I had eaten, because we were going to just head back to the hotel to change and head out to do some sightseeing. I was wrong.

Gregg paid and we headed toward the elevator, and stepped outside to only be greeted by not an uber Toyota Camry (that’s pretty much what every Uber driver drives in New York) but, a LIMO.

Gregg rented a limo to drive us around New York City.  I was mad. Well, only for 3.5 seconds.  I couldn’t believe he had done such a thing. My sparkle dress self hopped right in, and Gregg turned it to the rap station, I mean what else do you do when you’re riding in a limo, in New York City?  and we rode to Central Park like famous people, just the two of us in that ginormous limo, with me shaking my head at him in disbelief the entire time.

The limo driver dropped us off at Central Park, by a horse and carriage, and we rode via horse and carriage around the park under a blanket, and under the stars. It was a dream, and so much fun.

After our dreamy horse and carriage ride, we got back in the limo, and asked the driver to take us to the Rockefeller Center to take a quick stroll, and a couple of pictures. I love all the lights in the trees. It gave me a little glimpse of what it must be like to be here at Christmas.

So we said our goodnights to this gorgeous side of the city, and then hopped in the limo to head back to the hotel. We had tickets to the Good Morning America taping the next morning, and that required a very early wake up time.

Stay tuned for the third and final part of our trip to New York City! Thank you, for reading and following along!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Kristen.

In a world full of busy, I’ve decided that when life lends me an opportunity to celebrate, that’s what I want to do-celebrate.

When all seven places come back at the dermatologist benign-celebrate. When you make it through a tough week at work-celebrate. When you hit your step goal every day-celebrate, and lastly, when you have a dear friend who turns another year older-celebrate. Let them know how much they mean to you, make their favorite foods, and celebrate their life, and most importantly the one who gives them life.

Last week, one of my very best friends turned 26. Let me tell you a little about her….

This is Kristen.

She is the type of friend who brings you warm brownies out of the oven when you’re working late trying to get moved into your new home, and she also brings you a beautiful mum to put on your front porch. She’s the type of friend that keeps you on schedule. You know, people like me need friends like Kristen. I’m usually running a little behind or arriving right on time, and not a minute before and usually putting my mascara on when pulling into the parking lot. My 29-years-old self has prayed about this too many times to count, and I’m just convinced that the Lord just doesn’t want me to change, but I know my husband does. 🙂

She’s always aware of the time, has a plan, and is consistently early to things. I admire her in more ways than one. She’s the type of friend that gives you the freedom to ask her for help, offers to show up early to things, and lends a helping hand in any way she can. She knows my anxious ways, and our God was gracious when he gave me Kristen as a friend. So in honor of her turning 26 on April 26, we waited until the following Saturday, and threw her a little surprise party, and we celebrated.

I thought I would show you some of my favorite pictures from the party. I couldn’t have done it without her little sister, Kelsey (who I secretly wish was my little sister) and my beyond helpful husband Gregg.

You should know that Kristen loves all things plants, and gardening. So since this party was for her, I decided to go with a theme that included a few succulents, some cactus’, and the colors pink and green, then I paired that with a nacho bar!

I found the super cute wrapping paper (pictured above) in Louisville a few weeks ago at Home Goods. I saw it, and knew I had to wrap Kristen’s birthday present in it.

The first thing I like to do in preparation for any party or gathering is plan the menu, and since Kristen thought we were really going to Chuy’s, I decided Mexican food it was.

Here’s the full menu:

Nacho Bar (ground beef, queso, chopped tomatoes, black beans, shredded cheese, cream jalapeno, Gregg’s homemade Guacamole, salsa, sour cream, jalepeno’s)

Cinnamon Tortilla chips-It was timely, but very easy, and so delicious. This was the recipe I used: recipe

Chuy’s Creamy Jalepeno dip and chips

Paula Dean’s Strawberry cake: I used this recipe: recipe

Breyers Natural Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Lemonade Punch: This is the recipe I used: 1 cup of Country Time Lemonade, 1 46oz can of Pineapple Juice, 2 cans of chilled sprite. For this occasion I doubled it.

Water

 

 

 

Waiting on Kristen to arrive……

SURPRISE!!!!!!!!!


Kristen, I thank Jesus for you over and over. I had SO much fun celebrating you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

my 29th year.

Today I turned 29. It’s officially the last year of my twenties, and I’m having a hard time believing I’m actually 29. But here I am, and I can’t help but be just plain thankful for another year, even if I am one year closer to 30. For 29 years, the Lord has been faithful. Even in the years that brought storms, heartache, several moves, and the unknown. God has been so undeniably faithful. He is good, and He gives life meaning. Without Him, there would be no hope during trials, and no rest for the weary.

Today was a day packed full of love, and tonight was no different. I came home from work to decorations, a delicious meal made by mother-in-love, and  some of my favorite people. Here are a few pictures from today….

I work with the kindest people. My birthday was more special, and sweeter because of them, and my office was more colorful.

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When opening my last gift, I noticed it felt like a piece of paper wrapped in tissue paper. It was. It was a note from Gregg…..

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After we finished cake and ice cream, we loaded up and headed over to our new house, Gregg had me close my eyes, and he walked me to our dining room, and inside our freshly painted dining room sat the most beautiful FARM TABLE!!. I can’t wait to show you a picture!

Today I reflected a lot, and even felt sad at times at how fast life really does go by. It seems like yesterday, I was in college living in an apartment with 3 other girls, staying up till 2 am watching Grey’s Anatomy seasons on DVD, and spending way too much time at the pool before and after class.

So as a cap on this past year that the Lord so graciously gave me, I thought I would go through and give thanks for all the sweet memories made, and count these blessings one by one. These are 29 memories/things I’m grateful for listed in no particular order.

1. Spending a week in Charleston, and seeing most of the city via a convertible that Gregg rented for us for the week. My teenage girl heart has never been so happy.

2. Experiencing the Country Living Fair for the first time, and meeting Ben and Erin Napier from the HGTV show, Hometown. It will begin airing in January.

3. Starting my blog.

4. Getting to attend the Dove Awards.

5. Gregg and I celebrated 3 years of marriage

6. Vacation to Gulf Shores with Gregg’s family in September.

7. Seeing Phantom of the Opera at TPAC. Also, seeing South Warren High School perform Phantom of The Opera. Every year, Gregg designs their program, and does all of their photography.  I’ve gone to their shows since before we were even dating. Those high school students absolutely blow me away, but this past year was exceptional. I enjoyed their production of Phantom, just as much if not more than the show we saw in Nashville, at TPAC.

8. Attending my dear friend, and college roommate, Susan’s wedding in Paducah.

9. Canoeing down Drakes Creek with friends.

10. Buying a 1960’s Ranch.

11. Renovating our 1960’s Ranch.

12. Dave Barnes Christmas show in Nashville.

13. Throwing Gregg a red, white, and blue birthday BBQ, and having most of our family there to celebrate with us.

14. Being neighbors with Bob, Mae, and Naomi.

15. The many Saturday morning quiet times spent on our porch at our house on Benson.

16. Spending Easter with all my nieces and nephews. Having them all in the same place.

17. Throwing our second annual Valentines Party.

18. Going to Passion in Atlanta earlier this year. Seeing some of my favorite artists lead worship, and speak. It was a great way to start off a new year.

19. Getting to lead a Discipleship Group through the Baptist Campus Ministries at the college I graduated from. Weekly, I got to meet with and be encouraged by the sweetest college girls. They truly blessed my heart, and still do.

20. Decorating my mantle for Valentines Day.

21. The afternoon I went to Kristen’s planting party. We planted succulents, and ate dirt cake. She has the greenest thumb. Love that girl!

22. The women’s ministry at our church starting Secret Sister. Each week you get an encouraging note, a candy bar, or a gift of some kind to uplift you, and remind you that you have a secret sister praying for you throughout the week. It’s been so much fun, and a great way to get to know other women within our church.

23. Attending my sweet friend Lindsay’s wreath workshop.

24. Getting to go through all of my Nana’s music that she hand wrote. The words to old hymns, and songs she used to sing with my papaw playing guitar. I have “Victory in Jesus” handwritten by her, framed and hung, and I will cherish it for years to come.

25. Getting my Erin Condren planner in the mail. I’ve always wanted one, and this past year I was given a gift card, so I purchased one, and I love carrying it with me, and I love writing in it on the daily.

26. Spending a week at our favorite spot in Fort Morgan, the Beach Club.

27. Filming our annual family Christmas video at Target. Being pushed down the aisles in the bright red buggy, and singing our made up Christmas song, to the tune of Adele’s Hello. It was a fun time, and probably hilarious to watch if you were a shopper at Target that day.

28. Having a snow day in the middle of February. It was a day of bread baking, Netflix watching, and rest. I love a good snow day probably more than anyone.

29. Lastly, and most importantly, my relationship with Jesus, and the fact that he’s loved me since before I was born. He loved me enough to not only breathe life into me, but to give me abundant life by dying for me. There is no greater love, and there is absolutely no greater gift.

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Thank you, to ALL those who made me feel special today, my mother-in-love who spent the entire day cooking for me, and to my Gregg, the one who loves my 29 year-old self way more than he should, thank you for loving me so well. Going to bed tonight with a grateful heart. God is SO good, my friends.

 

Benson.

On Sunday, July 17, Gregg and I said goodbye to our little bungalow on Benson. It sold within 48 hours, and part of  my heart will always be there. It was our first house. We lived in an apartment for the first year we were married, then renovated Benson and lived there for a year and a half. I absolutely will always love that house, the hardwood floors, the shelves around the kitchen sink to hold all my grandmothers knick knacks, the screened in porch, and my absolute favorite part, being next door to Bob, Mae, and Naomi.

Bobby is Gregg’s older brother, and Meagan is his wife. When we told people that we all lived next door to one another, the crazy looks were hilarious. But we just absolutely love each other, and God gave us a season of living next door to each other. I can honestly say living next door to them is something I could do forever. The Saturday morning coffee dates on the porch, the late night calls to Mae saying, “Hey, can I come borrow a shirt to wear tomorrow?”, and then her watching me walk home to make sure I got there ok, even though it was only a few steps away…The many late night talks and laughs, around our kitchens, washing dishes at my sink and looking up to see Naomi (our niece) run across the yard to see Uncle Hoot and Aunt Airwin,  the meals we shared, the shows we all watched together…All of those things were a gift, a gift that could have only come from the gracious hand of God. So as this chapter comes to a close, I want to share some of my favorite days from every season living on Benson. I loved that house.

Our first Christmas on Benson, and our third Christmas being married. I’ve had this tree for 6 years, I bought it when I was working as a server at Cracker Barrel through college. I bought it for $33.00, and at the time I probably didn’t really need to spend $33.00 on a tree nonetheless, but I did, and years later, I am still enjoying it. I consider that a good purchase.

 

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This is our memory tree that we set up in our dining room. Gregg and I have many things in common, and our love for Christmas (aside from that we both love Jesus) is my favorite thing we share a love for. This tree is filled with ornaments from childhood, married ornaments that we got as shower gifts, and ornaments that we buy whenever we travel to a new place. I love this sentimental tree.

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Our first snow. February 16, 2015.  On this day, I made a huge breakfast and enjoyed having a week day off probably more than anyone. I also made a loaf of cinnamon banana bread, and enjoyed our fireplace and netflix the entire day.

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On this snow day, January 22, 2016, I decided to spend some time decorating my mantle for Valentine’s day. A cozy-day-in is the perfect motivation to clean, organize, and deck out your mantle for upcoming holidays.

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3.17.15 On this day, I was washing dishes, and I looked up outside and saw that my buttercups had bloomed. I ran outside, cut a few of them, and put them in a jar on my counter. The Lord makes all things new. Every Spring I’m reminded of that truth.

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With warmer weather came more opportunities to spend time on our porch. This porch was my favorite feature of Benson. Many talks with Jesus took place in this room, and many cups of coffee were consumed….

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Last May, I got to throw my life-long-friend Chelsea a bridal shower. She and I jokingly tell others that we were friends even before we were born. Our moms were in the same “La Maz” class back in 1987. She was born in September, and I was born in October. I love that sweet little detail about our friendship. It has been such a blessing to see Chelsea so happy. I’ve seen God be faithful through her, her love for Phillip, and his love for her.

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Us celebrating our mom’s on Mother’s day.

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Since my husband is a Summer baby and the most patriotic person I know, I decided for this year’s birthday I would throw him a Red, White, and Blue Birthday Barbeque. I invited all of our family, and it was a great time.

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My sister, niece, and nephew were in from Ohio the same weekend as Gregg’s party. It felt good to have her home, celebrating with us. I miss not having her here for family get togethers of any kind.

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Both of our last living grandparents came to the party, Gregg’s grandmother, Elma, and my Papaw, James. Gregg never got to meet my nana, she would have loved him. By having my papaw with us to celebrate, makes me feel like my nana was somewhat there too.

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One last picture from the party because I sure love this guy.

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Fall is my favorite season of all time. I love everything about it, and I loved decorating my porch last year for it.

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One of my favorite things to do is cook for people. On this particular night, I had 4 girls over from church. I had the privilege of making Maggie’s (to the left of me) first roast. I can’t remember how this conversation came up, but we were trying to figure out our menu for Bible study for this night, and Maggie mentioned she had never had Roast. I was totally shocked. So, I did as most all other Southern women would do, put my apron on and made this girl a roast. I feel so thankful that the Lord saw fit to make us friends, to walk this life together.

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We always figured that when we got Benson, we would fix it up, live in it for a while, and then resell it. When the opportunity came for us to put it on the market, we showed it to a couple at our church on a Tuesday, and they called with an offer the following Thursday. A lot of people think we’re crazy for selling our house with no new home on the horizon, but I had to completely trust the Lord, and I trusted my husband that we were making the right decision, while we don’t have kids, to find a little bit bigger home, with a bigger yard while we had the chance.

So on July 10th, we said goodbye to our house on Benson, filled with many sweet memories, and we moved in with Gregg’s gracious parents. To be honest, it took the entire first week we lived here to catch up on rest. We were exhausted to say the least. We have been so busy this summer with work, being out of town, weddings, VBS, packing, getting a house ready to be shown, and many things in between that I had honestly taken a break from creeping Zillow every single day and night.

Fast-forward a week……

It was a Thursday night, we had had VBS Sunday through Wednesday that week. So, on our first night in that week, we were watching TV with Mike and Jan (my in-laws). I was praising the Lord for a night with no where to go or be, the delicious spaghetti dinner my mother-in-love had made, and Gregg was scrolling Facebook when he came upon a picture that his high school friend, Hannah, had posted. The picture was of her grandmother holding a for sale sign, standing in her front yard. I saw the picture only from a distance, and knew that Gregg had to text Hannah and get more details. Sure enough, he did, and within 12 hours we were viewing her grandmother’s home.

It was a Friday morning, and the rain was coming down, we knocked on the door, and sweet Mrs. Ruth greeted us with a big smile. She told us several things before we began to look at it, but I remember the first thing that she told us, that this was the house that she and her husband raised their family in, and this was the only house she’d known for 53 years. Of course, I’m looking at the fireplace, and the kitchen cabinets, and Gregg is outside looking at the roof, and the building out in the backyard, it was when we got to the kitchen  (which is on the front of the house, a long time dream of mine) she looked at me and said, “I bet I could feed all of Warren county with the food that’s been on this table.” It was then that I knew. This is the kitchen I want to cook in for years to come. I had such peace. Peace only He can give. Long story short, Gregg and I made her an offer, and she excepted. Before leaving, we all stood in a circle and said a prayer. I’m still praying for Mrs. Ruth as she transitions into a new place, that’s better suited for her at this season in her life, and I’m so thankful that I work at the church she has been a member of for more than 60 years.

Isn’t it something how you find exactly what you’re looking for when you least expect it? While I’m excited to do a few fixer upper projects with this new home, cook in a kitchen that’s on the front of the house, my heart will always love our little bungalow on Benson. But even more than that, I am thankful that our “home” is not the actual house we live in, rather it’s the people that we get to do life with, our family, and closest friends. I look back on all the memories made in only a year and a half living at Benson, all the people that we ate with, celebrated with, and made memories with, and I can’t help but sing praises to the One who was the giver of it all.

Onto a new home, a new address, and a new season, with the same savior who thankfully never changes.

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What I’m Loving this Summer

I decided for fun I would blog about products, clothing, food, books, and accessories that I’m Loving Lately. So below you’ll find all the things I’m all about this Summer. What are you loving this Summer? What new things have you tried?

Clothing and Accessories:

LOFT Softened Denim Shirt: Back in June, my husband and I went to Charleston on vacation. On our way home, we passed the outlet mall and he knowing my deep love for all things LOFT, pulled in, dropped me off, gave me a budget, and off I went. I had so much fun in that 45 minutes. I looked, tried on, and I tried my best to be mindful of my budget, and my husband who was waiting for me in the car, who loathes shopping by the way. I bought 4 pieces of clothing. I have recently started simplifying my wardrobe because I usually only wear the same 10 pieces anyway. However my favorite purchase I made that day was a softened denim shirt. I’ve worn it at least 10 times since. It looks great paired with a skirt, or even on top of darker denim. Not to mention its incredibly soft, and washes well.

 

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Gray Shirt from Target: I’m a sucker for a gray shirt. I love gray, and I especially love how soft this shirt is. It’s the perfect shirt to be worn on jeans Friday at work, or with your favorite maxi skirt, or even with a pair of athletic shorts, the more I wash this shirt, the softer it gets. Last night when I was at Target they had these shirts 2 for $10. That’s a great deal! I may have to go buy 2 more. p.s. sorry for this car selfie.

 

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Sandals from Target: Back in May, I rode along with my husband to Lexington. He was there for business, I was there to hopefully shop while he was doing business. He dropped me off at Super Target and off I went. I ended up just purchasing a pair of sandals for $19.99, which I’ve worn every single day since. In fact, I’m just waiting on the other colors to go on clearance. Now I love a good Target sandal, but these have surpassed all my dreams. They are extremely comfortable, durable, and they match almost every piece of clothing I own.

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Ray Bans: I bought the cutest pair of Target sunglasses back in June, and the very next day they broke. My Summer loving heart was sad. Lately, I’ve been all about simplifying, getting rid of things I don’t wear, and buying more durable items. So I splurged and bought my first pair of polarized Ray Bans. I can proudly say to this day (well over 1 month later) these sunglasses are still intact, and I’m so happy I made this purchase. I will still be wearing these when I’m 90. (I promise, Gregg)

 

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Kentucky Necklace: I literally wear this necklace all the time. It goes perfectly with almost everything. I purchased this at a little store here in Bowling Green called Nest Uncommon Goods. They are always so sweet when I shop there. They have the most unique things  whether you need a little last minute birthday gift for someone or you’re just needing a little bracelet that says “Trust the Lord with all your heart” like I did on one of my many lunch break shopping trips at Nest Uncommon Goods. Seriously, check them out.

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Beauty Products:

Morrocan Oil Shampoo/conditioner/Oil: I got my hair done a couple of months ago, and my stylist put this oil in my hair after shampooing it, and I loved how it made my hair feel. She then gave me a couple of  samples of the shampoo and conditioner. Needless, to say I fell completely in love with it, and bought the shampoo, conditioner, and oil. Now these were not cheap, but soooo worth the money. When you have hair like me, you have to invest in products to calm it down a little. (ha) You can purchase these products on Amazon, or I found a local salon that actually carries the Moroccan Oil products. If you’re local, you can find these products at

Friendz Salon

2800 Scottsville Road

Suite 102

Bowling Green, KY

 

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OPI Nail Polish: Passion

My all-time favorite shade of OPI nail polish is Bubblebath, but this is a fun shade for Summer.

 

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Home Products:

Clorox Anywhere Hard Surface: When it comes to my kitchen counters I’m a Meyers spray kind of girl. I like all the seasonal sprays they offer, my favorite one so far is Peony. After I finished my last bottle of it, I decided to try something new. I picked up a bottle of Clorox Anywhere Hard Surface spray.  It’s a sanitizing spray that’s both powerful in the germ killing department, yet gentle. I have loved everything about this spray, and the next time I’m at Meijer I plan on picking up another bottle.

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Entertainment:

Mitford series: For years my mom and her two sisters have raved about The Mitford books by Jan Karon. So this Summer I decided to see what all the fuss was about. After just a few pages in I was ready to move to Mitford and be friends with Father Tim, Cynthia, and Emma. These books are light hearted, sweet, and hilarious. I usually read at the end of the day, and this series has been just what my at times weary heart needed…..The mountains of Mitford, and the biblical truths from Father Tim. These books have been a great escape for me, from what’s been happening in our country lately .

 

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I think this pretty much covers it. Oh! I can’t forget watermelon. I eat at least one watermelon a week, and I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it. Nothing says sweet summer time like a big bowl of chilled, cut up watermelon after a long day. Happy Summer day, sweet readers!

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Happy May. May is one of my favorite months out of the year. The days are longer, the flowers are in full bloom, and Saturdays at the pool are just around the corner. Life just gets a little sweeter in the summer time. It has been a relaxed Sunday around here church this morning, a nap on the sun porch, laundry, and making a huge pasta salad. I have this terrible habit of staying so busy, going non-stop, without any restful days in between, and I can usually tell that its time for a day of rest when I cry. I cry and I cry, and I couldn’t even tell you what I’m crying about. It’s a sight to see I’m sure. Bless my husband. But today was just what I needed, much like our sermon this morning at church. We’ve been going through the book of James, and I can’t tell you how refreshing its been for my spirit. Our pastor talked about how Christianity is desperately relying on Jesus. Relying on him on the way to our jobs in the morning, relying on him in our marriages, and every single area of our life. My busy, nonstop, days would look so much different without Him. I can sleep for hours and hours, but He is really the only one who can truly give me rest. He is the one who when I’m tired whispers you can do all things through me. Thankful to be able to lay my day at His feet before I even get to work every morning. Thankful that when I cry he holds every single tear, even the tired ones and thankful for naps and sermons that are refreshing week after week.

 

 

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