Breathing Room

I have a wonderful small group of women that I meet with on a weekly basis from my church.  Yes, we do Bible Studies.  But we also do deep conversations, laughter, rants, tears, and affirmations.  My Wednesday nights are what get me through the week.

Breathing Room - thoughts on Andy Stanley's study {Palmettos and Pigtails}

The study that we are currently doing is a video series by Andy Stanley, called “Breathing Room.”  We have discovered, as a group, that one of our biggest challenges and weaknesses is the lack of margin in our lives.  We ALL have a very hard time saying “No,” we are jamming as many activities, things and experiences into our lives as possible.  And for what?  Stress?  No sleep?  A messy house?    All for the sake of “keeping up” and “making the most of the time we have.”

In our attempts to make the most out of life, we lose control over what is important.  Our stress levels rise, our focus narrows…and so other areas suffer.  But it’s still so hard to give ourselves a little room to breathe.  A little less clutter.  We jam as much in because we have a fear of missing out on something, of falling behind, of not leaving a tiny imprint in our world.

Sad, but true.  I am a prime example.  I am a blogger.  A blogger that usually has a lot of photos in my posts.  I have three kids, whom I love more than anything….and I love to give them experiences and memories.  And, I love to document those experiences.  And although I don’t usually plan our family activities around the blog, I am always aware of opportunities to share about them on my blog.  So I really have to reel myself in from taking a million and three photos from every angle, and I have to consciously live in the moment…reminding myself to just enjoy the experience with my kids…not to worry so much about what I’ll write about, and if the lighting is good for photos.  Margin needed.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalms 90:12

The Breathing Room study is teaching us to cherish each moment.  One of the examples that Andy gave in the video, was to think about the little tiny blip of time that is our lifespan…when compared to God’s timeline.  Think about how fast our lives go and how quickly our children grow up, and then think about how fast it must seem to God.  Imagining the finite spanse of my lifetime makes me re-focus on what is really important.  The whole concept kind of blows my mind.

Remembering that our time is limited provides us with the wisdom to know how to spend our limited time
-Andy Stanley

Another pivotal moment in the video was the story of a woman who worked in Hospice, and asked people at the end of their lives what their greatest regrets were.  And the top two answers were, “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard” and “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to me, not what others expected of me.”

That second regret really hit home.  Initially, I’d say I don’t really worry what others think of me too much.  I’ve pretty much accepted the way I look, dress and act.  But then, digging deeper, I thought about my life in relation to how I portray it on my blog.  As much as I try to keep it real on here for you, there are certain pressures that I struggle to ignore.  I mean, I love Pinterest as much as the next gal, but  I have to admit that it does often make me feel a bit inferior to all of those crafty pinners.  The expectations for a blogger are high…in order to get paid, we are expected to have quality posts about stuff our readers care about…several times a week, with excellent photos, original ideas, and clean houses to stage everything in.  And thanks to Pinterest and Photoshop, that’s what a lot of you think our reality is.  I mean, who am I really trying to impress?

Family? Close friends?

Y’all know me better than that…you know that any clean surface of my home that is in a photo, really just has stuff shoved to the side {out of frame, of course}, that will resume it’s place as soon as the flash goes off.

Strangers who don’t know me personally?

Let’s be honest, most of them don’t care.  In fact…they probably aren’t even reading this because they didn’t find this post on Facebook or Pinterest.  There aren’t any pretty pictures.  And they don’t really care about getting to know the real me anyway.  They just want to know what my next project is.  So why do I feel so pressured to make them like me?  Golly….it’s like high school all over again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love that there are more of you than ever reading my thoughts on a weekly basis.  But I hope you want to know me.  And connect with the real me.

Palmettos and Pigtails Signature

{From the Archives} Montreat 2012 Trip

It’s that time of year again!  After taking a year off {to have a baby!}, Bets and Jay are off to the mountains of Montreat, NC again!  And, call me crazy…but I’m taking all three kids up to meet them…by myself.  So say a prayer, cross some fingers, and wish me luck!  I’ll be back next week!

Well, we are finally back from Montreat, NC and slowly getting back into the swing of things.  It’s amazing how even four days away can mess with your household!  Unlike last year, it was a beautiful week in the mountains….not too hot and no rain!  We shared my last post with the scrapbook photos with the high schoolers that Bets and Jay brought this year, and they loved it!  They were completely amazed at how I used a disposable camera (no retaking those blurry shots!), and at how cool the three of us were back then! =)

So, to recap…Bets and Jay are our best friends from Maryland.  They are our kids’ godparents, and their little Lulabelle is like our third daughter.  Betsy, Jay and I grew up together in our church, which they are still members of, and now the youth counselors at.  So they are continuing our church’s tradition of taking the youth group to Montreat each summer.  And since Montreat is just a couple of hours from us, the girls and I try to meet up with them for a couple of days while they are up there.  While the youth group stays in the lovely dorms at the college, the girls and I prefer the local Marriott!

And although Jayna did sleep in her own bed at night, this is what I awoke to each morning!

And since this trip was a first for Millie….I decided to bring and break in my brand new stroller.  Can I just say that it is awesome!  It has like 12 different sitting combinations, but the one we used was Millie in the front seat, Lulabelle sitting on the jump seat, and Jayna standing.

And Betsy pushing. Did I mention we were in the mountains?

We finally gave up on pushing all three girls, and put Millie in the front pack and made the big girls walk!

Jayna and Lulabelle were so stinkin’ cute together.  Jayna was all about playing the cool big sister….and although she is great with Amelia, I think she truely enjoyed manipulating helping Lulabelle…from buckling seatbelts for her, to convincing her that she liked pickles, to teaching her how to hula hoop!

And every year, the scenery just takes my breath away.  Lake Susan is like glass, framed by a baby blue sky and mountains.

Jay and some of the boys noticed huge fish sitting on some of the rocks at the bottom of the lake….tadpoles?  Man, they are gonna be some HUGE frogs!

But even the small details had me appreciating the scenery.  All of the buildings are stone, and they have gorgeous hydrangias around every corner.

I even caught this little inchworm hanging {literally} by a thread!

While the big kids were in small groups, we took the opportunity to spend some time with Betsy and Jay.  There is this cute little park at Montreat that has great playground equipment, and then several creeks running through for the kids to play in.

And although they tried hard not to get wet…both girls ended up soaking wet and laughing!

It’s a good thing Jay was willing to get wet too…that mountain water was COLD!

Now we just need to get Dave up here!!

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A Blessing in Every Room

We stopped by the house today to check on the progress.  Supposedly AC and plumbing are in, and we are meeting with the builder on Thursday to do our Pre-Drywall walk-thru before they put in electricity and wall everything up.  When we were in Georgia in May, our Aunt Robin showed us the fabulous thing they did when they were building their house…..and we decided to copy it!  Imitation is the highest form of flattery right?! =)

I went on Amazon and found this book:

And, since we had seen this book originally at Robin and Bill’s house, we knew it would be the perfect place to start recording our own memories in the new house!  In addition to little write-in areas, the book also has some appropriate Bible verses for each room listed.  So we piggy-backed off of Robin and Bill again and went over to the house today to write some of the verses from the book, and some of our favorites from the Bible, on the foundation and studs in each of our rooms.  Check it out:

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

Sorry for the sloppy handwriting…..in the garage.

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

For the third story: Dave’s Mancave and Office

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

Jayna’s closet…Her “song” right now is “Be Careful Little Eyes What You See”

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

Jayna’s doorway

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

The loft

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

Amelia’s Room

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

Guest Bathroom

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

Master Bedroom Closet

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

Master Bedroom: Where our bed will be

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

Breakfast Nook

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

Kitchen: Where stove will be

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

Living Room

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

Living Room/Kitchen Area Columns

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

Dining Room

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

Playroom

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

Guest Room (FROG)

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

Outside the Front Door

Sorry for the kind of boring pictures, but I wanted to share our little secret blessings we’ve added to our house.  Because as of next week, walls will be up!  Thanks for bearing with me!

Bible Verses for each room of a new house....written on studs - PalmettosandPigtails.com

Palmettos and Pigtails

Tips for Going to the Mountains in Your 9th Month of Pregnancy.

#1  Maybe, don’t go. =)  Believing I am Superwoman, I decided kind of last-minute (aka last Thursday) to drive (on Friday morning) to the mountains of Asheville, NC to a little slice of heaven many of us call Montreat.  On second thought, maybe I am just Crazy.  It takes 4+ hours (depending on how many bathroom breaks you your two-year old needs) to get there.  Half of which is up and down crazy hairpin turns through the mountains.  Throw in a few logging trucks going 10 miles per hour.  In the rain.

#2 Oh wait!  DO go!  Because it is a wonderful place and your wonderful friends (Bets and Jay) are there leading their youth group!  Let me back up a little and give you some background.  Oh boy, I wish my old, fun pictures weren’t in storage and I could use them to reference to for this! (If you are reading this and have some old fun pictures from the good old Montreat times, please email me with them and I’ll add them in!)   A long, long time ago (think mid 90’s)… the church I grew up in would take a group of us high schoolers to Montreat for a week for their annual Presbyterian Youth Conference.  Thousands of high schoolers would gather in the mountains of NC to worship, bond, play and eat ice cream.  It was fabulous!  Truly some of my favorite growing-up memories!!  And because I don’t have any pictures of hallway human pyramids, ice-cream cone unicorn horns, boys wearing make-up, or piles of stolen undies….let me see if I can set a classier scene for you…

#3 Bring a stroller to push your 35 lb kid in…..I don’t recommend trying to carry her up the vertical hills.  Especially if she falls asleep and should be considered “dead weight.”

#4 When you get tired of carrying that sack of potatoes around….make sure you have a couple of teenagers at the ready to entertain your two-year old!

#5 You are nine months pregnant…..enjoy as much ice cream as you can without any guilt!!

#6 If Bets won’t share her ice cream with you, yell at her!

#7 Sit down and put your feet up while enjoying thousands of youth singing and dancing to energizers, and then try to stay awake and focused for the sermon (don’t worry, you have an excuse….you are growing a life inside you, and you woke up at 4am to get here!!).

#8 Be so thankful for your safe trip to the mountains as you bask in the glow of the waterfront candlelight service.  Treasure the memories you have of this place, and pray that all of the youth that are here are equally touched by God as you have been.  Pray for their safe travels home and for each of their journeys in their faith.

 (Thanks to the Montreat website for this last one…my nighttime pictures couldn’t have done this moment justice)

Lord prepare me

To be a sanctuary

Pure and holy

Tried and true

With thanksgiving

I’ll be a living

Sanctuary….for You.

 

Mama-aahhhh Day, Linky Party, and Little Angels

I was soooo happy to have a day for myself today!  I finally was able to use my gift card to the spa to get a much-needed haircut…and then an impromptu facial later in the day.  Also went Targeting and Dollar-Storing for some projects for Buggy to do in the car (hoping to get some pics up of the final products tomorrow or Friday), on the way to TN on Saturday.  Don’t ask why I am starting projects, packing boxes, sewing bags, attempting to finish outfits, cooking, etc. all THIS week for once, when we are leaving at the crack of dawn on Saturday for vacation!

Anyhooo….I needed A DAY.  So I took one! =)  And it was wonderful!  Thanks to Buggy and Davey-poo for supplying my Mama-ahh Day!  Much appreciated!

In other news, I joined a linky party with my pants tutorial this week….check it out (click on the below picture and then on any of the pictures on that site to see everyone’s projects!).  Enjoy!

NightOwlCrafting

Also, I”ve been saving this precious little clip for a day that I didn’t have much to say.  These little angels are JaynaBug and her cousin Madison, who we recently saw in Georgia.  They were swinging and singing Jesus Loves Me before the sillies took over!  I love that they have His Joy down in their Hearts!!

Into the Holy Water

How appropriate that some dear friends of ours got to celebrate Christ’s sacrifice and promise to us, by having their firstborn baptized on Easter!  To me, there is nothing more promising than being reminded of God’s eternal love for us on Easter, being surrounded by friends and family, and seeing an innocent child being welcomed into the church family.  Even more, Dave and I are so honored to have been asked by Betsy and Jay to stand up during the Baptism to represent their wonderful (and humongous!) family. 

 Unfortunately, Dave had to work and was unable to make the trip up to MD with us, but Jayna was able to stand in his place, and even had the all-important job of being the official “Baby Head Wiper.” 

She was thrilled, and even over-achieved at her job by wiping down the floors too! 

Which was totally needed, considering Lucy decided to take matters into her own hands!

We are so happy for you Lucy-you have so many people who love you! Congratulations Betsy and Jay, and we look forward to sharing with you the awesome responsibility of raising a child in Christ!

                       

See you April 23rd!

Hey y’all,

    In case you flaked out on me (*smile) during my long post yesterday, and didn’t read to the end….I’m giving up blogging for Lent.  Time for me to concentrate on my relationship with God and reprioritize my life a little.  And also travel!  Buggy and I will be making a spring trip up to MD to visit friends and family for Easter.  So it actually works out perfectly, as I won’t have much computer time while I’m there, but hopefully will have lots of pictures and stories of our travels for when I get back.  In the meantime, if you have become a blog junkie like me, here are some of my favorites, that I sadly will be tuning out for the next six weeks as well.  Will you follow them for me?

Emily Shares

Fly Through Our Window

life in grace


NightOwlCrafting

Design Dazzle

Enjoy my blogging “friends” and I’ll see you April 23rd!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

                                                                                                                              -Romans 15:13

                                                  

Enter, the Holy Spirit

Y’all, I need to have (what we call down here), a “Come to Jesus” talk with myself.  Literally.  Lately I have been feeling a void in my life.  Sure, we’ve had the stresses of new houses, selling old houses, being pregnant, job stress, raising two-year olds, and the same-ole same-ole junk we all deal with everyday.  And yes, I cope.  I have many blessings… including a wonderful house to live in, a talented hubby who has a job and makes enough money to purchase a slightly bigger house, a healthy pregnancy and a healthy two-year old.  Amongst many, many other blessings.  But I still feel like something is missing.

We go to church  Sunday School every Sunday.  Where we just finished the book of Genesis and just started the book of Revelation.  Lots of information and lots of history.  Very important to know that stuff…after all, its our roots, right?  But where is my personal relationship with God? Well, lately, it’s been summarized in “Thank you for this food” at meals, and “God Blesses” at nighttime.  Jayna’s nighttime that is.  And yet, I am the one that is supposed to be showing her how to have a relationship with our Father?  Not only am I not feeling the passion lately, but I’m certainly not feeling like an adequate mentor to her.

So, I decided I needed to be proactive and seek Him out and beg, plead, ask Him very nicely to help me open my heart to Him again.  I know He has just been waiting for me to come back to Him, so here I am!  I turned to my blogging friend Edie, who is one of the most faithful Christians I “know” and asked her (and some of her fellow bloggers) for suggestions or books to read.  They gave me some great suggestions, including “Forgotten God” and “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan, “Misplacing God and Finding Him Again” by JoAnn Heim and “Ten Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp.  Not to mention, “Spirituality of the Cross” by Gene Edward Veith and the books of John and Colossians in The Bible itself.  I was so thankful for the caring suggestions from these friends, and I went straight to Amazon to read descriptions and reviews of them all.  And the first text I read about Francis Chan’s “Forgotten God” was this:

“Have you ever felt like you’re missing something?  Like you’re getting by, but your life lacks something crucial, something extraordinary?”

Bingo!  Look no further, this is exactly how I was feeling (and yes, I did research the other books as well, and have decided they look equally intriguing, and I will read them next!).  And if that wasn’t proof of God calling me back enough, I found out on Sunday that my friends (who are all in a waaaaaaay too early Bible Study on Thursday mornings) just started this same study and were loving  it so far!  And a group of friends is just who I need to keep me on track in actually following through on the study.  So, unbeknownst to them, I’ll be crashing their study starting at (EEP!) 6:30am this coming Thursday!

Since they are on chapter three this week, I had some catching up to do.  So I did Chapter One today: I’ve Got Jesus. Why Do I Need the Spirit?

Here’s what I learned and some thoughts from today:

  • Yes, there are the people of extremes: those who talk TOO much about the Holy Spirit, but never walk the walk (so to speak), and those who are FULL of the Holy Spirit, but rarely talk about it.  Some may think that you  need to find a healthy balance between the two (that’s what I thought), but there is no such thing as TOO MUCH God in your life.  In fact, He shouldn’t be grouped with grocery shopping, playing with kids, pick-ups from school, and other worldly things that we have to find balance within.  He should be there through all of those things!
  • Churches nowadays seem to be more focused on either the “show” or the “word.”  In other words, people flock to these churches for the contemporary music, lively sermon or other creative displays…..or, because the sermons preach right from The Bible.  Which, there is nothing wrong with, obviously, but the problem with these churches is that they are lacking in Spirit.  People tend to forget what they heard as soon as they get in the car and think about where they are going for lunch.  Either way there needs to be more emphasis on how to live in the Holy Spirit….apply those Biblical truths to our daily lives.
  • Beware of those who claim to be mature Christians, but outside of church do not live like Jesus.  James 3:9 says “With the tongue we please our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.”  In other words…those who quote scripture left and right and claim to be Christians, yet give us all a bad name by judging others (and therefore showing contempt for God, since He was the one who created us ALL!), and not showing the likeness of Jesus in their daily lives.

Unfortunately, I know several folks who fit into that last bullet-point, and it makes me sad now that I have read the Word in regards to the issue…how I wish those people would read it too!

Anyway, sorry for the long post, but it’s been something that’s been weighing on my heart lately.  So I’ll continue to read the book this week and I’m really looking forward to furthering my relationship with God, and (starting at 6:30am on Thursday) my relationship with some awesome Godly women!

I also wanted to let you know that I’ve decided, in light of my current journey, that I need a little extra time to spend with myself and God, so I’ve decided to take a break from the blog for Lent.  I usually blog during the kids’ naptime….and then proceed to get lost in the wild world of blogging (crafty ones really get me, now that I’m learning to sew!).  So, during Lent, I’m going to forgo all of my blog perusing and writing and spend some time on my Bible Study.  That will start on Wednesday, so I’ll try to check in really quick tomorrow…in case I’ve lost people in this rambling post of mine!

See you tomorrow!

                                

A Prayer From the Past

Oh the Lord is good to me,

And so I thank the Lord,

For giving me

The things I need

Some food, a home,*

And my family*

The Lord is SO good to me!

Amen.

*Words adapted from The Johnny Appleseed Prayer in order to reflect my current appreciation.

                                                                                   

Yes, I DO still believe…

In Santa Claus that is.  My girlfriends from church and I got together the other night and were discussing how to bridge the gap between Santa and the real Christmas story.  I’m not sure if we ever did come to a conclusion about how to bring both types of Christmas spirit into our children’s lives, but we did have some hilarious discussions about our childhood adventures with Santa Claus, Christmas traditions, and some fun facts about the Nativity Story (Did you know that there is no mention of an actual Innkeeper in the Bible?…..thanks Jenn!).

Luke 2:7 NIV

and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Anyway, our discussion got me thinking about Christmas traditions.  Ones I had as a child, and ones I’d like my family to participate in.  Here are a few examples:
  • Going to a Christmas Eve Morning party, where we participated in fun crafts (ornament making, gingerbread houses, etc.), stuffed ourselves with a gourmet buffet and gave our last minute wishes to Santa (who arrived just in time to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas).  I won’t mention how old I was when I fianlly realized that (duh!) Santa would be waaaay too busy on Christmas Eve morning to hang with a bunch of rambunctious and unruly excited kids, and therefore he sent one of his helpers.  And I won’t mention how many more years it took me to realize that this particular helper had been my dad all those years!!
  • Christmas Eve worship service and driving around the neighborhoods looking at lights afterward.
  • Making an assortment of cookies with my mom (mmmmm……swedish heirloom cookies!) to munch on.
  • My dad/Popop reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas before we went to bed on Christmas Eve.
  • Staying up late with my Aunt Sis, hoping to catch a glimpse…..

And some new ones we’d like to start

  • Collecting an ornament for every family vacation we go on
  • Decorating for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving…..(and hopefully from now on, going camping that weekend!) from
  • Making ornaments with Jayna as gifts
  • Adopting a family from Camp Happy Days and picking out gifts for them as a family

I would LOVE to hear some of your traditions, or even ones you’ve heard about…..we are always looking for new things to try!  Leave me some ideas!

And I leave you with a taste of our “Breakfast with Santa” experience this year!