Thursday, July 31, 2014

All In All

A couple weeks ago, my friend Chloe e-mailed me about doing a custom order for her, & I loved her vision for it.  She wanted a print for her kitchen with the words "child of weakness, watch & pray // find in Me thine all in all," from "Jesus Paid It All."

Custom orders are usually some of my favorites, but especially this one.  a) I love that song, & b) Chloe is one of my dearest friends from eight (wow, that long?) summers ago when we did children's ministry in San Antonio.

Here's a little flashback for your viewing pleasure.

So, this is her order in process.  Now is done, shipped, complete, the end.

Then today, she posted this photo on Instagram of the print in her house.  Next to the Willow Tree Angel of the mom & dad with a baby.  I was in my car by myself right after I'd seen this picture & just started thinking about that image.

A newborn baby is completely dependent on her parents.  She doesn't know any other way of life.  She relies on them for nourishment, love, care, comfort...literally everything.  But what about grown ups?  No matter what age I get to, I will still need my parents.  I don't need them for food, shelter, or clothing.  But I need the relationships that I have with them, & always will.

I've never really thought before about how amazing it is that God is both of those.  He is a parent to us as if we were still newborns.  We can fully depend on Him for our every need.  And He wants us to!  But He's not just that.  He's also the Father seeking relationship.  He longs to know His children, & to be known by them.  He wants us to delight in His presence, to enjoy spending time with Him, & to talk to Him because we want to, not just because we need to.  He fills every need we have, & is the only one that can be all.  What a beautiful picture.

Friday, July 25, 2014


One year ago we packed up & left on our cross-country move to California!  I was dreading that drive, but it was actually pretty fun!  By the time we got in the car, there was nothing else to worry about.  Everything was going to be packed by movers.  We had an apartment lined up.  After months of planning & a very stressful last week in Georgia, we finally just had to get in the car & drive.  

I really can't believe it's been a whole year of adventures already.  It feels like it's just been a few months really.

California Observations:
  • Central AC is not just something everyone has like in Georgia, land of humidity.
  • Grits are a luxury that California has yet to embrace.  I've only found one store that carries them & a box is about $5!
  • I always loved rain.  But when it rains here, I am borderline giddy because I can count the number of times that has happened this year on one hand.
  • Most fruits & veggies are in season pretty much year-round!
  • Unfortunately, it's pretty typical to get behind someone on the highway who is going at least 10 under the speed limit.  
  • Chick-fil-A, also a luxury.  We are lucky to live in the area where there actually are 3.  There are a couple in southern California, but other than that, I think they're just in the Bay Area.  However, not 1 of those 3 is anywhere convenient.  We only go to that area if we're going to Chick.  I'd like to be consulted before the next one is built.
  • Good reusable bags are always appreciated, because you pay for bags at any store here.  I get compliments on my big monogrammed chevron one almost every time I shop!
  • Laundry rooms, also a luxury.  When we were apartment shopping before we moved, I think we found ONE complex with a washer/dryer in unit.  So at the old apartment we had a shared laundry facility that was 68 steps from my door.  Yes, I counted.  Lugging heavy baskets of laundry up & down stairs & down the sidewalk was not my favorite.  At the new townhouse we also have a shared room, but it's close & only shared between a few people, so it's not bad.
  • You can pretty much wear all your favorite clothes year-round.  It's always cool in the morning & at night, but warm during the day.  Seasonal wardrobes are no more!  (However, this also means a lot more clothes to wash in aforementioned shared laundry room.)
  • People love Costco.  I mean, really love it.  Every time we go it's like a circus.  Parking spaces are hard to come by & I feel like I enter panic mode just walking through the doors.  We weren't thinking & went on July 3rd...big mistake.  I thought I was going to die.
  • Almost every restaurant has outdoor seating (complete with heaters & sometimes blankets!) because the weather is so nice year-round.
  • People bring their animals everywhere.  To the point where most downtown stores have water bowls for them out on the sidewalk.  I love my cat.  But I can certainly go to the grocery store without her.  I even saw a woman with her parrot at Target once.  #separationanxiety?
  • People say In-N-Out is the Chick-fil-A of the west coast.  I would not go quite that far, but it is really good...definitely not typical fast food.  The first time we went, our conclusion was this: "it's really good, but I wouldn't crave it or anything."  That has proved to be false.  Sometimes I just want an In-N-Out burger & fries.
  • Silicon Valley is first in free trials of services.  We love Google Shopping!

  • Blueline Pizza - Campbell, CA | Hands down, best pizza I've ever had.  Get the deep dish & put honey on the crust when you get there.
  • Sushi Confidential - Campbell, CA | This made me a believer in sushi.
  • Boudin SF | Sort of like a Panera or Atlanta Bread Company.  I love their butternut squash soup in a bread bowl.
  • Peet's Coffee | I was skeptical at first, but now I love their iced vanilla latte or iced coconut latte.
  • Penny Ice Creamery - Santa Cruz, CA | Best ice cream ever.  My favorites: brown butter spiced pecan, strawberry pink peppercorn, peaches & cream.
  • Big Basin Cafe - Saratoga, CA | Great homemade pies!  My favorite is strawberry rhubarb.
  • Vella Creamery - Sonoma, CA | They let you try any cheese you want & what you buy really isn't any more than you'd pay at the grocery store.  Our favorite is the dry jack.
  • Noah's Bagels | Best breakfast bagel sandwiches!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Always Different, Never Changing

I can vividly remember driving down the road when we first moved to California & wondering if I would ever get used to seeing the mountains all around us.  And I remember thinking then that I hoped I wouldn't.

A year later, I'm not.  I am still in awe of the fact that I can drive down the road just to go do normal errands, & I see mountains on every side.

Last week Grayson's dad apologized to us that we are tour guides for all our family that comes out here.  That we see the same things over & over.  But we can't get enough.  I can't spend too many hours on the Pacific Coast Highway, or walking through the redwoods.  If I get to a point where I've had enough, then something is wrong.

We just had to pull off the road driving home one night last week.

How can you grow tired of that?  Even the views from the same places over & over look different each time.  I tell Grayson all the time that one of my favorite things about living here is how the mountains change colors.  They look different in the morning than in the evening, in the fog or the sunshine, in the winter or in the summer.  The mountains don't change, but when the conditions around them do, we view them differently.

This is how I feel about Jesus.  The Gospel doesn't change.  It's been the same, & will remain the same, for all eternity.  But even though it's the same every time, it never grows old because we view it differently at every age, in every season of life.  I want the Gospel to be like the mountains.  I don't want to get over it.  I don't want to get too used to it.  I want to always appreciate how it looks in every season of my life.  I want to be aware that it is new each day.  I want to be awe of it every day.

The Gospel, the Gospel
She's good & She's true
She costs quite a fortune
to make all things new.
So breathe in with faith,
& out with His peace.
May the Gospel of Jesus
wash over me.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Weekend Update

1. THIS sky on the way home from the grocery store the other night.  It's seriously rained maybe 5 times in the last year.  And most of those you couldn't even consider a rain, but more of a sprinkle.  We got about a 3-drop sprinkle Saturday night & then still got this beautiful rainbow!

2. I can get tired of cooking every night, but when our stuff has all been scattered between 2 places without the ability to cook, I started missing it.  So Saturday we finally moved over enough cookware to feel like we could make dinner.  Grayson made this great pasta that we love for dinner & I made blackberry cobbler for dessert.

3. I've had this idea in my mind for months now & we finally have a patio with a table & chairs & I just need these to be out there.  I haven't bought any yet, but I'm on the search for the best succulents.

4. Seeley is loving the new house.  She races up the stairs like she's on a mission, & then strolls down them.  She lays completely flat on the cold tile or hardwood floors.  And she likes to peek through the stairs when she thinks we can't see her.

Now off to pack more from the old apartment.  These little trips with just a carload are nice...but I'm ready to have all my stuff in one place.  I feel like we're just living in a mess & that stresses me out.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Community Brew | Marriage

I've discovered so many great new blogs lately, & their link-ups not only help when I'm in a blogging rut, but they're also just really good topics. I love seeing the online community that's created through blogging & social media.

That being said, I'm joining in on Community Brew with Rachel & Madison.

community brew link up

This month's topic is marriage.  One of my favorite topics.

Grayson's dad & stepmom visited with us for a few days last week.  Since we've always lived in a different state, & now on the other side of the country, this is only the second time we've gotten to see them since we got married a little over a year & a half ago, so we ended up talking several times about our marriage, & how that first year & a half has been.

[Side note: Grayson looks a lot like his dad anyway, but this picture...just alike.]

So we were talking at dinner one night about what had been the hardest/easiest things about being married.  I've said before, marriage has been a lot easier than I expected.  And it always scares me a little to even utter those words.  There are definitely hard days, & bad days, & fights, & arguments over nothing...but those are pretty rare.  For the most part, we just have fun together.

Looking back, I think one of the main things that has helped us grow as husband & wife is learning how to show a mutual respect for one another.  I don't quite know how this started, but every.single.night, Grayson tells me thank you for making dinner.  Honestly, I think he started that & I liked that he recognized something that I did, so I tried to do the same!

I try to always tell him thank you when we go out to dinner.  He tells me thank you for doing the laundry, making the bed, cleaning the house, etc.  I tell him thank you when he fixes something I've broken, cleans up the kitchen after dinner, vacuums the house, or brings me coffee.  Sometimes to the point that it seems a little ridiculous.   

But just that simple gesture, that literally takes no effort, can be a game changer.  I could be bitter about any little task, & then he says "thank you for dinner" & I don't even mind anymore.  We should be servants whether it is noticed or not, but it does make it easier when you feel appreciated.

When Grayson thanks me for dinner, it's not just for cooking a meal.  It's for planning a menu that I think he will like, going to the grocery store, making dinner, cleaning up the kitchen after that (though many nights I fall asleep & he does that!).  It's just an attitude of thankfulness that makes so much of a difference.  So I plan to continue to wear out the words "thank you," because I never want him to go a day when he doesn't feel loved, respected, & appreciated.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What's In My Bag?

I can't resist a good link-up.  Especially if it involves a list.  Joining in on this fun one with In Its Time & Rivers and Roads: What's in My Bag?

This is tame & freshly cleaned-out.  Normally there would be at least 2 or 3 bottles of nail polish, a cardigan, several more pens, a notebook or 2, & probably a travel mug that got left in there from the coffee I took to work any given morning.  Plus last week, a tape measure (for trying to decide where to put all our furniture in the new house), an extra shirt or pair of shoes (because California weather can be totally different in the morning/night than in the middle of the day & we were driving up & down the coast), an array of chargers (phone, camera, kindle), & all the trash my husband doesn't have anything to do with & feels a need to store there.

1. My favorite Fossil purse.  I love Fossil, & this is usually my go-to because I love the colors & it's the perfect size to fit everything I want.

2. Fossil Wallet.  Because apparently, things are not free.

3. Kindle.  Because you never know when you might have a few extra minutes to read!

4. iPhone.  Because I feel a little lost without it.  Sometimes literally.

5. Sunglasses.  Because California is a) almost always sunny, & b) does not have tree-lined highways like Georgia, so the sun is always in my eyes.

6. Keys.  The best thing about moving is that I can have all my keys on one keychain & not have to have separate ones for the gate & laundry.  This seems dumb but I feel like my life is simplified already!

7. Chapstick & lip gloss.  My favorite Stila lipsticks.

8. Gum.  I don't think this really needs an explanation.

9. Post-its & pens.  I'm a ideas, menu for the week, grocery list, etc.  I do more list-making than checking off...

10. An impressive collection of rubber bands & bobby pins.  Don't know why I think I'd ever need this many at once but, you really can't be too prepared.

In Its Time

P.S. Did I mention we moved?!?!  We weren't really expecting to be moved already, but thanks to in-laws who offered to help until Grayson couldn't say no anymore, all our big stuff is here & we've spent 2 nights in the new house.  Everything else is still scattered but...we're getting there!  Little home tour coming as soon as it's all done!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Some Current Favorites

one. This, on repeat.

two. Signing a lease on a little townhouse we love! (Please excuse the terribly grainy picture.  CamMe is a great self timer app, but not such a great quality from the real camera soon!)

three. Raspberry coffee creamer.  We go through phases with creamer & were kind of in a rut, not loving anything we had.  Recently we started making our own with half & half & flavored syrup, & it's so much better!  We found that Torani makes tons of flavors of sugar-free syrup!  So far we've tried coconut, white chocolate, salted caramel, & raspberry, but the raspberry is my favorite.  And it gives your coffee a fun pink tint :)

four. Learning some fun new watercolor techniques.  (New prints coming to the shop later this week as soon as I can get them all printed, photographed, & listed!)

five. Grayson's mom has been going through lots of old pictures, so I get a few texts a day with little prizes like this.  (Also, the shirt in the picture on the left, he got rid of two weeks ago.  Yep.  You can't even imagine how much more closet space we have after that purging.)

six. Freefall to Fly.  Rachel gifted this book to me on my kindle as a shop opening surprise & I'm just now getting to read it, but loving it.  A more extensive reading post coming later this summer.

seven. This picture.  Seeley is an eraser thief.  When mine go missing, I know about three hiding places to check, & never fail to find at least one or two.  I was trying to take her picture the other night with her stash & she yawned right as I was taking it & then I just couldn't stop laughing at it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Behind the Design | Dwell

I'm starting a new series today called Behind the Design.  So many prints that go up in our shop grow in my heart before they ever make it to paper.  I keep a list in my phone of things I want to paint, & sometimes I have to let the ideas soak in for awhile before I know how to adequately put them on paper.  Most have a story behind them.  So this is the place where I want to share some of those stories.

This was one of the very first prints I added to the shop.


It's just one word, but with so much meaning.  Learning to dwell is one of the biggest lessons I've had to learn.  It really started after college.  I moved back home & it took me a long time to find a job.  And even then, it wasn't the job I wanted.  It was just a job.  Looking back now, it was never just a job; it was the job that moved me to Woodstock, got me involved in a church I loved, & brought me right to my husband.  But that's another story.

In those months without a job, I got very discouraged.  I felt like I'd worked hard & had this college degree, & it still didn't matter.  My mom told me one day that I had to stop living "in the meantime."  I was waiting for my life to start.  I was waiting for a job.  Waiting to feel like a grown up.  Waiting to have a purpose.

We all go through phases like that.  We're not where we want to be, but we don't quite know how to get there.

So dwell comes from Psalm 37:3.  Trust in the Lord & do good; dwell in the land & enjoy safe pasture.

No matter what phase we're currently in, God wants us to dwell there.  Plant ourselves there.  Make roots there.  It doesn't matter how long you'll be in that place.  Kind of like Jim Elliot's words "wherever you are, be all there."  At this point in my life, I didn't want to settle because I was afraid of getting too settled.  But we can't live that way.  We need to immerse ourselves in whatever land God has put us in for however long we're there.

So I got involved in our little church.  I led a high school girls' small group.  I started my first Etsy shop.  I learned to dwell.  And I was so much happier that way.  And not long after that is when I got a job & moved & had to learn to dwell in a whole new place.

I'm glad I learned that lesson then, because without it, I wonder how I would be living across the country from everyone I love.  I'm not afraid to dwell in California even though I eventually want to move back to Georgia.  I'm not afraid to put down roots here.  I'm not afraid to have a community here & friends here & be all here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Carters Come to Cali

My parents got to come see us last October, which was great, but they only got to stay for a few days.  With my mom out of school for the summer, this time they got to stay for ten days!

They got here last Thursday night & we left Friday to spend the weekend at Yosemite.  Grayson & I had been wanting to go back every since we went last fall.  I got a new camera lens for my birthday in January & that made me want to go back even more.  And my parents hadn't been & wanted to go, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity!

Five minutes in Yosemite & you feel so small.  In a good way.

I should also mention that ever since a Reader's Digest article about 10 years ago that left my mom scarred, she has been terrified of bears.  An unnatural fear since most of the time she would only ever even see a bear at the zoo.  And I had told her about how when we went, I looked for bears the whole time & didn't see a single one.

And then when we'd been in the park for less than an hour, we run into this guy.

Thanks, bear.  Great start to this trip.  You just had to go for that snack that some not-so-bright campers left for you.

Our initial reactions were funny to me though.

me: With shaky hands I changed to my zoom lens & started taking his picture, of course.

Grayson: Ran back to the car to store the pop tarts he was eating.  Because the real catastrophe would be if the bear got his beloved pop tarts.

Mama: Ran back to the car & got irritated with Grayson for not unlocking it fast enough.

Daddy: Walk closer to the bear.  The apparently hungry bear.  Good idea.

Thankfully there were no more bear encounters after that.  A few almost-encounters when we came to an area that a bear had just left, but we didn't ever see any more.  I asked my mom if she felt like now she'd conquered her fear & was a better person.  Her answer: NO.

My brother got my dad some binoculars for Father's Day, & they were definitely put to good use all weekend.

Squirrel with a view :)  While we're on the topic of squirrels, I should say that it was a squirrel that alerted us of the bear.

Last time, we didn't get to go see the giant sequoias so it was great to get to go to that part of the park this time.

Snow in June!

After we got back from Yosemite, the week was pretty relaxed.  A day in Santa Cruz, a short trip to San Francisco (basically couldn't see anything because of the fog), a lot of trips to the pool & hot tub, a few games, & losing at putt-putt, as always.

Great visit with my family!  Grayson's dad & stepmom come in a week or so & then his mom & stepdad in September.  Then we'll be making the trip home for Christmas this year!

Now we've just got to get these people out here so I can meet Everly before she's grown!  She's 2 months old...about time she sees some of the world.

P.S. Our shop is having a little sale this week to celebrate our one month birthday!  Use the code ONEMONTH for 20% off through Friday!