Saturday, September 9, 2017

My cute little (fake) plants

My husband spent many of his teen years working at a plant and garden center. He learned the ins and outs of plant upkeep and outdoor landscaping.

We'd only been dating a month during my senior year of college when he took me on a walk around Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis (the city we love.... sigh). He asked if he could hold my hand for the first time and I felt a million butterflies swirling inside my stomach. I said "yes" as we walked along the path together with the summer sun casting a golden hue around us. He stopped, gently picked a purple flower, told me its Latin name (for the life of me I would never remember what it is now) and placed it behind my ear. I wondered to myself, "Is this real life? My boyfriend knows the Latin name for plants..." This romantic day is forever imprinted on my heart and I have a picture in our scrapbook to prove it. I may or may not have kept that purple flower...

Every summer since we married 11 years ago, my husband has landscaped our yard with beautiful flowers. He knows everything about them. I know nothing. Zero. Nada. I'm just not a plant girl. I tried helping him in the yard a few summers in a row but it just wasn't coming naturally to me and I felt frustrated. The few times in my life I have attempted to nurture a plant inside my house I have killed it. My thumbs are as black as they come, my friends. I'm a piano loving, photograph taking, hair styling, party planning, homeschool teaching, marathon training kind of gal. But a plant gal? Not so much. 

I've seen a billion pictures on pinterest and instagram of the cutest little indoor potted plants. I've been eyeing them for a while dreaming of all the decor ideas they would inspire for my home. The minute these adorable artificial potted plants arrived in the mail from Hedgescapes I squealed in delight!

I arranged them in several different ways throughout my home to see which decor style resonated with me the most. To be honest, keeping these cute plants by my window where I do the dishes is my most favorite spot of all... mostly because the kitchen is where I spend the majority of my time as a stay-at-home mom. I feel like I have a bit of pinterest and instagram inspiration by my kitchen window now! I can also breathe a sigh of relief that I don't have to worry about keeping them alive. I'm busy enough raising my three little blessings at home during the day to worry about watering plants. 

They look SO real and that's what makes me happy. The artificial soil even looks real! I want to feel like I have plants without the hassle of actually taking care of them. I know... it seems silly... but that's just where I'm at in life right now and I'm not afraid to admit that ;)

Hedgescapes also provides indoor and outdoor hedges and topiary. Their products are made UV stable and fire retardant. I've often dreamed of owning my own coffee shop someday. I'm storing this idea in my heart for another day when my children grow up and I'll have a little more time on my hands. I picture my outside seating could look something like this with Hedgscapes products. 

These products could be used to provide privacy between neighbors in city or apartment settings as well. As a wedding photographer, I can picture them also enhancing the beauty of a wedding and setting up boundaries for a particular space. 

I have to admit, looking through the animal shaped topiary products gave me the giggles as I started imagining how much my kids would enjoy seeing them. 

Hedgescapes uses well-known clients such as Disney, Universal Studios, and Hyatt and has made a name for itself in the artificial plant market at the #1 supplier of these hedge related products. Everything is customizable and clients can choose the shape, size, and treatment (wood, metal, or foam) for the desired appeal for homes, yards, businesses, or special events. 

You can follow Hedgescapes on social media on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and GooglePlus. Feel free to contact them for more information and to request a catalog!

*I was not compensated for this post. I received free samples in exchange for my participation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sitora's dance


It has always been a part of me.

So I wasn't surprised in the least when it became a part of her as well.

My daughter loves to dance, and she has a real gift.

It started when she was a baby. We would do "Jesus time" at home or at the House of Prayer when we lived overseas in Central Asia. It took about 30-45 minutes to get across town to the House of Prayer our teammates had set up. Sometimes we would take the underground metro and walk the rest of the way, or sometimes we would take a taxi. A passerby would most likely not even notice the small alleyway that led to the old building which housed the prayer room we so dearly loved. Taking our shoes off as we entered, we walked up a flight of stairs and plopped down in the room filled with a simple CD player, a few inspiring posters, decorations, and craft supplies. Sometimes I would meet a friend there with her child and sometimes we would go alone, but no matter what, we adored the prayer room. With music playing, I would watch Sitora dance for Jesus and learn from an early age what it meant to spend time lavishing her love and devotion to Him. Sometimes we would make crafts (I called it "Baby Praise") and other times we would just pray and dance.

Fast forward to age 8, and Sitora has now been a part of two different dance companies after moving back to America. The first one we tried a few years ago was a typical dance studio. She enjoyed it but I wasn't impressed by the atmosphere. What I heard being said it the waiting room by staff members and dancers broke my heart and made me question if Sitora should continue dancing there at her young impressionable age.

Through the various homeschool groups we were a part of I finally heard about First Position Dance Company in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Never before in my life had I heard of a dance studio that focused on worshiping the Lord like I had done with my children during our Jesus time at home. My boys love Jesus time just as much as their sister, although sometimes they modify the dance portion to "jump on the pillows to keep from burning up in the hot lava floor" time ;)

The company focuses on the dancers' character and relationship with Jesus through mentoring and Bible studies, as well as teaching dance with excellence. Sitora has absolutely adored every minute of dance this past year and not only have I seen her grow in her dance skills, but she has also shown a desire to start her own Bible study for girls! The company has a beautiful and God fearing atmosphere and their performances share the gospel with power and creativity. There was drama, acting, testimonies, videos, rap, glow in the dark props, glitter, confetti, and of course dancing!

I was asked to photograph the dress rehearsal, and on the day of the performance I snapped a few photos as well. It is no exaggeration when I say that I was crying nonstop while taking these photos. Watching these students (boys and girls!) glorify the Lord with their talents and abilities while uplifting praise and worship music played just wrecked me... in a good way. I was continually wiping my eyes in between each click of my camera button.

May my daughter and sons always long to worship the Lord with all of their mind, soul, and strength.

Here is a short clip of Sitora doing her worship dance before the performance. The dancers all prayed together for the show and anyone coming who might not know Jesus as their Savior. The gospel is clearly presented in many forms during the show and our prayer as a company is that everyone coming will be touched in their relationship with God! After the prayer time each dancer took a turn doing worship dance for the Lord. Cue the waterworks.