Thursday, October 5, 2017


I can't help but giggle thinking of Taylor Swift's song "22" as I slide into year 33. What was I doing when I was 22? I was a newlywed, first-time homeowner in a new town far away from anything familiar, and was working diligently to figure out my new role as a youth pastor's wife. 33 brings me to our 11th year of marriage, three beautiful children, our second home, a role of a senior pastor's wife, and a slew of life lessons learned and new friends to boot.

In honor of my 33rd birthday, I would like to share 33 of my most favorite life lessons learned thus far (in no particular order)...

  1.  Humility goes a long way.
  2.  Make time for your close friends, even if you think you are too busy.
  3.  You can never encourage others enough.
  4.  Spending time in nature is food for the soul.
  5. Make time for quiet. No music, no media, no talking. Don't be afraid to face your fears and your hurts. Don't drown your feelings with being busy.
  6. Continually remind yourself that you are uniquely you, so don't compare yourself to others or copy their version of themselves.
  7. Cheer others on in their accomplishments. Their successes won't mirror yours, and that's ok. 
  8. Saying, "I'm sorry," and "Help me understand," can be some of the most key phrases in a relationship.
  9. Make sure to find a way to laugh every day. It does wonders.
  10. Give yourself some credit and grace.
  11. Give others the benefit of the doubt. You never know what kinds of battles they are facing.
  12. Train your mind to think praiseworthy and loving thoughts throughout the day. Negative thoughts and angry words are birthed from habit.
  13. Don't be afraid to spend time with others you don't agree with and read articles that differ from your opinions. Take the time to learn the "other side" of your thought process and imagine walking a mile in someone else's shoes for a day.
  14. Devote your life to making the lives of others better. It's simple really.
  15. Give money away in different ways. Steward your finances well so that you can freely give when you see a need tugging at your heart.
  16. Be honest with God. He already knows the truth anyways. He can handle it.
  17. Trust God. He has a way of working things out over time, but you have to be patient.
  18. Check off the items from your bucket list. It's exhilarating.
  19. Forgive even if no apology was given. 
  20. Investing in others requires sacrifice. It's not going to be easy. But it's worth it.
  21. Listening to audiobooks can transform your cleaning routine! You might actually look forward to it.
  22. Creating something, whether it's art, a song, a letter, a poem, a book, a photograph, whatever it may be, can be therapy for the soul.
  23. The longer you are married, the more you think alike and literally can finish each others' sentences. 
  24. It's not possible to perfectly balance your life. Some things will fall through the cracks. You just have to prioritize and make sure the important things in life don't get ignored.
  25. Friendships change. It's ok. Some people come into our lives for a season. Some stay forever. You never know who is going to stay so keep opening up your heart. 
  26. Listen to your body. It will break if you don't.
  27. Cooking from scratch can be daunting. If it seems too difficult at first then just pick 5 meals and practice them like crazy. After a while you can add a few more. Don't expect yourself to be a gourmet chef overnight. 
  28. Invite people over to your home. They are not expecting magazine worthy perfection. Warm hospitality is what people are longing for, not Pier 1.
  29. Constantly push yourself to learn more. Read books and articles, ask questions. Don't let your comfort zone keep you from seeing what's on the other side. 
  30. Spend time in God's Word and in His presence, even if you don't feel like it. Discipline leads to desire. There will be dry times and there will be moments of depth. Press on through them all.
  31. If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all. 
  32. You can always decide to add more to a conversation, but you can never take back words already spoken. 
  33. Be willing to admit you don't know everything. Be a learner.

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.