September 30, 2010

Gianna Jessen.

Most of you have seen this. But in case some of you haven't, I petition you to watch the testimony of one of my personal heroes, Gianna Jessen. It's worth watching every second. Her speaking is God-anointed, her story is God-ordained, and her message is God-inspired.

[Pause my playlist to hear the videos.]

Nothing--and I repeat, NOTHING--is more important than protecting the lives of those who have no voice. This is something I will defend until the day I die.

Show Us Your Life: Dining Room

For the first time, we have a formal dining room! The whole room was basically planned around our dining room set. I saw it in Dallas, and it was so unique. It's one of the only "investment" purchases we've made as far as furniture goes! I found the drapery fabric by chance at Hobby Lobby. It has the EXACT colors I needed--brown and a subtle gray. I still plan to change the chandelier; it's just not my style. I also want to accessorize a lot more in here. But it's coming along nicely!

Here it was before:

And here it is now:

I got this buffet for only $175 at an antique shop. The lamps came from Kirkland's.

The mirror is temporary; I'm browsing for a new one!

Random little tablescape. It was all I had around the house! :)

Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you'll visit again soon!

September 29, 2010

Always, Sometimes, Never

This post idea is making the round on blogs I read, so I decided to give it a go!

I always......

-Look at Evy, cover her up, and say "I love you" in my head to her before I go to bed at night.
-Stay up entirely too late.
-Have about 5 books I'm reading at any given time.
-Will defend the pro-life cause. Abortion incites a righteous anger in me like nothing else (but I believe in being calm, compassionate and Christlike at all times when/if discussing it).
-Am decorating in my head.
-Am planning a trip in my head.
-Am amazed how God orchestrates things.
-Watch "You've Got Mail" at pivotal moments in my life. And just regular moments too.
-Like to have an old, classic musical on for background noise.
-Love a Diet Root Beer.
-Read that if you want a "user-friendly" blog, you shouldn't have a music playlist. Um, whatever. Music is my LIFE. My blog has to have a soundtrack!
-Am at a loss for words at how much I adore my daughter and husband.
-Love looking at old family pictures and home videos. They're my favorite.

I sometimes......

-Still dream of what it would have been like to work for Disney entertainment. I am totally content and LOVE being a mom full time, though!
-Take things personally. Other times I have a really thick skin. Weird.
-Cry during movies. "Up," "The Notebook" and "Toy Story 3" come to mind.
-Get really overwhelmed and have a mild panic attack. Then I feel better and move on. :)
-Get sad that I'll never be able to read all the books that I want to or travel to see all the places I dream of. But I'll try my very best.
-Try to fix everyone else's problems.
-Don't do a good job of returning emails/phone calls. I'm pretty good with texting, though.
-Am shocked that I'm doing Couch to 5K. But I'm doing it!
-Wish I lived in another era. Maybe just for a little bit, but I'd love to experience it.
-Still remember how uncool and insecure I felt during certain times in school over the years. And I'm thankful I can walk into my high school reunion someday with my head high. I'm proud of where I am and what I'm doing (thank you so much, Lord!).

I never.......

-Take for granted that I live in the same town as my family.
-Take for granted that Kurt is an amazing husband.
-Take for granted that our family is healthy.
-Get tired of listening to musical music.
-Want to stop traveling. There's too much to see!
-Enjoyed math. Ever.
-Got tired of theater rehearsals and performances. I would gladly do 8 shows a week, no complaints.
-Drink alcohol.
-Understand why God, in His mercy, would forgive and love a sinner like me!
-Get tan (me neither, Carrie!).
-Feel like I have a well-rounded wardrobe that makes me look how I want to look.
-Will forget what it was like to see Evy for the first time.
-Allow myself to read really sad blogs. It's just to safeguard my heart; it's not insensitivity.
-Get tired of going out to eat and trying a new restaurant.
-Believed I'd enjoy blogging as much as I do!

September 27, 2010

Nana and Poppy's Visit

Recently, Nana and Poppy (my mom's parents) have gotten to come visit from Fayetteville, Arkansas! We love having them spend time with us and Evy is getting to good at saying their names! She says "Nana" with a happy little lilt in her voice and she says "Pop" or "Papa" (but we know she means Poppy!).

Here are some pictures from their two recent visits. I thought I had blogged these and then realized I hadn't! I think they're precious, and so sweet!

We love you so much, Nana and Poppy!

September 26, 2010

Last Few Questions :)

I am curious about your prayer time with the Lord. For instance, do you have any prayer tips you think might be helpful? Do you know of any good online prayer ministries or websites? How do you organize all of your prayers? 
I've always said that my prayer life has become REALLY conversational with the Lord. All throughout the day, I am talking to Him. I have started chatting with Him like He's there in physical body, and that's helped me really develop intimacy in my walk with the Lord. I do believe that structured prayer time is needed, though. I've found that making a list or prayer journal can be good, because you can record what your needs are (or who you're praying for), and then journal how God is working in the situation.

I don't recite prayers, creeds, or the like. It's just not something that's part of my relationship with Him. All of what I'm saying to the Lord is just the overflow of my heart, or what my soul wants to pour out to Him. I've heard of (and sometimes used) the ACTS guide-- Adoration (Praising God for who He is and just praising His name), Confession (Acknowledging and agreeing with God that you have indeed sinned and claiming His mercy and grace over those sins), Thanksgiving (Self-Explanatory!), and Supplication (Praying about your needs and the needs of others). This is a good way to remember all the elements that make a healthy prayer life; not focusing on just one or the other. My prayer life is ALWAYS a work in progress because it's so hard to just sit, be still, and listen to God speak. But I've found that it's crucial in growing in your faith!

Kelly has some good prayer websites listed in the left column of her blog. :)

Are ya'll still going on the Disney trip? I think I remember you saying something about going in January instead of October.
Yes! Kurt and I are taking a trip by ourselves in one month! :) We have had this planned for awhile. Evy will stay here with both my parents and Kurt's parents. Kurt and I really want to have time together as a couple, and we had THE BEST TIME in October 2008 at Disney World, when I was pregnant. Kurt's family has planned a Disney trip as well. It was going to be in March, but to avoid the high season we're going in January (much less expensive and less crowds!). Kurt's parents are so giving, and they love to take us on occasional trips all together as a family. Evy will be almost 2, so that will be her first trip! We can't wait!

Have you ever met your friend Lyndsie in person and do you plan on visiting her when her baby comes?
Lyndsie and I have not met in person, but we text and/or email almost daily and talk on the phone every now and then. I consider her one of my closest friends, which is proof that the internet IS good for something! :) I adore her, and think she and Daniel are one of the godliest couples I've ever had the privilege of knowing. I've gotten numerous emails about this, but as Lyndsie recently announced, their adoption is no longer going to take place as they originally planned. This was, as you can imagine, devastating. We cried together, talked through the whole thing, and I've been grieving along with them. However, God is still on the throne, and He has a perfect, wonderful plan for their family! They have been such examples to me of resting in God's promise: He will never leave or forsake them.

And yes, when their baby comes home (whenever that is), I will be visiting my precious "niece" or "nephew!"

Okay, where is this favorite antique/craft store of yours in Cape? I live here and never can find cute things like you do! 
It's called Garden Gate (formerly Country Shade), and it's on Independence, next to a place that sells knock-off handbags, etc. It's in a shopping center. If you go down Kingshighway and turn left on Independence, it will be on the right-hand side. :)

September 23, 2010

Show Us Your Life : Master Bedrooms

This is our Master Bedroom!

It's still a work in progress--note the unpainted bedside table! ;)
Kurt's mom made all of the bedding, drapes, and canopy panels. But we saved so much money--the fabric is from Hancock's and was only $4 a yard!
We're going to add some decorative pillows to the bed.
This is the massive armoire that we got at a furniture market for wholesale price. We never could have afforded it otherwise! We had 5 men in our house at one time trying to maneuver this thing up the stairs. I am so grateful every time I look at it!
We're going to add my great-grandmother's chaise lounge that I inherited (it's being recovered).
We don't have a TV in the armoire. We'll probably add a hanging rack for clothes.
I'm glad it fills up the space and gives us extra storage!
It's turning out like I pictured--monochomatic, calm, and elegant!

 P.S. I'm trying to figure out this new picture editor thing in Blogger. So far I'm not a fan. UGH. So sorry this post looks bizarre.

Thanks for stopping by! :)

A Drive in Cape

Our new Worship Pastor, Brian, is a techie and has a YouTube channel (I'm not nearly that cool). Anyway, he is doing a few videos that highlight things like his drive to work, the inside of our church, etc. for his friends where they used to live (they're curious!).

I thought you might be interested to see this, because it shows what a drive in Cape is like. I'm thinking about doing a video or two of some sort just for kicks and to document where we live. It might be fun, what do you think?

CLICK HERE to watch Brian's video.

September 22, 2010

Ashley Answers Again...Part 2

Your fall decorations are SO pretty. I know Fall and Winter are your faves and those seem to go so well with your decorating style. Do you plan to do any seasonal decorating for Spring/Summer in your new house?? [Don't hate me for mentioning the two!]
Thanks, SD. :) I don't do much "seasonal" decorating for Spring and Summer. I really just don't have anything Fall or Winter up....haha! No, I'll do a springy/summery wreath and maybe some flower arrangements. I keep things really light and simple for the warm seasons and I focus on winter. And I forgive you for mentioning summer (I do not care for it at all). :)

Can you share more about the new spiritual development program at your church? I saw your tweets and am fascinated by it!
Basically, my dad has a vision for our church that is a huge undertaking, and frankly, quite awesome. I'll pass along what he wrote to the church concerning the Greater Things Vision. My additions are in red.

"If you did not hear my State of the Church message January 10, I hope you will go to our website or get a CD and listen to it. The response has been exciting and extremely positive. I shared with the church the Greater Things Vision from John 14:12-17. Jesus said in verse 12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father.” Yes, he said we will do even greater things than he did, but he is not referring to quality.

No one can do anything better than Jesus did. He is referring to scope and quantity. We have the availability of travel, technology, financial resources, communication, etc., but most of all, we have the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was limited by time and space, but the Holy Spirit is not. I believe God has revealed to me three “greater “things” he wants us to pursue over the next several years.

First is a Maturity Center. I am calling it the Midwest Center for Spiritual Transformation. [This is what we just started as a church September 19.] The emphasis is equipping believers to grow deeper in their walk with Christ and experience true spiritual transformation. Paul said that transformation should come by the “renewing of your mind” in Romans 12:2. This will be a center where believers can learn how to study the Bible, pray, share their faith, etc. It was also be a center where they can study books of the Bible and doctrines of our faith. We will have a variety of resources available to them and a structured teaching plan. We also have the potential of using this center to allow bi-vocational pastors and others in ministry to develop their education and skills. Some of you will have the opportunity to teach these studies. [Our church has now worked out a course plan with Hannibal-LeGrange College in Hannibal, MO. Lynwood will be offering 60 hours of coursework that will end in an Associate's Degree in Theological Study. Those hours can be applied to an Undergraduate Degree from Hannibal LeGrange College. My dad is passionate about providing a place where bi-vocational pastors and those who can't afford seminary to get academic theological training. Instead of paying $500 an hour for seminary, they will be paying $25 per hour. Amazing, and such an awesome opportunity!]

Second is a Mobilization Center. I believe God wants us to start evangelistic Bible studies in our community through relationships. These Bible studies may be taught at home, work or school. You would simply invite those you know who are not believers but have an interest in spiritual matters. We will train you and provide the curriculum. Wade and Barbara Akins will lead a training seminar March 12-13. This material will also be used to start churches overseas. More on that later.

Third is a Ministry Center. After reading Matthew 25:31-46, God has made it clear to me Lynwood is in a position to do more to help hurting people. We already have a good understanding and ministry with Celebrate Recovery, but we’re still missing a tremendous opportunity and need. I believe God wants us to build a ministry center on our church campus. These buildings would include but not limited to a Men’s Residence for men in transition from recovery or homelessness. We need a Women’s Shelter for the same reasons but also for abused women and their children. We need an Emergency Shelter for abused or neglected children who cannot be with their parents. Other government agencies provide these much needed services, but I am deeply convicted that we have the opportunity to give them the spiritual help they need in a loving, godly, safe environment. There will be greater spiritual instruction and accountability which will help provide greater success in the lives of these individuals. [My dad has now extended this Ministry Campus to include a ministry Medical Clinic for the community. We believe as a church that it is not the government's job to care for the less fortunate; it's the church's. This is our way to try and meet the social needs of our community. We are in the process of annexing our land, and we will soon be drawing up tentative architectural plans for the Ministry Village.]

All these ministries will evolve over time, but we must begin the work now. Yes, it is overwhelming and a lot of work. Someone may say, “We can’t do all that.” We can’t, but God can! That’s why I am firmly convinced this Greater Things Vision is from God. Again, please listen to the message, and listen to it again. I believe every single one of us will have a place to serve God and glorify Him!"

So that's what our church is actively working on--the Greater Things Vision! My dad and his leadership team were expecting 150 people or so to come to the launch of the Midwest Center for Spiritual Transformation (MCST) on September 19. We had around 500 people (including children) in our sanctuary praising the Lord and hungry for learning His Word! Kurt and I are taking "Understanding and Applying God's Word." There are different sections of the class to keep the class size small, and the other class being taught this semester is "The Christ-Centered Life." These classes are being taught by lay people (not "ministers") in the church, and it's been awesome so far.

Every Sunday night we meet in the sanctuary (infants-senior adults, all together) for family worship. We sing a couple of songs and then break off into classes. There will be 2 classes offered per semester. After three years, the goal is for most (hopefully all!) of the congregation to have had these deeper-level classes, which teach how to study Scripture, live the Christ-centered life, Old and New Testament survey classes, etc.

That's all the questions I was given this time around so far, but I'm glad I ended on this note. If you have any more questions (for this Ashley Answers series, or about what our church is doing) let me know!

September 21, 2010

Ashley Answers Again : Part 1

Who handles the finances in your household? Do you have a budget or do you just spend carefully?
Kurt handles the finances in our household, but I'm not left in the dark with no clue! :) Kurt is still relatively new with his job, so we're still in the process of hashing out where the money goes. I have an amount of money that I can spend per month, and I usually can keep track pretty well in my head of what I've spent. I wasn't raised to just buy anything and not pay attention to the price, so I would say I'm a cautious spender. The exception would be recently on ebay, when I bought Evy some fall play clothes. She didn't have much to wear for fall! :) Also, are lots of "start-up" costs when you move, so it's been kind of topsy turvy lately. But we do have a budget and know where it all goes. :)

My question is how do you get involved in the showcase blogs (examples, "Show me Your ...," or any other blogs that involve people visiting each others' blogs)?
I got started with the Kelly's Korner link-up first because I love seeing people's houses! That's a great, easy one to do, and we just started another round of Show Us Where You Live. Also, the Blog Guidebook has a list of weekly link-ups that you can join. The only link-up I do is Kelly's, but there are so many fun ones I'm always tempted to join! :)

How much time each day do you spend blogging?
I only write posts when Evy is asleep, whether at nap time or night time. I usually know what I'm posting about when I sit down at the computer, so I can usually write them really quickly. I would say I spend maybe an hour each evening either writing a post or trying to catch up on a few blogs. I have an iPhone, so I will read some blogs during the day on that if I have a breather and it's not taking time away from Evy. There are other things I do at the computer which take up more time at night, but I would estimate an hour for blogging.

Another do you keep nurturing your friendships? Do you get to get out of the house and do non-mommy things with friends?
This is a good question. When I lived in Mississippi, I had a weekly lunch date with my two best friends and their daughters. That was THE best therapy and was always a highlight in my week. We would also do dinners without kids every now and again. Now that we've moved, I am still trying to find my sanity--haha! I have some "built-in" friends that I knew when we lived here before (from the time I was 8-14), so that's nice. I know I'll settle into a routine with "Mommy friends" soon. Right now, most of my friendship interaction takes place at church. I'm involved in the music ministry, our LifeGroup (Sunday School), and other things. I'm looking forward to nurturing more friendships once I get a routine going. :)

How's the Couch to 5k program going?
It's going well! I finished Week One and will probably start Week Two tomorrow. I've been running on the treadmill at our gym, but I need to transition to outside. I'm DREADING THAT. I seriously don't mind a treadmill, but running outside scares me. I know I can do it though. Positive thinking!

Do you and Kurt get to have "regularly-scheduled" dates? And if so, what things (movies, dinner, walking, etc) do you enjoy doing?
Yes! While we don't have anything set in stone, we usually are able to have a date once a week. Lately it's been less, but since he's off this week we are going to be able to have one. I LOVE going on dates with Kurt. It really balances me and I enjoy it so much. Occasionally we'll do a movie (but only if it's one we're excited to see), but most often we'll do dinner and then maybe walk around downtown if the weather's nice. Dinner is my favorite because of great food and nice, relaxed conversation. I sure do love him. ;)

Love how your house is coming along--so cute! So--I know you love CG--just wondering--do you miss Jackson?
I miss certain things about Jackson. There are relationships that I miss. On a trivial note, I miss the shopping in Jackson--ha! The thing is, when Kurt and I got married, we knew we'd only be living there for a short amount of time. So we had a long time to kind of emotionally detach. I know that sounds terrible, but that's just how it was. I do miss my little house. I've cried over missing that little house. I lived in Jackson for 10 years (3 of them married), so I have a lot of sentiment for some things. But I'm now living in the city I've always considered to be my hometown, so I'm very, very happy to be where I am.

Keep asking away!

Ashley Answers....Again!

Last December I did a series of posts answering questions from people who read this blog. These are my favorite posts to do, because I love writing prompts. Haha! Several of my friends have done this on their blogs lately, and it gave me the itch to do it again. Plus I have new readers since I did this last. :)

To see my last series and what I answered then, CLICK HERE.

I will answer just about anything. My only request is that the questions are appropriate and kind-spirited!

So.....Ask Away! :)

September 20, 2010

More Fall Fluffing

If you're visiting for the Nester's Mantle Party or Hooked on Houses Open House: Welcome, Friends!

I wrote this post fairly recently but I'm linking to it for visitors. Be sure to click the link at the bottom for more fall decor pictures in our home. Hope you'll visit again! :)

I knew it would happen, and so did you! I just had to do a few more things for fall. Here we go:

I added taper candles to my sconces, which I think makes a world of difference! I knew I was going to add them, but I had to buy some. I'm so glad I did! I also added a bench in front of the fireplace. I waited for it to go on sale, and it was worth it!

I wasn't happy with the accessories on top of this chest, so I shopped my house. Actually, I found a box of things I hadn't unpacked from the move, and I found my other fall wreath that my Nana gave me, as well as our initial letters! I think it's perfect now.

I added this arrangement on the buffet. Again, the mirror is not staying--it's just filling space until I find one I like. :)

We had my family over for dinner and I set the table! This tablescape is definitely not my style, but it's what I had around the house! :)

To see more of my current fall decorating, CLICK HERE!

Fall, I love you.

September 17, 2010

Show Us Your Life : Living Rooms

I hate forgetting to post for Show Us Your Life! I just had to go ahead and do my post, because I LOVE looking at other people's houses! Love it.

For those visiting or new to this blog, we just moved and are still in the process of "settling." It's a constant work in progress, so you're going to see lots of loose ends. Oh well, I'm human! :)

Here's the living room when we bought the house:

Here it was in progress. We painted the walls, mantle, and TV cabinet. I put up relaxed Roman shades (that my WONDERFUL mother in law made!). Notice all of the hodge-podge furniture. The sofa will end up going in my office upstairs (we have new sofas on order). The chairs will be recovered. The white rocking chair will go in the playroom.

And here it is now! My fall decorations are up, and the foyer is coming together, which are the big differences.

I added the antique cabinet and have done a little bit of accessorizing. I'm excited for my sofas to get here! I'll also be getting a new rug (this is just a remnant of carpet from the basement).

The best part of my living room is that my daughter Evy and I spend so much time here together. We read, do puzzles, snack, and watch "shows" (as she likes to call them). We cuddle and have so much fun together.

Sometimes you'll even catch her in a brand new apple-themed outfit....

....Doing a little dance because she's ready for Fall!

Have a great weekend, and come back soon!
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