Makeover Monday: a Playroom for the Boys

When we bought our new home a little over seven months ago now, I was thrilled to find a basement area.  It’s a smaller home, but the basement would be a wonderful extra space that we needed for Leo and his never-ending supply of toy trains *kid is obsessed*. The problem, of course, was that it wasn’t a space Leo (or any of us) actually wanted to go into, primarily because it looked like this: 

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Yep, that’s a whole lotta ugly. It was cold, dark, and frankly just not very “playroom” like. So after some convincing, Ryan said it was ok to get some new carpet and paint. And now we are happy to report it looks like this:

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Before: 

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AFTER: 

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We are so happy with it, especially Leo. It’s the only room with carpet in the whole house, so when he’s not building trains he basically just rolls all over the place. Our only dilemma right now is the foozball table. It’s a nice feature (especially for when the kiddos get older) but it currently causes many a bruises and black eyes for our Leo. We’re working on it :) 

Blessings dear friends! :) 

Does Wearing Make-up Disappoint God?

I was reading one of my favorite Scripture passages yesterday. It’s from the Book of Romans, but it was a translation I had never read before. It states “Be aglow in the Spirit; serve the Lord.” (Romans 12:10). Other translations typically state “be fervent in Spirit,” but this line struck a chord with me. I loved the idea of glowing–radiating–God’s love to others.  Yet in prayer, for some reason this passage came to mind as I was reflecting on Paul’s letter:

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

It occurred to me that there are those moments in our lives where personal care could, in fact, affect our evangelization.  How we treat our bodies–or the time we dedicate to our bodies–could be important in presenting the Gospel to others. This  doesn’t mean always attempting to look perfect, and it certainly doesn’t mean using our bodies as a means to attract others to OURSELVES rather than to God, but it does mean that we should take the time to care for our bodies and present ourselves, as best we can, in healthy and beautiful ways.

This at times also means using means outside of ourselves (you know, shampoo, a hairbrush, a razor) to care for our physical appearances. This really shouldn’t be such a big deal, especially since there are certain daily habits we each should do to care for our bodies, even visually. So you can imagine how disappointed I was when I read this statement, from a Christian, in the comment section of a popular Christian women’s ministry website:

“I have viewed women wearing make-up as an insult to our Creator. He made us. And HE doesn’t make mistakes. Perhaps some women need to accept who they are and not who they think they should be.”

I am going to assume this man had the best of intentions, that he genuinely loves the women in his life and desires their good.  That being said, there is so much about this sentiment that i could talk about, but I’m going to focus on three points.

1. My first and primary concern with the rhetoric we use in the Christian worldview is that it could, in some way, not only draw one away from the Lord, but could potentially be harmful to their person. I kept thinking about the young woman, perhaps with a past filled with shame and hurt, reading such a statement.  Imagine how damaging that could be, how detrimental that could possibly be to her healing.  This statement, like so many others I’ve encountered in the Christian sphere, tend to be so zealous that, perhaps, they forget to utilize the best of modern psychology and approach topics with prudence and charity. We must NEVER forget that our words, though well-intentioned, could have possible psychological consequences that could be more damaging than we realize.

2. I suppose we should also address the obvious double standard concerning men and women. It seems a bit odd that men are allowed to alter their physical appearance (haircuts, face shaving, perhaps even muscle enhancers) without it offending our Creator, and yet women put on eye shadow and it’s an act of the evil one? Weird. Or what about the simple double standard of ANY altering of our physical appearance. Should women not shave their legs? Cut their hair? Pluck their eyebrows? I’m curious which is exactly an acceptable form of physical alteration according to this commentator.

But the thing is, he’s not alone. I’ve had MANY conversations with friends (men and women) who view make-up in the same way.  For years I stumbled trying to articulate that, in fact, women wearing make-up is not indicative of some Divine disobedience. It isn’t even necessarily indicative of insecurity or thinking about “who they should be.” Most women I know who wear make-up have an incredibly healthy view of themselves. So, you may ask, why the make-up? Why not just bare all imperfections or natural appearances for the world to see? This brings me to my third point: the purpose of make-up.

3. I am not a make-up expert by any means. In fact, most days all I wear is a little bit of eye-liner (to fool people into thinking I actually got some sleep the night before). I do, however, remember (thanks to my momma) the number one rule of wearing make-up: “the secret to wearing make-up is to make it look like you’re not wearing any at all.”

It seems like such a strange concept: “Why bother?” the bystander may ask. Here’s the thing: when used in a healthy way, make-up is meant to draw out the things that we like the most about ourselves. In a way, it truly honors our Creator, by recognizing there are certain physical attributes that are exceptionally beautiful. I, for example, like wearing eye-liner. Why? Because I have crazy beautiful eyes, and wearing eye-liner allows them to stand-out in a way that makes me look less tired and draws people in.

Even the make-up used to cover up certain imperfections (blemishes, scars, etc) doesn’t imply insecurity. Again, why couldn’t it simply be a matter of personal care? And why is this individual so certain that such blemishes are a part of our Creator’s plan in the first place? I would be curious how one with such a view would explain acne to a teenager. “You shouldn’t be so sad, fifteen-year old girl. These pimples are from God, you should just love the skin you’re in.” Um…ok? Isn’t it at all possible that such blemishes were in fact NOT a part of God’s original plan for humans, and possibly a result of our disordered nature in the fall? Just a thought, perhaps stretching, but the point is we shouldn’t be so quick to assume desiring to cover up these blemishes in anyway goes against God’s desire for our physical bodies.

It seems appropriate to address the obvious objection that far too many women do use make-up as an attempt to change who they are.  I am no stranger to such insecurities. In fact, despite being a make-up novice, there was a period in my life when I was wearing lots of make-up every day. It was at a time in my life when I had just experienced a break-up and was preparing to make the transition out of college. I can honestly say that my intention for wearing make-up was to attract others (mainly men) to me because I didn’t think I could be attractive otherwise.  There were even certain points of that year when I would apply make-up many times during the day, worrying that the smallest of blemishes could ruin my chances of happiness. Clearly, this was unhealthy, but luckily for me, I had a wise spiritual director who was able to pinpoint these insecurities and help me through them. In fact, that Lent I gave up wearing make-up, not because make-up is an inherently evil thing, but because how I used it was unhealthy.

In its absence, I not only gained a greater love of myself and self-confidence in who God created me to be, but I also saw how lovely make-up is intended to be when used correctly. I saw good friends putting it on every day simply to care for themselves and make their beautiful features stand out. Throughout this time in my life, one bible passage in particular stood out:

“For where your treasure is, there also your heart will be.”

I realized that I was so obsessed with my outward appearance that I was severely neglecting my spiritual life.  It is not that wearing make-up was wrong, it’s that my priorities were.

And so I come to a close on an article I shouldn’t have had to write in the first place. The idea that something like make-up, which not only encourages daily habits in personal care but could also potentially help our physical appearance in matters of evangelization, be anything like the commenter implies is, frankly, just silly. And it points to the greater point that we tend, even with the best of intentions, to assume insecurities and faults in others that aren’t there to begin with. Perhaps it is a great reminder that we must simply worry about our own journeys and less about what I assume to be God’s judgment on another.

 

Did we forget to mention this?

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Yep, that’s a baby inside of me! :) 

In fact, we’re in our third trimester officially tomorrow. And yes, in case you’re wondering, I’m humongous. i’m almost to the weight I gained with Leo and I still have a good twelve weeks ahead…should be interesting :). But, then again, this whole pregnancy has been kind of interesting.

Part of the reason we haven’t been as forthcoming about this pregnancy online is due to some early complications and, frankly, just pure forgetfulness.  

After about six months of trying to get pregnant, I had a feeling that something was different from my previous pregnancy with Leo. About two weeks after we moved into our new home, I was at the gym when my stomach started to feel funny. As I walked toward the water fountain, I could smell some guy’s powdery drink from about 20 feet away. Let’s just say Leo and I headed straight for the drug store after that, only to discover the happy surprise of another baby :). Ryan was coming back into town the next morning, so I made him a fun poster and had this big reveal planned as he walked into the door.

Unfortunately, the next morning I had terrible stomach cramps and even worse bleeding. I felt dizzy all day, and could barely stand I was in so much pain. Poor Ryan had to come home from a two week international trip to a weepy woman curled up on the floor. After a day of waiting it out, we went into the doctors.  He immediately gave me Progesterone injections which within a matter of minutes stopped the complications. After five attempts to draw blood (and many many tears on my part), the next visit we were told to there was a very high chance of a miscarriage within a matter of days (an “impending miscarriage”) due to low numbers.  We were given documents on grief support and how to baptize miscarried babies. We were devastated.

And then something wonderful happened. We prayed. a LOT. We called in friends and family, whom we had kept in the dark until that point, and asked them to pray too. We continued believing there was an actual human being in my stomach and that little person had this great purpose for his/her life.  We told Leo he would be a big brother and our friends about our due date. We lived in a state of complete hope.

Days went by, and each blood test looked better and better.  We continued with the Progesterone injections *four times a week!* but other than that, this has been an incredibly easy pregnancy. No morning sickness like I had with Leo, very little heartburn, and absolutely no swelling.

*If you recall, my feet with Leo looked like this:

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(I promise those are not the feet of a hobbit)

I am convinced the entire experience was used by the Lord to 1. remind me of the remarkable power of prayer and 2. insist that i live in a present state of HOPE.  As it turns out, we are graced with a new baby boy to arrive mid-January, whom we have decided to name Samuel Augustine. (his initials will be SAM, HA!) The name came in a moment of prayer as well, as I was reflecting on the fact that it was Hannah’s prayers that led to the arrival of her beautiful boy, much like our prayers helped sustain the life of our sweet Sam as well. 

It’s been an incredible journey but we would love some more prayers. Everything looks healthy, but low progesterone could lead to pre-term labor, which we are desperately not wanting. And just prayers for our family in general, as we embark on this new season of our lives. We are excited and hopeful :)

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Many blessings!!

PS: Oh, and just for fun, because he’s so great :)

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Makeover Monday: Some updates

 I realized I have been terrible about posting pictures of some of the updates we made this summer on our home. We’ve made updates on several rooms in the house, but I figured I would just post one at a time to create some suspense :). Here we go!

The Guest Bedroom

In our last home, the guest bedrooms were the last remodeling projects of the house. Even though they turned out really nice, I always felt bad that our guests didn’t get to enjoy them for that long (we were out of our home only 4 months after the guest bedroom was finished). So with this house, I decided to tackle the Guest Bedroom first and make it into a cozy, comfortable place for our guests to stay. *hint hint: come and visit us!*

BEFORE

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Who doesn’t love pink striped wallpaper, pink curtains and green shag carpet? But, as charming? as it was, we decided to start from scratch and make it our own. 

AFTER

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We were so blessed to have beautiful hardwood underneath the carpet. And on top of all of that, the wallpaper just ripped right now, no scoring or scraping required. 

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We painted the walls Revere Pewter from Benjamin Moore, with an accent wall Aganthus Green (also Benjamin Moore, please don’t ask me what Aganthus is). 

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Let’s take one more look at that beautiful before:

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AFTER:

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Many blessings! :) 

Summer Fun Part V

A Day Out with Thomas

So it happened…my son has become obsessed with trains. And cars. And construction equipment. And pretty much anything that has wheels. 

So it was a no-brainer when Ryan and I found out that an actual train replica of Thomas the Train was coming to the Colorado Railroad Museum. We bought our tickets and were off for what I can only describe as a convention of little boys 4 and under.

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It’s Thomas! 

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Leo couldn’t believe this luck, it was magical :).

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I have to admit, trains have never been my thing, but this museum was really neat. It had a HUGE model train city both inside and outside. 

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It was just wonderful :) The weather was perfect, and Leo only had one tiny episode (to be fair, it was right when we got there and he saw Thomas. We had to wait in line before we got to ride him and Leo was NOT pleased with the waiting). 

Our little guy is more obsessed with trains than ever before, and i love it. It’s so much fun watching him shout “choo choooo!” around the house chasing his little trains. Love little boys :) 

Summer Fun Part…I forget

Sorry, folks! I keep forgetting about this blogging thing. And the unfortunate part is I have absolutely no excuse. The weather is chilly, rainy, and PERFECT for writing. But instead most of Leo’s nap times are filled with reading OTHER people’s blogs and scratching my head “why can’t I be more consistent at writing in that thing?” HA. Oh well. On to the summer updates! :) 

Visit to Omaha

We were fortunate enough to visit Ryan’s family in Omaha during Labor Day weekend. This visit was especially significant because most of Ryan’s mom’s side were able to make it into town for a little mini-Family Reunion. It was wonderful. Most of the family Leo and I had never met before, so it was fun getting to know a little bit more about my Ryan :)

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Leo got to go to the zoo! Look at how excited he is :) 

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This is, unfortunately, the only picture I took of Leo and his grandparents during our visit. Ugh, I know, I stink. I am so terrible about snapping shots with my camera. But it was a fun time nonetheless.

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Leo looking at monkeys…or as he calls them “GEORGE! LOTS N LOTS OF GEORGE!!” *Curious George for those of you who don’t speak toddler.

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I cannot believe Leo wore his hat as long as he did. About six weeks ago, wearing hats was akin to kidney removal with no pain killers for this child. But we’ve discovered if you convince him that DADDY DOES THE SAME THING Leo will do it. I couldn’t get him to change into another pair of shoes until I said “they’ll make you JUST LIKE DADDA.” Now it’s all he wears :).

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Leo got to ride the train around the Omaha zoo, which was really fun except it was an actual steam engine and therefore INCREDIBLY LOUD. By the first little stop Leo was ready to peace out.

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Here’s a picture of (almost) the entire crew from the weekend, minus a few golfing guys (including Ryan and Grandpa). What a blessing it was to be with such a sweet family!

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Ok, I just had to put this in the post. It’s from the first Broncos game of the season and Leo was so so so incredibly excited. :) And again, proof that he LOVES imitating his daddy.

That’s about it, folks :) More exciting Miles updates to come this weekend!

Summer Fun Part III

Our Garden BLOOMS

So, I have a garden now. It’s not simply a small raised bed with some strawberries and zucchini. No, I mean about half of my back yard is a big, giant garden.

When we bought the house back in April, it was clear the yard was going to be something spectacular. The problem, of course, was seeing the vision of “what could be” back then. After suffering from years of neglect (the previous owner was an older woman) and a very late winter (we had six inches of snow on May 2!!!), the backyard had certainly seen better days.

It’s design was beautiful, with an open Pergola covered with grapevines and a sprinkler system for almost every section.

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The problem, of course, was in order to revive and maintain its beauty, i would have to work…a LOT. I mean, really, what mom to a toddler has the time or ability to put EVERY SINGLE WEED that pops up. And I’ve tried making it a game for Leo…he thought that was as much fun as nap time and poopy diapers.

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So I had an idea: KILL IT ALL. Yep, just throw down some grass and weed killer, put mulch over the sites and just keep it simple. Maybe down the line we’d plant some bushes or use our vegetable garden, but for now I just needed to clean and debris and KILL. Simple, easy, fast.

When I told my husband my brilliant idea, he looked like he had just been punched in the gut. My sweet husband grew up with the most incredible garden, cared for by his mom. Every detail is beautiful, and constantly providing the family with fruits, vegetables, and just simple eye candy. So I could understand his hesitation, but I was determined. “I’m not your mom,” I would say. “I just don’t have the patience for it.”

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But Ryan is persistent, and incredibly convincing. He told me just to give it one summer. “Let’s see what pops up and blooms, then we’ll know what we want to keep or not keep for next spring.” Fair enough. Leo likes being outside, and even though I knew some of the work would be a bit back-breaking (I HATE MULCH), it wouldn’t hurt to at least see what popped up from our new mystery back yard.

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my three years of marriage: my husband is incredibly wise. I am SO grateful we went with his suggestion instead of mine. At certain parts of the summer, our yard was a colorful wonderland. It seemed every week something new would pop up. Plants I dismissed as dead or simple weeds would blossom into absolutely gorgeous flowers. Purples, pinks, yellows, the surprises never ended.

I’ve been thinking about my garden a lot the past couple of weeks as I have attempted to enter more deeply into my spiritual life again. In the midst of summer craziness, moving, travel, etc, somehow it’s my relationship with the Lord that always gets put to the side. As I attempted to re-engage, slowly offer up some wounds of my past, God decided to get serious. But my efforts were kind of like how i approached my garden. “What quick, easy solution could I make to ensure these wounds never pop up again?” Apparently, it’s just not that simple.

There’s good reason scripture and Tradition makes comparisons with the spiritual life and the abundance of life provided by nature.  Each part of our souls has been carefully crafted and thought-out, but we humans tend to mess with the beauty of it all. I realized quite quickly that in order to experience the beauty of ‘what was meant to be,’ I must simply sit and allow God to do the necessary work (I, of course, am participating in this work too). It is a long, tedious and sometimes painful process, but–like my garden–I am already witnessing its potential beauty.

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And so to my final point: TRUST. How hard it is for us to TRUST that, in spite of how difficult or challenging a task may be, that it is beauty awaiting us on the other side? And to my delight, as the summer went on, I found beauty unfolding through my garden in ways I didn’t anticipate. There is nothing more wonderful than watching the joy my son has in helping to pick beans from mommy’s garden, or watching the delight on my husband’s face when he sees not one by FIVE pumpkins spring forth unexpectedly (I have such a great Fall menu planned!)

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God is a God of wonder, amazement and surprises. He showed this to me with my garden. I can’t wait to see what He does with my heart.

Blessings dear friends, Jules :)