"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge it's rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." Proverbs 24:3-4

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dining Room Makeover

It's time for another before and after.

My goal is to record on this blog the photos I have of our house from when we first moved in, and what those rooms look like today.

As I've mentioned before, our home is 100-years old, so it has a formal dining room.

You've seen bits and pieces of it through the various photos I've shared on this blog.

You know that it looks like this:


But I'd like to take you down memory lane for this post, and show you what our dining room looked like when we bought our house. 

On July 25th, 2009, we closed on our farmhouse. I walked around snapping "before" pictures, knowing we had years of projects in our future. This picture was taken on that night:



This is the same view today:

It is an inside room. There are doors on all four walls. One going out onto the side porch. One going up into the living room. One going into the kitchen, and this view is from the door going into the hallway. 


Our dining room has a built-in hutch and plate rail that are both original to the house.



We wanted to fix up this room and brighten it up, but it was extremely important to us that we were respectful of our home's history. We never considered painting the hutch, plate rail, or trim. This woodwork is 100-years old! What a shame it would be to paint over it! With a little bit of research first, we were able to find out what was original and what was added later. That became our guide as to what we would change and what we'd leave alone. As you can see from the picture above, there is a tin ceiling. We learned that it was installed by the previous owners and painted greenish-brown to look like patina. Once we found that out, we were comfortable painting it. Beneath the plate rail was a primitive wallpaper that was also installed by the previous owners. It took me two weeks to remove it! This is that same view today:



I cannot believe that I don't have any pictures of the wallpaper process. Removing wallpaper in this house is always such a chore. It takes literally weeks and comes off in tiny little crumbles. I re-papered the walls in this tone-on-tone Damask.

Micah installs crown moulding in almost every room we re-do.


This is a close-up of the ceiling and crown moulding. Ahhh.... The magic and power of white paint!!!


Sitting proudly on top of the hutch, is one of my most favorite pieces in our home. It is stained glass. My grandparents were in the antique business years ago and Micah purchased this from them. He gave it to me for my birthday.


We also replaced the light fixture. (You do realize, don't you, that when I say "we" I mean Micah. I tell him what I'd like done, he tells me I'm not the boss of him, he does the project anyway, and I squeal with delight! It's a great arrangement, actually! Haha!)

Before:



During: (My dad came over to help:)



After:



A few other before and after shots...

The window corner before:



What this corner looks like today:



The sideboard wall before:



Today:


Looking at before and afters this way, makes our renovation journey of this room look easy and tidy. I assure you, however, every time we re-do a room, things get messy and dusty. It's a long process! And the room always looks worse before it looks better!

A few random "during" pictures:







I'm painting the sideboard in the picture above. I purchased it inexpensivlely, at a junk shop several years ago. We've never purchased expensive furniture. Everything in our home was handed down to us, purchased by us from Craigslist, rummage sales, etc... Or handmade by Micah. Our farm table (that you can see in the photo above) was built by him. 

A farmer down the road from us needed help taking down an old barn. The deal was, if Micah helped him, he could keep some of the barn wood.


This is authentic, salvaged barn wood turned farm table! At the time when Micah was building it, farm tables were just becoming trendy. We noticed that farm tables that were for sale by higher-end home interior stores and catalogues, were retailing for $1,600. And, they were smaller than ours! Out of curiosity, we did the math, and figured (because of some materials needed) that ours cost us around $65. 

We were jumping for joy!!!

Go us!

But again, as I have mentioned, us means Micah. Pretty much just Micah. I really had nothing to do with this table. (Maybe I shouldn't neglect to mention, however, that I did toss a few bossy opinions his way of how I wanted it to be, and I held the porch door open for a really long time so that he could move it in! So..... Yeah..... Go us!)





At the end of the table you can see what looks like a stack of papers. It is my Home Management Binder. I will certainly do a post on it one of these days!

We use our dining room every day.

I feel like today's homes don't include formal dining rooms.

Is there a reason for this?

Are they not needed anymore in today's world?

Maybe modern, normal families don't have a need for a formal dining room, but we are not normal!

We use our dining room!

We use it for school...




For projects...



For princess parties...




For special family dinners...



For singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus...



For snow-day blanket forts...



Sometimes our dining room gets a little messy...



Sometimes it's flooded with early morning sunlight...



Sometimes it's beautifully dressed for Christmas dinner...



Most importantly it's used for making happy memories...



And it's always filled with love....




Thank you for joining me for my Dining Room Makeover!

I believe in making home beautiful and enjoying life in it!



On every post I write, you all have been so encouraging to me! I love reading your comments! Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by my blog!



~ Courtney

Saturday, February 27, 2016

An Epilogue And A Thank-You

I was so touched by all of you who reached out to me during the writing and publishing of my last few posts.

Some of you commented here on the blog. Some on the links I posted on Facebook. Some of you sent me text messages and private messages. And a few of you called me:)

               

As I was reading what all of you were sending me, I was prepared to get a few sour grapes in there. I expected one or two negative comments. I figured that was part of the territory.

I didn't receive A SINGLE negative comment! Not one! Everything all of you sent to me was uplifting and encouraging! 

Thank you!!!

I feel so lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life!!!




Some of you had some questions for me, however. I'll do my best to give quick answers to those:

My brother passed away when he was 16. My other brother, who was in college at the time, was home on spring break. When he died, my parents, and my brother and I were all with him at his bedside. Had I moved to London, I would have missed being there.

Yes, I knew Micah for years before we started dating. His family moved to town and struck up a friendship with my family when I was a child. I've known and loved his family for many years.

Lastly, a few of you had remembered that Micah and I broke up for a short while. Yes, that's true. I broke up with him several months after we began dating but he just couldn't handle it and he chased me down and we got back together! That may or may not be what he'd tell you if you were to ask him, but that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!!! ...(wink.)

~~~~~~~

I plan to get back to blogging about homeliving.
 





About baking and decorating....



And all of the other wonderful things that make up a life at home, and make it worth living.


            

As Titus 2:5 tells us, we are to be busy at HOME.







Thank you for reading my blog and for your kindness to me!

I wish I could hug each and every one of you!

See you back here real soon!

~Courtney


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

How I Got Here (Part Three)

I really love my life.

I have a husband, four healthy kids, and I live in an old farmhouse out in the country.

(Our front yard last summer.)

Micah and I have made a good life for ourselves.

Several months ago I was talking with a friend and she made a startling comment. She said to me, "You know, you really come across like you have it all together. From the outside it looks like you have a perfect life." I knew she meant no ill-intent, but I was shocked! My heart sunk. I said to her, "I would never want people to think that of me!" And I meant it! I know people who like to pretend they are perfect. I don't want to be like that.

I'm enjoying God's blessings in my life right now, but it was a hard road to get here.

I love every minute of my life at home with my family, but it wasn't always this way.

This is how I got here... Part Three....

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Micah and I decided to get married. Our future seemed bright. We were happy.




We were also blissfully unaware of what was waiting for us.

I mentioned in Part Two (labeled under "family stories") that the enemy was lurking and plotting an attack. Of course we didn't know this, but he was waiting for his chance.

He hit us hard.

Not long after we had begun our life together, our marriage suffered a trauma. By getting married into this particular situation, I had entered something I was unprepared for and knew nothing about. A broken situation; a hurting situation that involved a past, that involved dynamics, and that involved issues. I soon found myself swimming in water too deep for me, and I was quickly drowning.

I should tell you, it's important to me that I don't speak for others or tell their story. I will not be revealing information about the other people involved. I believe everyone has a story, and each person's story is his or her own to share, on their terms. This post is just about my story.


"Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8

Now that I look back on the situation, I can see it was the devil at work, but at the time, while I was going through it, I didn't see it this way. I was blindsided. I was confused. I believed I had been deceived by people I had opened my heart to.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."  Ephesians 6:12

My heart was broken.

During this time, the hurt was so fresh and raw, that I couldn't see clearly. I had believed that the whole thing was my fault!  But as the dust began to settle, and I began living in the aftermath of betrayal, that hurt turned into anger.

I became mad!

I mean, I. Was. Mad!!!

Thoughts like, "I didn't sign up for this..... I don't deserve this... This isn't fair... How could you....." began to eat away at me, and because I was feeling that way, it began to eat away at my marriage.

I lost trust.

I lost sleep.

Over time, that evolved, and turned into bitterness.

My heart was growing dark, and no one knew. 

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23

The bitterness was growing stronger and taking hold until I finally just felt trapped!

Trapped in a situation that I hated, but could do nothing about.

After several years I had reached a point of such hopelessness that I finally wanted out! Out of my house and out of my marriage to find some relief!








I remember packing up the baby and driving to my parents house. They prayed over me and encouraged me, but there was nothing more they could do. I pleaded with the Lord that He would provide a way for me to be set free from my situation. I wanted out of my marriage. I was miserable.

My parents understood the difficulty of the situation and could see how deeply I was hurting, but they strongly advised me to stay where I was and stick it out.

Deep down, I too, knew the Lord was calling me to stay in my marriage. It felt hopeless, but I made the hard decision to stay. I remember saying to the Lord, "No matter how bad this gets, and no matter if you redeem this or not, I will choose to follow you and obey your Word."

One morning during my quiet time, I read Psalm 15.

"Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?..." It goes on to give a list. The end of verse 4 pierced my heart. God had a promise for me that morning. "... He who keeps his oath even when it hurts.... He who does these things will never be shaken." 

I had already told the Lord I would keep my oath even though it hurt. He was answering me back, "I will make sure you will never be shaken."

~~~~~~~~

There was still a lot up ahead for me, however. I still had some traveling to do on the road to healing.

Next, the Lord had to rid my heart of bitterness.

"See to it that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." Hebrews 12:15

To think that my bitterness could potentially hurt my children was an unbearable thought. I pleaded with God to heal me from it.

I would read Psalm 19:7 every day as if I were taking medicine, "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul." My soul needed reviving! 

~~~~~~~

Looking back on all of this, I needed help. I was crying myself to sleep at night. It was the most challenging time of my life. But I was a Christian! I was suppose to have the joy of the Lord! I was a new mother, I was suppose to be glowing! I couldn't bring myself to admit I wasn't ok. Can a Christian with a "good life" admit to such a thing? Would the church police come after me? Would I be demoted to "second-class" Christian? 

Well.... I wasn't ok!!!! 

There.

I said it.

"When I kept silent, my bones wasted away..." Psalm 32:3






I did my best to move forward, but there was one final blow Satan had for me...

Regret.

I may have agreed to not leave my husband, but I began to despise my situation and regretted ever getting married at all. The regret was so debilitating my wedding day would haunt my thoughts. I believed that I had made a terrible mistake. I wished another woman could come in and take my place so that all this could be her problem and not mine.

Certainly this couldn't be what God had for me, otherwise I'd be happy....

I wasn't the right one for Micah, he would have been better off marrying someone else....

I'm not cut out for this life, this home, and this family....

Yet again, I found myself pleading with the Lord for relief. 

One day, an acquaintance, who knew nothing about my situation, shared this verse with me...

"... He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live." Acts 17:26

The scales fell from my eyes. The chain Satan had on my heart fell loose. I was struck....

But I am exactly where God wants me to be!!!

How had I never heard that verse before? I've spent my life in church and never knew that existed!!!

This is why I'm a huge believer in never hesitating to share God's word with others!!! Even Christians!

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword." Hebrews 4:12

I was freed that day.

I haven't battled regret since.




Fast forwarding to today...

"Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5

Healing came for me through years of prayer and reading God's word.

That's it.

I never had counseling. I never took medication. I never picked up a self-help book. With the exception of my mom, I never reached out to anyone to "vent". 

Maybe some of those things would have helped me heal quicker. I will never know. I just know that after years of living in something that was hard because I believed God wanted me to stay in it; now I have peace.

"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You." Isaiah 26:3

So.... as I begin to conclude, how does one friend asking me to share my "love story" on my blog amount to all of these posts? 

Because all of this had to be included to tell the real story.


We are just now, after almost ten years, stepping into our happily ever after. We are just now experiencing restoration. We are just now loving each other and prioritizing our marriage.

This is my love story.

The story of how God eventually made our relationship great...

"You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me, you stoop down to make me great." Psalm 18:35

And the story of how the enemy tried to destroy us...

"No weapon forged against you will prevail." Isaiah 54:17

But couldn't!

So you see, my friends.... I'm not just naturally happy....

My marriage didn't just happen to be blessed....

I'm not just blogging about home living in a safe little bubble, never having known a problem....

No,

I've earned my happiness.

I've fought for it.

The Lord delivered me....

This Is How I Got Here.

~~~~~~~

~Courtney

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33


Monday, February 22, 2016

How I Got Here (Part Two)

If I'm ever given the chance to give young people one piece of advice, I would caution them to choose wisely the path they're about to head down. The decisions one makes in their youth determines their life course and often once you've chosen it, you can't go back.

I definitely was at a crossroads all those years ago. Both paths seemed uncertain and I didn't know what to expect.

Our culture says, follow your heart!
( "...He who chases fantasies lacks judgment." Proverbs 12:11)

And,

Do what's right for you!
( "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." Proverbs 16:25)

I stated in Part One, "I was sure I'd make it back to London, but it's now been over a decade and I've never been back."

(If you're new here, please go to "How I Got Here, Part One". I have filed it under the "Family Stories" label on the right side of the home page.)

I didn't know it at the time, but pursuing my career in London would have been "following my heart" and would not have been God's best for me.


I am thankful now that He rescued me.


This is how I got here... Part Two....

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~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~

I agreed to that "one date" with Micah over ten years ago, and I still remember calling John to tell him not to expect me.

I made a silent wish in my heart that I wouldn't regret it.

I had no idea I would soon marry him, but I knew my life would change.

We began dating.

It was the best year of my life.





As I began to get to know him better, I realized we had shared a love for the outdoors. We were having so much fun...





We were always outside....



We were trying new things...



Exploring new places...



We loved being on the water...



We loved being in the woods...



We were all over the place....


By now, London was a distant memory. Micah and I were having too much fun and I didn't want it to end.

We'd rent horses...



We'd travel...




We'd goof off...




We were young, and we were falling in love. God was putting it all together.



He had plans for us.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

But it would be years before we'd see those plans or feel that hope.

I'd love to put a wedding picture right here and say, "We lived happily ever after, The End." But that would not be truthful. That is not the end of our story.

What we didn't know is that the Devil had plans for us, too.

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8

Sadly, we weren't alert. We were in that drug-like fog called love and couldn't see what was up ahead. The devil was behind the scenes, planning to enter our newlywed life and launch an attack.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy...." 

I feel compelled to write about the hard stuff next. It's out of my comfort zone and I've been praying over how to best tread these waters as I write. But I feel the Lord telling me, "Someone needs to read about it. It'll be a blessing to others." So, please pray for me, friends, as I compose Part Three, and join me back here in a few days.

"... but I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10

To be continued......