Be the Difference-Maker + Creating Action When We Feel Helpless

A few years ago, one of our children lied and said I was abusing them because they were so homesick for Ethiopia. Not comprehending how love and family worked, they figured if they made things hard enough for us, we'd put them on a plane and send them back. As Child Protective Services opened a full-fledged investigation on me, they threatened not to take this singular child from us, but remove all our children from my care.

I cannot even begin to explain the loss and fear surrounding my heart at the idea of that possibility. Thankfully, these amazing individuals whose job is solely to ensure the safety and well-being of children ultimately saw through this lie and found a happy, safe, and thriving family...and a child with trauma who was struggling in a very significant way.

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A parent's worst nightmare

As we know though, our outcome isn't the reality of other families. While watching the news and seeing images of children and parents ripped from one another's arms, I think back on those weeks of panic, dread, and fear. It's a parent's worst nightmare...and every child's greatest horror. And yet it's actually occurring right here in our country. Shoving aside all politics, we're all heartbroken and enraged that our greatest terror is happening right now....at this very moment.

While chatting with a friend today, I was reminded of a section of my book and how pertinent it feels right now in light of the story that is unfolding between us and Mexico....

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Do nothing?

Last summer, our oldest son Abreham (then 17), worked at a car wash. It wasn’t particularly close to our house and he had yet to get his driver’s license
so he took the light-rail each day. While walking
under the overpass that led to where he’d buy
his ticket and hop on the train, he’d often see a
homeless man. Day after day, he’d smile and say
hello as he passed the man. One morning though,
Abreham was struck with the realization that this man had a story,
and, just like the rest of us, he needed hope and community.
Stopping to have a conversation with him, my teenage son wanted
to know the narrative that was this man’s life.

According to the man, he struggled with family issues and since he was relatively new to
our country, he didn’t have a community or anyone to go to. This
man came into our country legally, but no one wanted to hire a dirty
homeless man who didn’t speak English well. The Lord spoke to my
son’s heart that day and urged him to buy the hungry man breakfast
at the nearby McDonald’s as well as a ticket for the light-rail. Why
the train ticket? Because Abreham was determined to get him a job
at the car wash. And you know what? He did. And it wasn’t the only time our oldest son did something like this.

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Abreham didn’t work at that car wash for more than a few months, yet when he’d hear of
someone who couldn’t find a job, he’d tell them to come by and tell
his boss that he was the one who sent them. He did the same thing
for a friend’s sixty-five-year-old mother who came over from Ethiopia
and also hardly spoke any English. He knew fluency wasn’t a prerequisite
to wash a car. He dove into these people’s stories, knowing each
was different, and because he listened to the Lord’s prompting, he
helped change the narrative in their lives.

How often do we do something like this? I’ll admit . . . I never
have to the extent Abreham has. Maybe it’s a different type of bravery
that I haven’t tapped into yet, but watching my son sure has made me
pay closer attention to how I can also enter into the stories of people
I encounter each and every day.

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Where is God in all this?

I remember awhile back someone
telling me she struggled with all the devastation we hear about every
day in the news: human trafficking, the global water crisis, children
dying from hunger, domestic violence, and so many more horrible
things. As she shared this struggle, she asked, “Where is God in all of
this?” The other woman with us looked at her and gently said, “What
if that’s why we’re here? What are you doing about it?”

Gosh her comment woke me up: What am I doing about it? I can’t complain and
yet do nothing.

Sometimes God walks us through the valley, or through seasons
in general, to show us something. Perhaps Abreham’s short time at
that car wash was just to help this man. Maybe my friend was struggling
with all that she saw on the news because the Lord wanted her to
wake up and take action.

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Are we entering into the stories of others, or just regurgitating what we're hearing? Are we stepping in and truly making a difference in the lives of others around us?

My friend felt angry and wondered where God was in all she saw around her, maybe you wonder the same thing. But you know what? Perhaps the reason your emotions are running high is because the Lord is asking you to be the difference-maker.

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As a mom of children with trauma...

Helping these children is paramount. As it is, the trauma of being taken from their families and placed basically in huge warehouses full of other children, will be something that will follow them for years to come. It's an atrocity. As a mom of children with trauma, I can tell you how significant it is and how it swirls around in so many aspects of their lives.

During one of our trips to Ethiopia, we encountered about a thousand people in a haphazard line that wound itself around buildings and down the block. These folks looked weary and exhausted. It was obvious that they had stood in line a significant amount of time...hours, even overnight. Why? Because they were trying to receive permission to come to the US. I was embarrassed and even a bit angry at the realization that I got to skip the entirety of this massive queue, as were our Ethiopian children because we were already granted an appointment to receive a Visa and passport for our newest little loves. These people must stand in the heat, with their children, haphazard tents but mostly no covering from the elements, limited access to food and water, and wait for days...with only a chance to be granted permission to come to our country.

Again, putting politics aside...this post isn't about that.

This is about the people. 

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Just like it made me sad, embarrassed, and angry that I got to go to the front of the line, I'm also sad and angry that these dedicated Ethiopians (and others like them worldwide) often don't get to come to our great country...and yet because Mexico is our neighbor, they are able to scootch themselves on in.

I'm not saying the Mexican community shouldn't be here, of course, I'm not. What I am saying, however, is that while thousands of individuals throughout the world have no other option than going through the proper channels to start a life in the US and yet others sneak in, we're all wanting a better life for our children. And with that as our focal point, we need to stand beside those who cannot fight for themselves and get these children back in the arms of their parents.

Put away your politics, put away your social media rants.

Don't get angry and yet do nothing to affect change.

Let's help these children. Contact your legislator today.

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Be a Difference-Maker.

Take Joy,

Teresa

The Prettiest (book release) Party Ever

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I can't believe it's been nearly a month since Beautifully Interrupted released into the world. The party held in my backyard just days before it officially, launched was one of the most spectacular + meaningful days of my life. I'm so humbled to tell you that friends flew in, found sitters, and even canceled weekend plans simply to help figure out how in the world to make a balloon installation.

It. Was. Perfect.

Except that I forgot to take silly photos of us laughing and playing and getting everything ready...and us in the midst of the party when it was in full swing. Bummer!!

Even so, I have about five and a half million photos to share of the most spectacular day. To those of you who came, helped, and supported...I don't know how I'll ever be able to explain how much it mean to me.

Ready for the fun pics??? Ok good.

Let's just start with the cake...because I'm pretty obsessed with it.

I've recently found the most incredible little bakery here in Denver, aptly named Happy Bake Shop because walking through its doors makes me instantly happy. The owner is as kind as she is a gifted baker and every morsel I've eaten is to die for (including the vegan and dairy-free cupcakes).

**Totally off-topic but our family munched on Happy Bake Shop's Lemon + Elderflower cupcakes while watching Megan and Harry's wedding...the royal couple's wedding cake flavor. It was sublime).**

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The gorgeous flowers are from my dear friends over at Something Styled (see the pics below of the darling + happy centerpieces they also made).

The flowers were placed on the cake by yours truly...took me a couple tries to get it to look the way I wanted. I was crossing my fingers that I didn't destroy the cake in the meantime (I kinda put a lot of holes from the stems all over the place)...thankfully the flora covered up all my puncture holes and the end product was fantastic! The adorable sprinkles are from Shop Sweet Lulu.

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The fun coral and peach frosted rosebud cookies are also from Happy Bake Shop (True story: there were only a few cookies left over after the party and I hid them in the cabinet behind the quinoa. Yes, I hoarded them for myself...THAT'S how good they are, hahahaha).

We sprinkled rose petals on the lemon bars as well as all over the beautiful charcuterie board. The Raspberry Rose spread for atop the fancy cheeses was just as pretty as it was tasty!

My sweet husband surprised us with the adorable donuts that morning, and sprinkling some edible gold stars on them, made them even more party-worthy!

The floral napkins and hexagonal paper plates can be found in these links!

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See this gorgeous girl below? This is my best friend (of 20 years), Kiesha...she's going to kill me for including this photo but I don't care because she basically planned the whole event all the way from DC. You know she needs a shout out.

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When you expect nearly 100 people for a party, somewhere to beautifully store glassware is always a big concern. After brainstorming a few ideas, I decided to bring down this caned bookshelf I found at Goodwill a few months back. It was so cute, I just loved it set up next to our drink table.

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Have you ever heard of One Hope Wine? We received a bottle a Christmas or two ago and have been in love with the mission (and the yummy wine) ever since. If you don't know their story, click here. We're so honored that they came alongside us to celebrate this special day!

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Our mimosa bar was complete with Rose Lemonade, and a whole slew of juices (FYI, healthy mint-infused green juice is SO not good with a little bubbly poured in. Just don't do it. It's disgusting. You're welcome.)

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Because I knew some children would likely come (i.e. my own six), I wanted something entertaining for them...and for us...so I asked if perhaps my dear artist-friend Jessie would be willing to paint "floral tattoos". It was just so fun. The kids loved it and so did the grown-ups!

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Can we just talk about our photo backdrop for a minute?

Using some PVC pipe we typically use for the screen on our outdoor movie nights, I hung a yellow and white checked vintage sheet and covered it with paper streamers of differing colors, widths, and lengths.

And then...the FLOWERS!!!! I'm still freaking out and pinching myself that working with Katya Paperie became reality. Katya handmade hundreds of paper flowers to be mailed out to the Influencers (other authors, Instagrammers with larger followings, etc), along with my book.

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She also handmade these massive beauties specifically for our party. Can you even handle how gorgeous they are???

Sweet Katya also made this singular large rose for the Book Signing Table. It was the perfect accompanyment for the gorgeous flowers friends brought as gifts.

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Speaking of the Book Signing Table...let's just go ahead and swoon over it. Ready??

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I know. Those balloons. I can't believe this actual thing is in my own backyard. It's too pretty, I can't handle it. This kind of thing is only on Pinterest. No it's not...it's in MY actual backyard. WHAT?!

I just cannot believe it.

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Erin, the sister of my friend Sarah (from Something Styled, and did all our live-flowers) is just as crazy creative as her flora-loving sibling. Erin asked if I needed help with anything and I sent her a Pinterest photo asking if she knew how to make a balloon installation (fully expecting to her to shrug and say no).

Instead, she texted back a list of all the things I needed to purchase and came over the day before the party, spending hours sewing them all together and stringing them with fishing line. There are over 200 balloons in this baby, believe it or not.

Check out a bit of the balloon setup in this little video (below) that I sent to a friend who was unable to fly in for the event.

The little details are my favorite part... from the vintage sheets used as table cloths, to the Anthropologie tea cups and saucers with tiny plants inside, the lawn games with matching pieces, and floral everything.

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We scoured our local nursery for anything pink, coral, blush, and peach and planted the colors of my book cover throughout the front and back yards.

My mom and I kept laughing as we remembered Father of the Bride and how they took a hair dryer to the tulips after it snowed...because we had several inches a week prior to this big event and I was just so nervous it'd happen again.

May in Colorado...you just never know what you're going to get!

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Here's another little video taken as the party was just beginning.

And PS these flowers from Something Styled really just made everything come together. See those tiny daisy-looking things? Those are chamomile!! Who knew that's what they looked like?

Aren't they the cutest?!

For some reason sections of our lawn didn't come back this spring and we didn't have time to roll out new sod before this event, so I had to think outside the box on how to detract from the large patches of dirt in places where lush green grass should be growing!

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I decided to purchase a bunch of outdoor rugs from World Market and build a little "living room" area. By piling up and spreading out these rugs and brining out some of our furniture from throughout the house, we put together the sweetest little sitting area.

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We also brought out the plants from my office and bedroom to help bring more life to the space and used the caned screen to detract from some broken parts of our old fence behind.

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The lawn games from Rustic Road Designs were another really fun element to the party, especially for the kids who came.

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We stored the pieces in cute baskets next to each game and loved seeing kids of all ages laughing while playing around.

And also loved that I was able to specify what color I wanted the Giant Connect Four pieces and Cornhole beanbags to be (in this case, I wanted black + white)!

We've used the lawn games for several parties lately and have been really impressed by how they're holding up...even with kids stepping all over them. Not that I'd recommend kids walking down a Cornhole game, but they're super sturdy and beautifully well-made. We just love them!

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I still can't believe after several years of waking at four in the morning to write before the kids wake, my book is a reality and my release party actually took place.

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My heart still beats fast when simply seeing the cover because this is my heart poured out onto page. And while it feels like I'm standing naked before the world to see and judge, I feel excitement and peace, knowing it was a book the Lord asked me to write...He definitely interrupted my life once again.


A big, HUGE thank you to all who came to support me and gave time and product to ensure this party and Beautifully Interrupted's release, was a marvelous success. Especially Crystal Miller Creative for all the gorgeous photos!!

Something Styled . Happy Bake Shop . One Hope Wine . Rustic Road Design

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NOTE: If you have photos of your own from that day, or any of you reading the book, please post on social media with the hashtag #beautifullyinterrupted. Can't wait to see your photos!!!! xo

Take Joy,

Teresa

P.S. I'd be SO honored if you'd consider posting photos from the party on your Pinterest page!! OR even doing an Amazon review of the book!! Thanks sweet friend! xoxo

What do my book + MOPS International have to do with each other??

Years ago, when our kids were still small and I only had two blonde boys at home (ohhhh how things change!!), I heard of this thing called MOPS International. I first thought how weird the name was...and then thought the acronym didn't apply to me because I wasn't a Mother of a PreSchooler, I was the mother of two toddlers. (Helloooooo...they didn't need to be IN preschool, they needed to be pre-elementary school aged! I was totally their target mama!)

Even though I didn't really "get" what it was all about, a friend was starting a group at our church and she asked me to co-lead it. I really shouldn't have said yes and was the worst leader ever because it was right around the time we brought home Imani...and then Ezekiel, and I was so massively over-capacity that I could hardly function in life, let alone lead 40 other exhausted mamas.

But alas...God used being the co-coordinator at our MOPS group to get my feet wet and learn what this incredible non-profit was all about and teach me of its impact during my exhausted season with little ones underfoot.

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Fast forward several years of living in Denver and I became friends with a handful of women who worked in MOPS' corporate offices (who knew their home office is mere minutes from my own home?!). God is so fun to have introduced me to the organization when I, too, was trying to figure out this whole motherhood-thing. He brought me to these women who love-on and support mamas in the most beautiful way and then moved me closer so I could link arms with them! I love that He sees 10 steps further than I ever could.

One sweet friendship I've made is with Mandy Arioto, the CEO of MOPS International. She even wrote the foreword to my book. So humbled by that.

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(don't tell Mandy I posted this photo, it's horrible of both of us, she'll kill me hahahaha)

A few days ago, MOPS' blog featured my story and the heart of what Beautifully Interrupted is all about. 

Here's a snippit:

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Click the button below to read the rest of the article!

**If you're not involved with MOPS and you have babies on up, click here to learn more. They also have groups for teenaged moms, military mothers, as well as moms with school-aged children.**


By the way, have you preordered your copy of Beautifully Interrupted yet?

I keep getting screenshots from friends after Amazon has sent them updates on the delivery date...how crazy that some will arrive on doorsteps on April 30th when the release date isn't 'till May 15?!

Go order now and you might get it before it hits stores, too!!

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(PLUS... by preordering, you'll have access to freebies!! See what I'm talking about here)

Take Joy,

Teresa

How Goodwill + Anthro made my office pretty

A week or so ago, we did a little walk-through of my newly updated office...today I thought I'd go around and show you where things came from to show you that amazing style doesn't have to cost a TON of money!

Note: we shopped my house when redoing this room...VERY little is newly purchased! I encourage you to shop your house before buying new things. We have so much that can be used in fresh ways, right?!

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If you need a reminder of how the room looked before my friend Leah (from The Light Filled Home) worked her magic, head over here.

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Are you a fan of Goodwill? 'Cuz I sure am...it's such a treasure-trove of fun! Did you know you can be a member and get things for even cheaper? Anyway, with my "member discount" I got this chair for $.99 when they were doing a big sale.

I'd had it by our fireplace and was most recently in Laith's room because he wanted a cozy place to read near his bookcase. We switched out my old chair with this one (so my little bookworm still had a place to read) and it was a win-win!

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I wanted loads of plants everywhere and when you enter the room, there are several right at your feet. We used this fun gold plant stand that I've used as a bookshelf for the past decade and mixed in both real and faux plants. We had tried a real one here but when I watered it, it drenched all my books (I nearly cried) so it was replaced with the faux one so I wouldn't ruin any more books.

PS see my book on the stack?! Eeeeeeeee! Happy dance! Go order it here!! 

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The plant baskets in the office are from all over. The grey and white one above is actually a trash can I found at HomeGoods. The woven one is from Ikea.

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I've seen this light allllll over instagram and have been completely obsessed. I told my friend Leah (who was helping me with the room), that we had to somehow work it into the design.

Because one can never have too many flowers, I connected these pretty crepe paper ones from Amaranthus and I'm just over the moon about it! As you can see, my light isn't even connected yet (eye roll), haha. But when this baby has light, she's gonna be perfection.

Our little neighborhood has a Facebook Garage Sale page and I snagged this cute little crate from it a year or so ago for $3.00. It's been in our Upper Room (aka TV room above the garage) but is even better here, holding paints and brushes.

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When this family devastation was brand new, Leah (my interior designer friend) and my best friend Kiesha dropped the loveliest care package at my front door. The gift was held in this fantastic vintage wire basket and I knew I had to use it for something fun. Another plant and more books makes the perfect little vignette.

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More books and more plants are seen on these leaning bookshelves (similar one found here) and I'm in absolute love how Leah styled them. This tiny gold + brass colander was in the clearance section at Anthropologie ages ago (similar one here). I had washi tape resting inside, but I love this even more! The faux plant is from Ikea (similar one here).

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More faux plants (from Ikea) and fun little details snagged from around the house! Both the candle and swan bottle opener are from Anthropologie's clearance section (these pretty details were purchased long ago...sorry I don't have links, but somewhat similar candle here).

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Another fun Anthropologie find is this teacup! A friend gave me several and I love having a little succulent inside! Darling, right?! Here and here are similar designs!

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I used to have fun vintage and Anthro-inspired plates displayed all over the house. Sadly though, through our (many!!) moves, most have broken. So now I have plate holders without any plates, haha. Leah had the brilliant idea to put my Abide sign on one. I just love it here! It was a gift from some ladies I spoke at a retreat with, so sorry I don't have a link. 

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I love when things are used in an unconventional way. See those brass candlesticks (from Goodwill) up top, left? They've been turned upside down and now hold sprigs from a plant. So fun.

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Heading over to the Studio area of my office, I just want to smile. Sighhhhh...I'm so exited to have started painting again.

And those watercolor decals (!!!!!!!) aren't they just SO FUN?! Head over to Urban Walls for all their styles. These decals, the woven pendant above my desk, and some plants are really the only things that are new. Everything else was shopped from around the house!

That dresser? $20 at Goodwill. The lamp is about 20 years old, crazily enough, and is handed down from my mom when they moved (the shade is Target). The big gold frame is from a garage sale (about 15 years ago).

We needed a pop of color and texture, so Leah hung this fun rug hanging over the door is from World Market (these are similar). It had previously been in the Upper Room, atop a side table.

An old (broken) frame from Hobby Lobby and a cream pitcher from Goodwill filled with carnations, adds whimsy to the top of the dresser that I use to hide gift wrap, paper, and odds-and-ends. 

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This great bin is from Ikea and is the perfect place to hold canvases and watercolor paper. it's surprisingly rigid and strong, though the woven texture makes it feel a bit breezy.

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I am so head-over-heels for these air plants!! I found the glass globes in Target's Dollar Section last year but the rocks and air plants are available there right now (near the seeds + summer furniture)!

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Aren't they so cute hanging in the window? So simple and pretty.

Btw, this is the backside of my desk. I love how there is space for the kids to sit and face me. Because it's set up this way, little Elsabet sat in the mound of pillows and was able to paint while I worked at my computer the other day.

The pillows in the window are from all over and none are new so sorry I don't have links to share. But they're all from Target, Ikea, and HomeGoods!

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I loved having her so close while I worked...though she totally made such a mess. Eek.

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More stuff on my desk that makes me smile. I love that Leah used my old (still messy!!) paint palate for beneath my pens and such. So creative!! And this pretty glass pitcher is also from Goodwill...or was it a garage sale...??

I love the easel that holds our family portrait from this shop (similar easel here, though I've seen mine at Walmart lately). That gorgeous paper flower is from Katya Paperie.

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I'm a total book nerd. This collection of Bibles is a perfect base for this little vignette. The coral one is actually the box my She Reads Truth Bible came in. So though my actual Bible is downstairs where I do my morning devotions, this pretty box stays up here!

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I'm also a bit obsessed with my calendar from Lindsay Letters. Y'all...it's amazing. You need one. They come in all sorts of sizes and frames. Check them out!!!

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My desk, file cabinet, and trash can are all from Ikea...I've had the desk and cabinet for years and am still so in love with it!

This brightly colored rug used to be in another room, too. I purchased it years ago during RugsUSA's 85% off sale. This is totally not sponsored by them...I'm just telling you as a public service announcement...go get on their mailing list. This rug was originally $1,500 and I got it for $450 + free shipping (that's even more than 85% off!!!).

Your floors can thank me later.

Am I missing anything? Are there any items you'd like to find out where I found? Let me know!!

Take Joy,

Teresa