A New Year, A New Word

Here we are again, on the cusp of yet another new year.

2018 is a year full of promise and opportunity, uncertainty and mystery. This year might bring the very best of moments into our lives…it may bring the very hardest of days…or it may bring both. This year could bring incredible joy, or it could bring deep pain…it will probably bring both. There’s so much we just don’t know about what the next 12 months might hold. But there’s one thing I do know, one truth that I can hold on to no matter what this next year may bring: God is with me, through it all.

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Every year I choose one word. Not a list of goals and plans. Just one word. One word to dig deep into. One word to really lean into and intentionally practice.

This year I’ve chosen the word “surrender.”

As I made my list of words that have been on my heart lately, my short list included words like “brave” and “risk,” “trust” and “given.”

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“What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?”

This was one of the questions our missionary, JJ Alderman, asked when we were on our mission trip in Togo back in October. It has been heavy on my heart and mind ever since. What is the greatest risk I’ve ever taken? What have I risked for Christ? Have I risked anything, really? I’m not naturally a risk-taker. I tend to do everything I can to play it safe and to maintain my secure little bubble of a life, guarded against risk and pain and failure. But more and more I can hear God calling me to take bigger risks, to step out of my comfort zone, to just trust Him and risk my comfort for His Kingdom. This year, I want to take bigger risks as I follow Jesus.

“The only way to abundant life is the broken way of risk.” – Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way

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The Broken Way has been one of the books that I’ve gone back to over and over throughout this past year…so many of Ann’s words have made their way into my heart and shaped how I see my life in light of eternity and how I walk this broken journey along the way.

“Look at us all wandering around a spinning planet with these bucket lists, desperate to fill ourselves up with meaning, when meaning comes from emptying ourselves out….
…I wonder if that isn’t a better way to live than carrying around a bucket to fill up: live for something worth dying for. Let love break into you and mess with you and loosen you up and make you laugh and cry and give and hurt because this is the only way to really live. Bucket list or not, don’t waste a minute of your life on anything less. Don’t waste a minute on anything less than what lasts for all eternity.”
- Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way

I don't want to waste a minute on anything less than what lasts for all eternity.

One thought that has stuck with me ever since our mission trip to Togo has been this: I want to live a life that outlives this life. I want to be a part of something that is bigger than my own lifetime. I want to invest in things that will outlive me, things that are eternal: the Kingdom of God, the Gospel of Jesus, the souls of people. I want to live in the light of eternity…to “think of eternity, and live backward from that.” (Ann Voskamp)

The way I will do that is by living fully surrendered to Christ, fully submitted to His will and His plan for my life, whatever that may be. The story He is writing is bigger and greater than anything I could write for myself. So this year, I surrender. I want to lay down my dreams and my desires and my very life at the foot of the cross and let God write my story…to say yes to what He asks me to do, to follow where He leads, to walk by His side and watch His story unfold in my life. What that will look like, or where He will lead, I’m not sure. But I’m sure of this:  “The Lord himself goes before [me] and will be with [me]; he will never leave [me] nor forsake [me].” Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV

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So, this year, I surrender.

“I choose to surrender my story wholly, fully to you. Take the pen, Lord Jesus. And write.” – Mary DeMuth, Jesus Every Day


What’s your “one word” for this year? What’s the one thing you’re leaning into?

I’d love to do a custom lettering of your one word for you! Now available in the shop: Custom “One Word” Lettering.

I’ll custom hand-letter your one word, and send you a JPEG image you can save and share and print, and a PNG image you can place on your own photos or graphics. The option to order a foiled print of your one word is also available, for a limited time. For more details, hop over to the shop and check it out!


Whatever your goals or dreams or your “one word” for this next year, I pray that 2018 will be a year that God draws you nearer to His side, that you will experience His love and trust His plan and find joy in this crazy wonderful journey.

Happy New Year, friends!

Happy New Year! Some fun & helpful freebies are coming your way!

Happy New Year, friends!

A brand new year means some brand new freebies coming your way!

All Little House Studio subscribers will be getting some fun new free printables in their inbox today, and I wanted to make sure all of you beautiful people have the chance to get them...so if you haven't subscribed yet, go ahead and fill out this little form and I'll make sure you get your freebies! (And don't worry...I won't overload your inbox with a bunch of stuff (at the most, you'll get about one email a week, sometimes only one a month ;) )...and I won't share your email with anyone...this is just the easiest way for me to personally deliver some extra goodies to you!) :)

This month, and all year long, you'll be getting some of these fun freebies:

Free Monthly Printables from Little House Studio
Free Monthly Printables from Little House Studio
 Click the calendar image to see purchase the entire 2017 planning calendar

Click the calendar image to see purchase the entire 2017 planning calendar

Your monthly planning calendar is still coming to your inbox every month! This year, it's a coloring calendar, so you can print, plan, AND color! :) Several people have requested a way to purchase the entire year ahead of time, instead of waiting each month for the printable, so I've also added the entire 2017 printable planning calendar to the shop, so you can go ahead and get the whole year if you want. (Or you can just continue get each month for free at the beginning of each month) ;)

Free Monthly Printables from Little House Studio

You'll also get a free 5x7 piece of printable Scripture art. This will vary month to month, but each print will include a Scripture verse to hang on your wall or share as a gift. This month's verse is perfect for the beginning of a brand new beautiful year: "Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:19

No matter what this new year brings, you can know through it all that God loves you and His plans for you are always for your best and for His glory. He can do anything...even impossible things. What new things will He do for you this year? Live this year in beautiful expectation! 

Free Monthly Printables from Little House Studio

I've also created a couple of brand new printables for this year that I'm pretty excited about using myself: a "Month-at-a-Glance" printable, a weekly planning page, and printable encouragement cards!  The new Month-at-a-Glace sheet gives you a place to write out your goals for the month, plan for intentional family time, list specific prayer requests, and evaluate your month. It's a simple organizer, nothing too detailed or complicated, that gives you a place to write and track your goals.

Free Monthly Printables from Little House Studio

The new weekly planning page includes a place to make a meal plan for the week, a to-do list, and a routine tracker. Daily routines give rhythm to our days, and a new year is a great time to start some new routines. What are some things you'd like to do every day? Read your Bible? Intentionally pray? Read a book for fun? Exercise? Practice a skill? List them out, and then check them off as you do them each day! (I'm hoping this simple little routine tracker will help me as I continue to shape the rhythm of my days).

Free Monthly Printables from Little House Studio

The encouragement cards are a simple, easy way to encourage the people around you and shine a light wherever you go. Simply print out the cards, cut them out, then tuck them in your purse or your wallet. (You can even color them and add a personal message on the back if you want!) Then, as you go about your days, train your eyes to look for people to encourage.  Pass out the cards and share the love of Jesus with the people God puts in your path this month. This simple act of kindness can have ripple effect of joy everywhere you go!

Every month you'll also get a new phone lock screen image and a special subscriber-only coupon code for the shop! So if you haven't signed up yet, today would be a really great day to join!  Putting together these freebies for you every month is one of my favorite things. I really hope you enjoy them and that they bring you a bit of encouragement and joy as you go about your days :)

I hope you have a beautiful new year full of moments to celebrate the gift of every day, the joy of family, and the love of Jesus!

The Words of God

(listen to the audio of this post by clicking the play button below)

Are there ever any words more powerful, more important, more life-giving and live-changing than the words of God?

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8

Everything else may fade away, but the Word of God is forever.

Things may get a little confusing and overwhelming as we try to navigate through the crazy world around us, but the Word of God lights our way.

Our hearts may be hard or hurt or barely holding on, but the Word of God cuts through all the walls and gives us just what we need.

The future may seem uncertain and there may be many things that we are unsure about, but the Word of God is steady and unchanging and always true.

Little House Studio
Red Letter Words Collection || Little House Studio
Little House Studio

That is why writing out Scripture verses and hanging them all over the walls of my home and my heart is so important to me. I know how easy it is to forget…how wayward my soul can be…how prone I am to wander. I think God knew it too…that’s why He says in Deuteronomy 11:18-20:

You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates…”

Put them in your heart, bind them on your hand, put them right in front of your eyes…talk about them all the time, everywhere you go…write them on your doorposts and gates and walls. Remember the words of God. Remember.

So I write out the verses. I hang them on my walls. I tuck them in my heart. And I pray for the courage to live them out every day. Because knowledge without obedience is useless. I don’t just need to know God’s Word, I need to OBEY God’s Word. I don’t just need to love His Word, I need to LIVE His Word.

“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16

“Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 John 2:4-6

Walk in the way He walked…

How do we know how He walked? Because He came and walked among us.

God not only spoke His word, but The Word became flesh and came down to this broken and busted-up sod, and He walked with us and talked to us and gave Himself, gave all His love, for us.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:1-5

The Word—the Word that was with God in the beginning, the Word through whom all things were made—came.

Jesus, God in flesh, came to us.

And Jesus’ words, like all of God’s Word, are a gift to our longing and forgetful hearts, they are life to our parched and weary souls. The words of Jesus are the very words of God, spoken through the living and breathing Word Himself.

And what better words to put in our hearts and on our walls? What better words to share with a hurting soul, or encourage a friend, or bless a neighbor. The words of Jesus are just as powerful and true today as they were when He first spoke them. They are words of life and love…words that remind us who He is, that show us how very loved we are, and that give us hope and joy and courage.

And that is the heart behind my new “Red Letter Words” Collection…to share with you a few of the words of Jesus…words that will hopefully encourage your heart and strengthen your soul and remind you who He is and how loved you are.

I’ll be writing about each verse throughout the next several weeks. I’ll focus on one verse a week, and we’ll virtually join hands and memorize His words together. You don’t have to purchase anything in the shop to join in…those designs are just there in case you want something tangible to hang on the walls of your home as you write His words on the walls of your heart. I will provide a small free printable each week to go along with each verse as we study Jesus’ words together.

Subscribe below if you’d like to get the “Red Letter Words” Bible study delivered to your inbox each week. (This is a separate mailing list than the Little House Studio Subscriber list. So even if you have already subscribed to this site, this is a brand new list and you will need to subscribe separately to this “LHS Bible Study” list in order to get the studies delivered to your inbox).

 

And if you’d like to check out the whole new big Red Letter Words Collection in the shop, just click here or click on the “Shop” tab at the top of the page! I’m now offering much more than just digital printables (although those are still there too!) Now there are Scripture Cards, Art Prints, Poster Prints, Calendars, and more!

  Shop now and get FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $20!

Shop now and get FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $20!

 Also, ALL orders (any amount) will receive a bonus FREE 5x7 Coloring Calendar (pictured). No code needed! Just place an order and the printable PDF calendar will be delivered within 1 business day to the email address you provide at checkout.

Also, ALL orders (any amount) will receive a bonus FREE 5x7 Coloring Calendar (pictured). No code needed! Just place an order and the printable PDF calendar will be delivered within 1 business day to the email address you provide at checkout.

And be sure to follow Little House Studio on Facebook and/or Instagram…I’ll be doing a BIG GIVEAWAY this week! It starts later this evening and will run through Friday! You don’t want to miss your chance to win some super fun prizes!!

Have a beautiful day, friends! Trust His Word today…He loves you so much!!

A New Month = New Freebies!

Get a Bundle of Freebies Every Month When You Become a Little House Studio Subscriber! | LittleHouseStudio.net

Did you know that I send out a whole bundle of free printables and goodies every single month to anyone who subscribes to Little House Studio? Are you on the list?

This morning, all subscribers received a bundle of coordinated freebies for the new month. Each month includes: A printable planning calendar, a meal plan & grocery list, a FREE 5x7 art printable, and a lock screen image for the phone.

My purpose in putting together these free goodies is not only to give you something pretty, but my prayer is that they will be helpful and encouraging to you as you craft your days and your home to reflect the gift of every day, the joy of family, and the love of Jesus. I want to help you fill your home with beauty, grace, and truth, even in the mundane everyday tasks like making lists and planning the calendar.

Here's a preview of this month's Subscriber Freebies:

Is there something you'd like to see in these monthly bundles? Some tool or print that would help you or encourage you each month? I'm already making plans on tweaking, changing, and adding to the monthly freebies next year, and I'd LOVE to hear your ideas! Just comment here, or send me a message...I'd love to connect with you!

Not a subscriber yet? No problem! Just fill out this little sign-up form and you'll be all set to get the freebies every month!

When You Have a Small-ish Living Room...

My living room.

It’s small, but it works hard.

This is where we spend most of our time hanging out as a family (the dining room table coming in at a very close second).  Oh, if these walls could talk, the stories they would tell! Games and movies, giant tents and all sorts of crazy antics have happened here in this wonderfully small space.

I love this room.

And yet, I never seem to ever be quite “finished” decorating and rearranging in here. I feel like I move something or add something or change something just about every week, sometimes every day. It’s a constant work in progress. (Not to mention how many different colors of paint have adorned these walls over the years…but that's a whole other story ;) )

One of the reasons I keep messing with this room is just the space. It is small-ish, and because of all the doorways and windows and fireplace, I’m really limited with how I can arrange furniture and still have room to actually move around and have a space for every booty to comfortably sit.  Storage is always a challenge for me (mainly because we have too much stuff and I have people here (ahem, ahem) with high levels of “collector” genes…so declutter, declutter, declutter is becoming my mantra… “What can I get rid of today?” is becoming part of my daily routine…but that’s a topic for another post all together ;) ).

So as I am still working on the whole minimalizing thing (or avoiding it, depending on how you look at it ;) ), I am constantly trying to find ways to organize and store stuff and still make things beautiful. Because I think there’s something to be said about cultivating beauty in my home…not a “Pinterest-perfect” kind of beauty, but the kind that ministers to my family and anyone who comes through our door, a kind of beauty that makes our home a cozy place to rest from the flashy fast-paced world, a safe space where our souls can breathe, a tangible reminder of God’s beautiful abiding Love.

I’ve been reading through “The Lifegiving Home” by Sally and Sarah Clarkson, and I love what they say in the chapter entitled, “The Art of the Ordinary: Finding Beauty in Your Own Backyard”:

 “When I speak of beauty…I don’t mean the ideal. I mean the real loveliness lurking in the corners of the ordinary: a bowl of apples, a child’s face, a Mason jar of wildflowers. I mean the breathtaking loveliness that comes when ordinary moments are filled and formed by hospitality, ritual, and relationship: dinner by candlelight, heart-to-hearts over hot chocolate, a shared autumn walk, a sick day in which real love is made tangible in ginger ale and chicken soup and a child's favorite quilt. On the level of home life, beauty is the order and grace we bring to the waiting hours and spaces of our lives, the celebrations we choose, the rituals we make, the gardens we plant, the care we give with as much attention as we can muster.
“It has almost nothing to do with Martha Stewart or House Beautiful or ‘the perfect home.’ Beauty is about picturing God’s unchanging goodness and daring to bring it into my own small, dusty days.”

So I keep working at this little home of ours…changing it and tweaking it, switching out the artwork, finding new storage solutions, adding little pops of color or getting yet one more soft fuzzy blanket (because can you ever seriously have too many of those?!).

Today I’m sharing the 3 main things I think about as I craft our living room space:

THE FURNITURE:
Because of the small-ish space in this room, I have to think about the function and purpose of each piece of furniture I bring in. And sometimes this requires a lot of thinking outside the box. For example, we needed some kind of surface near each sitting spot to place cups and books and supplies and whatever else we carry with us into the room. End tables would be great, but I just have no space for them.

Insert…tree stumps!

A few years ago, my parents had all of the trees in their backyard cut down. At the time, I had recently read a blog post by The Nester (LOVE her), about how she used tree stumps around her house. So I asked my parents to save me some stumps. They had to dry out for over a year before I could sand them down and paint them and actually start using them. (I have learned to not be in a hurry when it comes to crafting a home I love on a budget. Sometimes the loveliest things and the best finds take a bit of time ;) ). They were totally worth the wait! I use them all over the place now. I love them because they are easy to move around and very versatile. They don’t hold a ton, and more than a couple of them may not be quite perfectly level, but whatever, they are perfect little “end tables” for us. (I also have a couple on our porch by the front door…right now they are holding a pot of dead flowers which I’m sure is super welcoming, but that’s beside the point ;) ) I love my tree stumps. And all they cost me was time and a bit of paint and elbow grease.

I also love furniture that can serve multiple purposes. My favorite new-ish addition to this little room is my trio of little tables that now function as our coffee table. One is a tree stump that I just moved over from another place in the house. The other two are from Target. I waited patiently for that little dotted one to go on clearance (I got it for $20 marked down from $70! Sometimes my patience/procrastination pays off!).  The other little table serves a double purpose…it’s a basket that holds blankets, but it has a wooden top so I can use it as a table too. I love these three little guys because I can move them around really easy and they are just super functional in our small space (not to mention I just really like how they look all grouped together there).

A couple of other pieces in here that pull double duty are the trunk under the window and our shoe storage thing from IKEA. The trunk under the window was actually my “hope chest” that my parents got me before we were married. I used to keep it crammed in our closet full of random junk, but I cleaned it out a few months ago and now it serves as a sort of bench seat as well as storage for most of our (insanely large collection of) board games. On the wall just inside the front door is a shoe storage piece that we got at IKEA. This little guy has been here for years, and I could not love it more. My girls have so many shoes (mostly flip-flops, because hello central Georgia where it is summer for 10 months out of the year). Having this right by the front door has helped keep the shoe mess to a minimum (there are still, inevitably, some sort of random shoes lying around the house every day…it’s just the way it is.) :)

THE FEELS:
I’m a pretty touchy-feely person. We’re a pretty touchy-feely family. I like textures and warmth and lots of softness in our home. In the living room, this translates into more blankets than any human being could ever need, and a soft (and pretty) rug under our feet.

I recently got a new rug (because the other one was old and had lost it’s fluffy softness, not to mention it literally stank (something spilled or some dog did some unknown thing on it, I don’t know…but I couldn’t get the smell out, or the mountain of dog hair that was smooshed between every fiber…this is real life, folks. Pictures might look pretty, but honestly the real version is much less sparkly and not everything smells like roses ;) ).

But I found this one on clearance online (it’s from Joss & Main, and was only a little over $100 for a big soft round rug…jackpot! Rugs are hard to find at reasonable prices. But I have learned to not be in a hurry and shop around for deals. I want a pretty home, but I don’t want to break the bank to get it ;) )

Another thing I love is light. I think the light in a room affects how I feel (there might be something scientific to that, I have no idea…I just know that lights change how a room feels to me). So I open the windows during the day to let the sunshine in (this has made a huge difference in my mood during the day), and at night I love to light a bunch of candles. I don’t know if you can see from the photos, but the fireplace is full of mason jars with tea-light candles in them and I have candle holders on almost every surface. I love it when they are all lit up.  There’s just something about candlelight at night that just makes the space feel warm and cozy.

THE WALLS:
Ok, so maybe I go a tad bit crazy on the walls. But I saved this one for last because it's my favorite. Between all the different colors of paint and designs I've slapped up on our walls - not to mention all the bajillion different pictures and photos and artwork and randomness that I've had hanging up around here (and all the bajillion nail holes that are in every single wall as a result) - it's no secret that I love to fill up my walls. I've toned it back a little over the years, but I still like to cover my walls with beauty and grace. For me, this means artwork I love (nothing fancy or expensive…in fact, most of the things I have on our walls are things I made, my girls made, or that I collected from little art shows or freebies I found online). It also means words that encourage and inspire. I especially love Scripture art that points our hearts to God.  I change out the art on our walls all the time. And I move stuff around on the mantle more than any human on the planet, I’m sure. But I actually find that I notice things more if I change things around. (There’s probably a deeper lesson in there somewhere…but I'm too tired right now to figure it out ;) ) 

One easy way I've found to hang and change out artwork on my wall is by using these pretty little binder clips instead of frames. I just clip the artwork onto a clip and hang the back little thingy (super technical terminology right there) on a little nail. This way, I can move things around and change out my artwork really easily. (Plus, it's a super cheap way to hang up printables or pretty cards or even photos!) 

Most recently I made a big painting for the wall, mainly because of love this verse (Lamentations 3:22-23) and I wanted it right in front of my face every day, but also because I was under some big deadlines and was feeling stressed out, and painting/creating is one way I de-stress (and possibly procrastinate ;) ). So last week, as I faced a huge deadline and a stack of projects (not to mention the girls had their first full week of school and I kinda had a run-in with a curb and busted up the car a bit and then Lilly sprained her wrist and we ended up at the doctor getting x-rays all that jazz), I spent the better part of a day with a giant canvas and some paint doing something that wasn’t even on my to-do list, because of course ;) And then after finishing said painting, of course I had to rearrange everything on all of the walls because, again, of course. (I tell myself I work better under pressure and at the last minute, but really I think I’m just an expert procrastinator…sigh…)

You really don’t have to spend a lot of money to fill your walls with beauty and grace. Family photos, kids’ paintings, or even old salvaged windows (all of mine were found for $5 each) can add a lot of loveliness to a room. And it’s easy to find Scripture and artwork for your walls if you take time to look…in fact, that new painting I made for my living room?

I turned it into a printable image and it’s now available in the shop. You can purchase the PDF bundle (5x7, 8x10, and coloring page) for just $5…OR, with this design, I’m also offering a high-resolution JPEG that you can purchase for just $10. This image can be uploaded to your favorite online print shop (or taken to a local print store) and you can have it printed (as a poster or on a canvas or however you wish) all the way up to 24” x 36” size. (More details and information can be found in the Shop)

Crafting a warm and inviting space where our family and friends can gather and just enjoy being together can sometimes be challenging, especially in a smaller space. But it’s also a lot of fun. I like moving things around and trying new things in my home. Sometimes the things I try work out great, sometimes they don’t. But I’m not afraid to put another hole in the wall or try another color of paint…after all, what’s the worst that could happen? :) 

One final note: lest you think I'm the only one who decorates around here...this little "Rocketeer" is currently hanging from the doorway between the living room and dining room, courtesy of none other than our Lilly (she even made smoke coming out of the jet packs...that kid.) :) I think I'll leave it there for a while...it's a completely perfect addition to the room! ;) 

Full-Color Calendar now available!

Hello friends!

This is just a quick little note to let you know that the full-color version of my little 2016 Calendar is now available in the Shop! And for one week only, you can get it 50% off!

The black-and-white version that you can color yourself is still free to download here. :)

And in case you haven't subscribed yet, you may want to do that soon...the February freebies are scheduled to be sent out this Saturday!! 

Have a beautiful day!!