Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Favorites {Fall Front Door}

We don't have much of a covered area in the front of our new house but we do have lots of steps.  I am sooooo ready to decorate the entrance for Fall.  I already see neighbors putting out mums, though I think it's still too hot for that.

I've been looking at magazines and pinterest for ideas ...

It's no secret I love chalkboards.  Love this topiary too ....

I think this is so pretty, though it would never work here.  Mainly because we've been clearing lots of LOTS of ivy away from our home.  It's been a J-O-B and a half.

Mums inside pumpkins ..... so pretty.

I think I'm developing a thing for white pumpkins ...

I LOVE, LOVE lanterns on a front porch.  (FYI - the best place to buy lanterns to use outside is IKEA) ...

Classic and pretty .... and who doesn't need a personalized pumpkin ... and a polka dot one at that? I love me some polka dots, too.

I have looked at this photo for years now.  I have a space for just this sort of thing ..

My friend, Lara, just started selling burlap door hangings.  She made me this one ...

Can't wait to use it! If you're interested, you can look her up on facebook at Burlap Barn.  She makes everything from pumpkins to birthday cakes to owls.  So cute!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

{Gratitude} Lately

Lately, I've been grateful for ...

A dozen roses from a stranger .... just because.  
Changed my whole day.
Kindness matters!

Lessons from Isaiah.
My stability comes solely from the Lord, not my circumstances,
others' opinion or my feelings.

Sweet melodies that fill our house every morning and afternoon.
Emma's 'release' is playing music and we all benefit.  Beautiful!

Homemade Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls ... on a day that actually felt like Fall

Soccer shoes .... 'tis the season

Morning devotions while one of my favorites snuggles under my blanket to read

Mawmaws that drop by to help study for tests

Gratitude gets us through the week ... what are you grateful for?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Still ... Raising Future Esthers {A Weekly Series}

One of the most difficult things I've ever done in my life is parent my girls.

Maybe I should clarify .... purposing to parent them with biblical principles, nurturing a close walk with Christ while living in a fallen, sinful world .... that is one of the most difficult things I've ever done.

I tell my husband often "We simply can't take an hour off from parenting.  The moment we do, I feel we've let down our guard and sin has crept through the cracks of our home and gotten a foothold".

With a 4th and 7th grader, my prayers have changed.  I used to pray for energy to keep up with a toddler and newborn, hoping they would learn the name of Jesus and realize He is an important part of our home.

Now, I feel like we've stepped into intense battle ... hoping we wake up on the offensive instead of the defensive end that day.

At this stage, our girls are quirky, hilarious, inquisitive and FUN ... yet, they're still in a battle.  This world, with its distractions and low moral standards, is doing everything imaginable to capture their hearts.

I have to remember they are the Lord's and He will ultimately protect them, though I must also remember Eric and I have been given an enormous responsibility to direct them towards Him.

They won't choose Him by accident.  Standing at a daily crossroads, He will have to be the choice they make on purpose.

And, they won't choose Him if they've never heard what He can do, seen evidence of Him in my own life or if I haven't called out to God in prayer to show Himself to both of them.

Though we've become more protective of our girls and their stories as far as this blog is concerned, I still want to stay with my original idea ... Raising Future Esthers ... and write about how we're muddling through this parenting gig.

I'm really praying this won't be a mess! However, I've decided to post every Tuesday about issues specific to parenting ... what works for us, what I'm struggling with, prayers I'm praying, etc., all in an effort to keep myself sane :) Our girls' struggles and stories will still be safe within our home. These posts will more than likely just be prayers that I'm praying for that particular week, though I hope to link to posts or stories I've been inspired/encouraged by or simply write about a particular struggle asking for wisdom.

No perfection or expert advice here! I come solely from the idea that I always find such positive encouragement from other blogs and from other Moms that are in the same season as me {or have already walked this road and can offer invaluable wisdom}.

I'm still very deep in the trenches .... learning what God wants for them and how to parent them in a fallen world and one thing is certain, I can use all the encouragement I can get!

This won't be your go-to spot for parenting advice {that's for certain!} but maybe it will be a place we can encourage one another in this particular walk.  Even if it ends up just a space for me to dump all these consuming thoughts on what it's like parenting through this season, and it remains a one-sided conversation ... well, that's okay too.

And, really, that's my sincere intention.

Therefore encourage one another
and build up one another,
just as you also are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 {NASB}

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Favorites {Fall Outfits}

As if I haven't said it enough here, Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love the smells, the colors and the cooler temperatures.  I also love Fall clothes ... maybe because of layering.

Pinterest is a great place to find Fall Outfit inspiration {you can follow me here}.  I could totally see me wearing these outfits ...

I have a pair of leopard flats {from Target} that I wear A LOT.  I really need a new pair but I want to find some that are comfortable.  Until then, I broke down and bought my first pair of Toms during Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale ...

I LOVE these! They're the natural burlap style and they're so comfy! I have really weird issues with my feet {it's like I'm 102 and hurt if I do such things like ... walk}.  Anyway, I wore these all day shopping last week and my feet didn't hurt at all.

I'm also thinking I need to find me a puffy vest.  I love these outfits ... 

A MONOGRAMMED vest would be even better, right?

{Sigh} I need to go shopping!

Happy Friday! Eric took the day off so we could celebrate my birthday with just the two of us {whoop! whoop!}

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

{Gratitude} Lately

 Lately, I've been grateful for ...

A free morning to sit in a bookstore ... with no interruptions.

Afternoon walks with Em

Playing golf ... just my Dad and me

'Walking' Olivia to her friend's house

Blueberries {I'm kinda addicted}

Homemade biscuits

And .... grateful to celebrate 44 years!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Friday Favorites

One of my favorite things about reading other blogs is seeing what everyone else loves.

I'm going to try (leaning on grace) to post on Fridays the things I currently enjoy, whether it be products I've tried or just simple 'happies'.

So, here goes ...

I love navy blue and kelly green together.  I found this board on Pinterest yesterday.  It reminds me of outfits my Mom used to buy me when I was in junior high.  We called it 'preppy' then ...

I LOVE, LOVE September!

Not only is it my birthday Monday (next Wednesday! :) but it ushers in Fall ... my absolute favorite time of the year.

Speaking of Fall, I love anything 'pumpkin' .... the flavor, the scent, the color.  Love.

Bath and Body Works Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin
I also love this mantle decorated with pumpkins ...

Actually, I need to post about all my favorite fall decorations.  I LOVE to decorate for Fall.

Lastly, our family LOVES All Sons and Daughters.  Olivia and I crank this song up LOUD in the car ...

 Happy Friday, Friends! We're looking forward to a great weekend!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Coming Back and Community

Having been a chronological blogger, taking a 3 month hiatus has left me wondering where in the world to start.  In the past, I would just pick up where I left off and blog about what we've done and trips we've taken.

But, too much time has passed.  And, truthfully, I was pretty certain I wouldn't blog again at all.

I told my husband and Mom several times, "I think I'm done".

I have several reasons for thinking that, none of which need to be hashed out here, but the bottom line is that I miss this space.  I miss sharing lessons I've learned in God's Word, tiny glimpses of my days and recording what I'm grateful for.  Though I thought I was ready to post again a month ago, I don't feel like I got the green light from the Lord until now.

So, what's the latest?

We recently moved.

To a home I don't deserve.  Yet, I'm reminded I didn't deserve the home we lived in before this one either.  We don't deserve anything just because we try to do good things, right?

The struggle within my heart over moving to our new home almost did me in.  Not because it was difficult but because it all seemed like too much good.  I wore out my knees praying my desires were in line with God's heart and His will for our lives.

I spent months so afraid we would want something God didn't want for us or that we would make a mistake.  Then an overwhelming peace came when we (I) just let go and let Him show us the way to take.

I don't believe God has to prove His love for us with material things.  In fact, I think we miss out on His greatest blessings if we look for Him there.  So, greater JOY and Peace comes from simply looking for HIM and listening for His voice in His Word.

As we start to do life in our new home, I rest in what I've known all along .... Home is where my people are and where God's presence resides.

Our daily lives are considerably different here.  For example, I was able to drop Emma off at practice last week, come home and start dinner, finish Olivia's homework and go back to pick Emma up.  In the past, that would have been 2 1/2 hours Olivia and I spent in the car .... waiting ... since we lived on the other side of town.

I can give so many examples like that over the 10 weeks we've lived here.

We get a little giddy when Olivia can walk the sidewalk to her friend's house to play, or Emma can ride her bike to the neighbor's house to see her friends.  We pick up kids from practice/school and take them home AND .... my sweet friends do the same for me.

We feel part of a community now and that blessing has been amazing.

In ten weeks in our home, we've shared sleepovers, heartaches, dance parties, family get-togethers, tough decisions, yummy meals, laughter, tears, intense conversations, prayers, impromptu dinners with friends, game nights and silliness.

But, the greatest joy is knowing we are where God wants us.

Olivia seemed to know my heart when I spotted a chalkboard she wrote on the first week in our new home ....

The main thing we pray for!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

If We Can Just Make It A Few More Days

I'm sitting at my kitchen table eating a pizza.  In fact, I've eaten pizza for lunch almost every single day for the last 3 weeks.  Personal size.

Am I sick of it? Maybe a little.  But, I was recently the crazy-thankful recipient of 48 personal size pizzas.  I may not win the lottery or a $500 shopping spree to Target but my freezer is packed full of 48 tiny boxes of pizza goodness.

Well, probably significantly less now that it's been 3 weeks.

I just happened to be at the right place at the right time which was parked beside the Tony's Pizza delivery truck in the grocery store parking lot.  He had a few extras cases by mistake and well ... now I'm sitting here eating pizza.  Free pizza.

So, what have we been up to? Well, we're on our 2nd week of Summer and we're mastering the art of packing.  Not like the fun kind of packing that involves bathing suits and nice vacation plans, but the kind that results in every material possession in a box.

We move in 3 days.

Let's see ... the main question I get is "Are you excited?"

I always answer out loud, "Yes!" but to myself I start to cry a little.  Okay a lot.  Because the stress is about to do me in.

We haven't been able to think about our new home yet {which is totally awesome and ONE MILE FROM SCHOOL THANK-YOU-VERY-MUCH} because our current home needed some repairs. As it turned out, more repairs that we could ever imagine though I'm sure it could have been worse.

That's right.  It could have been worse.

My new and often-recited mantra.

I want to say the last repairman pulled out of our driveway at 1:00 today but I'm afraid I'll jinx it and another one will show up tomorrow.  Perhaps someone that promised they would be here 3 weeks ago and lost their way {is there a repairman alive that shows up when they say they will?}.

We did have some fun last week when we tagged along on one of Eric's business trips.  We love to do that in the summer!

I believe his exact words were "Honey, why don't you and the girls drive to meet me on my trip. That way you can get out from under these boxes, not have to deal with repairmen and relax a little".

Sounds heavenly.

The girls and I got to the hotel in time for dinner.  And, just as we were getting in bed, the fan to the A/C began making the biggest racket in the wall you've ever heard.  We were all up most of the night.

Eric got up the next morning only to take a COLD shower.  He left for work and called to tell me the hot water heater for the ENTIRE HOTEL was out.  Oh, and that the girls and I should get dressed BECAUSE THERE WOULD BE A REPAIRMAN IN OUR ROOM SOON.

Because, OF COURSE.

I'm convinced we're on Candid C*mera or some reality TV show.

But, are we excited? Yes, yes we are.  Only a few more days to go ...

Friday, May 09, 2014

An Update and Future Plans

Where to begin?

I'm sitting here in the quiet of my home (finally!) and really wanting to take a shower but felt like I couldn't until I finally posted here.  I have so many thoughts that I fear going off on a tangent, but we'll see where we end up.

I went running this morning for the third time this week.  This is worth noting since I haven't ran in a couple of months.  I didn't get back to it because I've gained a couple pounds (seriously, don't talk to me about it) but because I miss how running made me feel afterwards .... anxiety and stress free.

May is really not the month to talk about being stress-free, hence the reason I need to run! It will always go down as the busiest month for us as long as my girls are in school.  We know this, we try to prepare ourselves and we still slide into the weekends like we've been in battle all week ... completely exhausted.

May is also Eric's biggest travel month and because we are the Lails and we seem to do things on the grandest of scales .... we put our home on the market and sold it in 6 days.


And not having a clue where we would go.

I thought about writing about that entire process here but I've come to the conclusion that my words fail when I try to explain God's peace when we don't have the whole picture in front of us. People stare at us like we're odd (as if we aren't completely aware that we are).

In a nutshell, we have prayed about selling so we could live closer to our school.  After praying for years, God gave us the unmistakable green light to put our home on the market and we've sat back and watched in amazement.

We have no doubt we're walking this road very closely with Him and as we lean into Him daily for direction, we get tickled at the obstacles He removes and the people He uses to speak to us.

Not sure where we'll end up, I can confidently say I will have a much shorter commute next school year .... as well as time throughout the day that is normally spent 'packing' for us to be in the car for HOURS because of sports and activities that are on the same side of town as the school.

We are beyond grateful He is allowing this for our family.

In the midst of all of this, LIFE has been full since I last posted.  As I have sat down to post about our days, I would become unsettled with sharing.  I'm at a crossroads with this blog since my girls are at the ages they really don't wish for me to share the details of our conversations.  It's sweet and cute when you're a toddler but a little unnerving when someone walks up to you at church or at the grocery store and asks you about something you said or did.

I get it and I want to honor them and let them know their stories are safe within the walls of our home.  I don't have a problem continuing to write on this blog (in fact, I MISS IT so, so much!) but with the title being Raising Future Esthers, I'm just not clear on what that should look like.

I'll figure it out.  I want to be obedient and sometimes that means just being still and waiting on His direction.

Thanks for checking on me! I've gotten tickled at some of your emails as you speculate why I'm not posting.  I realize this is the longest I've ever gone and I love that you even want to read anything I write.  I'll get back to it in one way or another very soon.

Until then, IT'S THE WEEKEND Y'ALL!!!


Friday, March 21, 2014


Notice the shadow? The shadow caused by the sun? That shadow is kind of a big deal to us since we went too long without seeing it.

I think the reason everyone is so grumpy over the weather is because we're teased with 70+ degrees one day and 35 degrees the next.  You can count on one thing in NC ... the weather being unpredictable.

I sat outside for the longest time yesterday.  It seemed like a sin not to.  Like if I let the day of sunshine go by, it might be snatched away because I was ungrateful.

I kept listening for sounds of Spring ... like birds chirping or maybe a lawnmower.

As it turns out, our 13-year-old neighbor boy got a new whistle.  Comparable to a whistle you might hear at a college basketball game ... the official kind.  And, he has decided to blow it non-stop from 3pm - 8pm.

Joy.  Except not.

I've been so tempted to ask him about his fascination, but I fear startling him, since he blows it while wearing his Beats headphones.

I know.

I don't want to talk about the whistle.

The rain and cold did give us a few gifts this week, like no golf or soccer practice.  It seemed appropriate since it forced us to slow down.  A reprieve from busyness is always a gift.

Emma did have her first golf match the week before last.

Being the only girl on the golf team is a little different {for both of us} but she is enjoying it so much.  She's a perfectionist, though, so lots of life lessons to be learned.

I've been on a monogramming frenzy.  {Monogramming is a verb, in case you didn't know}.

I've personalized over 45 bows in the last 3 weeks ... as well as umbrellas, water bottles, eyeglass cases and insulated cups.  Apparently that Silhouette machine I bought three years ago IS good for something.  It's a lot of fun.

I may be taking it too far, though.  Here are Emma's ball markers :) ...

As if being the only girl doesn't make her stand out enough, these ought to do the trick.

Eric and I have also been working hard in our house, cleaning and organizing closets and just getting rid of excess stuff.

We're starting to feel lighter :)

So, that's it.  That's all we've been up to.  Maybe the most exciting thing is that we're heading into another three-day weekend.  My favorite since it feels like two Saturdays.

And, Olivia informed me this week that there are only 9 more weeks of school.

That's the best news I've heard in awhile!! :)

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