Making a Lifegiving Home

We moved into our new home in April. Since then, I've been loving the process of cultivating a space that feels peaceful for myself, and warm and welcoming for those who enter. I've been finding a lot of joy in creating beauty in this space, since it's the first home I've lived in that truly matches my aesthetic. Sure, there are plenty of things I could change or add if we had the resources to do it all, but honestly, I kind of like not having the means to be able to do it all. It's growing contentment in me, and revealing where I am not content. Right now I'm loving the little by little progress to make this place a sanctuary for all the people who fill it. 

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

I've been working on a few projects to that end and I thought I'd share them with you today :) I recently finished reading the book The Lifegiving Home by Sally & Sarah Clarkson. So refreshing and inspiring! It's rich with truths about God's word as well as practical examples on how our homes can be havens for people. Sally and Sarah talk about how beauty in our homes actually provides a sense of belonging to those who are in the space. 

I love this perspective on what I guess I would call home decor. Now, "decor" isn't just to fill the walls or have something nice to be complimented on when a friend comes over. The whole idea is redefined so that you really are designing a home of respite and welcome to those who enter. My perspective has shifted from wanting things just because they are beautiful, to wanting them because they have beauty AND purpose. 

I've written before, in my Pursuit of Less series, that I like to keep things minimal. I don't love looking at too many things, which is why most of our toys are hidden, and the ones that are out are really inspiring to me and the kids. It's also why every addition to our home is weighed for it's value - like do I really want this, because it will be something extra to clean ;) 

Inspired from this book - here are a few of the recent changes I've made in our home and intentional function of each. Nothing is particularly life changing - but I thought they might give you a starting place as you seek to make your own home a place of refuge and meaning for the people who fill it. 

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

I cleared off a lot of the clutter from the side of our refrigerator and just kept what mattered most to our family. Reminders to pray for missionaries, our meal plan, my work out plan, and a scripture memory verse calendar from our church's preschool ministry. This is right next to our chopping block, as you can see at the bottom of the picture. This makes it super easy for me to glance over for some discipleship content to talk about with Reaghan or to know what to pull out of the freezer for dinner. 

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

This wall has been so many things since we've moved in. I wanted to do a chalkboard here based off something we used to do in our old house, and something mentioned by Sally in the book. I love the idea of having a place to write encouragements, verses, or welcomes to dinner guests. It changes with the holidays with minimal banners and chalk art. For example, for Thanksgiving we had a leaf banner that said "happy fall" strung across the chalkboard and people wrote their gratitudes when they came over on the chalkboard. 

Just below the chalkboard is a wire curtain hanger from IKEA that we are using to hang up kids artwork. 

To the right is our kitchen table and to the left is Reaghan's activity tables with some velcro on the walls for different educational charts to cycle through. 

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

This little Montessori-inspired shelf is one of my favorites. I can just plop Everett down in front of it and he will start grabbing baskets and playing. I love that it's all at their level and invites them in to play. I keep mostly educational books on this shelf - our Usborne books, or our "read-aloud" books (this is a Charlotte Mason principle I just discovered...simply spending time during the day reading to your children). 

This shelf is constantly evolving. In fact, since taking this picture, I've put all of Everett's toys in a drawer in our entertainment center and now have a free basket for something new. I also am cycling out the letter puzzle and bead toy. 

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

Over the years we have printed Chatbooks of vacations and one a year with family memories. This has become one of my favorite purchases during Christmas time. I wanted a way to keep them displayed in a way that would invite visitors to flip through them. It's a way for people to get to know our family's story a bit better and just be filled with joy from the cute baby pictures! It also reminds us to spend time remembering the past of our family story as we continue to live in it. 

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

This is the wall that you see right when you walk into our home. It's a small entry way. I needed somewhere to "catch" all our things when coming and going. We got this bench from Overstock and I threw some pillows on it. In the future, I'd love to get some bigger pillows with inspiring phrases and even some pillows to change with the seasons - but that's for the future! ;) 

The basket on the right keeps adult shoes, and the basket on the left keeps Reaghan's shoes. The middle cubby is for my purse so it's out of the way. I love this little space for Reaghan to sit down and put on her shoes/put them away herself. 

Right above this we have two clear command hooks that hold our keys and a white IKEA picture ledge that has yet to be really filled. I'm still deciding what I want there - but definitnely a sign with a message of welcome to guests. Let me know if you have ideas! 

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

This tray sits here for dimension on the table but also as a reminder to put others first and to serve. It's a reference to a story in the book Life in Community by Dustin Willis.

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

Clean and simple! I didn't want a lot of stuff on top of the entertainment center especially since the TV is so big. Under the candles I have two books - one called "Until the Whole World Hears" which is a historical missionary book from Cru, and one with lots of pictures of Italy - both reminders to pray for the lost and an invitation for others to look through them if they wish. 

The wicker tray holds books and Bible study materials. The drawers are organized with toys, DVD's and more photo albums I'm not sure what to do with yet ;) 

Making a Life Giving Home.... tips to create a refreshing and inspiring space

This gallery wall is going to transform in the next few months. I have been sitting on it for a while, not sure what to do with it. I think I'll keep the layout, but will be changing pictures out. I want this to be a wall of remembrance - much like the stone of remembrance in 1 Samuel. The wall will hold milestones and special significant times in our family. I'm sure I'll post on Instagram when I'm finished! 

So as you can see I'm definitely still in process! But I wanted to share with y'all how I try to make my home a place of refuge and welcome, especially since we spend so much time here! I hope it gives you some ideas, and I definitely recommend The Lifegiving Home if you haven't already read it. 

How I will implement the ideas in this book throughout the year:

Each chapter centers around a month out of the year. Sally and Sarah share their thoughts on the month and the opportunities there are for hospitality and traditions. Each month I plan to open up to the chapter corresponding with the upcoming month. I'll lay out a plan for new traditions I want to try out based on my highlights and notes taken in the book. Follow along on Instagram to see how I use my home for serving both our family + those outside our home! 

Everett's 1st Birthday - Peter Rabbit Party!

Everett's party was last weekend and we had the best time. I think 1st birthday parties are just the best - they honor so much. From the parents who got through that year, to the community aka our village who stood by us, and to honor the baby as well! We really wanted to honor the Lord and what He has done in our relationship with Him through Everett's pregnancy and life this first year, which I'll share a little more about at the end. 

Peter Rabbit 1st birthday party!

FOOD

Deviled eggs

Blackberry mini pies

Smash cake 

 Veggie tray with ranch and hummus 

Annie's bunny grahams

Pumpkin tree peter rabbit pouches -- I originally wanted these but couldn't find them so I just got regular applesauce pouches 

Water

Peter Rabbit 1st birthday party!

For the snack table, I kept it really simple. I had picked up the teal pom poms from the Target dollar section months ago and didn't quite know how I would use them for the party. I ended up just using them like little cabbages on the table for dimension. I already had the teal fruit baskets, and had some silk veggies from a wreath I found at my mother-in-law's. I pulled some baskets in from Reaghan's toys and an antique watering can I use in our home for decor, and it was done! 

ACTIVITIES

I had some coloring pages on Reaghan's activity table for kids to color, and eggs filled with candy outside to find! I originally wanted to order little plastic carrots (like these) but didn't have time to order them. I just grabbed some old Easter eggs from our closet and they worked perfectly! 

DECORATIONS

We had a pretty small budget for this party, and I was pretty excited that I was able to keep everything to about $50. A big help with this was that Jordan's family loves Beatrix Potter and had a lot of things to contribute! We already had the book, plus a stuffed Peter Rabbit that we own. 

I made some cabbages to frame the wall around the chalkboard using coffee filters. I followed this tutorial - super easy! Then I filled out some stats on Everett for our chalkboard, and hung up his monthly photos on the wire hook we usually use for hanging artwork. It was the perfect spot for it right above the snack table. 

Jordan's Gran gave me this adorable tin right before the party. She had bought it from Beatrix Potter's house in England and held on to it for years! I was so excited to get it! 

Then I put out a few little tea cups, which Jordan's mom let me borrow. Aren't they sooo cute?

Of course I had to hang a sign on the front door ;) And added a little rabbit to our porch, also something of my mother-in-law's! 

DEDICATION

We dedicate our babies to the Lord at their 1st birthday parties. Our church has a dedication that we follow, and it helps us put a stake in the ground for that child's life. To say in front of all our friends and family that we are committing to raise this child in the Lord is a weighty thing, and it helps to have those people there to affirm that and keep us accountable through the years. 

In addition to the dedication, I read Psalm 145 and shared some of my heart. Those words feel too tender to share here, but I will leave you with our prayer for sweet E and some fun pictures from his smash cake, which he didn't smash, haha! 


Our prayer for you, dear Everett, is that you would grow to be a brave and mighty man of God, full of integrity and strength, tenderness and compassion. I see you laying your life down as Jesus did, fully surrendered to the God who made you, your whole heart captured by His beauty and grace. What a privilege to be your mama, to be your daddy. You have brought peace unexplainable and joy uncontainable. We can’t wait to see the man you become.  

Turkey Meatballs + Spaghetti Squash

I have always been the girl to sheepishly write "nothing" under exercise while at the doctors office. That or sarcastically write "chasing my toddler" ...oy. I have never been someone who has worked out mainly because I have either been bored with whatever I was doing, or just didn't feel like I needed it that much. Well, let me tell you - two kids will definitely tell your body that you need a little more fitness in your life. Not just to lose weight, which is certainly one of my goals, but mainly to work towards becoming a whole person. Working out has become an emotional outlet at the end of a long day of parenting, and I already feel so much more physical strength and energy after only 2 short weeks. I feel so silly talking about exercise because I literally know NOTHING and on top of that, I am a baby at it. But cheer me on? I need the encouragement :) 

I just finished a fitness challenge last week that lasted 15 days.  As I shared in my goals post, I am trusting God for physical and emotional wholeness this year. In part, this includes finding my own rhythm for exercise.  

Having the accountability of a challenge to follow along with has been so good for me! I love the encouragement from others in the challenge and from the trainer herself. The challenge comes with a meal plan, which I followed loosely. I like to do my own thing :)

Turkey Meatballs + Spaghetti Squash... Paleo and Whole 30 approved, quick dinner // Natasha Red

One of the dinner ideas she calls for is spaghetti squash with marinara. I went ahead and threw a bunch of things together and came out with some pretty delicious and easy meatballs to make my own version!

Turkey Meatballs + Spaghetti Squash... Paleo and Whole 30 approved, quick dinner // Natasha Red

I used the Poor Man's Vodka sauce from Nourished because it's so so good and I usually have 1 cup portions sitting in the freezer ready to go. But you can use whatever sauce you like. 

PS: Read to the end of the recipe instructions for how to make this meal Whole 30 compliant. 

Turkey Meatballs + Spaghetti Squash... Paleo and Whole 30 approved, quick dinner // Natasha Red

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground turkey 
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsely
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (25 ounce) jar marinara sauce OR Poor Man's Vodka sauce from Noushied Cookbook
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Cook your Poor Man's Vodka sauce as directed in the recipe OR heat up marinara sauce in a large pot. 
  2. Put ground turkey, parsley, salt, garlic powder, chili powder and pepper in a stand mixer and connect the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until all the herbs and spices are fully mixed with the turkey. 
  3. Use a cookie scoop to scoop out perfectly portioned meatballs, pressing lightly together with your hands. If you don't have a cookie scoop, you can use a spoon and your hands. 
  4. Place meatballs in the sauce, cover the pot and simmer on medium low for about 15-20 minutes. 

For the squash:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F
  2. Cut the spaghetti squash in half length-wise. 
  3. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard. 
  4. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  5. Drizzle olive oil and a splash of water in the well that is formed inside the squash from removing the seeds. 
  6. Quickly flip the squash flesh-side down onto the foil-lined pan so the water stays as contained as possible. 
  7. Pour about a teaspoon of olive oil on the skin of one of the squash slices, rubbing in with your hands all over the skin. Do the same on the other slice. 
  8. Bake for 1 hour. Once cooked, let cool a bit and scrap out the spaghetti squash with a fork. 

Pour sauce and meatballs over squash and serve! 

*Notes: To make this Whole 30, omit the sugar from the Poor Man's Vodka Sauce recipe...or use a sugar free jarred sauce. 

Turkey Meatballs + Spaghetti Squash... Paleo and Whole 30 approved, quick dinner // Natasha Red

Are you trying to eat healthier this new year or starting to exercise more? Would love to hear about it! 

Roasted Asparagus, Chicken + Quinoa Salad

In a season full of stews and soups, sometimes it's nice to have something a bit lighter for dinner while still incorporating your favorite elements of the season. This salad is that kind of dish for me. This dish also makes a great addition to a baby shower, birthday party table or a potluck dinner! 

Roasted Asparagus, Chicken + Quinoa Salad ... an easy winter salad!

I love the crunch of the pumpkin seeds mixed with the tangy sweetness of dried cranberries. Since this dish includes protein, veggies and quinoa, we just eat a bowl of it and call it a day for dinner...super simple!

Roasted Asparagus, Chicken + Quinoa Salad ... an easy winter salad!
Roasted Asparagus, Chicken + Quinoa Salad ... an easy winter salad!
Roasted Asparagus, Chicken + Quinoa Salad ... an easy winter salad!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken thighs
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (I prefer unsweetened)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

For the dressing: 

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey 
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F
  2. Chop the hard ends off the asparagus and discard. Chop the remaining asparagus and add to a baking sheet lined with foil. 
  3. Drizzle asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper. 
  4. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides and place on top of the asparagus on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. 
  5. Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to the package instructions (usually 1 cup of dry quinoa and 2 cups of water, boiled until water is completely absorbed).
  6. When the chicken and asparagus are done baking, take them out of the oven and let the chicken cool for a few minutes. Rough chop the chicken and mix it with the asparagus, quinoa, cranberries pumpkin seeds and dressing in a large bowl. 
  7. Serve at room temperature. 

My 2017 Word of the Year

Deep breaths. Feet planted. Roots soaking in moisture and nutrients. Healing. Growth. Raw. 

These are all words that came to the surface when I was prepping my goals for the year. I highly recommend the PowerSheets, in part because they have some great prep work that have helped me uncover things below the surface that I wouldn't have known were there. I had a few contenders: raw, transparent, depth, cultivate, roots, tethered. As I looked up definitions, none of these resonated with me beyond the initial word. However, the word "rooted" felt like it fell right into the center of my heart. It was screaming at me all the lessons I had learned in 2016. It's the breath of fresh air I need going into this year with hope, after such a trying 2016. 

R O O T E D : firmly implanted. a part of the body of a plant that develops from the radicle (plant embryo) and grows downward into the soul, anchoring the plant and absorbing nutrients and moisture. to implant or establish deeply. 

Here are some thoughts from my journal that came into my mind after reading these definitions: 

  • secure
  • established
  • anchored
  • growth
  • nutrients - healthy
  • flourishing
  • connected
  • reliant on the sun (or the Son)
  • needs tender care
  • quits growing when the roots are severed - stay connected to Jesus! 

F R O M     T H E      W O R D

Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him... Colossians 2:7 (NLT)

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by water that sends out it's roots by the stream. It does not fear when the heat comes; it's leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV)


If you read my goals post from a couple of days ago, maybe you saw this theme. I'm asking God for spiritual, emotional, physical and mental wholeness. More time in the Word. More time reading. More margin. More grace for my kids and husband. Depth in friendships. Anchored and secure in who God made me. Free in His love for me. I'll be honest, the first few days of this year have been trying. It's not like January 1st happens and magically everything changes. I sense the trials of the past year bleeding into a new one, but am still trusting that despite the wind and waves, I may be anchored securely into the depths of the Earth, trusting in God no matter what comes. 

Do you have a word for the year? I'd love to hear it!


Other 2017 goals posts:

My 2017 Goals

25 Books for 2017