Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall at the Parsonage

I finally got around to taking a few pictures of my fall decor, so here it is!  

 Front Hall/Entry

"New" Kitchen Island
(Future blog post to come on how this little beauty came into our possession)


 Dining Room

Rearranged my hutch quite a bit, since it'd been a while.  (I was getting bored with it.)  I have my grandmother's turkey platter out on display, in addition to other "fall" dishes (leaf candy dishes from Target's dollar spot, small turkey plates $1 each from Christmas Tree Shops, hand painted bread plate - a gift).  Why keep them hidden behind cabinet doors?  Use them with the decor! 

Living Room

Still not sure how much I love how this is all arranged, but it is what it is for now.  I've been meaning to put a few fall pictures from last year in the small frames, but just haven't gotten around to it... so they still have summer pictures in them!  Maybe I'll get around to it before Christmas comes!

 I'm not gonna lie... I'm loving my mantel this fall!  I finally got one of $1 garage sale find wooden windows up (didn't have to do a thing to it!).  Then, my tea-stained cheesecloth with lights (hard to see in the picture), some candle holders, black metal star and "R", mini pumpkins, and my believe sign and it's done.  Simple, clean, and relaxing.  Ahhh...  Even better in the evenings with the lights on and the candles lit...

 Front Door

Happy decorating!

~ Carrie ~

Tuesday, September 27, 2011



Today's Lesson is...

Thorns of Blessing


This past weekend, I had the opportunity to host a ladies' breakfast at my house.  The food was delicious and the company was exceptional.  We all had a wonderful time and look forward to doing it again.  Whenever the ladies from our church have a breakfast together someone usually shares a devotional and some time is spent in prayer together.  Being the hostess, I took it upon myself to lead in a short devotional.  As a young pastor's wife, I often feel overwhelmed at opportunities like this, but God has definitely been my confidence and I'm learning more and more how to make it less about what I say and more about what God is saying through me.  

The following is an excerpt from a devotional book called Trust: A Godly Woman's Adornment, by Lydia Brownback (she has a series of devotional books that are worth checking out) and is part of what I shared this past weekend.  

Thorns of Blessing

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10

A debilitating ailment hinders us from enjoying an active life... a shrink income robs us of financial breathing room to pay the bills... an elderly in-law moves in, sucking the peace out of our home.  Difficulties like these - frustrating, worrisome, stressful - happen to each one of us.  Such difficulties may occur overnight; at other times they creep up on over time. 

Do you know what I'm talking about? Maybe you can relate from personal experience.  Perhaps there is a difficult situation you are trying to cope with right now, something making you anxious and irritable much of the time.  Surely you have prayed about it.  Paul prayed several times about his personal problem, asking God to deliver him from his "thorn... in the flesh" (v.7).  But God did not deliver him in the way he asked.  God gave him the strength of Christ instead.  

Paul's thorn weakened him in some way, just as our difficulties weaken us.  As we fight off the continual jabbing of the thorn, we seek to pray our way back to strength.  But more often than not, the thorn we want gone is the very thing God is using to accomplish something good in us.  Paul's weakened condition made room for the strength of Christ, a strength that would give him a larger capacity to enjoy the blessings that God had in store for him.  Weakness in God's people is always a blessing in disguise, but it's hard to see it as such when we are feeling it keenly.  We look for any escape, any way we can find back to the strength of self-sufficiency and daily tranquility

While we are anxiously looking for a way out, what we don't see is that our thorn isn't our real problem.  what is actually making us anxious is our heart's demand to be free of it.  If we'd just stop resisting, we'd find grace to live peacefully with our difficult spouse, our multiple sclerosis, or our unemployment.  If we are willing, we will find that we really don't need the thorn removed - divine grace is sufficient.  God will prove that to us if we let him.

~ Carrie ~

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fall Family Fun

 Here’s my list of fun things I’d like our family to do this fall.

  • Apple picking at Russell Orchards
  • Pumpkin picking at a place to be determined (last year we went to Connors Farm)
  • Pumpkin carving  (still trying to figure out what we'll be carving this year)
Last year's Elmo pumpkin

  • Roast pumpkin seeds (This was a pretty big fail last year, but I'm determined to try again, this time with a recipe from the Food Network.)
  • Make pumpkin whoopie pies
  • Play in leaves (I have a 2 year old, so this will happen whether I plan it or not...)
  • Get a nice family picture taken
  • Go to NH and enjoy some of the foliage
  • Make pumpkin pancakes (I will definitely share this recipe if it's as good as I hope...)
  • Do some fun, fall crafts with Jadon (I've been pinning several on my Kids' Crafts Pinterest board)

But, of course... I also have to get some of my not fun fall to-do list accomplished!

~ Carrie ~

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Fighting Fear with Faithfulness"

"...Like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear."
1 Peter 3:6

A terrible phone call.  A disappointing doctor's visit.  A pop quiz.  A check engine light.  A wrong turn.  As hard as we try, we cannot avoid fear and anxiety.  They creep up on us, often at very vulnerable times.  What we do with our fear?  How do we cast off our anxiety?  I love these words that are shared, particularly for women, by John Piper.

"First Peter 3:6b shows us what hope looks like in the stresses and threats of real life... The presence of hope drives out fear. The daughters of Sarah do not fear anything but displeasing God. Or to be more accurate, the daughters of Sarah fight the anxiety that rises in their hearts. They wage war on fear, and they defeat it with the promises of God.... They fight fear with the faithfulness of God—'Sarah considered him faithful who had promised' (Hebrews 11:11). And then they do what Peter says in 4:19, 'Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator.' They affirm the sovereign rule of God over their suffering and that they do not suffer apart from his will, and they rest their souls in the firm and omnipotent hands of a faithful Creator. They cast out fear and they hope in God. And so they prove to be the daughters of Sarah and heirs according to the promise."
--John Piper, Mothers Day Message (May 1986). 

And so my mind goes to that timeless hymn...

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

~ Carrie ~

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It's Not Fun, But Get It Done

Like it or not, fall is just about here.  New Englanders seem to both dread and love fall.  We dread it because it seems like we just start getting used to the warm weather and it turns dark and cold again.  We love it because fall in New England is beautiful!  I love it because I get to pull out all my fall decor, and I'm really ready for a change.  I'm getting bored with my summer decor and love the colors and smells that fall brings!

This post is not about my fall decor.  I'll do that in the next couple week probably.  The thing that has been on my mind has been the holidays.  (I can practically hear some of you groaning at the thought of such a chaotic time of year, but that's exactly why I'm thinking about it.)  I was thinking about how there are so many things that we want to do this fall as a family, and then Thanksgiving comes along, and then the rush until Christmas, then Christmas and the New Year... yeah, it gets busy, fast.

My thought is, before we get to the fun fall activities, I need to start on my list of not fun fall activities - things that will hopefully make life a little less crazy when all I want to do is spend time with my family.  So, here it is... my list of not fun fall activities.

The Not Fun Fall To-Do List
  1. Yard work - It has to be done, right?  Raking, bagging leaves, trimming, putting away outdoor summer toys, cleaning the porch, etc.  My goal is to not put this off.  Just do it and get it done with. 
  2. Clean windows - My windows are always filthy - and I clean then fairly often.  Just as soon as I clean them, little fingers come along and smudge them all up.  Oh well.  The outside of the windows are not cleaned ever very often.  I don't want to stare at smudgy windows throughout the winter when I can't do anything about it.  They need to be cleaned. 
  3. Clean the fridge - This is one of my least favorite household chores (that and ironing, which I rarely do).  But, it has to be done.  Before all of the baking starts, the out-of-town guests arrive, and big family dinners start being planned, give the fridge a good, thorough cleaning - then breathe a big sigh of relief. 
  4. Organize pantry items and stock up - Purge some of the things that are way past their expiration date, then evaluate what is left.  Eat what you've been meaning to have for a long time, and take note of what you are missing.  Then, stock up on those pantry items that are constantly being used throughout the holidays (baking supplies, seasonings, etc.).  Doing this will cut down on those last minute trips to the grocery store for 1 or 2 things your forgot to get.  (This does happen to everyone, right?)
  5. Major de-cluttering - I don't know about you, but I spent so much time outside and traveling throughout the summer that I recently got looking around my house and realized how much clutter has built up.  I think I've just been out and about so much that I didn't really notice it.  Well, it's on its way out.  Old magazines were at the top of my list!
  6. Go through toys and purge! - Christmas will be here before we know it, so go through the toys.  Pack away the ones that are no longer played with.  I'm even going to pack up an "emergency" box of toys that he still plays with and stash it in a closet to pull out on a day when we just need something "new".  With toddlers, if it's been a month, then it's as good as new! 
  7. Stock up on craft supplies - As the weather gets colder, more time will be spent inside.  Stock up on random, fun craft supplies so that the creative juices are free to flow this fall and winter.  Pipe cleaners, fuzzy pompoms, and a paper bag can provide lots of entertainment on a cold day.  Be prepared!
  8. Pull out the warm clothes - It's okay to do this before it's freezing cold outside.  Make sure you know where everything is and evaluate what new things are needed (especially hats, gloves, mittens, and jackets).  Don't be caught out in a cold day with no hat and holes in your gloves! 
  9. Start thinking about Christmas - You don't need to start your shopping yet (although it wouldn't hurt).  But if you do plan on making any gifts, start planning now.  Don't stress yourself (and family) out by waiting until 2 weeks before Christmas to make some gifts you've been intending to do for a month.  Start planning now! 
  10. Plan for family Christmas picture - Oh, this one is really personal.  We were very last minute on this last year, and I am determined to get on top of it this year.  Fall is a really nice time of year for outdoor family pictures - but even if you don't take it yet, plan it out (location, clothing, person to take it, where to order pics, etc.).  
I am convinced that if I do these things, my fall and holiday season will be way less stressful.  I hope I get everything done soon, so that I can enjoy my list of FUN family activities!  Maybe you have some different "to-dos" that will help you out...

~ Carrie ~ 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011


My dad is a tease.  Always has been, and always will be.  He's always known just how to get my sisters and I going.  (Of course he rarely did it to my brother because they were on the same side.)  In the midst of these moments of, "Dad!  Did you really?  Are you serious?" - my sisters and I would eventually look at Mom, who would inevitably end the joking around and relieve our fears.  Then, while trying to hold back a smile, she would look at my dad and say, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children" - to which, he would nod and smile back at her with that twinkle in his eye.

It was a long time before I really knew what my mom was talking about.  Of course, she was mostly kidding around, it was her way of saying, "Stop teasing them so much!"  She was, however, quoting an important part of Scripture that I never really took the time to understand.  

 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4 

This verse comes in the context of and a well known passage about families and relationships.  In fact, many of us grew up hearing the first verse of this chapter, "Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."  Many a teenager has responded to this verse with rolled eyes or groaning, and then, the next verse continues with the same message about honoring your parents.  (Is it possible that even as an adult, I still struggle a little to hear those verses?!)  

Now, I'm the parent.  Now, I get to say these verses to my child during moments of reproof and correction, right?  Well... yes.  But now as a parent, it's especially important that I keep reading and arrive at verse 4.  Even though Paul directs his words at fathers in particular, it is still applicable to mothers, too.  

As I read and reread this verse, I'm forced to ask myself 2 questions.   The first is this: "How much of the anger in my home is caused by me?"  Paul Tautges asks this question in an article that he wrote called 25 Ways to Provoke Our Children to Anger.  The second question is: "Am I raising my child to simply do as I say, or am I leading my child by example to live as Christ?"  Far too often I fail at setting the example of maintaining my temper, accepting blame, showing forgiveness, and many of these things that Tautges challenges readers with.  

I'm thankful for having great parents who I still rely on as I now find myself in the parenting role.  It's not as easy as they made it seem, at times.  It truly is a calling of great responsibility that I must continue to challenge myself in, lest I find that my sinful nature taking over the godly example that I desire to be to my son.  And I'm sure there will be a small dose of teasing along the way, too.  Hey, I am my father's daughter.  :)

~ Carrie ~

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Jadon's New Room

I am very excited to say that Jadon’s big boy bedroom is done!  I’m so excited to share with you all that went into this month long process.  (Okay, maybe not all… but I’ll be sharing a lot of the details.)  I didn't really have any good before pictures of his room (I was shocked, but it's true...).  The room was your basic nursery: crib (converted to toddler bed), dresser, changing table, bookshelf, small nightstand, and glider with ottoman.  The space is very tiny, approximately 10x10.  In the end, with bunk beds and all, we actually think the room looks bigger than before!

This room redo obviously had to be a thrifty one, and I think we were pretty successful.  So, after a month of acquiring furniture via family members, thrift stores, and Craigslist; hitting up A.C. Moore with 50% off coupons; scouring the internet for bedding deals; several trips to Home Depot; and a lot of late nights spent painting and crafting we have a little boy’s bedroom that our little boy loves! 

New Furniture
With the exception of his bookcase, every piece of furniture in Jadon’s redone room is new to us.  It was a somewhat eclectic blend of pieces that, through some major refinishing, all amazingly look like they go together.  The bunk beds (that we got from my parents and are the same ones my sister and I slept on) were not refinished, but here are some pics of the other pieces of furniture.

Before & After Pics
I found this nightstand at a thrift store in Presque Isle, Maine for $8.  After minimal sanding, a new paint job, and a brushed nickel drawer pull it looks great!

This bookcase had been in Jadon's room as is.  It was a bookcase that belonged to my in-laws originally.  After some sanding and a couple coats of paint it looks like a totally different piece of furniture.

The dresser for Jadon's room is a story that I'll keep brief.  We thought we were getting one for free, but it didn't work out.  So, we stopped at a thrift store in New Hampshire and found this little beauty (sarcasm) for $5.  To be honest, I pretty much looked right past it, but Andy liked it and the price was right.  We weren't sure what to do with it, but the more we thought about it, the more we realized it would probably work for Jadon's dresser.  It had a drawer that was falling apart, and another drawer was missing a big piece, but Andy did a little magic and we ended up with 3 sturdy, good-looking drawers and a shelf at the top.  The 2 baskets hold Jadon's socks and underwear.  New, brushed nickel knobs help to match the piece to the nightstand.  I love it! 
This bench was our CraigsList find.  We realized we were going to have some extra space in the room that really needed... something.  After a couple of days of watching CraigsList for anything that could work, we found this bench for $10 - and get this, it was already blue, almost the same exact shade that we used for the other furniture!  Perfect! 

Walls & Windows
The wall color is the same as before – a super pale, neutral yellow.  I definitely did not want to paint the walls after they were just painted 2 years ago (almost exactly).  I also kept the valances the same because it was easier, cheaper, and they still went with the color scheme in his room.  So, no new changes with his walls (other than the removal of a bunch of scuffs and marks… Thank you, magic eraser!). 

The bedding was a big deal for me.  I devoted a lot of time to shopping around, comparing prices, and just worrying about bedding.  I knew what I loved, which was way out of my price range, then I knew what I liked – which was still out of my price range.  (Keep in mind everything had to be multiplied by 2 since we have bunk beds).  So, I played the waiting game.  I kept my eye on what I liked and watched for a really good sale.  Well, the best sale was still not a good enough sale price to fit in my budget, so that didn’t happen.  Then I got looking elsewhere and suddenly found a bedding set (online from Kohl’s) that would work.  I liked it, it was versatile enough to last for a long time, and was still out of my price range.  So, once again, I watched it.  Then, at just the right time, it went on sale, I also had $20 Kohl’s cash, and a coupon code for free shipping!  When it was all said and done, I spent $70 for 2 complete bedding sets (comforter, sheet set, sham, and bed skirt)!  The wait was worth it.  I love getting a great deal!
He loves laying in his new bed!

Wall Art & Accessories
What to put on the walls?  This is always something that I find I mostly have to wait until the furniture is set up and then just kind of feel it.  (This used to drive Andy nuts, but he’s come to learn that this is what I need to do.)  It ended up all coming together really easily.  I re-used a few things that had previously been in his room (simply because I could not bear to part with them yet), made a new wall hanging, and used some vinyl wall decals (LOVE!).  
A few things that were re-used from the nursery: a poem written by my mom with two child's prayers on either side and a shelf with pictures from when Jadon was born, some of his baby Red Sox gear, a baby bank, a ceramic baby bootie, and a musical snow globe given to him by his Great-Grandpa and late Great-Grandma.  Not ready to put any of these things away yet, so they had to find a spot in the room.
I don't consider myself especially creative or especially crafty, although I'm working on both of these things.  I got a little inspired and created this custom wall hanging.  The frame was purchased from the Christmas Tree Shops for $10 (4 - 8x10 frames mounted together).  Check out how I made this from a previous home pick.
Vinyl Wall Decals

Most of the accessories that are in the room he already had - a painted wooden truck that he got from us for his first Christmas (that I painted), the lamp, and the letter blocks that spell his name.  My wonderful mother-in-law gave us a cute truck photo frame that works perfectly in the room.  I bought a little blue canvas bin for some of his toiletry items and a under-bed canvas storage bin for his "next size up" clothes - both bins came from Target.  I also purchased 2 baskets from the Christmas Tree Shops for his dresser for $5 each.  I've seen pennants for kids' rooms in several places online and thought it'd be cute for Jadon's bunks beds - especially since they have not been refinished... ever.  It covers some of the blemishes in the wood.  It was a cheap, simple project that added a lot to the room. 
I found several tutorials on how to make a felt pennant, but ultimately ended up doing my own thing.  I bought my felt, cut the triangles in the size that I wanted, stitched the edge to thread the triangles, and then threaded them with some jute that I already had.  Then I tied it tight to the posts of the beds.  So easy, so fast, so cheap!  Because I had the jute already, it only cost me the price of the felt - less than $2!

The Finished Product
So, drum roll please… here is the finished product.  I’m sooooo happy with it!  And, more importantly, so is Jadon!  Much thanks goes to my hubby for all of his carpentry skills needed with the dresser and installing all the knobs and handles, and yes, he did also pick up a paint brush so I didn’t have to do all of that painting by myself.  In the end, this total room redo (which included multiple pieces of furniture, mattresses, bedding, paint, wall art, accessories, etc.) cost me just over $200.  I’m thrilled with my thriftiness, especially considering we gained an extra place to sleep people in our house.  This is a room that will easily grow with Jadon for the next few years, and the higher priced items (mattresses and bedding) will last even longer.  So that was the road to Jadon's big boy room, and now here is - DONE!

~ Carrie ~