Shifting from Fall to Christmas Decor!

Well, the fact that you’re reading a new post from me right now is nothing short of a miracle. Because babies. I can hardly believe it, but sweet Evangeline is already two months old! What even?! And a post is coming (someday) which will feature a ridiculous number of pictures of her adorableness. But it’s a lot easier to sort through 20 pictures of decor versus 20 billion pictures of my new baby…not that I’ve taken that many or anything.

Anyway, because I haven’t gotten to share any of our fall decor this year (though I did document it), I wanted to include that as well as sharing what our Christmas decor looks like this year, since you know, fall is kind of my favorite thing ever…

So, here is a look at what fall looked like at our apartment this year.


My favorite thing in this setup is either that light aqua throw pillow (from At Home, that giant Home-Goods-on-steroids-warehouse store) or that pumpkin painting, which I did real quick one afternoon.

fall-gallery-wall-2Also, that wreath is my new secret weapon, since I can decorate it for any time of year, not to mention it was $4 at Walmart!! #winning (My mom came for a visit and brought some other lovely things with her, which meant that some of the decor got shifted around and/or improved, but I failed to document that since, you know, it was right after Evie was born.)

I do also love that thankful pillow over on the brown velvet-y chair… It’s always hard to put that one away.


That painting in the middle is a VERY rough attempt at copying The Umbrellas by the brilliant Renoir. I painted it in college, and it’s so far from perfect (cough* those disproportionately long arms * cough) but it brings me joy so I don’t even care that it’s sort of janky.


I love that I can feel like the art on my walls has been updated just by switching out pictures! So I had to put up this “Autumn Dreams” watercolor, one of my most favorite fall pieces from the shop. Creating art is my outlet of expressing my unrequited love of swirly hair. Such profundity…

Then there’s the entertainment center. I really wish I had taken a photo after Mom came and I added two orange pumpkins to either side, because it looked so happy! But I was still pretty excited about trying out adding color with books. A-like so:



Yeah, that cord… it bugs me that it’s in the picture, but whatev.


I wanted to utilize oranges and blues (cobalt like on the Blue Willow dishes, and aqua because it’s my fav), and grabbing a couple stacks of books with those colors made me feel like I accomplished that.

So, there you go. I wish I had been able to snap photos of it after we’d added some things (including these two cute white and orange houndstooth patterned throw pillows from Target- that I got for like $8.50!!), but I still enjoyed this simple decor for fall. Of course, I still got to enjoy my happy fall wreath on our front door again this year, but you remember that since I think I’ve talked about it for like a year.

And now, Christmas decor!! I did a combination of switching out artwork again, using our normal Christmas stuff, and shopping the house (as The Nester says) for some red accents (i.e. the red pillows in the next picture).


I also found that blanket scarf that the entire world seems to have at a fall festival for super cheap, and discovered it looks super festive on my couch too! Those white trees light up and change color, so they’re on the coffee table for now since Lucy LOVES them.


There’s that wreath. I just love it! Plus, throwing a bow on it that I already had was so easy, and now it’s “Christmas” decor. You can find that Christmas print of winter pines in my shop for immediate download or you can order a physical print (but I need all orders for physical prints in by this Friday at the latest!!)


And the Prepare Him Room watercolor is in the shop too!


This old painting is another that I did in college of berries in the snow. I like it because it goes along with everything without being super loud and distracting.

And of course, the Christmas tree.

christmas-treeEarly in January this year, we found this prelit tree for something like $25!!! It’s our first year without our wonky little 6 foot tree. (5 foot? 4? I don’t know, but it was falling apart and Ryan’d had it since before we were married!) Lucy gasped when she woke up the morning after he put it up and said, “I so ‘cited dekkate da chee!!”


I mean… Is that not the most precious thing you’ve ever seen??? Ok, maybe I’m biased.

Moving on.

For the entertainment center, I basically just switched out orange and blue stacks of books for red and green…




So here’s the big picture.


Obviously, the ocean-themed baby swing isn’t exactly Christmassy, but it IS necessary to our sanity. (The baby on the other hand makes every room brighter!)

Also, I show you this next photo because of the banister, not because of the fact that it’s a selfie.


It’s not the most voluminous garland, but you know what? It still makes me so happy. Oh, there’s another of those red bows (like on the wreath above the couch) on the end of the banister.

I guess I could explain that the reason I even have this selfie is because I have a billion photos of my babies on my phone and like, none of myself (since a typical day rarely has me looking this put together right now). Plus, I was headed to see two of my sweet voice students perform in a production of “Alice in Wonderland, Jr.” which was great! (I also enjoyed getting to go somewhere by myself. I mean, that is even more rare than me looking put together…)

I’m so enjoying this new season, attempting to navigate life with a toddler and a newborn, a crazy but lovely gift. Hope the little ways we’re making a lovely fuss inspire you to do the same, even and especially if the only place you can afford to shop is your house.

Free Printable: He Is Risen Indeed!

Growing up, we had a saying on Easter. In fact, it’s a saying that has a long history of being proclaimed on Easter.

As I’ve grown older, the words taste sweeter and sweeter, starting deep in my soul and- often- traveling up and out through my tear ducts (because if I can cry about something, I will). Maybe you know the words, too?

My pastor-father would stand on the stage, calling, “He is risen!”

And the congregation would reply with joy, “He is risen indeed!

This is decidedly my favorite moment of Easter. Just the other day, I found myself tearing up just thinking about it. It compelled me to create a piece featuring the response. It’ll be in the shop eventually, but right now I offer it as a free printable for you.

He Is Risen Indeed

(Just click and save to print off your copy! This is an 8×10 piece.)

Because it’s the least I can do. Because he- Jesus- accomplished something greater than the greatest possible thing I could even imagine accomplishing. Even that would be wretched and rejected compared to what he did, what he gave.

Something I read in 1 Kings 8 struck me as I consider what Easter means. It’s the dedication of the temple, which Solomon’s workers had recently finished. This was presumably one of Israel’s greatest moments as a nation. It was a culmination of everything that had happened to them since the Exodus, 500 years earlier!

Now, the holiness of God would commune with them from a tent no longer, but from the temple. God had established Israel, given them a homeland, and this dedication was something akin to the Olympics, according to commentary author, David Guzik. (If you don’t use the Blue Letter Bible app, it’s wonderful for quickly accessing resources about Scripture. That’s how I encountered this commentary specifically.) Solomon sacrificed “so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted,” aka he wanted to be over-the-top to honor and praise God on that day.

The priests carry the ark of the covenant and take it to the Holy of Holies. After they do this, the cloud of glory- the Shekinah glory- of God fills the temple, such that they can’t even keep ministering. Guzik mentions it being hard to define the glory of God (kind of an understatement right?) but that “we could call it the radiant outshining of His character and presence.”


To be in the Holy of Holies was intense enough (I’m inferring this from other stories of that temple), and this, as Guzik says, “intense sense of the presence of our holy God is not a ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling. Men like Peter (Luke 5:8), Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5), and John (Revelation 1:17) felt stricken in the presence of God. This was not because God forced an uncomfortable feeling upon them, but because they simply could not be comfortable sensing the difference between their sinfulness and the holiness of God.”

I have to pause here because what he says next is what I’m really getting at:

“We can also think of the priests as those who ministered unto God under the Old Covenant. The New Covenant- the covenant of grace and truth (John 1:17)- offers us a better access to God.”

I confess, after reading that, I felt a little stricken myself. Better access to God? Better access than that granted to the line of priests especially chosen to minister in the house of the Lord? To carry the ark of the covenant? To enter the most holy place?

Yes. Because of the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus, yes. His perfect blood and perfect love satisfied what countless sheep or goats or bulls never could.

It makes reading Hebrews 4:14-16 all the more powerful:

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Approach the throne of God’s grace- with confidence? Yes. And not only this, but this:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

We are a royal priesthood. That is a striking fact. Less striking, more comforting is that in the same sentence we are called “God’s special possession.” All this so we may declare his praises- Jesus, who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light.

No wonder this call and response of “He is Risen”- “He is risen indeed!” prevails throughout the church at large. You can look it up yourself to see how many church denominations hold this tradition, often called the Paschal greeting.

Risen Indeed

I remember my dad telling us about visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem several years ago.


He entered the part of the church that houses what is thought to be the burial place of Jesus. The Greek Orthodox control this area and have priests stationed inside the doorway, which is followed by a smaller door to the tomb itself. He told us how it occurred to him as it has to so many who visit this site, that Jesus isn’t there; he is risen.


As he walked out he passed one of the priests, to whom he offered the Greek greeting, “Khristós Anésti!” Sure enough, the priest replied, “Alithós Anésti!” It gives me chills hearing about it. Like the old hymn says, “Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble.”

This is what binds us together. This is the new covenant of Christ’s blood, shed for you and me and the whole world. It gives us a spring of the soul- new life. Doesn’t that make the annual coming of spring even more beautiful?

Don’t forget, when you feel the brokenness telling you otherwise, that you have better access to the throne of the Lord- to intimacy with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit- than even the old priests of Israel. You and I? We’re Easter people. Because of the blood and because of the resurrection of Christ.

He is risen indeed.

Artist of the Month: Dogwood and Oak! {Becca Woodbury}

It’s time for December’s Artist of month! I’m SO thrilled for you to hear from the heart and art of my dear friend, Becca, the creator behind this lovely wreathery on Etsy called Dogwood and Oak(Is wreathery a thing? Never mind, I’ve decided it is. I mean, what else do you call a shop that sells wreaths? Plus it sounds fancy schmancy.) Becca and I go way back to our days as lowly baristas in tie-dye t-shirts (ick) in East Tennessee. Her quiet but honest spirit always encourages me; her humor and sass always surprise me (don’t let the quiet thing fool you- she’s hilarious).

And if you’ve ever struggled with justifying making time for creativity in your life, this post is for you. Welcome, friend. Enjoy! (And P.S. There may be a gift of the discount variety just for you at the end of this post…)


As a kid, I loved art in so many forms; you name it, and I was into it. I sketched, painted, made Christmas ornaments, scrapbooked, wrote short stories, read like it was my job, and played piano. As I got older and had more claims on my time, I gradually let many of these hobbies fall by the wayside in order to take care of my responsibilities. The creative activities that still found a place in my life went from activities I got to do to things I had to do, such as reading for school or practicing a piano piece for a recital. Before long, as is often the case with necessity, the joy was gone.

When I had the option, I dropped the things I had once loved. Music had become so stressful and full of outer expectations that I begged to quit taking lessons — and then went years without even touching a piano. I read what I had to for school assignments and nothing more. My life had become so structured that I didn’t feel like I had the mental capacity for creativity. My free time went to mindless activities that numbed me and passed the time, but did nothing to heal or refresh — often the opposite (hello, Facebook).

I lived a life virtually devoid of art — my own or anyone else’s — for years while I worked to reach my academic and professional goals. I immersed myself in three and a half years of undergrad and two years of grad school, allowing myself very little outside activity. As I neared the end of my masters program, my professors talked to my class about the need to have hobbies, particularly creative ones, in order to prevent burnout once we began working. I was surprised, but I made a mental note. It was only when everything came to a screeching halt that I realized how important their advice was.

Long story short, a move to a new city that was supposed to bring plenty of opportunity has been a huge disappointment. I rarely work, spending most days at home while my husband is at his job, and I don’t know anyone. I realized several months ago that I had two options: I could (continue to) spend every minute of every day agonizing over job applications and wondering what was wrong; or I could give myself some grace and allow myself to have hobbies in this unique period of waiting.

(Click the pick to see the Etsy listing!)


For the first time in a long time, I picked up a book simply because it interested me — and finished it quickly. One book turned to 26 as I began (and soon finished) a reading challenge, my enthusiasm growing with each book. This kickstarted a memory of my interest in writing, the fact that I had considered journalism in college, and I soon began my blog. I remembered the joy of physically creating something, and my Etsy shop was born.

(Click the pic to see the Etsy listing!)


I wish I could say it’s been easy to tap into my creative side again, but those muscles were severely atrophied. It has been a joy, absolutely, to pick up where I left off all those years ago and to discover new outlets that I love. But, to be perfectly honest, I’ve been scared. There have been times — so many times — when I didn’t feel good enough to do anything creative. You know how “comparison is the thief of joy” and all that jazz? It’s easy to read all about it in an insanely gorgeous font on Instagram and say yes and amen until you actually do something that makes you feel vulnerable.

(Click the pic to see the Etsy listing!)


The comparison game is far too easy to play, despite the fact that we all know nobody wins. And yet, I sometimes can’t stop the thoughts… I’m not as creative as this other person. I’m out of practice. How will anything I do matter?


Gradually, I’ve realized that creating, in and of itself, is a thrill. It’s an expression of the God-given heart that is uniquely yours. Your creations may never hang in a gallery or soothe hipsters while they mull over life in a coffee shop, but even if another soul never sees/hears/experiences what you make, it matters for you, the creator. It matters when you pour your heart into something that moves you. It matters when you use your abilities to make something beautiful for God’s glory, whether it’s shared or private. It matters when your whole body and mind feel refreshed and ready to face life, even if all you’ve done is get lost in a coloring book.

(Click the pick to see the Etsy listing!)


There are always reasons why we shouldn’t create. Time. Resources. Stress. Lack of confidence. But you don’t have to be Taylor Swift to make something important and refreshing for your soul. Love and nurture your inner creator.

It matters.

I know you probably loved reading Becca’s thoughts about this seemingly impractical act of being creative (or even just, you know- reading a book!) as much as I did. So thankful for her and her beautiful shop!!!

And guess what- EXCLUSIVELY for readers of her post today, Dogwood and Oak is giving a 10% discount with the code longlivebeauty at her shop! (Plus, currently ALL Christmas wreaths are marked down!!!) Also, follow @dogwoodandoak on Instagram for further festive additions to her shop and sales!