Friday, August 26, 2011

Women of Faith Weekend - More Than I Could Have Imagined

A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to attend Women of Faith in Atlanta, GA.  My highschool friend Cathy and I drove the 4 hours to Atlanta in hopes of having a nice weekend together, away from our kids and the responsibility of family. Not only did we have a nice weekend, we got a chance to be refreshed and inspired. Here we are at the conference (please excuse the grainy iPhone pic).

I am not going to lie though, I have been dreading writing this post.  I just couldn't figure out how in the world I was going to be able to write a post that accurately summed up the weekend.

For starters, the music was great! From the Women of Faith worship team leading us in praise and worship music, to Natalie Grant totally bringing the house down, to the sweet, ministering voice of Laura Story, to the passion that flows from Mary, Mary, the music was the best I have heard in a long time, if ever. I had never seen any of these ladies in person/concert before, and none of them disappointed at all.  I can't wait to get some of their music loaded onto my iPhone so I can listen to it over and over!

If all that great music wasn't enough, the speakers were even better!

Lisa Harper made us all laugh as she shared her "naked man" story, but the way she tells stories from the Bible really causes you to think about those stories in a whole new way.  She was so down to earth and real, that it made you feel like you were one of her dearest friends.

Steve Arterburn was not technically a "women of faith",  but he shared real life stories of how God had redeemed his life when by all accounts, personal and professionally, he was a failure.  Who can't identify with failure?  We have all been there for sure.

Nicole Johnson presented not only her popular skit "The Invisible Woman", but also shared her personal story of a broken, shattered, life and how God turned it into something beautiful. Normally you think of Nicole as a very funny, lighthearted person, but hearing her share her story showed a totally different side to her that I think almost everyone can identify with. Having her step out from behind her characters and stand vulnerable before an audience of thousands, was touching on so many levels.  Don't we all need to step out from behind the characters and masks that we wear, and just be real with one another? It sure made me think about the mask that I wear sometimes...the ones that say "I'm fine", even though I know I'm not.

Luci Swindoll was so funny and real. She has such an outgoing personality.  It's hard to not walk away from hearing her without wanting to just grab onto life, and live it to the fullest!

Sheila Walsh...I'm not even sure where to begin here. She has so much Bible knowledge mixed in with practical application. She shared her stories and was way more honest about her mental health struggles than most people would be. I am sure it took more than a fair share of bravery to be totally honest about that, when for most people, that would be a source of shame and embarrassment. Her honesty and openness about her struggles and how God has walked with her were inspiring and uplifting. If all that wasn't enough, she also has an amazing voice. Her versions of traditional hymns leave you with chill bumps as her voice echoes in the rafters.

Angie Smith. If you have ever read her blog or her book I Will Carry You, or heard her speak before, then you will understand why describing her and her story is so hard. She walked us through a time in her life where most people would have turned their back on God and just walked away.  However, Angie and her family decided that no matter what news doctors can give you...our Jesus is still the same as he was before the bad news came. Her unbelievable faith is both humbling and inspiring.  She encouraged us to trust God in the face of fear and reach out to him as "Kyrios"...the one to whom I belong. As she shared the story of her daughter Audrey, there was not a dry eye in the room as I'm sure thousands of mothers like me, imagined how they would feel if they were facing what she and her family faced.  Her honesty and humor make you wish you could just sit with her for coffee once a week and share like old friends.

One of the highlights of Women of Faith for me, was getting to actually meet Angie.  After following her blog for years, and having already read her first book, I was anxious to read her second book What Women Fear. I wasn't sure if there would be a chance to meet here at the conference, and was happy just to be able to hear her speak. I was so excited when I saw that she would be signing books as well.  I got in line early and was able meet her and have her sign my new book.  Let me tell you...she is just as cute and sweet in person as you would imagine. Here we are at the book signing.

Noticing a trend here with all the speakers?  Real... I think that's what Women of Faith is all about.  Allowing women to be real with others and ourselves and knowing that God loves us, in-spite of our fears and failures.  Women of Faith gives us a change to sit with thousands of women just like ourselves and "Imagine" what our life can be life if we just turn our hopes, our fears, our pasts, and our futures over to a God who loves us more than we can ever imagine.

Thank you so much BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson for the opportunity to attend this awesome event. I am forever grateful!

If there is a Women of Faith event near you, I urge you to find a way to attend.  You won't be disappointed!  Click the banner below to see if Women of Faith will be coming to your area.

Women of Faith Imagine

Two tickets to the Women of Faith event in Atlanta were provided to me by Booksneeze, in exchange for two blog posts about the event.  The thoughts, opinions and photos are all my own.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Women of Faith - Atlanta, GA

About a month or so ago, I got an e-mail from Book Sneeze, saying they were looking for bloggers to attend the Women of Faith events around the country this Fall.  I have had many friends attend these events before, and they all had a great time, so I was excited to see if Woman of Faith was coming to a city near me.  Luckily, they were coming to Atlanta, GA, which is about 4 hours away.  So, I decided to throw my name in and see if I might be one of the bloggers selected.  I was really excited when I got an e-mail back from them a few weeks later saying that I was chosen to go!

I have never been to a Women of Faith Event before, but I am really looking forward to it. Below is a preview video provided by Women of Faith. Check it out!

There are going to be lots of great speakers and musicians at this event and I'm sure they are going to be awesome.  I am especially looking forward to hearing Angie Smith of Bring the Rain.  I have been reading her blog for a little over 2 years now and she has such an amazing story. Also, Laura Storey will be singing at this event. Her song Blessings has been all over christian radio stations in my area and has really spoken to many people lately. I think it's gonna be a great time and really nice chance to get away and spend some time around other Christian women.

Tickets for these Women of Faith Events are still available in most areas, so check out the Women of Faith Website for locations and ticket information.

Disclaimer: 2 Tickets to this Women of Faith Event were provided by Book Sneeze.  The options expressed in this post are my own.


Friday, August 5, 2011

First Day of School

It's that time again. School started back today for our school system.  Yeah, I know, it's strange to start on a Friday, and I have no idea why they did that.  Emma was really excited to be headed to school this morning. No joke, she really was!  I think she was getting tired of being with me and Madeline all day. I can't believe she is in 3rd grade now. Time has just really flown. It seems like yesterday that we brought her home from the hospital.

Here is Emma this morning, before heading out to get on the bus.

For comparison, here she is on the 1st day of 2nd grade, next to the picture from this morning.

And just for fun, here are some shots from Kindergarten, 1st grade (we home schooled, so there is no picture from the actual first day), 2nd grade, and 3rd grade. Wow...what happened to my little girl?
Maybe I will dig up some pictures of me from my 1st day of 3rd grade and do another post next week.  Me and Emma look so much alike, I'm sure it would be an interesting comparison.  I'll have to get my mom to find a picture for me.

Until then, have a great weekend!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Emma's 8th birthday party

Emma turned 8 on June 27th.  We decided this year to not actually have a "party", and instead to just take her to Chuck E Cheese.  So, on her actual birthday, we just had a small cake with dinner and let her open a present or two. I made her cake myself, and I think it turned out great considering.

I guess the only thing that really mattered is that she liked it, and she did.

On Saturday, July 2nd, we headed to Tallahassee with my Mom and Dad to meet my Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, and her two kids at Chuck E. Cheese.  We figured the kids would have a blast playing the games and being together. The kids and the adults played lots of games and won lots of tickets. After all the playing was done, we let Emma open her presents.  She got lots of cool things! We didn't take many pictures, but here are a few that we did get.

Yes, that is an iPhone that you see, but, before anyone freaks out and thinks that I have lost my mind giving an 8yr. old a phone, let me explain. I just recently upgraded my iPhone from the original one, which you see Emma holding, to a new iPhone 4.  Emma loves to play on our phones, so when I got my new one, I decided to just hold on to my old one, and reinstall it so that she could use it as an iPod touch.  This basically means that she can only use it when she is connected to Wi-Fi and that there is no phone service.  We were able to find her an app that she can use to text us and other family members that doesn't cost anything.  By having these features only available when she is connected to either our home Wi-Fi or my parents, we are really able to keep an eye on her, while at the same time, allowing her to have fun.  So far it's working out great, and there haven't been any major issues.  

This was our group!  Me, Ike, Emma and Madeline aren't in the picture, we forgot to get a shot of us I guess.  It was really nice to be able to get the kids together to play.  After all the fun, we had Olive Garden for dinner!  Yummy!  

Thanks so much Lightfoots for taking the time and money to drive all that way to meet us!  Emma had a great day!


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Girl's Bathroom Makeover

Ever since Emma was little, our guest bathroom has been decorated in a Disney Princess theme.  So, that means at our last house and this house, our guest have had to use the bathroom with Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty watching them. I have been wanting to re-do the bathroom, but in true Leslie style, I just couldn't decide what to do.  All I knew is that I had had enough of the princesses. So, last month, with Emma's birthday approaching, and no real ideas on what we were going to get her, I decided that part of her gift would be giving her bathroom a big girl makeover.  After all, she is 8 now, and was really over the princess theme as well, AND, she has so many toys that I really just didn't want to add to the growing toy problem we already have. I had already planned on cleaning off and reinstalling my old iPhone for her to use as an iPod touch, so along with the bathroom makeover, I thought she would be pleased, and she totally was!  She told me that she LOVED her new bathroom.

I would have loved to paint the bathroom, but that just wasn't in the budget this time around, so I found a cute curtain that I liked at Target, and built the bathroom around that. Madeline and Emma will be sharing this bathroom, so I wanted to make it friendly for both of them. I think the bright colors and flowers were just the thing!

 Notice the little blur underneath the doorknob...Madeline was trying to get in all the pictures. She kept running into the room and saying "Cheese". Also, please excuse that white blob to the right of the mirror. I had to wait for the nail hole filler to dry before I could hang her hand towel ring back up.

I am still working on getting these frames filled, but at least they are hung and ready when I get the photos printed. The E & M frames are just temporary.  I am hoping to have those initials redone in a cute button craft I saw on Pinterest, but I just haven't had the time to sit down and plan it out yet, so these will have to do for now.

The frame in the top middle was a frame that I got from grandma's house.  She had a frame for each of her 3 daughters with a picture of their family in it.  It was a brown wood look, but I painted it black to match the others.  I'm so glad I can incorporate items that have sentimental value into my decorating.  Here's a picture of the frame in progress, to give you can idea of what it looked like before.

The counter is also a work in progress, since I think there needs to be something in the corner, like some flowers in a vase or something.  I have to be careful with my decorating in this room, since Emma is really rough on things. Whatever it is, is gonna have to be durable and not easily broken. Anyone have any ideas?

Now that my chairs have new covers, my dining room and kitchen have curtains, and the girl's bathroom is looking better, it's on to my next project...stripping and painting my grandma's 1949 Lane Cedar hope chest that my mom rescued from my grandma's shed before her house was sold last week.  Right now it looks pretty rough, since it's a faded green color and had been living in that shed for years.  I can't wait to get started on it. I think she would be so happy and excited that I am going to be giving it a new life.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Drop Cloth Curtains

Since we moved into our house 4 years ago, my living room and dining room windows have been bare with the exception of the blinds we put up the week we moved in.  I am really horrible at decorating and have just always felt like I had no idea what I was doing.  So, when we moved in, we had blank walls for months, dare I say over a year maybe? I just didn't know what to do, and these windows were no exception.

After all of my pinterest pinning and blog reading I came across another use for those awesome Home Depot drop cloths.  Curtains!  So, off to Home Depot I went again, and purchased more drop cloths, even buying the last one they had in the 6ft x 9ft size.

I threw them into the wash with some detergent and fabric softener. I figured that at some point in the future I was going to want to take them down and wash them, and wanted to see how the fabric was going to act after being washed. Once they were washed and dried, I got to work on hanging the rods.  Ok, Ok...Ike did most of the work with the rods, but I was the supervisor and screw holder.

I found the cheapest, decent looking cafe rod that I could find, which happened to be at Target. Since I wasn't planning on sewing the drop cloths, I also bought the curtain rings/clips. I just held the drop cloths up to the rod to see how long I wanted them, then just folded the top of the cloths over so they would hang at the right length, and clipped them onto the clips.  Did that make any sense? Ha!

Anyway, I think these pictures of the finished product will clear things up.

First up is the living room:

Now for the dining room:

I couldn't be happier with how these turned out!  I love them! They really have changed the whole feel of my living room.  I really wish I had taken some before photos, but I completely forgot.  My dining room still needs some major help in the decorating department, but at least I have curtains! I do have some ideas floating around my head for the dining room, but just haven't really decided on anything yet. I have a large open wall that needs help, as well as that corner shelf. I had big plans to paint it to match our trim in the house, but haven't done anything with it yet.  I also have some chalkboard paint that I plan to use to spruce up the canisters that are on the shelf, but I need to do a bit more research on painting glazed pottery before I attempt that.

Next up: Emma & Madeline's bathroom gets a facelift! Check back later this week for those pictures!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dining room chair makeover

For months now, I have been staring at my dining room chairs and wishing I could recover them. Children, a cat and white/cream upholstered dining room chairs just don't go together. See how nasty they were? Yuck!  I was embarrassed for anyone to come over and sit in these nasty things! I tried cleaning them before, but nothing really worked as well as I thought it should have.

I'd looked for fabric to recover them before, but the decorator weight fabric that I needed was pretty expensive, and with 6 chairs to cover, I just couldn't spend the money.  So, after reading tons of home decorating blogs and seeing slipcovers being made out inexpensive drop cloths, I had an idea.  If they can make slip covers out of drop cloths, then I'm sure I can re-cover my chairs with one!  So, off to Home Depot I went. (They have the best drop cloths, since theirs don't have seams and are already hemmed on all 4 sides)  I bought a $10 drop cloth, a staple gun, and some staples and got to work. 

First I took the seats off the chairs and measured them to see how big of a piece I would need for each chair seat.

Luckily one 6ft x 9ft drop cloth was enough to cover all 6 of my chairs.  I got to working measuring and cutting out the pieces.  I was able to get 8 pieces out of the drop cloth, so I had 2 extras that I saved in case I need them later. The cutting wasn't too bad, and I folded over the fabric to make it double layered, so I could cut down on the number of cuts I had to make.

After all the cutting was done, I took each piece of fabric, and "wrapped" each seat with it. I used the staple gun to staple the fabric to the back of the seat. Sorry I didn't take a picture of this part.  I was on a roll, and totally forgot. 

Once they were all wrapped and stapled, I took each seat and screwed it back onto the frame. 

 Ta da! 

I am so pleased with how they turned out, and can't believe I hadn't thought of this idea sooner.  What a cheap, quick and easy fix! It took me about 2 hours from start to finish. Now I just need to figure out how to decorate my un-decorated dining room. Anyone have any suggestions for the big empty wall behind the table? The one with the light switch right in the middle of it? ha!

Stayed tuned!  More home decorating projects coming this week!