Simplifying - 40 Day challenge

As we recover from a Sweet & Simple Valentine's weekend, the word Simple sticks with me.

A Facebook friend posted the Zac Brown lyrics "Everything I need and nothing that I don't"

Another Facebook friend shared amazing photos of this 600 sq ft home.

We all crave it -- simplicity.

We pin it.

We share it.

We strive for it.

Here's another way to go after it. Simplicity is easier with less stuff! I wish I could call myself a minimalist, but I love flea markets and creativity and bargains to be a minimalist. But, I also believe in short-term relationships! So, join me in the challenge!

Really, the Keep It Shut Bible study and the Best Yes are really about much of the same -- cut the clutter so we can be intentional and full of grace!!

And don't forget to catch us on Reality Renovations on March 21st!!

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

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Keeping it Fresh

I'm sure many of you are familiar with one of my favorite bloggers.
Here's a hint: "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful"

The 'Nester' was one of the reasons I fell in L-O-v-e with blogging. She shared this post about painting your floor and it brought back the memory of when I decided to go bold with my floor de aquamarine  -(that was always my favorite crayon).

It was about this time last year when I decided to pour this can of paint on the floor and let my little cowboy have some snow day F-U-N!!

You can see in the drear of winter how this brightened it up!

When we installed our new floors my insightful sister knew for sure I would miss that color and she brought this amazing gift home 8 hours in a van full of kiddos!!

Isn't it gorgeous?!

I know this baby had to be hard to give up and my mama just drooled...

It will always be fun to remember that under the wood lies more of my favorite crayon!

Don't forget to catch us on Reality Renovations March 21st!!

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

Keep it Shut #3 -- Zip your lips & Pray

Now, I'll be honest chapter 4 is an area that just makes me squirm. For a gal who never has a shortage for words --- when it comes time to pray, I always feel inadequate. I'm not talking about praying before you eat, praying with my kids, or praying for safe travels. I'm talking about just getting down to one-to-one, me and God, lingering in conversation. I freeze.

I think it's really because I'm so easily distracted that I know that I will end up feeling guilty for my wandering mind. In the Keep It Shut book I found a little secret that in 30+ years of trying to learn from others, I'm not sure I've ever heard!

Karen Ehman talks about prayer warriors and prayer wimps. As I've already confessed -- I'm the latter. But, Karen points to another one of my Bible heroes - Daniel. Through the tempting years of being a teenager, I often held on to Daniel 1:8 "Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself..." Other versions say "Daniel resolved...", but let me tell you my resolve is not so strong. This is one of those verses that the KJV saying "purposed in his heart..." wins for me.

We also see Daniel making a stand in Chapter 6. After learning the king had ruled no one was to pray to any god but the king, we read...

"Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God,just as he had done before."

Daniel didn't hit his knees only on the tough times. His knees were calloused and his legs strong. He had been building his prayer warrior muscles long before this. This is where I find that cut in my heart. That little voice whispering. Use the secret you learned and get to exercising. Becoming a prayer warrior takes practice.

The little prayer tip that I learned in the book for the distracted kind like myself -- Pray your to-do list. On the days when it's all you can think of -- hit your knees and ask God to help you remember each task you need to do. Take notes and pray that God will guide you in each step and that your interactions with others will be used for his glory. God cares more than anyone else about the burdens of our heart, both the big and the small.

So, what's on your to-do list today? Has it been covered in prayer?

If you missed earlier posts you can download the first four chapters FREE here.
Keep It Shut post #1
Keep It Shut post #2

Here's a bonus excerpt from the book -- you can go here to print this page 

Valentine's Party

With Friday the 13th falling in February, we couldn't help but celebrate by inviting a few couples over to celebrate with a  "Marriage Is Scary - Valentine's Party"

My goal for the decor was simple and sweet!

Cowboy is so good to me. I can't imagine what it's like to keep up with the neurotic-ness that I call me. He nailed it! These gorgeous flowers were delivered Monday asking me to be his Valentine. This is special because he remembered that I love flowers on Monday! Then I can enjoy them all week.

So this lusciousness made it easy to make the drink cart festive!

Mixing up the glassware and setting the scene on this vintage metal tray is sweet and not needing to worry about matching glassware -- simple.

A punch of R7 whimsy included courtesy of the boot wine holder. 
Don't mind my bed-head in the mirror. Oops.

Since I've already confessed to being neurotic -- I can tell you when Cowboy came home with cupcakes (not on the list)...I was puzzled. He mentioned he thought that I could use them with the decor. If that's not simple and sweet I don't know what it is.

Here's a little bouquet of flowers tucked into an Early American Prescut glass pitcher.

Setting it off on a red vintage tray keeps it from being to elegant and keeps it sweet and simple.

I always put special thought into making the bathroom feel a little more glamorous. 
It makes guests feel welcome and comfortable.

When guests arrived they were greeted with a smile and a small piece of yarn. After all they're the ones who took the risk and tied the knot -- now they are stuck! As couples mingled before dinner they found other small pieces of red yarn throughout the house and tied it on to their string. The couple with the longest length at the end won a sweet surprise.

Later in the evening, while the ladies made homemade Valentine cards, I gave the fellas a short lesson in floral design and they each presented their Valentine with a bouquet made with their own tow rough, calloused, and very manly hands.

We have to keep them from feeling to bashful about it after all...

The ladies were truly surprised by the handiwork of their husbands!

And these guys are considering new careers...

And at the end of the night, I was able to use our recently installed dishwasher island!!!
We just might have to host a few more gatherings just so I can enjoy this satisfaction...

From R7 to you--
Be a blessing.

If you haven't joined the Keep It Shut journey with me -- check it out!
And save the date -- March 21st -- see R7 on HGTV!


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Bargain bar stools

So before I even had the last of the oil on the butcher block island I started looking for stools. 
I knew I wanted something metal because there is already SO MUCH wood going on in here.

I thought these from Crate & Barrel might be nice.

The vintage industrial look to any of these melt my butter...

But the price didn't melt anything but the plastic in my wallet, as I knew how quickly I could top over $1000 with 4 of these babies. One of the worst parts of living in the Midwestern frozen tundra is the limited season for garage sales and flea markets. So I will have to be a little more patient.

In the meantime these stools were on Craigslist for less than a tenth of the price of my dream stools.

Look a little closer if you can -- those are cat people hidden amongst the toile!
Who knew such disturbing fabric existed...I couldn't sleep.

Wouldn't you know though a few quick screws and underneath that haunted fabric was 
perfect, clean, unblemished white canvas! 

Now I'm certain it won't stay that way for long here around R7, but it's a nice clean fix for the present.

And since there's so much wood in here to make any cowhand or cowboy feel right at home why not take the cliche to the next level...

 So aside from painting the stools or cabinets does anyone have any clever ideas on how to make these look a little more vintage or industrial?

In the meantime, I'll be counting down the days to the Kane County Flea Market!

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

If you haven't joined me already -- check out my latest post on Keep It Shut!

Keep It Shut Bible Study Post #2

I'm so bad at interrupting I even interrupt myself. Typically this interrupting habit is of a somewhat innocent nature. I'm usually just really excited and passionate about the topic. I have a fantastic idea that I think will be soooo helpful! And, off I go, leaving my "audience" standing with a baffled look on their face that I interpret as amused by my wonderful self.

Maybe that's an exaggeration. Or maybe it's not.

In either case, there's a chance that I've just missed a splendid opportunity to LISTEN. Our hard-working, always reliable, and too often under appreciated middle school secretary has a sign in her office window reminding us that LISTEN and SILENT are spelled with the same letters. As much as this multitasking genius here at R7 hates to admit it -- it is simply impossible to listen fully and have my mouth moving at the same time.

Unless, of course, I'm chewing gum and then it's still a little doubtful.

It's only when I fully listen carefully and intentionally that I can understand what someone is trying to tell me. The more quiet and thoughtful I am in processing what's being said, the more I can discern with wisdom about an encouraging response or maybe in carefully listening I will see that all is needed is the gift of being listened to.

In Keep It Shut, Karen Ehman challenges us to take the double-dog dare. I'm not usually tempted by such things as dares, but this just makes sense:

"For the next twenty-four hours, make an effort to really listen to the people in your life. Purpose to not give your opinion unless you are directly asked. Instead, seek to ask clarifying questions that will help you better understand what the other person is expressing."

I haven't tackled 24 hours yet, I'm thinking about the most strategic 24 hours to use. Maybe I should be doing a study on over-analyzing.

Since my first study with y'all, I can tell you though, by just focusing for a few hours each evening with my family gathered around the new butcher block in the kitchen, I have an incredible sense of strength and calm -- and you won't believe this but QUIET! Yep, when I'm more intentional so many other things seem to fade away. That's the way God designed it really.

In Scripture, we see many mentions of storms and howling winds contrasted against the calm stillness of quiet. How about our old friend Jonah. You have to love Jonah -- Bible class for children would just not be the same without him! As Jonah ran from God, "A violent storm arose...the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship" (Jonah 1:4). The cries of terror and pleading for help, the sound of the water crashing, and the sailors shouting to each other as they threw their valuables overboard reminds me of what the storms of my life might sound like to God. When the noise of sharp words, or groans of frustration mix among the sounds of mindless TV shows and video games with each moment becoming more tense and at least one person in the house wanting to jump overboard -- what is the answer to calm the storm. Quiet. Turn to God and be quiet.

In Mark 4, we see even Jesus with his disciples in a boat on the sea getting away from the crowds when a storm arose. When the disciples cried to him, "He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!"

The lesson seems pretty simple doesn't it? Will you join me in the double-dog dare? Or what about a simple focus each evening? It's an intentional journey. I'm glad to have you along.

In the previous post I showed you where to get chapters 1-3 for FREE, but now you can download chapter 4 for FREE too --- just use the button below. Then, I'm sure you will want to order the book to join us on this jaw dropping, I mean jaw closing journey!

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Joining the Keep It Shut Bible Study

Hey friends --

If you enjoyed my first post in the study -- jump in with me!
Here's a link to download the first three chapters FREE!

I'm in chapter three right now and I can't wait to share with you again soon.

We have a date!

I don't mean due date, wedding date, or even date night ---
We have an air date: March 21st!! 8pm CT -- tune in to watch our Renovation Realities!

I still can't show much, but I have a few candid photos of what it's like to have a film crew come into your home and basically live through your chaos for a week!

Yep -- that's right. I vainly took selfies in the car checking over and over again to see if I looked even remotely presentable for the camera that would meet me when I got home from school.

Then all vanity goes out the window. You pile all of your stuff into a room. What you would normally hide from folks becomes their work station. Sorry about the blurry pic.

You stand with everyone looking at you and insecurely wonder how your hair looks after pulling down walls. After a couple of days you get a little more familiar and just start asking.

Even great slimming jackets like this become a pain in the neck! It has zippers. Zippers = a little clinking sound right by the mic.

You get pretty comfortable with people running things up your shirt. You forget you are on mic and you even wear them to the bathroom and pray they remember to turn the sound off.

Speaking of sound -- each little hum matters. You unplug the fridge, take batteries out of clocks, and on days like today -- you stop filming completely until the tractors done dropping off your bales.

To make up for your little annoying sounds -- you make cookies. 
Or maybe that was just for my sanity.

Sometimes you are supposed to look at the camera. Sometimes you're not supposed to.
When you confuse the two. You start over.

This pic was not really of me. It was of the thing on the dash. That's right folks. We had to take them with us wherever we go. Including through the drive thru at McD's. I'll be so thrilled to see myself stuffing in a McMuffin in front of the whole world.

I can't wait until y'all can see the real show on March 21st. Be sure to check into the blog to because I'll love sharing step by step how we transformed our family room despite our Renovation Realities!

From R7 to you--
Be a blessing.

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DIY: Butcher block island with dishwasher

On a cold wintry morning here in the Midwest, an island brings to mind sand and sun and other tropical dreams, but this is a little more simple than that.

Step one to getting a dishwasher -- refuse to do the dishes until you get one.

Yep -- I just showed you our dirty dishes.

When we put in our floors we cut out a hole  where we knew we wanted an island dishwasher. (DIY'ers live with things like holes in their floors.) While we had the basement ceiling torn apart, we -- ok who am I kidding -- Cowboy ran the plumbing from the sink over to our whole in the floor.

Then when we had time we put in our Craigslist dishwasher. (I'm holding out for a whole set).

Here is the shut off valve for the water source, the drain pipe (before it was cut off) and the electric. We built a raised frame because we wanted an island a little higher than countertop height.

Then we built a frame just the size to fit around the dishwasher

 Then we used shims to get to level and to prepare brackets for attaching the butcher block.

A level island is muy important. Notice I've done a few of the dishes.

Then while Cowboy put legs on the end. I started the process of oiling the butcher block. 

And then oiling the butcher block again, and again, and again.

The base of the dishwasher will be covered in barn metal. It's on backorder. 
Ah...the life of DIY. Check out more about the realities of renovation when our show airs on March 21st on Renovation Reality!!!

But this is why we do what we do!

What's your latest DIY project?

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

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