At the end of myself...

The path has not always been lined with flowers. Dark days, sleepless nights, and troubled rhythms are all part of working toward real relationships. What happens when you don't feel like loving? What's next when you are ready to give up?

In my first podcast I settle into my cozy office nook and share my confessions, blunders, and hopes on this road of being a blended family. 

Grab a cup of something steamy and join me for a time of laughter, tears and encouragement as Casey Tate of Steadfast and I chat about life here at R7.

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

Linking to:

Ramblings on the pains of getting ready

I sit listening. Sixteen students. Some are nine years old. Some are ten. All are reading, writing, discussing, working....questioning. I think of the preparation to get them there.

It started with teaching them what it looks like and sounds like to be productive. It takes daily reminders and positive reinforcements. It's boots on the ground every day.

Today, to prepare them I first walked them through the process showing them each step of the way. It took effort to keep their attention while I prepared them. They were so ready to just get to it. They love working with each other in their favorite spot doing their thing. They don't love the preparation. The waiting. The listening for instructions...

I can't help but ponder how this looks in my life with the Teacher. I want to go. I want to do. I want to show. Like my students, I don't always recognize the importance of the preparation. Of the waiting. Of the learning phases.

God's timing is not ours, but like a careful teacher He knows what he wants us to learn before we run off to work and do and show.

I'm going to try this week to pay more attention to the learning cycle of life. Celebrate the ones I can see behind me. Recognize the ones I might be in right now. And maybe just maybe if I muster up the faith look forward to the ones ahead.

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

This post is Day 5 of 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2016.

Coping or Changing

Cowboy and I are sorting through a very powerful weekend trip to Colorado Springs. We were challenged to be better. Be better for each other, be better parents for our kids, but mostly to be better for the awesome God who created all of this!

He made the tallest peaks and the most beautiful valleys and yet even after all of that He was not satisfied until He created us. He designed us and breathed life into you. Into me. Just because he wants us!

I spend so much time arranging life and coping when things don’t go my way. I take a “there’s an app for that” approach. Yet each day the greatest Designer is hoping to completely renovate my heart. The total makeover package is waiting for me. For you.

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

This post is Day 5 of 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2016.

Puzzle Pieces: Thoughts on scheduling life...

Our lives are overflowing with good things. Soccer games, church outings, volunteer work, family night….you fill in the rest. Line up the activities, and we will use the strategic planning of NASA to make it work. As I stare at the last pieces of a puzzle looking to fill in the last holes I realize something...

Once the last satisfying piece has filled every hole in the puzzle, not one more piece will fit. There’s a beautiful and complete picture, but there’s no possible way of fitting another piece without breaking the beautiful picture apart.

Our lives are like that too. If we approach scheduling like puzzle work, then once the last satisfying piece is in place there’s no more time for anything else…

What about that phone call from a hurting friend? What about stopping by to visit your elderly aunt even though you know it will take more time than you have? What about those moments that just happen and we can’t plan for...lingering in the yard to squeeze out the last drops of sunshine? What about the long conversation with your spouse at the end of the day so they feel valued and listened to?

So what’s the answer….Maybe for this week, this month, the rest of the year the key is to leave some holes in our schedules and lives and see what goodness might just fit there.

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

This post is Day 5 of 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2016.

Filling Holes

This is my first post as part of Write 31 Days. I've taken the challenge from my sweet and creative friend Christina to do a five minute free write each day and post it. Here's to day one!

There’s an antique store that shows up on my feed constantly taunting me with their brilliance. Their ad will say something like “Filling more holes…” featuring an incredible picture of that just right primitive display.

If you hang out around here much you will soon pick up on my tendency (addiction really) to things with a story or that show their wear and tear. It’s not just the shabby delight that I’m attracted to in these ever so strategic and sponsored ads. It’s the language they use -- “filling holes”. It leaves me with these feelings that someone else already snatched up something wonderful and this store has this problem where they can’t keep enough good stuff in stock. As  a result, they are working and filling in “holes” with more fabulous finds…

While I do fairly well at training my brain to see through the advertising genius and simply enjoy the inspiration, I can’t help but wonder about how we walk through life like this. Filling holes.

Holes where someone has taken something good and left an empty place without refilling it. This old world offers so many ways of filling those holes. Good ways. Just like those brilliant merchants though, when we refill it with good things...those can be taken too.

There has to be something more...

Enjoy the first days of October!! We will start ours with a ride through the mountains. I'm just a little bit EXCITED about that!! Oh...and everything in the pic above is for sale through R7 Reclaimed!

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

Reclaimed Dining: Breakfast Room Table

I love dining tables.
At just seventeen, I bought my first one; and the obsession was born.

There's something so special about the time spent around the table. 
I just recently shared some of our kitchen and dining room here.

I crave not just the delicious prepared meals but the time of lingering and talking.
So, it was a no brainer when Cowboy pointed out this metal outdoor dining set at an auction.

I forgot to take a "before" pic as usual but it was all metal with no seats or table top.
We had some scraps of "car siding" similar to what we used on our family room ceiling.

The texture and warmth of the wood against the classic black metal is such a great combination.
(For those wondering about the "how-to"...after fitting together the wood pieces we removed the top and drilled holes in the metal to secure the wooden top to the table.

The next challenge was the chairs. I was thinking I would cover them. But, when Cowboy cut out wooden seats and I glossed a little stain over it I fell even more in love with the contrast.

Don't mind the toilet seat in the background. Things get a little crazy around here.

After the stain was dry, I put a couple coats of coconut oil on the wood. 
I use this on quite a few of our tables and our butcher block island as well. 

We hope the new family enjoys many meals and memories gathered around their table.
We enjoyed so much of the Good Maker's Market and to all of you we say...

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

P.S.  For another fun dining idea you can check this out...

Linking to:

Warning: Beautiful Barn!!! - Good Makers Market

Last weekend we took R7 Reclaimed on the road to the Barn at Bunker Hill 
for the first ever Good Maker's Market.

If not one shopper had showed, I could have spent the weekend just gazing at this barn!!

But they showed up ready to have fun and hunt treasures and handmade goods.

We had such a beautiful weekend!

The photo booth was a hit!

One bride-to-be even carried a photo booth away to use on her big day.

This beauty was a show favorite and the smile was priceless from the young junque shopper who has a new vintage style makeup case!

The sky was so blue and made the perfect backdrop for the beautiful barn!

I love the timeless juxtaposition of delicate and hardworking captured in this photo.

The grass was green and soft under my toes and another young shopper will travel the world in vintage style with her new leather carry-on.

I love these classics all mixed together. If you look at the background you can see the old pews brought in and covered in quilts for shoppers to take a break and enjoy live music!

I never tire of refreshing the displays and meeting people.

It was fun to add a few fall touches.

In the early morning light, Cowboy and I even enjoyed a little breakfast 
at this beautiful table before it was carried off to its new home.
You can see a little more on how we made it here.

We were overwhelmed by the kindness and excitement that all showed for our dream we call R7.
We appreciate those who encourage us!

P.S. If you want to look petite just have your picture taken by the tall corn we grow here in Iowa!

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

Linking to:

Uninvited: The Assignment of Loneliness

One of the very special parts of my recent trip to She Speaks was hearing Lysa TerKeurst's first message from her new book Uninvited. She poured her soul out to us and the whispers of "me too" could be felt all through the room. 

(This post is part of a blog tour for the new book and you can learn more or join here.)

I remember the first time I spoke of it. As a young teenager I contemplated how a girl like me with a big smile, good grades and often surrounded by friends could feel so lost - disconnected from the crowd and longing for the close friendships it seemed so many others enjoyed. What was wrong with me?

In sharing my struggle with a counselor and mentor she encouraged me that maybe God had a plan for my life that would make this time useful. She proposed that perhaps one day I would be a preacher's wife and need to be content with many friends but not find those close and thriving friendships I was craving. I began to accept that feeling of loneliness as God’s will for me.

Through my teen years, my parents once thriving marriage crumbled, and I looked for anything to fill the void. I entered a marriage of my own fresh out of high school and accepted that even in marriage, loneliness was my lot.

God did have plan. He did want to use my lonely feelings. But, if you know my Cowboy, it was not for me to be a preacher’s wife! Loneliness was not some special assignment from God. No. We all feel desperate for relationship, connection and love. Those feelings of longing and wanting are part of His plan to draw us to Him. His will and was for me to fall deeply and completely in love with Him because He first loved me. He made me to want. He wants me to find that life giving fulfilling friendship with Him.

I had the privilege this year of attending She Speaks. While I was there I was challenged to ask others to describe me in one word. The words came pouring in and I was astounded by the encouraging words and then I saw it. My Sunday school teacher from high school wrote one word.


Tears poured down my cheeks. As I sat among hundreds and hundreds of women in a beautiful setting, taking in the best teaching and worshipping with incredible music and sincerity, there it was -- one simple comment. Loved.

That’s His will for our loneliness and rejection and hurts. To be loved by the only One who can fill our love cups and heal our hearts.

 As a Proverbs 31 volunteer I knew I would soon receive the #Uninvited book, but I couldn’t wait to dive in and start reading on the plane home.
“Live from the abundant place that you are loved, and you won’t find yourself begging others for scraps of love”

So I invite you to join me this fall as I reread the #Uninvitedbook and unwrap this truth. 
"Even when you're overlooked by others, your are handpicked by God." - Lysa TerKeurst

You can learn more and get a free chapter here
You can join the online Bible study and request my small group (#82 )here.

And...I'm giving away a FREE copy of the book so follow me on Facebook or Instagram to enter!

From R7 to  you --
Be a blessing.

Pickin' Part One: Clues and Tips for Flea Market Shopping

Where do you find stuff? That is absolutely the most commonly asked question when we share R7 Reclaimed Vintage. It's a tough question to answer because the answer is everywhere
Nothing is off limits.
Flea markets, garage sales, thrift stores, estate sales, auctions, burn piles and trash day!

But...there is a better question to ask that I think might help...
HOW do you find your stuff?


It's a little like looking for treasure. 
The clues you find along the way will guide you to where to start digging.

After a little practice you will be able to sniff out the bargains...

So the first step to gatherer clues is to understand the lay of the land. 
In other words know the kind of shop, event, or market... 
    • Is it a "vetted" or "juried" event? These usually have fancier names, lots of online advertising, vendors styled beautifully and made to be an experience. At this sort of market you are likely to fall in love with many items. Prices will be mid-range with many custom pieces but also similar items among vendors. At this type of market do a quick scan around looking for the most unique vendors with one of a kind items that catch your eye and then come back to shop signs, furniture, pallet goods and such. 
    • Is it an old fashioned flea market? This may look like junk piles, animals might be sold, and the rows and rows of tables might be easy to look past. Prices will range greatly at this kind of market....from true antique show prices down to garage sale prices. At this kind of market you need the most strategy and it's not such a good idea to browse because most items are one of a kind.
    • Is it an antiques show or shop? These can be presented in so many different ways from carefully curated to borderline hoarder style. The items are typically authentic and prices well researched. Theses are becoming unique treasures and splurging for something and learning all you can is well worth it from time to time. 

So once you have clues about where you are it's time to pay attention to more specific details.
I think the best way to describe what I do next is "sorting" -- not physically but mentally.
  • Dishes, glassware and collectibles are quickly scanned and price range noted. These take a little more time to browse through and because it has to match each person's individual taste or collection it's more likely to be there when I come back through. The exception would be if I note especially good prices and then I will shop right away.
  • At all times, I keep my eyes alert to really unique items or very functional furniture.
  •  I also sort out by textures and materials...such as enamels here, galvanized there, wood over there and so on. (I take a quick peek at prices too just to get an idea in my head.)
  • I also note unique handmade or really inspiring pieces

*Note -- this isn't a long process, just something I do quickly in my head.*
As an example with these pieces I would quickly categorize galvanized farmhouse (the feeder), barn wood primitive (the gate), shabby chic vintage (wicker), personalized (custom letters)  

And this chair is an example of something that I would stop in my tracks and ask about because I know if it's a good price it will go quickly.

So once I have a map in my mind I begin gathering the next set of clues.
  • I move through a booth seeing what is really unique. If I was writing an article about the vendor what would I say? Whatever makes them special -- that's probably what I want from them.
  • I make friendly conversation. Understanding one's personality makes it easier to have a conversation and sealing the deal. Most vendors WANT to talk with you.
  • I don't dwell. If I'm not instantly intrigued or in love with it. I move on. 
  • Does it have a place and a purpose?
  • Have I seen one before? If so how does the price and condition compare?
  • Does it have a purpose? Could it be used to store or organize or is it strictly decorative?
If I'm stuck I try to imagine a place where it would look great. For example this feeder is easy to instantly think of a Jo-Jo style "Fixer Upper." Once I have one of those rooms in my mind then I see it --- perhaps files or papers in the upright section and pencils or pens in the tray. Little magnets on the front to hold a memo. Now I a kitchen, office, playroom -- it has potential!

This is first in a series, so come back and I will give more tips on treasure hunting including how to pick a hoarders pile, how to negotiate respectfully, and how to bring home the right mix!

Follow me on Instagram?
Enter my GIVEAWAY this week!

Check out Pinterest and Facebook to see what projects we are working on next...

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

Linking to:

Love. Purpose. Story.

From time to time people ask, "What is R7?"
R7 symbolizes many things like our land, our name, and our family,  
but what it really represents is a Dream. a Belief. a Hope.

While we were dating, Cowboy took me to an abandoned home in the country and told me how he dreamed of someday finding a place like that and making it a home. Right then, in a house we probably weren't supposed to be in with a terrible odor lingering and broken shards of glass all around, we made a commitment. Although we didn't know when, where or how, we promised that if we were ever blessed with a home like that, we would use it to give back and bless others.

I think that's the real meaning of the word hospitality. 
Using whatever home God has given you to invite others into a place of welcome rest.
It doesn't matter if you live in a hut with a dirt floor, a family sized home with subfloors (I may be speaking from experience on that) or in a mansion set on a perfect hillside.

We can all open our doors and say come in.

So when I received a call asking if we would be interested in hosting a group of teen girls and their moms at the Vintage Studio and speaking to them. I said absolutely --YES! 

Although the weather was hot to start the evening, popsicles and lemonade kept the heat bearable so that photos could be taken in the photo booth, horses could be rode, and they could enjoy the treasures of our vintage studio.

And then the evening cooled, the lanterns came on and we settled in for a time of sharing.


It's what we do with our Vintage studio, but it's also how we live.
I had three words that I wanted them to remember when they think of reclaiming whether that's reclaiming an old metal pan from the garbage, furniture from their favorite thrift store, 
or restoring friendships, their families or love.

Love. Purpose. Story.

Each piece that I choose to haul home is because I love it! 
I can't ever predict what I will love about something. It might be its angles and lines. It might be its curves and odd shape. It might be its dents and scratches, but there must be an attraction!

We must remember that God looks at us with the same gleaming eye. He loves us.
He knows every single flaw we have and He not only loves us anyway but chooses us!
“For we know...loved by God, that he has chosen you…" 1 Thessalonians 1:4

This love and desire He has for us isn't the kind of love that just wants to own something and put it on a shelf for safe-keeping to make sure we are never scratched or dented. 
No...He wants to use us for a purpose.

We will enjoy the treasures we bring home every single day if we find a purpose for them. 
Rather than how can this add to my collection...ask how can this add to my home? to my life? 
Where can it inspire me or help me in some way?
And then ask what about me?
"But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purpose of his heart through all generations" Ps. 33:11

Purpose changes with the season. The same antique bowl that serves cold refreshing watermelon in the heat of summer offers warm pine branches to make the home more festive in the middle of winter.

Our purpose changes many times in our seasons of life,
with each season and its purposes leaving behind it marks. 
Literally -- leaving behind marks...can I get an amen??

But each line in the wood, each dent and scratch on our treasures and in our lives tells the story of where we've been and how God has used us in each season.

So fill your home and fill your life with three things.
Love. Purpose. Stories.

After our time of chatting, we headed into the kitchen (and air conditioning!) to enjoy s'mores ice cream sundaes (too hot for a campfire!) 

and a tour of our R7 home (well what's done so far!)

I enjoy speaking to and hosting groups of all ages, so if I can join you at an event or if you would like to bring a group here to R7 I would love to hear from you!

Do you follow me on Instagram?
I'm giving away Uninvited newly released by Lysa TerKeurst.
and request small group #82 to join me!

From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.

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