Moving on...

I created this blog in September 2005 in Dallas, TX at a time when I needed to find my voice. I remember typing the first words as a young woman in the twinkle-lit loft of my condo. At first, it was simply an outlet to stay connected to friends near and far and share the tidbits of my newly-married life. Soon, it became so much more...a place for me to share my photography and art, regularly practice gratefulness, and process the way my life was moving to a simpler one day by day.

When we uprooted our lives from Dallas to Nashville in the fall of 2015, I had captured 10 years of our lives in words, photos, memories, details. This blog is a treasure, a time capsule of a very important decade of my life where we were young and married, owned our own businesses, and had two children. 

Now, after a long hiatus, I know it's time to close the door on Dreams of Simple Life and start fresh on my new website.

Here's a list of my favorite things I've written here over the years. Enjoy!

Abide.

"Release brings with it the gift of peace.  When we release in peace, we signal we're now ready to receive.  Receive what's next.  Receive what's best.  Receive what's meant for this season, right now." 
~ Lysa Terkeurst // The Best Yes

God really gave me a gift by leading us, releasing us, to move from Dallas to the rolling hills of Tennessee.  So, this is what it means to have a "gentle and quiet spirit."  My soul feels quiet within me.  I can only explain it as true presence. At this moment, I'm perched in my new favorite peaceful spot - in the living room chair reading by the twinkle-lighted branches I found in our backyard woods.  The intimacy of our home allows me to hear all three of my people breathing in their sleep about 10 feet away.  

The biggest gifts have been those of time and less distractions.  When we first arrived here in mid-November, it felt like my heart was soaring everyday with excitement and possibility.  After the initial giddy excitement wore off and we finally settled into our home south of Nashville, I hit the wall about 2 months later feeling isolated and regretful, like I needed to scramble to fill my time with activities and friends old and new and that maybe, just maybe, this whole thing was a big mistake.  Although I have so many dear, close friends here, it was still difficult starting over in a new place and living in a rural setting for the first time in my life.  This social introvert wanted to know, How would I fill our days?  Who would be our everyday "people"?  

But through much seeking to hear the Lord's voice, He spoke loudly and clearly: my real purpose right now is here under my roof - this little 1200 square foot rental house roof.  I've always seen it as a gift (and my choice) to be able to be home with my daughters.  Now, I see the difference in being truly present vs. just being around.  Time to myself and connecting with friends are still greatly needed, of course, and I drink them up.  But those things are bonuses now, not distractions.  

See, in the light of a new perspective, things change. Loneliness becomes the gift of time and presence with my husband and daughters. Isolation becomes space to breathe, to move more slowly and savor my surroundings. Even when I complained and doubted, God was gracious and kept bestowing these good gifts.  He didn't give up on me.

After this renewed viewpoint, I felt such peace.  And I started to cry.  Because the gift was in front of me the entire time since we've moved, but I didn't see it.

We may not own a home right now, and this one may not look exactly like the one we dearly loved and sold in Dallas, but this little home surrounded by stunning woods and meadows will always be where Norah was two and spirited and hilarious.  This home will always be where Luci Belle was 5-going-on-6 and becoming a "bigger little girl" every day.  There's already a spot on the kitchen floor where they love to show me their made up dances to vintage Disney songs on the record player.  And because of the smallness and closeness of this home, I can hear and see their imaginations take flight - playing "family" or restaurant or making a fort and cafe in my closet.  They'll only be 2 and 5 once, and good gracious, I get to be a part of it.  

These really are the days.

So here we are, and we are content.  For now, we're living in a season of abundance that's not about money or things but gifts much more difficult to measure.  We explore our yard and drive the rolling hills.  We homeschool and fly kites.  We draw and bake and pretend.  We're in closer quarters than ever, and sometimes we don't know what to do with ourselves when Steven arrives home from his new farming job at 3:30pm.

Don't be mistaken in thinking we're living a charmed life, though.  There are daily sacrifices required to live on a cash system, to be frugal with our purchases, to figure out how to feed our family healthy food on a tight budget when we no longer own a produce co-op, and to say "no" to things we wish we could do in order to say "yes" to the ultimate life we want.  Many people want to live more simply but don't want to give up what it takes to get there.  We knew we were going to have to give up a lot, and as scary as it was, we did it - we sold our family business and beloved home of 9 years and said tearful goodbyes to dear friends in Dallas.  Those things were so hard, but the release has indeed brought peace.   

This - the true simple life - is what I always wanted, everything I've asked God for, and what I thought I had it in Dallas.  I didn't realize - until now - how by uprooting our lives and moving to this place, He was giving me everything I've asked for.  

Yes, it was a series of difficult decisions that have led us to this place, and now it's time to just abide.  

Kayaking on White Rock Lake.

"God made a gorgeous rich world, stuffed with glowing green trees and child cheeks and good friends.  When I spin out into my own anxieties and frantic days, I miss out.  It's all there, waiting to be seen, discovered, heard, entered into.   And I'm determined not to miss it today."
~ Shauna Niequist, Savor

Today, I got to have all three - glowing green trees, child cheeks, and good friends.  Add to that, the gently lilting waves of a beautiful lake, and a kayak for one.

I also get to cross one more thing off my Dallas bucket list - kayaking on White Rock Lake.  As part of a meetup group, in exchange for helping pick up trash on the shoreline, we got to kayak for free around the lake for a few hours.  They gave us trash bags, those grabber things, water, and snacks, and shoved us in the water.

Thankfully, I've kayaked once before on Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia so it wasn't completely new to me.  I was excited to do something different for the day, to exercise my body in a different way, and to be just "me" - nothing attached to me, no one else to take care of.  Just me and the water.  It was quiet. Comforting.  Invigorating.

I took this photo right before getting in the water...

Jessica and I are ready to set out for adventure...

On the open waters...

The most interesting things I gathered were a wiffle ball and quarter-full jug of iced tea.  There was also lots of styrofoam - the worst offender!  Oh, I also saw a HUGE snake which, thankfully, did not come anywhere near my grabber.  For this perfectionist, it was tough leaving behind the trash I couldn't reach or was too tangled in the branches or reeds.  I wanted my piece of shoreline to be pristine!   But alas, that wasn't totally possible.

Here we are afterwards, slightly wet, sweaty, sore hands, and happy.

A lot of days, I "miss it."  But today, I didn't.  Even when I returned home to my lovelies, I was able to engage in play with them for the rest of the day, soaking up all that life has to offer.  I entered more deeply into life today, and it felt great.

"Snow date."

My girl has been craving alone time with me so we had a "snow date" today in the front yard, and it was good for both of our souls.  And naturally, because we both love purple, we coordinated without even planning it!

Here's our teeny tiny snow-woman that took quite a bit of work since the snow was so perfectly powdery.  She named her "Sarah."

I treasure these special times with my oldest girl!  Can't believe how much she's grown since her very first snow day in 2011.  See?  We definitely have a purple theme.  It goes well with white!

A little winter photo shoot.

Recently, my dear friend Michelle snapped some photos of me and the girls just to capture this fun stage of life they're in.  Steven wasn't able to join us - it's such a delicate balance finding the exact day and time that's right for photos, when everyone is in a good mood and a photographer is available!  We were lucky to get this window of time and look forward to a full family session soon.  Here are a few of my faves...

Kangaroo Care babywearing necklace.

A few years ago, I discovered Kangaroo Care on Etsy ~ the artist in Estonia makes beautiful, colorful babywearing necklaces from crochet beads and wood.  The textures and colors are interesting for babies and safe for them to play with and chew on while nursing or just being rocked and held.  Bonus: you get to directly support the work of an artist. 

This is my first Kangaroo Care necklace I got a few years ago when Luci Belle was a toddler.

I wore it when Norah was born, too.

That necklace made me happy, and I wore it for my babies until it was literally threadbare, faded, and the string finally snapped.   It was hard to let go of a piece of jewelry that was between me and my children during so many important moments.

It was time for a new one, but I just couldn't decide.  I don't do well with too many options, and all the colors were glorious!   These are the ones I was drawn to...

I finally decided on the bottom left.  It just jumped out to me.  For me, when in doubt, the answer is always bright color.  It goes with pretty much everything I own, and I - and the girls - couldn't be happier with it!

now for the exciting part...a giveaway!

I also ordered the bottom right necklace in the above photo - the white and grey beads with white ruffle!  I'd love to give this necklace away to one of you!

To enter, just post a comment and let me know who the necklace would be for and why - if you'll be giving it to a friend or keeping it for yourself, which is totally great too!   I'll randomly choose a winner from the comments on Tuesday, November 25th.