DIY portrait makeover

decorating, DIY By April 29, 2019 3 Comments

I am loving the trend of hanging vintage painted portraits in your home. I think it adds warmth and personality. And I love to make up a bag story for the person captured–who were they? What were they passionate about? 

I stopped by a local thrift store the other day and found this watercolor portrait of a sailor. I liked the painting–it caught my eye, but the frame looked modern and didn’t match our decor. The painting was only $15 so I decided it was worth trying to do a DIY project and switch out the frame. 

He looks kind and wise, don’t you think? Like he’s lived a good life and has stories to tell. 

At the same thrift store I found this framed floral art {above} for $5. It’s not my style but I like the frame. Perhaps this could be a new home for our watercolor sailor?

I pulled dismantled the frame and took off the mat {the painting was taped to the mat} and I loved the painting even more once it was outside the frame with rough edges. 

I took the floral art out of the gold frame and laid it over the sailor. Yep, it would fit just fine.

I laid the glass from the gold frame over the sailor and drew around the perimeter with a pencil. Then cut the painting to size. I cleaned the glass well and reassembled the watercolor sailor in his new gold frame. 

He’s hanging out in our guest room with a plant, some books, a basket and thrifted vase. I love the way this project turned out. It would be so fun to hang more portraits on this wall. I’ll have to keep a look out as I browse thrift stores!

Thrifting and decorating friends, what are you on the hunt for these days? Would you hang a vintage portrait in your home?

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Hi friends! I have a big favor to ask…

be brave, brave love book By December 19, 2018 6 Comments

Do you ever feel like a failure?

Do you feel like you try and try and it’s never enough?

Do you feel like everyone needs all your energy and there’s nothing left for yourself?

Do you wonder why you’re so unhappy even though you’re doing all the right things?

Me too!! And I wrote a book about it. I want YOU to read it and I need YOUR HELP getting the word out.

Will you join my launch team?

I need like-minded friends to read an advanced copy of the book and talk about it on social media. I need you to share it with your friends. I need your help getting the word out!

Interested? I hope so!!

The book releases January 29, 2019 let’s start spreading the word.

Want to know more?

My ideal launch team members…

…love to read.

…enjoy using Facebook.

…like to tell others about the books they are reading.

…are willing to share about new books on social media.

…are willing to write a review of the book.

If this sounds like you, I would love to have you on the team! There will be a limited number of physical Advance Reader Copies available and all launch team members will have access to digital PDF copy of the book in the official Brave Love Launch Team Facebook group.

Fill out this questionnaire and you’ll become part of our private Facebook group. We can hang out, encourage each other and get the word out about Brave Love.

Join my launch team! Click here.

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one open heart

choose joy, finding love By November 29, 2018 107 Comments

I am learning one open heart can change the world.

On a sunny Sunday morning last year, we arrived at church a few minutes early. David slowly climbed the steps, one at a time, while holding my hand. Once inside he pulled away from me, wanting to explore the sanctuary before the service began. I set down my bag and followed closely behind him. I had no idea what was about to happen.

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David lives life inside a body that doesn’t cooperate. Because of his disability, he is very small, has only two fingers on his left hand and is non-verbal. David can’t speak with words but he has much to say. He communicates through gestures, physical touch and heart connection. As he moved around the room he ran his hand over the smooth wood of the church pew, weaving in and out of the narrow space. Then he crossed the aisle and made his way over to a woman sitting by herself. She was in her late thirties, had a kind face and a gentle presence.

We’d never met but that didn’t stop David from approaching her. As he got closer, the woman looked up and smiled at him. Once beside her, David turned around and backed up to her—it’s his way of asking to be held.

“He wants to sit on your lap.” I explained. “He can sit next to you if you prefer.”

“No,” she said, “I’d love to hold him.” She carefully lifted him onto her lap.

He tenderly wrapped his arms around her neck and laid his head against her shoulder.

“Is this okay?” I asked, anxious to be considerate of her space “Would you like me to move him?”

She looked up at me with tears in her eyes.

“My mom was diagnosed with cancer a couple days ago.” she said in a quiet voice. “I just needed a hug so badly. He knew exactly what I needed.”

I bent down beside them and touched her knee softly as she and David embraced. It was a holy moment of connection that soothed a hurting heart.

In that moment he gave her love, changing her world.

So often I rush around, trying to take care of people, trying to serve, trying to be good enough, trying to prove myself.

David doesn’t worry about these things. He is present in the moment. He is fully himself, unconcerned with what others think.

David’s simple act of love brought hope and beauty to this woman’s day.

He saw her and without pause met her exactly where she was.

It wasn’t accidental.

It wasn’t complicated.

It was David’s open heart that created a beautiful connection.

Maybe it’s not only grand, heroic actions that change the world.

Maybe it’s the quiet moments, when, in humility and brokenness we meet each other right where we are.

We offer hope and love.

We are present to witness another person’s pain and offer soothing grace.

When we stop rushing, stop trying, stop proving, we can be fully present in the moment.

We can be fully ourselves and open our hearts to each other.

David is showing me one open heart can change the world.

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finding magic in the mess

be brave, christmas By November 16, 2018 43 Comments

photo by Heather Gray

Earlier this week, a friend asked me, “What’s the most magical thing that’s happened to you this week?”

I immediately thought of a moment the morning before. I was buckling David into the car and I was caught up in a moment of worry. The left side of his face was swollen and while the doctor was hoping it’s a sinus infection that could be easily treated with anitbiotics, he was concerned it may be something more serious like an abscess. So there I was, buckling David in the car, staring at the swollen side of his face and lost in thought—when our eyes met. David has a disability he doesn’t often make eye contact, but in that small moment, our eyes met—and it was magical. I got a little peek into his soul. I got to really see him. My heart swelled with love and I got a lump in my throat. Dang, I love that kid so much.

The twinkle lights are beautiful, the wrapped gifts bring wonder, the smell of cinnamon feels like home—and yet none of these matter as much as the love we share. We walk side by side on this journey—with ups and downs, joy and grace. There it is—beauty, even on a regular Thursday morning, even in the midst of worrying about a swollen face.

Sometimes the most magical moments are unplanned—when we’re all relaxing, there are no expectations, no stress. Sometimes magic happens when we let each other feel whatever we feel—when we’re willing to laugh together or cry together or just sit side by side on the couch and watch a movie.

Brave Love is me being fully me and you being fully you. We don’t have to prove we’re good enough. We don’t have to pretend to be happy. We can let things me magical or let them be messy. We can let them be whatever they are—knowing we are loved.

I’m giving myself permission to let go of perfect this Christmas–and if you want it, I’m giving you permission too. Although really, just give yourself permission because you have the power to do this! You are amazing. You are imperfect. You are loved.

Let’s just let this season be whatever it is–and find magic in simple, unexpected places.

PS We’re still watching the swelling in David’s face to see if it will respond to antibiotics. I’ll keep you updated!

I love this brave love ring from my shop.

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my brave love journey

inspiration By September 20, 2018 Tags: 115 Comments

I haven’t shared much about this, but a couple years ago my husband Steve and I went through a marriage crisis. It was one of the scariest, darkest times of my life. I told him I wanted to separate. I needed space, time, I needed to be alone so I could think. It was surreal to say those words to him. It was like someone else was saying them. But I was desperate and something had to change, I had to change.

For a long time I believed that to be loved I had to be less.
Steve didn’t tell me these things. I brought this deeply held belief into our marriage.
I had to make myself smaller so he could grow and shine.
I had to give up what I wanted so he could have what he wanted.
I had to sacrifice myself to make him love me.
If Steve was happy he would love me.
If my kids were thriving they would love me.
I believed there wasn’t enough for all us—I would have to take less so they could have more.
I thought this was love—give everything and ask for nothing in return.
It didn’t work. At all.
I tried so hard for so long to make everyone happy. I went from tired to frustrated to bitter and exhausted. But I kept trying and trying. Giving and giving, sacrificing and making myself smaller—until I was desperate.
I was done trying, done with my marriage, done with feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. I was done with feeling like a failure.
I needed space–time to be quiet, to rest, to figure out what I needed to change so I could thrive.

my brave love birthstone ring–inspired by my journey

Steve was devastated when I told him I wanted to separate but he graciously made space for me. That evening, after I told him I needed time, he packed an overnight bag and went to stay with a friend. The next day he came home to stay with our boys and I went away for a little over a week. I spent time grieving, walking, journaling and praying. It’s hard to describe how hard those days were–the depth of my sadness, the fear that I was losing my family. I don’t know if I’ve ever cried that much in my entire life. It was like all these feelings I held inside me–all the feelings I tried to ignore while I took care of everyone else–came flooding up to the surface. Those feelings were there and they had to be felt. I knew things had to change and I knew the change was going to be brutal. I wasn’t sure if our marriage could survive–but I knew I had to change me, my wrong beliefs, my habits that were hurting me and my family.

During those dark days I had a lightbulb moment. I am a person–a whole person with my own thoughts, feelings, needs and preferences. For so long I saw myself as less–just a vehicle to take care of the other people in my family. I didn’t count. My feelings didn’t matter. But in that lightbulb moment I realized I DO COUNT. I matter. I matter just as much as my husband and children. I have thoughts and feelings and needs and preferences just like they do–and they matter. There are four people in our family and I am one of them.

my brave love spinner ring–inspired by my journey

So I started saying what I thought.

I started saying what I needed.

I started speaking my mind and sharing my feelings.

I started making time for naps, walks, time with friends, alone time and so many more things my heart needed.

I started being a whole person with my own thoughts, feelings, needs and preferences.

My voice would shake as I began to represent myself. I felt sick to my stomach. I wanted to put up walls and run away but I stayed and tried to engage honestly. It was terrifying. Steve and I fought more. Things got messier. I worried about the boys. I disrupted our rhythm. Change is hard. There were times I didn’t think we would make it. There were many tears and I so much fear as I started living honestly and without apology. I had to be me, even if it meant our marriage ended.

Slowly but surely things started to take shape. I was getting stronger and braver. I was becoming whole–becoming ME. Becoming who I was always meant to be.

Friends, life is crazy hard sometimes. While I long for peace and beauty, sometimes the only way to get there is through conflict and darkness. My journey has been up and down, forward and back and I still don’t have it figured out–but I’m learning.

Steve and I are married and our relationship is stronger than ever. We are having more fun. We are learning to let each other be who we are without fear. It could have ended differently and even with a different ending it could have been beautiful. There isn’t one right journey or one right path. There is simply the journey each of us are on, the path each of us are walking.

When we walk in honesty and vulnerability we are living out of our truest selves.

This is love.

This is brave.

This is brave love.

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Losing our sweet Beasley

Louis and Beasley, soul connection By September 14, 2018 3 Comments

Losing our pup, Beasley a couple weeks ago is one of the hardest things we’ve been through as a family. We shed many tears as his health declined and we tried to determine what day we should say goodbye. We soaked up those last days–taking him for frozen yogurt, long walks and a trip to the beach. We cuddled him and gave him lots of love. He slept in bed with Matthias so he could keep a close eye on him. They were sweet, heart-wrenching days and I’m grateful we were able to take the time to enjoy him and show him how much we love him.

A few days ago we received this painting from Suzi Reil Art. It seriously takes my breath away. She completely captured Beasley’s personality and heart. Our whole family is amazed by her talent and thoughtfulness. We LOVE LOVE LOVE this painting. It’s a work of art.

We have a few wall nooks around our home and it seemed the perfect place to create a little vignette with our beautiful new painting.

This is one of my favorite pics of Matthias and Beasley the day before we said goodbye. Beasley was still able to stand and walk. The very next day he couldn’t bear weight on his legs and we knew it was the day to say good-bye.

I love the bow ties and their cute expressions! The aqua background is perfect for our home.

We got a few family shots with our sweet pups those last few days. There is so much light and love in this pic!

The perfect nook, a spot we pass by 100x a day–so can be reminded of our sweet Beasley.

Last days, ears flapping in the breeze, soaking up the sea air. So much love!

Friends, if you have a precious dog or cat I highly recommend you get a portrait painted by Suzi Reil. It’s a treasure! And what an incredible Christmas gift this would be! Hop over to Suzi’s Instagram to see lots of her paintings and to her website for more information. Use code LISA10 for 10% off.

Thank you Suzi for this amazing gift! You have blessed our family beyond what you can know.

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David’s room refresh!

david, decorating By September 13, 2018 7 Comments

Hello friends! Thank you for your encouragement about David’s room refresh. I love taking a space and making it feel fresh and new. In my world things tend to go from clean to messy and then back again. It’s a cycle I have a hard time breaking. But refreshing a space tends to motivate me to keep it tidier for a while. 

Below is David’s room before it was David’s room–it was our spare room and the boys shared. Wasn’t it bright and cheery? All of this bedding was from Target–down to the ottomans at the end of the bed I found on clearance for $15 each! But when the boys got old enough to need more space and privacy we were happy to give it up and create a new space. 

And below is his room before the refresh–not too different. I changed the bedding and rearranged the room a bit. I took this pic on a morning where before I came in to get him, he had thrown toys and bedding all over the place. Such a rascal!

That adorable globe is from the Magnolia collection at Target. It spins and David has fun with it. I love how bright his room is–lots of windows. 
One of the hardest parts about decorating David’s room is making it feel like a teenager’s room {he’s 16 years old!} but also filling it with toys he loves. He would happily play with a pink elephant keyboard but that’s not really age appropriate–so I try to find keyboards that are more age appropriate.

The teepee is a cozy spot for reading books or a nap. Truthfully, he doesn’t it use it much but every once in a while I’ll find him crashed out in there. 

This red piano is one of his favorite things. I found it on Amazon. And he loves to pluck the ukulele as well. 

David is such a happy kiddo–so he really doesn’t need a reminder to not complain. This reminder is really for us–this is David’s happy place–so if you come into his room you better have a good attitude. 

I mixed and matched a bunch of bedding from the kids department at Target. I wish I had gotten a queen comforter instead of a twin. I still might go back. That way his comforter would go all the way to the carpet instead of just over the sides of the bed. 

The teepee is from Etsy and it’s quite big. I bought a papasan cushion from World Market that fit perfectly inside. Then I covered the fusion with a quiet and soft rug. Those white plush rugs are from Target and they’re washable–which is perfect!
Looking into the mirror gives you an overall perspective of the room. It’s happy place filled with things David loves!That blue truck was Steve’s when he was a little boy and he called it ‘Wonderfox’ which is awesome.

Bedding–Here’s the exact comforter but I like this one.
Jersey X Sham
Rugs
Teepee
Papasan Cusion
Globe
Red Piano
London Bus

What’s your favorite space in your house?

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Change is so hard

adventures, an everyday moment, be brave By August 3, 2018 9 Comments

You know that icky, scared feeling when you try something new? What seemed like a great idea a couple days ago now feels like a completely awful idea. I’ve been having that feeling fairly regularly over the last few years Steve and I walked through a marriage crisis a couple years ago and it was one of the darkest, scariest times of my life. I was desperately unhappy and I knew I needed to make big changes–for me, for my life. We both needed to change and grow. And thankfully, we’ve both been working hard to do just that.

One of the biggest changes I have been making is, instead of trying to please other people and make them happy, I am simply trying to be ME. Simple, but not easy. Being me means saying what I really think, asking for what I need without apology and feeling my feelings {instead of trying to take care of everyone else’s feelings and ignoring my own}.

Steve and I at the Castle Ruins

The other day we were in the beautiful town of Helmsley, England, shopping and eating and relaxing. We walked up the hill to see the Castle ruins–which were breathtaking. We got a glimpse of the ruins outside the wall and it seemed like we were all winding down–ready to get in the cars and drive back to our Airbnb–but I really wanted to go inside and get a closer look at the ruins. I didn’t want to make a fuss or inconvenience our whole group and I almost didn’t say anything. But I reminded myself I’m trying to show up, say what I think and want without apology. It may seem like a small thing, but for someone who has lived a lot of life trying to please other people, it’s scary and stretching. I spoke up and it was no big deal. Everyone was on board for getting a closer look at the ruins. Steve someone how got tickets for just a few pounds and we ventured inside. It was beautiful, MAGICAL, so fun. I’m so glad I said what I wanted.

Helmsley Castle Ruins

Speaking up and asking for what I want is a change that has been HARD but so necessary. I gave a small example but there have been much bigger, scarier moments where I have said really hard, honest things and you know what, it’s been better. Better for me, better for Steve, better for my marriage, better for my soul. It’s so important. Best of all, it’s working. I am changing. I am more ME. I am happier and more relaxed. I wrote a poem about change and I wonder if you’ll relate to it?

All four of us at Helmsley Castle Ruins

Change


Change

A stiff shoe

To be broken in

New

Different

Uncomfortable

Aware of each step

Left, Right, Left

Awkward

Blisters

Maybe this was a bad idea

The old way

Before the change

Wasn’t so bad

My old shoes were fine

They were comfortable

But worn out

Too small

The soles were worn smooth

And slippery

No tread or traction

To keep me stable

To move me forward

Change

I can see ahead

These new shoes will take me there

I wear them a bit each day

I practice a new way

With each awkward step

I am changing

Slowly the shoes soften

My blisters heal

My feet adjust

The shoes become part of me

What was new

Begins to feel normal

To feel right

Right, Left, Right

Little by little

The old shoes are behind me

The old way is behind me

My new shoes fit well

My new way is working

Moving forward

Braver with each step

Stretched and Grown

Changed

Stepping away from what is safe and known is scary but necessary. Making change is brave. Be ME without apology is how I love myself and others–it’s how I encourage my family to be who they are without apology. Being honest, being real is loving and brave. It’s brave love. There is so more of my journey of brave love in my new book {so crazy, exciting}. More details on the book here.

Are you making any changes that scare you right now?

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big big announcement!

be brave By August 3, 2018 2 Comments

I’ve been working on a huge project and I can FINALLY share it with you.

I wrote a BOOK!

I kinda feel like I’m lying—it seems impossible, but it’s true! A real, live book!

{this is my author pic for the back of the book, by Heather Gray}

For so long I told myself I wasn’t a writer. Maybe I loved writing so much I was scared to admit how much it meant to me? Slowly I began to realize how much meaning I found through writing.

You know what else I’ve found?

Connection with YOU. In brave, vulnerable moments I’ve shared real life with you and you’ve encouraged me and shared your story, too. Through my blog and social media we’ve built a community filled with hope and love. It’s truly amazing and beautiful.

My book is called Brave Love. Wanna hear more? Wanna see the COVER? Click here!

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hello England!

adventures, hello monday, Leonards take England By July 30, 2018 1 Comment

Hello friends! We are in England and having SO MUCH FUN! This is our fifth or sixth trip to England and I think we’ve figured out a few things to make the trips easier. It’s still crazy and exhausting but we’ve hit a stride and I feel myself relaxing and leaning into vacation mode. Maybe I’ll do a big blog post about how I organize things for our trips and how we meet David’s needs while we travel. It’s a lot of work but it’s worth it. We get to see new places and new things! So much beauty. How about some hellos for a new week?

Hello English cousins! We are thrilled to get to adventure around York with our dear cousins. The kids are having a blast and the adults might be having even more fun!

Hello food. Oh my gosh we have had so much delicious food–like this burger from House of Trembling Madness in York. It is one of the best burgers I’ve ever had!

Hello St. Mary’s Abbey ruins. So beautiful. I love ruins–something about the beauty left behind, creating a backdrop for everyday life. It moves me.

Hello silliness and taking our time. Our mornings have been slow with lots of coffee and relaxing. Then we venture out to see the sites and get food. Evenings are for relaxing as well. It feels like we’ve struck a good balance. Lindsey is along helping with David and she makes everything more fun. I’m thankful for her.

Hello flower baskets BURSTING with color. That’s the York Minster in the background.

Hello gelato and river views.

Yay! Hello cousins. It makes my heart so happy that these kids are growing up together even though they live on opposite sides of the world.

Hello Whip Ma Whop Ma Gate. Just an awesome, random street name!

Hello comfortable walking shoes. So important!

Hello sleeping like a rock at night!

Hello blue skies and rain and sunshine and wind and experiencing all kind of weather in a single day.

Hello taking pictures and having so much fun being creative.

Hello Instagram. I’ve been posting lots of pics and stories on my feed. Make sure to follow our adventures every day on Instagram.

Hello reading this book. She led a fascinating life! Definitely a tell-all book and a bit edgy but so fun.

Hello continuing to work on the finishing touches of THE BOOK. {It’s all written but we’re beginning to talk about layout and marketing}. So exciting and crazy and I am overflowing with gratitude for this opportunity! Have you pre-ordered a copy yet?

Hello to YOU! It’s a brand new week with beauty to be found. What are you saying hello to this week?

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