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We’re the same but different.

12th October 2016

One of my favorite bloggers, Emily Freeman, talks about paying attention to what makes you cry. As if our tears are tiny little messengers from within our souls. This idea has made me extra aware anytime the tears flow and it’s not completely obvious to me why. guat3 So what has me crying these days? Besides the new show This is Us on NBC.

After following Shannan Martin’s blog for a few years and then being on her launch team for her new book, my perspective on who my neighbor is really began to shift. I have been so challenged recently to look at my life and see who do I spend time with that is different than me. Not just taste in food or music but someone who has grown up in a different socioeconomic class,  someone of a different race or someone with a different world view.

I was ashamed at how small the list was/is. It became so clear that I wanted that to change. I wanted to draw a wider circle and get to know people who weren’t like me. No matter how uncomfortable it might be.

Over the summer I saw a neighbor post a need for mentors for single moms who have aged out of foster care. I immediately threw my name in the hat. And it wasn’t long after that I was matched with Natalie (changing her name for her privacy).

A couple months later and we have exchanged hundreds of text messages, pictures of her ADORABLE son and meals together. When we got together I would mostly just listen to all of her problems–and at times it became overwhelming. Sometimes to the point where it felt unbelievable.

But they were real, honest hardships that I couldn’t relate to. From the day she was born to a drug addicted mother and a father arrested on sexual charges, her life would be and is a constant battle. She has had to fight and overcome so many things that I couldn’t imagine. Her corner of support included her aunt who passed away a few years ago, leaving her even more alone.

It would take me a long time to share with you all the things about her story that make me weep. All the broken pieces that tear me to shreds. There are so many stories like hers out there–and I encourage you to find them and listen to them. And even if you can’t relate–pray for understanding and compassion. And just love.  guat6 She text me today that she is moving immediately. Leaving on a jet plane tonight to live with her God Mama who might be the only positive person I have heard her talk about beside her aunt that passed a while back.

And the tears began to form as we text back and forth. So I thought to myself–what is about her that makes me cry? Of course her story and the pain I know she carries with her make me sad but I am also grieving her departure from my life because she made me better. She opened my eyes to see things I have overlooked and has given me a deeper compassion to understand those different than me.

I will miss her here but I am so thankful she is going to be living with someone who loves her and can help her raise her son. I am grateful to know that just because our friendship might look different than what is has been, it doesn’t have to end. But mostly I am weepy because I am excited to continue to pursue relationships with people different than me.

I want to keep drawing a wider circle.

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Falling Free–A MUST read book!

14th September 2016

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite bloggers, Shannan Martin. See awesome picture below that I snagged from her instagram.  *All photos (except one) below are from her lovely instagram–another avenue she uses to challenge my thoughts and encourage my soul.  sm I discovered the quirky but so relatable Shannan about two years ago and have read every single post of hers since. When I first read her words I gobbled them up. I would spend hours upon hours reading her blog posts. That widget at the bottom of each post that says “You might also like” got me every.single.time. One day last spring I just felt like my kindred spirit needed to know how much she meant to me—too weird? Maybe but I didn’t care. I sent her an email telling her all about how connected to her story I felt. We had just moved to “the wrong side of the tracks” in our busted up neighborhood but we were experiencing Jesus more than I ever had, just as Shannan had described.

I sent the email really not expecting for her to respond. And she didn’t. For almost five months. Then one day I opened up my inbox to find her response which included an explanation at how terrible she is at email. But I did not care one bit–I was just so stoked that she read my words and took the time to write me back. From there, we exchanged a few emails where we discussed life, TV shows (thanks for Broadchurch recommendation!) and where I pretty much invited myself onto her launch team for her book that wasn’t expected to release for another year or so. Despite my abrasiveness she told me she would call me in as a launch team member and she kept her word. This summer I was emailed an early PDF version of her book and instead of gobbling it up like her blog posts, I have chewed on each word savoring them slowly. And I am still chugging along at a super slow pace. Taking her words to heart and trying to examine them against my life.

Her book Falling Free  is a GOOD, soul-changing, flip your world upside down kind of book. It has shattered so much of the pretty, wrapped in a bow faith that I have walked in for so long. It has challenged me to my core and caused some major shifting within my heart. Some much needed restoration.
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Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted *(affiliate link)

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This book has pushed me to redefine what it means to love my neighbor and show hospitality. It has given a new definition to who my neighbor truly is and how much God cares for them.

Example A: From page 144-145 (at least in the PDF version)

When God spoke about hospitality throughout the Bible as if on a loop, he wasn’t just referring to hosting a church Bible study or commiserating over steaming cups of Earl Grey with our besties.

His great hope is that we would experience the sparkling intimacy that bubbles up when we drop the veil and get real. His intention was for us to invite the stranger—the immigrant, the overlooked, the one we cannot understand, the one we say we hate—into our sanctuary and love them as we would love our own sister.

Hospitality looks different than I have always known it to look. It’s deeper than I have always thought it to be. And through this book I am asking more questions of my own heart and intentions than I ever have before–about my neighbors, about poverty, about the grace and love of Jesus and so much more.

Do yourself a favor and pre-order this book and take your time as you digest it. It’s needed. It’s important. It’s a must read. AND as if the book wasn’t enough if you pre-order before Tuesday the 20th when it officially hits the shelf you get some sweet freebies including a downloadable file of this GORGEOUS print.  ff

Instagram photo: Jennifer Tucker

May we all find freedom in the falling <3

A homeless man sits covered in snow early on March 25, 2013 in Washington, DC. A messy Monday is in store for millions along the East Coast, with winter weather advisories warning of a mixture of snow and rain for Washington, DC, Philadelphia, metropolitan New York and parts of northeast New Jersey. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIERKAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT:

To the woman I didn’t see.

6th September 2016

We got back yesterday mid afternoon after spending a gorgeous Labor Day weekend boating, fishing and swimming with family. It was a perfect three days–weather and all.  seb Coming home after a trip is mostly the best thing ever expect for the need to go grocery shopping. And since we had spent hours in the car driving home we weren’t really in the mood to prepare for the week ahead by thinking about what we were going to eat {because that would have definitely been laboring on labor day}. So instead we called an order in for overpriced pizza, wings and salad. We drove just a few miles to pick it up and decided to enjoy the fall (ish) weather by eating on the porch. It was a great night minus the skeeters (a.k.a mosquitoes) and the fact that my mind kept replaying a scene from just a few minutes earlier over and over. Let me back up just a bit.
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Most of my readers know by now that we live in an urban neighborhood that is on the rise but certainly has its drawbacks. We are right next to downtown which means we get a lot of foot traffic from homeless men and women or just transient folks passing through. As someone who used to work for a homeless shelter it has really never bothered me. I know that there are always stories these men and women hold. Ones I would probably never understand.

But that doesn’t mean I always treat my transient neighbors in a way that I am proud of. We have all had those moments stopped at a red light right next to someone holding a sign–coming up to your window and trying to meet your gaze. Your heart starts to race as your mind tries with all its might to change the red light to green so you can go. So you can leave the situation–the awkward and uncomfortable moment.

This is our version of that story. We had just picked up the pizza and were heading back through downtown to get home so we could eat. I was feeling ravenous (#pregoproblems) and couldn’t wait to dive in. We stopped at a red light and there she was, holding a sign with words that still remain a mystery because I didn’t want to meet her gaze. She was more assertive than most and got close to the car mouthing something. Aaron mouthed back that he didn’t have cash (which is true) and I just sat there holding our dinner in my lap and staring at the light willing it to turn green.

It crossed my mind as we sat there in that uncomfortable moment to give her our dinner. We had some food at the house to make eggs or PB&J or something that would suffice. But the light turned green and we rode on home. And I just kept replaying that interaction over and over in my head.

I was (am) ashamed. Not because I didn’t physically give her anything but because I didn’t emotionally either. I chose not to see her. To ignore her and treat her as if she wasn’t a person. And for that I am feeling the sting.

I think a lot about just moving out to the country and buying land and how much my heart would LOVE that. Raising my kids in the wide open spaces with no neighbors and no transient folks either. That would significantly decrease all these uncomfortable moments and awkward interactions for sure.

But then I am reminded that in this season God has us right in the face of the hurting and broken. He uses the discomfort to reveal things within my own heart. He uses my neighbors (with and without homes) to remind me I am needy and broken too. Most of all He reminds me that He is right here in the dark corners and in my dark moments–and He will always give me and my neighbors another shot at restoration.

“Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.” -Psalms 27:13

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DIY Buffet Reveal

1st September 2016

*This is a follow up post to that other post I wrote here.

I am officially the worst at taking pictures. I forget all the time and when I actually remember there is a tropical storm warning issued for Florida and that means the house is crazy dark. But do I care or let it stop me from posting these said terrible pictures? No way.

This storm doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon and I would hate to keep you waiting. I sound all selfless there but really I am just impatient. But I promise I do think about you and how I told you the reveal pictures were to come. And I am a woman of  my word.

These are all captured on my trusty smart phone that really isn’t all that smart. No Iphone or anything but it gets the job done. Maybe (I can’t promise because I am the worst at taking pictures remember?!?) I will actually take some with my camera. Maybe.  b5 Of course Paisley had to sneak in there. Isn’t she the cutest?  b3 b2 b1 I shopped the house for a few things to decorate the buffet with. It’s not permanent but it works and I am digging it. And just to prove how awesome my phone camera actually is—here are some more pictures below for your entertainment. I like to think the dark one is a silhouette type 🙂 b1 b3 Thanks for loving me despite my imperfections. Hopefully better pictures to come.

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Life just got nuts.

29th August 2016

It was a big weekend for us in the Tillman household. We had our anatomy scan where we got to see baby T moving all about, hear the heartbeat and actually see the chambers of the heart. We saw all the little toes and the babe’s cute face but we made sure to close our eyes as the tech took pictures of the gender.
us babe T We left the appointment with pictures of our little miracle in hand including the gender pictures that were stapled shut. We wouldn’t be finding out until the following evening with a handful of our closest friends.

An hour before our big reveal Aaron randomly constructed a divider to hide the pink and blue fireworks. I loved it and appreciated his thoughtfulness to decorate it up 🙂  bog You guys we really didn’t get great pictures of the reveal. Because it was dark and my friends used phones so there is nothing professional about these pictures at all. And strangely I like it. These are the unedited, raw pictures of the night. They’re blurry and imperfect and I love them.

P.s HUGE thanks to Marcos for lighting them for us.  f4 f5 f8 f9 f3 f7 firework f6 f2 f1

BOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Aaron and I both knew (me especially) this little babe was a boy. And while I ended the girl streak of all my friends and had to grieve that I wouldn’t be having a daughter to join their girl circle–I am SO excited to be a boy mom. I know God specifically chose us to be Abram’s (NAME ALERT!) parents and I am honored to carry that title.

Abram is already a loved little boy and I can’t wait to share all the hilarious and crazy things I learn on this journey. A huge thank you to my fellow boy mom friends who spoke such life into me. It really takes a village and Aaron and I have the best village there is.  boy1 boy Life just got a little nuttier! nuts

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A beautiful accident turned buffet

17th August 2016

While I was away at the Haven Conference a few weekends ago, Aaron was busy building me a media console. At least that was the plan. Something I adore about Aaron is he will try most anything even if he doesn’t know 100% what he is doing going into it— he just learns and makes mistakes as he goes and teaches himself. And that is what happened here. He set out to build the media console but the measurements were off and it ended up being too big for the space.

P.s here is why I wanted a media console: 1. Because cords everywhere (this picture is hiding them well and I didn’t have a backup one in my media library to show the true madness) 2. So I can actually use my crates in other ways besides hiding cords 3. To be able to close off all the gadgets (cable box, playstation etc) 4. And truthfully so it doesn’t look so messy and thrown together. gallery-wall-living-room Since the media console Aaron was building wasn’t going to fit our space–we found another use for it. See in the picture below the stretch of wall? The media console magically became a buffet table. DSCN1567 Check out my instagram photo & here too for a glimpse into the chaotic process of building the buffet. I also captured a few current photos of the space: our dinning room = our tool holding area. And I have done a great job at just letting it be and not trying to clean it up. The Lord works miracles! (But seriously it is cramping my workout space a bit ha!) mismatched-chairs Farmhouse-dining-room DIY-Buffet Farmhouse-Dining But boy, it sure is a beautiful accident isn’t it? I can’t wait to stain/paint it. What colors would you do? I am all ears to your vote.

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Weekend Restoration

12th August 2016

The Olympics are wearing me out. I am sure that I am more tired watching the Olympics than the actual Olympians are. Maybe? Okay, definitely not. But it’s requiring me to stay up way past my bedtime. BUT I CAN’T STOP WATCHING! I am looking at the loss of precious sleep as preparation for the babe.

In short, it’s been a long week–especially after coming home from Haven. I am in desperate need of some rest. Physical rest and soul rest. I am thinking you might be too. Seasons are beginning to change, school is starting back and the carousal of life just keeps spinning.

May we take some time this weekend to cheer on our Olympians, hug a stranger, give more than we think we can and take a nap without guilt.

Enjoy your weekend friends! Here are a few things bringing me the fuzzies.  nat

Natalie Freeman’s Instagram feed ff Shannan‘s new book *Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted -preorder it ASAP! DSC_8128 My little family <3

*Amazon affiliate link

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Haven Conference Recap

8th August 2016

Haven-conference-2016 This past weekend I drove the 5+ hour drive to Atlanta with just me, myself and the podcast Invisibila (thanks for the recommendation, Katie!). I attended the Haven Conference with almost 400 other DIY, Home decor bloggers from the U.S and Canada. It was overwhelming in a lot of ways– both good and bad ways. Because I always like to be honest, I’ll share a few things with you here.

I’ll start with a few of the negative emotions I felt. I consider myself an extrovert by a landslide but the older I get I am realizing just how introverted I can be within huge crowds. My soul craves deep connection so the constant small talk was exhausting. I would connect with one person only to not see them again or to feel like I was just a networking tool for them. The truth is I probably was to a huge majority there because it’s impossible to connect with 400 people in three days. I get it.

Another thing I struggled with was my finding my voice in the sea of others. And fighting the temptation to compare myself with everyone else. Compare their blogging journey to mine. Their skills to mine. Their successes to mine. That, friends, is draining.

But there was also a ton of positive stuff (like the donut wall!!). All of the creativity was just amazing and had me feeling all the feels and wanting to paint all the things. paint-rustoleum Speaking with sponsors was also so much fun! There were some really wonderful vendors there and it was super exciting to talk about potential future projects. I am really happy to say that I will soon be partnering with The Crown Bolt Division of Home Depot. More on that to come.

My roomies were built in friends for me in the midst of a sea of strangers. I am so thankful for them! They took me under their wing and didn’t judge me when I went to bed early every night (#pregoproblems).  Haven-conference-2016 I also had the privilege to meet Amy Howard and her stud assistant Alex. What women of grace! Taking her class was by far the highlight of my entire weekend. She is such a woman of God and if it’s wasn’t for her class I think I would have come home from the conference to throw up my white flag. She was/is so inspiring and gave me the motivation to keep sharing and flexing my creative muscles.

I also got to take a watercolor class with Lucy and it was so wonderful. I am terrible but I still had the best time. She is uber talented and makes watercolor look so effortless. I really enjoyed meeting her and taking her class. (I have some of her pillows for fall and Christmas and I am SO PUMPED to be putting them out soon)

I am proud of myself for stepping out and showing up. It wasn’t always easy but character building never is.

Here’s what I took away most from this weekend: I don’t know what the future holds for MTR but I am leaning into the unknown and just trusting that my community here will build in it’s own time and more importantly the connections will be deep and restoration will take place. That’s what I desire more than anything.

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What I learned in July

1st August 2016

Doing one of my favorite practices of taking a look back before moving forward. July has been very introspective for me and I am sharing a bit with you here. Here are some (mostly serious) things I learned this month. DSC_8082 Pregnancy hormones are so real.

Short story: I may or may not have bawled while at the gun range. All I can say is my emotions hit the roof and I just couldn’t control it. It was a small and hot room, with lots of loud noises (obviously!) and shells flying everywhere. Overwhelming and totally embarrassing but thankfully I can laugh about it now. I definitely learned that will not be a hobby of mine.

Befriending someone completely opposite of you is vital.

Recently I was matched to mentor a single mom (20 years old) who aged out of foster care. My contact from Family Support Services asked me this month how our friendship was going—here is my exact response to her (I changed my mentee’s name out of privacy) “That’s such a loaded question ha! My friendship with Natalie is certainly growing. She is open and trusting and I am very thankful for that. She accepted me right away and shares so much with me. I am thankful for that too. Our lives are drastically different as well as our stories but I think it’s so good for both of us to learn and listen from each other. Our friendship has never been more important. Thank you for the opportunity!”

There are seasons in all areas of life.

I was recently contacted by a girl on Instagram who bought a fixer upper and wanted my advice and opinion. I gave her a list of my “here is what I have learned in this process” advice. One of those being that there are certainly seasons of peaks and valleys. Some days I want to stop everything we are doing and sell our house. Some days I don’t want to fix anything, DIY anything or decorate anything. Some days there is absolutely no progress. And sometimes those days turn into weeks. I reminded her that those seasons will come and they’re completely normal and okay. I needed to remind myself of that too.

There are also seasons to be silent.

I am certainly in a season of slow and silent here at Married to Restoration. I have been uncomfortable with it at times but mostly it’s been freeing to take a break. I wrote a post about it here.

Goodbyes never get easier.

I said see you later to a sweet friend this week as she moved to North Carolina. So thankful that Jesus unites us as family forever. NC you gained one beautiful soul this month. kim I am so EXCITED for August as we find out what Baby Tillman will be!!! BOY OR GIRL?!?!?! Can’t wait to fill you in 😉

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Picking sides.

25th July 2016

I am not a political person at all. That doesn’t mean I am completely unaware of the ways politics affects us. It just means that I see how it divides us.

I think that’s why I don’t like to dig deep into it. Because when I do I always feel I have to pick a side and whatever side I pick means I stand in opposition to all the people who disagree with me. Our culture has moved in a direction that has painted this picture that disagreeing with someone means you hate them or you think less of them. For some, that probably is true. But for most us? I want to believe that isn’t the case. I know a lot of great people who disagree with me on some really important subjects but at the end of the day they don’t hate me for it and vice versa. We choose love over pride or feeling right.  spr2 I talked earlier this month on being silent. It’s been a summer of slow processing and sorting out all the brokenness around me. I have been seeking restoration within my own heart–asking God to strip me of prejudice, anger and judgment. Looking for ways I can be more loving and patient.

I found some peace as I read God’s word this morning. We have been going over James in our Church community and I read a little ahead. And what I found is encouraging my soul. Waiting-for-a-harvest

Image via Google

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! -James 5: 7-9

The message bible paints an even clearer picture.

7-8 Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time. -James 5:7-8

There is hurt and pain all around us. Injustice is springing up all throughout. But I refuse to pick a side. Instead I am longing to produce patience in the slow and sure work of Christ. He is coming and while I wait I am choosing to love both sides.