Category Archives: Heart

Abram’s Nursery Reveal

16th February 2017

It’s been 40 days since my world was changed forever.  Forty long but short days with our newest addition Abram Paul.

They tell you about the sleep deprivation, the BIG feelings, the spit up, the smells and the CUTE AGGRESSION but you don’t really know the depth of it all until you’re in the thick of it. And we are in the thick of it so please excuse the dark circles under my eyes–they will probably be there for awhile.

But you guys five weeks and five days with this bright eyed, cuddly,  handsome boy has been extremely hard but even more lovely. He isn’t perfect but he already has momma’s heart wrapped up tight around his adorable baby hands.  I could go on forever about this squishy, cute kiddo but I wanted to finally share about his nursery. I am absolutely in love with the way it turned out! I truly enjoy sitting in his room and nursing and rocking him to sleep–it makes those middle of the night feedings easier.

This space has so much meaning to me. Each piece has a special story and connection. Let’s start with the gallery wall. The top left picture is a stitched piece of art that was given to Aaron from his Pop Pop who passed away right before Aaron and I started dating. You can’t tell from the picture but it has a quote about fishing with some fish stitched into it. We have had this piece for quite some time and I knew if we ever had a boy I wanted it to hang in his room. The canvas painting directly underneath was painted by my best friend and left as a surprise on our porch one day when I got home. It has the sweetest note to Abram on the back from Aunt B. The two pictures in the middle have frames made by Aaron from some scrap wood we had in our shed–they are chippy and imperfect and I LOVE THEM! The top photo is a maternity picture from our babymoon in North Carolina and the bottom one is one of his sonogram pictures (however it’s now replaced with a newborn picture). The middle chalkboard is one that I made a couple years ago from chalkboard paint and a piece of wood–written on it currently says “Always stay humble and kind”. The A & P letters were a half off purchase from Michaels and the deer sign was a decorative piece I bought last year at a vintage flea market. It was another piece that I knew I wanted to put in a boy nursery if we ever had one. The entire gallery wall cost less than $50 and is full of personal touches <3

The dresser in his room was our first thrift store purchase as a married couple. We have had it in our room since we got married back in 2012 but I felt like it would fit much better in Abram’s room. I love the rustic, woodsy feel it gives the space. The Pepsi and Coca Cola crates were flea market finds and house our diapers, wipes and baby essentials like gripe water, nail clippers, medicine etc.  The mason jar (one of my Grannys) holds all of his pacifiers, including ones made by my childhood friend Ari. You see that AWESOME pinecone mobile in the corner? Well that is my absolute favorite part of his room. It cost us nothing and is so priceless to me. The big pinecones are from my Granny and Papa’s yard and the smaller pinecones and leaves are from our babymoon in North Carolina. The stick was just a random one we found in the house (I’m sure there is a story behind where it came from but I’m just not sure what it is HA!) The rug is from RUGSUSA and it’s extremely soft and comfy. Paisley, our pup, loves to lay on it. Who am I kidding–even Aaron and I love to lay on it. I can’t wait to watch Abram play on it as he grows up. It was the biggest expense of his room for us but it really pulls the room together and we are so happy with it.

The glider was handed down to me by my sister and was reupholstered by a good friend as a gift. Aaron spray painted it and with the updated fabric it looks good as new. My neighbor sold me the crates and they now host Abram’s library as well as his nightlight (from my sister), more pinecones, leaves and rocks from our babymoon and Granny and Papa’s house.

The DaVinci Jenny Lind 3-in-1 Convertible Crib was a gift to us from my parents. It’s such a classic look that I know will grow with him. The mustache sheets were a gift from our friends Andy and Christi–aren’t they adorable?

Finally the banner was made by my best friend Danielle and used at Abram’s shower and the T in the middle was last year’s birthday present from my bestie’s Brittany and Danielle. It’s so fun and lights up!!

And that folks is his nursery–it’s full of meaning and stories. It’s the best way I know how to decorate.  Now I am going to go get me some more baby snuggles.

Photo credit: Natalie Broach Photography

The most busy time of year.

20th December 2016

***This post has been sitting in my drafts folder since September. I hit publish without any editing of the original post. It all still feels so relevant for me.***

Everyone has their “busy” seasons and fall always feels like mine. It’s absolutely self inflicted. I love the fall season so much that I want to do as many things as possible starting September and carry the fun through the Holidays.

On top of the things I actually plan are the other things that get planned for me. Weddings. Showers. Birthday dinners. Celebrations. Football games. The list goes on.

It’s totally fun and I am not complaining. For this extroverted heart I live off this kind of energy–even if being pregnant makes me 10 times more tired. When is nap time?

Speaking of growing a human, I have been thinking about all that is going to change coming up. How slow and fast life is about to become with a newborn. How very difficult it will be at first to just pick up and go. How lonely it might will be. How sanctifying the whole process will be.   babes I haven’t written much. Mostly because I have nothing to say. That’s actually not really true. I have a lot to say but sometimes I am not sure how to string my thoughts into words here for you. And maybe that’s been my problem lately? While I write for you–I’ve stopped writing for me. Instead I have been filling my days with people and processing outside of this space. Taking off all the pressure I put on myself to have the perfect post with the perfect images.

If I am going to continue blogging it has to be because I want to. And in this season I am still trying to figure that out.

***And that is where I stopped and never picked back up. Revisiting this draft has reminded me of the seasons of life and how much I need to pay attention to them. The last few months have been so full and blogging just didn’t fit into my life. Did I miss it? Absolutely. But it’s been such a relieving break for me. I hope to get back into it–especially once Abram is born. I know that documenting our parenthood journey and all the restoration we will experience will be so valuable to me.

The best thing about writing here is that I have no deadlines, nothing to be graded and no expectations. It’s a space to process, share and just be. Thank you for allowing me breaks when I need them and for following along on this journey of ours and being such an encouragement.

I love sharing life with you. Even when I am not writing here, I am sharing our restoration story over on Instagram — you can join me there too.

P.s T-minus one month until baby boy arrives (give or take). Send prayers and lots of chocolate.

Until next time

<3

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.

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

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.
porch

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

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

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 😉

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.

 

My heart behind the silence.

14th July 2016

It’s been a rough couple of weeks/months in our country and world. And as a result, lots of words have been said and written. So many words that the thought of adding to it just made me feel like another voice in the mix–lost in a sea of opinions and pride. So I have fallen silent around here lately. I took a step back to listen and observe and give my soul and mind some space to just be still.

I have a lot of things I want to say but none of them are “right”. The truth is I am so very aware that I don’t have the right answers. In this situation I can humbly step back and say I see the problems but I don’t know how to fix them. Or better yet I don’t believe that I have the words that will fix them.

Because let’s be real–it’s going to take a lot more than words and opinions to bring true healing and peace. It’s going to take action. It’s going to look more like shutting up and listening and moving towards someone else even if it’s uncomfortable. It’s going to take dying to ourselves and to our pride.  20160511_141702 But really it’s going to take Jesus’ all-consuming love to change us from the inside out. And from that we will love our hurting neighbors better and extend grace and compassion where we couldn’t before.

So in this season of pain–I am working on using my two ears more than my one mouth. It’s the best thing I know to do right now. That means the silence may continue.

Thank you for allowing me space to process and sort through my heart. I know this season of blogging has felt so dry to me (and I am sure to you as well)–but it’s important that I walk through it.

This space is a gift and I am grateful you share it with me.

What I learned in June

1st July 2016

Toll House Roll vs. Toll House Pull Apart

I have been buying the pull apart cookies (pictured right) for years and they are my JAM! Recently though we had a friend buy two packs of the roll kind (pictured left) for a potluck and it was not the same at all. Even my husband who isn’t as big of a cookie lover/snob as me agreed. I need to change my profile to say Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Lover but really just the pull apart kind baked three minutes less than the package calls for 😉 cookies

Feltapp is bringing letters back felt

My friend Courtney shared this on Instagram earlier this month and I thought it was the coolest thing. I haven’t personally used it but I think I would like to try it. You can send hand lettered cards straight from your phone. What a crazy world we live in HA!

June in a popular month to have a baby

At least it’s true for me. See here.

Sometimes taking a break from your schedule is good for the soul.  beach

June has been a slow blogging month for me. It’s the year mark of Married to Restoration and in a lot of ways that has brought different emotions. Sometimes I have just wanted to quit this thing called blogging while other times I knew I just needed a break. I have taken a step back from my normal M,W,F posts and while I don’t have this overwhelming peace of what’s next, I have been able to give my soul some space and freedom.

I am ready for you, July.