A discontent heart

Recently I had a conversation with a friend who is an amazing interior designer and has a beautiful home. She also has a very popular blog and often writes about things she's changing around, a wall she's painting, or a re-do project she's taking on. She is very creative and has a gift for making something ordinary look beautiful.

(Let me preface that her blog is her business. It's her 'job' to create within her home and then tell the rest of us how she did it.)

About a year ago I discovered the world of DIY (I know, I'm a little behind) and started following many blogs of women who wrote about their homes. It inspired me to do a few DIY projects and to be a little more creative when I thought about what I wanted my home to represent. But for me, it got a little out of hand. And more out of hand in my mind than it did physically. I didn't run out and spend hundreds of dollars on throw pillows, lamps, or wall paintings. I know better than that and my husband would've killed me. But suddenly I had become discontent with my home. I saw pictures of other women's homes and how pretty and inviting they were, and then I would look away from the computer screen to see my blank, boring walls and stained carpets. I wanted to fill every wall with a pretty picture and every corner with a cute accessory. I didn't like our couch pillows or our tacky, gold factory light fixtures. The list goes on and on. I just wasn't happy with my home.

So back to the conversation I had with my interior designer, blogging friend. It seems people decorate their homes for two types of reasons...

1) Because they really enjoy it. It's a creative outlet. They are gifted at it.

2) They don't like the way their home looks. They are discontent. They won't be happy until it's "perfect".

I would put myself in the second category. At times I do enjoy decorating and creating but I wouldn't say I have a specific knack for it. I was constantly looking for more "things" for my home because the way it was just wasn't good enough. I suppose it's ok to be discontent sometimes if something needs to change but  the reality for me was that we didn't have the money for me to be unhappy with our home. Our financial envelope system does not include a 'home decor' category. Unfortunately.

So what did I do? I stopped. I stopped buying things for my house every week. I stopped thinking about what I "needed" next. I stopped spending hours looking at blog posts of beautiful homes and comparing theirs to mine. I stopped thinking about all the things I didn't like about my home and started being content with what it was.

It's a place of safety. It's a place of comfort. It's a place for laughing and for tears. It's a place for building memories. It's a place for growing. It's a place for friendship. And my hope is that it's a place where there is an abundance of love and forgiveness.

I do believe having a warm and welcoming home is an important thing but it is not THE most important thing.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself if you relate to this at all...

  • Does the question "what do I need to buy next" consume your thoughts?
  • Do you spend more money on buying things for your home then you do on other people?
  • Does your desire to decorate come from passion or discontentment?
I am not in love with our current home but I am happy with it and I choose to be content with it. 

How do you feel about your home?

Chasing simplicity

Have you notice lately that the "look" of my blog has been changing every few days? If you haven't then good for you. But, if you have then I apologize if I've caused any confusion. Now that I'm starting to learn my way around blogger and all that it has to offer, I am having a lot of fun customizing my blog. I guess in a sense I'm trying to find my "blogger identity". I've discovered some great websites that have free backgrounds, headers, buttons, etc that are great for beginning bloggers like me who aren't using their blog as a business but still want it to look cute:) I've also been trying to come up with what to "call" my blog. Something other than just courtneylaib.com. That's boring.

When I sit down to read some of my favorite blogs, sometimes I feel like I am stepping into the writer's living room or having coffee with them at Starbucks. Mainly because their writing is so personable and so relatable, but also because they've created a blog environment that feels more like a "place" rather than a "site". So I too want not just a site or some tiny chunk of space within the world wide web but a PLACE. Maybe this is just a far-fetched idea or maybe I've had too much caffeine today. Either way, I'm going with it. So this place I call my blog will be known as 'Chasing Simplicity'. I hope that much of what I write about will reflect my journey towards living a simple life for Jesus.

Chasing simplicity --- with creativity and passion.

I like it.

Need some girl time?

If you are a woman and you live in the Joliet area and you're in need of some girl time then check this out...

What: An event hosted by the ladies behind the blog (in)courage. We'll spend some girl time eating, chatting, and watching some great web casts created by the amazing women of (in)courage that will relate to YOUR life.

When: Saturday, April 28th 9-11am

Where: Grace Bible Church
 748 Jones Road, Minooka

Who: If you are a woman then you're invited! 

Why: Because we all need community and community happens one relationship at a time. 

Any questions? 

Email me at courtneylaib@gmail.com or go to www.inrl.us.

*You can also RSVP on the (in)courage Women's One Day Facebook page.

Highlights from the beach.

Some of my favorite moments from Caroline's birthday week at the beach...

Spending time with these women at this beautiful house. 

SO much laughter. 

Endless fun. 

Reconnecting with old friends and meeting lots of new ones.
Hours of meaningful and honest conversations about life. 

Reeve's "concert". 

Walks on the beach.  

The amazing scenery. 

I am so grateful to have shared this week with so many amazing women. Caroline, thank you for having such great friends and for being willing to share them:) I have many more friends because of you. Also thankful for my husband who allowed me to be gone for 6 days and covered everything amazingly. The memories of this week will be in my heart and mind for a long, long time. 

Beach Hangover

Today I am experiencing a total beach hangover. After spending 6 days at Topsail Beach, NC it was hard to come home. Hard to step back into the "real world" with no salt water, waves, or twenty-one other women to laugh with. It was an incredible week, so much so that I decided to stay two more days than I had originally planned. I flew to North Carolina last Monday and was supposed to come home on Thursday night. As the hours until my flight home came closer and closer I started to feel sad. Sad to leave, sad that there were more women coming for the weekend that I wouldn't get to see, sad that I just wasn't ready to go. So I sent a text to my amazing husband that said "I want to stay:(" He knows that I am not a sulker (at least not outwardly) and so he knew that I must have been having a great time. So he told me to stay. It didn't matter if it was going to cost more money. Just stay. So I bought another flight home so I could stay at the beach for two more days. I am so thankful for him. And I am so glad I stayed.

I plan on posting pictures and recapping the week at some point but there is so much to say that I figured I would split it up a little bit. Today I want to share a bit of what I learned at the beach. I didn't go planning on "learning" (who wants to learn on vacation?) but God brought some thoughts to my mind as I went through the week that I wanted to share.

This week at the beach happened because my friend Caroline had a dream to get together all of her closest girlfriends together to celebrate her 40th birthday. Twenty-two women representing Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, and Georgia came for a week long birthday party for our friend Caroline. We shared stories of how we met Caroline, what we love about her, and some of our favorite memories from the past. It was a blast! Because of the nature of Greg's (Caroline's husband) job, they have moved around a bit. So at many points in their lives they have had to say good-bye to great friends. Every one of us that came to the beach house that week have had to say good bye to Greg and Caroline and their family at one point or another. Some of us more than once. Sad and hard good-byes. But... if there had been no good byes then there couldn't have been a beach week. Or at least it wouldn't have been the same. The beautiful thing about our week at the beach is that it was a result of a lot of hard things for Greg and Caroline. Saying good-bye to people they loved and moving across the country to a new place when they knew no one. Again and again. But those moves eventually brought about relationships that will last them for a lifetime. Saying "good-bye" to friends is hard, even in our current world where we are only a Skype or text message away. But the good that comes from difficult change is worth it. It's worth enduring the struggle to get to the silver lining.

This is the lesson I took away from our week at the beach. How can I look at the "bad" or "not so fun" in my life and sift through the junk to find something good. I think sometimes God is waiting to show us the good but we're too busy focusing on the bad.

Can you see any good in your life that is the result of a bad situation or a difficult season?

More to come on our time at the beach later this week:)

Beach Week

The week I am staying at the most amazing beach house I have ever seen. It's on Topsail Island on the coast of North Carolina. Why am I here you ask? My friend Caroline had a dream to celebrate her 40th birthday at a beach house with all of her closest girlfriends. So this week, 25 women from all over the country are coming to the beach house to celebrate Caroline. There is nothing like girl time. It has been such a blast so far, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. I think something powerful happens when a group of women get together. Sincere and authentic conversations, more laughing than our stomach muscles can handle, and memories made that will last for a long time. The older I get the more I cherish my girl time. So thankful for the women in my life, near and far. They inspire me, challenge me, encourage me, and love me.

More to come from "Beach Week" later this week!

How do you keep your creativity from dying?

Lately I've been trying to make it a point to do things that help stimulate creativity in my life. I don't consider myself a naturally "artsy" person. I'm not good at crafting, sewing, or decorating (in my opinion) but I do know that everyone has some level of creativity in them. I think some people knave to work a little harder than others to keep the creative juices flowing. I am one of those people. And I love thrift stores. So a thrift store is usually where I go to get some creative ideas. For the most part I go just to look around (shopping vs. shopping and buying, as we say in our house) but I try to come up with ideas while I'm there. This week I went to a couple of Goodwill stores in my area (one in Joliet and one in Bolingbrook). It seems like Goodwill either has a lot of great stuff out at once or nothing at all. This week was a "not so much" week. I snapped a few pictures of things that caught my eye that I thought had some great potential. 

These set of corner shelfs were in a cool blue-ish color. They would look great repainted and maybe some new hardware. (Joliet Goodwill)

I took a picture of these umbrellas just because they were so colorful:) 

I love these lamps. Take out all the ugly potpourri and maybe even paint the bottom, wood part white and put on a fun lampshade and voila! Awesome! 

With my shopping buddy. We left with a $.99 soccer ball for him. 

What do you do to not lose your creative edge? 

Do you have people in your life that inspire you to be creative? 

In what areas of your life do you struggle to be creative? Areas you are naturally creative?

A thrifty Easter

I keep going back and forth about what to write concerning our Easter weekend. So much happened and and I woke up on Monday morning feeling like I got hit by a semi truck the night before. My sweet husband even let me sleep in and I still felt like a hot mess when I woke up. To make it short, Justin's sister, Thomasine, is home from Africa for a month so we welcomed her home on Friday and then spent Friday night, Saturday night, and all of Sunday hanging out with friends and family. It was a ton of fun but apparently (for this introverted, I need lots of alone time girl) exhausting at the same time. So instead of writing about all the details of our weekend, I'm going to write about what we wore instead. Pretty vain, right? Yep.

My friend Sarah took some impromptu family pictures for us after Church on Sunday. I hadn't planned on having anymore family photos taken in the near future but since we were all going to be dressed up I figured "why not"? We picked a brick wall to shoot in front of and the whole shoot literally took 15 minutes. And the pictures turned out AMAZING! (It really helps when you have a kid who is super friendly and pretty much smiles all the time:)

Here's what we wore...

Justin: Stussy button-up shirt (Goodwill, $4) Bullhead jeans (already owned) Black Airwalk shoes (already owned)

Courtney: Pink/gold tank top from Gap (Plato's Closet, $4) Black cardigan (already owned) White & grey, striped skirt (Goodwill $4) Black leggings from Target (already owned) Roxy boots (already owned)

Cooper: Plaid hat (gift from Grandma Marsha) White button-up shirt (hand-me down) Dress pants/suspenders (Once Upon a Child Consignment, $5) Shoes (Once Upon a Child Consignment, $4) Skull & Crossbones dress socks (The Children's Place, $3) Blue tie (The Children's Place, $5)

I'm certainly not an Easter nazi who insists on having the perfectly dressed family on Easter. I just happened to find pieces here and there that eventually turned in to a whole outfit. And, I was able to dress our family "nicely" for under $30. That feels good. And the outfits made for great family photo attire that I will cherish for a long time. 

*If you're interested in some great and very affordable photography (family, engagement, couples, children, weddings, etc) check out Sarah Derry's photography Facebook page. 

Hope you all had a great Easter weekend! 

Pain and Passion

It's not often that you hear the words pain and passion together. I don't know too many people, if any, who would say they are passionate about being in pain. The only group of people I can think of might be tattoo junkies who get excited about the pain of getting some new ink.

This is my big brother. He has a lot of ink. Both arms covered and a large piece on his back. Some would say he is passionate about pain but he would probably say that the pain is worth enduring for the end result. A beautiful piece of story-telling art. I agree. I have a couple of tattoos myself but the pain tattoos cause to our bank account outweighs the pain of the needle. So for now I remain a mostly blank canvas:)

The kind of pain I'm thinking about today is not necessarily the physical kind but rather, the emotional kind. The kind of pain caused by broken relationships, broken families, broken marriages, and broken dreams. Even broken finances can cause us emotional pain. Why so much brokenness? Because we are broken people living in a broken world. That is our reality.

But is it possible for something good to come from our brokenness? Can that something eventually turn into our passion? I think so.

Recently I was watching a video teaching from a well-known female teacher in the "church world" and she made this statement that rocked my world.

"Sometimes God can turn our pain into our passion."

Wow. Have you ever thought about that? That is a powerful thought. The fact that God can take our pain, heal us, and then turn that pain into something we are passionate about advocating for or maybe even fighting against gives me much hope.

Let me give you some examples.

Maybe you are someone who comes from an abusive home (physically, emotionally, or sexually). God can take that pain and turn it into passion and use you and your story to stand alongside people who have gone through the same thing.

Maybe you are someone who has lost a parent, sibling, or even a child. God can take that pain and turn it into passion and use you and your story to stand alongside people who have or are currently going through the same heart-breaking experience.

Maybe you are someone who has been to hell and back in your marriage but somehow you stuck it out, continued to love your spouse, and have seen great things happen because of that. God can take that pain and turn it into passion and use you and your story to stand alongside people who feel like their is no hope left in their own marriage.

I could go on and on with examples of how God can turn our pain into our passion but I'm sure you get the point. He wants to take the broken pieces of our lives, put them back together (in a sense), and then use us to love other people amidst their brokenness.

So where's the pain in your life? Past or present. Will you allow God to turn that pain into a passion? Will you allow Him to use your pain to help others through theirs?

*My friend Hayley, at The Tiny Twig, is blogging about Passion for the next couple weeks. Really looking forward to hearing what she has to say.

Thanks for listening,