Light at the end of the tunnel…

*Phew* This week has been a whirlwind!

If you have been following along over on Facebook or Instagram, the week before Christmas, my hubby was rushed to the hospital for a gallstone induced, pancreatitis attack. From there we found a mass on his pancreas that required a biopsy (which came back benign!), and we have been in and out of the emergency room, never knowing when the next gallbladder attack would happen.

This last time, he was in the worst pain of all of the hospital visits, and even got to the point to where the morphine they gave him in the ER was giving very little relief. We had been working to schedule a gallbladder surgery with the hospital for the last several weeks, but because of the severe pain, they went ahead and scheduled the emergency surgery right there.

It was a long day, but because we have been through so much the last several months, knowing that we were finally getting to take care of the root of the problem was a welcome relief. To be honest, I got more rest waiting in the post surgery room, watching cartoons with the little man, then I have in a really long time.

blessed coffee cozy tokyo blossom boutique

I think back on everything that has happened and it feels like such a blur, but one thing that has really stuck out to me is the grace God has given my family to get through these tiring, stressful times. It’s amazing how much God can use difficult seasons to prove His love for us. Wether it was how He used people to miraculously provide for our initial medical needs, friends coming up alongside of us to make sure we had meals and childcare, and the daily grace He has given me to get through the overwhelm of getting ready for popup shows, a wedding, and the never knowing when we would be in the hospital next.

He is so good to care enough to work out the details of our lives, isn’t He? 💗

II Corinthians 12:9

Do I love God’s word?

Love God's Word
Cherry Blossom Planner Clips

 

This last week I had the unique opportunity of getting to meet someone who has recently come to know Jesus as their Savior. As they asked questions and had them answered with verses from the God’s Word, they clung to every word, wrote in the margins so they wouldn’t forget what they learned, and asked what other passages they could read to learn more.

Guys, I’m grateful that I can freely open my Bible, pray, and attend church, but I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t love it with the same passion and fervor that this person does. I can’t say that God’s Word is so sweet to me that it’s sweeter than honey. But can you imagine if it was? It would no longer be just part of our morning routine. It would no longer be something we made ourselves do, just because we know we should.


Can you imagine if we loved His word and got excited the same way we love to get a sweet note in our mailbox from a friend? I can only imagine my attitude towards other things would change! I wonder if I would stop seeing opportunities God puts into my life as “have to’s” and start seeing them “wow, this is so awesome’s”! 

Here’s to seeing the Scriptures with fresh eyes and a loving heart starting today. 💗

 

Seeing this person’s new love for Jesus and the Bible went further than just convicting me… it blessed and encouraged me. In fact, there has been a little bit of a shift in focus. Maybe not even a shift, but more of a sharpening of focus. If you are on Instagram, be sure to follow along with my #devoswithjulie hashtag to see what God has been teaching me!

 

Smart girl’s guide to colorful eclectic decorating.

smart girl's guide to colorful eclectic decorating-01

Until recently, I didn’t realize that colorful eclectic decorating was even a thing…

All I knew was that I LOVE whitespace, with happy, pops of color. And because I had to do everything on a slim budget, I would often rely on random pieces that I would spray paint to match my favorite colors, or hang a screen printed freebie that Scott got at a conference to my wall.

I thought, “Hey… maybe this is a little, quirky…”, and I was perfectly happy with that. Then I started getting complements, and questions like, “How do you make the randomness look good together?”, so today I’m going to show you just how easy, affordable, and fun this style of decorating can be!!

 

1.  Pick your neutral. 

Your neutral base is going to have a huge impact on the color scheme that you go with. Eclectic decorating is seemingly random at first, but if you look carefully, all of the colors ‘work’ together. In my office, for example, you will see reoccurring colors that are actually used over and over again in my shop.

Because we live in a rental, I didn’t get to choose my paint color, but most everything I have is a bright white, with a few gray things here and there. I really love how using white as a neutral can brighten and open up a space, so my shelving and large items are all white.

 

2. Pick 2-3 ‘base’ colors.

Picking your base colors doesn’t mean that you can only use those colors. It just gives you a color guideline to work with. My base colors are hot pink, yellow, and gold. As you can tell from the photo up top, I have WAY more than those 3 colors, but all of the ‘extra’ colors that you see actually work together. This just helps to keep it eclectic and not psychedelic!

Keeping paint chips in your wallet is a great way to always have a color guide on hand. Next time you see a piece of decor or art that you like in the store, hold up that base color paint chips next to it, and see if it works together! It takes the guess work and stress out of picking new pieces!

 

 

3. Use different sized picture frames.

Some of my posters are hung with binder clips that are pinned up with straight pins, but I seriously love me some picture frames. Wether you spray paint an old one from the thrift store, or use a bright colored one from IKEA, using different sized picture frames can create interest and tell a story. My wall is full of posters that were designed by graphic designer friends, printables from my shop and my friends’ shops, a letter from Joanna Gaines (totally not kidding!), and a shadow box that contains a locket from some dear friends that told me to never give up when I was around 14 years old.

Those are things that mean a lot to me, motivate me, and tell my story, but everyone’s story is so different. Your story would be beautiful in its own unique way. ❤️

 

4. Find accent pieces to hang between the frames.

Some people prefer to only hang frames in a gallery type layout, but I really enjoy hanging a little ‘bling’ here and there. All of my accent pieces came from dollar bins and places like Michael’s $3 section. Because those spots tend to be seasonal, think ahead to what time of year your base colors will be popular.

Since my colors are pretty bright, they tend to come out around Valentine’s and a lot during the summer. A little preplanning will go a long way in saving you some money! And don’t you just want this T-Rex head on your wall???? 😝

 

 

5. Experiment with storage solutions!

You want a good portion of your storage to be neat, stackable things that are going to help avoid the appearance of clutter, but having 1 or 2 unusual storage items can help to add a little character to the space. In my case, my unusual storage item is the bird cage shown in the top picture.

It has been a lifesaver for me! The drawers below it are full of wool yarn that I use to make my products, but once a skein of yarn is half used (not all products use a full skein), it’s hard to neatly store it in the drawer again. I’m able to place the leftover yarn in the bird cage without having to worry about it getting tangled up or having to dig through the drawers to find that tiny leftover ball.

 

 

Hope that gives you some fun ideas, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Tag me on social @TokyoBlossom, so I can see your finished work!

 

This post contains affiliate links and you can read about them here! ❤️

Relaxing when there’s too much to do.

No matter what season of life we are in, I think it’s safe to say that at some point in our lives, we feel like relaxing is a luxury that we can’t afford.

If you’re a full time career woman, you are probably working long hours, sitting in traffic, waiting to get home while trying not to let the stress of crazy drives get to you. If you’re a stay at home mom, trying to find a second to get a shower is a miracle some days! And to those of you who are full time stay at home moms who are also trying to grow or run a business… well I am giving you all the virtual hugs possible.

I didn’t mention every possible life scenario, but the truth is, we could all use a minute to breathe and I’m here to tell you that it can be done with a little creativity!

1. Use a shower speaker.

This was an incredibly thoughtful Christmas gift from Scott this last year. I really struggled towards the end of last year to find time to listen to audio books and podcasts for both my business and personal growth. I started to get discouraged, because no matter how well I organized my day, I was struggling to find time to really make learning a priority. I generally take pretty short showers, but listening to podcasts and audio books for 10-15 minutes a day really adds up!

 

2. Soak in the tub while listening to said shower speaker.

So I realize that this tip is a little more out of the way than just using a speaker in a shower you are already taking anyway, but this is something I have recently had to make time for. I’ve never struggled with insomnia in my life till this last month and a half. No matter how much I tried to relax, not worry, or pray, I would toss and turn. It was like the harder I tried to let go of everything that was going on, the more my body would tense up.

I found that soaking in a tub with epsom salts and a few drops of relaxing lavender essential oils really put me to sleep. Listening to some soothing music or a good book was definitely an added bonus!

 

3. Find a candle you enjoy.

This lavender candle is my new favorite. FYI, sometimes Kroger has them on sale at a really great price. I think I paid somewhere between $5-6 for the small one? I love burning it while I’m doing my devotions in the morning or even putting it on the kitchen counter while I’m cleaning. Who said you had to have a special occasion? 💗

 

4. Make time for tea… or whatever you prefer in your mug.

 

tokyo blossom boutique heart coasters
Heart coasters in the shop!

I have a very distinct memory of being served tea as a child. Everywhere we went, we were sitting and drinking tea. Even when we went to my grandparents house, my grandmother would keep the pot of green tea full and we would sit and sip on that tea and nibble on whatever snacks she had served before running off to play.

I realize that is definitely a cultural thing, and as a child, aside from the snacks, it was kind of tough to sit there on the floor as my legs went numb, but now as an adult I really wish I made time to do that more often. I’ll be the first to admit that this is not a regular part of my life… I mean honestly… I have to reheat my coffee at least 2 times before I finish it.

I’m just putting this here because I want to remember to take the time to do this, even if it’s only once in a while. I have found that when I do, my kiddo usually wants to join me. He usually takes 2 sips and runs off to play, but during those few short minutes, I’m not in a hurry and I take the time to listen to what he wants to tell me. It ends up being a win win. So tea, coffee, or cocoa… it might help you to bond with your loved ones.

 

5. Write down what you are grateful for.

brilliant life planner

I love to blog and write about things that are going on through social media, but I have never been big on journaling. I do however, find that taking the time to write down a couple of things that I am thankful for really helps me change the outlook on my day or month. I love using the gratitude page in my Brilliant Life Planner , but your could use something as simple as a small notebook to write down things to be grateful for.

When I first started doing this, I was concerned that I might run out of things to write about. But I was wrong… The more I think about what to write, the more I realize that there are so many things that I forget about or take for granted.

 

Do you have any ideas, tips, or tricks on relaxing that work for you? I would love to hear about them!

 

This post contains affiliate links. You can read about them here. 💕

 

Planner charms going live tomorrow!

The planner charms are going live in the shop, tomorrow at 12pm EST, and I can hardly wait!! I’m always excited when I get to launch a new product and get to share it with you. I feel like I’m getting to share a piece of my own personal journey every time that I do. The ‘It Is Well’, ‘Be Still’, and ‘Grace’ that you see on these planner tassel charms are three things that God is constantly reminding me of in my daily walk with Him.

planner tassel charm

When I hear the words ‘It Is Well’ I think of the life of Horatio Spafford and the tragic loss of his children during two separate, tragic events. And through all of that tragedy, he wrote that beautiful hymn, and went on to help children and families in Israel.

When I think of the words ‘Be Still’, I think of the verse in Psalms that says, “Be still, and know that I am God” and Psalm 91:1, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty”, which are both reminders that I desperately need over and over again.

And ‘Grace’… it’s both a beautiful and powerful word. A word that reminds me of how good God is, and how that grace should reflect off of my life out to others.  Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

planner charms
How about you? Do you have a favorite song or verse that helps you remember His promises? 💗

Love,
Julie

 

P.S. How amazing is this pen pouch that holds all of your planner supplies?? Isn’t it the cutest thing ever?! 😍

***This post contains affiliate links. You can read about them here.

Why you need intentional self care

We got some snow over the weekend, and everything got cancelled, so my family and I spent a little extra quiet time together and time catching up around the house. Aside from a few shop things and catching up on laundry I really spent some intentional quality time in with the family and time to do some deep thinking about 2017.

Brilliant life planner tokyo blossom boutique intentional self care
I mentioned before that my word for 2017 is ‘Intentional’, and there is an awesome quote by Crystal Paine on one of the first pages of my planner that goes along with my word:

“Time doesn’t expand limitlessly. When I say yes to one thing, I must say no to something else.”

It’s so easy to want to do it ALL! And usually it’s a lot of really good things which is usually my problem. I want to be a nutritional expert so I read article after article trying to come up with the perfect menu plan for my husband’s diet change, I want to never get behind on the laundry, I want to send Christmas cards out to our extended family’s extended family (’cause I just love people 💗), I want to make sure I’m spending quality time with my family, I just want to do it all…

But this week I hit a wall. I broke.

Because the reality is, nobody can do it all. We all have gifts and strengths in certain areas, and while we should always be growing and striving to improve, we can’t do it all at once. Yes, there will always be laundry to do, people to contact, and errands that need to be run… but don’t forget to take care of you.

When they go through the emergency protocol for flying on a commercial flight, they always tell you to secure your own air mask first before attempting to help anyone else. There is a reason for that. If you are running on fumes, eventually you will pass out before being able to help the people around you. The same is true in life.

Take care of yourself this week. Those dishes can wait just a little bit. 💗

Love,
Julie

New goals, new year, new words.

Am I the only one that struggles all of January to not write in the previous year’s number??

I’ll go to date a letter, check, or get ready to journal about my new goals, and I can guarantee you that I’ll still be writing in ‘2016’ for the first little bit! 😆Despite my yearly mixup, I really am excited every time we see a new year. New dreams, new goals, new victories… Last year I tried something new. Before I ever started writing down my goals, I picked a word or phrase to focus on, as a overall theme of sorts.

Tokyo Blossom Boutique Brilliant life planner 2017

My words for 2016 were ‘Dream Bigger’. I got to thinking about how often I limit myself and even what I think God can do. I knew in my heart of hearts that God can do more than we can ever imagine, but I would so often freeze up and not take a leap of faith just before things were about to get really good. So with that theme, I focused on asking God to help me let go of my fears and insecurities and help me to trust him when He brought an opportunity along that I was supposed to take.

So with that, I started moving forward, doing things while I was still scared, pushing past my insecurities, and trusting God to grow my faith in the process. I’m so grateful for the growth and opportunities I saw in 2016. It really helped me to realize how often I sell myself short and reaffirmed just how amazing the Lord really is. But with this new energy and confidence, I wanted 2017 to be a new chapter, so this year I chose ‘Intentional’.

I want this year to be a year where I take that confidence, energy, and time, and be intentional about how I apply it to things that God has put on my heart. It’s so easy to get distracted by all the good things we can be doing with our time, that often take away from the great things we are supposed to be doing. Not to say we can’t do other things, but having a theme going into the new year really helps to focus my squirrelly brain!

I hope your new year is full of faith growing experiences, answered prayers, and blessings. If you decide to have a theme, word, or phrase for the year I would love to hear about it! ✨

Love,
Julie

P.S. This beautiful planner is the Brilliant Life Planner! I had the privilege of being on the launch team that get to help pick out the cover options! They gave me a coupon to share with you and you can find it here! 

*This post contains affiliate links. You can read more about it here!

The hardest letter I had to read…

I have so much to tell you about!! I had an amazing time at the Business Boutique conference I went to this week. It encouraged and inspired me to use the gifts and talents that God has given us to bring Him honor and glory. Everything that was said made me want to do more than make my business better. It made me do some soul searching and want to be a better Christian, wife, mother, and friend…

But through all of this amazingness, I got something that was hard… unexpected and difficult for me to receive.

Business Boutique Letter

I was given a letter… Now you’re probably reading this sweet and encouraging letter and wondering why on earth I would have trouble with it, but here’s what happened. Towards the end of the conference, we were told to write a short letter to exchange with another person at the conference. We were told to share our hearts and write words to encourage and bless them… so we did. But at the end of the event, rather than actually exchanging them, we were told to put our own names at the top of the letter.

I cried.

I want to bless and encourage others, but when it comes to my own struggles and accomplishments, that’s a whole different story. While I tell others that they are doing amazing, I look at my own growth and think it’s not enough. While I tell others to rest and take care of themselves, I tell myself that I’m lazy, when I take off from my work when I’m sick. I tell other moms to take it one day at a time, but in my mind I will never be a good enough housekeeper.

And what’s really hard is that none of these harsh words come from my friends or family… it’s all said silently to myself, in my heart and mind.

I don’t know if you struggle with this like I do, but I want you to know that you really are fearfully and wonderfully made. God doesn’t make accidents, He knew your every strength and quirk before you even existed, and He loves you with all of those details in mind. You were made in His image for the purpose of bringing Him honor and glory, so he made you unique.

This letter has my name at the top of it, but I wanted to send it to you, because it’s really meant for both of us. Remember that you are so amazingly made, by an incredible God that loved you enough to die for you! I hope that resting in that thought will breathe life into you like it did for me.

Love,
Julie

P.S. If you have been following along on Instagram or Facebook, my entry fee to have a pop up shop at the Business Boutique event next April got 100% funded this week!! Thank you so much for the support and encouragement. That meant the world to me!

P.S.S. If this post encouraged you, you can join my email club, and get similar, uplifting emails delivered to your inbox once a week!

3.11.11 Has it really been 5 years?

3.11.11… I’ll never forget that day.

I know this is a day early, but in Japan it was already 3/11, so I decided to go ahead and share this today. It’s humbling to think that so much could have changed in my life on 3.11.11, but God protected my family through it all. ❤️

3.11.11 never forget pray for Japan

I will be getting back to ‘The Ice Cream Maker’ book tomorrow!