Sure Swing

indoor swing in my thoughts all day today AND THEN i see this . . . over at the happy home blog
i think it’s a sign . . . so i wander over to Skona Hem looking for more swings. it seems those swedes have thing for swings and style. the closest i’ve gotten to sweden is ikea. and sometimes when i go to ikea (ok, everytime, I go to ikea) i pretend i am in sweden for the day.
and speaking of ikea i’m pretty sure you can get one of these swings there. I just wonder how you secure it properly in the ceiling?
are you wanting one now too? sure swing, right?

images .happyhome . skonahem (heart pic dining room) . madebygirl .


Dear Sister #4

Dear Sister,

I’m watching a few wispy clouds travel by my window. They appear like pool floats–moving ever so slightly–at the breeze’s discretion and direction.

What is the color of your skies today?

It’s the first week of December, holiday preparation in full swing. Which, signals my soul to ask how your soul is doing?

“How is the state of your soul, as we venture forward in the holiday season?”


I love talking traditions and trees. I like holiday decor, gift guides and Christmas cookie exchanges, just as much as the next.

Except for when  . . . when my heart was battered and holidays were h.a.r.d.

Then, I wanted to avoid the holidays like the plague.

It was as if I was allergic to them. Sneeze. Cough. Hives (literally, I’d get hives).

Allergic, somehow, to what everyone else was joyful about. It felt perplexing. Awkward. Ambivilent.

This year, it feels like, my ground is starting to smooth, somewhat. It is a terrain I’m not quite accustomed to. Yet, one I think I can manage–in a one foot in front of the other kind of way. Because it isn’t a returning to holidays before there was h.a.r.d. It is traveling a new arriving.

Either way, I, now, see things differently. Before I, only, noticed the sparkle of the lights. Now . . .I spot hidden tears tucked in the corner of the eye. Behind as half-hinted smile, I can sense a stronger sentiment, unspoken.

How is your soul, Dear Sister?

Anticipation can take on many personalities.

The holidays are a season loaded with feelings–of the best–of the worst. Sorrow collides with joy. Hope with despair. The meeting of the two is weighty, any which way you put it.

I noticed myself tensing up today. As if my body knows it is the holidays. My mind, my heart and my soul have decided and agreed to have a joy-filled holiday. A magical one. Not magical because it is perfect (as I used to wish it to be), rather magical because . . .  it is not perfect–and, still, we celebrate.

Sister, I’m always quite amazed at how we can make decisions–most resolute. And yet, our skin, our bones, our tissues try tell us otherwise. Reminding us in a most prickly, achey, itchy way, with past pain pushing out of our eyes.

I’m resolute on making memories and magic and enjoying the loved ones that I am with. Yet, I’ve also decided not to ignore my past pain. I let it come, so I can let it go.

I welcome sorrow to collide with joy.

Holidays are nostalgic, wouldn’t you agree? And nostalgia, as you know, always invites us back. Back to where it is we came from. Back to feelings, sights, smells, conversations, memories, and people. That is why holidays can be as heavy as a wet raincoat. Because we often can’t return to where it is we came from or to those we’ve lost.

Closure, it seems, comes easier on regular days. What we believe has been closed, has a way of busting wide open on holidays. And it turns out, or so I’m learning, that closure is a myth (this podcast on ambiguous grief is an excellent resource).

So, I say, stay open, Sister. Stay open to all the feelings. Bid them hello and, then, adieu. After all, a closed door is one that we cannot walk through.

We can hold happy. We can hold sad. God in His great goodness holds us.

Will you allow hope to collide with despair?

It is this way through. The way forward. The way to a joy-filled holiday. To celebrate still or in spite of.


The sky has clouded over, completely. The blue above has been covered-like a swimming pool for winter. The air is heavy with moisture. I welcome the rain. I welcome the sun.

I welcome you to hope this holiday. To familiar ground or new. To a moment of looking back. To a season of joy. May it be magical because you choose. May it be bright because Christ is our light.


I’ve written an article “Celebrate the Season” for the latest issue of Life:Beautiful Magazine (pictured above). The piece offers practical ways to welcome Christmas and glorify Christ this season . . . reminding us that hope is not something that we conjure up or strive for–For if we abide in Christ, hope abides within us. You can pick up a copy at your local newsstand or order online.

Loads of Love,


PS- Write back (leave a comment).


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A Sofa that Serves

I’m serious when it comes to sofas. So much so, that I’ll wait for the right one. I search and seek and swoon and sit patiently (on my old sofa) if I must –for just the right fit. I have three simple qualifications when it comes to sofas and sectionals.

The perfect sofa or sectional must be:

01 / Comfortable: Is the sofa inviting? Soft? Begging me to lounge and linger after a long day.

02 / Pretty: Comfort doesn’t disqualify beauty. It shouldn’t have to be on or the other.

03 / Functional: Do the proporations work in the room? Does it clean well? Does it serve it’s purpose?

Not all sofas are created equal and that is ok because not all sofas or sectionals serve an equal purpose.

This lovely sofa, for instance, while pretty is not one I’d imagine piling on with my kids for movie night. Rather, I think of it for a sunroom, office, living room or reading spot.

Pink Sunroom Sofa

When I redesigned our living room, I picked a sofa that was functional for that room–a formal living, sophisticated but not stuffy. The sofa with a chaise is roomy (fits a good amount of people), yet has clean lines. Polished and rather dressed up which was the perfect juxtaposition for the swing just across the way.

I went against one of my rules and chose pretty over comfort for our family room, for a season. The one that was lovely to look at lasted for a bit, but one dark, cold, winter night comfort won out and we drug the dark green squidgy sectional up from the basement. The one that is comfy to sit on still reigns.

I don’t desire a dark green sofa. I still prefer white.

Or velvety pink.

Pink Sectional

A heather grey or oatmeal sectional would be lovely too.

Cozy Sectional

But I’ve made peace, with the dark green, as I continue to look for sofa or sectional that serves my family best (three growing boys, a big dog, and a cat means white isn’t functional and I might not get away with pink).

I decided to make the green sectional pretty as we couldn’t make the white sofa comfortable (or keep it clean).

I bought lush velvet pillows, a couple in Dusty Pink and Copper, and then added a few cozy blankets with pretty patterns. Days after I saw the pillows I had purchased featured in the photo below– same colors, same tones. The darker colors really added a depth to the lighter colors I like to decorate with.

Cozy Sectional with Velvet Pillows

Our sofa is now serving us well.

I’m learning what will work (as I keep my eyes open for a new sofa) and to work with what I have.

Do you have a favorite style of sofa? Favorite brand? Favorite feel?

PS- I just came across the most squidgy sectional that is called “La La.” I wouldn’t serve my family well in this season and is out of my price range, but it sure looks like it has my name written all over it.

Does your sofa serve you well?


Image Sources in order of appearance: Rachel Chudley / SF Girl by Bay / Addison’s Wonderland / Pinterest / Design Love Fest

This post is in partnership with Nakturna


Dear Sister #2

Dear Sister,

Do you ever dawdle on decisions? I’ve been struggling as of late.

The time I’ve spent deciding and discussing whether I should cut my hair or grow it out is rather embarrassing.

I’m afraid to make choices because I am afraid of getting it wrong.

But I wonder . . . What if getting it wrong is really just another avenue to getting it right?

What if the path we take is about learning and discovering?

What if we thought more along the lines of “path” than “perfection?”

I’m so afraid of making a wrong choice that I end up making no choice. Sometimes on things as simple as dinner.

The other day, tucked up in my bed with my computer in my lap, I thought I, quite clearly, heard the Spirit whisper, “THIS, do this.” It was a Monday and I waited until a Thursday to act. Because . . . Because I still wasn’t sure. Maybe I wasn’t hearing correctly? Also, I didn’t want to spend the money. So, I did what I always do: I got the opinion of others, I thought and thought and thought, and read and read and read.

Talking it through with others is not always a bad thing, but many times what I am really trying to do is take a poll. In my experience, the vote never swings one way. It usually ends up smack dab in the middle and I am still left to decide. Then, there is always someone who gives me a totally different option that was never even part of the equation in the first place. Now, I’ve only added confusion (in my case, more thinking, reading, and research) and expanded the options for my decision.

The decision I was making last week was a bit bigger than burgers or chicken for dinner. It involved a financial investment (ironically enough, about a way of eating which eliminates burgers and chicken). When I heard the whisper, rather than asking others if they thought it was worth the money, I should have been forthright in talking to my heavenly Father about provision–boldly asking for support. In a “talking to God via my thoughts” kind of way, I thought . . . “Well, I guess I’ll have to trust You to provide for this.” And, the crazy thing is . . . He did. Almost the exact amount three days later, on a Thursday (my decision had to be made by Friday). After I followed through, I then heard Him say:

“Nothing is wasted except for the time you took to wonder and wait and second guess and investigate.”

“You could have had more headspace. I still would have provided.”

Training wheels I suppose.

Training wheels of trust.

A few years back I heard a really freeing teaching by a man named Paul Scanlon. (He’s one of my favorite teachers, really innovative, and a great Instagram follow, btw). Paul shared a verse that I’ve loved and known most of my life:

The steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord,
And He delights in his way [and blesses his path]. Psalm 37:23, AMP

What he clarified, which I had never noticed before, was that the steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord.  

Steps mean movement. God can ask us to do something while we are still, but it is our steps, our movement, that can be directed and established.

Sister, don’t ever doubt that God can’t re-direct your steps if you do take a misstep. It’s when we are frozen with fear or indecisiveness, sitting still, that there are no steps to direct.

I’m learning that when I think I hear His voice, to just act, to just take a step. If I was wrong, it’s just another avenue to get it right.

I’ve been working on obedience. “Obey God and leave the consequences to Him,” some of the last words of wisdom my grandma left me with. A simple, yet profound, sentence that rings like a bell, in the chime of my grandmother’s proper pronunciation, at just the right times in my heart and in my mind.

I’m onto the next piece of wisdom which the Holy Spirit is teaching me “obey right away,” “obey without delay.” It all comes down to trust. Trusting Him, yes . . .But also trusting myself that I know His voice. I think our Father trusts us more than we trust ourselves, Sister. A Father who sees what we are capable of and believes we are ready before we feel we are. A Father who is not afraid of us failing because He always has a backup plan, the ability to re-route, a lesson for us to learn.

I was my most trusting self when I was in my youth and my dad told me that “he would always have my back.” It wasn’t necessarily the words he said; It was that I believed them. I really truly believed that if life hit me upside the head or even if I made a mistake, a poor choice, that it didn’t matter because my dad would know what to do and would do whatever it took to help me get on my feet again and going in the right direction.

Our Father has our back.

Don’t doubt if it is His voice or not. Children know the voice of their father (John 10 NLT). (I bet you know the tone and pitch and even fluctuation of your dad’s voice, even if you have not heard it in ever so long).

Go ahead and take that step, Sister. It’s not about perfection it’s about walking the path.

Do you have any steps to take today, this week, this year?

Loads of Love,

PS- Write back (leave a comment).


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Trina McNeilly

Trina McNeilly is a writer and founder of La La Lovely, where she has been blogging for nearly a decade. With an eye for beauty, Trina finds inspiration in styled spaces, other times in the broken places and everywhere in between. Through soulful writing in the voice of a trusted friend she shares her finds and all about being found.

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