Monthly Archives: February 2016

LOVESTRUCK Sessions: Jen + Aubrey

Aubrey and Jen are those people who you want in conversation with as long as possible. Those type of people whose joy and passion is so contagious, it leaves you with a brighter outlook on the world around you. They are that couple you sit with and can’t help but notice, that after almost twelve years of marriage, they still look at each other with those awe-struck, in-love-with-you eyes.

I first met Aubrey and Jen when I was in high school. Aubrey was actually the first person to ever give me a chance with a microphone. He taught me about music, songwriting, and the true heart of worship. You couldn’t fully know Aubrey without knowing Jen.Jen has that sweet southern drawl paired with a bubbly attitude you just can’t get enough of. They’re incredible individuals, but even more amazing together. They’re a couple whose as wide as they are deep, whose bright smiles and warm personalities are merely a gateway into depths of love, sacrifice, and stories of life well lived.

I’m so excited for these two to share their story with you. Grab a cup of coffee, maybe a tissue or two (if you’re a romantic like me), and enjoy diving deep into the hearts of these two lovebirds.

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Q: How did you two meet?
HER: We met in children’s church a looooong time ago! We were not volunteers…we were children.
HIM: She was my first girlfriend, but unfortunately that only lasted a short time. One time during a service though I did work up the nerve to make a smooth move and put my arm around her. #foreshadowing

Q: What’s your favorite memory together?
HER: I’m gonna go textbook here…our wedding day & the days our 3 littles entered the world!
HIM: One valentine’s day when we were kids, I gave her a new DC Talk cassette tape and she gave me some red wax lips! What?!?!? Oh, and every anniversary we watch our wedding video. It really was a special day with so many of our family and friends.

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Q: When did you first know you were in love?
HIM: I saw Jen across the courtyard on her first day at the college we both attended. The sun was shining down on her and she did this slow motion hair flip thing! Yes!
HER: It took me a little longer to “see the light!” After much persistence and romance on his part, it finally dawned on me that I was missing the best thing that had ever happened to me. As cheesy as it sounds…the first time he kissed me, I knew he was the one!

Q: How did he propose?
HIM: I took her to the performance hall at the college where we had sung and performed a lot together. My mom helped me decorate the stage. It was late one night and I acted like we were sneaking in to reminisce. We danced on the stage and I sang her a song I had written for her. Then I pulled a box out from under a little table on stage and got down on my knee.
HER: He tricked me by taking me to O’Charleys. I remember thinking “surely this isn’t it because he wouldn’t bring me here!” Haha! (I do remember thinking it was weird that he didn’t eat much.) After he proposed, we drove to my sister’s house where he pulled off a huge surprise engagement party. It was risky on his part but I LOVED celebrating with family & friends!

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Q: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from one another over the years?
HER: Oh goodness! How to love…I mean really love! This guy has more patience than Job (thank goodness, for my sake!) He has given me so much more grace than I deserve! He’s not perfect but he loves Jesus like nobody I’ve ever known & he makes me want to be a better person everyday!
HIM: Don’t sweep anything under the rug. Get it out in the open. Relentlessly eliminate hidden frustration or misunderstanding.

Q: What’s your favorite quality in eachother?
HIM: 
I love that she is a woman of great integrity.(And that she’s the most beautiful woman in the world.)
HER: His work ethic, his integrity & his discipline!

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Q: What is a word or theme you feel that has marked your marriage thus far?
HIM: Unity – We often talk about how grateful we are for how unified we feel on most every decision…. from paint colors to parenting-styles.
HER: I agree…unity! Such a gift!

Q: What does it mean to love?
HIM:  To love requires two things: To always believe in and pursue an ever-deepening relationship with them and to fight hard against anything that could pull you apart.
HER: Love is a choice…everyday. To be unselfish & to put someone else’s desires before your own. To be willing to say I’m sorry or I was wrong & forgive. Pretty much all the things that don’t come naturally! Spending time with Jesus sure helps because He is love!!

“Love requires two things: to always believe in and pursue an ever-deepening relationship with them and to fight hard against anything that could pull you apart.”

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Q: What are some of your dreams for the future?
THEM: That our kids will grow up so strong in their character and clear in their identity that they will thrive in the future they are living in. We want to take an RV tour around the country writing and sharing songs and stories about the people we meet. We want to live a lifestyle of adventure. Possibly another McGowan?!

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Q: What is some of your advice for a healthy, successful marriage?
HIM: Don’t stop looking at each other in the eyes. When you start looking away, out of anger, shame, fear, etc. it is easy to grow apart. Take time to look each other in the eyes. Then, dig up the truth and express your heart; good or bad. Don’t water it down. Trust each other enough to open let each other see inside.
HER: Be vulnerable & honest…always honest. Keep falling in love & making your marriage a priority. Pray together. Communicate & then communicate some more! Give grace in big heaps!

“Don’t stop looking at each other in the eyes. When you start looking away, out of anger, shame, fear, etc. it is easy to grow apart. Take time to look each other in the eyes. Then, dig up the truth and express your heart; good or bad. Don’t water it down. Trust each other enough to open let each other see inside.”

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You can find Aubrey and Jen at Song and Story.

Photography by Lindsey Johnson Photography

Decorating For Valetines Day On A Budget

One of my favorite day’s of the year is quickly approaching and I couldn’t not take some time to decorate my space for the occasion. I love taking a little section of my home and using it as a place to decorate for the holidays or seasons that come and go. Growing up, my mom always had a little entry way that was decorated beautifully for every holiday you could imagine. She used any excuse to spruce up our front entry table and make it festive for our family and guests. I’ve recreated the same thing in my little apartment and love taking the time to get creative with the ways I decorate.

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As most of you know, I recently graduated college and am currently in my first full-time design job. What does that mean for decorating? It means one of my top priorities is living on a budget and making the most of what I have. When a set up like this is changing for various holidays, you don’t want to spend a fortune on the decorations anyways. So, I’m going to be sharing some ways you can decorate your space for Valentine’s Day on a budget this year!

1. Pick A Space – Pick a space that will be seen by both you and your guests so that all your decorating will be appreciated instead of hiding in a corner! You also want to find a spot that is reasonably sized so you aren’t spending a ton of time and resources to fill a huge space that will be changing out frequently anyways. The best space for me has been right above my bar-cart/shelf area. It’s right by the front door and changing decorations just really fit the space.

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2. Gather Prints – One of my favorite things to use as decor is a variation of prints that fit the occasion. Real prints can be expensive, so I like to use greeting cards instead! I always keep my eye out for cute ones that would be fun for giving or hanging and stock them up throughout the year. They can range from $1-$6 so it’s a lot more affordable than buying $20 prints for your wall. Utilize old magazines, too! I love using Darling Magazine. They always have gorgeous imagery.

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3. Color-Coordinate Your Accessories – I try to gather whatever I have in my home that coordinates with the colors of the holiday. For Valentine’s Day, I grabbed a couple liquor bottles that had red in the label, a couple books, one being Cuddle Sutra (which is seriously the cutest book ever and a great gift for Valentine’s Day. It’s a book of cuddle positions!), and a jar full of themed-straws! These are such a fun, easy addition to your decoration. Target has a ton of color/pattern options that are super affordable. Not to mention, they’re great for events you may throw!

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4. Display Your Valentines – I found the cutest little cardboard mailbox from Hobby Lobby and I just had to get it for this year’s display! It was only $6 and all it took was a coat of white paint! I used it to put all my DIY homemade valentines in!

5. Card Holders – Card Holders  are a great way to display some of your favorite cards, photos, or prints and they add a dynamic feel to your display since most of them are flat on a wall. I put my my favorite valentine’s cards from Hammerpress in mine.

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Voilà! Hopefully by now you have a fun decorated space that didn’t cost a fortune and gets you and your guests excited for Valentine’s Day!

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PS. Are you wondering where I got my prints and cards? See below!

1 | Just a simple pantone swatch printed out at work! (practically free!) 2 | Hand-made by a friend. Call up your artsy friends and commission them! 3 | Made by me in my last DIY Valentine’s post! 4 | Postcard from Hammerpress  5 | Greeting Card from Trader Joes. They have a great selection of cards for 99 cents! 6 | I got this print from Roll & Tumble Press at their print sale here in Fayetteville last spring. 7 | Card from Shindig Paperie 8 | Card from Hammerpress 9 | Trader Joes 10 | Cut out from Gather Magazine 11 | Cut out from Darling Magazine

Easy DIY Valentines

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and my bestie and I had some fun this past weekend putting together some easy DIY Valentines for to give to your friends and loved ones this weekend. I’m all about cute and quick, so here are some fun ideas to spread some love this holiday!

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How fun is that zombie finger puppet? A quirky addition for the not-so-sappy valentine.

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I got these fun animals from Hobby Lobby. They’re such a cute way to spruce up your love notes! They’ve got just about every animal you could think of.

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I spotted those white chocolate covered pretzels at Whole Foods and just couldn’t pass them up! Now this is a Valentine I’d appreciate…sweet and salty is my favorite combo.

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All you need is some cardstock, washi tape, and some puns up your sleeve. Take these cute love notes and make someones day. Happy Love Day, friends!

February Inspiration

One of my favorite holidays of the year is coming up this month! I just love seeing all the shades of pink flooding window displays and Pinterest feeds. Maybe it’s the fact that pink is my favorite color or the reality that i just love love, but I always look forward to the month of cute cards and sweet gestures of affection for the people around us.  february.jpg

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What’s inspiring you this month?