Hope Reflected

Hope - Inspiration - Fashion - Style - Books - Interior Design



August 2016

Hope Reflected: The Importance of Being Original

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected



Wes and I love jazz. Diana Krall, Duke Ellington, Tony Bennett, Wes Montgomery; you name the artist, and chances are, we’ve got them in our playlist. Listening to a Diana Krall album last week, we were both struck by her ability to take a standard that’s been sung so many times before and make it her own. Krall has her own distinct delivery that gives her the ability to sing the same songs as other jazz artists, but to make them unique. She takes the influences that speak to her and infuses them into her music. Krall is an original.

We all collect and draw influences from our surroundings – people, music, movies, books, ideologies – and we live these influences out in our daily lives. Even what you eat can affect your mind! That’s why it’s so important to be conscious of what you allow into your heart and mind.

In a world of copycats, it’s not easy to be original. And let’s be real, is there anything that’s truly original anymore? King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.” God is the original Creator of every single thing, and He created each of us uniquely in His image.

Why else is it important to be original?

  1. God created you to be you. Not your neighbour, not your best friend. God created you with a distinct purpose in mind, and you can’t achieve His purpose for your life if you spend all your time trying to be like other people. Luke 12:7 reminds us that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” If God knows the exact amount of how many (or how few) hairs are on your head, you can rest assured that He created you for a purpose that only you can accomplish and fulfill.
  2. You have a responsibility to draw from the Original Source. While there are many influences in the world, remember to draw your best influences from the Creator of everything: God. God is loving, and He is the Great Comforter. God provides peace, and only He can provide true joy in our lives. Philippians 4:8 says that “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” When we draw on God as the Original Source of all creation, we keep our focus on the right things in life.
  3. Others look to you as an Influencer. As much as you draw from the influences of other people, there are also other people who look to you as an influence in their lives. That’s another reason it’s so important to be conscious of the sources from where we draw our influences. 1 Corinthians 15:33 is a great reminder, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”” Who we allow to influence us and how we live our lives matters! Matthew 5:16 tells us “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father Who is in heaven.” Being yourself is a big deal; you never know who is watching.

God created all the snowflakes unique, He is the Creator of every single thing, and all of His creations are original. Often overlooked, being original is very important. Be a voice, not an echo!


Originally published as “The Importance of Being Original.” Minto Express. July 13, 2016: 5. Print.

Share Button



August 2016

5 Shade Gardens to inspire your yard

Written by , Posted in Gardening

I love anything green in the garden; the more foliage the better! Shade gardens are a great place to showcase your love for green. Wes and I love the cedars and hostas in our yard, and we’re always looking for more garden inspiration. Cue this curation of shade gardens from my Outdoor Living board on Pinterest!

Here are 5 shade gardens for your yard:

1. All the perennials. This shade garden features several different perennials, including hosta varieties, a Brunnera, a Heuchera, and a Pulmonaria. There are a few pops of colour, and even a wrought-iron accent for climbing plants. The garden border is clean and simple.

shade gardens featuring hostas

img src threedogsinagarden


2. Natural stones and hostas. I love a garden with some natural stone work throughout. Featuring hostas, ferns, and other green leafy vegetation, this shade garden will grow with time. It’s a rewarding experience when you watch your plants mature from the first season you plant them. Over time, hostas will spread and expand (you may even look at dividing them and transplanting after a few seasons).

shade gardens featuring lots of green

img src diyandcrafts magazine


3. A versatile garden and stone pathway. The stone pathway in this patio scene is lovely! Also lovely? The versatility in this shade garden. A great way to create interest is by potting your plants — small shrubs, hostas, even boxwood, — do well in urns or pots, and they allow you to move them throughout your garden.

shade gardens with stone pathway

img src havetid.blogspot


4. A proper border. I love a good stone border along the garden. An established border around a garden helps keep everything in its place, and actually draws the eye in to the contents of the garden. This garden has several varieties of hostas, as well as some hydrangea, and some cement urns. Talk about a sanctuary for small animals and birds!

shade gardens with stone border

img src indulgy


5. Backyard oasis. My Mum and Dad’s back shade garden has to be one of my most favourite places around. Their garden is carefully curated, and is a wonderful place to relax throughout the Spring, Summer, and Fall months. Complemented by a mature cedar hedge, emerald cedars, and some well-manicured boxwoods, Mum and Dad’s garden features several varieties of hostas, ferns, hydrangea, and a beautiful lilac bush.

shade gardens with stone steps

img src HopeReflected

For more inspiration, be sure to follow along on my Pinterest for lots of gardening and outdoor living ideas!


Share Button



August 2016

Wednesday Wisdom: Proverbs 4:26

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected

proverbs about God directing our paths

“Ponder the path of thy feet, And let all your ways be established.” Proverbs 4:26

The book of Proverbs is full of great advice, which still resonates thousands of years after its original publication. Proverbs 4:26, which says, “Ponder the path of thy feet, And let all your ways be established,” is a statement which may seem simple, but contains some very practical advice.

You’ve heard the saying, “Your actions speak louder than words.” The first part of Proverbs 4:26 is a timely reminder to us that we should consider our ways before we act.

The second part of Proverbs 4:26, “And let all your ways be established,” is saying that we should make sure our actions are set, fixed, acceptable, even habitual. The decisions that we make should be reflective of our Faith. The direction in which we choose to take our life should be honouring to the Lord.

If you’re worried about the path before you not being clear or not knowing what way God wants you to go, remember these verses:

  • “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105
  • “Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.” Psalm 143:8
  • “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

When in doubt, get into God’s Word.

Share Button



August 2016

Roses: Rosa Hybrid Ten-Ten Hybrid Tea Rose

Written by , Posted in Gardening

It’s no secret that Wes and I are big fans of roses. This Summer, we picked out three rose varieties to plant in our garden. I’ve already shared with you about our white Bolero Floribunda roses and our Singin’ in the Rain Floribunda roses, and today we’re talking about our Ten-Ten hybrid tea roses.

our ten-ten hybrid tea rose bush

Initially, we picked out the best looking rose bushes we could find, meaning, the rose bushes were showing promise of new growth, and the leaves looked healthy. We planted the bushes the day we purchased them, making sure to pack the plant down with our feet and give it a good watering after establishing it in its new home. We chose our front garden as it gets 6+ hours of sunlight each day (rose bushes require full sun), and we planted each of our three rose plants in an area where the moisture from watering would hold (each is stationed near a large stone).

blooms from our rose bush

One of the things to look for when you’re shopping for garden plants is new growth. Our Ten-Ten hybrid tea roses had one partial bloom and several buds (as pictured above).

ten-ten hybrid tea roses

As you can see, without any fertilization at all, our red tea roses produced several large, beautiful blooms. What you can also see in the photo above is that we did run into a minor setback with saw fly larvae. To solve this problem, Wes killed all the worms (you can also buy plant soap for a bath, or just use some Dawn soap diluted with water).  We trimmed back the bushes, and fertilized, and then we were back on track.

red tea roses bloom

Characterized by large, lovely blooms, hybrid tea roses are apparently the oldest group classified as a modern garden rose. There are many different varieties, however we’re loving these Canadian grown red beauties. They add a beautiful pop of colour to our front garden.

after fertilizing, our roses showing new growth

Before fertilizing your roses, I’d highly recommend trimming back the plant. After the first of our ten-ten hybrid tea roses had bloomed, we trimmed back the entire rose bush, used Miracle Gro, and the above photo is the result after a couple of weeks. The roses grow back stronger, with longer stems, and with larger blooms (also several more blooms than when we planted the rose bush initially).

after fertilizing, our roses showed more growth

Share Button



August 2016

Monday Encouragement: John 14:27

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected

hope reflected john 14:27

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

The beginning of a new week is an opportune time to consider the peace that comes with knowing Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour.

In John 14:27, we understand God’s peace is given to us as a gift. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:”. God’s peace can’t be had apart from His presence. Isn’t that a wonderful thought? There is no true peace apart from God.

“not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” If we limit ourselves to the gratification of earthly pleasures, we’ll sell ourselves short of all the blessings available to us through a personal relationship with the Lord. Don’t be deceived by what the world praises as good and successful; true goodness and true success — true peace, — can only be found in Jesus Christ.

“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” There are many verses throughout the Bible which encourage us to be strong in heart. Take Joshua 1:9, or Isaiah 41:10 as examples. When our heart rests in the Lord and we have His peace, He will provide us with the strength and the courage to face whatever is before us.

Wherever you’re at this Monday morning, claim it: Peace is yours if you’ll trust in the Lord, and He will provide for every area of your life if you’ll let Him! Find your strength and courage in Him.



Share Button



August 2016

Hope Reflected: 3 Things We Should Do Every Day

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected

3 things we should do every day

In my last column, I discussed the importance of doing devotions every day. After writing that column, Wes and I were talking about how devotions have impacted our life, and also about other habits we’ve developed that have worked wonders in our Christian faith.

We live in a world that where there are so many distractions that being busy and constantly connected is too easy. But what about being constantly connected to God? Are we truly taking time each day to connect with our Lord and Saviour about the things that truly matter?

There are so many good habits that we could get into, however here are three things that we should all do every day.

  1. Read God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” The Bible is available to us so that we are equipped for life here on Earth, and if we’re not reading it, we’re missing out on some serious life hacks. King David says in Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” If you’re feeling lost, lonely, or misguided, get into God’s Word for direction. There is no topic untouched, and there are no exceptions. He’ll provide the light you need.
  2. Pray. 1 John 5:14 states, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:” Does that mean we should only go to God in prayer when we need something? Definitely not! God wants to hear from us everyday, about everything. Even the things you think don’t matter have significance in God’s eyes. He wants to hear our worries, our fears, our hopes, our dreams, and especially our thanks. You may wonder if there’s a special way to pray, and there is. Jesus Himself talked about the way to pray in Matthew 6:9: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” Whenever we pray, we’re instructed to pray in Jesus’s name.
  3. Rejoice. Philippians 4:4 says it best, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” It’s not always easy to choose joy, however rejoicing is something we’re commanded to do in the Bible. Does this mean we should always be happy and walk around with a fake smile plastered on our faces? Not at all! Rejoicing means to “feel or show great joy or delight”, and also “cause joy to”. Rejoicing doesn’t mean that one always has to be happy, it just means that we have true lasting joy, no matter what the season. That’s a gift from God! Psalm 5:11 says, “But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You.” God is our refuge and he is a shelter to us; that’s reason enough to rejoice each day!

Good habits take a while to develop, so if you miss a day of devotions or find yourself with a bad attitude, don’t lose heart. Nobody is perfect, and the great thing is that God already knows that, and that’s why He sent His Son. Develop the above habits one day at a time. You may find it helpful to set aside time in the morning for reading God’s Word, to start your day off right. The great thing about prayer is we pray anytime, anywhere, however you may also find it helpful to pray before and after your Bible reading. And remember, we aren’t expected to be happy all the time, however we are commanded to rejoice – choose joy and count your blessings.

Originally published as “3 Things We Should Do Everyday.” Minto Express. June 29, 2016: 5. Print.

Share Button



August 2016

7 Front Door Colours for Your Home

Written by , Posted in Interior Design, Style at Home

One of the easiest ways to update the exterior of your home is by painting your front door. If you’re following me on Pinterest, you’ve been seeing some of the fantastic front door posts on my For the Home board. A couple of coats of paint can make a huge difference in the appearance of your home. Add some fresh plants and door hardware, and you’re on your way to a whole new look!

If you’re considering a front door makeover, you should keep in mind that different paint colours work best with different door styles and home styles. For example, while a bubblegum pink front door would look out of place on a traditional home, it would be well-suited to an all-white beach cottage.

Here are 7 front door colours that I love:

1. Grey Green Front Door. There’s something so soothing about a soft grey green. On a front door, grey green is a classic colour. The key with this hue is to keep it light. Any darker and this door would look like something out of the late eighties/early nineties. Some brass hardware and a stand-out door knocker make this a lovely entrance. Interesting to note: The door handle on this door is in the centre of the door.

grey green front door

img src lizmarieblog


2. Navy front door with painted sidelights. When it comes to a front door with sidelights, there are several differing opinions about whether or not you should paint all parts of the door, especially the border of the sidelights and door window. My personal preference is for just the door to be painted (unlike the sidelights in the image above), so it really stands out. Navy is a fantastic front door colour, and looks fantastic on a home finished with a neutral stone or siding. (If you’re looking for a great blue, try Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy.)

navy front door

img src Kyrapg


3. Navy front door with white side lights. You saw in the example above the look of a navy blue front door with painted sidelights to match, and here is an example of a navy front door with the sidelights left white. While the style of door is different, you get the picture. The home owner paid special attention to detail and added a brass sweep and sill. I also love how well ferns and other green plants work with a blue front door! Very fresh.

navy front door with white sidelights

img src kylieminteriors


4. Solid wood front door. There’s something very traditional about a solid wood front door. Finished in a classic stain, a wooden front door is timeless. While some may think wood is boring, I beg to differ! A solid wood front door is incredibly interesting, especially when highlighted with some bright florals to make the look pop. If you’re looking for a door that’s less maintenance than solid wood but provides a similar look, there are some great alternatives out there.

solid wood front door

img src daisymaebelle


5. Black front door. Some say black looks too ominous, others say if it’s not painted in just the right hue that a black door looks like a black hole. I think that a black front door is very appealing, especially on a brick home that’s traditionally built. Case in point? Check out the photo above. Classic black, with brass accents, and side urns with florals do the colour talking. I especially love how the home owners left the transom a neutral off-white. This really makes the door pop!

black front door

img src Southern Living


6. Deep green front door. Looking very French countryside, this dark deep green works well on a home that’s otherwise mostly neutral. Complemented on either side by two wooden plantars with boxwoods, I love how this door is so simple and void of any decoration, but still so appealing. The stone work on the steps and patio, the lovely hanging lattern, and the white window sidelights on either side make this deep green front door one for serious consideration.

white home with deep green front door

img src blessmyweeds


7. Red front door. There’s something so captivating about the colour red. Always a classic, a red front door really stands out when set against a neutral brick, stone, or siding. Many people believe that front doors should be bright and vibrant accents that stand out, and a painted red front door certainly does just that! With brass accents and more traditional sidelights and an eyebrow transom, this front door is nothing short of fantastic.

red front door

img src mariakillam

For more home design inspiration, be sure to follow me on Pinterest!

Share Button



August 2016

Wednesday Wisdom: The Power of Prayer

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected

Wednesday Wisdom: Max Lucado Prayer Quote

“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One Who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” Max Lucado

You may not always feel like praying, but God is always ready to listen to your prayers. At times, prayer may not seem convenient; it may not seem necessary, but it is. We don’t always realize the significance and importance of praying, especially when things are going well. We ought always to give God thanks and share our gratitude for His blessings, and to bring our concerns, worries, anxieties, hopes, fears, and requests to Him. But do we always? The answer is, unfortunately, no.

Why is it that quite often we view prayer as a last effort, rather than a proactive practice? Each of us has heard (and possibly used) the statement, “All we can do now is pray!” No! Prayer should be the first thing we do. First thing in the morning, and last thing at night, and at all points in between. Not just when we need something. Prayer is about more than just selfish requests. It’s about recognizing the Lord as our hope, joy, trust, relying on Him, putting our faith in Him, leaning on Him for grace, mercy, healing, understanding, comfort, peace, and company.

Here are some 15 great Bible verses about prayer:

  • “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” Psalm 5:3
  • “Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.” Psalm 42:8
  • “I call upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.” Psalm 118:5
  • “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.” Psalm 145:18
  • “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.” Jeremiah 29:12
  • “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Jeremiah 33:3
  • “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” Matthew 6:7
  • “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Matthew 21:22
  • “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” Romans 12:12
  • “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hears and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
  • “Continue in prayer, and watch int he same with thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2
  • “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
  • “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
  • “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16
  • “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.” 1 John 5:14


Share Button



August 2016

Dry Lay Stone Bench, Patio Edition, Part 1

Written by , Posted in Gardening

If you’ve been following along, earlier this Spring, Wes built the most beautiful DIY dry lay stone bench by one of the large trees in our yard. You can see the progress here and here, and now, he’s working on another stone bench, this time by our patio.

the beginnings of a dry lay stone bench

When he suggested the idea, I was all for it. Wes and I both love the old European, timeless feel of a dry lay stacked stone bench. There’s something so captivating about the ancient art of dry laying stones. Wes has a real talent in this area, and I can’t wait to show you the finished product.

marking the outline of our dry lay stone bench

Since we already had a pile of stones by the patio, Wes took some time to reconsolidate the collection according to their shape (and use) and prepare the foundation. He kept the larger, more flat rocks on the bottom to support the overall bench (like a float).

selecting stones for the dry lay bench

The art of dry lay stone stacking involves using smaller wedge-shaped (pins) stones to pin up the larger boulders. If you’re planning to try a DIY project like this in your own yard, best practice is to always prep your foundation first (level out dirt, add smaller gravel, pebbles, and then test which stones will work best in the system).

selecting stones for our dry lay bench

A good rule of thumb to remember when building a dry lay stone bench is that every rock or stone has its place. In the photo above, to the right of Wes’s hand, is a long stone called a through. Throughs stabilize the wall by tying the exterior weight to the interior weight of the stone system. (The longer the better.)

dry lay stone bench before the cap is poured

When he’s building a dry lay stone structure, Wes puts emphasis on the positive slope of the stones leaning in to one another towards the centre of the wall (or in this case, bench). This way, the bench or wall is always leaning into itself. Walls created from a dry lay or “drystone” lay have stood for hundreds of years in Europe and are still standing today. You just require the right foundation on which to build.

dry lay stone bench with cement cap

How you complete your DIY dry lay stone wall or bench is personal preference. Because of the location of proximity to the sitting area on our patio, we thought it wise to complete our dry stack stone bench with a cement cap. Bonus: Extra seating when company comes over! If you are planning to pour a concrete cap, be sure to “hoard” materials between the top stones on your wall that are round. This will prevent any concrete from running and will preserve a clean edge for your cap.

Share Button



August 2016

Monday Encouragement: Isaiah 41:10

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected

Isaiah 41:10

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Isaiah 41:10 is a great example of the encouragement found within the book of Isaiah. The book of Isaiah is filled with so many countless encouraging verses, which all reflect on the power and love and providence of our Lord God.

In verse 10, there are several layers and parts that stand out to me, and that provide reassurance, hope, strength, and peace:

“Fear not, for I am with you”: God is always with us. He is with you, day and night, no matter what you’re going through. That’s a promise! I love in the first part of verse 10 how we are commanded to “Fear not,” because God is with us. What a promise! What an encouragement! We have no reason to fear, because God is with us.

“Be not dismayed, for I am your God”: Dismay is another word for distress, usually instigated by something unexpected. In Isaiah 41:10, we are encouraged to be not dismayed. Why? “for I am your God”. We serve the Living Christ, Who conquered death for us, so there is no reason to be dismayed. This is something I need to constantly remind myself of, especially when life throws curve balls my way.

“I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you”: God promises to provide us with strength, and with help. When you’re feeling like you can’t go on or you just don’t know how you’re going to get through the day, God will be right with you to provide you with the strength and help you need, to get through whatever you’re facing.

“I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”: God promises to uphold us. More than that, He promises to uphold us with His righteous right hand. That means, when you lose your footing, He’s going to be there to hold you up, if you’ll trust in Him. What I love about this verse, is that we are told God will uphold us with His righteous right hand. Righteous: Pure, virtuous, upstanding, ethical, honest. Regardless of your circumstances, God is righteous. And He will uphold you with His right hand. His right hand! Throughout scripture, God’s right hand is mentioned several times. Historically, to be put on someone’s right hand is to be held in equal honour. God’s right hand also symbolizes His power and His greatness.

Whatever you’re facing this week, remember Isaiah 41:10 and claim it for yourself!

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10


Share Button