how the land (& people) of 1,000 hills changed my heart

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if i were to pen a short list of life’s most memorable events, like 5 or less, traveling to rwanda last summer would certainly make that list. i find myself sitting here this morning struggling to even articulate how my heart changed and opened and broke and bubbled over during that trip. and friends, i’ll be the first to state the obvious…anytime one dares to try to speak of injustice or things that are painful like the rape of a young child or trafficking or that slavery still exists, the words often times don’t sound right. they come out clunky and awkward. especially from someone like me. i’m a simple mom from atlanta who has barely traveled within the U.S. and i surely doesn’t know foreign policy. so my words are clunky and my descriptions fall short and may lack eloquence but i share my heart just as i do all the time right here amongst you sweet friends. so when i speak of the things i saw in africa, it’s just all magnified! sometimes i share my heart a little more beautifully through the art of my photos…so here we go~

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i humbly sat meal after meal, bus ride after bus ride, long flight after long flight among a group of women each of whom i hold in high esteem. they’d all crack a joke & roll their eyes if they were sitting here and give me some major element of grief for even going there. but really. we played games, busted out some truth or dares, and laughed…we belly laughed. we shared dreams & hopes for our futures, back rubs & essential oils, ate funky food & perhaps a few late night fun drinks. we prayed & cried and shared hilarious stories of sketchy, some might say, illegal border crossings. we held hands as we solemnly walked through a genocide museum. wept together quietly a few hours later while we listened to horrific stories at an actual church were hundreds were slaughtered. i think our hearts needed the silly moments at meal time & over coffee to give our hearts time to catch up with what our minds were introduced to over & over. we saw magnificent views of a once war torn country and we saw hope and healing in it’s rebuilding. we ate together under a thatched roof at a little coffee shop created as a place to provide economic opportunity as well as friendships. and we danced together & bowled ( yes, we bowled in africa!) with a group of young girls, formerly sexually assaulted, now on the road to a new life. and we wept beside mothers who cried out to god in a verbal language i could not understand, yet that of a primal universal language of emotion and heartache.  we looked deep into the beautiful eyes of  a young little girl violated in horrific ways a few years prior. we cheered loudly as another young girl, once burned & left to die, learned to walk on her new prosthetic legs. we saw love in the beautiful and the broken. and i humbly walked into the orphanage where jessica’s little boy jack once lived. i saw babies being cared for by caregivers whose love for those babies seemed to be a glorious and raw radiance around them. broken and loud and heart wrenching  and yet full of love for those babies, that african orphanage.  and then at night, i laid in bed underneath a mosquito net & was lullabied by the sounds of african birds in a country representing heartbreak like none other and hope even more.

from the moment we landed in kigali, essentially a day & half after leaving atlanta, the women there embraced us as if we’d been friends forever. we tearfully walked down the ramp as we heard loud singing & cheering. it was late at night & our flight had been delayed, but those men & women waited for us for hours. i glanced at my girlfriends with a look as if to say, “here we go ya’ll. we’ll never be the same after this” and then fell into hugs & blessings & words of “be free” and “you are free here”… and i thought to myself, finally. i’m finally here with these women who represent so much to me. oh how my heart changed just a couple years prior when i joined noonday. back then there was only about twenty ambassadors representing them…now there’s close to a thousand of us. finally, finally here with them.

i knew meeting each of them would represent many things to my heart. primarily i yearned to see this world outside my own. i wanted to touch something that represented more than me. to glimpse even if only for a few days brothers & sisters of “nations”. the whole world in his hands. they are precious in his sight. jesus loves the little children of the world. that world, in their world…that’s what i wanted to see. i know those baby children are here in america.for goodness sake, i can see that in my own diverse community which is only minutes away from the most diverse square mile in america. but i knew my heart needed to see the bigger-than-me world out there on their soil and in their homes and worship with them. i longed to meet these women that represented so many others.

we were served and blessed and prayed over. it was almost too much for my heart to take.

i’ve proofed this post a few times & each time i get to this point i hear myself making an audible sigh and i feel the tears in my eyes and that lumpy thing in my throat. oh how i long to see more. do more. touch more & feel even more.

sigh.

it’s a gift right now, being able to serve & represent the artisans through noonday. it may only be for such a time as this, but it brings me so much joy to share their stories & their art with you whether on social media or in your home.

so…

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part of our trip was to design pieces for a #styleforjustice line….& ya’ll voted…and the winning pieces are now available! ( please note images of projects above are not the final size dimensions. so please review descriptions on line)

the vibrant tote designed by jennie & me along with artisans Fanny,Asha,andClementine. 

the fierce clutch designed by jen hatmaker, MeredithToering with artisans Charlotte,Anastasie,andAstrida

& a beautiful journal created by my dear friend emily of jones design company.

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we’re launching our spring line in just a few weeks! if you’re local to atlanta & would like to come along side and host a show, it’s easy peasy!! feel free to email me at paigeknudsenimages@comcast.net

thank you africa….you and your 1,000 hills changed me…and i’m forever grateful….

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January 14, 2015 - 3:09 pm

jodi - paige…I love to hear about your trip; what an amazing and heartfelt time. I can’t imagine how rewarding it is and I hope to someday be able to fulfill a dream like this.

I just ordered the vibrant tote; I am a lover of bags and totes and can’t wait to use this! :)

always….jodi

how i unified a plethora of photos in our home

i found an interesting article last week that discusses clutter & our stress level.

“It turns out that clutter has a profound affect on our mood and self-esteem. CELF’s anthropologists, social scientists, and archaeologists found: A link between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels in female home owners and a high density of household objects. The more stuff, the more stress women feel.”

along with~

“Even families that want to reduce clutter often are emotionally paralyzed when it comes to sorting and pitching objects. They either can’t break sentimental attachments to objects or believe their things have hidden monetary value.”

i give a resounding amen to both of those findings. clutter does indeed make me nutty and yet i have a hard time letting it (it=things.frames.dishes.whatever) go.

so let’s first talk a little about one way you can minimize the amount of things on the surfaces in your home & enjoy meaningful things as well.

photos.

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i think most of us love photos and love to have those memories visible. picture frames are cute and little pieces of art in & of themselves. many of them are quite affordable if not just plain cheap. so those factors combined make snapshots & little picture frames one of the quickest decor items that can take over your home in a heartbeat. while i’m a huge fan of getting those images off your phone & computer and into some hard tangible medium, little pictures all over my home is not going to help with clutter control.

when i packed up all the clutter in our home, the primary object being packed up was photos & frames. being an avid photographer for as long as i can remember plus a sentimentalist you can imagine this was a bit of a challenge for me. i would have an end table with 3 frames on it. a bookshelf right behind said end table with 8 frames on it. then there was the wall where i might group 3-5 frames together there as well. an overdecorated, over stimulated refrigerator door.  picture frames in the dining room, the kitchen, the family room and on the walls. good gracious.

having said that, i absolutely love a gallery wall with multiple images all framed, not necessarily even matching frames, all together. the bold monochromatic effect of all black frames or all gold frames has a beautiful effect. the menagerie of art, both framed & unframed, combined with photographs is a visual delight as well. as long as the said gallery wall isn’t right beside a set of bookshelves also laden with photographs. follow?

i shared in the previous post that one way for me to unify our framed images & cut down on a cluttered look was to invest in coordinating frames. for the design & feel of our home i chose chippy reclaimed wood frames in 8×10 and larger. i take a lot of photos of our girls so i have a pretty good running inventory of snaps to use, but in this day of iPhones that take stellar quality images, i bet we all do! less images but larger size allows me to have pictures of my girls up & enjoy them. the less -but -larger actually allows for easier visibility as well. ( as opposed to all those tiny frames with tiny snaps that you actually have to pick up to see).  for those frames i just use an inexpensive printer like sams/costco/walgreens and trade those babies out relatively often. sometimes i’ll get cool & print all the images for the frames in black & white. i love that rich, monochromatic look as well.

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i actually have three gallery walls in our home. one just as you enter the side door of our home. another is upstairs and features art made by my girls. yes i have one about to graduate from college & her 3rd grade painting is still on the wall. the other is in our front entry way leading up the stairs. those frames are actually all creamy colored & found at walmart, i think they’re bh&g brand.

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if your goal is to minimize clutter, one more thing i encourage you to do is refrain from using the door of your refrigerator as a memo board. clean that puppy off! clean slate!

 

so where’d all the tiny cute photos & picture frames go?

again. as far as this step goes, i encourage you to do what works best for you, your family, your space, your finances, etc. the thought of packing things up for garage sale at some later date usually makes me antsy. primarily because once i’m ready to move on i’m ready to move on and i don’t want all those things i just uncluttered to clutter up another place while theyr’e on deck waiting to bat. but. if you have storage space then pack ‘em up & save them for your garage sale. just make sure you give your self a deadline or all those packed up boxes will just stay packed up boxes for ever & ever. i chose to give the things i’m letting go of to the local co-op. load ‘em up & move ‘em out. chances are, in a few weeks ( or hours) you can’t even remember what those items were that you labored over and painfully packed up. let it go sister. it’s just all stuff. let it go.

all the snap shots? i love snap shots. i love candids and polaroids and all the things considered images. so what worked for me was making a photo board. friends this doesn’t even require a tutorial. bottom line. grab a cork board & cover that baby with fabric. hang it on the wall & use push pins to attach your photos. don’t overthink this yall.  4×6’s are like 19cents, if even. pin the photo for crying out loud. or if that makes you nervous, just put the push pin on the edge of your image. ta. da. the end.

i change our board fairly frequently. that little ( 3×4″) cutie has held christmas cards. maybe before one of the girls birthdays i’ll make the board all about that girl. summer i may do a sunflower theme or beach image theme. you get the picture. pun intended. i’ll add art & cards, little this & thats. something about having all those little things , again on a unified color themed board, makes all those little thingies appear as “one” verses dozens & dozens of frames all over your world.

this is the current look. since i love to save cards & little glittered thingies, this gives me one unified space where i can display them. and it doesn’t make me feel crazy. another perk about using this board & it’s location is that it’s not actually in direct view whether you come in our side door or front door.

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& as the cards came in…( now keep them in our laundry room. up all year & i pray over each family)

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so…my little tips might not work for you & that’s aok! you may have the prettiest, artsiest decorated refrigerator door out there & it works for you. this is just one of the first steps i took in trying to simplify the visual pretties all over our home! or honestly, you may look at these images & think–whoa! girlfriend has too much stuff!! too each his own right?!

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so bottom line. 3 tips of the day~

1. use a unified area, space or object for your smaller images. this could be a mud room, laundry room, hallway, playroom…wherever.

2.allow yourself the freedom of changing out your images.whether framed or on a board, enjoy the meaningful glimpses of your people.

this will help rid you of the guilt & need to pitch meaningful photos as mentioned at the start of this post.

3. if you choose to have fewer but larger frames, you will still enjoy your photographs but not have the large task of changing out a plethora of little frames.

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please feel free to leave comments & ideas that have worked for you as well!

i started a little series friday on organization & dealing with clutter. a little series;)if you want to start from the beginning, hop on over here.

January 12, 2015 - 11:40 am

Sharon Wideman - Thank you!!!
I was a reader of your blog several years ago before being diagnosied with lupus. I was searching and decluttering my favorites from my Internet list. I found your blog this morning. I believe God sent mr to

January 12, 2015 - 1:40 pm

JuliaW - I love your home — so beautiful, soothing and heartfelt! And I appreciate the tips. I’ve arrived at a point in life where I want to be surrounded by beauty and love — and much less clutter!

January 12, 2015 - 3:18 pm

Valerie Sisco - Paige,
I love your talk about clutter and attaching sentiment to trinkets! This past year I thought I’d decluttered but realize I can do more. Your thought process resonates with me and you are right — once it’s boxed up and donated, I don’t even remember what I agonized over. Thank you so much for these posts — you’ve inspired me!

January 12, 2015 - 3:48 pm

Candice McLean - Love this post! Inspiring and motivating. I too am an avid photographer with four kiddos and a small photography business. My two oldest girls enjoy photography as well, so we have many, many digital files using iCloud. How do you organize all of your digital files? I have external hard drives one for family, one for clients but I’m still overwhelmed. Thank you for any advice you can offer. Many Blessings!

January 12, 2015 - 8:37 pm

Lori H - Such good ideas, Paige, as always. Your home is such an inspiration to me. My sister jokes that if I got rid of all the de-cluttering books I have bought and read, I would have much less clutter (harhar) but I just read one that was very different, and I think it has made an impression on me. “the Life Changing Magic of Tidying up” by Marie Kondo. It addresses a lot of the reasons I have saved things and why I should get rid of them. I have read a LOT of those books and this one is truly different!
Looking forward to the rest of this series – rock on!

January 12, 2015 - 9:23 pm

Andrea - Paige. thank you for sharing your process. I began this journey( living more simply) last year and still have so much to do. Picture frames everywhere….that is/was my home. I now have a gallery wall with pictures, our children’s art work (yes from when they were very small to present) and other pictures/art including our State canvas that your sweet Savannah made. Here’s my question…..how do you store your photos when you change them out…photo books? photo boxes? Do you have a good system to share. I see myself amassing photo books…..yet another collection although easier to corral than all those frames…….

January 13, 2015 - 12:36 am

wynne - a. i love you home, i miss it. b. i love you c. so much wisdom to learn from you d. thank you e. i love you

January 13, 2015 - 9:10 am

Donna - I absolutely love all if those white chippy and beadboard frames! Did you buy the beadboard one that you. Put the card on or make it?

January 24, 2015 - 8:04 am

tara - about ten years ago, i was the girl with the clear magnet photo frames ALL OVER my fridge. i needed an intervention.

ps. LOVE the “he washed me white as snow” print in one of those pics.