This spring I had the opportunity to be the creative mastermind (ha, I just now gave myself that title) in charge of decorating for the Jumping Tandem Retreat. JTreat decor. Decor-treat. Trick or treat. What? Am I tired??
When my friend Deidra asked me to be in charge of “prettyness and ambiance,” I was so excited! Then the months went by and I realized, well, no one was telling me what to do. Which is great, but also, scary. So having no real idea what I was doing, I forged ahead. Until the very day the retreat began, I had never seen that particular retreat center. That’s a first for me, usually I am decorating my own living room or a friend’s house or something, where I know what to expect. This time I was going in blind!
So yes, I alternated between, “Oh I’ve so got this” and “this will be pitiful.” I had a small budget and lots of time. Not a bad combination. I love to spend the dark winter nights hot gluing things while watching movies. So that’s what I did!
I was majorly inspired by this post by the Flower Patch Farmgirl. She used a heart shaped paper punch to turn her kids’ watercolor artwork into a lovely Valentine’s garland. I made circles instead.
Springtime in Nebraska is unpredictable. It might be beautiful (it was) or it might be dark, rainy, and windy. I decided I wanted to use lots of springy colors, to brighten it up in case the weather was gross. And thus the watercolor festivities began.
I made garlands, painted signs, and scavenged things like used canvases and random trays from Goodwill.
This photo will bother Valerie very much, indeed. No it is not centered. (Flashing back to a certain Christmas bows/OCD incident during our dorm days.) Ultimately, I didn’t care as much as perhaps I should have. I made that little garland the day of. As in, since people helped me so much setting up, I had extra time, so I made a few more things on the spot.
I painted those pennant things one day, didn’t love them, and never did anything futher. But they ended up working so I was glad! In fact, the whole experience was that way. It really blessed me, which sounds weird to say about decorating a room. I got a little glimpse that when I take little steps of faith, and show up with what I have, God works it all together and makes up for what I lack.
It looked like I measured and planned the exact amount of garland it would take to go all the way around the room. I didn’t. I brought a bunch of tiny command hooks to hang it with, only to discover, the room already had dozens of hooks in the ceiling, as if designed for garlands. So that was easy.
All along I envisioned a gigantic sign, having no ideas beyond that. I loved our theme, “Grace,” and wanted a big reminder of that! I got some inspiration from Dayspring’s Letterpress blocks, to have a variety of sizes and letters. For the purposes of “cheap” and “very big” I used canvases (mostly from Goodwill- find used ones, paint over them with white, and it’s pretty much just as good as a new canvas) and painted them with colors similar to the watercolors I was using for everything else. Had no idea how to connect or hang them. In fact I had basically given up on it.
Again, the room just “happened” to have a thin strip with thumb tacks all the way around the walls, so we simply hung the canvases in a line, and done! Some of them had small rips and tears and a bumpy texture, which I liked, cause– we aren’t perfect. We don’t have to be perfect to receive grace.
I plan to share more details about a few of the projects I did, in case anyone is in need of ideas!
Note the kleenex box. They were everywhere, all around the room. This wasn’t my doing but it was my suggestion. Hmmm, it’s like I knew I would be crying a bunch or something!
One weekend in May, a stark businesslike conference room was transformed into a happy, pretty space. My favorite part was seeing it filled with women, worshiping and speaking and talking and dancing. I got to sit back and be a part of that and be refreshed and learn about grace!
I must end with a BIG round of thank-you’s: To Deidra for your wonderful vision and letting me be a part. To Alexandra for being simply awesome and encouraging. To Alice for being my friend and helping me set up- I don’t know what I would have done without you! To Libby for bringing a stepladder and helping me clean up & tear down and always just being there for me. To a group of ladies I saw only as a blur at the time, thank you for jumping in and arranging the flowers, it made all the difference, you rock! To everyone who attended, I was overwhelmed by your encouragement, which makes me dream and be brave. Thank you.