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A Conversation with Teresa from Hugs & Punches

I am not sure how I stumbled upon following Teresa on instagram, but I have been encouraged ever since. She is a wife, Mama to 6, blogger, and author…and she is just super sweet! I hope you enjoy this interview, and her helpful tips.

Teresa Swanstrom Anderson

1. Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a girl living the life I never thought I wanted. My Plan was to get my doctorate, and live as an art curator somewhere glamorous and international (preferably Italy). I never wanted kids, didn’t like kids (and they didn’t like me). But I realized one day that I had never actually consulted God on my plans and completely and wholly gave them over to Him. From there my heart changed, my “plan” changed, and I’ve been running to keep up with the exciting path Christ actually designed me for ever since!

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2. You are a mother of 6, and passionate about adoption…tell us a little about your family, and how you came to adopt.

Years ago, my husband Ben and I attended a fancy black-tie auction in Seattle where we first laid eyes on a black and white photograph of a little boy in Malawi praying. It spurred all sorts of conversation and we knew (though we weren’t even engaged yet) that God was calling us to a life out of the ordinary, and one day we would adopt. I became pregnant right after getting married (oops!) and again when baby Anton was six-months old (what was I thinking?!). After little Laith was born, we felt The Lord urging us to begin pursuing adoption in Africa. We fell in love with Ethiopia and brought baby Imani home nine months later. While we were in-country, we met six-year old Ezekiel and brought him home four months later. As we settled in as a family of six, we moved from San Antonio to Denver. We finally felt we could take a deep breath and relax when God suddenly made it clear that 13 year old Abreham was our son and we needed to bring him home. Then while we were waiting for his paperwork to be completed, God also made it clear Elsabet was to join our family as well! Seven houses, two cross-country moves, and six kids in eight years of marriage! Whew!
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
4:15/5:30am – Three days a week, I wake at 4:15 and head to Starbucks to work on my book and have quiet time, away from distractions around the house. The other mornings, I stay home and sleep in ’till 5:30 (I know haha, that’s SO not sleeping in) so Ben can do early morning workouts, while I have quiet time, do my devotions, and work on my blog before the kids all wake and the craziness begins!
6:00am the kids are up and getting ready and the school-day begins! I typically make (gluten free) muffins the night before or cook up bacon and eggs for breakfast.
By 9:30am all the kids are off at school, aside from baby Elsabet who goes down for a nap.
While she’s sleeping, I work around the house cleaning, doing laundry, returning emails, and am always in the middle of some sort of home-project (we are currently moving out of a house we’ve remodeled and into another that needs to be!).
11:00am – Elsabet and I have lunch together and run a few errands or head to the gym before picking up Imani at preschool.
2:00 – Then home again for afternoon naps and I’m often in the kitchen baking something yummy for the big-kids when they get home from school.
4:00pm – After all the kids are home, it’s homework time and then off to sports practice.
5:30 – During the school week, we do our best to all eat around the table together, but depending on what sport is that day will depend on if I do a crockpot dinner or not…we probably eat as a family 5 nights a week.
7:30 – Bedtime!! (a little later for the Bigs…but we’re taking advantage of the fact that Abreham (now 15) still hasn’t figured out that kids his age often stay up super late, haha…plus he loves his sleep).
8:00-9:00 – Ben and I clean up the house until about 9:00 and sit down for a show or read cuddled in bed together until 10:00. Thats when Ben wants to go to bed so we get enough rest for it to repeat all over the next day!
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4. What helps you stay organized?
I’ve found through the years that the more kids we have, the more organized I have to be! I know what you’re thinking… “ummm obviously.” but what I mean is there’s so much craziness, mess, and busyness around here these days that if things aren’t organized, put away, and streamlined, I have a bit of anxiety. It’s the perfectionist in me…something I’m working on, for sure. One thing that has been HUGE is actually implementing chores & creating a chore board for our kids. They know exactly what is expected of them and mornings have gone from me yelling at them to do this and that…to them simply referring to the board. After school it’s the same (though the little kids still need a little guidance)! They also know that by doing more around the house, there’s more time for mom and dad to actually play with them. Win-win!
This is a different type of organized, but we really try to organize our kids attitudes with sayings. One we use all. the. time is: “You can be mad, sad, or angry…but you may not be rude” (more on that here). We have tons of these sayings so our children know exactly what our expectations are and have a healthy way of learning as they grow.
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5. You often blog about your home, and your love for decorating. What tips do you have for making a family friendly home that is also beautiful?
I strive to have a home that’s playful yet grown-up: We use outdoor lights inside, book pages on the chandelier, and have a yellow front door. A bold chevron print is painted on on the fireplace and yet it somehow feels sophisticated paired with a beautiful white mantle full of gold lanterns and vintage books. We are home-people. Whatever home it is God has given us for the season we’re in (like I mentioned earlier, we’re on house number seven in eight years!).

One of the biggest things for Ben and I is our love of celebrating our family, so we try to have a home that reflects that. I always keep my eye open for party decor on clearance to toss into our Party Bins in the basement so we’re ready to throw a little party at a moments notice. It’s not just celebrating good grades…though we do that, too. If one of the kids learn to tie their shoes by themselves, we celebrate. A first good hit in baseball? Party! The first snow of the year or or simply because it’s a Wednesday? Get out the party hats. Breakfast parties are huge in our house. It doesn’t take more than decorating a kitchen table and hanging a few streamers for things to feel festive.

Anton & Laith (ages 6 & 7) are in a tiny room that wouldn’t even fit their dresser. So when we decided to take the doors off the closet to fit the large chest-of-drawers inside, I thought I’d add a little fun by painting the closet walls with chalkboard paint. The walls are now covered with notes from friends and family-members who love on and celebrate our boys.
Abreham and Ezekiel (ages 9 & 15) love running and are in 5k’s all the time. We have a place in their room to celebrate not the wins (though they often do), but instead a place for their bib numbers…similar to a memory wall, where we can celebrate their hard work and dedication, no matter what their finish time.
I believe it’s important to celebrate everything…even the seemingly typical or mundane. Because God is good and He’s given us another day with these amazing little guys…and I want mine to look back and think, “my mom was fun, and boy did she make me feel special.”
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6. What is the biggest thing God has been teaching you this year?
God has been teaching me so much lately. That things don’t have to be perfect all the time (must reads:confessions of a raging perfectionist and the nesting place) and that God’s timing IS perfect. I have a tendency to plan everything out and want things done yesterday. God doesn’t really like when I do that, haha. I’m learning that there’s so much beauty in the journey. So much to learn through it. I found this quote a few years ago and hold it close to my heart as we go through joy and rough times with our adopted kids and life in general…
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep, loving concern.
Beautiful people do not just happen. {Elizabeth Kubler Ross}
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What are your daily must have products?
 1. Besides, Jesus…coffee is my first thing of the day. My Nespresso machine is constantly humming, pouring and frothing me up the perfect lattes. The machine is so easy even my kids make them for me!
2. Ben used to have a job where we’d be spoiled and pampered at a conference every year. At one of the spas, I came across The Lip Slip by Sara Happ…the most luxurious lip gloss ever. I now order it on Amazon and feel pampered every time I smooth it on.
3. I’m a sucker for ambiance and the five senses so I always have mood music and lighting here at home: 3a. I love Pandora because it’s free and because I have every genre at my fingertips. If I’m fixing tacos for dinner, I’ll put on Gipsy Kings Radio or at the end of the day as I’m pouring a glass of wine, I’ll click on the Andrea Bocelli station. And sometimes we have dance parties to the High School Musical or Taylor Swift channels.
3b. I always have a candle burning, typically Pink Citron by Voluspa or something yummy from Anthropologie like the Capri Blue Iridescent Jar candle. There’s just something about a house that smells like Anthro.
3c. Ooh I almost forgot…fresh flowers! Every time we’re at Costco, the boys buy me a bouquet (of their choosing) as a treat for me. But I also often search the clearanced or “managers special” flowers at our local grocery store. If I time it right, I’ll find a beautiful bunch for $3.99 that looks just as fresh as others triple the price! And I always separate the flowers up into mason jars, candle holders, or even just water glasses from the cabinet. I rarely use a conventional vase. (and ahem… I’ve been known to carry said flowers from room to room, wherever I’m working. I never claim to be normal,
Follow along with Teresa
 
 
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Helen PQuadros

awesome!

Teresa Swanstrom Anderson

Thanks so much, sweet friend for taking the time to interview me!! xo

Katie Debros McArthur

great interview! & i’ve gotta try that lip gloss!

Debi Rutledge Welch

Ya’ll are amazing… love and hugs!

Rebekah Andrews Gough

Teresa is such a gift to this world and she is just as gorgeous and genuine in person as she is on the page! Love you T and am so inspired, always by your deep faith and big heart!

A Bit of Sunshine

Teresa is such a gift to this world and she is just as gorgeous and genuine in person as she is on the page! Love you T and am so inspired, always by your deep faith and big heart!

[…] Kristin Schmucker. You may remember her from a few months ago when she interviewed me for a fun post on her blog. She’s so lovely, friends. So darn lovely and is a mama of three […]

A Few of My Favorite Books

I love to read! I don’t always have as much time as I would like, but I try to squeeze in a little time here and there to soak in a good book. I love blogging about my favorite books, and I thought it would be fun to do a little round up of some of my all time favorite books! If you are looking for a great read, these are all well worth your time in my opinion.

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This Momentary Marriage | John Piper

This is my absolute favorite book on marriage. I love that it deals not just with the day to day of making marriage work, but on God’s view of marriage and what marriage represents. It is a small book, but it is packed with so much truth.

Anything | Jennie Allen

This book has been one of my favorites for several years, and the principle of giving God anything has helped me through hard times, because I know that I can trust Him. This is one of those books that I can read over and over again and still be convicted and encouraged by.

Kisses from Katie | Katie Davis

If you have not read this book, you need to get it right now. I think it is impossible to read this book and not have your heart changed and your eyes opened to the needs around you. This is the story of a young woman who left her comfortable American life to go to Uganda where she would eventually adopt 14 young orphan girls. This book is a reminder of what is truly important in life.

Women of the Word | Jen Wilkin

I can’t recommend this book enough. This book is for anyone who wants to study Scripture, whether you are brand new, or have been studying for years. The message of this book is one that is missing especially among women, and it is such a refreshing read. The way that Jen and I study is very similar and I loved hearing her tips and words of wisdom.

Because He Loves Me | Elyse Fitzpatrick

This became one of my all time favorite books after I read it this year. It is just so good. This book is just saturated in the gospel, and is a sweet reminder that we are accepted by God not because of the good things we do, but because of who He is.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess | Jen Hatmaker

This book will challenge you, make you think, and probably even step on your toes a bit. Jen covers the topic of excess in a very conversational style. Reading this book feels like you are chatting with an old friend. It makes you think about what is important and will probably encourage you to get rid of some of your extra stuff.

Restless | Jennie Allen

Restless is the second Jennie Allen book on this list. I love Jennie’s down to earth writing style, and her content is on point. This book came at just the right time for me. It talks about how we are shaped by so many things in our lives, and how we can help others because of what we have faced in life.

I Will Carry You | Angie Smith

This book was such an encouragement to me over the past year after losing Sophia. It is Angie’s story of the loss of her own daughter, and how God met her in that place. It is a heavy book, but it is extremely powerful and so comforting to be reminded of how God is with us no matter what we are facing.

I would love to hear from you? Did you love any of these books, or have another favorite you would like to share?

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I love so many of these books. Just purchased Because He Loves Me the other day because of your recommendation. Can’t wait to dive in! Have you read Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full? Also a “saturated in Gospel” book – think you’d love it!

Marla Bell Ledbetter

From your lust I’ve read 7 and restless Both are so very good!! 7 was a life changer for me. Restless gave me courage to know there is more than being a sweet little church girl and courage to want more!!

Erin Ledbetter

This Momentary Marriage is so good. I read it while I was engaged and it really helped my perspective coming into marriage. Anything and Restless are amazing. Restless really helped me look deeper into the gifts, relationships, and connections God has placed in my life. Also, challenged me to explore that “restless” feeling. Women of the Word is next on my list!

Thanks for the recommendations, Kristin. Anything and Kisses from Katie are already on my reading list. I’ll be adding Restless and Because He Loves Me to the list.:) Currently reading Fearless by Max Lucado and it’s such an encouragement.

My Blogging Journey…How I Got Here

I was thinking recently about my blogging journey. I have published almost 600 posts on this blog, that is crazy to think about! The journey has taken different turns, but I am so thankful for where I am right now. I have learned that life…and even blogging is something that can be constantly changing as seasons of life change and we follow the path that God has for us.

Back in 2010 when I started this blog, I was an aspiring photographer and this was the place I recorded all of my photo shoots and also little snippets of our daily life and things I loved. Eventually our wedding photography business would grow and become our full time job, and all of that is recorded on the blog as well. There are so many posts of weddings and engagement sessions, and people that we have met in the past 5 years. This past year God shifted my heart in big ways and now here I am. I no longer am blogging about photography…though pretty pictures make any blog post better. Sprinkled throughout the past years of beautiful weddings has been my heart and daily life poured out on this blog. And now, that is primarily what the blog is. It is a place that I share my heart and life with lots of people who for some reason have chosen to follow this journey.

This past year has been the most impactful year of my life. I don’t say that lightly. This year has been a year of change, some wonderful changes, and some that have been the hardest things that we have ever faced. Through everything we have received the biggest outpouring of love and support. I am so thankful for every person that has read our story and encouraged us along the way.

So this is where my journey is right now…blogging about faith, family, our home, my favorite things, and day to day life…and loving every minute of it. I am excited to focus more on the blog in the coming year, and would love to hear what you would love to see more of on the blog! Leave a comment below and let me know what you love to read!

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i love your blog. I just found it last month. It is an inspiration to me. I hope you keep doing what you do and letting the Lord work out the details.

i just discovered your blog last week and absolutely love it! I love hearing you talk about reading scripture and your faith. Thanks for your beautiful writing and sharing your heart!

Chelsey Dane Arnal

I always enjoy reading the blog. It is like a little treat I sneak into my day. Always encouraging and uplifting. Keep writing my friend. Happy 2015!!

Kelly A. Kantola

LOVE your blog!! You are such an inspiration…God Bless you & Jeremey!

Natalie Brenner

I love this! I love it because I find comfort in the fact that your blog has been so different through the years. Mine started as solely heart wrenching poems when I found out my mom was having an affair…and slowly they morphed into daily things and thoughts. Then photography. And that was confusing for me! And now I’m back at really pouring myself out vulnerably and honestly through this journey God has me on. I love your blog! I love it all.

Marissa Dodgen

I am finding myself in the same place. I started as a photographer. Over the last year & a half God has been working in my heart & life. Today I annouced that I am changing directions. My photography platform is currently being changed to a blog about food, home, family, & faith. I’m excited about the place God is leading me. Reading things like this, about the shift in other’s lives, confirms for me that I am heading in the right direction.

The Goal of Studying Scripture

I think sometimes we need to be reminded of our goals. Lots of us take time at the new year to think about our personal goals, which is such a good thing. It is good to go deeper though, and think about why our goal is important and why it is a priority. A goal of spending more time in God’s Word in the New Year is a great goal, and it is probably one of the best things that you can purpose to do in this new year. But, why do we do it? Why study Scripture?

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The goal when studying Scripture is to know God more. The goal is never about us. It isn’t about time alone, or pretty journals with gorgeous handwriting gracing the pages and margins of our Bible’s…the goal is more of Jesus.

Often, when it comes to reading Scripture, less is more. I have talked before about the principle of eating until you are full, but in recent days I have been reminded of that again. It is easy to get caught up in feeling like we should be reading a certain number of chapters each day, or journaling six pages of in depth truths. I think sometimes that this false expectation is what causes lots of women to throw in the towel on studying Scripture. When we view Bible Reading as a chore, it is easy to let it slip in favor of doing one of the other things on our to do list. But, when we view our time in Scripture as a life giving time of needed refreshment, we run to the Word…instead of making excuses about why we have skipped a day, month, or year.

Don’t get me wrong…I love pretty journals, but if we lose focus of the reason we are studying God’s Word, we will miss the point. The point is always about Him.

So this year as you set goals, and try to make being in God’s Word a commitment…remember why we study Scripture…To Know Him.

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Thank you for sharing this! I just got back into really digging into scripture after getting caught up in the “routine” and giving up for a while. Really enjoying it again :) Will take this to heart and keep it close!

Thanks for the great reminder. As a lover of pretty journals and markers myself, I needed this.

This is such a great article. I think it is so easy to get caught up in “what” you’re using during your quiet time instead of actually focusing on God and His Word. Great reminder. Thanks Kristin!

Krista Morgan

…the goal is MORE OF JESUS!

Heather Hart

I love this post!!! Trying to read through the Bible in a year just to say you have, is not the way to go. But having a goal of knowing Him more is life changing.

Brandy Caudill Miller

I love this. I also usually do the method of reading until I’m “full”. This year my husband & are wanting to read through the Bible chronologically. In my sporadic jumping, there have been many books I’ve overlooked in the last few years and I’m really excited to hit those again. However there is this worry of reading without absorbing. I’m going to try to break my daily chunks into smaller pieces throughout the day so that I can still go with the when I’m full method. Thanks for the reminder of what studying and reading are all about! Great word for the new year!

Brenda

Thank you for this reminder!

Natalie Brenner

Love.

Top Posts of 2014

I thought I would do a little roundup of the most popular posts in 201. Here are the top ten posts of 2014, and it turns out that your favorites where some of my favorites as well!

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How To Study Scripture – This post has been the most popular post on the blog for two years now. You can now find the post in the menu at the top because so many people ask this question. This is definitely one of my favorite posts that I have put on the blog.

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Sophia’s Birth Story – This post talks about the birth and loss of our daughter Sophia. Though the loss of Sophia is the hardest thing we have ever faced, I am so thankful for this little girl and how she has changed us.

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The Joy Of The Lord is Your Strength – This little lock screen was a huge hit in 2014, and definitely one of our most pinned images of the year! Hoping to make some more pretty lock screens in the new year!

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For This Child I Prayed – This post was short reflection on how sometimes God answers our prayers in a different way then we imagined.

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31 Days of Scripture Challenge – In May I hosted a Scripture Challenge on the blog and Instagram, and I had no idea how popular it would be. I met some amazing people through the challenge. I think this is something we will definitely be doing again!

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The Next Chapter – In 2014, we made a huge move from Texas to Pennsylvania to begin church planting. It has been quite the journey as we moved away from Texas to our new home, but we have loved seeing God’s hand in it every step of the way.

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The Shop – This year was the year that I opened my shop, and it has been an amazing ride. It all started with the Joy in Christ Journal, and then the Give Me Jesus Mug, we have added so many great products and have plans to add lots more fun things this year!

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Why I Study Books of The Bible – This post was a great conversation starter on the topic of studying the Bible. I shared why I love to study books of the Bible, and how it has helped me.

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What is Your Passion? – I love blog posts about simplifying and living intentionally, and this was a favorite in 2014.

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Getting Through The Dry Seasons – At some point we all face dry seasons in our walk with God, this post was the answer to a question I get a lot.

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Natalie Brenner

These are awesome, thank you!!