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Second Chances

Posted on February 09, 2012 by Sarah Stevens | 0 Comments

I am pretty sure I am not the only one that has wanted, and needed, a

second chance at something.  I can think of hundreds of times when I had the

thought "If only I could have another shot at that"........      

Care to join me in reminiscing about those times?

Those times in high school when I suddenly found myself in front of the guy who I had a crush on.    Here  was my chance.  C'mon clever, cute and charming.  But all that came out was "Uhhh.... ummmm.... welllll.... hi."  UGH.  Seriously?  What a dork.  Boy oh boy did I kick myself after those missed opportunities.

Those days as a college student who couldn't get a grip on life and things were so overwhelming.  Life seemed to be spinning around me due to many things and each day I would be determined to get to class.  But then many days I didn't make it.  Really Sarah?  What is wrong with you?!  Why couldn't I just go?  

Those long, tiring days of mommydom when I had 3 small kiddos, lived far from family and was weary.  I was not the best mom those days.  I was easily frustrated.  My patience was limited.  I would wake up each morning and pray that today I would be a better mom.  Then somehow, each day, I would not live up to that prayer.

Those years of filling a hole in my life with food.  The vicious cycle of low self esteem led to the need for comfort food which then led to self loathing(for eating too much) which brought me back to the desire for comfort.  What was wrong with me?  Why couldn't I just lose weight and be skinny like my friends?  Monday will be the start of the next chance for me to get skinny.....

Those times as I was growing up in churches, developing a faith when I thought I had not done enough to earn God's love.  Each time we would have confession at school I would say I was sorry and promise to do better.....but eventually failed at that promise.  I struggled with finding my worth in the midst of these perceived failures. 


Anyone relate?  Do you have those days, times or events when you wished you could have a do-over?  A second chance?  I am betting you can all think of more than a few.

Thankfully, life is full of second chances.  It took me a long time to see what those second chances looked like though.  Sometimes we think that that do-over should be presented to us pronto!  Not so much.  Much of the time it is not given to us immediately.  Sometimes it can take years to have the chance to change it.   The trick is recognizing that second chance when it arrives........

Those crushes in high school were not meant to be.  My second chance came in the midst of another second chance.  The first time I met my husband he was not, let's say, too respectful toward me.  He was a college guy having a fun time at a party and was...well....err.... kind of a jerk.  Then months later we met again (actually 26 years ago yesterday!!).  He was more of his true self that night...and I gave him a second chance.  But I also was getting a do-over.  I didn't fumble my words, stutter or look like a dork.  I was more mature....more ready to be in a relationship.  I am thankful now that I was a dork back in high brought me to Craig.

Those absentee days in college were hard.  Lots had happened and what I didn't recognize was that I probably was in a bit of a funk.  I was hard on myself for not finishing college.  I thought that I was never going to be smart enough or successful enough without that college degree.  A second (and third) chance came along years later.  I went to school for cosmetology.  I graduated at the top of my class and took 1st place in the annual hair show and went on to a very successful 15 year career as a hair designer.  Then the third chance........ Cellar Designs.  What a blessing this has been to me.  I guess I needed to learn first what "success" meant before I could truly experience it. 

Those years of being the "imperfect" mom were catapulted into the extreme when I found out I was (VERY unexpectedly!) pregnant with our 4th child.  This was not our plan.  This was not what I wanted.  This was crazy.  Another child?  Oh boy.....  

Our little spirited redhead, Noah Scott, was my second chance for me to review what a perfect mom should look like.  He has taught me that imperfect IS perfect.  If my older kids can't see that I am a mess sometimes then how in the world can I expect them to grow up knowing that it is ok to make mistakes in their lives? The second half of my life as a mom has been much better.  I have learned to lighten up.  I have learned to cherish the moments.  I savor each second chance. 


Food, food, food.  My second chance came at age 40.  4 years ago this month I was given access to an amazing tool to help my journey.  I had gastric lap band surgery.  For many of you I am sure you think, automatically, "ohh....easy way out'.  Not at all.  The band required me to make good choices each day of what I put in my mouth, how much, and how often.  If I chose poorly.......ugh, no fun.  If I chose wisely I grew to be a healthy woman.   It helped me to break that cycle and take responsibility of how I got there and control of getting my life and health back.  

I am thankful for the foundation of faith I was given as a child.  I knew that God was big, amazing and that I loved Him.  What I didn't know till given a second chance was that I was worthy of His love...without doing a single thing other than believe.  There is such beauty and power in that for me.  The knowledge that Christ was the ultimate second chance for me is so overwhelming.......and I my life hopefully reflects that.  I love this song from Rend Collective.  It's message speaks to me...

Second Chances by Rend Collective

One of the most popular signs at Cellar Designs is one that I can not sell anymore.  I was not aware of a copyright when I originally made this specific sign so I, unfortunately, can not make it anymore.  But it is all over Pinterest to this day.  I get emails daily from people all over the world asking if I could make them one.  The first line of this sign is "In this house we do second chances".

I am floored by the power those words hold for many people.  I think the whole world has a desire for second chances.  I am so very grateful to God for the second chances that I have been given, and still are getting.... all the time!  How blessed am I to be have the chance at so many do-overs!

May you not beat yourself up about your first chances at things.

May you recognize the second chance when given it.

May you learn from them both.

May you be grow from those lessons.







Words To Live By

Posted on February 02, 2012 by Sarah Stevens | 0 Comments

It will be of no surprise to any of you that I believe words have great power!

Cellar Designs is full of quotes, sayings, single words and thoughts that are inspiring, thought-provoking, motivating and encouraging.  I think that the spoken word has the ability to lift up or hurt someone deeply.  The written word can do the same as well.  I think that if you surround yourself with positive words and thoughts that your life will reflect them.

This is so clearly evident in the story of my latest sign.  A few weeks ago a friend asked me if I would be willing to make a special sign for that spoke to her story and how her life's perspective has been affected.  She is inspiring to me and many others. This is a hard story but one that I feel many have learned from and others can as well.  It is a story that has been called "a perfect storm", but has a bright vibrant rainbow to view when the clouds faded.

I had met DeDe a few times.  Each time I had encountered her through mutual friends or around our little village I had left with these kinds of thoughts.... "She is funny.  What a hoot!  She has a bit of a special spirit to her.  She seems to have great energy.  She is someone I would like to get to know better."  Our kids are different ages and in different activities and our lives path's didn't cross very often... so that chance to get to know her better never seemed to happen.

 I can remember getting an email on December 21, 2009 from a mutual friend.  She was sending out a mass email asking for prayers for DeDe.  You see, DeDe had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest the night before....the Sunday before Christmas.  Her husband, Jeff, performed CPR and the paramedics rushed in.  She was whisked off to the local hospital where a ER doctor decided, in order to save her life, they would medically induce hypothermia on DeDe.  This was the first time this doctor had ever performed this.  First time EVER!  It was a relatively new therapy at that time.  Bringing the body's temp down helps to save brain function.  DeDe was in a coma for 7 days and stayed in the hospital for 18 days.

I can vividly remember getting the email updates on my phone while on Christmas vacation in Minnesota.  I prayed and prayed for DeDe to wake up and for healing and for peace and assurance for her family.  I remember the joy I felt when I read, finally, the news that she has awoken!  I remember thinking what an amazing miracle!

I am sure this was the most overwhelming thing that DeDe and her family had, or will ever, experience.  But what I think was also astounding was the explosion of community love that poured out for them.  I am sure it took them aback often.....and probably still does.  There were hundreds of posts on their community website, greeting card sent and emails that inundated their inbox!

As DeDe healed and life started to come back into focus she read these communications from friends, family and, I am betting, some strangers.  She found that 3 words kept repeating themselves....... and those words will now hang in their home as a visual reminder of the miracle of her story.

These words became a bit of a mantra for DeDe.  They spelled out to her the reason for this chapter in her story.  They had great power.  They were the words that pointed out that she had great cause to be grateful, had many things to be thankful for, and was blessed beyond measure.

I for one am grateful and thankful to God that she survived so that I could have the opportunity to be get to know her better....just like I hoped for before December of 2009.  I am blessed to know DeDe better....and can only hope to continue to know her more.

This is why I love my job.  I am grateful that a gift that was given to me by God can bring joy, peace, happiness to others.  To know the story behind the request of this sign, and be the one to make it, is something I will treasure always.  Thanks DeDe for allowing me to be a little part of your amazing story!

May you be grateful for the things in your life that can get overlooked.

May you be thankful for the community that surrounds you.

May you be blessed abundantly....every moment of every day. 

May you find those few words that can be your mantra.

May those words guide you and bring great power to your life.

Mask or Marrow?

Posted on January 08, 2012 by Sarah Stevens | 0 Comments

So, mask or marrow?  That is the question has been rumbling around in my head for the past week.  Do people know me by my mask or my marrow?   That mask is a facade.  It does serve a purpose and is much easier to look at.  It provides me with a shield of sorts. It also can enduce pride.  I want to be proud of how I look.  Two decades of being obese allowed me to be lacking in self pride and become very good at using a mask to protect myself.  I rarely was without makeup and dressing trendy and stylish (as much as I could with the clothes available for plus size women!).  

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The Doors

Posted on January 02, 2012 by Sarah Stevens | 0 Comments

I have long been a bit obsessed with doors.  I do not mean the classic rock group led by the mysterious Jim Morrison.  I mean the ones that are defined like this:

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A Needed Rest

Posted on December 28, 2011 by Sarah Stevens | 0 Comments

I stopped taking orders in my Etsy shop the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  I didn't even stay open for Black Monday!  I turned down many people's requests via email or Etsy convos for signs to make an exception and make "just one more sign" for the holidays.

Some people thought I was nuts.  Some thought I was missing out on the best time of the year for online retail sales.  Some of the time I thought they were right. :)  Was I crazy???

I was talking about my reasons at a favorite annual family bakeoff and my wise uncle said, "you should blog about this".  So I am.  Here goes.....

It is hard for me to say no.  I am a woman who likes to make others happy.  I like to please people. I want people to like me.

I am also a driven woman.  I want to succeed.  I want my business to flourish.  I want to help my family with our income.  I want to be a great businesswoman and artist.

But......I am also tired.  I am a mom of 4, wife of a very patient man, and have many other things on my plate other than Cellar Designs.  Balancing all of these things is difficult.  The months from May to November were exciting, exhilerating, energizing, fun, creative.........but I didn't do a great job of balancing things.  I made mistakes.  I am learning.~time to finish holiday orders          ~lost potential orders

~ability to make Christmas gifts myself       ~loss of potential income

So when deciding whether or not to close up shop for a month many things went on my pros and cons list in my head.  It was strikingly unbalanced though.  This is what it looked like:

 PROS                                                            CONS

 ~time to finish holiday orders                               ~lost potential orders

 ~ability to make Christmas gifts myself                ~loss of potential income

 ~time to spend with my kids                                 ~GREED

 ~enjoy holidays

 ~time to clean house before heading to MN

 ~not be rushed at holidays

 ~spend quality time with family

 ~no stress

 ~my kids miss me

 ~I have been a slacker mom

 ~I want a break.....a needed rest

The only real reason to stay open and keep orders coming in was greed.  It is a powerful thing.  It tempted me for weeks and even made me rethink my decision a few times. "Just think what you could do with that extra money",  "Can you imagine what December sales would have been like?" were statements dancing around in my head.


I am thankful I made the decision I did.  

I can't wait to open back up next week.  

I feel renewed and ready to hit the creative ground running!  

I am grateful for this rest.  

It has been a good rest.  

A family filled rest.  

A stressLESS rest. 

A needed rest.


I hope that you found time this holiday season to rest as well.

May you not succumb to greed and other temptations and my family to yours..... a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Do You See What I See?

Posted on December 09, 2011 by Sarah Stevens | 0 Comments

****Some details in this post have been changed to protect the privacy of others.*****

I was listening to the radio today on my bi-weekly trek to Menards.  Christmas music has been playing since before Thanksgiving.  I admit that I tune out some of it, wishing that they would mix it 50/50 with regular tunes.  The one song I remember hearing was "Do you hear what I hear?"  You know the one I mean....."Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy "Do you hear what I hear?".....   I laughed to myself and thought 'nope...I am not the best listener...just ask my husband!'.  Hearing is not my strength...seeing is.

I am a visual gal.  I am at my best when I can see something.  When I can look at it and see it for whatever it is.  I learn best this way.  If someone tells me how to paint a cabinet so it looks rustic, I seem to hear half of it.  They talk and my brain just gets foggy.

(This might be why school was never easy for me!)  But, if someone shows me how....painting layer upon layer, demonstrating different techniques used to make it have a weathered feel, and roughing it up a bit to age it....then it is crystal clear!  Then I see the whole picture..the whole story...the whole lesson.

So, back to Menards.... Today I was being helped by courteous guy, Robert.   He was a young man who was creative with his hair and accessories.  Robert had a perfectly cut mohawk and several piercings.  He was knowledgeable about the product I was ordering, extremely professional and a generally cool dude.  I liked Robert.

A woman and man came up to the desk I was being helped at.  I had monopolized Robert's time so I told him if he wanted to help them quickly I would be happy to wait.  He thanked me and asked them if he could help them.  They were clearly irritated about having to wait and were rude to Robert.  He was patient with them and had to go check with his manager to find the solution to their problem.  As soon as he left the couple started to talk about him.  They made several awful remarks about his appearance and drew the conclusion that he, because of how he looked, was a screw-up.  The woman said "I can't believe Menards would have a guy like him up front helping customers".

I was so saddened and angered by this. They had not spent one bit of time allowing themselves to really know Robert.  They were angry about a problem with an order before they even walked in the door, were shocked by his appearance and automatically judged him.  It was like seeing hatred in action.  It was so very troubling.

It got me to thinking.  Why didn't they see him like I saw him?  Could they not see that he was just a regular guy who chose different accessories and haircuts than they did?

When looking at him couldn't they see that he was someone's son, brother, grandson

or husband?  This is true for many different kinds of people.

People are rude and judgemental of many....


When looking at an overweight woman can't people see her heart?  I have been that obese person and felt the weight of the stares from people.  Why is it when a baby has rolls it is "sweet", "tubby wubby" or "scrumptious"..........but not when they are older?


When seeing a young woman with multiple piercings don't they see that she is interesting and might have something important to say?  Why is it when a little girl gets her ears pierced for the first time it is "wonderful", "fun" or "exciting"..........but not when they are older?


Why is it that when a little baby's mom spikes his hair into a mohawk after a giggle-filled bath it "cute", "funny", or "adorable".........but those were not the words used by this couple this couple today to describe Robert's hair.



When I look at someone like Robert it is like looking at that cabinet I was shown to paint.  He probably has many layers, has a whole story and has learned many lessons.   He is beautiful today as he was when he was a baby.  He is a fine human being that is deserving of love and respect.  He is someone's son.......... 

He is God's son.


May you look at each person you meet as if they are that adorable little child.

May you see their whole story clearly.

May you show them love.  


Do you see what I see?

The Best Gift

Posted on December 04, 2011 by Sarah Stevens | 0 Comments

I am a mom.  It is what I firmly believe I was put on this earth to be.  Oh, I know there are many other things that I was intended to do and be, but this.......this mothering is my greatest purpose. Little did I know that I would be QUADRUPELY blessed with this purpose!

The other day my oldest son turned 20!  Seriously?  I just was driving the car yesterday with him and we were singing "The Wheels On The Bus" at the top of our lungs........ well maybe not yesterday.  It sure seems like it was though.

Zack was a little boy that was filled with curiosity, wonder and knowledge.  He found great joy in knowing things.  But he also loved music.   From the time he was a baby music could bring him to extreme levels of excitement or peace.  He giggled and danced to every song on "Barney" but also would fall asleep to a lullably tape in his room.

Knowledge and music.  Sometimes the two don't always compliment each other.  Too much knowledge can restrict someone from just letting go of the stresses of life.  Music requires that release.  So, for Zack, one of my prayers has always been that he find that happy balance between the two.

This past week I was priviledged enough to witness such a balance in him!

On his birthday he got to be part of a worship team for a large campus ministry fellowship night at the university he attends.  My daughter, mom and I went downtown and snuck into the large lecture hall to watch him and the band lead worship.  What I saw brought tears to my eyes.  There was Zack, at a fine university that challenges him academically and is growing his "knowledge base" exponentially, playing guitar and singing with such joy, growing his "spiritual base" as well.  It was as if I was seeing my little 4 year old guy singing "The Wheels On The Bus" in a grown man's body.  It was such a blessing.  I turned to Taylor, my daughter, and said "he is in his happy place".

This was the one thing moms all over the world long to receive.  We yearn for, hope for and pray for our children to be happy.   We look forward to the day when we can see our children be exactly who they were meant to be.  We desire to see them hit a sweet spot.


I experienced this last week.  I received the best gift ever......

My son was happy being....simply....himself.


May you get the privilege to receive this kind of gift.

May you be able to recognize it when it shows up.

May you be grateful for that gift.

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