I’ve already started crying before I even type this post.


Hold on.


Okay. I’m back.

I can’t help the tears. I just had a life-changing experience. I didn’t expect it. I didn’t plan on it. I didn’t even think it was going to be anything other than what it was.

This weekend my family and I headed to Jackson, Mississippi on a family mission trip to help rehab a church right smack dab in the middle of Jackson. It was once one of the largest churches in Mississippi. It has beautiful columns and ornate architecture and gilded ornamental elements straight out of the 1920s. When you walk into the sanctuary, the sheer faded grandeur of the building will take your breath away.

But somewhere along the way, life has passed it by.

People moved away. Church members have left the neighborhood and moved to the suburbs. The church has grown older and the congregation grown smaller.  It’s about 5% off what it once was.

And yet?

This church has continued to fight the fight. It’s continued to stand in the gap. The challenges are overwhelming. It’s facing incredible odds. It’s facing poverty and homelessness and hunger and violence and apathy and hopelessness.

And yet?

It continues to fight for the heart of this neighborhood.

There were different teams on the trip. There was the landscaping team. There was the light work crew. There was the VBS team. There was the cleaning team. There was the maintenance team.

And then?

There was my team. We were the decorators. My job was to head up the team decorating the classrooms.

(total aside: please act like surprised)

There wasn’t any money to put into decorating, so I used the one thing that makes the biggest difference with the smallest amount of money.


Here’s the before.

This is what the classroom looked like about halfway into the prep process. You can see we’ve already taped off the chairs.

I snapped a few pictures with my cell phone.

Here’s the color palette I put together.

I knew we wanted to make a difference with color and I already had most of these colors at my house left over from other projects.

We planned out where we wanted to use the different colors.

And now?

The room looks like this.


I so wish I had my big camera there to take pictures.

These cell phone pics I snapped DO NOT EVEN DO IT JUSTICE.

And the best part?

The only change is PAINT.

We made over this entire space with the paint and tape I brought with me and $25.

We taped off the chairs with FrogTape. It worked so well helping keep the metal part unpainted.

And then primed them (the church already had primer).

And then painted the chairs SW Picnic and SW Sky Fall and SW Sunny Veranda.

We primed the tables.

And then painted them SW Coral Reef.

Everything needed two coats.

The walls were taped off with FrogTape and the stripes were painted SW Coral Reef.

The larger stripes are 14″ and the smaller gray stripes are 12″.

It was the perfect pop for an accent wall.


Here’s the before.


And here’s the after.

This is just one classroom. We actually finished four. We painted a wall of triangles in the dance room and polka dots and stripes and painted furniture in the other classrooms.

And when we were done, the lady in charge of the children’s ministry at the church came to see the room.

When we opened the door, she started crying.

I get it.

I’m still crying.

The church was amazing and wonderful and incredible and thanked us over and over and over again, but truly?

It is I who should be thanking them.

For standing up for what is right.

For making a difference.

For reaching a neighborhood that so many have given up on.

For SHOWING UP and waking up every day and facing those incredible odds with courage and strength and purpose.

Calvary Church and Jackson, Mississippi, you are my heart.

I left a little piece of it there.

But don’t worry. I’ll be back. 🙂

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  1. Image for Dawn Nase Dawn Nase

    Love this, Karianne, and love your heart! What a beautiful transformation and a truly worthwhile endeavor. Big blessings on you and God's church........


    Oh my-you made me cry too. Thank you for your service to others. You have such a great talent and an equally giving heart. Bless you and that church who is there every day serving others!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Image for Shannon Shannon

    I am crying..... seriously...… what a wonderful project!!!!! You truly know how to lift people up! Reading stories like this really puts life into perspective and reminds me of projects I've worked on in the past. I really need to find my way back to that! Thank you for the inspiration Karianne!

  4. Image for Hayley Coxe Hayley Coxe

    The classroom is so bright and cheery and I'm sure the kids will find it delightful. Isn't it amazing that when we set out to bless someone else, we always get blessed ourselves??!! : ) Great job.

  5. Image for jan jan

    How INCREDIBLE!! Your talent for doing so much with just a little is beyond description! We can all learn from this!! Just think....if we were to all go and do something like this how we could make the world a better place! And right now we NEED it!

  6. Image for Karen W. Karen W.

    What a difference all the color made! Each time someone sees these spaces, they will know the love of God shining light through this gift. And yes, I am crying as I lift prayers of thanksgiving for your family mission teams and the Calvary Church congregation.

  7. Image for Kris Kris

    I hope we get to see pictures of all the rooms. I'm sure that the time and gifts you and others used is just the shot in the arm that the church needed. Thank you for using your talents in such a beautiful way.

  8. Image for Janice Paschal Janice Paschal

    Great Work! Everything looks amazingly colorful, fresh and inviting! Love the colors you used. So glad you were blessed as you blessed others.

  9. Image for Carla Carla

    Oh, Karianne!! It warms my heart to see this transformation. You are a blessing to all communities! As a retired elementary teacher, I thank you for creating such a wonderful environment for the students.

  10. Image for Laura@everydayedits.co Laura@everydayedits.co

    We started attending a parish near city park in Denver. I told my husband this church is calling me out of the suburbs and into a church with poor lighting, warped floors and a Congregation that has been more welcoming than our church of 15 years. Thank you for the gentle push to lead with my heart and a paint brush. xo Laura in CO

  11. Image for jillian jillian

    Not only is this fabulous, you have lifted my jaded heart - because you are a person who walks the talk. Any photos of the others? dots, triangles etc.

  12. Image for Nancy Nancy

    Congrats to you and all of those who helped for spreading goodness and light. Not too mention how darn cute that room looks! ❤️

  13. Image for Cheryl Cheryl

    What an awesome service to perform. As you were describing the architecture of the church, I had to look for pictures of the church to see what the rest of the building looks like. It is an impressive looking church that makes a statement and stands as a beacon. I love that it is on the National Register of Historic Places, and that you got to personally make a difference in the life of the church and it's parishioners. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  14. Image for Mindy Mindy

    What a wonderful mission trip. The room looks awesome. I love the colors you chose. I will be praying for God to bless this church and the people serving here.

  15. Image for Gina Gina

    I will pray for the congregation and their community. I'm sure you have touched the children and made a difference in them. Sometimes, just knowing someone values you enough to spend their time enriching your classroom makes you feel worthy. God bless you and your family.

  16. Image for Eileen Eileen

    Wonderful, wonderful job. My father always said a coat of paint changed everything. Plus imagination and a little hard work. I'd love to see the other rooms.

  17. Image for Vicki Vicki

    Just WOW! What a significant change you and your team made on this classroom. Better yet, what a significant difference the folks at Calvary are making as they invest in those they teach, love, and serve. God bless you all for this good and meaningful work.

  18. Image for Jenn Jenn

    Big difference!! Good Work! I just got 15 of those school chairs for the upstairs in our barn! I was excited to see you had worked with some! I can't decide how I am going to transform them!

  19. Image for Rhonda Darnell Rhonda Darnell

    That was literally jaw-dropping when I saw the After Photo - fabulous job! Paint changed that dreary place to a magically fun place! Love it! Amazing what just paint and love can do :)

  20. Image for Laura Harrie Laura Harrie

    KariAnne, praise God for paint! The colors you painted everything with are fabulous! What an incredible testimony for you and your family to be able to share. You are amazing woman and a huge blessing to all!

  21. Image for Lynn Mosher Lynn Mosher

    What a fun result, KariAnne! Way to go! Paint makes a big difference and so do you! Blessings to you and your sweet family for helping out. ❤

  22. Image for Cathie Von Holten Cathie Von Holten

    WOW!!!! What a WONDERFUL result. May God richly bless you and your family for using your special gifts for HIS service. Yes, I am tearing up also.

  23. Image for Marjorie Marjorie

    KariAnne you have done a beautiful job and I can only imagine when children come I the room and see this. What a blessing! I’m very familiar with Jackson and have been there several times in the last few years with my brother when he would be in the hospital there. I grew up north of Jackson and very familiar with the area. Now we reside in Oregon and Tennessee to be with our children and grandchildren. We are blessed to be able to live 6 months each place. God is good! My thanks to you and your team for such an awesome job!

  24. Image for Sue Sue

    I love these colors together. I didn’t cry, but my heart literally grew in my chest with admiration and emotions. Your my rock star.

  25. Image for Gretchen Gretchen

    What an amazing transformation? Love the life color brought to the space. Will you show us the other classrooms?

  26. Image for Stephanie Brown Stephanie Brown

    Oh my in tears.. Tduly my favorite redecorating post of yours.. honest. God bless you all for caring.. and blessings on the works of this sweet church always.

  27. Image for JC at the uncommon pearl JC at the uncommon pearl

    Now the room matches their mission of spreading love, hope, and joy. What a blessing for all!

  28. Image for Valeri Valeri

    Our church has a mission that is two double wide trailers cobbled together over 40 years ago. We started a church plant there a few years ago. Because of the age of the facility, we are praying for God to provide the means for a new facility, while doing small things to keep this one going. We run a food pantry for the community there and I know firsthand what a blessing a mission team is! It gives you the boost you need to keep going. God bless you.

  29. Image for Connie Connie

    This definitely warmed my heart. It was neat that your family went and participated in this project. I know the church appreciated it so much. This happens so often in many towns and it so hard on those that are trying to keep it up with the church congregation being small. Thank you for what you have done and God Bless you and your family.

  30. Image for Loryl Loryl

    Love, love, LOVE this!!!! Whoever uses those classrooms will feel the love and creativity that flowed from your heart to the surfaces of that room. What a wonderful place to learn. And what a beautiful mission for your family and those that received it🙏🏻

  31. Image for june june

    YOU are one amazing woman Miss Karianne❤️. If everyone in the world had a heart like yours...what a wonderful world this would be.

  32. Image for Naomi Shelton Naomi Shelton

    What a wonderful gift of love and service you helped give that church! The classroom is so inviting and beautiful. Can you imagine the faces of the children who first use it? Bless you for your compassion and generosity, Karianne.

  33. Image for Nancy Nancy

    So often decorating blogs are selfish. They serve to make the viewer jealous for what they wish they had no matter how lovely one’s own possessions may be. But this, this inspires me from my soul forward. Thank you so much for putting your incredible talent and heart into this marvelous project. Surely goodness and mercy will happen there!

  34. Image for Carolyn Carolyn

    Just beautiful! The real gift you have given to those children is the message that they matter. Knowing you are valued as a human being lifts your soul and spirit to another level. You realize, yes I can, I can strive to be the best of myself. Not only did you change their environment, you lit a fire in their souls no one can extinguish. May God continue to bless you with an open heart.

  35. Image for Karen Karen

    Thank you for sharing this experience. I began to smile as soon as I saw the after picture. So glad you were in charge of decorating. You picked such happy colors! I would be thrilled to teach VBS or Sunday school in a room like that, I mean, apart from the message of Jesus' love to be shared.

  36. Image for Be Be

    Karianne, thank you for giving of your time and talent to my state of MS. I live almost 4 hours away from this church, so had no idea of these great needs. Thank you to your group for the help in an area that was so needy. Your decor looked like sherbet!!! So cool and yummy. How fun to walk I. That room. May God Bless you

  37. Image for Cynde Cynde

    So so so adorable!!!! Do you have pictures of the other rooms? Wow, what a transformation, the magic of paint!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing this in your blog!!,

  38. Image for Pastor Suzanne Pastor Suzanne

    It's amazing what some good elbow grease and a few paint colors can do to transform a room. It's incredible what giving of your time, talents and treasure can do to change lives. Your children are blessed to have parents that are teaching them the value of giving from your own blessing. God bless you and your family and the entire volunteer group that answered the call to revive hope in that church, in Jesus' name, amen and amen.

  39. Image for Cyndee Phelps Cyndee Phelps

    Your creativity shows you LOVE for all the things you do! What an inspiring makeover - kids will be inspired to learn even more! WELL DONE!

  40. Image for Nancy Cox Nancy Cox

    I have read your books and your blog for a long time. I think this may be the best story ever. You are a true servant for the Lord. God bless you.

  41. Image for Patricia White Patricia White

    This so AMAZING!!! I love everything about this post! Thank you so much for being you, and for being obedient to God’s will. You never fail to brighten my day with your inspiration!

  42. Image for Rogina Rogina

    Oh my gosh!!!! this room just makes me smile or grin from ear to ear. Bright, colorful makes me want to learn! With possibilities like this we need to upgrade our schools with the energy color brings. I love your posts!

  43. Image for Linda Stoll Linda Stoll

    Karianne, hi! I'm featuring this wonderful post over at my place today - https://www.lindastoll.net/2019/07/loose-ends-2019-beach-edition.html A real pleasure, for sure!

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