La La Lovely

The Art of Finding Beauty in the Everyday


By Trina McNeilly

Foreword by Rebekah Lyons

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$16.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around April 10, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Through beautiful designs and imagery, LA LA LOVELY invites readers to find their true identity where there is brokenness, discover the love of God, and design their own special place of beauty.

Author Trina McNeilly has been blogging for nearly a decade. While she spent her days sharing beauty, looking for lovely things, and redecorating her childhood home, her parents’ unexpected divorce shattered her ideals of “home.”
Through this journey, Trina learned that beauty is not beyond the laundry pile, chipped paint, dirty dishes, broken table or broken life. It’s right in the center of it. Trina found that God IS beauty. And that he invites us to look, discover, uncover and find because when we find beauty, we find God.

In LA LA LOVELY, Trina shares stories and inspiration from her journey of finding, and being found, by beauty. You will find deep matters of the heart along with practical pointers on things like decorating your home, finding your style, and creating beautiful spaces. Each chapter offers essays, beautiful photographs, design tips, and practical advice for creating a place of beauty and belonging no matter where you live or what you’re going through.



Everyone needs a friend like Trina. I’ve known this gem for twenty years. She’s my go-to girl on all things fashion, makeup, jewelry, denim, and, yes, I even FaceTimed her when picking out a living room chandelier. We’ve trekked through London in the rain, decorated my New York apartment for a Land of Nod photo shoot, shared a favorite author—Andrew Murray—and learned how to make meringue. I still haven’t mastered that last one, to be honest.

She is everything she says she is. There’s no pomp and circumstance, no overembellishment, no voice of bravado. Instead, Trina’s words are a gentle hug, or “hygge” as she describes here. They comfort and console, dripping with wisdom, the fruit of finding beauty in the rubble.

She’s helped me dig through my own rubble.

A few years ago during a season of panic attacks, Trina texted me these words out of the blue:

I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—firm muscles, strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again. Isaiah 58 MSG

For most of us, there comes a moment where we face the sting of heartache, rejection, or pain. For some, the memories are loud and literal; for others, the reminders are subtle—or, worse, silent. In response, we numb out, point fingers, or sometimes both. If only it were that simple. But blame cannot be acutely named. There are always more layers to the story.

Nevertheless, we unravel.

Perhaps you’ve lost love, legacy, or hope. There is nothing so ugly it cannot be beautiful. There is nothing so wounded it cannot be healed. There is nothing so painful you cannot recover. There is nothing so lost it cannot be found.

When you unravel, you always rebuild.

When life strays from the dandelion wishes of our youth, Trina helps us answer the question “How do we respond?” She leads us on a scavenger hunt for the loveliest of survivors, determined to find redemption in the ruin. The wisdom found here is chock-full of beauty and grace, redemption and restoration. I cried precious tears of remembrance of God’s faithfulness page after page. What a comfort to know our Father in heaven—Love Himself—always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres.

Survivors make the most beautiful people. They know where they’ve been, where they’re headed, and, most importantly, that they’re loved. And like Trina, they know how to lead others—people like you and me—forward.

Rebekah Lyons

Author, You Are Free and Freefall to Fly

beautiful spaces and broken places



“Sometimes beauty is so deep it pierces us with longing. For what? For life as it was meant to be. Beauty reminds us of an Eden we have never known, but somehow know our hearts were created for. Beauty speaks of heaven to come, when all shall be beautiful. It haunts us with eternity.”


I have this habit of looking for the lovely. Some days I find it in perfectly styled spaces, and other days I find it in the broken places.

Some days I do the finding, and other days beauty finds me. And during the long dark winters, where I live just northwest of Chicago, it’s more like mining. It’s digging. It’s discovering. But no matter the day or season, beauty is there just waiting to be found. To be noticed. To be uncovered.

It’s not beyond the laundry pile, chipped paint, dirty dishes, broken table, or broken life. It’s right in the center of it. There is beauty in your green toile patterned plates crusted over with last night’s spaghetti dinner. There is beauty in the white paint peeling off the side of the house that you can’t afford to have fixed. There is beauty stuffed between the mountains of sweaty socks and stained shirts on your laundry room floor. Yes, there is even beauty to be found in your broken life that shows no promise of being put together again.

I’ve always had an eye for beautiful things. I just never knew it. I called it good taste. I inherited it from my parents, who exemplified class. My little sister, Amy, is the creative one in my family. The baby. The free spirit. The one who graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago. I’m the oldest, the predictable one who plays by the rules and makes a lot of plans. The one who prides herself on, and is weighed down by, responsibility. The one others assume has it all figured out. The opposite end of the spectrum. It was my sister who taught me that we are all creative. Every one of us. How could we not be? We are children of the Creator. Over time, I slowly began to believe that, yes, I did, in fact, have an eye for finding beauty and that it was inherent. This ability to find and create beauty is an attribute that the Creator wove into each and every one of us. Beauty points us to God, and expressing it points others to Him.

When I began blogging ten years ago, I didn’t have a goal or endgame. I had simply found a place to share—my words, imagery, ideas, inspiration, information, and life. My blog was a place to collect all of my gatherings. At the time, I had two little ones and spent most of my time at home. And as it turned out, that is where I found beauty—in things that pertained to the home. It was practical, and it became my pattern to collect and catalog images that I found beautiful.

Eventually, I began sharing images of my own home. Photos of my perfectly imperfect life were pinned and re-pinned. Rooms that were perfectly styled spaces. But behind the photo was real life, of course. Crying kids who didn’t want to comply. Messy piles pushed aside in another room. And a broken heart that no pretty picture could crop out.

While I spent my days sharing beauty, redecorating my home, looking for lovely things, and sharing my finds, home as I had always known it fell apart. Just shy of forty years of marriage, my parents got divorced. It shocked me and shattered my heart. To complicate the matter, I live in my childhood home, which is a museum of memories. It has been six very long years of grieving. Grieving family. Grieving what once was. Grieving what could have been. I had never truly had my heart broken, and I never suspected that someone else’s breakup could break me. But it can. It did.

I found it ironic, almost cruel, that I would have to journey through this dismantling of home in the very place where my definition of home was first defined.

The first year of the divorce process, I couldn’t even tell you that I was broken. I knew my family was fractured; however, I didn’t realize I was. It took a friend telling me that I had a broken heart. She named it, connecting the physical and emotional like numbered dots in a coloring book, and gave me permission to stop pretending that I was OK when I was not.

I carried a newborn in my arms, an eighteen-month-old on my hip, and on my shoulders the weight of the unknown. (How will this all play out? Will my parents really go through with a divorce? Will this change everything? Will my relationship with my parents stay the same? Will they create new lives? How would I fit within their new lives? Will my mom be OK? Will my dad be OK? What can I do to make it better? Will all they have built crumble? Will anything remain the same?) To cope, I spent uncounted hours letting myself get lost in La La Lovely land. I diverted my attention from the storm around me, and the one inside me, by way of a blue-lit screen. I searched beautiful spaces, took virtual home tours, visited faraway cities by a click of the mouse, conversed with new blog friends, and sometimes partook in retail therapy, purchasing pretty things for a short-lived pick-me-up.

Many days I sought comfort in the computer over God’s word. For the first time in my life, I felt as if He was distant. I felt let down by my parents and by God. The ground was suddenly shaky; the clear view became cloudy.

Yet it was while I was trying to get lost in the lovely—avoiding my pain and sometimes, even, God—that Beauty Himself found me. Psalm 100:5 tells us that “God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever” (MSG, emphasis added).

This all-generous-love, loyal always and ever God stuck by my side. My angry side. My good side. My depressed side. My unlovely side. Even my side that questioned Him. This is the greatest beauty I have ever known: a God who tenderly loves the unlovely. It was this relentless love that gave me eyes to see beauty in the middle of the busy, messy, broken everyday.

Many of us have a bad taste in our mouths regarding beauty, as though it’s a forbidden thing—frivolous and fading. But beauty was at the beginning. Beauty is the beginning. God is beauty. And His creation is a tangible beauty that is taken in with all of our senses. Yet I’m struck still when I recall that the greatest expression of beauty is humanity. Made in His image. Made in the image of sheer beauty. You and I.

If we are made in the image of beauty personified, then I can’t believe it to be frivolous or fading. I see it as eternal, original, and good just as God said it was good (Gen. 1:27, 31 AMP).

I believe all these centuries later, far beyond Eden, He is saying, “Look, it is so good. Look, I AM so very good. If you really look, Beloved, beauty is not beyond the mundane or broken.”

God asks us to look for, discover, and uncover the beauty in His perfect creation (and some days He even asks us to add to it in our own unique and artistic way). For when we find beauty, we find God.

Every hardship, each negative circumstance, and all brokenness is an opportunity to find more of God. Which, in turn, means to find more beauty.

In this series of essays, I’ll share stories and inspiration from my journey of finding, and being found by, beauty. You will find beauty among the broken, as I share deep matters of the heart along with practical pointers on things like decorating your home, finding your style, and creating beautiful spaces.

Let’s get to finding; it’s an art that doesn’t require a special skill set. More than that, let’s allow ourselves to be found. As you awaken to the art of finding beauty in the everyday, you will begin to see life through the eyes of the One who saw light when there was only darkness, and this changes everything.


the offering of beauty



“Here is the simple truth I keep trying to own, the one that breaks the bounds of beauty; everything is in God and God is in everything.”


Good morning,

This is Beauty. I want you to notice me, to not look past me, to not feel shame for indulging in me, to not strive for me, to not dull me down, to not agree with the lie that I am unnecessary or frivolous, to not believe me to be a thing only of your past or far off in your future. I am present in all days.

I am mountains. I am sea. I am flowers. I am trees. I am a child’s laugh, a grandmother’s hug, and a sandwich shared with a friend. I am ears that listen, a kind word spoken, a cup of cold water given. I am a song to comfort and a song to dance to. I am bright colors and calming white. I am savory, and I am sweet. I’m a walk outside when your life feels suffocating. I’m a crackling fire on a bitter winter’s day. I am the plump rolls on a baby’s legs and the grooves of life etched like artwork on a ninety-two-year-old’s face. I am nature. I am art. I am a grand gesture and a quiet acknowledgment, all the same. I am inside. I am outside. I’m a hushed whisper and a shout through a megaphone seeking your attention. On Tuesday, I’m a sunset, and on Thursday, I’m the pattern made in the leaves scattered on the street. I am a first kiss, a last kiss, and all the kisses in between. I am tears that fall like rain, in grief, collected and counted (Ps. 56:8 MSG). I am all shapes, sizes, colors, sounds, and sights. I’ll pursue like a groom, and I wait like a sage. I am an offering of heaven come down.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I wonder, What do you see?

Are you beholding?

Blinded by beauty?

Or blinded to beauty?

Not so long ago, a significant voice in my life told me to stop living in La La Land. Humorous and hurtful all at once, I’m certain the person who said it meant all the pun that puddled out of their mouth when they spoke those words. I laughed at the childlike dig until I realized a day later that the words had dug right down into the soil of my heart. They were seeds that took root in my brokenness. And I knew they were seeds I did not want to sprout.

Were my blog, projects, and online life simply distractions? A diversion from my pain? An escape from my reality? A place to get lost when I needed to be found? The truth is that I took to my computer many nights like some throw back the extra glass of wine. My eyes bloodshot, glazed over, after pinning and posting until two a.m. My life felt so completely out of control, but online I could create order. In real life, I felt confined in my home and imprisoned in my pain, but on my blog I could make space. I made money, but not quite enough to call it a career. I had no endgame or business plan. I didn’t believe I could call myself an entrepreneur or even a girl with a goal. I had a few accomplishments I was really proud of: mentioned in the New York Times; published in The Land of Nod catalog for styling my home and my friend’s New York City apartment; featured in Design Mom’s New York Times–bestselling book.

Maybe I do live in La La Land? My very own non-reality. My very own online Eden, that transported me far from the reality of my broken, no longer idyllic home. I swam in the puddle of that person’s words for a while.

I unabashedly confess that, many times, it was my digital distraction. However, as time went on, it also became a place where I shared heartache, processed pain, and offered hope as I began to feel it in my flesh again.

Now, “La La Land” is both endearing and partly true. It was (and is) a place for me. A place for me to show up and write, even if some days it was only about couches and color and cast-iron cookie recipes; I was still writing. I practiced within the parameters of my purpose and my gifting. I found and used my voice. It was also a place in which I found community among fellow seekers, who, like me, were looking for something. Perhaps they, too, were searching for beauty in the midst of their brokenness, much like the Israelites who looked for a place to rest in the desert and were met with God’s grace (Jer. 31:2 MSG).

I’m not saying that the Internet or blogging are places of rest. I found both tiring and taxing over time. They were the avenues, however, to my awakening to beauty, expanding my views and teaching me to behold beauty and to be held by Beauty.

Beauty is not an escape. It is an answer.

Beauty is not a distraction. It is our focal point. To turn our eyes from our problems, what plagues us, and our broken world and to focus in on beauty—the small gifts and unnoticed grand gestures—is the answer. To behold something is to see it and hold it in your attention.2 Behold derives from the old English word Behealden, meaning “to hold, have, preserve, belong, gaze upon, consider, keep.” In fact, “keep” is the consistent etymology in many languages.


In German, it is “to keep and remember.”3 To find beauty within the broken is to behold, “to keep and remember,” the goodness of God.

Beauty is our answer because God is our answer. And God, in His great goodness, offered beauty to us at the beginning when he offered us Himself.

In Cape Town, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans swell together and compete with Table Mountain’s majesty, some of the world’s most palpable brokenness is in residence. The calming ocean and exalted mountains encircle countless victims of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. My friend Christina lives within this juxtaposition of beauty and brokenness.

We Vox back and forth, Christina and I. We send each other eleven-minute-long messages that cross the seas from South Africa to America. We talk about home, the landscape she lives in, the years she spent fighting human trafficking. We talk about travel, food, spiritual practices, forgiveness, and the healing journey we both are on. So different, yet the same. Christina is a trusted friend, a sounding board in step with the Spirit. She listens to me better than I listen to myself.

When I was processing this book idea, she left me a Vox, and somewhere sandwiched between what she’d been eating and where she’d been riding her bike while visiting Amsterdam, she shared why she found beauty necessary:

“We have to accept beauty for beauty. It neither needs to be useful nor a means to an end. God created this world for us. Beauty is God’s ultimate form of hospitality toward us: just to behold. Because that is a value of His: to behold beautiful things.”

Beauty is God’s holy offering to us: an offering of heaven come down to earth. The grandeur of this earth is but a glimpse of God Himself and our heavenly home. Surely, then, beauty is not an indulgence but a necessity. To not accept this offering and to live a life with eyes, hands, and hearts shut tight is to live an empty, impoverished life.

Beauty is God’s artwork, His creation, whose purpose is to echo and reflect the very color and light of His kingdom on this earth—no more superfluous than you or I. We are the beauty of God in a broken world.

Open your eyes

This is the beginning of beholding.

Don’t look past the nature outside your front door. Find a handsome object in a room. Mountains of majesty surrounding war-torn towns. A half-moon smile worn by a sick child, exposing a well of joy. Food bubbling on the stove, infusing the air with a comfort that masks your messy, out-of-order house. A kind word that quenches like a cup of cold water on a hot day. The bright color of her coat. The warm touch of his hand. The poems you picked back up and the new ones that began to pour out of your soul.

I wonder what form of beauty you, at one time, noticed, dabbled in, or enjoyed. Why did you stop? Perhaps someone called it a waste of time. Maybe it was a direct word from a weighty one in your life. Maybe it was a sarcastic look from a stranger. Maybe it was your own voice that shut you up or shut you down. Whichever it was, you put down the pen, you let the paintbrushes dry out, you closed your eyes and your life.

Open your heart

This is where Beauty lives, where He makes His home.

Consider this: perhaps, like me, the beauty you are to behold (to consider) is within the parameters of your purpose, your gifting that was embroidered into the very fibers of your being (Ps. 139:15 AMP). Beholding could very well be the beginning of your practice, leading to purpose and eventually to the place that you’ll find you fit like a puzzle. It is time to start practicing again.

Open your hands

This is how beauty is transferred from one to another.

This is the offering from Him to you and from you to others.

And so the offering never ends.

01 / What did beauty look like to you before you were blinded by brokenness? Before life clouded your view and sucked out the color?

02 / Go outside. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath, in and out, and then open your eyes. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? Write down what beauty you behold.

03 / Pray this prayer: “Father, open my heart to You, to the beauty You’ve created for me to behold as well as the beauty You wove within me. I receive this offering from heaven. Beauty is not beyond brokenness or the ordinary everyday but right within it. I pray that You would guide me in the offering that I’m to give and that ultimately I’d be a conduit and reflection of Your radiant beauty to this earth.”

the end is the beginning



“There will come a time when you begin to believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.”


What feels like the end is often the beginning. I haven’t always seen it that way, though.

Ends were ends, and beginnings were starts. And from my start, I dreamed up beginnings and spent a lot of my days planning for tomorrows. I painted them bright and expected them to shine a bit brighter than what my imagination drew up. I watched my father create goals and then draw up meticulous strategies to execute his red-pen plans. Eventually those plans became colored pushpins on a map representing newspapers he purchased across the country. Naturally, I believed if I could dream it, I could accomplish anything too. I dreamed of a husband, a family of my own, a career in ministry and the family newspaper business, a cozy home, and a golden retriever to boot. Part dreamer and always a planner, I find that I am most comfortable living in the middles and mapping out the starts. The ends, for me, always seem uncertain and endlessly far away.

But sometimes ends come unexpectedly, regardless of plans made for the middles. I learned this one spring as I was bringing my fourth baby into the world and as my grandfather was leaving it.


On Sale
Apr 10, 2018
Page Count
400 pages

Trina McNeilly

About the Author

Trina McNeilly is a writer and founder of La La Lovely, where she has been blogging for nine years, sharing matters of the heart and design related finds. With an eye for beauty, Trina finds inspiration in styled spaces, other times in the broken places, and everywhere in between. Through soulful writing, in the voice of trusted friend, she shares her finds and all about being found. Trina’s work also includes creative direction, styling, and design projects. Trina lives in her hometown, near Chicago, with her husband, and four children.

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