March 29, 2017

man...

Whew. Big sigh. Life has been a doozy lately. The closer I inch to 40 the more things are falling apart! Sorry for the long silence, its been a whole thing up in here. My health isn't great at the moment, without going into all the ol' details on the interwebs, if you're of the praying variety, I'll take all you got.  In other news, the house is coming along slowly but surely. We've had a tad bit of rain here and there but its amazing how much a bit of rain slows things down. If we could just get that roof on and those windows/doors we'd be in good shape -so close! The actual shingle part of the roof will hopefully start next week and the exterior doors/windows are another 2 wks out I think. The windows and doors are pretty much what I care the most about in this house so I'm pretty eager to see them up and painted and ready to go! The exterior windows (and lots of the interior as well) are going to be black and I can't wait to see it all come together! As we inch closer to April I'm eager to be one month closer to moving in! Adam and I still don't believe we actually get to live in it one day, its like we're building it for someone else! Its still pretty surreal and I have to pinch myself that its actually happening. The plumber needed the rough in valves so I had to order several of the bathroom fixtures and that's been so fun!! The things that I've spent (admittedly) too much time thinking about and choosing are arriving and they are so pretty! I told my friend yesterday that even if we never got to live in it and we had to sell it because it ended up being too expensive (how tragic and sad that would be!) how thankful I would still be to have had this experience. I have lots of gratitude that I even get to do this, don't ever let me take it for granted.

In other news, St. Patty's was super fun this year! I decided it was time to revive my (annual) party after a hiatus due to moves, etc. It was so fun to have a big ol' group over and to celebrate the Irish! I made 10lbs of potatoes, 10lbs of carrots, more onions than I could count, 2 loaves of Irish soda bread, Guinness brownies, Bailey's cheesecake, and Bailey's bundt cake. We grilled bangers and had Irish mules as our signature cocktail and had the Irish pub music blasting in the background! We laughed until the wee hours and it reminded me how eager I was to get into my own space and do this type of thing more often. Happy sigh.

Well, I've been working here and there and my new website is up and running (check it out! mollywinnphotography.com), it feels good to be back in the saddle! Here is a peek of a cute family that has hired me numerous times over the years, thanks for checking in, all! xo


March 8, 2017

2 apologies

*I started this post back in January and set it aside for a while and now I'm re-visiting it.

I've talked a bit on here about what apologizing looks like, what humbling yourself and saying the words "I was wrong, will you forgive me" can do. As I get older I learn more about what it means to apologize well, what all it entails, what good can come from it even if the person chooses not to forgive you, etc.. I was a part of a really good apology recently and I want to share that here because I think there's value in it.

In January I was on the other side of a hurtful exchange. My friend was being selfish and interjected their agenda into something that wasn't about them. They created a false agenda and honestly were just rude and inconsiderate. I tried to point this out in a way that I felt was fair to the situation, but was ultimately left with silence. Days went by and there wasn't a response, I saw this person briefly and there was a pretty normal interaction but nothing meaningful was said. I wondered if it was just going to go by the wayside, but I really did expect more from this particular individual so I just waited. Well, wouldn't you know it, after several days my phone rang, what was said on the other end was done so well, which is why I'm sharing it here. My friend said to me "Do you have a minute?" yes. "I wanted to talk to you about our exchange last week, I was selfish and created a narrative about the situation that wasn't true. I had a really good time this weekend because of something that you created because you cared for our friends well, so thank you. I'm sorry I responded that way." WHOA. Here's the deal, if we live long enough, we're all going to be that person, we're all going to have moments of being selfish and we're going to say/text/email things we shouldn't, but what we do after the train wreck is where the rubber meets the road. This isn't new, I get it, (in fact, the more I blog the more I feel like I sound like a broken record and wonder if this poor blog should be put to a permanent rest!) but its a lesson I keep learning, so I gotta believe someone out there can keep learning and benefitting from it too. I was really proud of my friend (not to sound condescending) for the words he chose, the intention with which he said them, and the blatant honesty that he brought to the table. He could have easily said "I'm sorry for our interaction, I shouldn't have done that" and to be fair, that would have been sufficient (for this particular instance), but he owned his mistakes, he named them and used language to express the whole truth of the situation and it was really appreciated, helpful, meaningful, and honest. I'm thinking we could all do more of this when we're wrong, the result is really profound. I'm hopeful to do this better in my life.

On the flip side, I received an apology recently (no, I'm really not being wronged all the time! ha!) that was the complete opposite from what I just described. The words "I was wrong" were lacking, naming the sin/wrong was lacking, ownership was lacking, and it felt empty and very half-hearted and easy. And to be honest, it was nowhere near enough based on the wrong that was done. When is the lesson of not taking the easy way out going to be a thing? I think about this a lot, what is hard for an instant is easy thereafter. The hard part is gathering the courage/humility to tell the truth and say "I was wrong, will you please forgive me?" After that, easy street! You are now freed regardless of what the person decides to do -you just have to speak the truth and ask. GO GET YOUR FREEDOM that Jesus has given!!! Its so dang freeing!! As my dear friend often says to me, "You are only responsible for your responses." You can't make someone forgive you, that's not on you, but you do have to own your wrongs, that is on you.

I'm coming off a very emotionally charged week, I don't have the freedom to discuss the details here for numerous reasons but I am really drained. If you could pray for Adam and I, for the wisdom and grace to love some folks well in a really tough time, we'd appreciate that. Life is hard, and doing life with others gets really messy sometimes. I'm thankful for the ways in which I get carried through each day by someone who can't and doesn't show up too late. Grace and peace, friends. xo

February 27, 2017

life lately

I go through times of feeling like I have so much to say and then times of feeling like a broken record. Sometimes it feels self-indulgent to chitty chat about my life and I never want to come across that way but then, on the other hand, isn't that somewhat the purpose of a personal blog? To write about your life? Its a tricky balance I think. Not too much has been going on aside from every day life stuff. This weekend was good, busy, but good-busy. Friday I made real dinner (which is something I haven't done too much of since we moved back to Waco) and had friends over to eat with us. I've really missed entertaining and look forward to that being a weekly thing again. It was so nice to sit around a table with good food and good friends and chat the night away. Our pastor's sister and family moved to Waco this past summer and they are 2 blocks down the road and their daughter is one of B's best friends and she is kinda my second daughter now! She is here quite a bit which is so fun and she will randomly tell me she's spending the night, its so funny, so she had a sleepover on Friday night and spent a large part of Saturday here too -fun. I drove out to the country to visit my friend in her pretty farmhouse and later that evening Adam, B and I drove (back) to the country for the best bbq in all the lands. We we met up with our friends after to hang out and chat the night away, so fun. Sunday was church, then I had to run some errands in preparation for my friend's baby shower Sunday afternoon that I helped to host. It was such a fun party celebrating my friend and her new son. Then I came home, took a quick nap and we dropped B off at a friend's house while the 2 of us went to our friend's for an Oscar Party. So fun to eat yummy snacks and drink campaign with friends. Whew! I love these types of weekends but it always makes Monday come too soon! After I picked B up from school today we drove by our house and they are just starting to frame the roof! Hooray! I'm SO ready to get the roof on so the weather is no longer such a thing. We've been told July is the month it should be done so I'm pretty pumped that March is almost here and we're that much closer!

In other randomness I'm currently in a Bible study and a book club (although the book club is pretty much a Christian book club so it kinda feels like a Bible study too). Anyhoo, the books we're reading are good so I thought I'd share, I'm a big fan of Ann Lamott (which if you read my blog regularly you already know) but her book "Stitches" is worth the read. Its more of an essay of short stories with good balm for your soul. I find myself resonating so much with some of her experiences and I just love her candidness and the way she words things. Barbara Brown Taylor is also becoming another favorite, I'm currently on my third (I think?) book of hers and she is such an amazing writer with such humanizing profound things to say. I'm currently reading her book "Leaving Church" and have highlighted many things. In the chapter I just finished I underlined this: "We spend most of our lives sitting in traffic, paying bills, and being irritated with one another. Yet every week we are invited to stop all of that for one hour at least. We are invited to participate in a great drama that has been going on without us for thousands of years, and one that will go on as long as there is a single player left standing." I love that, and it resonates in my soul. I love that I get to participate in life with women who want to spend time reading and reflecting on these things, they make me a better person and we love each other well because of the time we spend doing this each week. I'm learning so much about the value that comes with reflection and inviting people in to the dark corners of our lives, its so so good and so necessary. I think that's all the haps around here, thanks for checking in, always appreciated! xo

February 15, 2017

Stars

The other day I was driving in my car and the lyrics "If you can calm the raging sea, you can calm the storm in me" stopped me dead in my tracks. I couldn't shake that imagery. As a girl who grew up in church and has heard the story of Jesus walking on water and calming the seas a million times this picture was so tangible to me. I, like most breathing people walking the planet have gone through some stuff, not near to the depths that many in this world have, but for me, some stuff. I, like most breathing, God-fearing people in this world have wondered "why me?" or "why this particular battle" here and there, that's fair, right? But what I've seen time and time again is that God calms the storm in me, and with time (sometimes a lot of time) brings peace, and maybe if I'm lucky, some understanding too. For the last several years I've been on a journey (which I've alluded to/discussed here numerous times) and I never thought I would come to a place where I'd say "If I could go back and just do the quick, easy fix I wouldn't do it" but that's where I've finally arrived. Don't get me wrong, that would be the easy, less painful, make everyone happy route, but I genuinely don't think it would be the best thing, or even dare I say, the right thing. What I've learned on this journey is that God can calm the storm in me, if I let Him, if I invite Him into the pain and the process and let Him do His work. There is value in that, it likely isn't ever going to be the easy road, or the quick road, or the make everybody happy road, but that's okay, as I've said many times before, I believe God is more interested in our character than our happiness. I also believe this route, in my particular story, paves the way for more healing, truer healing, even if it never comes, the door is wide, wide open. xo


Stars
You spoke a word and life began
Told oceans where to start and where to end
You set in motion time and space
But still you come and you call to me by name
Still you come and you call to me by name

If you can hold the stars in place
You can hold my heart the same
Whenever I fall away
Whenever I start to break
So here I am, lifting up my heart
To the one who holds the stars

The deepest depths, the darkest nights
Can't separate, can't keep me from your sight
I get so lost, forget my way
But still you love and you don't forget my name

If you can hold the stars in place
You can hold my heart the same
Whenever I fall away
Whenever I start to break
So here I am, lifting up my heart
If you can calm the raging sea
You can calm the storm in me
You're never too far away
You never show up too late
So here I am, lifting up my heart
To the one who holds the stars

Your love has called my name
What do I have to fear?
What do I have to fear?
Your love has called my name
What do I have to fear?
What do I have to fear?

If you can hold the stars in place
You can hold my heart the same
Whenever I fall away
Whenever I start to break
So here I am, lifting up my heart
(Lifting up my heart)
If you can calm the raging sea
You can calm the storm in me
You're never too far away
You never show up too late
So here I am, lifting up my heart
To the one who holds the stars

You're the one who holds the stars

~Skillet

February 9, 2017

crazytown + enneagram workshop

After my last post things went south...quickly. I won't go into all the ins and outs of this past week and a half that have been an utter train wreck but I will say it involved a major plumbing fiasco, staying somewhere else for a couple nights, a medical procedure, the death of a beloved pet, a lot of physical pain, numerous contractors, budget issues, etc etc. etc. Last year had a really rough start and I'm realizing the same thing about this year, I'm hopeful this year will start an upward trajectory soon but man, its been a doozy up to this point. Big sigh. Life...sometimes it just hits you smack in the face!

On a different note, I had the opportunity to attend an all day enneagram workshop at Baylor this week (taught by Joe & Suzanne Stabile). The workshop didn't delve into a lot of what I was hoping for but it still had some good information nonetheless. Here are some nuggets from the notes I took:

*You can learn from the past, you can't discern from the past

*maturity is holding the past, present and future at one time

*we have to discover Christianity as a way of life, not beliefs

*an open heart + pure intentions = holiness

*good discernment is never done in a vacuum

*what God is doing is none of your business

That last one caused me pause, I know God's ways are higher than mine (understatement) and that we don't get the inside scoop on what He's up to but I'm not sure its ever occurred to me that its none of my business. Hmmmm. I guess its not. But I sure would like to know! :) Going into the workshop I was hopeful to hear more about specific numbers and how they apply to others, etc. and although there wasn't a ton of that, there was some of that. As I think I've previously mentioned the enneagram is a personality assessment of sorts, basically each person is a 1-9 based on their personality and there are numbers they "go to" when they are healthy or unhealthy and based on this information it can help you can better understand/deal with yourself and others the more information you have. I've had many "aha" moments as I read books on the enneagram, go to workshops, etc. Lots of eye opening stuff there if you're interested in just bettering yourself and seeking to better understand others. I love that as I'm getting older I'm learning more about why things affect me the way they do, ie why something that someone did hurt me so badly or why I felt so strongly about X, etc. Its so eye opening to learn things about yourself and to put some awareness to things you might not have known. AND, to know you're not alone in it! At the workshop they didn't go through and ask each person what their number was but at one point they asked all the 9's to raise their hands (and there were only like 3 in the whole room and there were about 80 people there (rough guess), and at one point they asked all the 8's to raise their hands (and there were also, only a handful). I'm an 8 (if anyone is wondering :) and Adam is a 9 so it was so interesting to see how in a large-ish group, there were only a few of us. Hmmmmmm. What I also found intriguing (that I admittedly know virtually nothing about) is that each number has a spot on a "triad" where it deals w/ certain parts of the body, like certain numbers are associated w/ the head, some with the heart, and some with the gut. Apparently 8's are "in" (for lack of a better word) their gut and I had someone tell me the night before the workshop that most 8's they know have some form of stomach-issue type stuff. Or maybe a better way to say it is, the friends she has with stomach issues are also an 8 on the enneagram. At the workshop the speaker at one point said based on research that 8's are among the numbers most likely to have eating problem/issues, etc. and all my friends at the workshop instantly looked at me! I'm an 8 and I've had digestive issues for 20 years -so crazy! Obviously this isn't across the board, and I'm doing a drastic disservice by writing about this when I have such minimal information/understanding at this point but it was super intriguing/interesting to me. Things that make you go "hmmmm." I look forward to learning more and understanding myself/others better.

Sorry, that was some randomness but its also what's been going on over here/with me. I have more dr appointments this month, hoping for some clarity/healing but am thankful for a new day and that I get to live this life. Thanks for checking in, all. xo

January 30, 2017

back on the 'cord

So we officially moved into our friend's house 2 days ago and its been a whirlwind! Moving is ALWAYS insanity and we've moved a lot so you'd think we'd have a good handle on it but...not so much. We asked our friend's to help this go around (we've hired movers our last couple moves) and they were so helpful and we are almost done! Adam and I had to go back over for a couple hours yesterday and tomorrow we'll need to clean a couple things and then...we're officially outta there! We're all SO happy to be out of that rental, we all hated it! My projects at my friend's house aren't quite done yet so that's a bummer, I was hoping to have it wrapped up before we moved in but alas, as with any "little" project I take on, there's always gotta be a hiccup. Sigh. When they took out the jenky old vanity it revealed that the plumbing was actually coming from the side wall versus the back wall like we had all anticipated sooooo, I knew Jon wouldn't want to pay extra to have the plumbing moved and so that meant the sink I bought wouldn't fit. Sigh. Had to return the sink and now I'm waiting for the new one to arrive. And today the toilet was supposed to get installed but the guy hasn't shown up so...we've got 2 hold ups. Grrrr. Bright side: we're back on our old street and its SO fun to be so close to our friends again, yay! Right now the house is so quiet b/c B got called over for a play date up the street, Adam is teaching his evening class and I'm editing away. It was an early morning for us today, Adam set off the house alarm when we went to work out in the wee hours and after about 10 minutes the cops showed up. Ay yi yi. As you can imagine they had a lot of questions as to why the owner wasn't here and I live in Waco but I'm living here..ha! So, that happened. And today is my 24 hour fast for my medical procedure tomorrow where they'll check me out to make sure I'm not a total disaster on the inside so...I'm HUNGRY. Would appreciate your prayers for tomorrow, I hate being put under. :/ So, that's the haps around here, the good, the bad, and the ugly! Hope everyone's week is off to a great start! Here's a little nugget I'm editing...isn't he so cute?! xo


January 24, 2017

Wild One

I'm really blessed to go to the church I go to, and the worship is one of the many reasons why. My friend Jameson is the worship pastor at our church and he writes most of the songs we sing, talk about talent! His lyrics are so profound and often stop me dead in my tracks. One of my favorite songs of his is called "Wild One" and I'm going to share the lyrics here. A friend of mine that I made in the recent years of living in CA has had a rough go and I've walked with her through some of it since we met. She called me this morning and I think she was needing some encouragement and a reminder of what the truth really is so I tried to do that. I texted her after we spoke and told her to buy Jameson McGregor's set on iTunes, that she wouldn't be sorry and to crank up the song "Wild One" and just rest in God's truth (everyone reading this should go buy it too :). I love when a song teaches me something I didn't know about God, or shows me a new way to see Him. When you've been in church your whole life I think it can be harder to see God in a new way sometimes (well, it can be for me anyhow) and I love that this song does that for me. I can honestly say that before I heard this song I never considered God a "wild one" but He IS!! And I love that illustration! God is wild and unpredictable and we can't figure Him out and that's such great news! As my aunt reminds me regularly "He's always up to something." Enjoy my friends. xo



overwhelming
you cannot be contained
in leather bindings
the turn of a word or phrase
overwhelming
these idols that you break
crumbling to the ground in place

you were running with iconoclast strides
god, you're wilder than we ever thought you would be
though we try, we can't pin you down
you're a wild one

you're greater

disconcerting
these figures that we form
we want more money
we want a higher bar
disconcerting
these idols that we carve
controlling like the wind to a sail

you were running with iconoclast strides
god, you're wilder than we ever thought you would be
though we try, we can't pin you down
you're a wild one

unbound
you're overwhelming
we build you a house
but you keep moving
maker
you're not done making
we gave you seven days
but you're still forming
so form these broken bodies
into gold
a great love with a lighter load
tear these temples down
stone from stone
crashing to the ground like broken chains

you keep running with iconoclast strides
god, you're wilder than we ever thought you would be
though we try, we can't pin you down
you're a wild one

you're greater

~Jameson McGregor

January 17, 2017

a slow go

I can't believe we're halfway through January but at the same time I feel like its been a slow start to this new year. B went back to school late so that made it feel kinda lazy and slow, I wasn't feeling well which added to the slow start as well. I also think B getting out of school early Friday and then having yesterday off for MLK day has just made it feel like the year hasn't REALLY begun, but I think this is the week! I also haven't really cooked in ages and feel like we've kinda just been getting by, time to get real life started around here, folks. I'm starting to feel better which is great, and some stuff with the house is happening which is really great! Last week our foundation was poured and this week I've been told framing will begin!!! The weather has not been cooperating lately but after Wednesday (and then some rain Friday) I think we'll have some clear skies to work with for a bit. I feel like I stalk my weather app, I can't help it! The weather does change often in Waco so that's not unreasonable but I've been a little obsessive about it. Sigh.

Well, in fun news, we had a great weekend! I was talking to my friend Beth on Wednesday (she and her hubs and 2 boys lived in Waco for many years and then the past couple years they've moved to So Cal, then to CO, then to NY, then back to CO so its been nutty). She and I have had MANY teary convos over the past couple years about moving all over and missing Waco, etc. So anyhow, she was saying how her husband's 40th bday was coming, she didn't know what to do, they didn't really have friends at their new home yet, etc.. So I just said "COME TO WACO and we'll throw him a party!" So they did! It was SO FUN! She woke him up early Saturday morning and said "We're going on a trip!" She totally pulled it off and they arrived here Saturday afternoon! We haven't moved into our friend's house yet so I set them up over at his place, got them his car keys, etc. and it was awe.some. I helped to gather all our friend's together and we met up at a nice restaurant, I baked him his favorite cake and we all ushered in his 40th year with him! He was surrounded by his people, we laughed (and there were some happy tears) and it was just simply fantastic. I LOVE celebrating important moments for important people in my life and I was thrilled to be a part of honoring my dear friend. This is the good stuff of life.

In other news, I met the tile guy over at my friend Jon's house today! It was so funny, I was getting ready while B was getting ready this morning (usually I'm half coherent and fumbling around to get her to school so the fact that I was up and at 'em was unusual) and she said "Are you going somewhere after you drop me off?" And I said "Yeah, I'm meeting the tile guy at British Jon's, I'm having some work done to his house" and B said "Does he know??" It cracked me up! I said "Um...Yeah!" (But to be fair, it was a valid question! :) Jon did agree to let me do some things to sprucen up the place while he was gone but I have added a few more things to the list (that of course I will get his permission on first! :). Its fun to decorate someone else's space since I'm so far from doing it in my own house! I'm trying to pick inexpensive things that will make a big impact (since Jon doesn't want me to go nuts :). So for now, I'm having the kitchen painted, popcorn scraped off the kitchen ceiling, new fan put in, and a tile backsplash put in. Fun! He's going to come home to a transformed place! I'm trying to sneak in an inexpensive gut job to the quarter bath downstairs...we'll see! :)

I think that's all the news around these here parts! I just blogged a mini session so you can check it out HERE! Happy Tuesday! xo


January 9, 2017

back to life...back to re-al-ity...

B went back to school today so break is officially over. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. I did not want to get up this morning, so cold outside! Today is the day I need to do things I've been putting off, ie paying taxes for my CA biz, closing out my biz in CA, laundry, dishes, following up w/ my lame web designer (not sure if you've noticed but my website has been down for WEEKS now -grrrr), etc.. Just things, things that I'm not too pumped to do. In brighter news, I'm thankful I feel well enough to do these things! 2017 has been off to a rough start physically for me but I feel like I'm on the mend a bit and thankful for that! Adam started his new semester today and he is starting a class at Truett today so its going to be a looong day for him. When he got permission from UMHB to adjunct at Truett they said to him "You know you don't have to work so hard any more, right?" We both thought that was kinda funny. Well, not too much to share over here, house is plugging along...plumbing is almost done on the front end and we're hopeful concrete can get poured this week before the rain comes! Unfortunately the weather forecast for this week isn't looking so great for house building so...sigh, probably not much happening for a bit. Well, even though my website is down my blog is up and running and you can see this cute fam HERE. Happy Monday! xo


January 4, 2017

2016 in review

Happy New Year, all! There's just something about a fresh start that gets me excited about January (even though its not my favorite month). This year has started a bit rough for us over here, my long-time digestive issues have reared their ugly head and cedar allergies have hit Adam hard so we're not top notch over here...hoping for better days ahead! B doesn't go back to school until the 9th so we're having a pretty lazy week and start to our new year. We're in the process of moving into our friend's house so we got yet another (and please Lord, last) storage unit to put our stuff into and slowly started moving some things over. [Have I mentioned that I hate moving?!] Adam and I are giddy that we only have 1 more move after this one (well, we hope, and at least until we're really old! :). I'm sure it goes without saying but the thing I'm most looking forward to in 2017 is our house being done and moving into our "forever" home (gotta use quotes....you never know right?). I have poured my heart into designing this home and can.not.wait. to see it come to life and to live our lives in it, GIDDY. My builder texted me this morning and told me the plumbers started working today and would be there the next 3 days "trenching and putting in the plumbing slab" so things are finally starting to move! Who hoo!

I always like to spend some time at the end of a year reflecting on the year and all it brought, 2016 was a big one for us so I'm going to share a bit here.

I have mixed feelings when I look back on 2016, its sort of bittersweet but more sweet than bitter. The past few years have been such a mixed bag, 2013 was perhaps our/my best year, and then it was followed by 2014-15 which were the worst years of my life, and then came 2016 that was somewhere in the middle. 2016 started really awful and ended really great. The start of 2016 brought some really hard job news for Adam and I, and some really hard personal conflict for me. Then I got really sick and as someone who has had a lot of horrible physical things here and there throughout my life, I will say that vertigo is one of the worst things that has ever happened to me. As the year progressed Adam and I got some hopeful job news that morphed into what we had been pleading to the Lord for for years, which was a job in Waco. With that turn of events everything took a turn in the right direction. What I haven't shared publicly is that Adam and I had decided to move back to Texas with or without the job at UMHB, we had worked it out with APU where Adam was literally going to commute to CA from TX each week!! It was such a daunting prospect but we were all in and that was our plan until the Lord came through with the job for Adam back home. We weren't excited about this plan but we were desperate, and desperate people do desperate things. I can't tell you how affirming it was that we made the decision to move and then the Lord provided the job; I knew Waco was home and it was really neat to see the Lord make that so apparent as well. 2016 will forever be the year that the Lord brought us back to Waco, brought us home and I'm so so thankful.

For the past couple years I've been on somewhat of a spiritual journey of knowing myself better, understanding myself and others better, digging deeper into what forgiveness and reconciliation really mean/look like, what being true to myself means in the midst of heartache, what lessons I want to teach my daughter, the difference between enabling and honesty, and the things I never want to go back to but hope for the future. As I've mentioned numerous times, I've read more books in the past couple years than in my whole life combined but what I can say about this journey is: I love Jesus more than I did before, I am a better person than I was before because there is more of Jesus in me, I am more gracious than I was, I am more patient, I am more understanding. I have invited several people into the recesses of my life to ask me hard questions and hold me accountable and I've been told there is a difference in me. Healing has taken place in me that for a season I couldn't even imagine happening, things that I couldn't talk about without bursting into tears have become somewhat peaceful and such major areas of growth and I'm so thankful to be on the other side. I still have deep wounds, don't get me wrong, but there has been so much healing and growth within these wounds that is tangible and I'm so thankful for that.

2016 brought us home and the search for home has been such a "thing" for me for so many years and we're here! It brought the start of the process of building our home which has always been a dream of mine that I never really thought would come to fruition and yet, here we are. 2 BIG dreams that the Lord has made possible, so so so thankful and grateful. 2016 was the year our family of 3 went on our first cruise together, we went to NYC for Christmas which is just dreamy in and of itself, and the 3 of us are now Wacoans again -thank you 2016 for the good that you brought!

As I head into 2017 my goals are pretty simple:

move into our home, have people over for dinner all.the.time., save for a pool, get a new mi casa up and running, (as of today) to loose 13 more pounds (I've lost 11 already -woot!), to make good food/try lots of new recipes, become a better photographer, read lots more books, go to a new place with Adam and B, to love Jesus more, and to throw a big ol' 40th birthday bash!

I'm sure I'll come with a few more here and there but I think that's a good start! I hope everyone is starting 2017 with high hopes and new mercies for a new year! Happy New year! xo

December 29, 2016

Christmas in New York 2016

We got home late last night from our week in NYC, and it was FABULOUS! I have envisioned New York for years and it really was everything I thought it would be and it was one of (if not "the") best Christmases ever. Before we left I got some recommendations from some folks, and I asked for suggestions on Instagram and we tried to check almost each one off the list. I had a list of things on my phone and would check them off as we went and we finished the whole list with the exception of a trip to the Met (and Tribeca but I think we might have gone there for a bit and I just didn't realize it?).

Here's how our trip went (and really, I'm detailing it more for me to look back on and remember so sorry if its a bit tedious :):

*we got to our hotel around dinner time on the 22nd, we dropped our stuff off and walked to Rockefeller center and looked at the iconic tree, the ice skating rink, looked in some shops, walked to Times Square (which was where our hotel was), saw Radio City Music Hall, and had a yummy dinner at a lovely French restaurant.

*23rd -we took the subway to Chelsea and walked the high line, it was so cool to be at a park looking down at the city and just taking in all the views. We ended the walk at the Chelsea market and had some treats at Sarabeth's bakery and shopped at the market. We then took the ferry to Staten Island so we could get a great view of the statue of liberty (none of us actually wanted to go "to" it so this was the way to see it from what we'd been told -that was fun, and cold!). We ate yummy Indian food in the financial district and then took the ferry back to Times Square where we changed our clothes and headed to Broadway to watch "Aladdin." It was a great show and it was in an old theatre which was so cool to see! Afterwards Adam was a hungry so we stopped by the iconic Shake Shack for him to grab a burger and B and I shared a peanut butter shake -yum!

*24th- We ate yummy grilled cheese sandwiches at this grilled cheese restaurant and took the subway to the Natural History Museum, after being there for hours (aka: too long for me!) we took a lovely stroll through central park -gorgeous! We then took a CROWDED walk down 5th/Park Ave and saw the beautiful, iconic store front windows, we were 10 minutes too late to the American Girl doll store (grrr), and then went to Dylan's candy shop to stock up on some treats. I also made a quick stop in the iconic Magnolia Bakery to grab some goodies and then we stopped in this bakery to kill some time before our dinner reservation at The Smith (which is pretty much what I want the inside of my new house to look like!). The bakery was about to close so we bought a couple items to have Christmas morning in our hotel and then they gave us some free baked goods since they were closing and had to get rid of them, that was really neat because we were able to then give those items away to the homeless and it felt good to pass along the generosity. We ate a YUMMY dinner at The Smith and then headed back to our hotel to relax a bit before church. Before going to NY Adam and I both thought it would be a really neat experience to go to a high church service in the city at a fancy church at the 11 o' clock service, so we did! We found a VERY high gorgeous episcopal church service and we made it about 50 minutes before we bailed! Ha! B was fading and according to the 30 page bulletin we weren't even halfway through the service so....there was that. It was still a neat experience and I'm glad we did it.

*25th -Christmas day started off very lazy for us, we had very full, busy days with LOTS of walking and made it back to our hotel around 11pm - midnight each night so we were wiped! We slept in, ate our yummy baked goods and watched Christmas movies. In the later afternoon we took the subway to Chinatown and walked through the crowded streets until we found a yummy authentic Chinese restaurant where we stuffed ourselves with many yummy things. This was great, and such a neat experience! Afterwards we went to a Chinese candy shop and loaded up on more treats (I'm sure you're sensing a theme here :), then we walked through Little Italy and I bought an ornament to commemorate our Christmas in New York, and then we went to the movies! B has been wanting to see the movie "Sing" and it seemed like a great Christmas-y thing to do. After the movie B wanted a milkshake so we stopped by the Sugar Factory and she got a fancy shmancy milkshake at this cool shop and then we made a couple more stops on the way back to our hotel for coookies and cheesecake before heading to bed.

*26th -We took the subway to the 911 Memorial/Museum and spent a good bit of time here. This was a really neat (for lack of a better word) experience. I thought they did a great job of commemorating the lives lost and of telling the story of that tragic day. After the museum we went to Little Italy for lunch, then took the subway to Grand Central Station (which was so pretty for the holidays). Then we headed to Union Square and I did some shopping at ABC Home (which was FAB). Then we took B back to the AG doll store which was a total zoo and the shelves were pretty much bare the day after Christmas! Then we hunted down Momofuku Milkbar to get the famous crack pie -that was SO good. Then we stopped in St. Patrick's Cathedral and saw that iconic beauty and then made the trek to Katz's Deli for the infamous pastrami sandwich (this ended up being Adam's favorite thing) which was amazing! It was a neat deli just to take in and see/experience but the food was UNREAL. Earlier in the evening we had stopped by Serendipity to get the iconic frozen hot chocolate, the wait was 3 hours so I put my name in but was doubtful we were gonna get in. When we were done at the deli it was the 2.5 hour mark since we put our name in and I suggested we try and make it! B was SO done and exhausted but she bucked up and we made the trek back to Serendipity where we proceeded to wait a bit longer before getting a table shortly before 11pm. This was SUCH a neat experience, to have such a full and exhausting day and to end it up the tiny stairwell into the most beautiful, whimsical room where the 3 of us had our yummy frozen hot chocolates felt magical -it really did.

27th -this day B and I were exhausted! Our legs were so.tired.and.sore. from the day before that I felt like we were lagging a bit this day. We took the subway into Soho where we did some shopping and spent a good bit of time in the iconic Dean & Deluca -YUM. After walking around Soho for a bit we took the subway to the upper east side and went to the Guggenheim museum. After we stared at sophisticated art :) we went to a late lunch at Sarabeth's. YUM. I've been wanting to see this antique store called "Olde Good Things" but our legs were SO tired so we hailed a cab, paid the big bucks and went and saw it, pretty cool but not "as" cool as I was anticipating. We went back to our hotel a bit early on this day, B and I needed a break. We watched some tv, Adam went to grab some of the "best NY pizza" and brought it back to the hotel and we had a cozy night in our room.

28th -on our last day we walked through central park to eat at the infamous "Tavern On The Green" -it was beautiful and yummy (and expensive) and a great last meal in NYC. I couldn't leave NYC without stopping at Levain Bakery as I'd been told by numerous folks that it had "the best chocolate chip cookie" so of course I had to have it! We made our way to the bakery and the line was SO LONG, Adam didn't think we had time but I insisted we try...and we made it! It was the TINIEST spot and was nothing to look at but it really was the best cookie I've.ever.had. It was AMAZING and worth the wait! After cookies we made our way to the airport and we got home last night around midnight tired and happy. It was just what I wanted it to be and it was such a neat memory for the 3 of us to be in New York City on Christmas, what a special trip! I hope everyone out there had a Merry Christmas and that it was magical too! xo


December 13, 2016

B is 10 -blogged!

I finally got around to blogging B's 10th birthday photos over HERE! xo


December 8, 2016

blogged..finally!

A while back my computer died, so I bought a new one, but all my links to my blog, website, etc. were on my old computer and I wasn't hopeful that I'd be able to figure out what I needed any time soon. Thankfully I was able to get my old computer up and running again (and by "I" I mean the computer fix it folks) so now I'm back in business! I FINALLY blogged these cuties over HERE, check it out! xo



December 5, 2016

oh life

As the saying goes "its always something" but as I was reminded recently, if you were to toss your problems along with others into a bowl, you would likely still reach for your own. Sigh. Adam's car died. Boo. We were hopeful to get another 2-3 years out of it but alas, 2k worth of work on a car that is valued at 2k with 130k miles on it...not a wise investment. After quite a bit of research I found a 2014 camry for Adam w/ only 8k miles on it! He drives a lot each day and gas mileage and reliability are key for him, so, the car is being shipped from Houston and should be ours soon enough! December is not an ideal month for even more extra expenditures but...what are ya gonna do?. Oh life. In other news we're going to try and rent out our rental and move into our friends house! Its kinda nutty, the thought of moving again sounds AWFUL but our friend is going on sabbatical for 8 months and needs someone to watch his house, we hate our rental and would love to have another bathroom, and our rent is free...a win win! But our lease isn't up until May so we need to find a renter....fingers crossed (and prayers appreciated!). Sadly nothing new on the house front (grrr) its still just a pile of dirt. Sigh. Its a really nice, smooth, built-up piece of dirt but still dirt nonetheless. My builder assured me it will "ramp up soon" but its been quite the deal getting the concrete contractor lined up for the foundation and the bit of rain we've had has not been helping. When we moved back to Waco this summer I really thought we'd be 2/3 of the way done at this point, what a joke! I try not to get too bummed about it but man, I'm SO ready for it to speed up a bit!

Christmas is coming fast this year, I did my shopping a bit early so now I'm done and just need to get things shipped off in the next couple days! It's sad not having a tree this year but all our ornaments, stand, etc. is buried in storage. I bought a mini tree at the grocery store the other day and B has been referring to it as our "ghetto tree" -I couldn't agree more! She made ornaments for it and I bought a $3 strand of ugly lights from the dollar spot at target...ghetto indeed. We're all getting excited to blow this pop stand for a bit and head to New York! I think its going to be a really memorable Christmas for our family this year and I can't wait to experience it! Happy Monday, all! xo


Peek of the cutie patootie Harps!

December 1, 2016

B's 10th birthday skating party

I'm FINALLY getting around to blogging B's party! The pics aren't stellar...I totally forgot to take one of all the girls (DOH!) and it was inside a skating rink so needless to say the light...wasn't awesome. All in all everyone had a great time, other than my mom breaking her toe I'd call it a success! B is 10! xo








 B picked the hot pink, black and gold color scheme...





Since the skating party was somewhat generic I wanted the girls party favors to be really personal, each girl got a bracelet with their name on it and a roller skate charm, a journal w/ their first initial, pens, fun tape, a wooden letter of their first initial, etc.. that was my favorite part. :)