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. :)



November 30, 2016

my lazy day - "When God Doesn't Fix It"

Yesterday I had the laziest, cozy, most relaxing day. I didn't plan to have a lazy day, it just organically happened and it was SO nice. I finished another Ann Lamott book Monday night so when I woke up on Tuesday (after taking B to school) I came home and started a new book called "When God Doesn't Fix It" by Laura Story. I thought I would read a few chapters and then get started on my day (ie yoga, grocery store, bank, laundry, some editing, etc.) but I found myself saying "just one more chapter" and before I knew it, I had spent the.whole.day. in my pjs, in bed, reading the whole book! I'm not sure I've ever done that in my life but it was really great! I showered in the early evening, made B dinner and then Adam and I took her to volleyball practice before the two of us went on a little dinner date. All in all, a pretty great day. :)

I would recommend this new book by Laura Story, especially if there is an area of your life in need of some reconciliation, such good stuff here. Here are some of my favorite nuggets from the book:

* "Our desire is for God to fix broken things. But God's desire for us is to fix our relationship with him."

* "But when Adam and Eve disobeyed him we entered the second part of the narrative, the fall. The sin that entered the world that fateful day has consequences that continue to our day. War, poverty, greed, gossip, jealousy, gluttony, cancer, and brain tumors are just a few of the ways sin manifests itself. Everything is distorted and broken. The biggest break is our relationship with God. It's called the "fall" because we've fallen away from God, and we can't get up by ourselves."

* "We ask God why, believing the answer will provide us with some kind of deep soul satisfaction. But too often, we don't get the answer we want. I don't think that means we should give up asking questions; we just need to understand their role in our brokenness."

* "I promise you will find more purpose and joy in your life if you set aside the why and begin to ask how. How does my story fit into God's greater story of redemption?"

* "It's only when we bring our pain to him that we can find our dwelling in him."

* "There's nothing in scripture that tells us we're entitled to an answer. It's not that God is secretive and doesn't want us to know; it's that we're incapable of seeing the big picture."

* "Is there something you've let go of because you couldn't make it happen? Do you believe that if you offered it to God he could raise it or make it happen? Jesus takes dead things and revives them. He is the life. He is the resurrection. And it is through your belief in him that you will see the glory of God, just as Martha and Mary did. Jesus has the power to resurrect the things we've let die - our hope, our healing, our family, our mind, and our body. And though he doesn't promise to restore everything until we enter Restoration, occasionally we get a glimpse of things we let die being revived. And in that moment we see the glory of God."

* "When Jesus raises our dead things, he does it in his timing, not ours. And he does it for one reason -that we might catch a glimpse of his magnificent power and his marvelous glory."

* "No matter what it is that we are praying for, a time will come when we bump up against what we think God should do and what he allows."

* "To be better in our brokenness isn't to remove the brokenness; it's to remove the selfishness, pride, impatience, or other sinful behaviors we blame on the brokenness, When we stop blaming our situation on the brokenness, we begin to see that the brokenness is a trial designed specifically for us."

In my book I wrote "ugh..." in the margin next to this paragraph:

* "I rarely choose patience and grace over anger and annoyance. Yet I've learned that even though they aren't my automatic responses to situations, the more I practice patience and grace, the better I get. So why wouldn't God use the trials in my life to teach me patience? Why wouldn't God, who gave us perfect grace and who wants me to give and receive it, give me an astounding number of opportunities to learn how to give and receive grace? If God, who wants what is best for me, knows that means learning to depend on him more than I am capable of, why wouldn't he design circumstances in my life to teach me how to be totally dependent on him for everything?"

* "It's a deep joy that comes from making intentional choices about how we're going to live our lives despite our circumstances."

* "It's just that we acknowledge that God is God and we are not. Even in the midst of our unchanging circumstances, we can still give him praise and glory. We can still tell others how frail and weak we are, while saying how strong our God remains. We can be content and even find joy in our tragedy, not because we will ourselves to be or have some kind of extraordinary mastery over our feelings."

* "It's a hard truth to hear that our circumstances might not change and God might not fix the broken things in our lives. But I know personally that even when our situation doesn't change for the better, we can change for the better."

That last quote has really, really resonated with me because I've found it to be so true in my own life. There are a couple areas of my life in desperate need of healing and reconciliation but I can't make it happen, and its taken me a while to come to this conclusion. Its been such an interesting journey getting to where I am today; the older I get I realize there really is no replacement for time. I mean time in the most basic sense of the word, but also in the time that it takes for God to do some really good, hard, honest work. As I've mentioned here before, I'm better than I was a couple years ago; I love Jesus more, I'm more gracious, I'm more patient, I'm more forgiving, I'm more introspective which produces more thoughtfulness. It has been a journey to get to this place, and I'm nowhere near "done" yet, but I'm so aware of the progress I have made and I'm so thankful for that. As another year is coming to a close and I reflect on 2016, I see a lot of growth and healing in me and for me, that's a win. xo

November 28, 2016

T-Day weekend 2016

Whew! This past week went so fast! Its always a busy/fun time when cousin Mike comes into town for T-day but this year felt especially nutty! We rented our friend's home for T-day this year as our rental cannot accommodate a crowd (or a guest for that matter) and its not a cooking-friendly house so, to the Harp House we went! It was SO fun to be in my friend's beautiful #fixerupper and to cook in that fabulous kitchen! We had a GREAT time! There were 20 of us for Thanksgiving, so there was lots of food and fun all day long, we loved it! I made all my usual stuff but tried a new butterfinger cheesecake recipe and a pumpkin layer cake with marscapone icing which was pretty darn good! I have really missed entertaining so it was fun to be back at it with our dear friends. Friday we headed up to Dallas to root on the Baylor Bears, sadly we didn't get a win but we still had a great time! We spent the night in Dallas and had to be up and at 'em to get back to Waco to root on the lady bears in their volleyball game! (B is in a year round v-ball club and the coach works at Baylor and wanted the girls there to root on the bears, it was a lot of fun!). After the game we showed Mike our land, went out to dinner and went back to the Harp House for our last night there. Sunday we had to be up and at 'em to head to Austin for our family photos, so after we did that we spent the day hanging out in Austin having fun with Mike before he had to catch his flight back home. Whew! Busy non-stop weekend and this morning came too early! B did not want to get up and go to school and I was with her! It all just came too soon! I've got some work to do today and my house looks like a tornado went thru it so I'm gonna get after it! Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!! xo

Here's a peek of a session I'm working on!


November 16, 2016

Adam is 40 (in photos)

Here are a handful of photos from Adam's 40th birthday bash! The "theme" was "Adam is 40" so I got balloons that said that, had 40oz beers in the middle of each table, and my friend made the coolest 40oz cake! Lots of fun celebrating my favorite person. xo


 gummy bears bc they are Adam's favorite and "40 sucks" suckers were on each table...




 bocce ball, ladder ball, and corn hole were all over the yard for folks to play...






November 10, 2016

39

To say "its been busy around here" would be a massive understatement, but, as always, we made it! I back-dated my Halloween post so you can see B as Hermione a few posts back, she was so cute! :) Mom has been in town for B's birthday, her skating party was a success, and I only fell once! Hooray! Yesterday I turned 39, I knew it wasn't going to be the greatest birthday for a lot of reasons and although it started out rough, it turned out pretty okay! At around 4am Adam and I woke up to the sound of a critter under our house/in the backyard? (we're not totally sure), then at 5:22am Brennan ran into the bathroom because she thought she was going to throw up, then at 6:30am Brennan was in the bathroom and Adam thought she was sick so he darts out of bed, etc.. Ay yi yi, rough morning. So, B stayed home with me and had a sick day (and the irony is, she hasn't been sick all year AND she threw up LAST YEAR on my birthday too!!). So, I had a massage and pedicure scheduled and couldn't find a sitter and as the morning went on B seemed pretty okay so, mom of the year -I took her to the spa with me and she sat in the lobby on her ipad while I was pampered (it was really okay, I promise - she didn't throw up at all (even in the am when she thought she would) and she ended up being totally fine and is back at school today). So, in all honesty, I'm glad I didn't cancel my bday spa treats (points for honesty? :). It was a gloomy, ick day (and I don't really ever talk politics on this here blog and have no intention of starting but to wake up to the president news already cast a pretty dark shadow on the day any how) so B and I just stayed in cozy clothes and hung out at home. My sweeet friend left a lovely candle on the doorstep, another friend had cupcakes delivered to my house, and another sweet friend had a whole pie delivered to my house! I'm a spoiled girl indeed and had many phone calls, texts, etc. and I felt very loved and cared for. When I was getting my massage and had time to just lay and think about the day and about getting another year older I started to think of the many things I'm super thankful for (and obviously my heath, my family, and my family's health is among those), but also I kept thinking about last year at this time, how I was in such a dark place and longed to be back in Waco, and how yesterday I woke up in Waco and what an answer to prayer that is! How God has given me the desire of my heart and how thankful I am just to be here. Even with Trump as president, even with the dark gloomy day, even with my sick child, all of those things are going on with me living in Waco and that is pretty great in and of itself.

Adam recently accepted a leadership position at our church and any time a new person is elected they do a q & a to get to know the person a bit better and one of the questions was "Why are you in Waco?" and Adam's response was: "Because there is nowhere else I'd rather live. Oh, and I also teach at UMHB so there's that too." At Adam's birthday party a couple weeks ago I gave a toast and talked about how a lot of people tend to give you weird looks when you trade in southern California for central Texas, but that our community gets it -everyone in that yard understood what I was saying. A dear friend of Adam's (mine too!) happened to be in town from California and it was SUCH a treat to have him at Adam's party. As he was getting ready to leave he came up to me, pointed to the crowd of people at the party and looked back at me and said "I get it. I think you made the right choice." I know that some people search their whole lives for a fraction of the relationships that we are privileged to have -I get it, I know Adam and I are the lucky ones and I don't take that for granted. Loving God and loving people is what this life is about, and here is where we feel we do both of those things best, I'm so grateful for another year of life, and that I get to live it in Waco, Texas. xo

November 2, 2016

B is 10!

My sweet B is 10 today! She has been looking forward to turning a "decade" old for a while now, I on the other hand can't believe its true! 10 years ago I was laying in bed relying on Adam to run back and forth from the NICU to give me updates and I hadn't met my girl yet (at this point). Feels so long ago and like yesterday at the same time.

Sweet B, this has been a big year for you! You were THRILLED when you heard that there was a possibility that we were moving back to Waco, and then when it came to fruition you were SO happy! You couldn't wait to move home for good and it was so good for our hearts to watch you so happy after a rough 2 years. You moved back into school and church with ease and its almost as if we never left. You are enjoying school (well for the most part, its still not your favorite thing) and you made the honor roll this semester! You also played your first real sport and really enjoyed volleyball season (much to your parents happiness!). You did really well and since you loved it so much we enrolled you in a club and you will be playing the rest of the year -yippee!!! You still don't love shoes (I write that every year b/c I keep waiting for that to change), and the Olive Garden and Jimmy Johns are still your favorite restaurants. You love going to church and tell me that you're so glad our church is the way it is (after you go to mass on Fridays! :) Minecraft and your AG dolls are your favorite past times and daddy has recently gotten you into Harry Potter so you've done more reading in the past few months than in your whole life combined! Your sense of humor is stellar and your sarcasm is on point, you always make daddy and I laugh and I always appreciate your timing! You continue to be so sweet, kind and thoughtful and you make me so proud to be your mom. California was so hard on you and you handled it with such grace, its good for my soul to see you back in Waco and how happy you are. You say you don't plan to leave Waco and that you anticipate going to college at Baylor (music to daddy's and my ears!). You are ten, but still my baby girl. I love you, B. xo

October 31, 2016

Adam is 40 & Happy Halloween!

Whew! It has been crazy over here!! This past Friday night I threw Adam a big ol' 40th birthday party with 50 of our nearest and dearest. The night went just how I envisioned and it was so fun to eat BBQ, play yard games, dance, and laugh the night away to celebrate my sweet husband. I took several photos but unfortunately my computer straight up DIED the other day so I can't edit/upload-ugh!! I knew I needed a new computer but I was hoping to hold off a little longer but alas, I couldn't. So, I'm typing this blog post from my brand new computer but I haven't downloaded all my photo stuff yet so no photos for a couple more days. I have several client sessions that I need to edit before I can get to my personal stuff but photos of Adam's bday party, B on Halloween, B's party, etc. will be coming! This week is going to be nuts so the ol' blog will be quiet for a bit but lots more to come! Happy Halloween everyone!! Oh, and we technically broke ground today so day 1 of construction is underway-hooray!! xo

Halloween 2016

B is currently into Harry Potter so we thought it was pretty fun that she wanted to be Hermione this year, cutest Hermione I ever did see! xo






October 27, 2016

17 years ago + Anne Lamott

17 years ago today Adam proposed to me on a Malibu beach in southern California. There are so many details I remember about that day, what's funny (well, now in hindsight its funny) is that I almost messed it up! I never skipped class in college, most people do, but I knew how much money my parents were spending to send me and I felt way too guilty to not show up for class, so I was always there. On this particular day I had made up my mind that I was going to skip class, I was slated to fly to NM that night to be with Adam for the weekend and I had laundry to do, packing, etc. and I wasn't sure I could fit it all in if I didn't skip class. Well, at the last minute my conscience got the best of me and I begrudgingly went to class. It was in that class that the limo driver showed up and whisked me away to Malibu where Adam was waiting for me and proceeded to get down on one knee and ask me to be his wife, which, other than choosing to surrender my life to Jesus is the best decision I've made to date. 17 years is a long time, I realize just how old we are when I see it written like that, but I'm so thankful for 10/27, its a day shrouded in meaning for us.

I've been reading books by Anne Lamott for years now, there are many more I hope to read but each one I've read so far has left me with good nuggets and "ahhh" moments, if you will. I just finished her book "Plan B Further Thoughts on Faith." I love Anne for many reasons, but mainly I love her candor, she's brutally honest and transparent and throws a swear word in for good measure here and there that I tend to appreciate. She writes as I imagine she talks, just says it like it is and doesn't hold back to make others comfortable, something so refreshing about that. She has many one-liners in this book that resonated with me/caused me pause so I'm going to share some here:

*"Grace means you're in a different universe from where you had been stuck, when you had absolutely no way to get there on your own."

*"You want to protect your child from pain, and what you get instead is life, and grace; and though theologians insist that grace is freely given, the truth is that sometimes you pay for it through the nose. And you can't pay your child's way."

*"What a mess we are, I thought. But this is usually where any hope of improvement begins, acknowledging the mess. When I am well, I know not to mess with mess right away; I try to let silence and time work their magic."

*"God doesn't want or expect you to get it together before you come along, because you can't get it together until you come along. You can spend half of your time alone, but you also have to be in service, in community, or you get a little funny."

*In Jesus' real life, the resurrection came two days later, but in our real lives, it can be weeks, years, and you never know for sure that it will come."

*"Learning to love back is the hardest part of being alive."

*"Its good to do uncomfortable things. It's weight training for life."

*"you don't have to rehearse the truth."

*"faith is not about how we feel; it is about how we live."

*"I've known for years that resentments don't hurt the person we resent, but that they do hurt and even sometimes kill us."

*"Unfortunately, change and forgiveness do not come easily for me, but any willingness to let go inevitably comes from pain; and the desire to be change changes you, and jiggles the spirit, gets to it somehow, to the deepest, hardest, most ruined parts. And then the spirit expands, because that is its nature, and it drags along the body, and finally, the mind."

*"We speak in reverent terms of grace, justice, equality, mercy, and then we despise people who are also created in God's image, who are Her children, too. Veronica said that if the president had been the only person on earth, Jesus would still have loved him so much that he would have come down and died for him. This drives me crazy, that God seems to have no taste, and no standards. Yet on most days, this is what gives some of us hope."

*"When someone is acting butt-ugly, God loves them just the same as God loves the innocent. They are just as loved by God."

*"Driving home, I tried to hold on to what I'd heard that day: that loving your enemies was nonnegotiable. It meant trying to respect them, it meant identifying with their humanity and weaknesses. It didn't mean unconditional acceptance of their crazy behavior. They were still accountable for the atrocities they'd perpetrated, as you were accountable for yours. But you worked at doing better, at loving them, for the profoundest spiritual reason: You were trying to not make things worse."

*"We don't transform ourselves, she said, but we finally hear, the Spirit has access to our hearts, and that is what changes us."

*"the opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns. Faith also means reaching deeply within, for the sense one was born with, the sense, for example, to go for a walk."

Good stuff here. You'll probably never regret reading a book by Anne Lamott. Happy Thursday, all. xo



October 25, 2016

its that time...

Every year at this time I take a deep breath and get my game face on. This year its heightened a bit because its a big year for 2/3 of us. Adam turns the big 4-0 this Saturday and B turns the big 1-0 just a few days later! My sweet husband who usually never wants a party requested a big bash this year, and my daughter informed me that since she is now going to be double digits she thinks this year should be "extra special." Sigh, no pressure, right?! I told B that I try really hard to make every birthday special and I'm not really sure what more I could do to make this one "extra" but that I would try. Poor girl, she really wanted this to be her "Sleep Over" party year but in this rental house...it ain't gonna happen so I told her that her "extra special" birthday would need to wait until next year, but this would just be a typical special birthday -ha! Its going to be a roller skating party at the ol' rink, we all hate our rental house and its just not conducive to entertaining. Our dear friends graciously accepted my request to host Adam's party in their backyard so, this weekend we'll be having some GOOD BBQ from our favorite hole in the wall, some yard games, some dancing, and good drinks as we cheers to my sweet husband and his big 40th! After his b-day, we've of course got Halloween and sweet B is on a roll with Harry Potter these days so she opted to be Hermione this year, I bet she'll be cute! :) And as usual by the time it gets to my birthday I'm exhausted and sweet-toothed out so, no plans for me this year! Truth be told I kinda had my birthday "treat" this weekend. My friend Anna and I attended our second "outstanding in the field" event which is the most amazing farm to table experience that was worth every penny and every calorie! I told Adam next year when I turn 40 its gonna be about me and he and B can fend for themselves! Ha! (I kid...kinda ;)

So, lots going on around here and lots of holiday shoots and editing in the midst of the crazy. Our house has YET to be started but we're hopeful for this week (PLEASE LORD!), apparently we're waiting on the dirt guy...sigh. We'll get there. Just blogged a cute mini session, check it out HERE. xo


October 20, 2016

nothing good

There is a worship song that stops me dead in my tracks with the first line, each time I hear it it reminds me of how human I am, what a sinner I am, and how some times there really is nothing good in me. I appreciate songs that remind me of my own humanity because with that comes the reminder that I need a savior and thankfully, I've got one. I was talking to a dear friend recently who is in the process of a major life change, she is walking away from a religion that has fed her lies and made her feel a horrible sense of judgement and of being less than. She said to me with this newfound freedom and awareness "Jesus is enough!" She's realized that this particular church/religion that has been holding her captive for 40 years isn't the answer, that Jesus is the answer and that He alone is sufficient. That's what I'm reminded of when I hear these lyrics:


You are good, you are good when there's nothing good in me
you are love, you are love on display for all to see
you are light, you are light when the darkness closes in
you are hope, you are hope you have covered all my sin
you are peace, you are peace when my fear is crippling
you are true, you are true even in my wandering
you are joy, you are joy you're the reason that I sing
you are life, you are life in you death has lost its sting

(Forever Reign/Hillsong)

Some days/moments/times there really isn't anything good in me, but thankfully God is good all the time and He alone is sufficient, He alone is enough. This is a good reminder for me today, maybe someone else out there needed a reminder. xo

October 17, 2016

justice & other things

I do a lot of thinking and processing these days, its sort of become my norm over the last several years more than in the past. I think this comes with age and more awareness of others and the world around us, and brokenness. I love my church, I've been in church my whole life and I've always wanted to be there but there is just something about my current church that compels me, that draws me to it in a way that no other church has. I don't skip church....ever. I mean, if I'm out of town or something, sure, but if I am in Waco, on Sunday mornings, I'm at church, and its because I can't not be there because I want to be there so badly. I remember one time years ago when we lived here, I just wasn't feeling super hot, Adam and I were both especially tired and we made the decision to just not go to church that Sunday, oh man, did we hear about it! Brennan could not believe we weren't going to church, she was so perplexed and frustrated and irritated with Adam and I and made us promise that we would go the next week! I still smile when I think about that, I remember as a kid if my parents would have given me a "pass" on a Sunday morning, I would've probably thought "eh, no big deal, we'll have a lazy day" but not B, she wanted to go to church! Then fast forward to our time in CA where we tried 15 churches in 22 months and we all left depressed week after week and Brennan would ask "Do we HAVE to go??" every Sunday, man, that was a heart breaker. There is something about UBC that the three of us have in our veins, I think in some ways it defines who we are, we are a part of UBC, we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. We go each week and we are changed each week, and that is a unique thing. One of the many reasons I love UBC is because it challenges me, I leave with certain things rolling around in my head that make me pause, I leave feeling convicted of certain things, encouraged in certain things, and often with a challenge before me of something I need to do or just be better (at). That is the marker of a good church I think, you shouldn't leave the same week after week....right?

A couple weeks ago Josh said a few things that I could really relate to, that really struck a cord with me. His sermon was called "a place for anger in discipleship." I think so often Christians are taught that anger is bad, or that it isn't what Jesus would have us do with our emotions, or that we just all need to walk around with a smile on our face regardless of our circumstance because that's "Christian." Man, what a joke! This hasn't been my experience per se but I have had conversations with people where I've said "Its okay to be angry!! Jesus got angry! Its what we DO with our anger that is the problem." Right?. Josh said "There are some moments that you never mend from, you learn to live with a limp, living means moving through life with a part of your heart un-reconciled. We all have those events, what do you do when this happens?" And "Anger is a real emotion and it has a place in Christian faith. Rage belongs before God, God loves and does justice." These things really resonated with me, there are a couple deep wounds that I carry with me, and will until the day I die, even if they get "made right" the memory will never be gone, the pain of those moments won't ever fully be forgotten, but its such a poignant reminder that my anger about these wounds is valid, I have been wronged and God knows those wrongs, and he is the one in charge of the justice on my behalf. Thank you, Jesus. I was talking to someone recently who is older and wiser and who loves Jesus more than I do (those are good people to know :) and she knows one of my deep wounds and she was telling me to ask Jesus to bring justice for me, she challenged me to cry out to Him and ask him to bring to me what I cannot bring to myself. I had someone recently tell me that I wanted justice in an area of my life, and the way they were saying this to me was as though it was a bad thing, I was essentially being scolded for wanting/seeking justice. My reply was that I absolutely wanted justice! I make/made no bones about that -I am a justice seeker all.day.long. And the truth is, so is Jesus. Wanting justice isn't a bad thing, its a good thing, but we can't always bring that about ourselves, so we need to implore the one who can, and we should, this is a healthy thing to do with our hurt/anger; and as previously mentioned, its not the anger that gets us into trouble, its what we do with the anger. Christians should be justice seekers, wanting to be more like Jesus entails wanting and seeking justice. xo

October 10, 2016

Play With Fire

I recently read the book "Play With Fire" by Bianca Juarez Olthoff, its brand new and worth the read. I read this book in two days, it was so relateable after my 2 years in California (which can largely be referred to as "my time in the wilderness/desert"). In this book Bianca is essentially recounting her own journey of her time in "the wilderness," of feeling alone and broken in the wake of her personal heartache, and of how God was faithful and brought her out of that season. I love real stories, the books I'm most drawn to are that of real life stories where God redeems brokenness, I love being reminded of what I know is true but easily forget.

"In our moments of confusion, fear, loss, and darkness, we have a God whose presence is with us, who answers us when we cry out. And when He responds, when He shows up in the desert, we have one job: worship God."

"God doesn't lead us out of bondage and into our own deserts simply for the sake of our own freedom. He leads us into the desert that we might learn to worship Him. And here's the truth -we cannot worship God for the gifts of freedom and salvation without having known captivity and desolation first. When we know the cost of our freedom, it drives our worship. True worship almost always happens in the desert wilderness, and praise is almost always the answer to a plea that rises up in us while we are in the desert."

"When we forget about what God has done, it makes us doubt what he can do. When we remember His promises, when we remember his goodness, when we remember His miracles, we can hold on to hope that He will rescue us in our time of need."

These are just a few "nuggets" that I took away from this read. I have found these statements to be true in my own life, I have tasted and seen that God is good and that true worship evolves from real pain. If you're looking for an encouraging read and want to be reminded of God's faithfulness and that your pain is not in vain, I'd get this book.

We had a great weekend! The weather is FINALLY cooling off a bit here so we wanted to spend the majority of the weekend outside -it was so nice! We hung out with friends, we went to the zoo, the farmers market, and to the heart of Texas fair -fun! Today B is out of school for Columbus day so we're having a lazy day at home (per her request). I've got wedding editing to do and laundry piled high, but my pumpkin spice candles are burning and its only going to be 84 degrees today so -a lovely fall day it is! :) Hope everyone has a great week, as always, thanks for reading! xo


October 5, 2016

some thoughts on obedience

I came across this quote today and it caused me pause:

"The pain of regret in the end game is worse than the pain of obedience initially."
(Christine Caine)

Isn't that just the truth, though? Obedience can be painful, it can cost you something, and some times that cost is high, but isn't it so much better than the regret that you're stuck with if you willingly choose not to obey in the first place? I've seen this lived out more in the past couple years of my life than ever before. I've watched as several people's disobedience has caused this path of brokenness and regret and excuses and pain, and I have to believe the initial "hard" of the obedience would have been the lesser of the evils. It brings to mind Romans 7:15 "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." We're all guilty of this, Lord knows I'm not immune, but the older I get I find I do better. This isn't me tooting my own horn, but I rarely say something I regret, I just don't. I think long and hard before I speak and I speak with intention and honesty, I'm not saying I don't feel badly for the ways in which I say things that can be hurtful - that I can apologize for all day long, but it is rare when I apologize for something I've said because I genuinely think before I speak and I mean what I say and I say what I mean. This has come with age, time, wisdom, practicing the fruits of self-control, and honestly, not wanting to have to apologize. Don't misunderstand me here, I'm ALL for apologizing when I'm wrong, in fact, I really appreciate the freedom the words "I'm so sorry, I was wrong" bring. But if you think before you speak, and you do the right thing the first time, you'll find you don't need to apologize as often because you're living intentionally, and there's a lot of value in that. No one likes to be wrong, myself included, but if you live long enough we're all gonna be that person -that, once again, is part of the human experience. The real "deal" if you will is what you do when you are wrong, when you weren't obedient the first go around, when you didn't do the right thing in the moment and the moment slips away. I guess the first part of the deal is the admission that you didn't do the right thing, and often that can be hard to see/ascertain, but once you get there -then what? (I feel like I started this blog post in one direction and am ending up somewhere else but I'm just gonna roll with it). I was talking to a friend of mine several months ago, back in CA, and she was talking about how she felt like her parents generation didn't learn how to apologize properly, and I found this so interesting, to think of the 'art of apologizing' as a generational gap (I'm not saying this is true, just an interesting thought that hadn't occurred to me prior). The more she spoke the more I could relate, I could relate to the idea of people dancing around an apology and using language like "I may have overstepped" or "I guess I can see how this might have..." all these words that people use instead of owning their crap and just saying "I was wrong, I shouldn't have done X, can you please forgive me?" There is power in the words "I was wrong" -it does something to people, it puts the offended's "hackles down" and puts the offender in a place of submission, those are good things!! AND its ownership, there is such value in owning your crap, in claiming it and admitting wholeheartedly that you messed up. There is freedom there, for all involved.

At Young Life camps, at the end of the week we have "say so" night, its an opportunity for students who have made a decision to follow Christ to stand up and "say so" -to confess they are a new creation, that they are choosing to not live for themselves but for Jesus. I love say so night, I always get chills hearing these precious student's stories and it reminds me why I pour into people and do youth ministry -that's the good stuff of life. My point is this, there is something to be said for the power of just saying so. If you have wronged someone: SAY SO, if you owe someone an apology: SAY SO, if you haven't been obedient to what you know is the right thing and you've used every excuse in the book as to why you haven't done the right thing: SAY SO, if you were wrong and you need to confess: SAY SO, if you are broken and need some redemption: SAY SO. Obedience may cost you something, but it is assuredly better than the regret of silence. Jesus would and did and does say something, so if you're looking for an example, that's where I'd start. xo

+++++++++addendum+++++++++

Each week our church sends out a newsletter called "In the Life of the Church" -this past week's has a blog written by our pastor called "The Importance of Owning a Mistake" and I'm sharing the link HERE - seems fitting.

September 29, 2016

September 21, 2016

Unreasonable Hope

Well, since my last blog post I've read 3 more books. I've fallen into a bit of a new rhythm in this phase of life, I've been working, not a ton but more and have another wedding I'm shooting this Saturday (and I was supposed to be in LA this weekend for my dear friend's 40th birthday party, hate to miss - Love you, Ems!). Things with the house are slow as molasses but we are CLOSE to FINALLY breaking ground. Brennan is doing well in 4th grade and won her first volleyball game last week! I've been waiting nearly 10 years for my girl to play volleyball and I am LOVING it! Adam is getting into the swing of his new job/commute and we're all settling into a new normal around here.

As always, God continues to work on my heart and mold me into the person He wants me to be. For 2ish years now I have been a voracious reader, reading anything that I feel will enlighten me, encourage me, inspire me, remind me of the truth, challenge me, help to make me better- more like Jesus, and to bring purpose/understanding to my pain. We all have deep wounds we bring to the table, no one in this life is unscathed, that's the human experience and a common thread that ties us all together regardless of our circumstance.

I recently read the book "Unreasonable Hope" by Chad Veach. In all honesty, I wasn't too interested in reading this book. Chad and his wife moved from Washington to Los Angeles to start a church about a year ago. Due to the internet I knew a bit about Chad and his family, I knew his daughter had a life threatening illness, I knew he was a "big shot" pastor in that he can be found hanging out with celebrities and he and his wife always looks like they just walked out of a photo shoot. This isn't meant to sound derogatory, I'm sure they're amazing people who I'd love to know personally, there just wasn't anything in particular that made me want/eager to read his book. (*sidenote: Adam, B and I attended his church in LA one Sunday, and although they are doing an amazing thing in LA, it just wasn't for us, so we did have a personal encounter as well). Anyhoo -sorry, that was a long paragraph to not say much. Okay, so, this book was an honest look at a dad's heart who longs and believes for his sick daughter to be healed. What eventually made me decide to read this book was I couldn't shake the cover, it reads: "Unreasonable Hope: Finding faith in the God who brings purpose to your pain." In a season where I've been longing and crying out for God to bring purpose to my pain, I couldn't not read it, it was too enticing and that tagline is what I've been so thirsty for. There were many "nuggets" here and there throughout the book, and in line with most books I've been reading, it reminded me of what I know to be true about God. My "take away" from the book was the distinction that Chad makes between having faith in God and having hope. "You have so much faith in who I am and what I can do, but you have no hope for your situation." (pg. 177) This isn't a new concept for me per se, I know there have been times in my life where I prayed to God for something, believing He heard me and I had faith He cared, but I know I had little hope that He would "do" what I was asking of Him because it just seemed too impossible (and of course we're actually supposed to pray believing). In one large area of my life to which I'm referring -He answered my years and years worth of prayers despite my unbelief/hope. Man, I'm thankful the Lord works in spite of us! So, this book didn't necessarily enlighten me to a new concept per se but it reminded me that there is a distinct difference between having faith and having hope -and even if your hope is unreasonable, God can do the unreasonable. There is currently an area of my life that I have little hope of getting fully healed, it just seems so unlikely on this side of heaven, and I'm learning to (in some ways) be okay with that because, life does indeed go on, but I appreciated Chad's reminder that I still need to live with hope that it can be healed, because God can do that, He can, even if He doesn't. Big sigh....Amen. xo

August 26, 2016

Rooted

Its been a pretty chill couple of weeks around here, we're all settling into our new routines and figuring life out a bit, feels good. Its been a weird phase of life for me for a few reasons, although I'm shooting here and there it will take time to re-build my business so while I'm used to editing most of the day I've had some free time....kinda weird. Also, typically we are leading a mi casa so I'm used to college students being in my house or preparing food for them, or meeting with them, etc. and we decided to wait a year to resume mi casa life due to our current lack of space, no dishwasher, 1 sketchy toilet situation, etc. :) And, on that note, we're not in our own space so, half of our stuff is in storage, we're building a house and will soon (please Lord) be busy with all that entails, and I just don't have all my normal tasks that I'd have if I were in my own space. All that to say, its been an interesting season of life for me and I'm trying some new things and reading some new books and trying to enjoy this "break" rather than be bummed by it (if that makes sense?). Adam is adjusting to his commute, poor guy left super early for work a couple days ago, he was going to work out at the gym first and he got all the way to Belton and realized he left his "school" clothes at home!! He had to make the 2 hour drive twice that day!! I have a feeling that will be the last time he makes that oops! B is liking school fine, school has never been her thing per se but she seems to be adjusting well and looks pretty cute in her uniform (if I do say so myself :). Our weekends have been fun and relaxed, its amazing how we'll go into the weekend with little on the agenda but then we'll get a text Friday at 5pm asking us to come over for dinner, and then Saturday some friends will see if we can do dinner that night, and then after church we do our usual post-church lunch with friends and then we've been resuming our drinks with friends Sunday evening before another week starts. Its fun how life organically happens here without a month's notice (which was CA life), it just feels right and good. Cousin Mike is coming into town next week so we're looking forward to seeing him and rooting on the Astros together, always fun. Speaking of root[ed] (see what I did there? ;) I just finished a book by Banning Liebscher called Rooted, the tagline is "the hidden places where God develops you." It seemed like a good read for this stage of my life and I've been reading it here and there the past 2 weeks and just finished it last night. There were some wise words on those pages, I thought I'd share a few of the "nuggets" that seem especially relevant to me at this place in my life (I like to pass on life-giving things, hope someone out there finds some good stuff here).

"I've had seasons in life where I've had nothing and seasons where I've had everything, I've developed the ability to thrive in both seasons by learning to access the resource that never changes, no matter the season, namely, Christ's strength."

"We'll never thrive in the process unless we accept the place where God has put us, because that is the only place He will work with us. Faithfulness and obedience call us to recognize what God is asking us to put our hands to and what He is emphasizing in our lives."

"God always calls us to do the impossible."

"God feels no pressure to rush or force His plan for our growth, He is calm, steady, and collected even when we want things to speed up. Our frustration will not make God speed up, because He knows we won't get the results we've prayed for."

"You have to learn to love the cave. If you love the spotlight more than the secret place, you're in trouble, because it means you care more about pleasing people than pleasing God. Learn to love when you don't get the credit. Learn to love when you get passed over."

"Tested, proven, genuine faith comes when we let God lead us into weakness. That is a reason to rejoice."

"You will never find satisfaction or experience what you were created for outside encountering the presence of God. Everything you will ever need is found in the presence of God, for it is there you find the reason you were created."

"We need an entire generation awake to what God can do and all the possibilities that flow from His ability. We are often more aware of what the Enemy can do than what God can do. We need to stop being impressed with darkness."

"I've found that there's almost nothing in life that we're supposed to figure out on our own."

"So what kind of legacy do you want to leave? You are chosen and appointed to bear fruit that lasts for eternity, just like David. just like Christ. But it's your choice to remain in Christ. Will you let Him teach you to trust Him at all times, even in weakness? Will you let Him plant you where He wants you, and will you embrace His time line for establishing your roots? Will you put your roots down deep in the soils of intimacy, serving, and community? Every day you get to choose between human success and God's success, between the temporal and the eternal...."

I'd recommend this book if you want to be reminded of what needs to take place in your life to be rooted in Christ, its an easy read with lots of good stuff. Have a great weekend, friends. xo


August 9, 2016

always something

We're back from vacation and it was lovely and wonderful and B starts school tomorrow so its come to an abrupt end. But its okay, its been quite a summer and I think we're all (mostly) ready for the fall/real life to resume.

I made mention a bit ago that recently my pastor's father died. On Sunday he preached about his dad and I was on a cruise ship so I missed it but I listened to the podcast this morning, as my friend warned me, it was an "ugly cry" resulting sermon. Josh's dad was also a pastor so as you can imagine, Josh has lots of stories and memories of his dad ministering to others and loving others well. Part of Josh's sermon that is resonating in my mind is when he recalled a conversation in which he asked his dad "why do some people believe in God and some don't?" to which is dad replied "those that have an experience with God, believe in God." Isn't that the truth? Haven't we all heard a story or two (or many) where someone has an encounter with God that is so profound, its life changing? That there literally can be no more room for doubt because of the experience that took place. I love those stories because they remind me of what I know to be true when I'm in a tough spot. I've encountered God...many times, and as I've said here many times, I would be the fool not to believe at this point. But it still begs the question of why God doesn't "show up" sometimes, doesn't it? Today I read a post that a mom wrote to her daughter and the part that struck me said "I am just as proud + in love with you when you fall down because I've learned that is where we find more of God." For me, this was the reminder that so often when we feel like God isn't "showing up" for us, its because in/thru/after that "hard" we will have found more of Him than we otherwise would have. It reminds me of the Jen Hatmaker quote I wrote here months and months ago, that perhaps we would 'squash the lovely vision if we obtained it too soon.' So really, by God "not showing up" He's actually showing up in ways we just can't see yet. As my wise (profoundly wise) aunt has said to me many times over the past 2 years "God is always doing something." I realize this isn't new information for this here blog, just sometimes it hits me in new ways and I write because I feel compelled to do so, maybe someone out there needed to hear it today?

Well, today is Adam's second day of his new job (which really, isn't work yet -just orientation), and B is a 4th grader tomorrow back at her old school, kinda feels like a time warp! And house stuff is still sloooooooooooooooooooooow, sigh. We are super close to the plans for the inside being done, the outside still needs some work but hopefully -we're on the final stretch! All in all, we're doing well and gearing up for another year! Hope everyone is having a lovely August! xo

July 28, 2016

someone else's prayer

I came across this prayer today and it spoke to my heart so I'm sharing it here.

it is in YOU Jesus that I have
found who i am and my purpose....
thank you for taking my hand in rescue
so that i can in turn take others hands connecting
Yours and theirs
my story has taught me compassion, transforming
me into someone who
can enter into others pain, even when it is different
than mine or i don't understand
i don't even care anymore
there isn't time to whine + be victims
we are sons and daughters of the KING
i want to stop the world for just a day and do nothing
but think on that truth
because if we did....really did....and really believed it.....
we would be
radically changed from the inside out
transformed into misfits, pioneers, warriors,
renegades, giant slayers
freedom fighters from another world....heaven!
going forth with no fear!!!
i know i have to forge ahead up the mountain with the
One i love
so much to still grow into but that is the adventure of
it all
it is never boring
some seasons are hard as hell but to be SET FREE!
i would climb a million mountains with you as my
companion Papa!! to help others with your story to
be set free
to LOVE and BE LOVED by TRUE LOVE HIMSELF
that is the PRIZE.

(Tiffani, House of Belonging)

July 25, 2016

lately

Summer is winding down for us and truth be told, I'm not too sad about it. As I've said, its been a weird summer for us and I'm getting ready for the normalcy the fall brings. This past week was pretty good, we had dinners with friends, B had a 24 hour play date which enabled Adam and I to spend the day in Austin which was lovely, B and Adam had some father/daughter dates and it was just a relaxing time. This past week was kinda hard too, our pastor Josh, his dad passed away and sadly, he passed on Josh's birthday which is just hard. It's times like these where I'm reminded just how precious life is and how quickly it can change, and how I want to live being intentional and thankful for the many gifts I've been given.

This week is our last week before our family vacation and then we get back and hit the ground running. Adam starts his new job the day after we get back and B starts school 3 days later! We really are in the final stretch of this weird summer and although parts were long and hard it really did go pretty darn fast overall. Tomorrow I meet with the house draft guy and we should be able to finalize our plans so we can FINALLY get a date on the calendar to break ground, I'm SO ready for that! Its amazing how many steps there are to this process, I'm ready to get the ball rolling! I hope everyone is having a good week, thanks for checking in on us! xo

July 18, 2016

house draft(s)

Well, we just got house draft #3 back from draft guy annnnnnd, its still not right. Sigh. I knew this process would be a lot of back and forth, its hard to communicate what's in your head sometimes but I didn't realize how long it would take to get each draft once changes were communicated. I was hopeful we would have broken ground by now but now its looking like August. Sigh. Today I made a list of changes for each room and it came out to 26 things that need to be changed/updated. This might sound like a lot but really, most of the changes are minor and in my mind should take 2 seconds to fix! The draft guy is out of the office all week (which...he was just out of the office for a week like 30 seconds ago) so that's frustrating b/c I was thinking maybe this week we could get the ball rolling! Just trying to take lots of deep breaths... we'll get there.

In other news it is SO nice to have Adam home! He started driving earlier than he had anticipated so he made it home Saturday versus Sunday and it was so fun to see him show up at our friend's house! We have a lazy week ahead of trips to the water park, movies, low key dinners,  play dates/overnights, etc. as summer should be. :) We're all ready for our cruise, 2 more weeks, can't wait! Hope everyone is having a relaxing summer and drinking lots of lemonade. xo

July 14, 2016

the final stretch

It's been a long week and a half, but we're in the final stretch before Adam comes home! This is just a weird summer for our family, we're SO elated to be here but its been hard too.Recently Adam was gone for almost a week, now he's in a 2 week stretch of being gone, we aren't going to the northwest like we usually do which is sad and poor B is having a hard time with that, etc. Its just not a typical summer and summer in Waco is like a ghost town, so many people are gone, Baylor isn't in session, etc.. just not the best place to be in July. :( Boo. Thankfully my mom was here this past week and she saved the day! (Happy birthday, Mom!). It was so nice for her to play with B, and to chat with me and to be a welcome distraction when our hearts are missing Adam and our typical summer plans. This week B is at gymnastics  camp and we have some play dates and fun things planned so we're gonna make it!

In other news I'm supposedly getting the third set of drafts for our house today, fingers crossed! We literally cannot do one thing until the final draft is right and its been lots of back and forth so here's to hoping this is "the one!" I know building a house is trying on the ol' patience so I'm trying to let it roll..this literally is just the beginning and I know that. {and anyone who knows me knows patience isn't my strong suit so...I'm sure I've got a big opportunity for growth here the next 9ish months!}

I've been asked a lot how B is doing with the move, if she's happy to be here, if she misses CA, etc. so I'll address that here. :) B is doing well, I have seen her "Come back to life" a bit since moving home, and I know she is thrilled to be here. This summer has been hard for the reasons listed above so that's definitely taken a toll but I think once school starts she'll be "back to normal" and this season will fade away. The other day I was buying something and the cashier asked to see my drivers license, he said "Oh, California huh?" and I said "Well, yeah, we live here now, I just haven't gotten a new license yet." And he proceeded to look at B and he said "Do you miss CA?" And without skipping a beat she said "Nope!" That made my heart smile. She's home, and it feels really good to her too. Happy sigh.

I try not to wish time away, believing that time really is precious and a gift but I sure am eager for it to be Sunday when Adam comes home! Prayers for him as he drives here from CA would be appreciated. :) As always, thanks for checking in. xo


July 2, 2016

beautiful things


This song is on repeat while I edit this morning, good reminder. xo



All this pain
I wonder if I'll ever find my way?
I wonder if my life could really change at all?
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found?
Could a garden come up from this ground at all?

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

Oh, you make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new
Making me new

You make beautiful things
(You make me new)
You make beautiful things out of the dust
(You are making me new, making me new)

You make beautiful things
(You make me new)
You make beautiful things out of us
(You are making me new, making me new)

Oh, you make beautiful things
(You make me new)
You make beautiful things out of the dust
(You are making me new, making me new)

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

{Gungor}

July 1, 2016

summer is in full swing

Well, its July 1st and summer is in full swing around here! We bought season passes to our local water park and have been loving that! B's had play dates, volleyball camp, art camp starts next week, pool mooching at our friends, movie dates, and grandma is coming to visit next week while Adam is out of town! Fun! This week some of our mi casa kids have been in town so we've had some dinners with them, that is just about the best ever (and lucky us, some still live here!). Its crazy to see how much they've grown up in 2 years, where does the time go?! I was standing in a restaurant hugging one of them for a long time and the waitress came up to us and said "Aw, this is so sweet, are y'all best friends?" And Cameron looked at her and said "pretty much." Sweet Cam. Have I mentioned how good it is to be back here? :)

In other news, our land officially became ours yesterday! We signed on the dotted line and met our neighbors (who are the ones that sold us the land) and they are about the sweetest little old couple on the planet! The wife hugged me as we left the paper signing, so sweet! It made us really excited to move into the neighborhood and to get settled (and I'm pretty pumped to have a dr next door, that could come in handy!). We drove out to the land last night to watch the first sunset and some of our besties joined us and brought drinks/solo cups to cheers to what lies ahead. It was a really sweet moment and I feel like I'm just relishing in God's faithfulness. Its a pretty sweet place to be.

I've been asked a lot when we will break ground, we're hopeful to break ground this month! Getting the house plans back from the draftsman is a sloooooow process, and inevitably there are changes that need to be made to the drafts still so, that's.... a process. Once those are complete the ball should get rolling...we cannot wait. I've been busy picking out flooring, trying to figure out bathroom vanities and wrapping my mind around the layout of the master bath (that I just recently changed!). For the most part I love this stuff, but there are so many details to consider so it feels like a lot of decision making (and you just hope you're making the right ones!). Its surreal to me that this is actually happening, I'm not quite sure I really believe it yet. All in all we're doing well over here, just soaking up our days with Adam before he leaves for 2 weeks (insert crying face!). B and I have made a list of things to do while daddy's gone and with grandma coming, I think we'll make it! Thanks for checking in, sorry for a quiet blog, not too much to report, just a lazy summer! xo

June 20, 2016

where your treasure is

"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matt. 6:21). This scripture is really/especially fitting for me these days. People tend to look at you like you're crazy when you trade in southern California for central Texas, but what keeps coming to my mind is that verse, my treasure is here and so, my heart is here as well. I've heard it said that you'll never regret investing in people, and I'd like to think that's how I've spent my life thus far, investing in others. When people ask me what it is I love about Waco, TX, I typically say "everything but the heat and the bugs, but the people make up for both of those things," and its true. This past week I've been asked numerous times how it feels to be "back" and I find myself repeatedly saying: "It just feels right, and so so good." For the past 2 years I haven't felt "right" and its so nice (understatement) to feel "right" again. Things that hung over me like a dark cloud have been largely removed, distance has given me some new perspective and some new peace and I'm so thankful for both. I love that after 16 years of marriage (this Friday!) Adam and I finally are home and we know (unless something crazy happens) where we are going to raise our daughter and where we are going to live...for good. It feels amazing to be here and to finally be home.

We hit the ground running, moving is always hard and exhausting and in Texas heat, its no joke. Our rental has proven to be...a rental. Sigh. We've had maintenance out here numerous times already dealing with shower issues, stove issues, etc. We're already counting the days until our house is built (which, I'm not even sure if I've mentioned that here...but we're building a house!). Its going to be a long 8-9 months I think but we're all hopeful it will be worth it! :) All my ideas make so much sense in my head....here's hoping they turn out great in real life!! (insert cringy emoji face!).

When we arrived to our rental my friend had tied balloons to our mailbox, it was such a neat thing to come home to and made me instantly thankful for the community we were walking back into. The next day a friend brought lunch, then our friends had us over for dinner, then the next night someone else had us for dinner, then someone called and asked if they could bring us dinner, etc.. Its been so good to hug our friends and to walk into church on Sunday morning like we never left. I went to get B from Sunday school yesterday and my friend (who is the children's pastor) said "Oh, she left a while ago with her friends, she's not here" and I just smiled because, that's as it should be. B knows that church like the back of her hand, I don't need to "get her" she's home now.

This week Adam is in Florida with friends so its just me and B, I think we'll be doing a lot of pool mooching and hanging out with friends, just as summer should be. :) Thanks to all of you who have checked in on us, we're alive and well its just been a nutty week! B had volleyball camp, I shot a wedding on Saturday (and I'm just going to throw this out there, moving halfway across the country and shooting a wedding in the same week...eeeeek!!), Adam has been trying to get his office set up and taking many trips to/from our storage unit, etc.. We're all well, just tired. :) Get ready for lots of house posts...this should be fun!! xo

May 31, 2016

crunch time

T-1 week and 1 day until we make the big move back to Waco. It's that time that I hate in every move, where life becomes inconvenient because most things are packed, you are eating on paper plates and eating not-great food because most of your cooking stuff is packed, the house looks sad because things are coming off the walls and it becomes the empty shell you walked into nearly 2 years ago. Brennan has 2.5 days left of school and I'm not sure whose more excited, me or her? I am SO OVER the long trek to her school each day, and since I don't feel like I was ever really here this go around I'm admittedly detached from her school and just want to go home. I've said to Adam on more than one occasion that I think this will be the most anti-climactic move we've ever made, I really think we'll get into the moving van/car and just drive off with little emotion over actually leaving. These past 22 months haven't felt like real life to me, I've admittedly lived with one foot out the door since we got here and I think when we get back to Waco it will take about 2 seconds before it feels like we never left and this will all be a distant memory...and truth be told, I can't wait for that. I don't want to be insensitive to our dear friends who have made these past 22 months actually doable, and of course we will miss them terribly, but they have known from day one we haven't been "home" and they are eager for us to get back to it as well.

This past week Adam was out of town, then a friend from Waco came into town for a night, then cousin Mike flew in Friday morning and was here until yesterday morning. We had a fun weekend with him but poor B got sick so that put a damper on some things. Its been kinda nutty around here, but in a good way. :) We've got back to back to back dinners this next week saying goodbye to sweet friends, that's always bittersweet. I can't believe after all the waiting that this past year has entailed that we're here, we're finally HERE. The older I get I find I keep saying things like "life is so weird" to Adam, and he agrees. I think when you inch up on 40 something changes in you, you become more introspective and you start to realize how quickly life goes, how fast kids grow up, how you feel like you're still in your 20s so how can 40 be so near? Its a funny/weird phase of life for me, I've been thinking a lot about what I want for my daughter and for our little family, what lessons I want to teach her and what I hope she doesn't have to figure out the hard way. I've had some weird health stuff and have had numerous drs appointments and its reminded me how fragile life is and has kept me in check with the person I want to be and what I think is really important. I've read lots of books the past 2 years, probably more than ever in my life and I've feel like I've learned new things and gained new insights into this crazy life. I've been intentional about spending a lot of time with people who are wiser than me and have let them pour into me and teach me and its been so life-giving/rewarding. I've kept my mouth shut when I didn't want to and have learned valuable lessons in doing so. I've spoken truth into other peoples lives and have seen it yield some good things and some hard things. I've learned over and over again that good things comes from hard things and that hard things are less hard when you surrender them to Jesus and wait on his timing (have I mentioned I hate waiting?). I won't be sad to say goodbye to this "season" of life if you will, but I am thankful for all I've learned, I'm going to try to remind myself of that truth over and over and over. xo

May 26, 2016

betrayal

I've been thinking a lot about betrayal lately, its something that I've had thrown at me a lot in the past year and a half in various ways for different reasons, but ultimately 1 reason that has manifested itself in different ways at different times. I've been thinking a lot about it for several reasons but the main one being, I keep trying to figure out what Jesus would do with certain circumstances I've been given? You see, when things aren't black and white it leaves a lot up to interpretation and that can lead to actions where one can have a hard time trying to decipher what the "right" thing to do is. I've talked about this before, I've been wresting with it for a while so its making another appearance on this here blog. I was talking to someone recently and I said, I wonder what Jesus would say was the hardest part about the whole crucifixion experience? If we could sit down and have some face time with him and ask him to break it down, what would he say was the absolute worst part? The long walk carrying the cross while people yelled horrible things at him and spit in his face? The crown of thorns pressed violently into his head? The actual nails being driven into his wrists? The hanging with the weight of his body on those nails? The spear in his side? Or...was it the betrayal by those that claimed to love him the most? To have to endure watching the people that repeatedly told him they loved him look him in the eye and betray him like it was nothing? Please hear me here, I'm in NO WAY comparing my hurt to what Jesus experienced, but I have had some very painful physical pain in this life, and I've been betrayed and felt the sting of that and for me there's no question, the betrayal is by far the most painful...and lasting. You see, Jesus eventually was out of the physical pain, that was removed when it was finished, but the betrayal doesn't go away...he still has that pain to carry with him.

Today the news came out that Baylor's head football coach, Art Briles was fired due to an (alleged) cover up of sexual assault by some football players. I don't know all the ins and outs but I keep thinking about the girl(s) who were abused, and how the silence and (alleged) cover up of it all (by a Christian university no less) must have felt like such a betrayal of their experience and pain. And now, the truth is "out there" and natural consequences have taken place, and I can't help but think they must feel so vindicated, like their abuse wasn't nothing. Its SO HARD when a wrong has been done and people turn a blind eye for their own sake, they don't want to get their hands dirty. I have to believe this is not what Jesus had in mind when he called us to be peacemakers.

In college I majored in Christian Ministries with a minor in Theology and I had an emphasis in youth ministry. I took a class that required that I go hear Bart Campolo give a lecture at my school on youth ministry and it ended up being one of the most profound experiences I had in my 4 years at APU. For those of you who don't know who Bart is, he is (well, rather this is who he was when I was in college, he's changed his views a lot in recent years) an evangelist who lives and breaths urban youth ministry. He spends his days "in the ghetto" trying to reach broken kids with the good news of Jesus. When he's not doing that he's traveling the world speaking, trying to recruit urban youth workers to come work with at-risk youth. He's got a pretty amazing mission and is a very dynamic speaker with gripping stories. One of his stories has haunted me for years because of the reality of how messy life can be, and Jesus calls us into that mess and yet, he doesn't always give us the clear "right" answer for how to respond to certain situations. He explained how he had been working with a boy who came from a broken home, no dad, mom was working lots of jobs just to get by, he was often left unattended and was on a bad trajectory if something didn't change in his life. Bart had been pouring into this kid, trying to show him there was more to life and that was Jesus. This kid showed up at Bart's house one day and asked if he could live with him? Bart said this was a regular occurrence, kids would often come to him after trust was built when they felt they had nowhere to go and how it was a tricky thing to navigate b/c obviously he couldn't let all these kids come live with him and his family. So he pushed back on the kid and said "What do you mean your mom kicked you out?" After some back and forth the kid confessed that his mom wanted him to beat up a kid and he refused because "Bart said that Jesus said that you don't hurt people and that fighting isn't okay." So, because of his refusal to beat up this kid his mom kicked him out and he had nowhere to live. Bart pushed back some more and asked why his mom wanted him to beat up another kid?! After more back and forth the kid confessed "Because he's been raping my little brother." Bart went on to say how when in these situations, when life is this messy there's a problem, its true, Jesus says to love and not fight back but rather, to turn the other cheek. Bart went on to say, "in the ghetto you're often not dealing with good and bad, you're dealing with bad and worse." "So I looked him in the eye and I said, you go beat up that kid, you beat him so hard so he never touches your brother again." Bart went on to say when that kid walked away he felt so yucky, so gross, that he was covered in mess and he didn't want that on him, he cried out to the Lord and begged for his forgiveness but he didn't know what else to do, there was nothing "right" about any of this!!!!" He goes on to say how life is messy, doing life with urban youth is really messy, and Jesus calls us into the mess without all the answers but you go anyway, because that is what Jesus would do, and he too would get the mess all over him.

Life isn't black and white, there's a lot of gray, even/especially in the Christian life, but when a wrong has been done and people don't want to make a move because they want to keep their hands clean, people get hurt. Life is messy, but Jesus calls us into the mess, sitting on the sidelines isn't an option. xo