June 30, 2011


Okay everyone. Have you heard of this new phenomenon called Pinterest?

I had seen some links here and there on various blogs, but didn't really think twice about it until recently. A couple of weeks ago I found myself with some down time and instead of cleaning my bathroom or doing something else that probably required my attention, I wandered over to Pinterest to see what the hype was all about.

Once I got my invitation from the site (seriously arrived within like ten minutes of my request for it), I was hooked. It took me a bit to figure out how to set up boards and figure out how to pin anything, but once I did I was hooked!

Let me explain (and this is mostly for the benefit of both of my Grandmothers). Pinterest is kind of like an online "pinboard." It's a place where you can store recipes, decorating ideas, organizational tips, or just pretty things that make you smile. It has all the excitement of online shopping, yet you spend nothing. It's a place to dream and have fun. And for me, it's been a great resource to get hundreds of ideas on how to spruce things up at home or add special touches to a party. I have found new blogs I enjoy, great handmade products that are on my official wishlist to purchase in real life, and a place where I've found wonderful and creative ideas that I want to try myself.

I've only been on Pinterest for two-ish weeks and I already have EIGHTEEN categorized boards. Perhaps I'm a little addicted, but it's fun and new and I just kind of can't help myself.

And how can a person have EIGHTEEN boards and what on earth are they all for you ask? Sure - I'll break it down for you. (o;

Decorating Ideas: This board is all about different things I'd like to do in my home from art projects, to patterns of curtains and pillows, and other ideas I'd like to implement in any room in my home.

Tablescapes: Many beautiful ideas of how to put a gorgeous table together for a dinner, party, or special event. Though with my kind of budget I would have to get even more creative. Though these are awesome to access merely for inspiration!

Party Central: Ya'll know I love to throw a good party. It's been great to find new themes, favors, food, ideas and decorations. Not only for inspiration, but things I could implement and create myself.

Accessorize: A place for fun things like earrings, necklaces, purses and fun things to accessorize any outfit. I have learned through this particular board that I have a "thing" for ruffles that I didn't know about until recently.

Shoe Candy: Because the 70 some pair of shoes I own at home isn't quite enough, it's fun to have a board of shoes I dream of. Shoes just make me happy.

Stylin': My board for fun outfits, tops and dresses that are my style. And things I definitely want to be on the lookout for if I'm ever shopping!

I could live there: Pretty homes that I could totally see myself calling home. I can dream right?

I love the holidays: Christmas galore! Decorations and pretty rooms that give me inspiration and ideas on how I'd like to make things gorgeous for the holiday season.

Yellow: It's my favorite color and it felt necessary to have a board dedicated of only yellow things that make me smile.

Autumn: I love to decorate for the fall and this board gives me a place to put new ideas and pretty things from my favorite season.

Scrapbooking: Though I should probably be catching up on my scrapbooking instead of making boards on Pinterest of page designs I'd like to try, it's great to find ideas on how to put pages together. Others' creativity often guides me to do some fun pages myself!

Because I'm kind of obsessed with weddings: If it didn't mean having to work every weekend, I think I would probably LOVE to be a wedding planner. And because I love wedding cakes and bouquets and beautiful pictures of weddings, it's fun to have a place to store all things wedding.

Just Dreaming: If you know about my wedding dress dream, this is a place where I have found gorgeous gowns and when it's time, I hope I can try every one of them on!

Sparkles: This board should be called "DREAM ON!" because it's a board full of beautiful diamondy things. Huge rocks that if I'm ever some kind of rock star or win the lottery or get my own television show (HA!) I'd be sporting one of these. Again - a girl can dream right?

Jennsational: Random board full of things that just remind me of myself and my life.

Pretty places and spaces: On this board are places I'd imagine myself spending some ME time reading, resting or vacationing.

Costumes: I'm always looking for unique and fun costume ideas for Halloween and silly parties I might throw.

Organizing Fun: I have great intentions about getting organized and then don't do it well. This board has given me great ideas on things I could do to get my pantry, office, cabinets, bathrooms, etc., organized and looking good!

Okay, so that was exhausting and I'm sure I bored anyone reading that. But I had fun with it so I suppose that's all that matters!

And if you want just a taste of a few things I've pinned, here you go!

This beautiful tablescape via

And this great birthday banner via

This cute purse via
My boards and my purposes for it are more of a collection of ideas and such, but the site is actually quite awesome and functional if you're planning a wedding, furnishing a home or apartment, or putting a cookbook together of recipes and such. Apparently I'm sold on this new site and think you should be too.

Are you on Pinterest yet? What kinds of things do you like to pin?

June 28, 2011

My cup runneth over

Sometimes there are these moments in life....really good, really happy, and really fulfilling moments that leave you feeling overwhelmed by the beauty of them. Beautiful, laughter-filled, fun moments that stay with you for years. I have several memories of my childhood that I still remember with so much fondness - a time when our family felt closer and more connected. I can still remember those times right down to smells and sounds, the meals we shared, the jokes that were told, the gifts that were given and received, the games played, or even the tears that were cried.

It's felt like a long time since we've had one of those times together - one of those unforgettable nights that you know you will sit around and talk about later when you're older. Tonight I had one of those nights with my family. It felt like a night that will be memorable for me. In 20 years, I will still recall this night with fondness.

I will remember Poppy sitting at the kiddie table because he was the first to get his food.
I will remember my dad's face for my son as Tommy was enamored by his guitar playing and wanted to play along with him.
I will remember that Auntie was here and she was the reason we all gathered together for this special mid-week affair. I will remember that I made tacos and everyone loved my spanish rice and Robin's guacamole.
I will remember Tommy singing with us and being a ham and showing off for the entire family.
I will remember my sweet Grammy as she observed the family around her laughing and talking and singing and eating. I knew she was soaking it all in and enjoying every drop of every moment together.
I will remember my cousin Jon reading Tommy a book and asking if he could come back and do that again some time.
I will remember Tommy jumping up in to Poppy's arms before they left for the night.
I will remember conversations and faces and laughter and singing. I will remember that my dad played an old favorite song of mine and I sang it. I will remember that everyone ate my dessert until it was gone. I will remember how several of us snorted with laughter.
I will remember that my step-sister Chelsea announced that her and her new husband were expecting a baby and we all cried and rejoiced. I will remember her tears and my own for such exciting news.
I will remember that on this night - a random Tuesday in June where we all got together as a family to see my Auntie who was visiting from Africa, that we had a great, great time.

I will remember that no matter how often or how few our family times together can look like this, that God is the giver of such amazing gifts. I will remember that living in the tension of life is hard, but that it's where He has me and He's given me the strength and courage to do it. I will remember that there are still good times to be had and to be shared and how I hope there will be more opportunity for it. I will remember that God is the giver of new life and how good it feels to celebrate it. I will remember how I felt His love poured over me tonight.
I will remember.

My heart is full. My cup runneth over.

June 26, 2011

The Hill

Nearby is a small historic park. It has an official name and everything, but I have named it simply, "The Hill." I love that it's so close. And even though it's smack dab in the middle of the busy suburbs, once I head down its familiar trails, it's almost as if that part of the world just disappears. Sometimes it feels like my own private place. It's where I find solitude.

And every time I go there, I seem to always find God. Perhaps because I go looking for Him.

It's been a favorite location of mine for years now. I go there when I want to exercise or pray or cry or just work out my frustrations on it's winding paths. There are several paths to walk. Some are easy - they are paved and shady. Others are more challenging and require some skill and athleticism as they are steep and rocky. And I love to go and sit at the very top where it overlooks much of the city.

Instead of church yesterday, I went to the hill. I walked some and jogged some. It felt good to see progress in myself as being able to do a bit of light jogging, even for brief spurts at a time, is some what of a big deal for me. It feels exciting to pick up the pace. I was kind of loving it.

I felt my muscles tighten as I climbed the steep and steady incline that led to the top of the hill as the sun beat down on me. This might sound weird, but it's in those moments of a good work out that make me feel the best. When I can feel the sweat, feel the burn in my muscles and feel my body respond to what I'm asking it to do. It's both strenuous and rejuvenating at the same time.

The hill somehow brings clarity. Being out in nature and allowing my body to get some good exercise somehow opens up my mind to think more clearly and even feel more deeply. And every time I'm there I tell myself - I need to come here more often.

As I walked yesterday I thought about how my life and my relationship with God reminded me of these trails. Some times have felt good - easy, happy, and shady where the breeze felt great. Others felt hard, rocky, and the heat became almost unbearable and left me desperate for some relief. Other times in life felt (or even currently feel) never ending until the next bend in the road came and the scenery would finally change. And no matter what my walk has looked like or what trails I've been on, my body feels better after. All of me feels better. The walk challenged me, strengthened me, energized me and refreshed me. And I know the same is true for my "walk" with God.

I'm not really sure where I am on my walk with God these days. It keeps changing as He keeps inviting me to share in MORE with Him. And I'm not sure how to describe the path we are walking on, but the point is, we are walking.

And the pace is picking up to a light jog. And I'm kind of loving it.

June 23, 2011

Summer Play List

I don't know about you, but certain songs can almost take me back to certain times of life. I can remember the smells and sounds and what life felt like. Anytime I hear the song "One Sweet Day," by Mariah Carey, it takes me back to my freshmen year of high school when a girl named Brenda was my best friend. We lived on cheeseburgers and Twix candy bars and clung to each other in gym class as we didn't know anyone else. We would often sing this song at the top of our lungs and wish we had the kind of powerhouse voice that Mariah did.

I'm still the same way though. Certain songs can take me back to a memory in life or of a person or a feeling.

As this is the summeriest summer I've had in quite some time, I wanted to remember what my summer play list was. Most of these songs I've been jamming out to in my car or at work. Some of I've danced to. Others just feel fitting for my heart right now. Either way, I wanted to remember them, so that someday I could go back and listen when life isn't as summery or I need a reminder of what it feels like to celebrate and just be alive.

My list is all over the place - country, Christian, rock, ballads, pop, etc. I'm a versatile music lover, what can I say?

In no particular order, (aside from #1 as it's my current favorite) here is my current summer play list:

#1) Dynamite - Taio Cruz

#2) Firework - Katy Perry

#3) Gonna be a good night - Black Eyed Peas

#4) Forever - Chris Brown

#5) Country Girl (Shake it for me) - Luke Bryan

#6) Rolling in the Deep - Adele

#7) Always - Kristian Stanfill

#8) Heart Like Mine - Miranda Lambert

#9) Perfect - Pink

#10) I am Free - Newsboys

#11) Just the way you are - Bruno Mars

#12) In the End - Linkin Park

#13) Party in the U.S.A. - Miley Cyrus

#14) Love Story - Taylor Swift

#15) I so Hate Consequences - Reliant K

#16) Dare you to Move - Switchfoot

#17) Alive - P.O.D.

#18) Feels like Home - Chantal Kreviazuk

#19) Blessings - Laura Story

#20) I Need You - Chris Tomlin

Do you have any favorite summer songs? Any songs that take you back to a memory or a memorable time of life?

June 22, 2011

My Party Dress

It felt fitting to have a dress for this wedding, this friendship, this celebration - it felt like it was time. And when I actually found a dress to wear, I knew without a shadow of a doubt it was time.

I brought my back-up outfit just in case something happened and I didn't think I could go through with it. My dressy, but non-dress-outfit was waiting in the closet in case I felt like I needed to put it on instead. I didn't want to be stuck without a wedding appropriate outfit in case something awful happened and shut me down. I felt like I needed to be prepared, and I was.

There is something about wearing a dress that is just different from any other kind of outfit. It's even different than a skirt. It's a more feminine declaration of who a woman is. It's been a declaration that I've been wary of making because of how I have felt about myself in the past.

Over the years, there is been much damage done to my femininity - and a lot of that has been self-inflicted. I've looked at where I joined evil in being out to destroy my beauty. And refusing to wear a dress has been one of the places I have done that. It's where I have remained hidden. It's where I have agreed with evil that I wasn't worth that level of femininity or beauty. It's where I let my insecurities define me and no one could talk me into even trying one on, much less wearing one.

Evil whispered to me much of the weekend. "You are going to look ridiculous in that dress. You don't even belong here. Wear the other outfit. You know that dress will look horrible on you - it was a fluke that you liked in in the dressing room. People will think you look awful. Someone will make fun of you behind your back. Don't wear that dress." Yes, evil's whispers were persistent.

Yet I recognized the voice. It wasn't mine. And it wasn't the voice of my Father. So I decided to ignore it. I decided to disagree with what it had to say. It feels so very empowering to remember that I have a choice and that I get to decide how I am going to live my life.

The back-up outfit remained in the closet the entire weekend.

I wore that dress. And I rocked it out! Isn't it fun?! It felt very "me." And it was perfect for the occasion. I am only now wondering where I can wear this to so I can wear it again!
Todd arrived at the church after me as I got ready with the bride and the bridesmaids that evening. As I walked down the hallway to meet him, I began to cry. His face for me was everything that I had hoped it would be. He looked at me with his adoring eyes and held me tightly in his arms and told me of my beauty and his love for me. He has missed seeing me in a dress and I loved that I was able to let myself be enjoyed by him that night.

Later in the evening, I invited my husband out on to the dance floor with me. He got out there and spun me around - I even taught him how to do a fun line dance. And later we shared a slow dance together. My dress got plenty of twirling action. I love that Shelley's reception pictures will include those of us dancing. That makes me smile.

I'm not sure what Todd's expression is about in this picture, haha, but we had such a fun time together.
God makes all things new - in His time. And it was finally time for me to put on a party dress, and dance the night away.

THIS SONG feels fitting for where I am right now..He makes beautiful things.

Thank you sweet Jesus for pictures of redemption that remind me of your goodness, unfailing love and relentless pursuit of my heart. I love You.

June 21, 2011

The Beautiful Bride

Shelley and I had an interesting start to our friendship. I first remember seeing her in church one Sunday morning. She was wearing a brown sundress and had this gorgeous long, blonde hair. And what interested me about her was how she worshipped. And while I should have been worshipping and singing myself, I was captivated by her abandon in worship and how she was clearly in love with God. I knew that day that I wanted to know this young woman.

Quite a bit of time after that first encounter, I found myself sitting next to her at a Bible study and tried to strike up a conversation. I don't even remember what happened or what led to it, but it was a train wreck of a conversation. I am pretty sure I put my foot in my mouth and said something just totally wrong and then I completely shut down, as did she. It was very awkward and we sat next to one another the rest of that night in silence.

After a few days passed, I sent her a note apologizing for what I had said and what happened and explaining to her what had been going on for me. Again, I can't remember what was said, but an apology was in order. I had so wanted to get to know her and that conversation had gone terribly wrong. She wrote back with a very gracious reply and accepted my apology. We were able to meet up for conversation and coffee, and thus began a wonderful friendship. I am so grateful that she was willing to forgive me and that a friendship was able to blossom out of such an awkward start.

Our friendship exists on this deep and intimate level. I can't tell you what her favorite color is or her favorite kind of music, but I could tell you about her heart and her longings and desires and her story - that was how we knew one another. There were weekends where she would come and stay and we would just talk and enjoy conversation and coffee. I always felt rejuvenated after spending time in her presence. She left me feeling as though I had just encountered some wonderful thing and being with her always left my heart full.

Her marriage was something to celebrate. And last weekend, there was much celebrating.
We danced and sang and talked and cried. It was a lovely time.
Friday night after the rehearsal dinner, we sat together at a table and let out squeals that tomorrow was going to be the day she was getting married. Shelley's story is not mine to share. But as I thought about her, I was reminded of redemption and how Jesus is the Great Redeemer. The three of us (Shelley, her best friend and maid of honor Heather, and myself) sat in this moment as we all remembered what God had done. Only He could make her story this beautiful.

And oh. It was beautiful indeed. From her dress, to the ceremony, and the dancing - it was all so very beautiful. When the preacher announced them as husband and wife, she lifted her hand in worship - one of the many times I had tears that day. It took me back to the first Sunday morning that I saw her, and it was such an honor to be there and witness this glorious marriage ceremony take place.
A picture of redemption. Glorious, beautiful, amazing redemption. Only God can create pictures like this. My friend Shelley and her wonderful husband.
More to come this week on redemption as there was a bit of that this weekend for me as well....

June 20, 2011


There is much to write and be said about the weekend we spent in the Houston area over the weekend. It was fun and memorable. Glorious tears were shed, glorious laughs were laughed and wonderful memories were made. It was an honor to be there and celebrate with the bride.

Today however, I am tired and worn out and needing about 78 million hours more of sleep.

I am also remembering what the weekend felt like to just be with my husband. More time than expected was allowed for us to just be together. We went swimming, we took naps, we went shopping, we ate out - we were just together. And reconnecting never felt so sweet. It was exactly what we needed and it was the best way to end the pizza delivering season and enter into something new.

We love Tommy and he is a wonderful, ever-present part of our lives. However, the weekend allowed the time for us just to be husband and wife instead of daddy and mommy. Though we thought of him often - like how much he would have loved the beaver hats at Buccee's.
(Sidenote: Isn't my tan frickin' awesome?!)
More will come about the weekend. But for today I am remembering the sweetness of reconnection. And relishing in the precious time we got to spend together.

June 16, 2011


One year ago yesterday was my first day at my new job. I think the time has gone by faster because for most of that time, I was only working as a part-time employee. My work isn't anything special - I do lots of busy bookkeeping work, and attempt to keep things as organized as possible around here. But I love my boss and the people I work with and it makes the fact that I need to work full-time now so much more enjoyable.

My co-workers surprised me yesterday with some tokens of appreciation.
Flowers, a card and cake!
I'm so blessed and grateful to be at this job. I smile at the thought of what God had in store for me after leaving my last job. He knew what I needed and right where I needed to be even though I was sure He was nuts. And being appreciated feels like the icing on top of that cake!

Todd and I leave later this morning for our weekend trip to Houston. I'm excited about all of the fun weekend events and getting to spend some one on one time with my man too.

Happy Thursday everyone!

June 15, 2011

Hot pink hair and other things

So I've been blogging for a little over four years now. And I was wondering the other day if there was anything that the blogworld possibly doesn't know about me yet. Is there anything left that I haven't shared? Well, I think I came up with a few things....

I've always wanted hot pink hair. Yes, it's true. I have an inner-rock star somewhere in me just dying to get out I suppose. I think I was just struck with the "wild and crazy" gene. To clarify, I don't really want an entire head of hot pink hair - maybe just the tips perhaps. And I wouldn't keep it forever, I just want it to for a little while. I still have much convincing to do to make my husband see that this would be a fun idea. Even though it would be very temporary, he doesn't like the idea. *sigh*

I'm intimidated by meringues.
I consider myself to be a pretty decent cook and somewhat of a skilled baker. However, I have never in my life attempted any kind of meringue pie. I have had to make things before that need to "peak" and do them successfully, but something about meringues make me feel inadequate and I'm afraid I'll mess it up. And since I don't really like meringue pies that much anyway, I have like no motivation to even try. Ha!

I LOVE the show Storage Wars.
Have you seen this show on A&E? These people go to storage unit auctions and bid on them and they can keep or sell whatever they find in them. I love seeing what they do or don't find in the units. I find it absolutely riveting television!

I absolutely HATE to be called Jenny.
First, let me explain, that it's not that I don't like the name. I have friends named Jenni or Jenny and that doesn't bother me at all. It's just me - I'm not a Jenny - never have been. And if someone ever calls me Jenny I usually quickly correct them and tell them that it's Jenn or Jennifer. As a side note, my Grammy has a pet name for me and calls me "Denny," which sounds much like Jenny. But since she is my Grammy and says it with such love and sweetness, I let it slide.

I haven't worn a dress in four years.
I think the last time I wore a dress, was for my Grandparent's 50th Anniversary. I didn't like the dress much, and more than that, I didn't like how I looked in it. I think not wearing dresses or skirts is another place that I've allowed myself to hide. Though I dress very femininely in cute blouses and shoes, I've allowed shame to keep me out of wearing a dress because I've been ashamed of my figure. I would love to wear dresses, I just don't. HOWEVER. Yes, there is a big however.

I am going to my friend's wedding this weekend - we leave tomorrow for a big wedding weekend extravaganza. And I am so excited. I am part of her "house party" and initially I was planning on wearing something red, and the only thing I had was a fun red top and some black dress pants. But yesterday, I decided to brave the stores and try on some dresses - just for kicks. Just to see if maybe I could find one. I took a handful of several fun dresses into the fitting room and looked at myself in the mirror and literally gave myself a pep-talk. I reminded myself to be kind, that I'm making progress, and I don't have to get a dress - this is just for "fun."

To my amazement, every dress I tried on not only fit, but they all kind of looked good on me. In fact, I was torn between two dresses. I decided on the one that felt more fun and more like me. And I got it!!! I think it looks so fun on me and I can't wait to dance in it! It continues to be a transforming kind of summer - dancing, swimming, shorts, swimsuits, dresses - wow!

I'm going to wait to post a picture of my new DRESS until I after I wear it to the wedding this weekend - just to keep you in suspense. And FYI - it would go really well with hot pink hair....*sigh*

June 14, 2011


I forgot that my hair got lighter when I spent a lot of time in the sun. It's lighter brown right now.

I forgot what it looked like for my skin to have some color from being outside. I almost have a tan.

I forgot what it felt like to swim and play in the water. It feels GREAT.

I forgot what it felt like to wear a pair of shorts. I bought a pair last night. My first pair in about four years.

I forgot what the smell of sunscreen was like. Something about it is sweet and reminds me of wonderful childhood memories.

I forgot that the days are so long in the summer and I can be outside until almost 9:00 and have it still be daylight. And I have been.

I forgot what it felt like to play and run. There has been much playtime.

I forgot how much the summer makes me want ice-cream cones and lemonade. Yum!

I forgot how good it felt to feel cool grass in between my toes.

However, I do remember doing all of these things in other summers of my life. Somewhere along the way I started to forget what it felt like to just have fun and not only enjoy summer, but to enjoy my life.

I think mostly shame has kept me indoors these last several years. The shame I've felt over my size and my body mostly. I've allowed it to dictate what I do and when I do it. I've allowed what others could possibly be thinking of me get in the way of what I have really wanted to do. I have stayed indoors and hid for years. And this summer, I've come out of hiding.

And I may still have a ways to go yet with the weight I'd like to lose, but I'm not letting it get in the way anymore of me living in the here and the now. I'm not really focusing on pounds lost - I know there has been loss. I see it, I feel it, I notice it. Yet not being a slave to the scale or to a diet has allowed me to really find change and transformation within myself. And it's not just showing up in my clothes. It's showing up in my face and my laughter and all of this new-found energy I have.

I am enjoying life, enjoying the body I am in, and enjoying every ounce of summer there is to be had. And not just because I am free from shame, but just because I am FREE.

I'm not forgetting anymore. I am remembering. And living.

June 12, 2011

I wanna celebrate and live my life!!!

Whew. What a weekend! It was one of those super-fun-non-stop, go-go-go kinds of weekends. Yet it was an absolute blast.

Friday, Tommy and I spent the day with some friends in New Braunfels at this amazing place called "The Island." It's kind of like paradise. It's a beautiful stretch of land in the middle of a river. You can swim, float, and canoe and there are places to grill and lay out. Tommy and I played in a shallow area of water perfect for kiddoes his size. We had a blast!
Any day where he can play in the water and be outside is a great day. He loved filling his truck with river rocks!
However, he wasn't too keen on the idea of taking a picture with me to document how much fun we had together.
Saturday we went to a birthday party for our friend Addie. We played with balloons and ate cupcakes and made everyone laugh.
Saturday evening, we hosted a birthday shin-dig at our house for my very long time friend Sarah. I set a few things out to make it fun and festive.
I baked like the yummiest chocolate-chocolate cake in the entire world.
Her husband Dave drove her around town blind-folded and wouldn't tell her where he was taking her. So when he brought her into our house, she had no clue where she was at.
We ate fajitas and played some games - chicken feet - a long time favorite of hers and mine too!
We have been friends for officially half of our lives now. We met when we were 15 years old and it's kind of amazing that we are still friends and are involved in one another's lives all these years later. It was such a joy to celebrate her and it's such a blessing to have her as one of my closest and best friends.

Something else that made the weekend extra special was my sister-in-law came in to town to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday. And it wouldn't be an outing unless we posed for a few random pictures.
We had a big meat-fest at Todd's parent's house.
And later on in the evening, there were plenty of shenanigans with a play micro-phone. The best part of the day was not recorded in pictures however. Tiffany and I started dancing to my current life theme-song and started our own little party. Which then carried on outside. We jammed out to the radio and got everyone dancing, including her parents. An absolute amazing, hilarious time considering I never expected to see my husband's parents "shake it like a Polaroid pitcha!" It was kind of awesome and it was fun to see that I was able to invite them to let loose and party a little bit.
As for me and this guy, we are going to be celebrating our anniversary in Houston this coming weekend - so excited!

It was a full, fun, life-filled weekend. Hope yours was too!

June 10, 2011

Five Years

Today is our five year anniversary. FIVE years. We are a whole hand old now.

This last year has been a good one, yet it's been difficult in it's own right. In the last year, we've grown together and we have seen our love has deepen and take roots. Our marriage together continues to develop and look just as unique as we are.

Even though much of the last year was spent apart with Todd working two jobs and me left without him, we have purposed to remain close and connect as often as possible in the midst of that. Todd loves me in a way that I have never been loved, and with each passing day, more of my heart finds healing because of it. His strength and sacrifice for Tommy and I this past year has spoken volumes to me of his character. And though the pizza-delivering season was hard and felt like it would never end, it has and I'm excited about the new season that we are entering together. It already feels good to reconnect and see each other more.

Over the last year some of the only time we've had together were trips to the grocery store or staying up until 2:00 in the morning just to be together because he had gotten home late from work. I'm looking forward to more upcoming date nights, weekend adventures, and just eating dinner together as a family. As I write and dream about my hopes for our upcoming year of marriage, I'm curious what the next year will be like for us. We can always plan for things, but often times, life happens and God has other things in mind....

I used to wrinkle my nose and bristle up when people would say things like "Marriage takes work." I thought those people were crazy and maybe they were just in bad marriages or something. And maybe "work" is the wrong word. But marriage does take something! It takes effort, time, compassion, understanding, conflict, resolution, passion, adventure, patience and most importantly love. I'm sure there is much about marriage we have yet to understand or even go through together, but spending five years with the same man has given me the hope that we will make it through anything together because we aren't committed to just staying together because that's the "right" thing to do. We want it to be GOOD and purpose for it to be.

Some of my favorite pictures of us from year 5 of marriage.....

We aren't afraid to kiss in public.
We are totally ourselves. Our gross, weird, selves.
We have an absolute blast together.
If there is such a thing as a "soul-mate," I'm pretty sure we are that for each other. Pictures like this make that completely evident.
We are totally silly. We are hoping that Tommy learns plenty of silly from us.
Life can be really scary. And I'm glad I've got him next to me when things start to freak me out.
Life isn't perfect. But it's rich, full, real, authentic, challenging, tear-full, safe, loving, exciting and full of passion, because it's spent with this man. The man that it is my pride and joy to stand by and call husband as long as we're both alive.
Happy 5th Anniversary babe! I wouldn't want to share my life with anyone else!

June 9, 2011

The Hope of the Cross

I read something last week in a book that has stayed with me. The words have echoed in my heart and mind over and over again. They are from the book, "Breaking the Idols of Your Heart," by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman.

The second chapter is titled Chasing after Relationships. And after the narrative story portion of each chapter, Longman writes about various idols in our life. And in this chapter specifically, the idol: Relationships can bring me fulfillment.

It sounds good right? I think I always thought that. Especially in my lonelier seasons of life, I was convinced that if I just had a boyfriend or a best girlfriend to hang out with, I would find what I was looking for and feel more fulfilled. And I have those things now. I have a loving husband and more than a handful of dear, precious and wonderful friends. Yet I still feel a measure of unfulfillment.

Honestly, I struggle here a lot. Relationships with my family don't look like I want them to. They are not like what I have hoped for. They aren't close like my heart desires. They are distant, stale, and sometimes pretend. And it grieves my heart almost every day. And while I have changed how I relate and I take steps of loving well and loving boldly, my pain often causes me to stumble. I feel the absence of what I long for and at some point, I became convinced that if the relationships with my family could just look the way that I have hoped them to look, then I would be fulfilled.

A few interesting quotes from this book that has got me looking at the condition of my heart and where I am at in these relationships and how little I know of love.....

"Once we speak words that reveal disappointment, hurt, or desire, then the tenor of the relationship changes. A new level of tension is introduced - and most people don't want that. They prefer conflict-free, undemanding relationships."

When I look at my relationships, the relationships that are the deepest and perhaps where I feel the most loved are the ones that maybe feel more demanding. They need quality time spent together, talks about difficult things and entering into conflict to find resolution. Conflict-free and undemanding relationships are not deep or life-giving, and I am not usually loving others well there.

"For it is in relationship, especially our closest friendships and our marriages, that our lives will be most deeply disturbed....and drawn to the depths of truth about ourselves and God."

As I think about who has deeply disturbed me in this way - faces come to mind. Todd, Tracy, Russ, Ellen, Bethany, Libby, Gary, Mike, Katrina, Anna, Ted....those are just some of the people who have drawn me to the depths of truth about myself and about God. I am grateful for how they have disrupted my heart and how their love and pursuit of me has allowed me to become closer to Jesus.

"We want to be loved, but we find it hard to give love to another unless we get something in return."

This felt hard to read and it hit my heart like a tons of bricks. It has felt overwhelming to sit in the place where I know I am seeking to get something in return for my love - especially when it comes to my family. And though part of me feels like I deserve something from them, it has revealed to me the depravity of my heart and just how little I know of love and how to truly love another. It's hard to love another unless I get something in return. That is true for me - is that true for you?

"Paul describes a heart that loves with passion and depth. First, the apostle tells us that love is patient and kind. It waits for the other, and it does so with concern, not irritability. It waits. It hopes. It loves beauty and justice and does not give in to the petty pleasure of seeing the one who hurt us stumble. Love is the Atlas of the soul; it keeps holding us up. It does not quit; it does not lose memory of connection; it does not kill the dreams of reconciliation."

I'll admit that I sometimes feel like I am losing the memory of connection. I feel like I want to quit and throw in the towel, because really loving someone this way is hard. And am I waiting with concern or irritability? I have been grieved at what I have found in my heart here.

"For it is in the midst of facing how little we love that we are drawn to the wonder of just how much we are loved by God....and the truth of how we can maintain the healthy, intimate relationships we desire so deeply."

Being loved by God is something I have tried to push away for a long time. Several posts ago I wrote about letting God back in to a place in my heart that had been off limits. And since then I have been experiencing His love for me in new ways which has felt both wonderful and overwhelming. For years though, I have fought to let myself even feel loved by God and because of this, it has had an impact on how I am able (and not able) to love others. My ability to love well is directly tied to how I am experiencing God's love for me, just as I am. Oh how much I have missed out on with Him.....

"The wonder is that the more these relationships grow, the more we come to understand what real love is really about. Only relationship with Christ can give us that above-the-sun possibility."

I have looked for relational fulfillment in almost every relationship I've ever had. And I've been met with hurt and disappointment, every single time. I feel ambivalent about knowing that the only relationship that can provide me with what I am really looking for, is Christ. It feels unfair and it feels glorious too. I guess I'm longing for Eden. I'm longing for perfection. I'm longing for relationships to be as they were designed to be, but they can't because we aren't in the garden. We are not in heaven. We are here and this is simply not HOME.

"There will be a day of reconciliation for those whose lives are covered by the hope of the cross. Our deepest desire in relationship, intimate oneness, will be perfectly and gloriously fulfilled."

I wept after I read this. This is the quote that has been echoing in my heart all week long. There WILL be a day of reconciliation, because my life is covered by the hope of what Jesus did on the cross.

There will be a day when I can see my mom face-to-face and embrace like we never have before. There will be a day when I can see my brother's face and hear his laugh again. There will be a day when I can jump up and down and dance with my Grandparents whose aging bodies don't allow for such a thing now. There will be a day when my family is reconciled to me in the way that I have always desired and hoped for. There will be a day. And only because my life is covered by the hope of the cross. My hope is not covered by my family, nor my husband, nor any deep or wonderful friendship I have here.

Relationships here cannot and will not bring me fulfillment. There is much about them to be enjoyed and delighted in and there is much life to be shared in them. The really good relationships are the ones that continue to draw me to the heart of God. Yet, I will never experience here what it is my heart is truly longing for. There is only one relationship that can bring my heart fulfillment. And a little bit more each day I am opening up to receiving the love He has for me.

I deeply desire for my life, my heart, my relationships, my everything to be covered by the hope of the cross.

June 7, 2011

A Day in the Life

Wake up. Get ready. Take way too long on deciding on what outfit makes me look the smallest. Put my hair up. Accessorize. Eat a bowl of cereal. Brush my teeth.

Drive in traffic.

Realize I forgot my lunch and ask Todd to bring it.

Get to work. Try to keep up with my boss. Check e-mails. Reply to e-mails. Crunch numbers. Write checks. Transfer money. Pay bills. Enter more bills. Generate invoices. Configure sales tax. Work on SBA forms. Make new files. Answer a few calls.

Check Facebook. Read a few blogs. Balance our checkbook. Eat lunch.

Get into severely hot car and burn hands on steering wheel. Make a mental note that window tinting is kind of a must. Thank the Lord for air conditioning.

Get to other job. Pay bills. Reconcile accounts. Configure stupid certified payroll.

Head home.

Check mail. Tommy's birthday invitations arrived!

Microwave a blah dinner. Acknowledge that I'm eating because I'm hungry and need fuel and not for any other reason. Give myself an invisible gold star because I'm awesome and seeing progress.

Play with Tommy. Build blocks. Play with cars. Hide under the blanket and make silly faces. Chase him around the house. Listen to him say "Hi sugar!"

Call Grammy. Make plans for Auntie's visit. Listen to Tommy say, "Grammy! Grammy!"

Get Tommy ready for bed. Read Ten Wriggly Wiggly Caterpillars and Ten Little Ladybugs and Gallop and our ABC's book. Sing our usual songs - there are four. Say our prayers. Brush his teeth. Kiss him goodnight. Turn out the light and close the door.

Pick up cars and blocks and books and flags and shoes and clothes and Elmo's and shoes that never seem to stay in my closet.

Spruce up the guest bedroom. Make the bed. Concoct an interesting window treatment using bandannas.

Sort the laundry. Throw away the trash. Water the trees.

Write a blog.

Do my workout. Take a shower. Paint my toenails. Read a chapter of my book.

Catch up on the day with Todd. Give him a kiss. Or two or three or four. Read our devotional. Say some prayers.

Turn out the light. And good night.

June 6, 2011

Over and Done

"Honey, how are you feeling knowing that this is your last shift ever at Papa Johns?!"
Todd quit on Saturday. It was time to be done. And though working one more month would of left us in a more "secure" place financially, we decided it was just time.

Nine long months of pizza delivering. Nine long months of spending the majority of my weekends alone and without him. Nine long months of minimal family time. Nine long months of finding scraps of time together. Nine long months of arranging my social calendar without him. Nine long months of him feeling physically exhausted. Nine long months....

Interesting how the same amount of time takes for a baby to grow and to be born. I'm excited about what will be birthed out of the nine long months it took for us to get here. Either way, there is much LIFE to be had and celebrated now that we are over and done with the pizza delivering season of our lives!!!

June 4, 2011

My Summer to-do List

I was inspired by a blog post I read the other day to compile a list of some things I would like to do this summer.

Summer tends to come and go and I find myself staying inside and complaining about the heat and missing out on fun times or not knowing what to do with my time. And it does get HOT here so being outside for long periods of time isn't always an option just because it's not good for my body to have that much heat or sun.

And though I am working more these days, I still do have plenty of down time on evenings and long weekends. So I have decided to be purposeful about my spare time this summer and hope to get some or maybe even all of these things done.

I'm giving myself until September 5th (Labor Day) to complete the following:

1) Have a picnic at Landa Park in New Braunfels.

2) Watch Fireworks on the 4th of July. (I always say I will and then never do!)

3) Have an extravagant date night out with Todd.

4) Make a new friend (or two) at church.

5) Take Tommy to the "Bay of Play" at Seaworld.

6) Go fishing with Todd.

7) Take a walk on the beach.

8) Take an entire day for myself by doing whatever I want to do.

9) Go shopping for something beautiful and red to wear at Shelley's wedding.

10) Drive up to Austin and spend a day with Kathi. And maybe Jenni too?

11) Go wine tasting with my friend Kelly.

12) Start scrapbooking 2008 pictures since I am way behind!

13) Start my fall art project for the dining room (so it's done come decorating time in September!)

14) Make-over my family picture wall in the living room.

15) Find the perfect pillows for our couches.

16) Finish reading the following books - Bold Love, A Sacred Sorrow & Breaking Idols of the Heart.

17) Arrange a margarita style girls night out.

18) Journal SOMETHING every day - and remember that blog posts don't count.

19) Go out for a morning breakfast with Todd and Tommy.

20) Host a BBQ/Game night for friends.

I am going to put my list up at home and check back in before Labor Day to see how many of these things I got done!

What does your summer list look like?

June 3, 2011

Word Finder

It's hard to find the words,
when the God you thought you knew
takes you by surprise.

It's hard to find the words,
when you've stopped numbing out
and you're feeling the pain of it all.

It's hard to find the words,
when you're no longer using addiction
to escape the pain of complete loss.

It's hard to find the words,
when you're desperate to hold on
and maybe He's saying to just let go.

It's hard to find the words,
when God doesn't make sense.
and He rarely ever does.

It's hard to find the words,
when you want to be wanted
and the ones you want to want you, don't.

It's hard to find the words,
when your heart is overcome with grief
and missing someone who isn't here.

It's hard to find the words,
when something you've longed for forever,
finally becomes awakened.

It's hard to find the words,
when you're feeling overwhelmed
and full of emotion.

It's hard to find the words,
when you know that the truth
won't be well received.

It's hard to find the words,
when you feel so alive and free
and only a few people speak your language.

It's hard to find the words,
when you have so much to say
and you feel like you can't.

June 1, 2011

Hello June!

It feels like there is a lot to look forward to this June. My calendar is full of activity and I'm excited about the coming weeks ahead. Summer is in full swing in my world! I'm looking forward to some of these things....

Taking dinner to friends who just a darling baby girl.

Celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary.

My best friend's 30th birthday.

Going to a birthday party for my friend's little girl, Addie.

My father-in-laws birthday, which means Tiffany will be coming into town!

Attending a sales tax workshop. (Not so exciting, but it is on my calendar).

A trip out of town with my hubby to Houston. Looking forward to some US time!!!

And we'll be in Houston for Shelley's wedding festivities and Shelley's wedding!

Father's Day.

Will be at my job one year this month and should hopefully get a pay-raise. (o:

Singing on worship team once or twice.

Aunt Laura's visit! (She's here from Africa for a short stay at the end of the month!!!!)

The end of pizza delivering for Todd!!

What are you looking forward to this month?