Thursday, February 28, 2013

{iPhone Rewind} :: February

February is birthday month, which always makes for a good month; here's a look back at the month via iPhone photos :)

 I happened to look down and see that Sasha had a spit bubble hanging out of her mouth, and Mike quickly snapped a photo. Gross.
For Christmas, Mike's sister gave us a subscription to Cooks Illustrated magazine, and we got our first one this month. Such a cool magazine!

I enjoyed a fun birthday with a yummy sushi date with my love!
My work flats finally bit the dust. Poor little black flats. You served me well; you hung in there through multiple re-gluings. But it was time...
I had another flare up this month for my Crohn's, which was slightly discouraging. I am thankful though for the healthy smoothies over at Mike's Health Collection for the days I have to be on a low residue diet.

I got this sweet post-it note valentine from one of our company chaplains. God's love does brighten my day :)

Look at my beautiful friend Cindy...she was all smiles with her special Valentine delivery ;)

It's a girl! Mike's sister revealed the gender of their baby via Sprinkles cupcakes. Baby girl Cheng is due this summer, and we couldn't be more excited for them!!

It was time for Mike to get a haircut, so he said goodbye to his hair and let Jason shave it off :)

A sweet text my husband sent me...he has been so supportive and encouraging throughout this whole Crohn's process. I am so thankful for him!

I participated in the McKinney Education Foundation Spelling Bee, representing the bank on the "Independently Brilliant" team :)

So the one part of my job that has made me nervous from day 1: keeping this plant alive; there is added pressure because it has sentimental value to my boss. Ya'll...I have zero green in my thumb; so the fact that it is still alive and blooming...major points for me! :)

I got to wear the new dress I bought with the gift card my parents gave me for Christmas to Lauren's bridal shower- $10 at New York & Company!

Sasha has learned that the little space heater feels pretty good in our cold house. Heat Thief.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

One Thing Remains

When I was home with my parents this weekend, they sang this song at church. I have sung it before, but I feel like the Lord has been bringing it to mind throughout this week. The words are such an encouragement to me right now. His love is so overwhelming. And it is comforting to know that no matter what is going on right now, His love never fails, never gives up, and never runs out on me...

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains
One thing remains

Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me
Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me
Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me

On and one and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never ever have to be afraid
One thing remains

In death and in life I'm confident and covered by the power of your great love
My debt is paid there's nothing that can separate my heart from your great love


Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekend Getaway :: San Antonio Edition

This weekend I had the opportunity to head down to San Antonio. I have missed being home and have really just missed time with my parents. I know we saw them over Christmas, and we will actually be in SA again in March, but sometimes you just miss home. So thanks to Southwest rewards and the generosity of my parents, I was able to get a flight down to see them! :)

My flight was delayed, so I got in pretty late on Friday night, but it wasn't too late to enjoy some late-night cheesecake from the cheesecake factory! :)

White chocolate raspberry truffle...yum!

Saturday we slept in, enjoyed a French toast breakfast, and just spent the morning hanging out and catching up. That afternoon, my mom and I got to go to a bridal shower for my sweet friend Lauren, who is getting married in March. I am so glad I was able to be there to celebrate with her. The hostess had grown up in England, and so we had a traditional English afternoon tea- complete with the Royal Wedding playing in the background. Everything was so delicious, and it was such a sweet time celebrating Lauren. I can't wait to see her walk down the aisle!

With the soon-to-be Mrs. Ayala

After the shower, we headed to have dinner with my grandparents, aunt, and uncles. I am really glad I had the opportunity to see all of them, since I missed being home for the holidays. Unfortunately, I came down with a case of food poisoning, which was so sad. As miserable as that was, part of me was grateful for it (I know that sounds weird/crazy). But it was encouraging for me to be able to tell the difference between Crohn's symptoms and something that just didn't agree with my stomach. The food poisoning doesn't seem so bad in comparison, so it's just funny how your perspective changes...

Sunday we headed to church, enjoyed some fajitas at Alamo Cafe, then headed to the airport. I am so thankful for the time I had with my parents, but I was also glad to get home to Mike. I am excited that we get to see them again in a few weeks!


Friday, February 22, 2013

High Five for Friday!

I am SO happy it's the weekend. It's funny how 4 day weeks seem to be so much harder to get through sometimes.

{one} Last night, Mike and I enjoyed a fun date night. We made dinner together, then headed over to our favorite coffee shop for some drinks and a few rounds of Bananagrams. Even though he always beats me, I enjoy spending fun, quality time with my love  :)

{two} Today we had a Chili Cook Off at work to raise money for Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society. Our lovely receptionist Kirston (who just so happens to be a cancer survivor) planned the event, and it was a fun way to raise money and enjoy lunch with co-workers. Mike came up to the office and was a taste-tester for me, since I couldn't enjoy all the yummy chilis. But I still got to enjoy some, because Kirston made me my very own Crohn's-friendly sweet!

{three} And as if Chili lunch wasn't enough, we also had Birthday Celebration in the conference room. We celebrate with cake for all of the month's birthdays, and it is always a good time to see co-workers I normally don't get to. And, of course, it's always a good time to eat some good cake! It was certainly a day for food haha.

{four} Today also happens to be National Margarita Day. A whole day devoted to my favorite adult beverage! I texted Laura yesterday and told her how sad I was that a) I couldn't have a margarita (silly Crohn's and all your limitations), and b) I didn't get to see her today to enjoy a margarita with her. I told her to drink one for hopefully she enjoys one today! :)

{five} I get to see my parents this weekend! I am so excited about heading to San Antonio after work today. Sadly, Mike won't be going, but I am secretly looking forward to a whole weekend by myself with them. I could use some good parental time!

Happy Friday friends! :)


Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Thought for Thursday

I read this book {Crazy Love} a few years ago, and I would highly recommend it if you haven't had a chance to read it. It really challenged me to take an inventory of my heart and examine how I live my life for Jesus.

I came across this quote from the book the other day, and I was reminded of how our lives really shouldn't make sense to an unbelieving world. If I truly grasped the depth of God's love for me- His radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love- then that should change everything. The way I live, love, and serve. The choices I make. How I spend my time, money, and energy.

It makes me stop and I look more like Jesus or more like the world? Does my life look crazy, different, and even strange at times to unbelievers? Not just for the sake of being different, but because I choose to live by a different set of rules, for a higher purpose, and more specifically, a higher Person. Or do I look pretty much the same?


Monday, February 18, 2013

Weekend Getaway :: Robbers Cave Edition

Several months ago, we decided to purchase a groupon with some friends for a weekend getaway at Robbers Cave State Park in Oklahoma. It was a great deal and a great opportunity to spend some time away with sweet friends!

We headed out after work on Friday, so we didn't arrive at our cabin until late that evening. But we enjoyed our mini road trip and were still able to meet up with our friends for a fun game of Mad Gab.

Saturday we headed over to have breakfast together and then headed out for a group hike.

The Devil's Slide

This sweet little one hiked the whole trail!

Entering the cave...

Leaving the cave...

Even baby David came on the hike!

Taking a snack break :)

We had such a fun time on our hike. I was so impressed with the little ones and how well they did! They were definitely troopers, and it was fun to see their little minds exploring the outdoors. 

After our hike, we all split up in our families to enjoy some lunch and nap time :) Mike and I headed into town to grab some lunch at Sonic, then back to our cabin to relax. After everyone had a chance to recharge, we headed out on a good old fashioned hay ride! One of our friends got the group photo on the hay bails, and I don't have a copy yet. But I did get the group photo at one of our stops- the second tallest tree in Oklahoma :)

This tree is about 250 years old.

The group :)

Another one of our stops was at the horse stables, where the kids got to feed the horses Twizzlers.

That evening we enjoyed dinner and a game of Phase 10. Lots of laughter and fun, for sure! :)

Sunday we slept in, enjoyed some last minute time at the playground, then headed home. We enjoyed our weekend away, and we are so thankful for good times with sweet friends!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Crohn's Chronicles :: Flare Up + Vitamin Deficiency

So one of my new year's resolutions was to become a Crohn's expert. I may not actually become an "expert" per se...I mean, it's a disease that all the smart people can't really pinpoint. But my goal is certainly to know more about it by the end of 2013 than I did at the beginning. Which shouldn't be too hard, considering I didn't know anything at all when I was diagnosed :)

I had been feeling pretty good and had started to regain some sense of normalcy. I started getting a little more adventurous in what I was eating. A few days ago, I started feeling sick again. The flare up was not as bad as things were before, but it was definitely not fun. The sad part is that I don't know what I ate that caused it, if anything at all. Now is about the time that I would have experienced another attack or flare up in my timeline pre-December-hospital-stay. Thankfully I am feeling better today, just tired. Something about being in pain for several days just wears you out!

My doctor called today with the results of my blood work. Turns out I have a B-12 deficiency. I guess to go along with my Vitamin D deficiency {which I now know is linked to Crohn's. Who knew?} Anyway, my body just doesn't absorb nutrients like it's supposed to, so I am at higher risk of vitamin deficiencies. In particular, B-12 is absorbed in the lower ileum, which just so happens to be the part of my intestines that is inflamed and affected by Crohn's. Fun stuff, right?

So I have to start a series of B-12 injections. One every day for a week, then one every week for a month, then hopefully only monthly after that if my levels are back up. Thank God for insurance. And for a husband who is willing to be trained to help me with my shots. I know it's what my body needs- I want to avoid anemia, nerve damage, and memory loss- but I just don't love the idea of more shots. I know I need it, I just wish I didn't need it. The good thing is that because my B-12 levels are so low, it is partly what is contributing to me being tired all the time. So hopefully increasing that level will also increase my energy!

Today has definitely been a reminder that I have to be super diligent about this disease; I can't slack on anything or become complacent if I want to be healthy. It is certainly a reminder that our bodies are so temporary. And it also reminded me that there isn't a cure-all to make all of my symptoms go away. Of course, my mom is praying that the Lord just remove the disease altogether, and there is absolutely nothing impossible with Him! But my dad reminded me today that the Lord uses difficult and challenging circumstances to grow us and bring Him glory. My prayer is that I can have the strength to be teachable and point all of this to Him.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Birthday Celebration

I can't believe it has been a year and I am already celebrating another birthday. People keep telling me that I am going to get tired of celebrating them; I think they're crazy because I love birthdays :)

Of course, I really enjoy all of the free stuff that pours in for your birthday. Truth be told, it's the only reason why I sign up for any kind of reward cards. This year, I will be enjoying the following free birthday gifts:

- Free Starbucks drink
- Free Panera pastry
- Free Genghis Grill Bowl (I think I have eaten here 3 times my entire life. But hey, free meal!)
- Free Sicily's entree (local Italian restaurant in McKinney)
- $5 off DSW purchase
- Free dinner date at the Cheesecake Factory (courtesy of my parents!)

It was a normal day at the office (kind of stinks you have to work on your birthday...I think it should be an automatic day off. Just saying). But I arrived home to a clean house (probably another of my love languages) and these sweet gifts:

Yes, the flowers are in a blender...he couldn't find any vases so he improvised :)

Mike's gift to me is actually a trip to the zoo! That might sound strange to some, but you have to understand that I love the zoo. And Mike hates the zoo. So the fact that he is going to take me is a HUGE deal :) As soon as the weather gets a little warmer, you can bet we will find ourselves on a date to the zoo!

We headed out for a fun birthday dinner at Blue Fish. I really enjoy Sushi, but we don't get it too often because it's so expensive. So it's the perfect birthday dinner treat!

Rainbow of my favorites!
A fun birthday evening with my love :)
I am so thankful for another blessed year, and I look forward to a new one!


Friday, February 1, 2013

A Review: The Church Planting Wife

I can cross book #1 off my reading list: The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart, by Christine Hoover!

I have been eagerly anticipating the release of this book, ever since I heard it was coming out last July. As I have said before, there are not a ton of specific resources for church planting wives. So the idea of an entire book devoted to the concept was really important to me. And when I heard about the opportunity to sign up for Christine's book launch team, I couldn't pass it up!

So forgive me if you are tired of hearing about this book...ok, maybe I am not that sorry.  :)

But to be honest, I would be promoting it just as much even if I wasn't a part of the launch team. It's that good. I think all church planting and ministry wives (as well as their husbands) should read it. I think all who know a church planting wife should read it. It's that enlightening.

Suffice it to say, I really enjoyed this book. I will definitely read it again. I think part of why I loved it so much is because Christine is so authentic and practical. I so appreciated her transparent honesty in describing the challenges and joys of church planting; she does so in a way that made me nod my head and my heart say "yes, exactly." It is almost as if she had somehow heard my own thoughts. Which ended up being such an encouragement to me, because it means I am not alone. That other church planting wives have thought the same things, experienced the same things, struggled with the same things. As a newer church planting wife, it reminds me that other women have walked this unique road before me. And as the subtitle suggests, there is help and there is hope.

The other, probably more important, reason I loved the book so much is because Christine always brings the reader back to the Scriptures and to Jesus. While she offers practical advice on how to navigate the role of the church planting wife, she also offers encouragement on how to make the role of Christ-following woman our first priority. That cultivating our hearts in a relationship with Jesus is the key to our calling, as well as to perseverance and joy in ministry.

The title of my blog is "One Woman's Journey to the Heart of God." It was so named to remind me of the journey the Lord has me on to reshape my heart to have one that looks more like His. It is a reminder every time I blog that this life is about Him and the journey He has me on toward intimacy with my Savior. And I absolutely believe that my calling to be a church planting wife is a refining process in that journey. So I loved Christine's quote about our hearts and church planting:

"Your heart is vital to the mission. As you give God your heart, He will give you His. God's heart for you is that church planting be the soil in which you grow in Christlikeness. With His heart as your own, your role and the challenges of church planting become opportunities for growth and ministry, and church planting becomes an exciting adventure of radical faith." (p. 23)

So yeah...I'm a fan of this book. And I think you should read it too!  :)