Friday, February 28, 2014

{iPhone Rewind} :: February

Laura and I ran errands together, and we just so happened to be nearby a cupcake ATM...we LOVED grabbing a Sprinkles cupcake. The machine even sang to us, and we may or may not have had our own mini dance party :)

It was my week to lead the elementary class for Redeemer Kidz. We had all boys in our class, so it was high energy from start to finish. They really enjoyed playing "Teacher, May I?" while we waited for parents to be out of the service.

I know I have posted pictures of our mounted police before, but I am just always fascinated by them. Hello suburbia. Welcome to McKinney :)

I got a hand-delivered Sonic drink from my Valentine...definitely a sweet treat!

Because of our size right now, it's all hands on deck for our Saturday services. When we volunteer in the kids ministry, we are unable to participate in the adult service. I am grateful for technology so that I can listen to my hubby's message later in the week. Check him out on iTunes! :)

I can't take credit for this photo {obviously}, but it is an iPhone photo. Ben snapped this shot of us having some play time with Presley Kate. She sure LOVES her Uncle Mike!
I came home and this beautiful arrangement was waiting for me. "Just Because" flowers from my hubby are the best! :)
These are our newest snack obsession; they are SO good! I'm a fan of the Lighlty Salted flavor, and Mike likes the Black Pepper and the Wasabi Ranch flavors. Another reason we're fans of the new Winco grocery store :) 

Friday, February 21, 2014

High Five for Friday!

Wow- I haven't done one of these in such a long time! :)

{one} On Monday, I had Presidents Day off, so I was able to get a number of things done. While most of the day was spent doing laundry, cleaning, working on the budget, etc., I did have some time to do a few fun and relaxing things as well. I did my first at-home yoga session; I probably can't call what I was doing yoga, but I have to start somewhere, right? :)  I started the book Laura gave me for my birthday, went to an afternoon movie with my love, and finished up a craft project for our laundry room.

I have a problem with socks going missing, but mysteriously showing up in random loads of laundry weeks later. So I thought this would help us keep track of them all until their mate shows up :)

Materials I Bought: wood plaque, chipboard letters
Materials I Already Had: scrapbook paper, clothes pins, mod podge, sawtooth hangers
Tools: foam brushes, hammer
Total Project Cost: $10 (sale items and 40% off coupons)

{two} On Tuesday, I hung out with one of the girls on our core team. We went to Paciugo for some gelato, and the weather was absolutely perfect. It makes me LONG for the days of Spring...they're almost here! Anyway, I enjoyed spending time with her, catching up and talking life. Through some time in prayer and a gentle nudge from a friend, I think spending one-on-one time with a handful of women in our group will be a good ministry opportunity for me. Since we have put Bible study on hold, I think this will be a way for me to utilize my gifts and do my best to encourage and challenge the women in our group. I don't know exactly how it will look yet, but I am excited about taking these steps of faith!

{three} We have started meeting in our Missional Community groups. Our core team was split into two groups, with most staying in one group near downtown McKinney, and a few of us venturing out to focus on building a group in East McKinney/Princeton. We meet every Wednesday, share a meal, and open the Word together. I am thankful for this small group, but I also look forward to how the Lord grows all of our Missional Communities.

{four} I have been feeling really good the last few weeks {praise Jesus!} I have had a good amount of energy for a consistent amount of time, which is definitely something to celebrate. Some of that energy has come in the middle of the night, which isn't the most ideal time, but I guess I can't be too picky :) After my good report last month, I did get a call from my GI about some elevated liver enzymes that showed up on my bloodwork. He wasn't too concerned for now, but I do have to go back in April to have those levels checked again. They have to monitor that stuff pretty closely, given the medication I am on {one of those pesky risk factors}. So no more margaritas for me! ;)

{five} This weekend I am going to a bridal shower for another one of the girls on our core team. She and her fiance have been a part of our church from the Bible study days {she has been coming since the first one, and he came on board a few months later}. We are so excited for these two to get married next month, and I am looking forward to attending several wedding festivities for this sweet couple!

Monday, February 17, 2014

One Thousand Gifts :: The Book

I finally finished reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. It's better late than never, right? {I say that, considering I only have one month left of the joy know, the inspiration that was supposed to follow reading the book. Oh well}.

Anyway, there was a lot of hype around this book. A lot of people have recommended it to me, and several people have talked about it. Lots of women seem to be connecting with this book, so I thought it was worth reading to find out why.

There's always the danger of too much hype, because then expectations are unrealistically high. For me, that was the case for this book. So sadly, I was disappointed because it did not live up to all of the hype {in my opinion}. Most of my disappointment is my own personal genre preference; this book is written exclusively in romantic and poetic language...something that I struggle with. I tend to shoot straight, and Voskamp tends to take the scenic route :)  I like logic and good grammar; so if you are similar, you may find this book frustrating. I struggled to finish it, but wanted to see where her journey led her.

I agree with the basic premise of the book, that as believers we must live lives of thanksgiving to God. Voskamp challenges her readers to be grateful, even in the mundane, which ultimately helps us experience the presence of God. I love this idea, which is even why I have been making my own list of 1000 gifts these past few months. I too often miss all of the blessings the Lord provides every day.

I understand why women are connecting with this book; we can tend to take on too much, focusing our attention on endless schedules, tasks, to-do lists. In the mundane of the everyday, we can forget how to connect with God, and we can lose our focus. Voskamp writes about her personal journey to experience God again, in the midst of raising children and endless laundry. Her prescription is to simply list the beautiful things God has given her.

I would caution that there seems to be an over-emphasis on gratitude being the singular key/source to experiencing and knowing God. She seems to go as far as saying that our greatest saving grace is having a heart of gratitude. I certainly believe gratitude is part of the Christian life {even commanded}, but I think it is more of a by-product of the saving grace of Christ that comes to those who repent and place their faith in Him, rather than the source. I personally would have liked to see her emphasize finding Christ in the Scripture, rather than in the breeze or harvest moon. 

But of course, I probably just missed the meaning behind her poetic language :)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

30 {Already} Before 30: A Reverse Bucket List

I recently posted my {30 Before 30} list. As I was compiling the list, I was a little frustrated with myself for not making it sooner. If I made a list in my early/mid-20s, I might have been able to add a few more things that I would like to do, because I would have several years to complete them, rather than just 365 days.

But then I had to stop myself and realize how much I have already done before 30. The Lord has given me countless blessings and opportunities that I don't ever want to take for granted. So I thought I would take some time to reflect on my 20s and do a reverse bucket list of sorts.

{Warning: This post is really long, with lots of photos and links}  :)

1. Visited Washington D.C.
As part of a business honors program at Baylor, we spent a week in Washington D.C. We had a few school-related things to do, but we also got to meet Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison. The rest of the time we spent visiting the monuments and seeing the sights!

Not only did I have the incredible blessing of attending Baylor University, I was able to graduate with honors at the top of my class. I loved my time at Baylor and wouldn't trade that experience for anything.

3. Got a Dog.
I knew I wanted a puppy because we only ever had adult dogs growing up. I felt like the puppy stage was some sort of rite of passage. Haha- how silly of me. While the puppy stage was certainly a learning curve {and it has only been since marrying Mike that we have gotten some behavior issues under control} I can say that I have never regretted bringing home this ball of fluff. She has been my sweet baby since day 1, and I love her so much!

4. Moved Into My Own Place.
Moving back home after college graduation was not my ideal situation, but I know it was necessary for the things the Lord needed to teach me at the time. When I finally got a job in the DFW area, I was more than ready to find my own place and start life as a real adult! {how cute and naive I was...}. I loved living on my own, and I am thankful for the opportunity I had to do that.

My first apartment :)

5. Started a Career {or two. or three}.
When I graduated Baylor, I had high hopes of starting my career in event planning. I did eventually land an event coordinator position with Eagle U, but the Lord was teaching me a lot during that time. I eventually ended up starting a career at an insurance broker {of all places!}, but again, the Lord had better plans than I knew I had for myself. And now I'm an executive assistant at a bank. I have definitely traveled the career gambit, but I am thankful for each of the jobs I have had in my 20s.

Eagle U, 2008

Wortham, 2009

Independent Bank, 2013

6. Found a Home Church and Community {and am Helping Start One!}
It took me a year to find a home church when I first moved to the DFW area. It was an incredibly hard year, but I am thankful the Lord provided community in Woodcreek. I am thankful to the 20s ministry for pushing me to dig deeper in my faith. I made lifelong friends, and they are still one of my greatest sources of encouragement. Of course, I am also thankful because it is where I found my love {Mike} and my calling {church planting wife}. I never would have thought that I would leave my Woodcreek family to help my husband start a new church, but here we are :) The Lord is so good and faithful!

Sweet friends from the 20s group

Dinner out with some of our Redeemer family

7. Planned Events.
While my event planning career didn't quite take off in the way I had originally hoped, the Lord has still been gracious to allow me the opportunity to plan several events here and there. I have been able to bless others with my time, as well as fill my love for planning events. From my meeting planning days at Eagle U to planning several parties and weddings for friends, I am so thankful for the chance to use my creative outlet every once in awhile!

8. Went to a Baylor Homecoming {As an Alumna}.
Homecoming is a big deal at Baylor. Laura and I were able to head back to our alma mater for homecoming in 2008, and we loved being back on campus! I haven't made it back to another homecoming since then, but I have been back to visit the campus. I have even been able to share Baylor with my love. I loved my years at Baylor, and I am grateful whenever I have a chance to visit.

9. Enjoyed Single Life.
Throughout college, I struggled with being single, but the Lord was gracious to help me find joy in my time of singlehood. A lot of that came from my church home and finding a solid group of friends in the 20s group. I am thankful for the time I had to live life on my own, serve in a number of places, and just have the time to grow in my relationship with Jesus.

10. Made a Meal and a Dessert Entirely from Scratch.
I don't do this as often as I would like's just hard to find the time. But of course, when Mike asked for homemade enchiladas while we were dating, I couldn't refuse! I mean, it's not like I was trying to impress him or anything :)

And when it comes to German Chocolate Cake...I am more than happy to put in the extra work to make that yummy dessert!

11. Led a Women's Bible Study.
I have had the privilege and joy of leading Bible studies in several places. When I first moved to the DFW area, I got connected with the young adult BSF class. I was asked into leadership and served as a discussion leader for 2 years. I learned so much during my time in leadership, and I often miss the BSF study.

I definitely think that BSF prepared me for leadership in the 20s group. I did both for a short time, but ended up focusing my attention with the ladies at Woodcreek. And then I led our women's Bible study at Redeemer. I am certainly not the most qualified, but I did enjoy the ministry the Lord gave me.

12. Went to a Couple of Concerts.
This probably doesn't seem like a big deal to most, but I didn't go to concerts growing up. It's not that I never wanted to, it's just that I never had much of an opportunity and it wasn't something we spent money on. But when I had the chance to go to a couple of country concerts with Laura, I was definitely excited! We went to an outdoor Brad Paisley concert, which was really fun {he puts on a GREAT show}.

We also went to a Josh Turner concert at Billy Bob's in Ft. Worth. I obviously LOVE country music, and he is definitely one of my favorites!

13. Went to the State Fair of Texas.
This is another fun Dallas event that I enjoy. I have been a couple of times with Laura; we really enjoy walking around the fair grounds, seeing the exhibits, and of course eating the yummy food! It makes me sad to think that I won't be able to enjoy any of the fried foods anymore...

Big Tex in his glory days {before he burned down and was replaced}

14. Went Kayaking.
I actually did this while visiting my friend April in Seattle. We rented a couple of kayaks and headed down Lake Union. Other than nearly tipping over and my sore arms, it was a fun experience!

15. Went on a Girls Trip.
I was in Dana Point, CA for a work trip, and I convinced Laura to join me for a girls trip! We had a blast in California, and it is one of my absolute favorite memories :)

16. Saw ICE! at the Gaylord Texan {twice!}
I have had the opportunity to see this fun exhibit twice, once with Laura and once with our 20s group. It is a fun experience, and I just love getting to see the Gaylord at Christmastime.

17. Went On a Mission Trip.
I had been on mission trips in high school, but really wanted to go on an "adult" trip. While I valued my trips in high school, I know my heart was not nearly as prepared {and I was not nearly as mature} for all the Lord had to show me. I was so thankful to join the 20s group on a trip to Nicaragua. It was absolutely a life-changing trip, and I know I have never been the same since. With my health, I am not sure if I will be able to go on an overseas trip again, so it makes me that much more thankful for the trip to Nica.

18. Went to a Professional Sports Game {Spurs, Mavericks, and Rangers}
It's no secret that I love my Spurs, so whenever I can get my hands on some tickets, I try to take advantage! Since moving to the DFW area, I have been to a couple of Mavericks games {boo}, and even went to a Spurs vs. Mavericks game. I am by no means a Mavs fan, but I go for my husband :)

Being in DFW, I have also been to a few Rangers games. I'm not a huge baseball fan, but the games are still fun!

19. Painted a Picture Worthy of Hanging on the Wall.
For my bachelorette party, my sweet bridesmaids took me to Painting with a Twist, where we got to paint our own masterpiece. I may not be an awesome painter, but this fun memory is definitely displayed with pride in our house.

As thankful as I was to have my time as a single woman {see #9}, I was also equally as thankful to find my love and marry him! God's timing was perfect, and I often reflect on how life would have been vastly different, had I found Mike right out of college {like I had originally wanted}. God knows best, for sure.

21. Went Snorkeling.
I did this for the first time on my honeymoon. We went snorkeling a few different places, and I really enjoyed the crystal clear water {something that does not exist in Texas}.

22. Went Ziplining.
This is also something I did on my honeymoon. I had done small ziplines at varying camps when I was younger, but once I ziplined in Cancun, I knew there was no comparison!

23. Swam with Dolphins.
Again, another honeymoon bonus :) Unfortunately I don't have pictures of it, which makes me very sad. But I promise I have both touched and swam with a dolphin!

24. Traveled to a Foreign Country.
While I haven't been many places, I have been blessed to go to a few. While I was still in college, I went on a week-long trip to Prague, Czech Republic as part of a business honors program. We met with varying business leaders and the U.S. ambassador, as well as visited many historical sites.

On Charles Bridge

For work, I was able to go to Victoria, British Columbia {not a bad gig!}

Butchart Gardens

I have also been to Managua, Nicaragua {see #17}, Rio Bravo, Mexico, and Tecate, Mexico for mission trips. And then Mike and I went to Cancun, Mexico for our honeymoon.

I would love to travel more places and get more stamps in my passport, but I am thankful for the places I have been able to see at little or no cost. Definitely a blessing!

25. Threw a Surprise Party for Someone.
I have actually been able to throw 2 surprise parties! The first was for my parents' 30th wedding anniversary. My brother and I threw a dessert party for them in San Antonio, and it was so fun to celebrate with them.

The second was for Mike's 30th birthday. I had several friends help with the covert operations, and he was completely surprised! It was 80's-themed, in honor of his birth/childhood in the 80s. Everyone had a great time, and I loved being able to make a big deal for his birthday.

26. Rode a Horse.
I was able to do this for the first time on my Senior trip in high school. It was a beautiful mountain ride in Estes Park, CO and I loved it! The second time I was able to go on a horse ride was coincidentally in Estes Park again, when Mike and I visited Wind River Ranch. I always feel in awe of the beauty and strength of a horse.

I was not sure I could actually do this {mostly because I wasn't physically ready}, but my sweet husband encouraged me every step of the way and I can now say that I have done it!

I have read through the entire Bible several times before, but the time frame is always what gets me. I have started a yearly Bible reading plan many times before, only to have my year extend to a year and a half. But I finally buckled down and did it. I found the perfect reading plan {for me}, and I am excited to use it for years to come!

My mom had taught me how to crochet when I was younger, but I knew I wanted to pick it back up as an adult. And I love that I re-learned! It's another creative outlet for me, and it's a de-stressing task. I have learned that it's something I prefer to do in the colder months, but I hope to continue this hobby throughout my life.

Man, there's nothing like a 10-year reunion to make you feel old ;) It was fun to see everyone and to see where everyone ended up after graduation. A lot has happened in my life since I left high school, and I have no shortage of blessings and memories.

Thank you, Lord for all the many blessings in my life!