Wednesday, May 28, 2014

For the Graduate

These Bible verses always come to mind when I think about young people who are about to graduate from high school.  It's such an exciting time for them.  Their future is wide open and the potential for new experiences is within reach. With so many options it's easy to stray from the path God desires for them.  It's now time for these young people to embrace the freedom they have but still make wise choices.  

If I could give new graduates any advice, I'd tell them to seek God first and trust in His plan.  There's no better way to plan for the future than to have God at the center of your life.  There's only one thing I can credit for the blessings I've been given, and that's that I truly desire to seek God and I trust in His word.  That's my desire for all of those about to embark on this new chapter of life.  Maybe they have a plan or maybe they don't. It doesn't matter because if God's the focus of it, then it will work itself out.

Matthew 6:33
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

It doesn't get any simpler than Proverbs 3:5-6.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart 
And do not lean on your own understanding. 
In all your ways acknowledge Him, 
And He will make your paths straight." 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Will's A.R. Field Trip

We're so proud of Will for earning a spot on the A.R. (Accelerated Reader) field trip to Globe Life Park in Arlington.  He read a lot of books and earned enough points to be in the top 10 of his class.  We found out on the day of the field trip that he was the top point earner for all of 1st grade.  I'm always hesitant to brag about Will or Ben's accomplishments, but since he worked really hard, I think he deserves the recognition.  We're really proud of him!

Will was super excited about the field trip once he found out he going.  It was probably one of his favorite things of his entire 1st grade year.  Mark was able to take off from work and go with Will.  I think it's great that Mark went with him because Mark is the one who helps Will with his homework on most nights since I'm usually cooking dinner.  Also, Mark and Will both love the Texas Rangers and a tour of the ballpark would be something they would enjoy way more than I would.  

It's been a week since they went on the field trip, but I haven't blogged about it because I've been sick with strep throat.  Thank goodness I'm feeling much better.  

Here are the guys beside the entrance to the Rangers batting cage

Inside the batting cage

Entrance to the Rangers locker room

 Rangers dugout

Here's another pic of Will and his best friend Keaton.  Keaton and several of the other students in Will's class got to go on the trip. It always makes things more fun when you get to go with your friends.

Way to go, Will!  I hope you have a lifelong love of books and reading.

One more thing, I must give a shout-out to Mark for taking a lot of photos on this field trip.  He normally doesn't take photos because I take so many, but he promised he would since I wouldn't be there.  Poor guy, that's what he gets being married to a woman with a blog.  

Friday, May 16, 2014

Mid May

I'm not feeling great.  I think it's allergies.  I probably wouldn't blog right now, but I don't want to forget everything we've been up to in May.  Here's a phone dump for the month so far.

May 1st was Will's Spring Musical.  It was adorable.  The songs all had a positive theme.  

Poor Ben.  Early in the month, I had to take him to the doctor because he was having trouble breathing.  It ended up being related to allergies.  Allergies are just miserable this time of year.  The breathing treatments fixed him right up.  

At the beginning of the month, we celebrated the birthday of my cousin's son.  He turned 5.  His party was a gymnastics gym.  You can see Will and Ben in the foam pit.  Sam soaring high on the trapeze. Aubree and Harper are too cute jumping on the trampolines.

The trapeze bar over the foam pits was so cool.  The kids got to swing out and then drop. 

The zip line was over a foam pit, too.  You go all the way across and then let go. 


The party was at Metroplex Gymnastics in Allen.   

After the party, we went to Watters Creek.   

The Monday after such a fun weekend was not easy.  I think my boys are ready for summer vacation.

Peony, milk glass and Legos.

We've had lots of rain.  I'm thankful!

Teacher Appreciation week was last week.  The parents spoiled us with lots of good food. 

Working moms feel my pain.  You work all day and then come home to work all evening.  I consider it a luxury to sit down while the boys are contained in the tub and enjoy some tea.  It's definitely getting easier being a working mom now that the boys are older, but it's still exhausting. 

I went to the cutest baby shower for one of my teacher friends, Jourdan.  She's changed schools now, but we'll always be teacher friends forever.  She's due with a sweet baby girl in July.   

That's all I can think of for now.  Maybe if my mind wasn't so fuzzy from feeling bad, I'd write more.  If this didn't make any sense at all, I blame sickness and a low-grade fever.  I'll be back to more coherent thoughts soon.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Before church on Sunday we took our yearly photo in front of the house for Mother's Day.  Mark and I study the photos from years past to see what changes we've made to our flower beds.  We're nerdy like that and make odd observations.  We've taken photos in front of the house since Will was born.  We can't break tradition now.  Who knows, in a year or two hopefully we'll be taking the photos in front of a new house. 

The boys are looking big here.  My goodness!  I'm holding their hands to keep them still.

I had to include this photo because they were both saying as loudly as possible "Happy Mother's Day!!!"  It made me laugh.  I should do a post of outtakes and you'd really laugh.  I'm waving at the neighbors as they drive by in one of the photos.

Saturday night we went to the girlie restaurant of my choosing.  I chose La Madeleine, which is a French Bakery and Cafe. We also went to Trader Joe's at my request.  We made stops at two different Whole Foods, too.  All the time, the boys were good sports.  They were being extra nice to me.

The weekend wasn't all about me.  We took the boys to the Lego Store in between stops at Whole Foods. We didn't buy anything but Ben got a lot of ideas for his birthday.  He has a wish list a mile long!

These guys know the way to my heart.  A cinnamon twist from the donut shop.  I like the sweet handwritten note from Mark.  He didn't want me to share it, but since he doesn't read my blog, he'll never know, ha! 

Sunday afternoon I watched chick flicks (do you spot Notting Hill), ironed and did laundry.  You might think that's not fun on Mother's Day, but it was actually just what I wanted.  I didn't want to go to lunch and fight the crowds.  We'd picked up Sushi for me and Will the night before and Ben and Mark had leftovers.  We got to spend the entire afternoon at home.  It was really relaxing.  I'll have a better week since I got time to catch up on house work and start the week with the laundry done. That's a true mom's dream. Seriously!

Mother's Day is bittersweet.  Physically Mama Winnie is still with us, but mentally she is not herself.  She is in the nursing home because of Alzheimer's. We didn't visit her this weekend.  I feel so much guilt because I don't visit her that often.  We used to see her a lot more, but her mind has quickly deteriorated in the last year.  She doesn't know us, and I'm afraid her actions will scare Will and Ben.  It's a very sad situation.  I find comfort in looking at old photos and seeing her in her prime.  She looks amazing in this photo.  I think she's so beautiful and happy here.

I reflected on Instagram.  I shared the photos on Facebook, but I couldn't bring myself to put my feelings out there.  Here's what I wrote for this photo that I shared on IG,
"This is me and my grandmother, Mama Winnie.  Mama Winnie raised me and I can't begin to share all the valuable life lessons she taught me.  I'm so lucky to have been raised by such a selfless and loving woman.  She currently lives in a nursing home because of Alzheimer's.  She doesn't know us anymore, but we still have all of the special memories of her to fill our hearts."   

If anyone has suffered loss, loss of a parent or child, then holidays like Mother's Day are difficult.  Each person handles their sadness differently, I choose to think about all the good in my life and not focus on the sad parts.  God's blessed me more than I ever could have imagined.  I'm thankful for Mama Winnie, for my wonderful mother-in-law Carol, my sweet sisters-in-laws, all the dear friends and relatives I have who are examples of how to be a good mother.  Not a single one of us is perfect, but we all love our children with all we have and that's what matters most.  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Faith: Understanding the Importance of Faith and Works

{I shared some of my thoughts about faith last night on Instagram.  I had time to think about it today, and with further study I've been able to more clearly communicate what I've learned.}

Do you ever participate in a Bible study and you wish all of your friends were in the study with you?  That’s how I feel about our current Bible study on Wednesday night at church. We are studying the book of James.  In this study, I’m learning a lot about spiritual maturity and true religion.  Last night we studied James 2.   It’s taken me a long time to reconcile the idea of faith and works when I study the Bible, and I had an “Aha!” moment that I wanted to share with you.  Things finally clicked and made sense.

We are told that if we have faith we will have works.
James 2:14-24.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!  Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;  and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.  You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

I finally understood how that works with Romans 4, Galatians 3 and 5, and Ephesians 2.  Those Bible verses don’t contradict each other.  I’m sure other people have been confused by this before, too.  One of our elders said this in our study, and it was the best explanation I've heard concerning faith and works.  “We are not saved by works of the law (e.g. The Old Testament), and we are not saved by works of merit (because we’ll never be good enough), but we are saved when we have a working faith.”  It must be working because it says in verse 24 that it is “not faith alone”.  So a true faith must have actions or works with it or it’s a dead faith. 

We studied the life of Abraham as an example of a man who had faith.  He’s shown over and over again in the Bible as a man of faith, but the thing that stuck out to me when we looked at Bible verses about Abraham (Acts 7, Romans 4, Genesis 22, Hebrews 11) is that Abraham’s faith always involved action/works and obedience.  The neat thing when you study Abraham’s life is that you see he wasn't perfect--the perfecting of his faith was a process.  That was a big encouragement to me. 

It seems to be something James was reminding us of when he wrote that book; practical application and the process of being made perfect.  There’s nothing we can do to earn our salvation because it is a free gift, but we can’t deny what James tells us about works.  James 2: 18 “ But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
God’s grace and working faith go together.  If we are Christians we will do good works and it’s by our faith working that we know we are saved.  Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

Along with my study of James 2, the following Bible verses also helped me have a better understanding of faith.

How do we have faith? 
Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

What is faith?
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Faith is what guides our lives.  
2 Corinthians 5:7 “We live by faith, not by sight.

Our faith produces works. 
1 Thessalonians 1:3 “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faithfulness to the end is our goal.
2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 

I hope this has made sense and that I explained what I've recently learned.  It was really exciting for me to better understand the relationship between faith and works.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Empty Nest

My baby birds have left the nest.  Out of habit when I walk by the front door I look up to see what they are up to, but they are gone.  I loved having them there, but to be honest, the bird poop was getting to be a bit much.  Once it looked like they were on their own, I was so happy to clean off my wreath and the front door.  

I hope you can see the development of our House Finch baby birds in the photo collage above.  I took over 100 photos of the birds documenting their development.  These photos are in order from April 10th - May 4th. The final photo of our baby birds is on the bottom right.  I got too close when I took that photo and it caused them to fly the nest.  In the process, it startled me and I fell into the brick wall.  It's really funny.  I had no idea they were going to fly away.  I knew they were getting close to leaving the nest, but I didn't know it would be at that exact moment.  I'm sure you would have gotten a big laugh if you saw it.  It was funny, but at the same time a little freaky.  Sort of like a scene from the Hitchcock movie The Birds.

This is probably as close to ornithology as I'll ever get.  It's been neat to see nature do what God's designed it to do.  Maybe we'll get the opportunity to host another nest on our front door again.  If so, then you know I'll be sharing it with y'all.

To see photos of the birds I shared in a post about a month ago, click here.

Also, here's the only photo I was able to get of the mama bird.  She wasn't aware of my iPhone in the window.  I never got a photo of the daddy bird.  I saw him up close once when he landed on the nest to feed the babies, but once he spotted me he quickly flew away.

Friday, May 2, 2014

My Pretend Shopping Trip to Target

My friends Kelly, Andrea and I keep a constant group text going.  A few weeks ago we were texting while I was in Target shopping.  My friend Kelly said she misses Target because now she lives in Mississippi.  That's a big change from being in the middle of the DFW area where there's everything so close.  We all love Target!  Who doesn't, right?  I love it so much that I have to be very disciplined when I'm shopping there so I don't leave with a million things I don't need.  To pacify the need to spend a lot of money, I decided to do a pretend shopping trip and share it with you.  I took photos of things I would buy if I could walk in the store and get anything I wanted.  (As opposed to my real life where I was using coupons to buy toilet paper, detergent and groceries.)  Kelly (and all of you) can pretend shop with me!

Let's start with flowers.  I never buy them, and they are lovely.

The flowers are pretty, but let's get to the real stuff.  

In the clothing section:
I've never met a stripe I didn't like ;)

These are cute and the 5" inseam is perfect. The 3" just seems too short since I'm a mom.  I wrote about "mom shorts" here. 

I still think the movie Pitch Perfect is hilarious.  I wouldn't wear this shirt, but I love the movie.  (Would you judge me if I wore it at home as sleep shirt?)

How about a couple of Blu-Ray Disney classics?

 Home decor:
This lamp with...

with this lamp shade.

This is a pretty lamp shade, too.

 This blanket looks cozy.

Lovin' this pouf. 

I'd take this chair home if I could fit it in the back of my Highlander. 

Lawn & Garden:
This would look nice on my back porch. 

Functional and stylish watering can and basket

Gardening is one of my favorite hobbies and this tool set would only make it more fun.

 This is actually something I could use when clearing brush at the land.

I could eat the entire bag by myself. 

Designer tissues.  One must look stylish blowing her nose during allergy season.

I'm a sucker for a new pattern on Method soap. 

I've been eyeing these Orla Kiely bags forever.  All of the patterns are pretty. 

My weakness is Essi nail polish.  I'd buy one of each if I could afford it.  It's my favorite. 

That was fun!  Thanks for pretend shopping with me.


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