Sunday, June 29, 2014

Life Is Better With You

Happy Anniversary to my best friend.  
Just like the song says, life is better with you.  
I'm lucky to have you by my side, Mark.

Today is our anniversary.
We've been happily married for 12 years. 

Our life isn't perfect.  We have our ups and downs, but there's no one else I'd rather have by my side to take on this thing we call life.  We've changed over the last 12 years, but through it all we've grown closer together.  There's comfort in knowing that Mark will always be there.  It's reassuring to know I can depend on him for anything.  He loves me and our family, and I know that's real.  I don't take our marriage for granted.  We love each other and we try to show it in our words and actions.  I'm content in knowing that there's nothing out there that would make me happier than the life I have right now.  I look forward to many more happy years together.

Photo by Lauren Neyra

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Where do I begin?

If you follow me on Instagram (redbirdblue) then you've already seen this photo and read this, but I'll share it again on my blog.  We just returned home from a 16 day road trip, and I'm still sorting through 1,500 photos.  It will probably take me a few days to process it all.  We saw so many things and had an amazing time, and I'm not sure I can adequately show you the experience.  Since I don't know where to begin, take a look at this photo collage and caption from June 19th.  Hopefully this will show you just a glimpse of the beauty.

Psalm 89:11 "The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it." 
We started the morning among the magnificent redwoods in Muir Woods and then we ended the day driving along the breathtaking Pacific Coast Highway and watching the sunset at the beach. I told Mark that we've seen so many things so far on this vacation that I can't help but feel small in comparison. I also can't help but feel a sense of awe and wonder when I stop and acknowledge that The Lord we serve created all of it. It is good.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Greatest of These is Love

{Monday Morning Encouragement}

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

1 John 4:8-11
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

John 14:15
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

Matthew 22:37-39
 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Special Lady

In loving memory of my beloved Aunt Oma.

Our precious Aunt Oma passed from this life on earth June 6th.
We are all better for having known her.
I could write book about the life lessons I've learned from her example.

My dear cousin, Karen, wrote what my Aunt Pam shared with us.  It was one of the things Aunt Oma said to Pam when she was reflecting on her life.  "I have lived a long life (98 years) and have few regrets.  Though I never had children of my own, I was loved by nieces, nephews and special friends."  As Karen said, "What more could a person ask for in life?"

She was loved dearly.

Here's Aunt Oma with the boys November 2013.

November 2012

Aunt Oma was a strong Christian who loved the Lord and served Him her whole life.  She was active in her church, WMU, teaching Sunday school and GAs and volunteering at Lake Lavon Baptist encampment.  Aunt Oma and Uncle Garland enjoyed taking trips in their travel trailer.  She was also an excellent seamstress.  She enjoyed sewing her own clothes.  Here are a few words that come to mind when I think of Oma.

She was always...

We were all close to Aunt Oma for various reasons.  I'll always be grateful for her being there for me when I was at one of the most difficult points in my life.  In my early twenties, I had a period of soul-searching where I tried to make sense of the life I was living.  Most of you know about my childhood and how things weren't "normal".  It was at this time that I reached out to Aunt Oma who was a good listener.  I remember calling her one time in tears talking about our family, and she said, "Sometimes the things we're given  in life aren't fair."  Aunt Oma spoke those words from the heart.  As I said before, she and her husband never had children.  It's not because they didn't want them; she was unable to carry a baby to term.  I clearly remember my grandma telling me about how Oma lost several babies.  Only now as a mother, and someone who had some struggles with infertility, do I somewhat grasp the true understanding Oma had when telling me that sometimes life is unfair.  She and I never spoke about her not having children, but I can only imagine that was a difficult thing do come to terms with, especially as all of her siblings had large families.  I learned from Aunt Oma that no matter what life gives you, you must make the best of it.  She lived that by example.

Of course, I have numerous childhood memories of spending time with her.  I remember seeing her and Uncle Garland at many ponds fishing.  I remember going to her house.  One time I was getting something to drink and there was ice in my glass, and I decided to drink milk.  She said "You wouldn't want to have ice in your milk." and as a little kid, I thought that was the funniest thing ever.  I also remember as a child getting to be a server at her 50th Wedding Anniversary Party.  Aunt Oma and Uncle Garland remodeled/redecorated their home for the special occasion.  Their home was overflowing with friends and family who loved them.  I think I remember my grandma telling me that she once bought new living room furniture for their formal living room when she was going to host her book club.  She and Garland always stayed in a den.  The formal living room and extra bedrooms and bathrooms were on the other side of the house.  The formal living room looked like it was straight out of a Mad Men set--so 1960s.  That reminds me of how Oma dressed--always in a skirt coordinated with a matching blouse and usually a cardigan or neat jacket.  Always put together and ladylike.

When I moved off to college (ETBU) she was always so thoughtful and sent me the sweetest cards in the mail.  It always made my day to check my mailbox and find a card from her.

One of the neatest memories I have is when I moved to Bryan, Texas to attend Texas A&M.  I shared a townhouse with two other friends and Aunt Oma came down with my grandparents to help me move in.  I didn't expect her to actually help with the moving in part, but she jumped right in and carried an armful of my stuff up the stairs.  I love that memory of her so much!  I can just see it now, this petite, little lady with a drawer full of my clothes that was taken from the dresser I was going to move upstairs.  Makes me smile as I type this memory.

Another memory of Oma is when she had open heart surgery in the Fall of 2001.  Mark and I had just started dating.  Aunt Oma had to stay at my grandparents' home to recover.  I think she instantly liked Mark.  Mark and Oma are true Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers fans.  Oma even got to meet Nolan Ryan in 2012.  She and Mark always had interesting conversations about sports.  As you can see in the first photo, the sports page is in her lap.  Mark and I would always get tickled because she would call Tony Romo, Tony "Romeo" and Dez Bryant "Daisy" Bryant.

One of the final memories I have of Oma before she fell and broke her hip and had to transition to life in the nursing home was Christmas 2004.  Mark and I didn't have children then, and my grandparents and Oma spent Christmas day with us at our home.  We ate a big meal and then watched a Dolly Parton Christmas movie and DVDs of The Andy Griffith Show.  Mark still says that's one of his best memories with my family.

She was blessing to us all.  She will be greatly missed.

Matthew 11:29
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ben's Lego Chima Birthday Party

Ben wanted a Lego Chima theme party for his 5th birthday.  It was a challenge to find decorations so I decided to use the main colors of Chima--blue, green, and yellow to decorate.  We had snacks, cake, and ice cream.  The kids played inside and outside.  I didn't plan any elaborate party games.  For fun the we decorated cookies.  We also had a pinata, which Ben said was his favorite part of the party along with the presents.  Instead of doing big bags of party favors for the kids, each kid got a bag of treats from the pinata and a light up bouncy ball that I called a "Chi".

This is my favorite photo of the birthday boy.  
He LOVED his Chima cake.  My friend Brandi made it.  She usually makes all the birthday cakes for my boys.  I showed her an image on Pinterest and she made it a reality.  Ben chose Lennox and Wilhurt for his cake topper.

I thought this was an adorable photo.  My favorite part of the photo is the photobomb by Alyssa in the back.  She is too cute and I can't help but giggle when I see this.

Here's a closeup of the Chima cake.

Make a wish!

I had the cake in the kitchen, but I decided to take it outside to serve it.

The picnic table attached to our playset is so handy when we have parties.  It looks like Rachael is eyeing Will's ice cream, ha!  Mia is such a cutie and could hang with the big kids.

Ben is serious when it comes to taking a swing at the pinata.

Will is pretty serious, too.

I'm serious about trying to stay as far back as possible to avoid getting hit. I consider holding the rope to the pinata a near-death experience.  (In this case, I couldn't find the rope so I had to connect bungee cords.  Redneck, yes!)

Ty brought it crashing down quickly.  Thank you, Ty!  
We weren't forced to suffer through 30 minutes of pinata torture. 

Ben's other favorite thing about the party--presents!  We seriously have the most generous friends and family.  They always give our boys the best gifts.  This is Chima Legend Beasts that Ben's wanted since he first spotted them in the store.

Laval's Royal Fighter = Happy 5-year-old

Decorating cookies
It's not a good birthday party until everyone goes home with a tummy ache because they had too many sweets!

This makes my heart happy.
It's so cool that all of our family and friends get along so well.
All of the kids played together and had a blast. 

I enjoy parties but they can be stressful and a lot of work.  When I need help, my friends and family always seem to be there to rescue me.  Terri and Laine volunteered to serve ice cream.  My mother-in-law helped prepare the food, my sister-in-law helped clean up, and my friend took photos.
I guess it takes a village to throw a party at my house.

Ben's beyond blessed to have all of these special people in his life.  We are thankful they made his party so special.  Happy 5th Birthday, Ben!  We love you so much!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ben is 5!

Ben is 5!

I can't believe I'm even typing that.  My baby has become a little boy.  Maybe it's a mom thing, but I can remember the day that Ben was born like it was yesterday.  How did these last 5 years go by so quickly?  I'm having trouble even typing that Ben is 5.  My fingers keep hitting the 4 key.  Is that subconscious?  Probably!  

When Ben came along we knew our family was complete. He's the baby of our little family, and it's crazy to think we don't have a baby anymore.  In fact, don't even mention that around him because he will quickly remind you that he is NOT a baby.  He loves being bigger and is excited about starting kindergarten in the Fall.  

Ben is smart, loving, funny, creative, and independent. 
He's sweet mixed with just a little mischievous.  
For example, he loves to cuddle, but the very next minute he'd challenge you to a lightsaber duel.  Ben loves routine.  He doesn't like change.  If anything is out of the ordinary, Ben doesn't like it one bit.  One of his favorite things to do is cuddle up on the couch, eat popcorn and watch a movie.  Ben likes being outside and riding his bike or scooter.  He also likes music, songs like "Happy".

Ben's favorite things:
Colors: Green and Blue
TV show: Legends of Chima, Ninjago, Curious George
People: Mamaw and Papaw, Will, Daddy and Mommy, and his cousins
Toys: Legos, Cars, and Superheroes
Food: Pizza
Game: Baseball (Playing tee-ball in backyard with Will)
Bible story: Zacchaeus stuck in the tree
Favorite of all favorites: Bear (Baby Bear, Daddy Bear and Mommy Bear) and Blankie (which he calls his NFL Rushzone blanket)

Look at those brown eyes.  Love!

Ben has some of the funniest expressions.  He's definitely the most animated member of our family.  

Happy 5th Birthday, Ben!  

More photos of Ben's Chima Lego-theme party soon.


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