Sunday, July 8, 2018

All Dogs Go To Heaven: A Tribute to a Beloved Dog

To Dear Remi Sue, Our Beloved Family Dog:

When you first came into my life as an adorable puppy, I didn't like you.
I was a sophomore in college, home for the summer. I had never had a pet, and I thought dogs were gross and sometimes scary.
I was less than thrilled with a furry little creature that chewed things, licked me and jumped on me on occasion. Even though you were pretty cute.
Flash forward several months and this girl, who didn't like dogs, is home for Christmas break and sharing the couch with you for the night. Never thought I'd be waking up face to to face with a dog, but you won me over, along with our entire neighborhood.
You were a good hunter, and companion. You were brave, full of energy and a lover of people, other dogs, and food.
There are too many great memories of you to share, but I would like to recall a few:

The time you were a puppy and you ran and jumped on my head while I was taking a nap.
The time you were deathly afraid of the water while we were camping, but you bravely jumped into a raft on shore, because you wanted to be with us and you knew you had to go into the water to get there.
The time I caught you running around in the neighbor's yard, playing with their dog on my way home from work, and quickly ushered you into the my car before they saw.

The time my brothers were chasing you around with Nerf Guns and you were so scared you leaped into my arms.

The time you ate all the Christmas cookies and earned the nickname "The Christmas Pig"
The time you got sprayed by a skunk and also earned the nickname "Skunk Dog"
The times you pulled me up the hill on our family walks.

The time you destroyed a stuffed duck (go beavers!)
Your love for chasing a good tennis ball and swimming in the creek.

Yes, you were a good dog.
You brought our family much joy, and with much joy came much pain when you left us.
I'm sorry that after I had my baby I didn't pay as much attention to you anymore.
I'm sorry that while I was figuring out how to be a mom I was stressed and grumpy with you.
You were always curious and gentle around babies.
I'm sorry I wasn't around to say goodbye to you.
If I had known the last time I saw you was going to be the last time, I would have given you a big hug, and pet you, and kicked the ball for you and shared some of my food with you.
Rest in Peace Remi Sue...Actually somehow doesn't seem fitting.
No matter what people may say, I believe all animals go to heaven.
All dogs go to heaven.
I hope you aren't resting right now Remi.
I hope you are running around in the grass right now.
I bet you've already tired Jesus out throwing the tennis ball for you.
Psalm 36:3 says:
"Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep.
 You, Lord, preserve both people and animals."

Goodbye Remi Sue, I know I will see you again someday.
Remi Sue
April 2008-July 2018

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Racial Reconciliation and Freedom in Christ

I have this post in my mind for a while, and the last few weeks have been busy and I've been out of routine and I just did not get around to writing it in time to hit publish on the 4th of July.

The background of the picture I used above, is the result of a failed craft project.
Many people today feel that our nation, is the result of a failed experiment; "true democracy does not work, and we are not running a true democracy anyway." Is what I hear over an over.

It is very apparent that our country seems to be extremely divided today. Religion, Race, Economy, Education, Politics--all things that divide us. These things are not new to the rest of the world. Our country is fairly young. Conflict and division has manifested itself all over the world since Eve took the apple at the beginning of creation. I recognize, I may have just lost some of my readers with that statement (all 4 of you, haha). Or in the very least, received some eye rolls.

I admit, at times I fall to the pressures of our world and become overwhelmed and exhausted by all of the division, hate and fear. I fall prey to the idol worship of our government. But I know the truth: our government is not God. Our government is made up of imperfect people. I do not look to our Government to save us. They can't. And at risk of exposing my, perhaps, ignorant paranoia: I don't trust our government. I'm not just referring to our current government, all government, everywhere. 

I trust God.
I know God is good.
I know Jesus came to save, not to condemn.
Jesus forgave those who put him on the cross...immediately, not years after.
Jesus is love--unconditional love.
There is a lot of misinformation in this world about what Christianity is, but this is the bottom line.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.
Even your "hippie, liberal, arrogant, ignorant" neighbors.
Even your "gun-toting, bible thumping, conservative, ignorant" neighbors. 
Even your noisy neighbors. Even your "trashy" neighbors. Even your uneducated neighbors. Even your rich neighbors. Even your foreign neighbors. 
Even your hateful neighbors.

I have been praying for God to "unsettle me". I have been praying for God to reveal things to me and in the last couple months God has placed "Racial Reconciliation" in the church, on my heart. He led me to a podcast called "United We Pray" hosted by Isaac Adams and Trillia Newbell. In "United We Pray" they discuss topics of racial division with various guests coming from many different perspectives and they end each episode by praying together.

I don't know how to solve racial division, inequality and injustice in our nation, let alone our world.
I am human.
God is not.
So I pray.
Here is what God has laid on my heart through this:

1. My perspective is not everyone's perspective. 
There is always more to the story. I have not witnessed much racism in my lifetime; that doesn't mean that it is not happening. That doesn't mean I should bury my head in the sand and pretend it's not happening. The principal of my school once gave me an analogy she uses when she is problem solving with students and families: Everyone tells their side of the story without interruptions, then she holds up a giant (fake) diamond and asks them what they see. Of course everyone has a different description of what the diamond looks like, because diamonds are multifaceted. It looks different depending on what angle you are viewing it from, and your view of the diamond is not wrong, but it's not the entire view. 
Challenge yourself to seek ways to see and learn things from others' perspective. 

2. Listen & Affirm.
 Do I like it when people write me off because I believe in God? Do I want people to support me when injustice falls on me? Do I want people to listen to me and know my heart? 
So I am choosing to stand with my brothers and sisters of different ethnicity and cultures and say "I hear your, I believe you, how can I help?" When I don't have the opportunity to have those discussions, and receive that information, I pray:
"God, how can I help?"

3. God created us different, and God's creation is beautiful.
This is not a new perspective for me, but one that I want to emphasize.
Our differences are on purpose.

So I challenge you, Christian or not, pray for racial reconciliation, pray for God to give you vision.
Pray, Pray, Pray and see how God changes your heart.
And while you're at it, give "United We Pray" a listen.

Finally, in theme with the Holiday, I leave you with the verse I started with:
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Freedom."
2 Corinthians 3:17

Freedom is why we celebrate Independence Day. We were free from British Rule. We were free to worship God in the way the bible teaches. We are still free to speak to choose our religion and openly share it. We have freedom of speech. We have freedom to disagree. We have freedom to peaceably assemble. We have freedom to pursue our desires.
Do all truly feel free in our country? No.
I know this: We are free in Christ.
We are free from feeling alone.
We are free from being offended.
We are free from harboring bitterness.
We are free from holding on to shame.
We are free from disappointment. 
We are free from entitlement.
Do we still feel these things? 
But we do not have to hold on to them. We can choose freedom in Christ.
We can choose to forgive, we can choose to let go.
We can be free in Christ, even when we are not physically free.

I am not ingenious, I am not a clever writer, these revelations are not new.
I am positive that I have many typos in this post.
My only hope is, that if you made it through this whole post, that you are challenged to pray, to seek out those who are different from you, to learn to fellowship, to solve. I hope you listen to "United We Pray". I hope you study God's word and learn the ways of Jesus.
I pray for racial reconciliation in the church and in the world.
I pray that you all experience true freedom in Christ.

Grace in Peace be with you and Happy, Belated, Independence Day!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

30th Birthday Party Prom

30 Balloons: Amazon // Backdrop: Amazon
I turned 30 this May! I love getting dressed up, let's face it, I'm extra! So for my birthday party I rented a banquet room at our local Elks Lodge and threw a prom!
Dress: Nordstrom Rack // Belt: Amazon // Blazer: Amazon // Backdrop: Amazon
My husband & I met in college and we weren't even in high school at the same time, so it was fun to get to have "prom" together! He even indulged me and wore an outrageous blazer to match my dress and color theme for the party. And crazy story about my dress: I got it at Nordstrom Rack, for 1 penny!! I thought they were joking when they rang me up, but I guess that's a thing at Nordstrom Rack??

Funny story about the above pictures: The first time I met all of my husband's family, back when we were first dating, was at his birthday gathering. His oldest brother made me carry out Joel's cake to him while everyone sang and I remember being so embarrassed, because 1) I just met them all and 2) I just kept thinking "what if we break up & I'll be in all of these birthday photos now!" Well good think it worked out! 10 years later and he's holding my cake for me while everyone sang happy birthday!

 I had such a blast! I am so thankful to my family and friends that came and celebrated with me and helped me pull everything together.
30's going to be a party! :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Hello Spring: Inspirational Bible & Prayer Resources

Hello all & Happy Spring! Long time no talk! I've been lazy about blogging in the past couple of months. I've had ideas for posts, but then I never sat down and took the time to write it out. I took the above picture over a month ago at a time that my new coffee table was styled and clean. I thought I would share with you today some products that I've been using lately to help encourage my prayer life and day to day walk with God. 
Here's my stack of resources. It looks like a big stack,  but it's not all something I necessarily use every day, but I am enjoying them, not only are they inspirational and useful, but they are pretty to look at. I'll just list and explain each thing & link it starting from top to bottom.

This prayer journal is has really helped my prayer life. It has categories to prompt your prayers and list them. It is divided up by month and at the end of each month there is space to record answered prayers. It also includes sections for quotes and scripture, gratitude, and jounaling. For me, it has helped me to organize my prayers and break it into manageable chunks. Before I was trying to pray for everything, every day. It would take me over half an hour to do and often times I would forget about things I wanted to pray for because I wasn't writing them down, it was all in my head. Then when I took the time to pray, sometimes I would get discouraged and give up because it took me so long and I had lost motivation. Val Marie Paper offers not only inspired products, but a community that helps to encourage one another and share ideas in helping your payer life. I have been able to start dividing my prayers up by days, helping me not to get overwhelmed with the pressure of praying for everything, every day. By doing this, I have been able to organize my thoughts better, and God has actually revealed more things to me to pray for, and evolved some of the things I was already praying for. My prayer life has greatly improved and I look forward to my prayer time. Even on those days where I am not feeling motivated, I can just look at the things on my list, and just say them out loud, and sometimes it sparks something more. Unfortunately, the yearly prayer journal is currently sold out, but there are 6 month prayer journals and other products that are inspirational and helpful as well--and it doesn't hurt that they are pretty :) 

I actually found this journal randomly at a gift store, and you can't get them on the website, but I thought I would share the artist with you. I was so excited when I found a set of 3 blank journals with her artwork on it, because she is one of my favorite artists! 

3. The Holy Bible: New International Version
No link here, I just got this at a Christian book store many years ago, I great find in my favorite color!

This is a daily devotional by Sarah Young that focuses on finding peace from anxiety and worries in Jesus Christ. It is a short blurb with the related scriptures written out below. I love this because I have often struggled with anxiety in my life, and when you're in a hurry in the morning, it's convenient to have the scriptures listed there so you don't have to look them up.

This is a beautiful devotional book by Ruth Chou Simons. It's not a daily devotional, but it is a devotional. Her beautiful artwork is on every page, and she explores the seasons of life through the seasons of the earth. 

This is a quarterly Christian magazine publication. It is Beautiful, just like the name! I leave them on my coffee table, because not only are their covers beautiful, but right now I am following a scripture reading plan through the season of Lent leading up to Easter that they provided. The magazine is full of beautiful artistic images, ideas, and interesting information.

Bonus Reads

A book by Brant Hanson. This book is not actually pictured in my stack, but I just finished reading it and I LOVED it!! I think everyone should read it whether you have ever felt like a misfit in church or not. If you have felt like a misfit, this book will affirm your faith, and if you haven't, maybe if will help you understand the different personalities in your church a little better! I am so inspired after reading book.

Not pictured, but currently on my coffee table. My mom gave me this book for Easter quite a few years ago. It's just a pretty book of illustrated bible verses. It's great to just pick up and read a quick verse before heading out the door!

And, in case you were wondering, here's what my coffee table looks like in real time :)
If you're on Spring Vacation like I am, I hope you are getting some rest and enjoyment!
Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Reflection


The year that I became a mom.
It's not surprising, then, that in my most popular 9 posts on Instagram this year, my son is in most almost all of them!

It has definitely been a year of growth for me. 
I put off having a baby for a long time. 
When I became pregnant, I felt a twinge of guilt. I know amazing women who have been trying and trying for a baby for so long, and I, just finally deciding to go for it, still not feeling ready or yearning, conceived after 3 months of trying. 
I had a fairly easy pregnancy. I enjoyed being pregnant. the last couple of month were not the most comfortable; I struggled with pregnancy induced hypertension and was forced to go on bed rest a month before my due date, beside that the sleepless nights filled with heartburn and bathroom trips, my pregnancy was enjoyable (although maybe I've already forgotten the worst parts of it!)
I always thought I would give birth the natural way, without any pain medication, just like my mom did, and then I found out I was going to need a scheduled C-section. 
I was pretty scared going to into, but in the end, it was great!
One moment I was pregnant and then BAM--I'm a mom.

We have been so blessed to have had so much help and support over the last 6 months--I don't know what I would have done without our family and friends.
The first 3 months of my son's life I was a huge mixed up mess of emotions (I still have my moments, not going to lie!) While I fiercely loved my baby, I was not in love with being a mom. I had absolutely no idea how to be mom. I lived in constant fear and anxiety that my son was going to die or be kidnapped. I was consumed with the fear that I had made the wrong choice by bringing another life into a world where horrible evils exist. 
I knew I needed to give my worries to God and trust that, even though bad things may happen, he is in control, and something good can come from every bad thing. With much prayer, on my part and others, I slowly began to let go and let God be my Prince of Peace.

Joel and I made the decision for me to return to work part-time. The school I was at would not be able to make that accommodation for me, so I made the decision to leave and find a new school.
I am thankful that God allowed me to make that decision and everything fell into place and I was hired at a new school within 2 weeks. I often struggle with making decisions like that because I feel that I would be letting people down by leaving. I would worry that people would think I was giving up on my students. I do think that some people my have thought that about me, but I am continually reminded that it doesn't matter what other people think, what matters it what is in your heart. I am blessed to have had my time at my old school, with those co-workers and students. Every season has a purpose, and I continue to pray for everyone there, every day. Going to part-time helped ease my heart pains in returning to work, by the way, and so far, I am very much enjoying my new school.

I've always prided myself in being a sensitive person--but becoming a mom has opened up new levels of sensitivity that I never knew existed! Every time I see bad things happen to people--even bad things happening to bad people-- I can help but think: they were an innocent baby once. They were an innocent child once. Maybe they had a parent to who ached over their love for them or maybe they never experience the love of a parent. What happened to them? 
I've become more sensitive to what I watch on TV, to the words that come out of my mouth, to the way I behave when I am upset, and even to kids asking for ice packs when they have a minor accident in PE (haha--OK maybe I've just given into that one!) I have become more fervent in seeking a relationship with God. I enjoy studying the bible and praying. Oh and did I mention yet that I LOVE being "Mama" to my adorable son?!

I think I could have gone on living my life without a child and been perfectly happy--but God knew I needed a child to change my view of the world. My freshman year of college I journaled about reading the verse Luke 13:34:
" often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!"
I was amazed at the tenderness Jesus spoke as to how he longs to comfort us; like a hen to her chicks, like a mother to her child. Now that I am a mother, I am endeared to my Jesus even more as I long to comfort my child when he is sad, tired or sick. I can only vaguely imagine what it must feel like to love something so dearly and have your heart broken as they choose to go down a path that will hurt them. This is the God that I serve. My Abba Father. My Mighty Savior, my Prince of Peace.

So as I look into the new year, I look on with hope.
Bad things may happen, but I can hope, because Jesus came to save, not to condemn. 
In this year, 2018, I feel called to seek opportunities to bless others. Whether that means donating money, spending time with them, offering a kind word or a prayer, listening, or bestowing gifts.
Looking back on my goals from last year , I see the only one I accomplished was getting ready for the baby, which lets be honest, wouldn't have happened without the help of my mom & mother-in-law! So let's just say I'll shift those goals up another year! ;)

Congratulations if you made it through this whole long post, and #sorrynotsorry for all of the typos, as I have said before, I'm lazy and I don't edit before I post :P

Happy New Year and may you experience peace and blessings this year!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Spring Break 2017: Palm Springs Art Museum

Alas, here's my last post or our Palm Springs trip.
One night we went to this really pretty restaurant called The La Quinta Cliffhouse because they have a great happy hour and patio seating. Unfortunately, it was too windy to sit outside, and there was a huge wait to sit in the bar for happy hour, but they were so great, they accommodated everyone for happy hour and seated us in the restaurant so we wouldn't have to wait so long! The food was excellent!
After dinner, we headed to downtown Palm Springs to check out their Thursday night street market and the Palm Springs Art Museum. Unfortunately, the street market was canceled because it was too windy. There were palms down everywhere, and even some power outages. The Art Museum was great though!
I had really hoped to get out in the dessert to see the art installation listed below, but we just didn't have time.
I also really regret that I didn't take pictures of the information on these works of art--so sorry, there isn't credit to the artist on this blog, but check out the Palm Springs Art Museum website to find more information.
Had to take a picture with my spirit statue!
On our last day  in Palm Springs we went back into the downtown area for breakfast.
My in-laws had been to Cheeky's before for breakfast, and I had heard a ton about it so we chose to go there.
The wait time was super long, so we put our name on a list and wandered around Palm Springs a bit more. I fell in love with these decorative hutches below!! I didn't even bother checking on the price because I know they were out of my price range, but aren't those so cool?
B for Barbie & Baby :)
Finally got into breakfast! I had the huevos rancheros, and obviously I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture before I started eating. It was delicious!
The next day we loaded up the car, stopped by a random little Saturday Market (my hubby was amused by "Barbie's Closet" and then headed home!
Here's my list of things I'd like to do on my next visit to Palm Springs:
Well, it was fun! Until next time Palm Springs!