Thursday, September 29, 2011

Guest Post- Jami

Hello my sweet friends! Today I am honored to introduce you to Jami. She is the lovely lady behind Call Me Blessed. I love what she has to share with you today and know that you will too! Be blessed!

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I have to start by saying Laura is one of my favorite women in the blogosphere. I am continually blessed by the beautiful, truthful words she writes here. Thank you Laura, I am better for knowing you and am honored to be guest posting on Splendor. You are a precious sister in Christ.

Laura asked me write about a decision I have made that changed my life. This was easy for me.

It was the decision to be obedient.

That doesn't sound very exciting or difficult does it?
It's something all followers of Christ know they are supposed to do.
I say it to my kids all the time. God calls us to obey him because He loves us and knows what's best for us.
But have you needed to obey God when it was the last thing you wanted to do?

After 7 years, my marriage was falling apart, and I was completely devastated. I was walking with the Lord, but to be honest, up until that point it had been fairly easy. I felt like I was doing most of the right things and I did love the Lord. The question is did I really trust Him? Looking back now I can say, not completely. I thought I trusted Him because things were going pretty well.
When I realized my marriage was what I considered "over", I started making plans on how I would leave my husband. At this time I had two kids and I literally sat on the couch with a pen and paper and began to write down where we would go and how we would get there.
Let me emphasise here that I was completely serious. This was not a threat or a dramatic gesture. I was terrified but honestly believed  no matter how hard it was going to be it couldn't possibly be worse than how we were living.

As I was making my plan a distinct voice in my heart simply said "no, this is not what I want."

I knew in that instant that I had a decision to make. Was I going to do what in my flesh seemed like the easier thing to do? Or would I listen? Listen and obey. Would I obey God by keeping my marriage vows even though I was smack in the middle of the "worse" part?

There were a lot of prayers and tears, and a decision. A decision to obey. To obey my heavenly Father and trust that He knew what was best for me. That He knew what was best for my Hubby and kids. It was time to actually live out what I had been saying I believed in. That I would live my life for the Lord and trust Him with every aspect of my life.

This decision completely changed my life.
Now after 13 years of marriage and 4 kids I can definitively say that God has blessed my obedience. It has not been perfect. I don't have any illusions that my marriage won't face future trouble. We live in a broken world where we WILL have heartache. But this I know... my God is for me, He loves me. He is my shield and my portion forever.
Obeying Him in this area helped me to truly trust Him in all areas of my life. It is a daily walk, a daily decision and I am grateful every day that God grants me the strength to continue this journey.

Call Me Blessed

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Uncomfortable

Sunday night I sat in a plane and held Mia in whatever position she would sleep in for 8 hours. Which made for a comfortable trip for her, but not so much for mama. Then last night after not seeing Asher and Bella for 10 days, they didn't want to let me out of their sight. So we piled into Bella's little twin bed and I fell asleep with both of them in my arms on either side.

I woke up and went to my own bed. But at some point in the middle of the night they both made it in to our bed. I laid their, as close to the edge of the bed you can get without falling out because Bella likes to sleep sideways.

Exhausted.

Uncomfortable.

But as I listened to the peaceful sounds of them sleeping between Brandon and I, I thought about the many times they spontaneously hugged us since we'd been home and told us they were happy we were home. They wanted us close. As tired as I was I couldn't bring myself to make them go to their own beds. Because the truth was, I wanted them close too.

The truth of what a gift I have in these 3 kids, in my husband, in our home and in our life. Hit me hard. 

Sore back. Aching arms. Exhausted.  I decided I didn't care about the discomfort. The treasure I hold in this life. The tangible blessings of each day and the evidence that comes with it, far outweighs any discomfort that it can bring along side it.

We had an amazing time on our trip. I am literally still processing it all. The conference--the speakers, the connections we made, were all completely inspiring. Dreams and passions have been reignited. My focus, redefined. There is so much to do, so much to this life far greater than me. So many in need of someone who will step out of their comfort and speak, act, love, do.

I want to be that person. As much as I put my own comfort aside for my kids, I want to teach them to do that for others too. I pray that as I die to myself each day and my own priorities, wants, needs, and wishes. I am walking out love. Not just talking or teaching those things to my children, but showing them by living it out.

I have such goals. Dreams. Plans. God has given me a cause to live for. A burden for others to carry and a desire to do something about it. But it begins right where I am. In my every day. In my home.

Sometimes I get discouraged with myself because I feel like I'm not doing enough. Like there is so much left to do in a day.

But last night, God spoke to my heart. Every day with my children. Loving on my husband. Caring for my home and the things God has placed in my hands, the testimony he's given me to tell and my obedience to tell it....it's training ground.

Each day, each step. Every act of obedience in the little, leads to the greater.

My ministry and my heart begins where I am. Being faithful in the here and now. He's given me  a dream. A vision to strive for. Goals beyond myself.

And He's given me today.

Laundry to fold. Suitcases to be unpacked and groceries to be bought. A baby girl to be held and fed in the early morning hours. A curious 5 year old to love on and answer all of his 567 questions. A husband to honor and adore. And a 3 yr old little girl who watches it all. Wanting so badly to be like her mommy. That in itself is a huge ministry to hold.

I pray I teach them to care for the little. To live in the now. To cherish and treasure. But, with a greater and bigger purpose outside of these 4 walls igniting the way. The people in need of me, them, us...putting our own comfort aside for the sake of those in need of something greater, living in us.

God's looking for people who are willing to get a little uncomfortable for the sake of others. I pray I am always open to be that person. And more importantly, raising a generation willing to do that also.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

through the eyes of a little girl

We took Mia to the beach for her first time yesterday. She loved it. Every bit of it. Not even the sting of the salt water in her eyes seemed to bother her. 
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It's been so fun to have this time with her. I miss my Bella and Asher so much but I know this time here will be gone soon, so I'm soaking it up with our little beach babe. The pause from our usual routine has been good for all of us. 
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The beauty of Hawaii is is the perfect reminder to me of God's amazing work. Not just in the obvious beauty of the beaches and blue skies. But in the memories and years that have passed since we were last here. The changes and growth. The old and the new. The losses and gains. It's all so beautiful. And being here just reminds me of it.
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Sometimes I think God takes us back somewhere to show us just how far we've come. Maybe we forget. Memories fade. Details blur. Time seems so quick between then and now. But going back. It makes you appreciate even more the path that you've walked on that has brought you to now. It could never be replaced. The lessons. priceless. The growth, precious.
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And seeing it through new eyes. The eyes of a little girl who means more to this mama than she may ever know.....Well it's just been precious. And good. And needed. And so like God.
He works all things together for our good. Every step. Every valley and every peak. It's all for something. All leading us to one place. 

Exactly where we are.

"And with His light, He will show you truth
And again you'll see through the eyes of a little girl"



Hope you all are having a great week. 
Love to you all from Hawaii!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Aloha!

We landed in Hawaii late Friday evening. It was 7:30 Hawaii time and 12:30 our time. Mia is doing pretty well adjusting to the time change. We are so excited to be here. Our first day was spent shopping at Ala Moana mall and consuming lots of our Hawaii favorites---jamba juice for breakfast, cinnabon as a snack and a late lunch at Mariposa in Nieman Marcus. All of these places are not necessarily exclusive to Hawaii but for us they are. We relate them to being here. When Brandon and I lived here and I was pregnant with Asher, I craved jamba juices!

Mariposa is a special treat if you ever want to go somewhere nice for lunch. We first went when we came for our wedding and someone took us there. They have the best pineapple tea and popover rolls with strawberry butter. So good. But I don't recommend trying to eat there for dinner. Brandon and I went back one evening on out honeymoon and realized it's a totally different atmosphere for dinner. Pretty pricey and I saw things like "duck something or other" on the menu. We quietly got up from our table and bee lined it to California Pizza kitchen. Stick to lunch time, if you ever go :)

Last night we went to the first service for the Catch His Fire Conference at Word of Life. It was awesome and so good to be back visiting. There is such an annointing and the people are just pure and sweet and just excited for what God is doing in their church.

Pastor Obed Martinez from Indio California was the first speaker. He was amazing and the word was such a relevant and "right now" word for us. God is so good and we are so excited for whats in store this week.

I'm writing from my phone because we don't have Internet access yet. I'm kind of enjoying that though. It's nice to sort of step away for a bit. Clears your head and heart to make more room for what god wants to speak. So that is what were doing. Listening.

We're headed to Sunday service in a bit. I have some guest posts lined up for the week that im hoping to post but will also be posting updates on our trip with pictures sporadically, if/when I'm able to. So keep checking back!!

Aloha!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Out of the dust

"All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You"

We were sitting at the dinner table one day last week. Somehow the conversation turned toward heaven and when we're going. Asher is so curious and asks a lot of questions about this. It often leads to talking about Faith and Grace. We talk about them openly. I want them to understand. To know.

When we buried the girls, they were buried on some family land. A part of the land called Sunset Hill. It overlooks beautiful grass and trees. There's a swing there. Lots of history. I really don't know of another place that could have been more perfect for them. Or a place that means more to me.

The kids know that the girls were buried there. In the ground. Tiny little coffins that hold their bodies. But they also know they are not there. They live in heaven.

But still Asher asks. Why did we bury them in the ground. Under dirt and soil. I tried my best to explain it to him. At one point, I had no words. I had no more answers that made sense to me, much less a 5 year old. So I looked at his dad. Hoping I wouldn't need to talk anymore. If I said one more word, Asher might hear the tears waiting to burst out of my words.

But that conversation got me thinking. The soil, the dirt, the ground. Our girls buried in the earth. That area has to be kept mowed and cared for. Grass, weeds, wildflowers try to take over it, if it's not kept under control.

I've had this song stuck in my head for weeks. Beautiful things. He makes beautiful things out of the dust.

Yes, knowing two tiny baby girls are buried there is hard to know. I have to remind myself, that they are not there. That they are alive and in heaven.

Sometimes I have lots of questions like Asher does. Sometimes I don't hear an answer.

But I'll see one. In the beautiful things that have sprung up around me. Hope. My precious kids. Beauty. Flowers in a vase on my kitchen table. Leaves falling. The air turning cooler. Hugs, and love, and Time. Time itself is so priceless.

My family. The ones who've always been.

My husband who selflessly cares for his family. For his church.

My little sisters tummy. She'll never know how much it makes me smile to see it. That little life growing inside of her. It is precious.

My Bella girl in her princess tutu and crown. Asher waking up in the middle of the night, reaching for me. Wanting to know I'm there. Mia with her big smiles and shy looks.

A table full of brothers and sisters, grandmas and friends. Kids running around. Dancing and laughing. Cousins.

These are all such beautiful things. Things he has made out of the dust. The trials, the struggles, the long journey's.

We all have them. They're all around us. We just don't always see them. We see the bigger, louder things. Demanding for our attention. Deadlines, bills, meetings, play groups, appointments, and tasks. Hardships, sickness, struggles, and pain. We let those things cloud the beautiful.

We let the weeds and grass and wildflowers overgrow. We don't take care to keep them under control. We get negative. Focused on the bad. Little and big.

But out of that dust can come beautiful things. For me, it was a deeper vision and focus. My eyes became clearer. My heart became bigger. To see and to feel the bigger more beautiful things in this world. As little as they are. I try to see those. To focus on those. Every. Day.

There is so much Hope. So much Love. So much Beauty in this world. Take the time to see it today. I think God is always speaking to us through the little things. What does He want to say to you today? Will you hear?




"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end" Ecclesiastes 3:11"






Monday, September 12, 2011

Celebrate

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We celebrated Brandon's birthday early yesterday. His birthday is actually not until the 21st but we'll be in Hawaii for it, so our families went to lunch yesterday to celebrate. Mexican food. Of course.

The restaurant we went to puts a sombrero on the birthday boy/girls head while they sing happy birthday and the whole table gets sopapillas. Tell me if thats not a party.


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It's always fun when we get our families together. I am continuously thankful for such an incredible family who is always so supportive and there for us. I would've had a lot more pictures to show but one of my brother in laws got a hold of the camera and the pictures were not exactly -share with the world- appropriate.

T- minus 4 days until we leave on a jet plane. I am so excited. But I am going to miss my kiddos. My in-laws will be staying with them so I feel good knowing they'll be well taken care of. It's still hard to be away. To plan for 11 days away. I've never been away from them for so long, but I know it will be good. I know it'll be ok. I know they will get spoiled and eat really well. I know Brandon and I {and Mia, because she's permanently attached to my hip} will enjoy ourselves. I know all of this. But still.

On another note,  I've got some new items in the shop. A necklace I am in love with....

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....and bracelets! Had lot's of requests for bracelets, so here ya go. I happen to love these, if I do say so myself. And I just did.
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So in celebration of Brandons Birthday, our trip and the new bracelets, I'm giving you 15% off until Thursday morning, which is the last day I'll be shipping out orders for a while. So if you've been eyeing something, nows the time to snatch it up. There is still a couple of end of summer ring styles up for grabs on sale at 7bucks.....plus 15% off??? Yep. Enter code--"celebrate" at check out and grab yourself a deal, ya'll.

One last note.....I get so many incredibly sweet emails and I want to say thank you to each and every one of you. I have so much guilt that I am not always able to respond, but I do read every one of them and they touch my heart. Seriously. I love to hear from you and I promise I will respond, even if it's not right away. Thank you for taking the time to connect with me, it really means so much!

Happy Monday my sweet friends {it's still monday for 20 more minutes}

OH!! and the winner of the Naptime Diaries giveaway was Paige!!! Paige, email me asap!

And go check this giveaway out. Its a great cause for some special people wanting to bring their sweet baby home. The items have all been donated. There is some amazing stuff, so go check it out.
one sweet love


Much Love to you ALL

Friday, September 9, 2011

the Little things

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Robert Brault


Some of the little things from our week.



-Cooler mornings and walks with the girls.
-The swishing sound of Mia's diaper as she learns to crawl around the house.
-Asher walking out the door with his backpack on. He looks so big.
-My cute little sister and her 6 month baby belly.
-New cherry chap stick.  
-This little guy sitting on my mantle.
-Giant ice cream cones at Gigi and Pas' house. Piled way too high with cool whip and sprinkles.

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-Late night texting with my sister that results in a lot of "LOL" even though I hate that term, sometimes it's all you can really say.
-Red Steve Madden heels.
-Brandons hugs. They're just good.
-Pumpkin Spice Latte samples from Starbucks
-A pair of old running shoes that form to my feet and make me want to run.
-Mia's first time on a swing with huge smiles and laughs.

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-My 55 yr old dad planking on the top of a kids playground.
-Bella girl getting her first hair cut and daddy tearing up as he watched.
-Chikfila kids cones and oreo shakes. Oh and waffle fries too
-Dinners all together, even the messy spaghetti ones.
-Bubble bath giggles.
-Night time begging that never fails to end in a bit more snuggling.
-Sleepy time tea at the end of a day. {Make it a double}
-The sounds of a quiet house filled with my sweet sleeping lovies. Big and small.


“The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world.” {A Thousand Gifts- Ann Voskamp}

Aisle to Aloha

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What ifs

In about 1 week Brandon and I will be on a plane headed to Hawaii.....

Sounds fancy smancy, huh? Well, we've got a lot of history with Hawaii. My family and I lived there for about 4 years when I was younger, during that time we became actively involved in an awesome church their on the island called Word of Life Christian Center. After my parents made the decision to move us back to Texas, we ended up here in San Antonio, where I met Brandon. When Brandon and I got engaged, we decided to spend the same amount on a smaller wedding in Hawaii with close family and friends, rather than a large one here.

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While we there, we were given an opportunity to come work with the church my family had been involved with years before.

7 months into our marriage and me 4 months pregnant with Asher, we moved all of our belongings across an ocean. Away from our family and friends. It was hard. Yes it was "paradise" but I was pregnant, and did I mention ultra emotional? I'm very close to my family and it was heart breaking to me to think my first baby wouldn't grow up around my sisters and family.

We lived in a condo on the 18th floor, with no ac and open windows, so all of our stuff was constantly getting blown off shelves. We slept on a blow up mattress for the first month. Our neighbors above us were rather "loud" if you know what I mean. I won't elaborate. There was no Taco Cabana's or Chikfilas. The grocery store didn't have my favorite peanut butter, we had to take our laundry to a laundry mat

.....Big major issues here ya'll....You name it, I complained about it.

We've learned a lot about perspective over the years since then.The amazing oppurtunity that it truly was never stood a chance against my crummy perspective.

4 months after we made the huge move, we made the equally huge move back to Texas. Just in time for Asher to be born here.

That decision was one of those that we've often thought "what if" about.

What if we had stayed, even just a year or two, or three....what could we have learned from this amazing church?

What if we had stayed, where would our ministry be?

What if we had stayed,  could I have an amazing tan and become a pro surfer?

Obviously we know God works all things together for our good. But I can't help but still wonder, what if.

Brandon and I have gone through some incredibly hard times over the years. Particularly about 3 years ago. We got ourselves into some very tough situations by trying to live and make a life we wanted and thought we needed. We landed in one of the most challenging and trying times of our life.


But, we learned so much from it. I leaned in to God like I never had before, and he showed me some things. He kept bringing me back to the story in the Bible where the israelites wondered through the dessert for 40 years, on a journey that should have taken 11 DAYS.  

11 Days, yall.... but it took 40 years

Wow.

They'd circle a mountain. Complain the whole way, question God, thinking they knew better.

.....Back around the mountain they went.

See, I know God gives us all oppurtunities and open doors. He sets things up for us---for our good. His perfect plan. There's just one thing that often messes it all up.

Us.

Our selfish needs. Our selfish views. We think we know better. We let our emotions make our decisions for us.

We get so caught up in the mediocrities of our present circumstances. Wind blowing through our house...messing things up. This can't be the right way, it's not easy. God wants things easy on us, right?

Nope. He does have a good and perfect plan for us, but that doesn't mean it's going to be easy. In fact its in the hard times, the difficult ones, that He's really watching.

Watching for how we will react. What we will decide. What our character will say about it. Will we tough it out, staying rooted and grounded in Him. Trusting Him? Or will we complain the whole way through like the isrealites did and then have to go back around the mountain.

I praise God for his mercy and grace. I think back on our life and I am truly blown away by his love. His enduring, never failing love that sustained us.

The beautful thing is that that same grace that held us up when the journey took longer than it needed to is the same grace that gives us more oppurtunities and open doors. More favor and blessing. Because He truly does want the best for us.

I used to keep the "what if's" to myself. The story of our long journey. I didn't want people to know. But keeping them to myself, denies everything we learned through them. And I never want to do that.

In fact I cant deny them. They've defined who I am today. I may only be 28 years old, but I often think that mentally I'm much older. And I only say that because of what I've faced, not just what I have faced but how I faced them and what I learned from them.

Thats what God is looking for- how are you going to face the journey and what will you learn?  

I never want to stop learning.

With the trip coming up, I've been thinking alot about those what-if's. I have to say, I am thankful for every step around that mountain that we took. The journey may have taken much longer than it needed to. The lessons have been tough. But it brought us right where we are today. On the other side. Ready to keep moving forward in whatever God has for us.

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Leslie from Top of the Page asked me to share a story on grace for her "Grace on a Thursday" series.  If you haven't read my "Calling Grace Mine" post, head on over to her blog to read it and tell her hello for me.  She is super sweet. You will love her.
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Happy Thursday My Sweet Friends!

Linking up with Casey for What's on My Heart

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Giveaway- Naptime Diaries!

Hello Precious People! Today I am so excited to introduce you to a sweet friend of mine. Jessi not only has a fantastic blog, where she writes straight from her heart, but she also has a Shop full of graphic prints that I think you will love just as much as I do!

Here are a few of my favorites

In Bella's Room
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In our "Creative Space"
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I love this for an entry way or living room
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For a baby's room
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She also does customization. We have this one in the NIV version that says "For the display of His Splendor"
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There are so many great prints, it's hard to pick just one. Wouldn't you LOVE to have THREE prints of your own? Well Jessi is giving one of you that chance!

One Winner will choose any 3 prints from her shop!

Here is how to enter:
Please leave a separate comment for each entry

-Follow Splendor via Google Friend Connect {one entry}
-Visit Jessi's shop and tell me which 3 prints you'll choose if you win {one entry}
-Follow Naptime Diaries {one entry}
-Share this Giveaway on Facebook or Twitter {one entry each}
-"Like" the Splendor Facebook page {one entry}


Winner will be announced on Monday September 12th
Also Jessi is offering my readers 15% off in her shop for the month of September!! Just enter code "splendor" at checkout!


Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Family Recipes and Old Photographs

I have always loved a good story. One with depth and meaning and history. I think that's also why I love words so much. Each one of them has a definition. A meaning beyond that one word. And that is fascinating to me.

So it's natural to me to want to incorporate these types of things into my home. Which is what I try to do in each room. Most recently, I've been working on adding some warmth into my kitchen. It underwent a major over haul in the early part of this year after an unfortunate mis-hap in the upstairs kids bathroom where we came home from a long day out to find water seeping down into our kitchen and living room. After all the repair work was done...floors, walls, etc and workers in and out for weeks, I sort of lost that warmth I had in it before. And I couldn't figure out how I wanted to incorporate it back in.

Slowly but surely I've found ways to do just that. One of them is by displaying some recipes that were given to me at one of my bridal showers about 7 1/2 years ago. Each woman was given a recipe card in their invitation and asked to write down one of their favorite recipes and bring it to the shower.

I've had those recipes in a box all these years and always forget about them because they're tucked away. So I decided to figure out a way to put them out in front of me so they would be my "go-to" when I'm stuck on what to bake or cook when the urge strikes me.

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I was inspired by a kitchen makeover I saw on HGTV. They actually took all of these old recipes, transferred them onto some vintage paper and hung them from the kitchen light fixture. It sounds weird but it looked really cool, although, not really ideal because it was kind of high and I imagine it being a pain whenever you wanted to grab a recipe. But anyway, thats what inspiration is about, you take an idea and make it your own.
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So I took an old wood frame that was given to me from my friend Monica. The wood is sort of rough and warped looking but I liked that. I attached some twine length wise from one end to the next. Then I just hung up all of the recipes with clothespins.
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 I love having all of these recipes from women in my family, hanging in my kitchen. Grandma's, Aunts, Cousins, sweet friends.....Recipes passed down from their mom's and aunts. I can't think of a better way of adding some history into my kitchen.
Another one of my favorite things is a picture I have of my grandpa, my mom and her two brothers.
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 My grandpa passed away when I was about 15, but I was very close to him. We all were. He loved us kids. Always had popsicles when we came to visit and nicknames for us all. He used to call me "Laura, Laura, Laura" because when I was little, he would tease me by calling me another name. Being the stinker I am one day I got tired of it, gave him my best attitude and said "it's LAURA, LAURA, LAURA!".....apparently my aggravation was humorous to him and the "nickname" stuck.

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I like to look at this picture because of how young and handsome he looks. He had a stroke when I was a little girl, so that was how I always knew him. He walked a little slower and held his arm up around his waste, but, inside was this young guy and no matter what, always incredibly handsome to me.

My nana {Brandon's grandma} gave me this picture when I had Bella.
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She gave it to her with her own pair of cowboy boots, in pink.

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And the picture.....Could Nana be any cuter? In her short little dress and cowboy boots.... One of the recipes hanging in my frame is from her. It's a butter pound cake that is a staple at all of our family events. I haven't attempted to make it, because I feel like part of what makes it so special and delicious is that Nana made it. Not to mention the amount of buttah and sugar in that thing. Lawd have mercy. There is a reason it's meant for special occasions!

I'd love to have a whole picture wall of old family photos one day.

So what about you? How do you incorporate family history into your home?


Linking up with Gussy Sews again today...her inspiration workshop was "vintage"
Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop!