Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hope Spoken


H O P E  S P O K E N  2 0 1 4

"Hope Spoken is a women's conference where we all can come to know Jesus more, and make Him known in our lives. Our conference will be filled with stories. Stories of Christ in each of our lives, and how we can use these stories for His glory. This is a weekend to rest and feel His love, to lay burdens and hurts down and feel His grace. We want to let women know that they are enough, to encourage women to use their passions, their words, and their creativity for the Lord. We, above all else, want to glorify Jesus' name and share the hope we have in Him."

I'm excited to be a part of this conference and will be there as one of the small group leaders for the weekend! I believe that right now, tickets are sold out, but they are looking at adding more soon, so if you are interested in going, keep an eye on the website here

I'm linking up today with Casey, Emily and Danielle so that those of us who will be attending, can start to get to know each other a bit better. If you plan to be at Hope Spoken, I would love to hear from you! If you linked up, let me know so I can go check you out and say hello! :)


+Here's a little bit about me:
I'm Laura. Married to Brandon. We will be married 9 years this coming November!
Together we have planted a church here on the North West side of San Antonio and LOVING it. 
We have 3 kids. Asher (almost 8) Bella (5 1/2) and Mia (almost 3)
I will be 31 this December and really can't believe that. I still feel 21 ;)
I love my family. They are my number 1 priority. I love the Lord and I love serving along side my husband to see God's kingdom advanced. I have a huge, soft heart for people in general. I own a little online shop that I love and I also really love Target, new notebooks, candles, and fresh flowers. 

+Something I'm nervous about for the conference weekend:
Hmm....uncertainty, I guess? Not knowing what to expect or how to plan. 
I'm such a planner and I like to know what to expect. But I have come to learn that it is in these situations of uncertainty that God shows up big in my life and uses me, speaks to me and enlightens me in a whole new way. So while I'm nervous about it, I'm also super excited!

+Something I'm hoping to take away from Hope Spoken:
Relationship. Friendship. Connection. 
While I have "met" so many of the women who will be there through social media, I am most looking forward to truly connecting in person. I can't wait to hear their stories and to talk face to face. I can't wait for God's glory to be shown and talked about from all kinds of women with all kinds of stories. 
I really don't think you can beat -in person- connection. I'm a hugger too, so just know if you meet me, I will probably hug you. 

+Something fun or random:
Let's see....I am so random that it's hard to narrow this down...
I can't stand sleeping with socks on. I eat my ice cream with a fork. I am super intrigued and interested in other people. My kids take a bath every.single.day. I really love to dance. I am training for a half marathon. I'm addicted to carbs. I've got a major case of baby fever right now. I do not take myself too seriously and am usually the first person to laugh at myself. 

++++++++++++++++++++++
Ok so for real, don't make this all about me. Did you link up? Are you going to the conference? 
Let me know!
Did you not link up? Do you have no clue what linking up means? Are you so confused right now? 
That's ok, either way...I would love for you to tell me something random or fun about YOU now :)
And also, if you leave me a comment, I almost always reply in the comments, so check back there! 

xo, Laura


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Corn Maze

The weather this past weekend was absolutely perfect and beautiful. I left the house Saturday morning for a baby shower and as soon as I walked out the door, I decided we had to take the kids to do something fun later. It was just too beautiful of a day not to enjoy.

We wanted to go somewhere that would take a few hours and had lots to do. We decided on the South Texas Corn Maze in a near by town called Hondo. It's about 45 minutes from where we live. The perfect amount of time to feel like you're getting a mini road trip, but not too long where the kids get too antsy in the car.

Aside from the huge corn maze, there is so much to do for the kids. A hay ride, animals to pet, a huge jumpy thing, hay bales to jump over, a large field of pumpkins, a tractor train ride, and Asher and Mia's favorite...the huge slide. You have to pay a little extra for this and we assumed Asher and Bella would love it, but it ended up being Asher and Mia who did. Bella is our "play it safe" girl, where as Mia is the little dare devil. It's funny because I still look at her like my little baby...my peanut. But she was so brave and kept right up with her big brother. They would come down together, then turn around and climb the hill to go again. Over and over. While Bella was perfectly content to hang and watch with mom and dad. Love all of their different personalities.

We left the corn maze part for the end of the day and got some roasted corn and funnel cake right before. The sun was setting and it was absolutely beautiful. I am such a sucker for sunsets. I stopped to grab a picture of how beautiful this tree looked against the setting sun. It takes my breath away how beautiful God paints the sky for us each day.

We didn't leave until well after dark. The kids had a blast and the girls were sawing logs before we even got out of the town. It was such a perfect family day. I'm so glad we were able to make it this year. And I even remembered to take my "real" camera to capture some of the moments from the day.




Mia bonded with the llama. She said he was talking to her because he was making little noises.











 




It was the perfect day. I'm so thankful for memories like this with our kiddos. As we were leaving Asher grabbed my hand and said "thank you mom and dad for today" Which then led Bella and Mia to chime in with the thank you's too. Melted my heart and made my cold, tired feet totally worth it.

Have you made it to any pumpkin patches or corn mazes this year?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

-The BEST Apple Dip. Ever-




Ya'll know I don't share a lot of recipes here, but this one is a MUST share.
A couple of years ago my sister's co-workers gave her a baby shower and that is where I first tried and fell in love with this dip. I then stalked my sister until she tracked down the recipe for me from her friend/co-worker Michelle.

You will want to make this asap. It's the perfect fall dip. You can actually have it year round of course, but I save it for the Fall because if I didn't I would be 10 lbs heavier. It's seriously addictive.  Make it and share. Thats my advice. Just trust me on that one.



Here's what you need:

-Apple Dip-

1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2- 8oz cream cheese
2- 6 oz of heath toffee bits

It's pretty simple from here, just mix it all up and refrigerate for a bit. I usually let the cream cheese soften first. We like to eat it with green granny smith apples but you can obviously use any type of apple you like. The heath toffee is where it's at with this recipe so don't skimp. Also don't kid yourself into thinking you might try and cut calories by using the 1/3 fat cream cheese. It's totally not the same so just go all out with it and ENJOY!

Let me know if you decide to try it.
xo.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Our Weekend

I wanted to give you all a quick update on Genelle's family. Because of the generosity of many of you, we were able to bless the family with two $200 visa gift cards. They were so incredibly blown away and blessed by it.There are so many details to this story that unfold every day. God is really showing me how and why He has intertwined our families. I will definitely share more some time. Thank you to those of you who donated and extended yourself to a family you have never met. You were and are God's hand and feet. I'm praying double blessings over each one of you.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

So I'm completely thrown off by yesterdays holiday and keep thinking that today is monday. Anyone else? We had a full weekend of family. I love that about this time of year. We have so many birthdays this mixed in with all of the other fun things to celebrate, so we get lots of fun family time.

My older sister doesn't live here in San Antonio and since the pleas and signed petitions for her to move back haven't worked yet, when she comes to visit it's always a treat. My sisters are my very best friends. They just get me. They get my humor and they know me best and they just get me. I am so thankful to have these two in my life as some of my "constants." I've been thinking a lot about the constants in my life. The people who have always been around and always will be and I've just been feeling really thankful for them. Get a handful of really good people around you, who you trust and who you know truly love you and you'll always be grounded.

We celebrated my nieces birthday at the neighborhood park and it was so hot, but so fun! Especially for the kids. It was a costume party so they all got to wear costumes. Since we don't really put much emphasis on dressing up for Halloween, I always appreciate another reason for them to get to dress up. And I can't tell but I think they kinda dig it too...




Sunday was an extra special day for us as pastors. We had our first baby dedication since planting our church and Brandon and I got to dedicate our nephew Charlie. He is the most precious and sweetest little boy. My brother and sister in law live only a street away and I've contemplated kidnapping him a time or two. We love him so much and it was such an honor and blessing to dedicate him back to the One who gifted us with him. Baby dedications always get me so choked up. They are so special don't you think? Having the privilege of dedicating my brothers son was something I will always cherish.
Let me honest about one of the reasons I love having girls: dressing them. It is so dang fun. And also I like to coordinate us sometimes. Maybe this is a little obnoxious but I just can't say that I care. And at the moment the girls don't either, so we're having fun with it. This day we were feelin the leopard. Please note that Mia's jeans were supposed to be "skinny jeans" but because she's just a scrawny little peanut, they fit more like boyfriend jeans. The girls got no booty.  Can't say I relate with her on this one.


Now let's talk about this weather real quick. Are you getting any Fall weather in your area? Cause here in Texas, we're being teased by a cool day here and there mixed in with hot and humid. This time of year I always wish we lived in a city with actual 4 seasons.
Tomorrow though, we are supposed to get a cold front with a high of 64! I can't tell you what this does to my heart. You better believe I got me a yummy cold weather crock pot recipe ready to try out in celebration!

I'll also be sharing peaks of our Fall decor soon. Do you decorate for fall at your house?

Hope your Tuesday is a good one friends.
xo.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

-And If Not-

Praying for Genelle over these last couple weeks, I would sometimes hear these words echo into my heart.

"And if not..."

I pushed them down, because I didn't want to think about the - and if not.-

Now that things are beginning to settle down into my spirit I can hear them again. And as if by some God whispered nudge, my friend Danielle posted these words on instagram and they boldly stared me back in the face. 



I believe it with every part of me. That He is still good. That He is good. That He knows far beyond what I could imagine and even try to think I know. It's silly really, for me to even question. And yet, I know that God's ok with my questioning. 

I remember a moment sitting in my car, right after we lost Faith. I had a lot of anger. I wasn't mad at God. I never have been. But I was just angry. I felt like my fight for her wasn't good enough. Like I had done all I knew to do, and still I failed. And I remember this moment in my car so clearly where I began a hard conversation with God where I pushed for answers and I kinda felt Him push right back. Like it was ok. You know I think when we push, we move forward, and I felt myself moving forward. Changing. I remember feeling distinctly that it was a pivotal moment and that in my anger I could either stay right where I was, or I could allow my faith to literally be catapulted to another level. 

I never want to stay where I am. I want to move forward and grow, change and transform. Thats my hearts desire. So when something comes at me and it challenges me, you'd think I would welcome it. But thats just not human instinct. Instead, emotions take over and our flesh rebels. What we wanted didn't happen. We didn't get what we wanted and that makes us angry. But if we choose to move past that emotion, there is so much more beyond it. 

I can feel it now too as I push forward, my heart and faith have grown. I believe with all of my heart that God is good. And that He is able. And that His ways are not my own. I truly do. 
And so in that I rest. 

I don't have the answers. I have Him. And that is enough.

-And If not- Still I will praise Him.


Monday, October 7, 2013

-the Hope of Glory-


I've tried hard to figure out how I was going to word this post.
The truth is, I don't know. My heart is torn up. I have no answers and so many questions.

Friday afternoon, just as we were walking out the door to take the kids to the park, I got a text from Genelle's mom letting us know that Genelle Glory had gone to be with Jesus.

Staring at the words on my phone, I felt an incredible mix of pain and disbelief.
My heart just broke. Thinking about her mom and the familiar sting that the death of a child brings. Not just to your heart and soul, but to your faith. Especially your faith.

I won't try to cover up the fact that I just don't get it.
I believed. I prayed. I knew and I still know that He is able to perform miracles.
Genelle needed a miracle.

I've had many conversations with God the last couple of days. I still feel so unsettled. It's not that I think I deserve answers, or that I think I will ever understand. It's that I truly believed for a miracle for this sweet girl. I believed I would see her run and laugh and play.
Why didn't that happen?

"She was healed. God did heal her. She is perfect and whole and in heaven now."

Thats a familiar answer. The easy one. And one I have rested in before. One I still truly believe. Don't misunderstand me. I truly believe that. But. It's just not good enough for me right now.

And maybe that's why I'm here in this broken place. This place of uncertainty. I've never felt so secure in my faith and so sure of the love God has for me. And yet. There is so much about this life that I simply don't understand.

Do I stay there? In that place that says, "I may not have the answers, but I'm at peace without them." The place I've been in for years. Do I stay there, or do I go deeper. Do I search his word and cry out on my knees. Maybe thats what God wants from me. Maybe He wants me to ask him and demand and beat his chest with tears in my eyes.
Because thats where I'm at.

I'm so angry at the devil for stealing this little girls life.
I don't know why any parent should ever be robbed of getting to watch her take her first steps or say her first word or start her first day of kindergarten.

I do know that my passion and burden for other moms who have lost a baby is even heavier. I know that my mission to show hope to these moms is fierce. I know my faith is being challenged in a way that makes me want to go deeper. I know my love for God is real. I know that He is always good. These things I know.

I look for reason and purpose in everything. As I begged and cried and prayed for God to show me a fragment of a reason in this for me, I only felt my heart for Genelle's mom grow heavier.
I don't have the answers. But I have Jesus and I have hope.

How though do I give hope to a mom like Genelle's, who has held her daughter for 4 months. Looked straight into her big brown eyes. Watched her first smiles. Knew she liked classical music, and how she liked her milk... How do I give that mom hope?

The answer is I can't. It's not my responsibility. But I can show them Jesus and pray they search deep within Him to find that hope for themselves.

We walked outside with the kids that day, and I told them to look way up into the sky, "you see how beautiful it is? That's where Genelle is now. In heaven with Jesus."

And I was reminded of one of the reasons we named Mia, "Mia Glory." One of the definitions of Glory is: "the splendor or bliss of heaven; perfect happiness"

I know that's where Genelle Glory is now. In that bliss and splendor. It's all she'll ever know.
Thats a beautiful truth.
And yet, it doesn't lift the hurt I feel for Genelle's mom.

So I keep my eyes on the hope of glory.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
{2 Corinthians 4:16-18} 


If you'd still like to donate to this family, I am receiving monetary donations for help towards funeral and hospital costs or any other extra expenses. I can not imagine the extra burdens they are facing in so many areas. I know every bit will help. You can send a donation through paypal to bitsofsplendor (at) yahoo (dot) com. Or email me.

love to you all
xo

Thursday, October 3, 2013

-Praying For A Miracle-

I debated on whether I was going to write about this, but I decided tonight that I am.  This isn't my story but it's some one else's and what I keep thinking is if my words or my reach or my prayers can help bridge the gap for someone else, then that is mine.
maybe not this story, but that responsibility as a believer, is mine.

It's been a heavy few days. Sunday afternoon I held the hand of a friend/neighbor as we watched paramedics try to bring her 4 month old back to life. They had checked in on her while she was napping and found that she was not breathing.

I knew nothing else to do but pray. I held her mom and we prayed. I spoke the name of Jesus and I prayed God's holy spirit would breath life into that sweet baby girl.

I watched her dad cry out on his knees, praying and banging his fists on the ground.
I saw them pick her up and raise her little body into the ambulance and stared at her little chubby legs dangle.

All I kept hearing and speaking is "He is ABLE."
Though what I was seeing said different, I believed he was able to bring that baby girl back.

We later found out that they were able to get a pulse by the time they'd reached the hospital.
I knew right then that I had already seen a miracle. But I knew God wasn't done.

Genelle Glory is this sweet baby girls name and I only recently found that out. They'd always just called her GG. Glory is significant to me for so many reasons. We even named Mia, Mia Glory because we called her our little glory girl. The manifestation of God's goodness.

And that is what we are praying for Genelle. She is currently on life support. Tests on her heart have come back perfectly, but the rest of her organs are struggling. specifically her liver and kidneys. They will have an MRI tomorrow to see where any damage is in her brain. She did not pass many of the brain tests doctors performed, but she is breathing on her own. Irregular breaths right now at 6 breaths per minute (normal is 20) BUT she is breathing on her own. That right there is hope. 

We are believing for a miracle. And I am writing this so that you can believe with us.
I strongly believe in the power of prayer and allowing others to come along side believing for the same.

We went to see Genelle the other day and we prayed over her. I laid my hand on her chest and felt her heart beating strong. I held her little feet in my hands and believed they would one day walk. That her lips would one day speak of His goodness and her hands praise His name.


Her mom is tired. Understandably. But hopeful and strong. She is not and will not give up on her baby girl. I have tried my best to do what I can and be the support that I can be. We brought Genelle a lovie and her mom a journal to keep with scripture verses and to continue to write God's promises as he speaks to her through this.

I want to do more though. I hesitated in putting this out there, but I have had many people ask how they can help since I posted about it on my instagram.  At this point I know one of her biggest struggles is spreading herself between her three kids and having to drive back and forth across town. I know this feeling and tug at her heart and it is not easy. I also know they are at the hospital a lot.

So I was thinking, if you were one who wanted to give something, I think gift cards for gas, or groceries or restaurants would be perfect. If you want to make a donation, I could take the money and buy the gift cards myself. I know this family could use this blessing right now. I know it won't take the emotional burden off of them but it would help take some of the extra financial burden they are facing.

If you'd like to donate any thing, monetary, gift cards, or something more personal you think would be encouraging in some way, please contact me at bitsofsplendor @ yahoo (dot) com. You can also send donations directly through paypal at that same email address. Just make a note that it is for Baby Genelle.

I'd like to collect all of this asap so they can use it in the days and weeks ahead.

More than anything friends would you please pray?  I'm finding myself praying bolder than I ever have for this little girl. For God to perform a miracle just like he did in the bible when he raised the little girl up. He took her hand and he said "Talitha Koum" which means, little girl, get up.
We are believing this for Genelle Glory.

This little girl will be a living, breathing, walking, talking, testimony of His goodness.
He is able. 

Thank you for your prayers for this sweet family.
xo.

F R E E





{Top is from TJ Maxx,  Jeggings and Shoes from Target}


"You turned my mourning into dancing, you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. That my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord, my God I will praise you forever."
Psalm 30:12

I remember not long after we lost Grace, I suddenly found this huge love for music and dancing. Now mind you I can't really dance. I'm definitely not terrible, but I definitely don't have rhythm. So somewhere in between those two? thats about where I am.

I remember dancing in the car to a song that came on the radio with Brandon and being fully aware that I looked so silly, and being just as fully aware that I could care less.

Thats what was suddenly different. Not the love for music or dancing to it, but the not caring how silly I looked while doing it.  I remember the moment I realized that had changed. It was one of the first moments I think I really started to see how God was transforming me.

I've had so much on my heart recently and so many of the feelings of my past have been resurfacing as I walk through some things with people close to me. So much of the struggles and the emotions, and the things I had to walk through to get to where I am. It feels like they've all come back to stare me right in the face again. Almost like a test to see if the areas where I thought I'd healed, really had.

You know I honestly can't say they have completely. I'm not sure they ever really will. At least not until eternity. But one word that keeps striking my spirit is "F R E E."  It's become one of my favorite words. It says that though I may not ever be rid of the struggles, I'm not bound by them. I don't live my life imprisoned by them anymore.

One of my biggest issues and struggles has always been that I worried about what people thought of me. For so long, I hid a lot of my heart and a lot of what I was going through, because I was afraid to let people in too close. Afraid of getting hurt or criticized. It was my way of protecting myself. Really I think it was my way of feeling like I could control the parts of me people knew or saw. I built up walls so high people couldn't see past them.

But freedom for me, came in dancing. As silly as that sounds. It started there. In being confident enough to let people see me not be perfect and put together. Not be completely in control. To let my walls crumble and just be the person God made me.

You and I? We're free! To live, to sing, to be happy, to be filled with joy, to see the good, to smile and laugh, to celebrate, to dance. It doesn't mean those things we struggle with disappear, it means they don't control us. They have no power over us.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let your heart be burdened again by the yoke of slavery." {Galations 5:1}

So here's what I say y'all. Turn up one of your favorite songs and get to dancing. Be Free. Cause Christ has already set you free! That good bit of truth is just awesome, isn't it? I don't know about you, but I need to remember to live by it more.