Friday, August 29, 2014

What I'm Wearing: Back to School!!

In case you need some inspiration for your closet, my hope is that I can give you some ideas from what I'm wearing. What fits you doesn't always fit me. What fits me, doesn't always fit you. So, we all know the style of jeans that work best for us, the brands of shoes we love, etc. I'm not a "linker" to buy all of these outfits here. Truth be told, a lot of my clothes are many many years old and I pick up things all around the place. I'm don't update my wardrobe every season with the latest and greatest. I don't have Pinterest, so these are just my daily creations. Hopefully you're just inspired, maybe by something you have and didn't think about putting it together or maybe you are just looking for a simple accessory to add in and these can give you some ideas. 

Here's the real "Back to School"...when the kids showed up! :) 

First day of school in High School, every one is a little more dressed up...this was actually my Easter Dress, and it was $11 at Target when I got it!  Most of my dresses come from Target sale rack.  I will watch for them to move to at least 50% off.  Target will also credit you if price changes on an item!
We have a new initiative at school, partnering with members of our community for a mentor program.  All students are in a group, we will meet with them at least once a month all year long.  That means an extra T-shirt/jeans day! :)  Same jeans as last week, just changed up the belt...
Twin Day!  Spirit Days are Wednesday and this week we made "Foster See Double" school bestie and I have the same taste and have a lot of similar clothes, so we twinned up! As did our Principal and Athletic Director, although theirs "wasn't planned"...allegedly...
A student did ask me if we went shopping the night before, hated to disappoint him that this was a last year dress from Gap, also purchased on sale. 
This T was a find in Austin over the summer while shopping with a sweet friend.  It's not new that I love words, and I thought these were good words.  Gray t, gray pants, spiced with a little color including green (my fav color) shoes! 

Fridays are spirit, this will look a lot alike through the school year.  Often times includes a pony tail.  Mostly just mix up the belt and shoes with some pair of jeans from the closet! Glitter belt and leopard flats for this week.  

 In's week 1 of school!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Wisdom vs. Courage

So many things going on lately, where I seem to seek or feel like I need wisdom and courage. This quote started me thinking a few weeks ago because it seems like one is exclusive of the other....

But, really....what is widsom? 

According to Webster....

And, according to scripture....

I want to be wise.  But, I want wisdom that is:
open to reason
full of mercy
full of good fruits

Not just knowledge and facts I can quote.

I shouldn't have to worry about when to hang on and when to let go. 
Biblical wisdom will make me courageous. 

The world says wisdom is based on knowledge, things I can tangibly learn and then use in some way or another.  But scripture shows me wisdom defined like character traits, so there is no amount of knowledge I can boast about. 

No matter what the circumstance of life it, when it is hard and/or when it is easy, when facing tough decisions or exciting changes, when feeling confident or scared to death, we seek wisdom.  We want to know how to proceed, we want someone to tell us, to make the road easier, remove the questions for us. 

But, that isn't life.

Just in my circle major life changes are going on...
Death is looming in families
Families are growing with children and through adoption
Friends are taking leaps of faith in careers
Leaving familiar and going to unfamiliar
Separation of family due to work travels & assignments
Recent loss that is still heavy and sometimes crippling
...and your circle has countless scenarios too, that we all want answers to for ourselves or for those who are seeking.  How do you make a decision?  Know what is right?  Give advice when asked?  Know what to pray? 
Life is not about comparison between levels of knowlege and trying to apply to circumstance. It's not about who has the most courage and takes the biggest leap or who seems to have no courage and can't seem to ever leap. 
I am fortunate to have many circles and opportunities to seek counsel from people I consider wise.  Ones who have gone before me in life experience, who may know more about something I am considering, who have been on the same road I'm on, who above all chaos know there is always hope in all circumstances regardless of how they turn out. 
They approach whatever might be in question with pure, peacable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy, full of good fruit, impartial and sincere intention. They aren't concerned with what the world expects of me, they are only concerned with my heart and what is best for me and my world.  Ultimately always building me up and pointing me to put my hope in Christ and not in the circumstance or expectation of this world. 
And, in return, I learn from them and Lord willing apply that same wisdom when asked by someone else who is in turn seeking me as wise counsel.  I also know my limitations and am not scared to admit them, and help seek someone who is better counsel. 
Sometimes our pride wins out and self takes over.  When pride takes over and the opposite of pure, peacable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy, full of good fruit, impartial and sincere are what shows up in the attempt to utilize only self knowledge. I don't want my self to take over, I want to reflect this: "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." Prov 31:26.  
No one is denied wisdom ...."If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." James 1:5.
Let's be courageous to give and apply biblical wisdom to life's circumstance and seek wise counsel when needed, not just depending on ourselves and our own knowledge. 
Always learning,

Friday, August 22, 2014

What I'm Wearing: Inservice Week

In case you need some inspiration for your closet, my hope is that I can give you some ideas from what I'm wearing.  What fits you doesn't always fit me. What fits me, doesn't always fit you. So, we all know the style of jeans that work best for us, the brands of shoes we love, etc.  I'm not a "linker" to buy all of these outfits here.  Truth be told, a lot of my clothes are many many years old and I pick up things all around the place.  I'm don't update my wardrobe every season with the latest and greatest.  I don't have Pinterest, so these are just my daily creations.  Hopefully you're just inspired, maybe by something you have and didn't think about putting it together or maybe you are just looking for a simple accessory to add in and these can give you some ideas. 

Here's the first week back to school, no kids, teacher meetings and a week our Principal let us mostly wear shorts!

Back to school featuring a couple of Noonday Collection pieces (Taj Earrings & Funky Beads Necklace) and simple stripes.  I do love some stripes!!

Staff picture day...jeans day!  Sporting my club shirt and Noonday earings plus a leapord belt to mix it up! 

Department inservice + training...lucked upon some white jeans at the Gap on my birthday this summer - they had to be a return because they were my size and XL length, which is online only for Gap!  And, they were $14.  White jeans is a hunt, not too thin, not too tight, long enough, etc...I get it.  So, when you find white jeans you like, get them!  Wear them year round, they don't come easy, so don't leave them hanging 9 months out of the year!  Also featuring a couple of Noonday pieces.

Here's the week in summary...
Monday  -stripes
Tuesday stars - I took no other pics.
Wednesday - jeans day
Thursday - "dressed up"
Friday - I didn't take a pic, but it was my uniform, Nike shorts + school t-shirt! :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Self: Book Worm

I was never a reader.  In fact, I sold a collection of Cliff Notes back after college, because that's how I did my college "reading". 

But, the older I've gotten I have gained a love for reading.  (This might be my highest achievement to my Librarian Mom.) :)  My reading typically picks up in the summer because I'm by a pool most weekends and usually have a book with me.  This summer, having every day as a pool option, reading a book a week was of my Summer To-Do list, and I've made it through 11 books so far. Some great, some good, some not so good and some life changing. 

Throughout the summer, I've also seen several new books that have just released or are coming up soon.  Here's a few on my list for fall.  I also need an Amazon gift card! Ha!

Lysa Terkeurst - The Best Yes
Sometimes "yes" isn't always the right answer.  Learning to say "no" is hard, but one of
the best lessons in life.  This book can also be done as a Bible Study. 

Annie F. Downs - Lets All Be Brave
I recently posted this quote from her book...
"Say yes to the situations that stretch you and
scare you and ask you to be a better you thatn you think you can be."
Challenged?  Me too!  Scary?  Yes! Let's be brave! 

Sophia Amoruso - #GIRLBOSS
Recommended by someone I admire, and on the verge of a new venture (Coming Soon)
I can't wait to read this one! Trusting your instincts and following your gut. 
Scary?  See above - yes to the right things and brave.  :)

Jen Hatmaker - Interrupted
I've been a fan of Jen's blog, specifically she is hilariously authentic. 
Sometimes life gets interrupted and sometimes we need to have our lives interrupted. This is a re-release of her book, she says with lots of editing and additional content.

Nish Weiseth - Speak
Your story matters.  This has been a significant word to me this summer. 
No matter how insignificant or ordinary you might think your story is, it matters.

Kelly Minter - Wherever the River Runs
I've read Kelly's books/Bible Studies before, and am excited to read this book. 
I happened to catch it on a flash sale FREE for Kindle and just started it at the nail salon this week. 
All pictures and links from 
Most of these books are also sold in Barnes & Noble, Lifeway and other local/church bookstores.
These are my version of "self help" books, most are Biblically based and reference scripture throughout.  Reads that challenge me, refine me, push me out of my comfort zone and teach me.  The writers aren't the end-all-be-all, they are just a messenger.  They can't replace the Bible, but the truths they write speak to me as a supplement to my Bible study.
A few other authors I love....Jennie Allen, Angie Smith, Melanie Shankle, Ann Voskamp and for Bible Studies...Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Angela Thomas just to name a few if you're looking for good reads/studies. 
I'm typically reading more than one book at a time, shocking I know considering the Cliff Notes comment above!  One of these types of books and a "lighter" book...fiction, historical fiction or chic-lit.  Have a favorite you've read lately?  Share it!
Book worms unite, 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Self: Distracted

As the school days were winding down, mainly the number of days left to make my lunch, the worry started building up about what I would do this summer.  A lot of free time, a somewhat hard Spring, and an uneasiness settling in about how to fill that time.  I talked to people about potential summer jobs, but there were obstacles to working full time due to a couple of commitments I had.  I started receiving an unusual amount of recruiter/referral emails for "Corporate jobs" as the summer approached, and I wrestled with should I go back to Corporate?! I achieved my teaching certificate, and that was my goal. (Hi Principals -- don't worry!)  I put out the word I would be willing to babysit in May, and I quickly had a lot of response and started to re-think my plan, how to use my time.

Ultimately, I was looking to be distracted.  Because distracted is easier than dealing a lot of the times.  To be distracted means not having to have quiet, unaccounted for time that allows the mind to wander and the questions to arise and the doubt to set in and the lies speak louder than truth. 

But, what I got was the sweetest gift in the quiet, unaccounted for time, allowing my mind to wander, ask hard questions and soak on truth over lies.  Most mornings started like this...

And days were filled...

Road trips to see sweet friends who live out of town.  The friends you pick up right where you left off.  The porch sitting and sipping and conversation that encourages, strengthens, challenges and speaks truth to you. 
Being available to mourn loss with besties.  Intentional to spend time with those I don't get to see very often.  Day trip with my work bestie for fun outside of the daily grind.

Breakfasts; because that is my very favorite.  Sometimes with friends, sometimes with a book.  Equally satisfying. 

Fishing because life to me is so rich on the water

Most weeks included a few hours with these two, a sweet family that shared their littles with me, a backyard I love, a little reprieve from the suburban/city life.  Countless hours with other friends and their littles. 

Time spent on my own porch.  Reading and letting the B-dog enjoy some sunshine...

Get away to the beach with a dear friend for a few days.  The agenda was only...Sun + Sand + Eating + Workouts on the Beach + Coffee + Visiting.

So much time spent on the Restless Project, if you're restless, and not sure why, grab this book!! Doing a Bible study with friends, planning for a new venture to come, painting and being creative.  Discovering and re-discovering the things that drive me.

And coffee shops.... 

And lots and lots of pool time...

And afternoon reading turned nap time on the couch...

Most of all 2 different weeks with these 3...My favorite littles.  Being an Aunt is one of the greatest gifts.  Living life with them for days at a time is a highlight of summer for me.  They deserve their own post.  They are a joy beyond words!

...and so many other things...walks with friends, church events, jogging my neighborhood, bike rides, happy hour, concerts, fund raisers, late night errands with besties, lunches and dinners, prayer nights and on and on....

For all the good times, there were hard times.  But, nobody hangs hard times on the wall. 
There were challenges of friendships.
There were unanswered questions.
There were runs filled with tears. 
There were lies of false shame.
There were disappointments.
There were lessons learned.
There were feelings hurt. 
As the last week of summer approaches....I can say, it has been the perfect summer. It has been a gift.  There have been so many things I've learned, so many memories made and so much growth.  I wouldn't trade the summer for anything.  It's not been perfect.  But, it's been perfect for me. 
Not distracted.

Soaking up the last of these days,

Thursday, August 7, 2014

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Success: Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad

August 7, 2014...Happy 43rd Anniversary to my Mom and Dad! 

This morning I woke up thinking about my parents...43 years together.  A team.  I keep this picture and ones of my grandparents in my room, legacy of love...

My parents have a great story of meeting, my Mom a Texas girl in Virginia with a friend for a short time (Hi Sondra, I'll help you fold towels :)) met my Dad a bachelor a few years older than she.  After a few months, it was time for her to head back to Texas, but Dad didn't want to let her get away.  There wasn't a grand proposal, but my Dad did ask my Mom: do you think we can make it?  

There's a lot of truth in that question.

It's not about finding The ONE or your soulmate, it's not about the most elaborate proposal, ring (my Mom didn't even have an engagement ring) or wedding.  It's the one you can't live without and that you choose to make it day after day after day.  And, just a few days before my Mom's 21st birthday they said "I Do" in Texas and headed back to Virginia where life began. 

There were learning curves, my Mom says she didn't know how to boil water -- but she's a great cook now and the 4G is where I'd choose to eat over fine dining any day.  There were hard times, my Dad was laid off from his job  when I was in College, little did I know the lessons I learned watching him would be ones I put to practice in my own life one day. 

And, there were GOOD TIMES!  I have such great memories, ones that I'm more and more thankful for and sentimental about the older I get and the more stories I hear of friends and the homes they grew up in.  Simple things are some of my best memories...we ate homemade pizza on Friday nights, hamburgers on Saturday nights and homemade pancakes on Sunday mornings before church.  I specifically remember a phase of not liking crust on  pancakes...what a brat! :)  We watched HeeHaw on Saturday nights and only had 1 tv in our house.  We played with toys and had giant imaginations -- I ran a school room and a bank, and now here I am a teacher in real life.  We went to church on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights.  We had neighborhood play groups.  We took marathon road trips to Texas in the summer for vacation where you couldn't cross the line in the backseat and my brother played his walkman too loud.  We grew up with friends that were our extended family since our family was so far away. 

And, then in 1985 we moved to Texas.  My Dad's accent moved with us, and my friends always wanted to hear him say "out and about" and "house" because that Virginian accent wasn't quite like the Texas drawl.  My brother and I laughed at how slow people talked here in Texas, there was a lot to get used to.  The biggest change was we were city kids in Virginia - lived our summers at the Swim and Raquet Club and we became country kids in Texas. 

My Dad had a dream since he was a little boy riding the arm of a rocker, that he wanted to have horses.  And, in 1988, when our reno (was that even a word back then?  we were ahead of our time with a #FixerUpper!) we moved 10 miles out of town and finally had our horses on the same property in our own barn.  The 4G was established. 

Don't doubt, we were on the Carolina farm when we were kids...just a taste of what was to come...

Some of the greatest lessons I've learned in my life came from the 4G....

On responsibility...I was 16 and coming home from school, hooking up my trailer, loading up and hauling my horse to town by myself. 
On perseverance...being scared on a new horse, learning to do something new, having to do barn chores EVERY. DAY.  
On fixing things...My Dad rarely did anything for us that wasn't also a lesson on "how to" so we knew for the future.  I can still remember adding oil to the 79 GMC Heavy Half in the Walmart parking lot to keep it running.

One of the greatest lessons was on love. 

We had a party at the 4G, we love a good party on the porch so any occasion or sometimes several occasions wrapped into one will do.  My Dad is a man of God, though he's not real demonstrative in it, other than the consistent way he lives his life and leads our family.  But, at this party - he stood before our family and friends and read from Proverbs 31, and said that was his description of my Mom.  I never once doubted nor questioned my parents love for each other nor stability in our home (I know that is a HUGE blessing, and one I am thankful for daily), but to see my Dad read those words over my Mom and proclaim his love and pride in my Mom was one of the greatest expressions of love and one that has stuck with me. 

I recently read a blog post that reminded me of my Dad, he's not a farmer, per se, but he's realized a dream, lives simply, takes each day of living life in the country and loved my Mom and our family so well for 43 years and counting.  So thankful he's a simple man.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! 


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Space: Bathroom Cabinets + Drawers

One of my favorite things about staying in hotels is the unlimited supply of clean, precisely folded towels.  I'm a towel re-user at home - always was growing up - always will be.  I realize that's not how some roll, but most people I know will re-use a towel a couple of times. 

Not at a hotel. 

I am not on board for their "recycle" campaigns.  Every day, I toss all the used ones in the tub and await a new freshly folded stack when I return.  This was one of the little luxuries of life on the road when I was traveling for a year.  I didn't have a home, lived out of a suitcase, traveled full time and had constant supply of clean towels in hotels.  It's the little things for me!

My Mom stayed home with us when we were kids and she did all the household chores until we were old enough to start taking them on.  I still don't like to dust because that was my chore.  But, neither does my Mom, so I think I honestly get that dislike.  Ha!  Another chore I had was folding clothes.  I learned how to and then folded stacks of my Dad's white undershirts and boxers in precise same-sized stacks and also our towels and wash cloths.  All of them folded/faced the same direction.  Knowing how to fold white T's comes in handy because that's part of my uniform, and I helped a newlywed friend figure out how to fold her husband's undershirts! 

I still fold my towels and washcloths like I learned growing up. 

I realize that this can make some people lose their mind and is completely useless-waste-of-time to others.  But, for me, it's a little bit of order in what could otherwise become another chaotic cabinet.  Maybe it's because that's how I learned, it takes me no less time to fold like this than it would to fold in all different directions. 

Lots of homes have "open storage" concepts now and exposed towels folded nicely can be a part of decor in the bath.  Even partially folding then rolling them is another option depending on your shevles/display. 

Another part of keeping a bathroom in order are the drawers.  Hotels that had bathroom drawers were a little more like home when I was on the road, shoutout to Candlewood Suites! Now, I have the tiniest drawers known to man in my current bathroom, literally less than 5" wide.  They aren't handy.  But, they are what I have.  So, my stuff is divided up between them and I use little open weave baskets to help keep some things separate, while not looking like the drawer is full of dividers.   Here's a couple. 

These organizers can be found in all shapes and sizes to fit any drawers and from Container Store to Marshall's to Dollar Tree, so get whatever works for you. 

In contrast to tiny drawers, I have cabinets with shelves that are about 2' deep x 2 ' wide x 2' high... and stuff can get lost in there; you don't know what you have to you just buy more because you can't see it.  So, as I was unpacking into my bathroom, I took baskets and containers I had and used them for all different things...

Basket front left for lotion, yes, a girl needs more than one kind...sometimes with a little sparkle, sometimes a little firming, sometimes a little scent and sometimes not.  Also in there are specific soap and lotion for manicure and aloe for after sun.  Another smaller basket holds hair products.  Behind them are classic cheap plastic shoe boxes again found at any Walmart, Target or Container Store.  They are see-through to know what is in them and stack neatly in the cabinet.  Mine are filled with:
   --Spare make-up
   --Sewing kit, lint roller, shoe shine sponge, etc.
   --All forms of travel sized necessities (which was a large collection after living on the road)
   --Nail polish
   --First Aid - bandaids of all sizes, gauze, tape, etc.

If you don't know where to begin with getting a little organized, just start small.  Maybe the first step is cleaning out all the old things you don't use, are out of date or pretty much empty.  Then start with what works for you, which cabinets and drawers do you use most often? What products and things do you reach for most often? Make them easy to get to!  Have no fear, there's a few things on top of my counter.  But, it's not cluttered with all of my products and make-up! 

I leave lotion I use everyday after the shower on the counter right by my shower.  I leave my hair tools out on the counter, I use them every day.  If necessary, I can put them under the cabinet when not in use.  If you have littles around, they probably can't stay out because they could be dangerous, so find an easy space/way to store them when not in use.  The rest of the counter is things I use on a regular basis and of course words, because I love words.  
The display behind cabinets and inside drawers doesn't have to be Pinterest worthy.  It has to function for you, your kids, your spouse, and who ever else might use the space.  So make it work for you!  Find baskets and boxes around the house, or slowly look for them when you're out and about.  And, if you want to know how to fold towels, I can help you.  Also with fitted sheets. But, that's for another day! :)

Happy organizing!