Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What I'm Wearing ~ Fall Transition

Hi Blog.
The days keep getting away from me. I'm painting for a Christmas show (lettered art here), working on a few Rodeo Houston committee things, doing some early (earlier than usual) Christmas shopping, travel for work, and oh yes, work every day. In the midst of "Audit Season" for my job, so that means a lot of screen time at work which means I shy away from more computer time in the evening!  

Anyway....the weather's cooling off a bit here, some cooler days, some still warmer days, so here's a few things I've been wearing lately in the transition!  

I picked up this T at the beginning of October during Texas Antiques Week from LHTX, a brand that is designed and made right here in Texas.  This is one of my favorite sayings and it happened to go perfect with this bright yellow never sure what I'm going to wear with it cardigan for a Sunday at church. By now you know camo is a neutral for me, so added on this light weight scarf for little warmth and yes, those are white jeans WELL after Labor Day. #iliveontheedge.
Stripes are also a neutral for me. This dress is a perfect "blank slate" even though it's not solid black. I wear it with scarves when it's cool, leggings when really cold, but this was a mild day. I'm so glad it looks like buffalo check is sticking around for another season, and it's good buddy anything flannel/plaid! Dress is a Target find from a couple of years ago, heels are suede from DSW last winter and scarf is from Nordstrom last year too.  #sameclothesdifferentyear
Speaking of plaid and flannel...this oversize tunic is one step above pj's as far as comfort goes. It's also a Target find (this year) but when I did look for it online they are apparently all sold out. It was I guess part of their "early fall" clothes, which we only dreamed of flannel as temps still hovered in the 90's during "early fall" in Texas.  Flare jeans are also from Target, which you can get in "long" inseam online...38", perfect for 4" heels. Speaking of heels, these leopard ones are also neutral and mix well with any plaid! #highertheheelclosertoGod #HeelsHighStandardsHigh
If you follow sports you know our Astros made it out of the regular season this year, which meant supporting our team for their support of our School District! #anythingforjeans Barbara Bush affirmed my jewelry + jerseys with her pearls on the field while #41 threw out the first pitch, so on Astros day at work, I put on my pearls too. What I miss most about teaching: Jeans Friday + spirit shirt! Maybe the Texans will make it out of the regular season too and we will get another jeans day! Just like that Bengals loss of perfect record on Monday night #RIPjeansFriday.
You know me well enough to know the weekends are as low maintenance as possible and the leggings are in rotation!  These are a Target pair and they have several fun prints out now, which you will find in the clothes section because apparently the store designers have realized yoga pants/leggings aren't just for working out. Everyone can cry "tears of joy" emoji's over that one and use the Oxford word of the year with great enthusiasm since I guess it's too hard to type words anymore. #lazylikeleggingsforclothes
Have a great rest of your week, this is a sweet season of cooler temps, pumpkin pies, friends, family and recognizing all that we have to be thankful for. Though I realize, all of those things magnify the pain for those in difficult seasons right now, and my prayer to you is to find hope in Jesus and peace in uncertainty. 


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Broken china, mended pitchers

This week at work the talk of holiday party planning has begun, and with the arrival of November, it seems Christmas has also arrived. Decorations are showing up around neighborhoods and shopping centers, countdowns are on, let the "busy" begin. As the season approaches I have thought a couple of different times about events I've planned, celebrations of Christmas and one particular party comes to mind.

Not because it was the best party, or really even all that fun. In fact, it was pretty stressful for me.  I was in charge of the work party, "plan something unique, we'll use our house, let's have a chef come in" was the directive I received from my boss.  As the party got closer and all the details were finalized, it should have been a great time.  In fact, people who were there, did have a great time, so it would be considered a success.

Except for the broken china.

Not what you're thinking, no one broke a plate during the party.  As we were finalizing the setup a couple of hours before the guests arrived I was in the kitchen with my boss' wife, also our hostess. She began telling me about her preparation for the party, and in the midst of her angst and frustration she dropped her entire stack of Spode Christmas china dinner plates on the floor of her kitchen and they shattered.

"But, don't tell him" she said.

From that moment on, all I could think for the rest of the party was how to make it as easy on her as possible and what a glimpse of reality into their house.

They had a big house, in a great, desirable neighborhood. A second house in Colorado that was often discussed in the office. A ranch in South Texas. Two children attending private high school, one a Senior. A successful business. A brand new BMW and Range Rover in the garage. Custom shirts and tailored clothes. A housekeeper and services for most needs. All the finer things, "china", this world could offer, from the outside looking in "perfection", but the reality was a pile of shattered china, that she hid from her husband and everyone else in her life.

Sometimes I think the Christmas season magnifies the desire for our "A game" to shine. The house to be decorated perfectly, the card photo carefully planned and likely photo-shopped, a full calendar of social engagements and perfect family moments. When looking at others, "We take what our human eyes can see and we piece together an image, but we never know the full story."* and the comparison begins to rise to unattainable standards. Reality is: the going and doing eventually has you feeling like a pile of shattered plates on the floor. It's too hard to keep up the image. Exhausting at best. Joy is most certainly absent.

But what if those pieces could be put back together and reality, though not Pinterest-perfect really shined?

I read Angie Smith's book Mended a few years ago, her story of healing and hope after great tragedy in their family. She mentions a book that suggested smashing a piece of pottery and putting it back together as a form of healing through grief. Some time later, she sensed God calling her to smash a piece of pottery, and put it together again. So, she did. "I began to realize this pitcher was my life, and every piece was part of a story that He had chosen to put together."* The process of reconstructing that pitcher was healing to her, of who she was in God's eyes. This image has stuck with me, one day I will smash a piece and rebuild it.
We think all the things we do and put forth are going to be good enough, the finest china set at the best party in the perfect house. However, our cracks and broken pieces of our lives tell a much better story.  Those cracks let others know, perfection isn't reality and that is ok. This doesn't mean imperfection is reality, more-so that honesty is reality, we are by nature imperfect people. "Here you are, Angie. You are mended. You are filled with My Spirit, and I am asking you to pour yourself out."*

So take a step back, catch your breath and pause. Maybe with a plastic bag holding a pitcher or other pottery to smash and rebuild a visual reminder that cracks life has given are ok. Maybe it's an eraser to the calendar that will run you down and setting aside time to just be and enjoy your family, friends and loved ones. Or, maybe a few intentional moments of gratitude for the means you have and how best to use them.

This Christmas season, put out your finest china, show off the chips and cracks, use it regularly. Gather your people and celebrate the year; the best, the hard, the pretty, the ugly, the highs, the lows, the gratitude for life. Pour out  from your mended, honest is ok, perfect isn't necessary, pitcher. The party, no matter the size, location or what you're wearing, will be a huge success!

Purchase Mended: AmazonBarnes & NobleLifeway
*quotes in post are from Mended, pg 6 and 172

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Summer Reading: August Book Review {Carried into Fall Reading}

Somehow the end of August passed, I started the school year, then started a new job, then it was the end of September, and October flew by and now it's November...but, here's the end of my Summer Book Reviews..

I finished up What Alice Forgot while home in August for my birthday and last few summer days with the littles. I think this book has been confused with Still Alice, which I haven't read, but What Alice Forgot is a great read. I really liked it. The story of re-finding her life is relate-able, what if you lost all of your memory, what would you fight to keep or what would you let go for something new? There's a page of this book I snapped a picture of, I would post it but I don't want to reveal too much, however it will likely show up in a future blog post. I would definitely recommend this book.
Earlier in the summer I read Emily Giffin's The One and Only, which was the first of her books I've ever read. Wasn't my favorite and these two, Something Borrowed & Something Blue are her "signature books", so I borrowed them from the library and read them both.  Eh. I really didn't like either of them.  Something Blue was a bit redeeming, but I wouldn't recommend either of them really. For all the things What Alice Forgot would make you think about, these two give ideas to the "grass is greener" theory, when really, grass is the greenest where it's watered.
I did manage to get a separate book review up for If You Feel Too Much in September, so that is somewhat redeeming, maybe, of my lack of finishing up the summer reads post.  :)  I have still had conversations about this book, I still recommend it and {click here} for the full review.
A friend recommended A Tree Grows In Brooklyn to me, historical fiction is pretty much my favorite genre and this is another one I would also recommend! It's an "old book", written over 50 years ago and also a "big book", lots of pages. :)  Francie is a captivating character, her keen observations of her mother and father balanced to her own ambitions for a better life. There's so many values and lessons that still apply to life today, even though life looks so much different than it did for Francie.
It's no secret I love The Bachelor, so I wanted to read Sean Lowe's book, since I really liked his season of the show. However, I will admit to "cheap" in this instance and didn't want to buy the book, but when it went on a Kindle sale for $1.99, I was in! :)  It was a a good read and I feel like encouraging to young adults, his story is honest with admitted mistakes (who doesn't make mistakes??) and how his faith has carried him through all seasons of life. If you catch it on sale, it's worth the read! If you're a Bachelor fan, I'm hoping Ben's season starting in January is going to be similar to Sean's....
Interrupted has had a bookmark in it for far too long, but I would pick it up in between other books and studies. The thing I love most about Jen Hatmaker's writing is her authentic and candid real-ness. I grew up in the same age of Christianity she did and can relate to a lot of the themes in Interrupted, including the challenges of getting out of comfortable Christianity. I think maybe that's why it took me so long to read, sometimes I had to sit and think on chapters, the topics are things that will really work on your heart for people, for purpose and ultimately for Christ.
Over the summer I also completed Seamless, a 6 week Bible study by Angie Smith. If the Bible is familiar or unfamiliar to you, she weaves the entire Bible into a chronological and relate-able story. This is one of those studies you can do on your own (how I did it) or with a group (there's video series too) and either way will be beneficial. I can also see this as a reference going forward to stories or people of the Bible I can refer back to. 
So, that's it for summer reading, carried over into "fall reading".  

Here's the next stack of books I have as well as Candace Bure's Dancing Through Life and Jep & Jessica Robertson's The Good The Bad and The Grace of God. Memoirs/Biographies are my 2nd favorite type of book, and I got both of those on $1.99 Kindle sale too! #bargainhunter

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What I'm Wearing ~ #Pinktober

After 31 days of writing and leaving for a work trip, it feels like I've neglected my blog! Catching up on a couple of "traditional" posts this week.

Since I'm not in a school this year, there was no "Pink Out" spirit week, I decided to make my own....#pinktober Fridays in support of breast cancer awareness month. Here's October Friday's in review....

I put on this black top with my joggers and it ended up looking like a faux-jumpsuit without the hassle of undressing everytime even you needed to use the bathroom. This pink floral scarf isn't an infinity, I just tied the ends together to make it look like one. Pink (and other colored) oversized studs are making their fall comeback with the return of scarves. These are from Walmart and I've seen they still have several colors this year, $2.80. I added a pink cardigan to this as the day went on.
If you've been here long, you might remember this outfit from Pink Out last year, same outfit, next year. I was out of town for work meeting and this was easy to pack, no wrinkles and comfy for all day meeting/training. My jean jacket is Gap years old, but one of those things hat gets better with age.
This Friday was one of those "I am ready for the weekend" days, I was headed home for a full weekend including my Dad's birthday and nephew's baptism (story here). Pink T with yet another scarf. Here's the truth: I only have 2 or 3 link things in my closet so I heavily depend on pink accessories. :) My new bag arrived (info here) and I am loving it! Also, this is the inside of 100 year old high school right before I went to an award presentation for students who built AND successfully launched a rocket.
This pink skirt has been around a lot of years, probably approaching 10 years. I need to look to see if there's a tag inside with the season/year. I've worn it with tights through lots of winters, but this Friday was still warm enough for no tights. Striped shirt is recent from Target.
Last Friday, sweater weather! Amen. And a reminder, always HOPE. No matter the storm, always HOPE and believe.  Sweater is from Target, {click here}, just picked up this year so should still be in stock. Pants are Gap khakis and necklace is a long time favorite pink chunky necklace.  
If you or someone you know is fighting breast cancer, please know I have thought of you and prayed for you specifically on these Fridays. That God would meet you where you are in the fight and be near throughout all of your days. Keep fighting!