Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: Steadfast

As 2016 comes to a close, tomorrow will be 2017.  And, the day after that will be tomorrow again. This year the holidays have felt a little different, I'm not sure exactly what or why.  I had great holidays, there wasn't anything I would change, but I didn't feel extreme excitement or anticipation over Thanksgiving or Christmas, I don't have great emotions over this year ending and another one starting.  

I felt like a new year started at turning 40, ushering in the next decade of my life. But, again, each day has brought a tomorrow and for me this year that has aligned right to my word I have held dear for the entirety of 2016.... 


As with my words of years past, STEADFAST has come up over and over again throughout this year. Every time I knew it was God impressing it more and more on my heart. The verse that first rang out the clearest about STEADFAST was Lamentations 3:21-23....

"But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The STEADFAST love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

I have long known and held dear the mercies of the Lord are new every morning, and great is His faithfulness, because I often need it. But, this year, the preceding words to that portion of the verse really settled with me. 

This I call to mind.  
Because this I have to remember, over and over.  
AND, therefore I have hope 
Because remembering these words and calling them to mind gives me hope 
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. 
NEVER. Despite me, that love NEVER ceases. 
His mercies never come to an end
Because of His steadfast love, his mercy is endless.
Which gives me hope. 
Which I must remind myself of regularly. 

This year has been one that I have had to cling to words of truth over and over. When my character was attacked more than any other year that I can remember.  Some of the harshest and most unkind words ever spoken to and about me. 

And, verses like these are ones I called to mind.  
To let the truth speak louder than lies. 
Because STEADFAST love never ceases. 

STEADFAST is used over 200 times in scripture, and words that repeat like that always are ones I am drawn to. By biblical definition steadfast is "firm" and "secure". And per Webster's steadfast is defined as "firmly fixed in place" (immovable) and "firm in belief" (loyal). 

Throughout this year, I saw again and again that God is STEADFAST.  In some answers to things I have long prayed that were definitely highlights of this year and equally in the moments that were hardest and scary for me.   

I know also, despite all of my flaws and human error, that STEADFAST love remains for me. Firmly established and not fleeting based on my sin. 

There are 2 very specific moments of this year that I can recall that will long define 2016 for me.... 

When I moved in January I was so excited about living on the bayou trails and being able to ride my bike and walk my dog along those trails. Just a few days after I spent the first night in my new apartment my little Barney had to be put down, and my heart was crushed. My living room looks out to the trail and for several weeks it seemed life went on outside that window that I had so looked forward to, but every person that passed my window with a dog stung my heart to the point I kept my blinds closed many days. I did make my way out to the trail a few times and there I saw golden doodle after golden doodle, even chatting one day with a stranger about her doodle and walking away telling God that was what I wanted. They are so expensive, and though that was my wish, I was ok to settle for a different type of dog when the timing was right. And, every day as I walk Auggie on that trail I am reminded of the STEADFAST love of the Lord that is tangible in my little golden doodle gift that has healed my heart in so many ways. Often along the trail I notice leaves that have fallen, usually because Auggie is chasing after a leaf blowing in the wind, and over and over again they are heart shaped leaves.  Though, because they are off the tree, they are usually brown leaves.  One particular day this year I was on a walk and there on the trail was a giant green heart shaped leaf.  I very rarely have my phone, so could not snap a picture, but that leaf is forever ingrained in my mind as a reminder of the faithfulness of God and STEADFAST love for me that is alive and well, proving over and over to me He is good. 

One fall day this year we had a guest preacher at church, RT Kendall, who spoke one of the most freeing messages of total forgiveness. In a year of some great hurts, this message was timely for me and healed my heart in an entirely different way that I needed. And though a different healing, it was the same STEADFAST love that proved faithful and has continued to prove faithful every day. I have sat through a lot of sermons, teachers, preachers and taught for years myself, many of which have impacted my life significantly. But, none quite like this one. If your heart is in need of healing, {click here} for this sermon. 
Those 2 moments are firm and secure on my heart, as reminders. 
Because tomorrow I will need a reminder. 

Throughout this year, I have held to several verses in addition to Lamentations. All of which I have called to mind over and over again and been reminded of the STEADFAST love of the Lord. 
Here are a few... 

"Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you."
Psalm 63:3
"For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations." 
Psalm 100:5 
"Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!"
Psalm 107:8 
Psalm 136 - entirety of chapter

Beyond that, I have tried to be STEADFAST in areas of my own life as well and If I want my life to reflect the STEADFAST love of Jesus to others, I have to be STEADFAST and immovable in my commitment to pursue Him. Because I am human, I need to keep working on this, because I often fail. Though, when I do I call to mind that mercies are new in the morning, and because of that greatest love, I have hope and keep going for tomorrow. 

No matter what tomorrow brings, my greatest wish for you, and me, in the New Year is to be reminded of the STEADFAST love of the Lord, which is more firm and secure than anything this world has to offer.

Satisfy us in the morning with your STEADFAST love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 
Psalm 90:14

For previous years.... 

Happy New Year! 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016: Year in Review

This year has been a full one.  Lot of ups. Lot of downs. Lots of simple. And a few big moments. This is certainly not everything that happened, but a few highlights from the year.... 

I kicked off a year of friends turning 40 with a trip to Nashville to celebrate one of my besties. 
The rest of January was consumed with packing, moving, unpacking and settling in my new place. 

02.02.16 - forever etched on my heart, I had to put my sweet Barney down that day. Giant piece of my heart and definitely a low of this year.  
Right on the heels of losing Barney I took off to San Antonio where I presented a breakout session for the first time in 2016 at a State CTE conference.  
I also went back to Nashville for a flying trip to see the African Children's Choir with a dear friend. They preformed at the Ryman Auditorium with cast of Nashville TV show, Dierks Bentley and a few others.  
February was definitely a month with all the feelings. The rest of the month was finishing up decorating my new place. 

Most of March was consumed with my 12th year of serving on Rodeo Houston committees. One of my very favorite events to volunteer for is the Lil Rustlers Rodeo alongside the Special Children's Committee. 
 My other committee put on 20 contests during the show and they make early mornings and long days fun!  This was my second year as Vice Chairman on JCC. 
Mom and I took a trip to Waco (her Christmas present from me) in March for Beth Moore's Living Proof Live and we of course made a trip to the famous Magnoila Silos and Harp Design Co where we happened to meet Clint Harp. 
I also spent a weekend at one of my favorite places, Texas Antiques Week, with dear friends working in the famous Zapp Hall Cafe in Warrenton. 

The biggest news in Houston for April was the Tax Day Flood. Also the day I got super nervous about the decision to live by a Bayou and fled town for the day. That's probably over 50' of water in what looks like a river behind my house, but is really just a bayou. An adventure after the flood was a snake in my garage, and thank goodness for a neighbor who took care of that for me. (click here for the snake story)
Also in April as I was looking back, I had 15 days that included time with my besties and a couple of, breakfast, lunch, cocktails, walks, dinner and parties.  Every month this year included days like this, but April seemed to have the most. Quality time is my language.

3 weekends in May included road trips which is another favorite for me. One of which was for another 40th celebration for friend I grew up with to Paris {Texas}. 
I also attended the Business Boutique, where I met several influential women entrepreneurs and was challenged in thinking about and starting my own business. 

June started 40 in 4 work weeks for me which meant Friday's off!  #Amen 
I started working on my website in June, a project still in design phase because I can't quite wrap my head around how I want it to look and the content to manage. But, it will be live and going in 2017!  
I went to Austin twice in June for work trips and got to see a couple of besties, see live music and of course good food while I was there. 

The highlight of July was a road trip to Dallas with my Mom to pick up this little guy....
Auggie has definitely brought healing to me and is a great little companion. 
I also spent some time at the lake with one of my college besties and her family as an extra set of hands to help out with her 3 littles. Her husband has ALS, which is a constant prayer in my heart. 
(I've written about them a couple of times, click here and here.)
I also spent a lot of days at the 4G during the summer with the littles, and several other trips throughout the year. They are growing so fast, and being an Aunt is still one of the greatest gifts to my life. 

The most significant event was turning 40!  I never have hesitation about birthdays and certainly didn't this one. I'm thankful for the years. I had a full weekend of celebrating and a sweet surprise of the littles at the 4G for my party there. 
I also interviewed for and got a promotion at work, which meant moving cubes and a window on the world now.  
And, the last big event of August was starting my MBA at University of Houston Downtown. 
If you're like me, you spent some time watching the Olympics in August, and this is one of my favorite pictures from the this year's Olympics. Keep your eyes ahead and in your own lane. 

I spent part of a weekend and a full weekend at Texas Antiques Week Fall Show, again working in the Zapp Hall Cafe.  This was such a fun 3 days, full of friends, great music and the open fields. 
I also got a MacBook Pro. I realize this isn't that significant in the grand scheme. But, learning something new is a lesson that never gets old and a good reminder you're never too old to learn something new. I spent a lot of time with this Mac in September reading and writing for school, which consumed the majority of September for me.

The Junk Gypsies released a book in October. I've been a long time customer of theirs and there's a pic of me and one of my besties in the book and I was part of the launch team. I love seeing friends succeed in their dreams and if you haven't read this book, you should. 

The rest of October was spent again on my Mac, with school and writing for the #write31days challenge in which I blogged every day. 
I did get away one weekend with Mom for the Abundance conference in Dallas, which was a really great treat in the midst of a busy season. I also met one of my favorite teachers, Lisa Harper. 

In November I saw an answer to a big prayer, a ministry opportunity, coming to fruition. I was first approached about Polished in August, began praying, and am so excited for the launch in 2017. If you know young, working women who are disconnected from faith or the church I would love for you to connect them with Polished. Lots more to come in the new year! If you have a heart to serve those women, you're invited to an informational meeting.
Perhaps the biggest world event of 2016 was the election. I won't comment further on it, but did write a few thoughts about the election. (click here)
I was an early bird this year with decorations and have had my home decorated for Christmas since Friday after Thanksgiving. I wasn't sure where everything would fit in my new place, but have loved it. I also had all of my pumpkins out this year for fall.  

I started December in Las Vegas, the BEST work hard and play hard trip. I had a presentation submitted and accepted as a breakout at the National ACTE conference which I presented on Friday, December 2nd. 
AND, the National Finals Rodeo was going on while I was there (my version of the Super Bowl) and I got to go a couple of nights, which was a treat. Of course I wrote lots this year about "what I wore" and NFR in Vegas is one of my very favorite events to dress up for and I was snapped one night for a fun fashion blog I follow. 
I finished my first semester in Grad School and got a 4.0 - I do believe that is my first ever, not sure that ever happened in Undergrad, and also a 100 on my final! I'll take it and celebrate it now, it might not happen again.  I told myself at the start of my MBA I have so many other things going on that I will still live my life and stay involved in most activities, so a 4.0 wasn't my goal, a MBA is.

There were of course so many other moments that made this year memorable. 
I have seen so many prayers answered and so many others answered with a no.  
I have been scared about my own health and have seen so many close to me fight major health struggles. 
I have cried hard and laughed hard. 
I have had some of the meanest words spoken to me this year and have fought for truth to speak louder.  
I have gained new friends that seem like they have been around forever and have friends who faded to distance. 
I have logged miles of memories.
Above all, I am grateful for this year, and every day it brought.

Thank you for being a blog reader, this is one of of my favorite things.

Here's to 2017!

As always, keep up via Facebook and Instagram

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Home Tour 2016

Merry Christmas from my house to yours! 

Here's a little home tour of my Christmas decorations this year.....

On my kitchen bar I have a few wintry/lodge holiday decorations, items I've picked up through the years and displayed in various ways.  The sign is one I painted and the "A" ornament was a Marshall's find this year.  
The other end of the bar holds seasonal napkins all year, with a little Texas flair for Christmas with "y'all" napkins and a festive dessert plates on the ready.  
By the stove is a little vintage Santa. 
On my dining room table a little Merry Christmas tree, perfect for this tray. 
A new addition this year, the buck plates on my hutch, which might be permanent fixture.  Or at least for the entire winter. I have some green plates with a bird that I might change out come Spring. 
My tree fit perfectly beside my bookcase. And, after 10 or more years of snowman stockings I changed it up this year with new Christmas plaid simple stockings. 
I found this Merry Christmas felt banner in the Target Dollar Spot and strung it together. Is a fun addition in the living room, of course I love words and decorate mostly with words, so is fitting.  The pillow says Peace - Love - Santa, though Auggie is blocking the bottom.
I painted this canvas last year of the manger and have it on my side table in the living room. Oh Holy Night is my favorite Christmas song, and I love this block.  My globe stays there all year, but is a good reminder even at Christmas the message of the holy night of Jesus' birth is good news for the entire world. 
On my ottoman/coffee table tray I have a mix of Christmas books and a small nativity.  I am on the hunt for a nativity set, but haven't found what I'm looking for yet. 
I have a collection of children's books, that I have been receiving for several years from my Mom and Dad, displayed on my bookshelves. The JOY letters were an original Christmas decoration, painted red, white and green, that I painted silver and leave out all year now. 
On my desk I have a little Santa. 
This year I decided I wanted some holiday/winter bedding and found this set at Home Goods. It was a complete set with comforter, quilt, shams and throw pillows. I added the deer silhouette shams and the truck pillow and the rest is part of my regular bedding. I plan to leave this set on my bed at least through February. 
Not to be left out, I changed out my shower curtain for a simple Christmas/winter trees shower curtain and added a little vintage tree farm towel. All of my bathroom towels and rugs are green, so this was a simple change for Christmas decorating. 
This is little Auggie's first Christmas with me and he's spent lots of time laying by the tree.  
My prayer for you this Christmas beyond the decorations and the presents is to know the Savior, Jesus, who's birth we celebrate and the gift we are certainly unworthy of, but who's grace is greater.
"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2: 10-11.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Memories

Today I wrote a guest post for Crystal Stine's blog, founder of #write31days, about a favorite Christmas memory. 

Here's our gathering this year

Merry Christmas & I pray you have sweet memories this Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Plexus - 90 days

Off and on throughout my life I've taken vitamins, even pro-biotics for a while, and a few supplements, but always seem to fall off of them, and really never could tell a difference in taking vs. not taking.  This year one of my besties started using Plexus and sharing about it, and I talked to her several times about the products, which are simply vitamins and supplements.  

I was interested in Plexus because I wasn't trying to lose weight, but I did have a few symptoms that I dealt with on the regular and based on her success, thought I could have the same results. It's the same things we all complain about....headaches, energy, allergies, sleep, etc. All of these things can be traced back to gut health, something I didn't know much about except for those that suffer from gluten allergies and such.  But, after some research I ordered my first 30 day supply of Plexus in September. I started with minimal usage and slowly increased, allowing my body to adjust. 
Earlier this year I read about the long term effects of Zyrtec, an allergy medicine I've used off and on for years and got worried. I quit it, decided I wasn't going to take it any more and would deal with a cold or whatever came my way in allergy season. A couple of days of OTC meds surely was better than taking allergy meds all the time....I fit this perfectly...just about the symptoms.... 
October is my worst month for allergies, and this year, I was amazed. I was outside, did all the usual things I do, was on road trips, etc., and only had a couple of sneezing fits and was mostly entirely free of allergy symptoms.  This was after just a couple of weeks on Plexus.  

Also, my headaches reduced. I suffered from headaches about 3 or 4  times a week. Which equated to 15-20 ibuprofen at least per week. Another thing that I know isn't good for me to keep taking. I have maybe had 3 or 4 headaches in the 100 days I've been using Plexus. 

I've had a couple of friends that have started using the products too, and texts like these show they are having great results. 
Several people have told me "I'm glowing" lately, and while I would say that's because I'm in love, it's not. ha!  But, my skin has improved and I've only been using the Plexus body cream on my face at night. I've long been an Olay moisturizer user, which I still use, but I have tried 100 different products at night. Plexus body cream has charcoal in it, a great benefit to your skin in removing toxins. #nofilter #straightoutoftheshower
The gut is your body's second brain, a major factor in your immune system and overall health. Managing your gut to be healthy is going to give you great results.  Plexus can help.  
If you're wondering what the products are, here's the base - Triplex and I also take a multivitamin (active ingredient aloe) and omega (plant based, no fishy burps). 
Plexus is easy to travel with. It's not meal replacements and is just a simple drink in the mornings plus supplement during the day and pro-bio at bedtime. You just need a little water. 
Here's a comparison 90 days later with my sweet bestie who told me about Plexus.
My results so far: 
My benefits....
✏️almost no headaches, which most people hardly knew, but I had multiple times a week
✏️only one or two ulcers in my mouth, another thing I've dealt with chronically even when I really watch what I eat
✏️zero allergies this fall and if I could count my typical October sneezes it would be in the thousands. Such a relief.
✏️not one cold symptom through all the crazy weather ups and downs, even traveling
✏️no afternoon crash/hungry/shaky feelings which I also had almost daily since I'm borderline anemic

🔑The only key: consistency. 

Plexus can do the same for you. 
I'd love to help you get your body working at it's best, keeping you healthy which keeps your happy! Let's chat.