Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sixteen is Sweet

Hey Ebeth,

         Sixteen. It feels so grown up, right??? You're driving! Congrats on your perfect drivers test, I know you were proud about that. Yep, I was there and now I am here (fourteen years later) and I'm gonna give you a little advice.

         First, you're doing awesome! Truly! You are walking with Jesus and staying true to his path. That's not always easy for a high school girl, but you're doing it! I'm proud of you for choosing your friends wisely; friends who will lead you down the straight and narrow instead of the wide and twisty roads. You make good choices and walk with integrity and that is something you will never regret.

      As proud as I am of you for your awesome choices, there are some things to think about. First, remember not to judge too much. It's high school, girly, nobody has it figured out. Now is a great time to get off your high horse and reach out to others with open arms. Second, open yourself up and stop worrying so much about what others think about you. I promise they aren't thinking about you as nearly as much as you think they are. Relax and just have fun! Someday you'll reget that you missed out on so much because you were so worried about looking stupid. Let it go! Lastly, be careful with your words. They are a double edged sword and once there out, there is no taking it back. Think before you speak - always.

       So, you know that guy you're on the fence about? The one you're not really sure you like? Yea, him. I'll let you in on a little secret..... he's the one. Yep! I know you're not sure what to think about that, but it's true. He has far more to offer than what you give him credit for and it may take some time for you to realize that. Sure, you need to test the waters and you want to see if anybody else bites, but he's it and he'll wait for you to figure it out. Infact, he is one of God's greatest gifts to you. He is the one who will understand you better than anybody else and see the worst in you, but still want to be with you. He's pretty awesome and in about a year, he'll grow some muscles ;) Yep, you'll see the light, but until then be kind to him (otherwise he'll hold it over your head).

        Elizabeth, something is going to happen in two days that is going to scare you. The world is about to change and you will wonder what the future will hold. This day will be marked in history as 9/11 and the ripples from that day will continue until my time. Be strong, be brave, and don't worry. Remember that God is still in control. None of it will make sense and it never will. The world will continue to change and you will continue to have moments when you are scared, but you will also continue to grow in your trust of a Savior who has got your back. Always.

         Alright, before I go I want you to go look in the mirror. Yep, go do it! Look in the mirror and tell yourself you're beautiful. I know you don't believe me, but it's true. Stop wishing away so many of your beautiful and unique characteristics. Your nose is just fine, I promise. In fact, your babies will have your nose and you wouldn't want it any other way. No, you're not fat. Yes, you are smart. You're creative, kind, loving, loyal, sincere, and unique. I'm proud of you!

Yours truly and forever,

Saturday, September 5, 2015


        Oh, I love music! It has got to be one of my favorite things on this earth! I think it's so interesting how music can tell so much about a person. I can chart my emotions and feelings by the music I was listening to at a certain time (as welcome or unwelcome as it might be). I grew up with music constantly playing through the house and have continued that tradition in my own home. My kids are always asking for it when it's not on and we have wild dance parties in the living room, which may or may not be because I don't know how to dance.

        Currently, I have been listening to a lot of James Taylor and Jon Foreman. Their music has become the soundtrack of fall for me in the past couple years. Their music has a mellow warmth that mimics the changing of the season. It makes me want to light pumpkin candles and curl up in the chair with a blanket. If you want to join me in my fall music bliss check out James Taylor's Greatest Hits and Jon Foreman's album called Fall (or any of his music, really). Without further delay, here is my music playlist on shuffle:

1. "Same Girl" by Jack Johnson

2. "Fun, Fun, Fun" by Pharrell Williams from Dispicable Me II

3. "That's Christmas to Me" by Petatonix

4. "Lead On" by Phillip Phillips

5. "Lay It Down" by Sanctus Real

6. "Create in Me" by Rend Collective

7. "As Sure As the Sun" by Ellie Holcomb

8. "Cannonball" by Kieza from the Home soundtrack

9. "God I Hope So" by Remedy Drive

10."Grateful For Your Love" by Ellie Holcomb (not pictured)

       I'm not sure how reflective this list is of what I really listen to. It is a mash-up of my husbands, my kids, and my music. Funny how that happens. Honestly, I listen to my Pandora playlist way more frequently than my iTunes because of it's variety. I've discovered so many new artists and great songs through my Pandora stations, but all the songs/artists above are awesome and totally worth checking out. Anyway, happy Saturday! Hope you have a relaxing THREE day weekend and may it be filled with lots of family, friends and football!

Friday, September 4, 2015


        I thought long and hard about my passions today. As I sat in the "car rider" line at my daughter's school, I jotted down a list and then immediately began crossing things off. My list grew shorter, but my heart beat faster because the things I am really and truly passionate about are the heart beat of my soul. They are the things that make me emotional and cause my eyes to tear up in a mixed up bag of emotions. These four things are my hope and (hopefully) my future :

1. JESUS | If you don't want to hear about Jesus and my relationship with him, I'd suggest not following me. He's it! My all in all and there is nothing I am more passionate about. I owe everything, EVERYTHING to him. My rock, my foundation, my LIFE.

2. MISSIONS | I am convinced that there is nothing more life changing than going to another country, experiencing another culture, and allowing God to use you in a new way. Missions has completely and utterly reshaped who I am. My life has been changed and perspective flipped. You want to know what's really remarkable? We think as Americans we go to help them and teach them because we have so much to offer, right? Well, I guarantee that you will be the one helped and taught; you will be the one changed. Read about my first trip to Kenya here and here.

3. ORPHANS/ADOPTION | I have had a special place in my heart for orphans since I was a little girl. I never thought that I'd have the opportunity to serve the orphans in Kenya or that it would grow into something that I'd want to do for my life career. I don't know if it will ever be apart of my life calling, but I pray it will. We will see what God has in store.

4. FAMILY | In a world where healthy family units seem few, I am pretty passionate about keeping mine alive and beating. I am very adamant about keeping our supper times sacred and always carving out time for each other. I am so thankful that I have a husband who works really hard to get home at a decent hour so that he can spend time with his kids. We aren't perfect. I still spend way too much time staring at my phone and not my children's faces, but I am working on it. Family is forever.

     Thanks for stopping by my little space. I hope you related to at least one of my passions and if not, I hope it at least sparked some interest in you. Can't wait to read all your amazing blogs this September.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Twenty-Six on Twenty-Eight: The year I learned to listen.

Today's prompt: How have you changed in the past year?

Sorry, couldn't find link for this print :(

     I am a couple days late on this one, but I wanted to come back to it. I think it is so good to reflect over the years and see how God has worked in your life. There was a time in my life where I fought change; in fact I hated change and resisted it with every effort. Something as simple as inviting somebody new to our Thanksgiving dinner would throw me off and upset me. It's embarrassing to say that now, but it was very true up until recently.  I feel like I can now safely say that I have reached a point in my life where change is welcome and even encouraged. I have gone through enough of it during the past six years or so that I finally reached a point where I see the value in it. Change is vital to growth, this I now realize.

      At first glance, it would be easy to say that there has been no changes in the past year. Things pretty much look the same as they did last year. I live in the same house, have the same daily routines, and watch the same shows. Same old, same old. I get annoyed sometimes when people ask "what is new" because usually nothing is new.... it's the same. Yet, when I look a little closer and examine the crevasse's of my heart, I do notice settle changes. Maybe it's not in the big obvious things, like, whether I still like pb&j, but in the details and in the heart issues. There have been little things that probably aren't noticeable to the outside, but I see it and I know God sees it. This was the year I learned to listen and wait. 

       We, as a family, had a lot of questions on the table this year. Questions like: Am I going back to Kenya in the summer? Are we going to have another biological child? Are we still pursuing adoption/foster care? What do I do with these passions stirring in my heart? Those are all big questions; questions that life altering. I hate to say it, but normally I would have just figured it out on my own. I would have said "yes" to all of them and jumped in with reckless abandon. I mean, they are all great things so why wouldn't God want me/us to pursue all of them? Therein is where the issue lied. I never asked. Never. If it seemed like a good thing, then I always pushed after it, but something changed this year. You see, for the first time in my life, I asked.... I asked God what his plan was and what he wanted me to do. BUT not only did I ask, I LISTENED! When you ask, and he answers, and then you choose to listen, a funny thing happens. You find that there is immeasurable peace in the obeying. 

       I'll be honest, I got a lot of "no" and "just wait" this year from God. When we asked, "Lord, should we continue on the adoption/foster path?" he said, "not now". When we asked, "Lord, should we try for a third child?" he said, "no". When I cried out, "Lord, what do I do with all these passions stirring inside of me?" he said, "wait". Those are all hard answers. I asked them over and over again, hoping that the answer would change, but they never did. Yet, at the end of the day, when I finally gave into all the no's and waiting, I found such peace and comfort. No, none of those answers are what I wanted to hear, but I know that they are apart of His plan and that allows me to rest assured that he has something bigger and better than what I could ever imagine. There is a purpose to each and every one of his answers and for right now, I am just resting in his promises of faithfulness. While this season of waiting is hard and sometimes confusing, I'll just keep on trusting in good ol' Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you...". I am certainly glad somebody knows what's going on around here ;) For now, I will "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" Romans 12:12

Happy Sunday!





Thursday, September 25, 2014

Guest Blogger #2

Today, as I write this post on my dear friend, Elizabeth's blog, I am broken hearted.

I wish it were a cheerful post, but today, my heart is raw. But I think raw is authentic, which is truly my best side.

My name is Marianne. Ebeth and I went to Kenya together and God ordained us to be roommates. So grateful for that because this girl is in my life forever. :)

One of my identities lies in what I do for a living. I am a social worker. I work in an HIV clinic. I love my job. I love what I do. I feel like it is a mission of mine to represent Jesus in all aspects of my life.

Being a social worker in an HIV clinic, death always rears it's ugly head. I thought that with time, and experience, death gets easier. But, it doesn't.

Today, I found out one of my patients died. And it tore my heart open. It is tearing my heart as I type. This man had many complications, including cirrhosis and renal failure on top of the HIV diagnosis.

I remember I was at the front desk on my birthday. And I had a hat on all day that said happy birthday. He reached in his wallet, and gave me two dollars. I told him I could not and would not accept it. He said that  it was all he had and he would have given me $40 if he had it. He had no source of income. My heart melted. Because this man was willing to give me everything he had.

And I know that is the heart that people will miss. My coworkers and I grieved in our own way.

I started to feel bitterness seep its roots in my heart. I had to tell my dear friend and coworker Tolu, the bad news. And we shed tears together. And my brilliant prayer warrior said, "Let's pray."

And as we begged the Lord to hear our hearts cry, I started realizing where the bitterness was coming from. He shed light to the poison that was coursing through my veins.

I told him it was hard. I told him I wanted to shut everything out. And he consoled me. Helping me realize that I do not want a heart that never feels pain. Being numb is not the solution. And it further takes you away from feeling anything at all.

So I sat, with a torn piece of my heart, grateful for the sorrow. Grateful that I can feel. Grateful that he wired me to care about his children so much that the loss of one shakes up my world. I know where my client is. And he is at peace. Therefore, so am I.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Twentyfive: Guest Blogger

     Today I am so happy to introduce you to my childhood BFF, Heather. Heather blogs over at Icing On The Cake and makes me laugh with all her witty and insightful posts. Some of my earliest memories of our friendship is of Heather writing. She was an avid journaler and I remember looking at her lines and lines of neatly organized journals sitting on her closet shelf. I would be lying if I said that I never had the urge to peek inside of them, BUT I was a good friend and never gave into the temptation. Today she will be sharing about "Marital Myths" and I can say that after 7 years of marriage, she hit the nail on the head. Enjoy and happy reading!

Debunking the Marital* Myths**:

I recently watched a new movie called “They Came Together”. I wanted to see it because Amy Poehler stars in it and I think she is the best (think Parks and Recreation,Baby Mamma) The whole movie is a parody of every rom com out there. (thinkWhen Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, Wedding Crashers) It mocks every chic flic that makes you think love happens because of “fate”, that when you have sex you naturally break all your vases and knock over all your books, and that New York City is the third party in your relationship. It was really funny. However I kept waiting for it to get real. But it never did. It continued on it’s parody the whole way through. I mean who doesn’t want a happily ever after, fairy tale type ending? I don’t want my entire relationship to be a cliché, alarmingly-happy, fake slap-stick-humor-type situation nor do I want it to be sad, realistic and dry. I think I want it to be exactly what it is which is beautiful and chaotic and ridiculous and surprising and life changing.

I have been married for just 18 months now. I am certainly no expert but I will share the myths we have encountered. I am so happy I took the risk to begin the adventure of marriage even with the misconceptions!

1.   We Will Be Rich
This is a myth my husband and I both bought into. I think we thought having two incomes would make us so much richer. WRONG. I didn’t stop to think about two phone bills or perhaps that both our cars should have insurance. I didn’t realize that he would want to blow all our money on food and I would want to blow it all on clothes.

2.   Being One Means Being The Same
Just because we are one does not mean we are the same. We still have different likes and dislikes. We are still individuals who are hopefully working towards being differentiated. It is okay that we experience God differently, that we clean differently and that we communicate differently.

3.   Where I Am Weak My Spouse Is Strong
My husband and I mistakenly had the notion that whatever chore we didn’t like doing, the other would probably love. For example, I hate taking out the trash and doing dishes. Scott loathes doing his laundry. Guess what we discovered according to our research findings? We both don’t like any of these chores. It’s okay. We don’t have to like them.

4.   We Will Memorize The Kama Sutra
We didn’t.

5.   All Decisions Are Easy
We had no idea that we would take an hour trying to pick out which movie to watch or that it would take us longer to decide on what to eat than the time spent actually eating.

6.   Every Night Is Date Night
This isn’t true. Just because we got married does not mean we retired from life as we know it. We still go to work and we still hang out with our friends and have obligations and commitments. We have learned we have to be intentional about pursing each other and it’s important to us to put a date night down on the calendar. I assume once we have kids we will have to become way more strategic!

7.   You Stop Caring
My husband and I care about each other more every day. I don’t know how this is possible but I’m so happy it is. With every passing day we become more securely attached to one another.

8.   My Spouse Knows All My Needs And Wants Because He Is An Undercover Psychic.
Neat thought. Not accurate.

9.   You Stop Falling In Love

My husband and I continue to fall in love with each other moment by moment, day by day, week by week and month by month. We love each other so much and I assume will continue to fall more madly in love with each other for the rest of our lives. This does not mean we don’t work at our marriage. It does not mean we just “let it happen” and hope for a mystical feeling to carry us away on a magical carpet ride into happily ever after. Every day we work at creating happily ever after. Our happily ever after doesn’t just appear in an out-of-control way. Rather we invest in it, we help it grow, and we are intentional with the way we nurture this stunning gift.

What about you? Did you have any misconceptions about how marriage would be before you said your vows?

*specifically faith based marriages, can also include those in long term committed relationships

** the above myths are taken from personal experience as well as from my clinical studies in Marriage and Family Therapy. This does not cover all the myths nor am I suggesting this was the reader’s experience verbatim

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall Bucket List

Today's prompt: Your fall bucket list. What do you want to do before winter rolls around?

       Let's be honest, there is no fall in Houston, Texas. Actually, our winter is as close as we come to any sort of fall weather. It's hard for this Nebraska native to live in a land where there are no falls. The leaves don't change colors, they just fall off in a dried up, sad kind of state. The temps will fluctuate between the 80's and 90's from now and December, leaving me and this strange dilemma of sweating through wearing boots or forgoing them all together. Yet, I have vowed to celebrate my favorite season, despite the fact that it is no where to be found. 

        I have found when it comes to lists, of these sorts, it is always better to keep it sweet and simple. If I make it too long it will never happen and I will stare at my unfinished list in a depressed state. So, here is my happy little fall list:

1. Visit a pumpkin patch- duh!

2. Decorate my house for fall- DONE! Love checking stuff off my list!

3. Buy mums to place by my doorstep. 

4. Make an apple pie. 

5. Have a thankful heart.