Sunday, October 19, 2014

Being Brave

I just finished Annie Downs' incredible book, Let's All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have.  Confession: I'm a major 'fraidy cat.  Always have been.  As a child, I refused to ride roller coasters at amusement parks.  It took incredible guts to finally step foot on the Mini Runaway Mine Train roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas.  Now, once I rode it, I loved it and wanted to hop on again, but the getting on the roller coaster or water slide or whatever it has been, has always been the most difficult.  My childhood friends can attest to this as well as many other people in my life.  Sometimes I need a little nudge and this book was a nudge in the most wonderful way.

In her book Annie takes us through a variety of  personal life circumstances where decisions were difficult and bravery necessary.  Through her own experiences she teaches us how we can be brave in our own lives, weaving Scriptural examples throughout.  Two specific examples from Annie's life involve moving.  Picking up and leaving the life she has known to follow the life God has called her to.  In these examples we are given an interior glimpse into the thoughts and emotions of such a move and I am drawn to the Biblical examples of men and women who also were called to leave the only life they had every known and step forward on faith.  This faith step is an essential part of bravery and through Annie's down-to-earth, encouraging voice, we are given the hope that bravery is waiting within each of us, too.  Waiting to be unleashed.

Annie also describes personal struggles she currently experiences and being brave in the midst of those.  Life doesn't suddenly become rainbows and sunshine once you take the step of faith.  It can continue to be difficult in the midst of bravery, but God is with you each step.

As I read this book I was reminded of areas of my own life where God may be calling me to be brave.  The inevitable roller coasters of life where I am waiting in line and the next step is getting in the seat and preparing to be buckled in.  So often I let fear turn me around and walk past the others in line to leave the ride altogether, but through Annie's words I am encouraged to step in, get buckled, and enjoy wherever God is leading me next.  The journey may not be without unexpected jerks (hello Texas Giant!) and plunges, but the Sovereign Creator of the Universe will never let us go.  Amen.

I received a copy of this book through BookLook Bloggers, but the opinions in this review are entirely my own.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fall Favorites

Fall Favorites
This weekend we had the most amazing weather in my neck of the woods.  I actually got up on Saturday morning and decided to walk/job our neighborhood.  Once I left the house, I realized it was so cool that a long sleeve t-shirt might have felt good!!  My ears were even a little chilly when I got back home, but I didn't mind.  I'm so happy that Fall might really be on its way!  We are back up in the low 90s this week, but with this brief taste of cooler temps, I couldn't wait to talk about my five favorite Fall fashion picks!

Jessica from emailed me last week about discussing my favorite Fall trends and after hearing about their company and what they do, I was excited to jump on board!  Have you ever found gift cards around the house that you forgot about or maybe received one as a gift and couldn't find the right thing to purchase at that retailer?  Well, offers a place where you can sell your gift cards and buy discounted gift cards to other retailers.  What a neat concept!  I can't wait to try it.  In fact, I might have to buy some gift cards to put toward these Fall wardrobe must-haves!

  • Gap collared shirt  One of my favorite bloggers, Sheaffer, has been singing this gingham shirt's praises and I have wanted one for a while!  I think this navy gingham is the perfect shirt for Fall, especially in Texas where Mother Nature doesn't start turning down the thermostat until October if we are lucky. :)  It would be the perfect thing to wear to a pumpkin patch or on a hay ride before the cooler temps arrive.
  • Hunter boots  These boots are adorable -- form and function all rolled into one!  It looks like we might have some rain in the forecast this week and every time the weather turns rainy, I realize I need some boots just like this.  Hunters come in so many fun colors, but the green ones spoke to me, especially as football season is starting.  I think these would be the perfect footwear for cheering on my Bears if the weather gets a little drizzly.
  • Kate Spade earrings  I have these earrings in green and absolutely adore them.  When I saw that they came in tortoise, I knew they would be on my list -- the perfect neutral earring to accent so many outfits!
  • Tory Burch belt A leopard skinny belt is also on my list of Fall must-haves.  This Tory Burch model might be a little out of my fashion budget reach, but I thought it captured the look I would be going for.  I bought a pink sparkly skinny belt from Loft a few seasons ago and love it, so I thought I would check and see if they had a leopard one and lo and behold, look what I found!!  It's on sale for $20, too!  What a deal!! :)
  • OPI Lincoln Park After Dark My final two Fall favorites revolve around darker nail polish colors.  I love how nail polish is a great way to transition to a new season no matter what the weather.  For whatever reason, the photo in the collage looks a little different than the polish's true color, which is more of a deep purple, but I love the way this shade looks on short square nails.
  • OPI You Don't Know Jacques  Also, this shade of deep gray polish is another great trend for Fall.  It is the perfect neutral that goes with just about everything.  Now I can't wait to paint my nails for fall!  
What are your Fall fashion must-haves?  Hope you have a great week!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Jesus Before Pilate

Today, we return to Israel for another installment of our journey.  We had just left St. Anne's church and our next steps led us to two traditional sites thought to be where Christ stood trial before Pilate.

Here are a few images on our way to the church that now stands on one of the traditional sites.

Beautiful archways

Information regarding the Via Dolorosa renovation project

Herod's Ascent

Beautiful Street View

Entering the area where Jesus stood before Pilate.

A map outlining the different stations of the cross.

The Chapel of the Flagellation

A crown of thorns depicted on the interior ceiling to reflect the events traditionally thought to have occurred here.

Stained glass windows inside depict different scenes from the Passion narrative.

"Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?”  They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.”  Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.”  (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”  Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?”  Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?”  Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”  Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”  Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him.  But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?”  They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.  And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe.  They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face.  Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.”  So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” 

 When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.”  The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”

 Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever.  He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.  Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?”  Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”  From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”

 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha.  Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified."

After our time in the chapel, we returned to the main street.

From the street level, we went down stairs to the original stonework to another traditional place of Jesus' trial.

Here, we read the text of Christ's trial and had opportunity to reflect.
For me, this time in this space, was one of the most emotional of the trip.
How deep is the love Christ has for all of us to endure such suffering on our behalf.

These marks on the stone floor are where Roman soldiers may have cast lots for Jesus' clothing.

A mosaic reflecting Christ taking up his cross.

"Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."
John 9:23 NRSV

To read other posts about this trip, click here.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Pinspired for August!

I had so much fun trying to put together an outfit last month that was inspired by one of my Pinterest pins, that I decided to go for it again!  With Labor Day approaching I knew I wanted to make sure to include white jeans in this look since our summer season will soon be replaced by fall!  Of course in Texas, where I live, the temps will certainly feel like summer through October at least. :)

Here was my inspiration look for this fun linkup hosted by Sheaffer, Shay and Mel:

This look is from a gorgeous blog called Blossom Everyday.  Read more about their encouraging mission here.  They also have a store with a wide variety of fun treats from clothes to candles!

I was drawn to this particular look because of the great use of neutrals and white.  As I thought through my closet, I realized I had some potential pieces that might be able to recreate something like this!  
Here is what I came up with:

Again, a fashion blogger I am not, but it was so fun to put together some pieces from my closet to recreate a similar look!  You should definitely try it. :)  Enjoy your long weekend!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wednesday's Words

I feel so often that I am my own harshest critic.  Recently, I found this quote on Pinterest and it spoke to me so much that I made a print and have it framed in my office.  I find myself looking at it and thinking about it throughout the day and it helps me put life in perspective.  Aren't we all doing the best that we can?  So many times I let the stress of life consume my heart instead of releasing it to Christ and allowing Him to guide my steps.  These words have become a reminder for me to pause and remember Whose I am.  I hope they are an encouragement to you this day as well.
Wednesday's Words
I am so thankful to be linking up with Jenni, Martha Kate and Anna for this encouraging linkup.  
Thanks for hosting, ladies!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Baylor Football Fashion

Home Sweet Ruby

Today, I'm linking up with Cait @ Home Sweet Ruby for College Football Kick-Off Week!  I'm so happy this week has finally arrived!!

My mom's precious friend gave me these adorable collegiate ballet flats as a special treat and I cannot wait to wear them to cheer on the Bears!!  I am a Baylor fan through and through and this year is bound to be one of the most exciting yet with the opening of our new stadium.  In fact, part of me feels that if I just click my heels 3 times, these shoes might just take me to McLane Stadium immediately!

The line is lillybee U and oh my goodness, they have ever so many schools!  Best wishes to all our teams this season!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekend Recap!

This weekend was a lot of fun!


Friday night we had a group over for dinner and I made these brownies for dessert.  I wasn't able to cut them in perfect squares, but they were perfectly gooey in the middle.  
Betty Crocker knows what she is doing!  

Saturday morning I embraced the Fall vibe that seems to be floating around the interwebs about this time each year and lighted one of my favorite candles to enjoy with my coffee.  I am serving the Chi Omega Alumnae chapter in my area as president this year, so I hopped right on the computer and accomplished some "to-dos" for our upcoming meeting.  Something about a yummy smelling candle and delicious coffee makes me more productive!

Then, we went over to our dear friends' house and celebrated a special 5 year old for his birthday!
His mom made this amazing plane cake!  I loved the fondant sky and clouds. 

The cake was so yummy, too!!  Perfect in every way!

After the party, G took me on a fun food truck lunch date!

We have wanted to visit this new group of food trucks near our downtown and decided that would be the first stop on our list of errands.

We tried the cheeseburger and sweet potato fries from Dave's Burger Barn, which the hubs touts as one of his all-time favorite burgers and he LOVES burgers, so I new it would be delicious.  
Such a fun treat!  Now, we can't wait to try the other food trucks!!

Next on our list was mission: organization. 
We stopped by Office Depot for some office organization items and also visited Hobby Lobby and HEB before heading home.  Then, we both got in the organization zone and got to work!  We have lived in our house for over a year and many of the walls were still bare, so we found some new homes for a lot of the decorative items we had put in a closet during the move and got rid of what we didn't need.  We also were able to utilize this great built-in bookshelf that is in our master bedroom for lots more storage.  We still have lots to do in our house, but it is amazing what a difference each little step makes!  One area we are unsure about is large wall spaces.  What are tips you have for decorating large areas in your home?

Yesterday, we had an all-church breakfast before the service and brought blueberry muffins.  I loved getting to use an adorable basket we had received for our wedding to carry them in. :)  It was so nice to visit with familiar faces and meet some new ones.

After a few meetings and some grocery shopping, we met G's parents for a yummy dinner.  I'm so thankful that they live nearby and we are able to see them often.

Hope you all had a great weekend!