from blue to green

In 6 short days we leave for Ireland! I truly can’t believe it. Life has been on fast forward for what seems like all year. We had our last trip meeting today, and it just hit me that this time next week I will be in one of the most beautiful places on earth! God is good. You can read more about our trip here. If you would like to give towards our trip and our team’s efforts, you can do that here.

We got to meet the pastor we’ll be working with over Skype during our meeting today, and I am so excited about what God has in store. They are extremely busy receiving 2 other teams before we arrive within the next few days, and definitely have their work cut out for them. Keep them in your prayers as they are the ones on the ground long after we come and go from Sligo. If you’d like a copy of the prayer calendar for their church, let me know and I will gladly get it to you!

 

As you’ll remember from my last post, Ryan and I got to spend a week in Destin with his family. It was such a relaxing time, and really great quality time with the fam. We both felt really thankful for the trip this year. It was perfect timing, and a break we know is purely a gift, enjoying the Creator’s work and worshipping him for his beauty. While there, I made one of our cousins follow me to the shoreline during sunset so I could snap those incredible colors behind her pretty face. Here are a few we came out with:

 

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And I handed her the camera and had her snap one of me too. Sometimes I like to pretend I’m still a dancer.

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You can find more photos from our trip here.

We’ve had a summer full of adventure, and still have so much ahead of us! Stay tuned for some photos of green grass and excited Americans. :)

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june-ness

Well, hey there. As you’ve figured out through reading this, I have not died. June did give me a run for my money, though. I don’t know why I always forget how crazy June is. Ryan and I are all over the place most of July, so this June was especially busy with preparation for our absence. But I did survive June, and am living to tell about it.

As I type this I am in the car driving (actually, Ryan’s driving) to Destin, FL. Thanks to having a husband in IT, I bring you this post. Ryan’s family goes to Florida every year on the July 4th week, and we are blessed to hop on board with their tradition. I am looking forward to running on that white beach tomorrow morning.

Here’s a rundown of our June adventures. This month we:

  • Said goodbye to 2 sets of friends moving away
  • Hired a new admin & preschool director for the Downtown Campus (my workplace)
  • Had an all-day training for CARES (the Apartment Life ministry we’ll be starting in Oct)
  • Helped some friends that are already a CARES team host an event for their residents
  • Hosted our first Downtown Campus Prayer & Praise Night
  • Hung out with one of my dearest friends (& bridesmaid in my wedding!) who is a brilliant photographer living in Chicago
  • Hosted a reception for some friends that got married in Puerto Rico last month (and baked 8 dozen cookies for it)
  • Celebrated a few birthdays for friends & family
  • Rearranged the office, and Ryan built more pallet walls to accommodate
  • Planned Houston 1:8 (with our awesome site leaders) to be ready for me not being present for half of it
  • And my dad accepted a job in Orlando & my parents are moving this weekend!

Not to mention, you know, work and teaching classes. :) Told ya June had me busy. I’ve also moved most of my personal workouts to the morning time at 6a because it seems to be the only time I can actually get a good workout in with my schedule. If you know me, you know that the fact I can be aware enough of what’s going on that early in the morning, and can make it to the gym and move in a coordinated manor as to perform exercises is almost a miracle. People can change, y’all. And God’s grace is pretty impressive in my life at 5:20a as of late.

Here are some pics to go along with some of our June-ness. I’ll let you know how Destin is (Ps. It’s going to be fabulous).

Carly, our new admin:

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Office Rearranging:

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Ryan, the popcorn man at our friends’ CARES event:

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Our cousin, Kate’s birthday lunch with the girls at Rainforest Cafe:

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Praise & Prayer Night:

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Peter & Karenie’s Reception: DSC_0369

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DSC_0372Guys… you HAVE to try these Cookie Butter Cookies. You won’t regret it.

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Hope y’all have had a super fun summer so far! I’ll be back with photos of sand and water, and maybe even a yoga pose or two and a beach workout. :)

ribs & babies

Summer is officially in session, which is kind of blowing my mind. We had our first Ireland trip meeting today, and I can already tell that this team is going to be super fun, which means the trip is going to be awesome. I feel like so much has been going on that I haven’t really thought much about the summer. But now that we are in June, it’s all starting to hit me. All at once.

Last Monday we partied it up with Ryan’s family for Memorial Day. Unfortunately the weather was super overcast and it ended up raining for majority of the day, but that didn’t keep us out of the pool and hot tub. We had a great time and ate some awesome food.

Speaking of the food, Ryan participated in a competition against his uncle and one of his aunts for a rib cook-off. The rest of us thoroughly enjoyed getting to feast on delicious ribs and vote on our favorite. They numbered the ribs: 1, 2, and 3, and had us vote on our favorite without knowing who made which kind. You guys, my huz won! For real. He worked so hard on these things and spent a day reading up on the whole process that goes into making the perfect ribs. He even made his own barbecue sauce, which we thankfully had leftovers of and used on everything we ate.

Here are some pics of our fun:

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Last night we got to babysit for our good friends, Josh and Jamie, and spend time with their sweet boys, Noah and Levi. These kids are just the cutest! We had a lot of fun playing, feeding them dinner, giving them baths, and getting them ready for bed. Just call us the baby whisperers.

DSC_0227clearly underwhelmed at my attempts to get them to open their mouths.

DSC_0231what a little heart breaker. (Levi)

DSC_0260those eyes! (Noah)

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So fun. These little guys have the best personalities, and it’s so great to watch them interact with each other. We had a blast. Can you believe they’ll be 1 soon? Crazy!

We’ve had a great week, and are looking forward to what’s to come! We’ve got Destin, Houston 1:8, Ireland, and a weekend getaway with my fam in Arkansas all happening in the next couple of months. Oh, and you’ll be hearing from me soon about a new endeavor we’re about to take on in the Fall with Apartment Life! Stay tuned for more adventures of the Butterfri (can’t remember who exactly came up with that one, but I’m lovin’ it).

#geekout

This weekend we went out on a date with the theme pulled from the good ole Jar O’ Dates. I admit I was a bit nervous when I read a popsicle stick that said #geekout. I had no idea what to expect. Ryan is really good at planning dates for us. Just sayin. Even with a geeky theme we had a crazy fun date.

We geared up and drove downtown, me having no idea where we were going or what to expect.

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When we made it downtown and were driving around to park, I kept noticing all these people dressed up in costumes and totally decked out in a ridiculous variety of themes. It then dawned on me that all of these people were headed to the same place we were headed to, and I asked Ryan if he’s taking me to a nerd-fest. His answer: “Hahahaha, pretty much.”

Comicpalooza. That is what it was called. If you are interested in joining in on this craziness, they are there til tomorrow (Monday). It is really great people watching and we had a lot of fun (that I definitely was not expecting).

But I want to share with you the highlight of my day/week/month/possibly year. Like I said, I had no idea what we were doing at Comicpalooza, let alone if I would enjoy any part of it other than the people watching (we really like people watching). BUT God in His sovereignty, and Ryan in his keen planning saw it fit to guide me over to a booth that held Cary Elwes. Now if you don’t know who this is, shame. But I will be kind to you and tell you that he played Westley in The Princess Bride. If you don’t know what The Princess Bride is, I can’t help you. All I can say is don’t tell anyone you’ve never heard of it and go watch it right now. And then buy the book and read it. Because it’s just as fabulous.

So some celebs were sitting behind a booth with a line feeding straight out. Well, they put Cary behind a curtain and let 2 (groups) in at a time – one meeting and talking to Cary and the other paying and getting their stuff ready to meet him. While Ryan and I were in the paying portion, Cary gave me the Westley look. Oh, you know what I’m talking about.

This one:

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Yep. I am not making this up. Ryan stood there and witnessed the whole thing. He couldn’t even be mad at him because the guy is so dang nice (he was just jealous Cary didn’t look at him like that). ;) Cary called us a lovely couple and chatted with us about Batman and how we think Ben Affleck is going to do in the new role. He joked about our matching shirts and told us if we keep it up we’re going to be wearing matching sweatsuits pretty soon. That 5 min conversation was pretty much the best it could have been, and we both might still be a little starstruck. But who cares. Freaking Westley, y’all. DSC_1101

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It wasn’t until after we walked away that I had this realization: “I am one of them.” All of these nerdy people walking around and geeking out… I quickly became one of them, and I didn’t even care. I am nerdier than I think I am.

Here are more pics for your pleasure and enjoyment. You can view even more of our fun on Facebook.

DSC_1089my real question here, other than “why?” is, “what mom volunteers to dress their daughters up as mermaids and then push them around on a pallet jack all day long?”

DSC_0014Ryan’s caption: “I bet he hasn’t done a Beast

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IMG_8720catching Ryan in all his nerdy-ness, taking a picture of swords

After we left the nerd-fest, we headed to Frank’s Pizza to stuff our faces with greasy goodness before our next destination.

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We then headed to Sundance Cinemas to see the new X-Men movie! Guys, this movie was so great! Best one since the very first. And if you’ve never been to Sundance, we highly recommend it. The atmosphere is awesome, you get to reserve your seats online (so no racing to the theater!), and they have a bar there, as well as the regular popcorn, soda, and candy. The best part? They serve Cloud 10 ice cream. Yep. And you can take it all in the theater. The seats are paired in twos with a bigger space between your seat and the next pair. So nobody is all up in your bizniz, AND you get to have ice cream. Win.

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We had a lot of fun on this date embracing our inner nerd and sharing fun experiences that will make the best memories.

What’s your secret nerdy love? Hobby, celebrity, place/destination, interest, book, etc. Embrace it for a day and #geekout!

spartans, samoas, & saying goodbye

As they saying goes, when it rains, it really does pour. This week has been straight up crazy, y’all. We have so much packed into our lives right now that I feel like I’m fighting to keep up!

Friday morning I helped some of my friends load up a Uhaul for their out of state move. We sent them off the right way on Tuesday evening with a Pedal Party. This crazy cart of fun is one of the most ridiculous and hilarious things I’ve ever done with some of the most ridiculous and hilarious people. We had a super great time to say the least. So sad to see them go!

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Friday afternoon I whipped up these bad boys: homemade samoas.

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For real, these taste just as delicious as they look. But before you pull up that link, I have to warn you that these are some of the fattiest, sugariest heaven-in-your-mouth cookies I’ve ever made. They are not healthy one bit. I have to give a shout out to the huz who helped me ice these things so I wouldn’t be late to our gathering. These cookies did not disappoint.

I made those cookies for a NYC team trip reunion we had Friday night. It was really fun to get back together with these awesome people. This really has nothing to do with this post, but here is a picture of my friend Evan taking a picture of the food. He made some delicious Italian dish I’d never heard of that he was super proud of (he had the right to be proud… it was fabulous).

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That night, I had to leave our gathering a bit early to meet my friend, Mary Beth for a mini road trip! She conquered the Spartan Super on Saturday, and I spur-of-the-moment decided to go with her to be her chauffeur, because you are like super dead after one of these races. The Super is 8+ miles (this one ended up being 9) with obstacles. She did an incredible job, and I am so proud of her! Totally killed it.

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Meanwhile…

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I sat in my camping chair and stuffed my face with a chicken wrap and talked to people around me. Haha. It was actually really fun to be on this side of the race. I’ve done 2 of these races now, and it was a lot of fun for me to sit back and experience the hype of people both starting and finishing, and watching them accomplish hard trained goals. I just love these races!

Here are some of my favs I snapped during Mary Beth’s last few obstacles!

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She did such a great job, and I am so proud of how hard she trained for this thing. Way to accomplish your goals, Mary Beth! Being at this race got me itching for another. There might be some of this in my near future…

That’s all I’ve got for now! I hope that you have had some fun and maybe something crazy or spontaneous in your week. Go find some adventure in your life today. Oh, and let me know if you try those cookies! :)

NYC take two

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Last Wednesday I jumped on a plane with 21 other people from our church and headed to New York City! This was our 2nd mission trip to NYC as part of Mission 1:8, and it was a very full 4 days! The first time we went this past Fall, we were there for 8 days with a team half the size of this past one, and served alongside 4 different churches that our church is supporting. This time, we focused on one of those churches in particular who just launched their first official service this past Sunday, on Easter! It was a great time, and our team was so fun! Here’s a brief overview of what we got to be a part of while in NYC (I took a ridiculous amount of photos that can all be viewed here if you’re interested):

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Helping a church launch it’s first service means you have to let people know that the church is there. So, the morning of each day we headed to Brooklyn and passed out flyers to give everyone a heads up! So many of our team members got into some pretty cool conversations. It’s interesting because Easter Sunday fell on April 20 this year. On the flyer, it had the date 4/20 really big across the back. 4/20 also means something else (I’ll let you figure that out). Needless to say, we had some interest, and in turn, conversations with people who probably wouldn’t otherwise take the time to talk to us. God is sovereign, yes? :)
On Sunday, The Bridge Church had about 150 people in attendance! So awesome. Continue to pray for this church and the staff that are working so diligently in engaging their community every day!

 

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In the evening on the first day (just felt like I was quoting Genesis), our team went with a staff member from the MNYBA on a walking tour in China Town to pray over the human trafficking going on there. It’s crazy, once you know what to look for, to realize that there are people being treated like machinery and sold all around you. We know that Houston is a hub for trafficking (both sex trade and manual labor), so seeing this in another city definitely stirs up some heartache and deep prayer on behalf of those imprisoned in both cities. I encourage you to go on a tour, whatever city you’re in, and become aware if you are not already. If the merchandise you’re purchasing is ridiculously inexpensive, there’s a likelihood that the reason is because the employees aren’t getting paid (or the people who made the product didn’t get paid). Sex trafficking is a whole other story, which I could talk about forever. If you’d like to learn more, here are some resources:
Elijah Rising tours (Houston)
Porn Harms (why porn is a contributor to sex trafficking)
Free the Captives (organization in Houston that does lots of great informational conferences)
Texas Human Trafficking Fact Sheet

Definitely be praying for your city, and that Christ would redeem those imprisoned, whether it be to their own sin or the sins of others. We need Jesus more than we know!

 

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On the afternoons of the second and third days, our team went to Long Island City and partnered with another new church plant, New City Church. Our group split up, and half of us did residential and spiritual surveys, while the other half did trash clean up along the streets, and the next day we switched. On the first day of surveys I ended up with the spiritual surveys, and got all kinds of different responses. We did surveys last trip too, which focused more on personal experience with spirituality. This time, the surveys were focused more on how people perceived religion in their neighborhood (more for demographic’s sake), and it was sort of surprising how many we encountered that seemed to have never even thought about religion in relation to their neighborhood before. We ended up talking to one really interesting lady who had a some intriguing beliefs about who Christ is and how we “get to God”.

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The trash clean up was fun too, mostly because of our fun team. :) We wore these fabulous yellow vests which had the church’s name on the back, and ended up having some interest in the church simply because people were surprised the church would send people to pick up trash. We’re praying for New City Church and that many would come to know Christ because of their willingness to serve the community in the most practical and needed ways!

 

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Friday night, Good Friday, I got to attend Hillsong NYC Church with part of our team, and meet up with my Jersey family! The service was so good, and such a great break from a non-stop schedule to reflect on Christ’s work on the cross.

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After the service, we went to Sticky’s Finger Joint and had way too much food (some of us more than others for losing a bet). ;) So good to see the fam and enjoy great food and some good laughs, too!

 

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The fourth day (Saturday) part of our team got to go to Astoria and help Connection Church NYC with their Easter Egg Hunt, while the rest of the group was in Brooklyn. These guys are seriously one of the best churches in NYC. They know how to do community. If you are in Astoria, I encourage you to check it out!

 

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Sunday morning, our last day, we got to attend First Baptist Church NYC. Their pastor is an incredible preacher, and his message was one of the best Easter sermons I have ever heard. Pray for this church, as they are located right in the heart of Manhattan! Pray that they find ways to reach their community, and engage one of the busiest and largest cities in the US!

 

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This trip was a bit of a whirlwind, and those 4 days passed so quickly, I’m still trying to catch up! But it was filled with so much joy, and I’m encouraged by what the Lord is doing in New York. Each church we worked with is so faithful in obedience, and their hearts for the people around them encourages me to love the people around me, here in Houston. I hope that you are being used by Christ to accomplish His work and love everyone you come in contact with. He is good, and He is powerful to provide the strength necessary to do great things in our world! Let’s believe that.

Lastly, here’s a video with footage from our first trip last fall. Just an idea of how to pray for NYC as people seek – that they would find Christ!

day date

This weekend, Ryan took me on a date… or rather, a day full of adventures. I drew a popsicle stick at the beginning of this month from the Jar O’ Dates he gave me for Christmas, and the clue was, “AROO! AROO! AROO!” And anyone who knows Sparta knows that clue can only mean one thing. Ps. Most of these photos were taken with my phone, so sorry if some pics are blurry!

Here lie the tales of the adventures of our day (I do love that we can relish in this geeky interest together).

During my morning time with God, I found the first message of the day in my devo:

IMG_7955Note here: 300 + The Office quotes = guarantee of a good day

After breakfast, we geared up with snacks and drove to Memorial Park. There, I received my “Spartan Training”. Aka throwing a spear at a watermelon in an open field with bluebonnets nearby.

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Ryan is a lot better at this than I am. Nevertheless, we both speared the thing, and I found the second message.

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What is Wes Lands?
We put the spear back in the car, and started running. I did not know where we were running to, but we ran. We ended up at the Edwards Theater about 2.5 miles away from the running track. And guess what movie we saw???

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You are correct, sir! We saw 300: Rise of an Empire! And yes, I did eat a Snickers Ice Cream Bar at 10:45a.
Apparently, Ryan’s first idea was to run to a movie theater on Weslayan St, which was 5 miles each way (explaining Wes Lands). I’m glad he remembered there was another movie theater half the distance away from us.

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This right here is one of the many perks of seeing a movie at 11a. This and the ticket prices. Here I am in an empty movie theater with my ice cream in my right hand. Bliss.
The movie was great as expected, other than a really weird and kind of confusing sex scene. That with the violence, don’t take your kids to this movie, people.

After the movie, we ran back to the park, and were accompanied by these beauties:

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Here we are with me eating a banana, which is totally picture worthy since I hadn’t had one in 3 weeks:

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Aaaaand lunch:

IMG_7983All I can say is, praise Jesus for fruit and peanut butter

We purposefully relaxed for the afternoon, since we are so busy all the time and sometimes feel like our weekends wear us out more than help us to recharge!

IMG_7984I asked Ryan after opening this, “Hmm, how did you know you would think I would look amazing?” He replied with, “Had a feeling.” Smart man.

IMG_7985Note spear still in back seat. And in honor of Sparta, a hand-crocheted headband. Leather would’ve been more appropriate, but whatevs.

We got ready for dinner, and Ryan brought me to a place we’d never been to before but have wanted to try for a while. We absolutely LOVED it! The ambiance is in my opinion, to die for. Hearsay is a historic building built in 1889, renovated into an industrial restaurant with classy style. The chandelier in the middle of the dining area pulls in a romantic feel, and the decor is simplistic and clean. The food was sooooo good! Definitely will be back to this place in the near future. Oh! And sit in the balcony if you can.

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And for all of you waiting for what comes next, because you know how much I love dessert (and might love it even more when I’m not able to have it for 3 weeks)…… We bring you Fat Cat Creamery. This was AMAZING. It’s an ice cream shop in the heights that uses mostly local ingredients, namely the cream, eggs, and milk. The texture was different than typical ice creams, and it wasn’t overly sweet, but sooo creamy! And the waffle cone is by far the best cone I have ever had. I had the hardcore chocolate and peanut butter, and Ryan had the milk chocolate stout. Guys, go check this place out. Some of the BEST ice cream I have ever tasted. And you know me and ice cream.

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We were thoroughly stuffed after the last trip, and called it a night. This date was full of new things, and they all turned out to be some new favs of mine! Love when that happens.

What are some things you love to do, and who do you do those things with? It’s so fun to share common interests with my hubs, and have a whole day of enjoying those things together! Go find someplace new, and give it a try! Make an adventure out of your hobbies, even if they’re a little geeky! We had a blast, and I’m already looking forward to next month’s popsicle stick. :)

julielle’s art show

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Have I ever mentioned that I have some of the most brilliant friends? This weekend was my dear friend, Julielle’s art show! She’s really fantastic and specializes in all sorts of mediums. This particular show was called “color studies” and featured some of the brightest and beautiful pieces! If you’re interested in commissioning her to do work, or want to purchase an already existing piece, you definitely should contact her. She is so sweet and wonderful to work with! Check out her site here. Also, the art will be up through this Saturday April 1st(!) for viewing, so you should go check it out! Vine Street Studios, 2nd floor.

Here are some of my favs from the show. And here is the link for the entire album.

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Thanks so much, Julielle, for letting me be part of your big day! Everything was so beautiful!

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Today I had sooo much fun shooting some photos of some friends’ adorable twins. Josh and Jamie are some of my favorites, and their boys are so cute, I almost can’t stand it. Here’s a little sneak peak of our fun from today.

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DSC_0043aren’t they the cutest?

Absolutely love this family. Jamie is also a blogger, and you can find her here and stay updated with her and her kiddos. Thanks so much, Jamie, for letting me hang out with your family today!

fresh air

This weekend, my hubs and I set out to a campsite for a mini getaway. There are few things I enjoy more than being outdoors with the smell of a campfire, and a cup of coffee in one hand and book in the other. And that’s a lot of what my weekend consisted of (thank you, Jesus). The weather was absolutely gorgeous. We got pretty chilly at night time (literally, I brought 8 blankets and we used all of them), but during the day it was so perfect. Here are a few pics for you to enjoy. As always, I’ll put all of them on Facebook and link it here, but here are the highlights.

DSC_0566the hubs setting up our home for the weekend

DSC_0583I have no idea why we look so drowsy, but we were very excited to be there

DSC_0585 a little stroll by the lake before dinner

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The week before our trip, we discovered that our friends, KJ and Elise were also camping this weekend at the same campsite! So, they invited us over for dinner and we brought dessert. So fun. Their view was also incredible… right next to the lake!

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DSC_0753I mean, check out this sunset. There is no editing on this pic.

Ok, so this is the story of my life. Like I said, we decided to bring dessert over on Saturday night since KJ and Elise were making dinner for us. I found this brilliant idea on Pinterest for these campfire chocolate cakes baked in orange peels. Well, I clearly filled them up with way too much cake batter, and we enjoyed a 20 min show of the mini cakes exploding with oozing chocolate, like a volcano. That top one in the picture was shooting straight out, horizontally. They did turn out delicious, but looked horrible, and we ended up eating them right out of the campfire because they were too hot to pick up. But we had some great entertainment, and I haven’t laughed that hard in forever. You could probably find this under a Pinterest Fails blog somewhere. Keep an eye out.

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This weekend my parents also came into Houston to volunteer at Passion 2014. They stayed at our place while we went camping, so we didn’t see them much over the time of their visit. We met up with them for lunch on their way out yesterday, which was a fun time of sharing stories from both our weekends. Aren’t they the cutest?

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And I leave you with this picture of fire, because it looks crayzay.

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I’ve been reading through C.S. Lewis’ “The Problem of Pain.” And it has been blowing my mind. I don’t know why I have not ready this up until now, but I’m glad I am. By the time I’m done I’ll probably have actually read it 3 times through, as I’ve been taking it slowly and rereading almost every paragraph multiple times. Packed with so much good. One thing that has really stuck with me a few chapters back is this. Sorry it’s a bit long, but it is worth the read:

“We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the Divine love may rest ‘well pleased’. To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labour to make us lovable.

My prayer for myself and for you is that we know God’s love as it really is, and that we do not fight Him or label Him as cruel in His making us lovable. It is good, and we are better for it. So thankful.

Enjoy your week! I hope you get to go on an adventure, even if it’s just a weekend away camping. Just unplug and recharge, and rest in Him!