double the love

babiesinheartThis is the girls’ first Valentine’s Day and I am over the moon about celebrating with them. Everything is so much more exciting with babies … double that excitement with twins! We had this mini photoshoot and while I’m very proud of the pictures I took, the garland I made, and how everything came together, I also see looooots of room for improvement.
And, the way my hobbies are set up – I’m going to get a lot of practice!

… and, don’t judge the paci’s. (smile.)

moving on…

During our struggles with infertility, what made me the saddest was the idea that I would never be able to experience all of the things I’d envisioned doing with my kids and family, that I wouldn’t be able share the things that I love with them and vice versa…. that I wouldn’t be able to experience the joy that children bring to your home. So, now that these sweethearts have graced my life, I want to celebrate them and play and share and experience and teach and learn and grow with them as much as possible.

One of the things I want to teach them most is how to love like Christ loves us. I mean, He’s going to teach them…. but I just wanna play TA, and be the example. Kinda like a class pet. I want to be one of the ones called on to show and lead and to help.vday1

A friend’s Insta post caused me to really think about how our culture loves and responds to certain behaviors….. very “He did this so i’m not cooking… or doing that” and “I’m not going home because she’s nagging.”  So, I got to thinking about how our behaviors are so rooted in fear and pride that we can’t love like Jesus. Jesus could love the Pharisees and Judas (of all people) because his behavior was based on their crowd approval or their day to day choices. Jesus treated people the way he did because of His love for God and seeking his approval only. Christ teaches us to serve as unto God…. not until we get what we want, not when we feel like it, it, and not quitting if someone does something we don’t like or when our feelings get hurt. Jesus knew that people are just people. We aren’t perfect. We make stupid mistakes, we make emotional decisions, we get tired, we yell, we get frustrated and we SIN. We do some very opposite of awesome things and say some very opposite of loving things because we are fallible. But, not unlovable. Not unworthy of a second or millionth chance. In desperate need grace and mercy.

This kind of love is completely countercultural and down right difficult at times. It requires humility and a heart for God. It requires constant prayer and sacrifice of ego. This kind of love is invaluable. It can’t be measured. And, it teaches others to love in a way that lasts.

*** What it isn’t is an invitation to be a doormat… it takes a mighty strength to love another this way, a strength that won’t allow you to be treated any kind of way, and a strength that will let you communicate that in the best way. lol. get me?
(I’m learning, too!! Boundaries aren’t always easy to establish!)
Jesus didn’t play. You don’t have to either. lol***vday2

Even if relationships end or change, even if you have to walk away from a toxic situation….. loving like this will never be a waste. It leaves the door open for a reconciliation of friendship and relationship (even if it’s on a different level). Loving like this will heal and strengthen. It’s accepting when you fail and encouraging when you’re vulnerable. It’s a love that doesn’t humiliate or tear down. A love that softens hard conversations and is open and inviting. It’s courageous.

This is love.
The kind of love I’m learning and becoming excellent at. A love I am constantly praying for. The kind that is the standard for my behavior, it shows me where I’m failing miserably at. Because I’m a person. It’s the love that forgives me and gives me grace. That gives me twelve hundred more tries. The one that comforts me in my brokenness and celebrates in my success.
This love is Jesus.

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… 31 life lessons

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A few days ago, I said I would post 31 things I’ve learned in all of my 31 years.

1. Don’t be afraid of anyone’s response.
Fear of rejection causes us to be afraid of being true to ourselves. Ya know what else? It robs us of the courage to boldly live & speak truths to others. We’re too afraid to challenge each other and be honest in relationships because of how we think others will respond or think of us. But, believing who you are in Christ & learning to speak gently & lovingly will ease the fear of rejection and conflict. Even if we are rejected, we will know we did all we could to communicate truthfully.

2. Always be prepared to bake a cupcake, open your home, or rearrange your schedule to support a friend!
The gift of hospitality dazzles me. I have genuinely good friends who are the most amazing entertainers. And, I love watching what they do & how they do in hopes that some of that gift rubs off on me! But, even though I’m not an I incredibly social – social butterfly, I’ve learned the importance of loving on your friends and those put in your path in a tangible way. I’ve also learned (and, desperately trying to consistently apply) that it’s important to use great wisdom when extending yourself to others!

3. Yes, making your space beautiful is always worth the time, energy, and money. No matter how long you’ll be there.
Whew! Comfortable, beautiful spaces make everything so much better. Promise! Make it yours, make it beautiful.

4. Learn the balance between working hard at something that’s beneficial and spinning your wheels.
I’m a perfectionist of sorts & I often want to do something until I get it right. But, I’ve learned that there are times in our relationships & tasks that just don’t work no matter how much effort we put into it. Asking for the wisdom to know when to say when and how much to invest is so important. Realizing you’ve cast your pearls amongst swine is heartbreaking.

5. Stay in your lane & mind your business. What others are doing/pursuing/like/etc shouldn’t sway you from doing the things you enjoy or doing what’s right.
Etc includes perceptions of you and the boxes you’re put in. These things don’t matter.
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6. Learn to grow & maintain positive relationships with other God fearing women.
Building relationships with other women has been the hugest blessing of my life. Beneficial in so many ways. There’s nothing like knowing you’re in it with other women who are striving to be and do just like you, women who are supportive and gracious… Women who love you because of the love you share for Christ. It’s most genuine.

7. Believe with everything in you that nothing you can receive from the people around you will compare to the confidence, reward, & joy you can receive in Christ.
Nothing…. Acceptance, love, friendship, comfort, nothing. It’s all in Jesus. There is freedom in this lesson. You aren’t afraid to speak your truth or live boldly before The Lord. Another tough lesson to consistently apply!!

8. You are no victim.
Ugh. We all make choices and sometimes they’re the wrong ones. Sometimes we stick through things longer than necessary. There are times bad things just happen for seemingly no cause. But, the truth of the matter is, wallowing in our pains don’t make us better. Hiding behind a false strength isn’t helpful. Hurt, trust God, allow Him to heal you, & forgive. Then, move on.

9. Not everyone hates you. Not everyone loves you. Don’t worry about being who either of those groups want you to be.

10. Be genuinely polite.
Or, do your best to be at least cordial. We’re all people & all want to be on the receiving end of grace in every situation.

11. Care about your appearance. Even in sweats.
I don’t believe in being decked out all of the time. But, I also believe it’s important to present yourself well no matter what you’re wearing. Comfy can be cute, too!!

12. Rest. But don’t be lazy.
There’s a big difference.

13. Set goals.
Give yourself something to work towards & dream big in every organization, at every task, and in every relationship. Stagnant isn’t cute. In anything. It all matters.

14. Don’t settle, but don’t set your standards so high that they’re unattainable. You can easily become shallow and hard hearted.
It’s no fun being around someone who is never satisfied and who wants to be understood but doesn’t want to understand. We aren’t matured and our relationships don’t develop or deepen this way.

15. Self evaluate and work to be the person you’d want to be with.
…… In any relationship, on any level.

16. Learn to truly forgive and be gracious.
Biggest blessing in life. Talk about freedom. Constantly seeing yourself a a sinner saved soley by grace and not your gifts, talents, or because you’re kind is huge. You’re never good enough to earn or deserve salvation.

17. Work out – take care of your body.
It’s therapeutic and you’ll feel much better about yourself. You’ll look great & be much healthier.
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18. Anyone who sees that you’re worth their time will pursue yours.
Point blank, period. No need to chase or beg. Actions speak louder than words.

19. No one comes into the world able to do everything; but those humble enough to learn from others will be able to do anything.

20. Asking to be taught (vs asking for something to be done for you) & seeking knowledge and wisdom is a few of the most important skills you can learn.

21. Practice makes you better. At everything.
Be disciplined, sacrifice, and work hard. At it all. (Being gracious, kind, on working through hurts, communication when upset. Alllll of it.)

22. Learn to effectively communicate and hear.
It improves your relationships drastically. Working on this. See 21. Lol.

23. You really are greater than you think. And, worse than you realize. (Usually!) We tend to think our issues aren’t so bad and our gifts are immaculate. Even when we are really good, thinking this way will cause us to puff up and become unwilling to give what we want to receive.
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24. Upkeep & your presentation are 1000% worth every nickel & moment. Always. & it’s fun.

25. Learn to be authentic, forgiving, & confident early. Remember that no one is a threat to you – you can either be your own biggest cheerleader or the sabotage behind your own demise.
You are worth so much and deserve the things you wish for. Believe it & live freely.

26. Going straight from HS to a baccalaureate program to Masters & beyond really is the easiest way.
Just do it. The time is going to pass anyway.

27. Follow your heart and open your mind. Dream with your entire imagination.
Believe in yourself.

28. You’re never too good to work hard or start from the bottom. Entitlement is a fantasy.

29. Do it. Who cares? Jump from a plane, get a piecing, go to concerts, make mistakes, take a chance – you’ll learn a lot, recover, have a great story to tell, & experience to recount & you’ll have had FUN while you can.

30. Learn who you are – what makes you happy, what you’re willing to accept, what you won’t tolerate and stand by it. Don’t be swayed by anything but wisdom in understanding the why’s behind the what’s.

31. Remember the spectacular, keep only what’s worth saving, & let go of the rest!!

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…. happy birthday

Sooooo……. This year, I wanted to give my kids birthday cards “from the class”.

Well, the first card was store bought but then I saw this…..

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…… on Pinterest and decided to try it myself!!!

I made this one for one of my kids…

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… And, another one of my students will be getting this one on Monday! He plays for the Pearland Hurricanes and loves football!!! It’s so cute to hear him talk about the Texans games every Monday! Haven’t completed the inside yet but the flags will be orange and green. 🙂 so fun!!

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Have I added more work to my plate? Yep.
But, I love the fact that they love their cards, the other students love signing their names, and the birthday kiddo feels special!

Just a little something special for my little ones!!

…. Here’s to a little effort and time put towards making others smile!!

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