Monday, April 5, 2021

Finding Hope in Uncharted Territories

Growing up a PK (Preacher’s Kid) means that I witnessed the Easter Story unfold on a flannel board multiple times in a Sunday School class while wearing a frilly new Easter dress and brand new patent leather shoes. When I was seven I was so inspired by a story my GA leader shared with us, that I named my favorite Cabbage Patch Kid “Annie Armstrong.” I guess you could say I had a pretty good grasp on everything-Easter, but it wasn’t until I saw the 2004 movie The Passion of the Christ that I realized I had not considered Jesus’s crucifixion from all angles.  During the crucifixion scene, the look on Mary’s face stopped me in my tracks. As a mother, my heart bled for her. 

As a teenager, Mary abruptly took on a bold new role when she was divinely promoted to the mother of the Savior. Mary humbly accepted her new responsibility by telling the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38, NIV). 

Throughout Jesus’s life Mary did what all moms do. She encouraged, supported, and ultimately prepared her child to go on to do what He was meant to do. For Mary, letting her son go would mean watching her first born baby, die an agonizing death. I cannot fathom the helplessness that Mary felt as she witnessed the torture of her innocent son. 

But, it’s what happened next that The Passion of The Christ doesn’t show. Mary watched her son endure the worst form of capital punishment you could imagine, she may have even witnessed him being put in a tomb, but she still has hope. Instead of wallowing around feeling sorry for herself, we read in Acts 1:14 that Mary was with Jesus’s disciples in the Upper Room. Tradition also tells us that Mary joined John in Ephesus as part of the new church community, praying with other believers. 

Mary’s life, no doubt, took some unexpected turns along the way, but through it all she maintained hope. Life can sometimes leave us feeling like we are headed into uncharted territories, far from where we had planned to go. We must remember what the prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 40:31, “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Won’t you join me on this walk?

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Baseball and Marriage, Let's Celebrate

Today is an important day in my life for two reasons. First, today is finally Opening Day for the 2020 Major League Baseball season! But, for me, today is much more special than that! Today is my 15th wedding anniversary! I am blessed to celebrate this day with my MVP, my husband! There is no one else I would rather share a bullpen with or go through a losing slump with, and if I’m being honest, there are many days I’m surprised he hasn’t made me a free agent! 

Baseball has always played an important part of my life, and I thought there’s no time like the present to compare baseball to marriage. 

The Festivities
Growing up I had the privilege to attend many home openers at Arlington Stadium cheering on my beloved Texas Rangers. This is not just an ordinary day in baseball. This is a day when they call in all the big shots for the celebratory festivities. One of my favorite Opening Day memories was on April 8, 1991. My dad took me out of school a little early so we wouldn’t miss the first pitch of the Ranger’s home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers. President George Bush was throwing out the first pitch. You may remember that his son, George W. Bush was one of the owners of the Texas Rangers during that time period. It’s not every day that a fifth grade girl from a small town in Texas gets to see a real live president with her very own eyes, so this was a big deal!

In marriage, our wedding is like an Opening Day. We plan for months for this special ceremony that will kick off an exciting season of unknowns. We invite the Hall of Famers in our lives, including our family members, former Sunday School teachers, coaches and college roommates to share in these festivities. We want everything to be perfect. But, just as an over the top Opening Day ceremony doesn’t promise a World Series, an extravagant wedding doesn’t mean a successful marriage. It takes work....

Teamwork Makes The Dreamwork 
A former high school coach drilled into my head, “We’re only as strong as our weakest link” over and over. As much as I rolled my eyes at her exhausting voice, I now see where she was going. Marriage, much like baseball, is a team sport. We have to be dedicated and committed to a common goal, if not, it makes for an extremely long, losing season. 

One of my favorite baseball experiences was in October 2012 when my sweet husband surprised me with tickets to the Wild Card game to watch the Texas Rangers take on the Baltimore Orioles. Our seats were amazing and the atmosphere was like nothing I had ever experienced! The fans were on fire! Sadly, my beloved Rangers lost that night to the stupid Orioles. What? I’m not bitter. But, seriously, looking back on that game I couldn’t even remember if they had won or lost because I had so much fun being a part of the experience. The fans rose to the occasion and the night was memorable. 

Marriage is a lot like a MLB season. There will be seasons where you’re celebrating with champagne, and there will be long seasons of loss. When I think back on our fifteen years of marriage, suffering through two miscarriages in the hopes of expanding our family was one of the toughest seasons for our marriage. The days were long and we didn’t know what to expect. Thankfully, we prospered through, and winning seasons were on the horizon for us and we soon welcomed two little rookies into our clubhouse. 

 Jess was born just in time to cheer on the Rangers with his big sister in the 2011 World Series.  

Jentry was born shortly after the Rangers 2013 post season.  

Find Your Fans
As I mentioned earlier, baseball has been a huge part of my life since I was a child. When my parents realized this obsession was not going anywhere, they started planning our family vacations around baseball parks. When we arrived at these stadiums I wanted to look like a local! The first thing I did when I hopped of the L line at Wrigley was buy a Cub’s shirt! The first thing I did when I went through the turnstiles at Dodger Stadium was buy some Dodger sunglasses...well, first I took a picture of me jumping over the outfield wall of Dodge Stadium, but then I bought some Dodger gear. My point is, I didn’t want to be a fake fan. I wanted to be invested in the team I was rooting for. 

Just hanging out at Dodger Stadium in 1995. 

In marriage, you need to find your cheering section. Now, I’m pretty sure my friends aren’t walking around with Mark & Emily T-shirts, but if you attended our wedding, you may still have a golf ball or handheld fan with our name on it. 

Sidenote, if you are reading this and you are not married, do NOT get married outside in Texas in July. All the personalized golf balls, fans and water bottles will not help your situation! Maybe this is how I know who my fans are! It’s the ones that showed up to that HOT wedding, sat outside and yet still love us!! 

As I was saying, your fans...aka support system...are a key component to your marriage. They are the ones that take your kids so that you can get away for a weekend. They are the ones that you text when you are on day 12 of unsuccessful potty training. They are the ones that help you when your grandmother moves into a nursing home. They are the ones you call when you need a few extra prayers. They are the ones that show up when you need them. They are the ones that don’t just root for you individually, they root for your family. I cringe when I hear public speakers say the new cliche terms like, “let’s unpack this” or “we’re not sure how that looks.” But, here I am about to use a tired, trendy term: Find your fans, and do life with them. 

Listen to Your Manager/Coach
My love of baseball started early. I remember learning to hit a plastic ball off of a red Fred Flintstone sized bat at the age of five. 

I then graduated to an aluminum bat and a softball. If my dad wasn’t busy, I was begging him to pitch to me in the backyard. I am really surprised my dad hasn’t billed me for Tommy John surgery after all the pitches he threw to me. Perfecting my stance, towering over the plate and waiting for my perfect pitching...a tad high and outside...became my favorite pastime. 

My freshman year of high school I tried out for the softball team and to my surprise, I made a designated hitter. I was flattered because all of my time in the batting cages had paid off, but being labeled a DH basically means your fielding stinks. BUT I earned my letter jacket my freshman year, so let’s focus on the positives. 

I can't even comment on the ridiculousness of the tall socks and awkward pose of this picture. The 90's were a special time. 

I learned early on that listening to my coach was KEY to my success. Can I be honest? I didn’t like my coach. At all. But, overtime I began to trust that she saw the big picture and knew what was best for our team. 

I remember vividly one spring evening when it was my turn to bat, I stepped into the batter’s box and glanced at my coach for the sign, clearly expecting to see the “swing away” sign, but she gave me the “bunt” sign. Umm, hello. Did you see who was up to bat? I don’t bunt, I hit. I stepped out of the batter’s box processing the sign my coach had just sent me, hoping that my helmet covered my eye rolling. I knew HOW to bunt, but I didn’t WANT to. I wanted to HIT! I glared back down the first base line wondering how many sprints she would assign me tomorrow if I ignored her sign and swung for the fence, but my conscious got the best of me and I decided to be obedient. I stepped back in the batter’s box one foot at a time, pulling my bat back into my best Julio Franco stance staring into the pitcher’s eyes. As soon as she began her wind up, I lowered my bat and waited. Thud! The ball struck my bat and rolled four inches from the plate. I dropped the bat and sprinted (y’all, I hit, I don’t run. So imagine a slow motion sprint) to first base where I was called OUT upon arrival. Insert eye roll #2 of that at bat. As soon as I began to think, “See, if you would have just let me swing.....” I heard the home plate umpire call my teammate SAFE! My bunt was successful. Even though I had been called out, I had successfully accomplished the job I was asked to do. 

Listening to a coach is hard, but for my husband and I listening and trusting in Jesus Christ is imperative. I am so thankful that even in my time of doubt, I have a husband and Savior that see the bigger picture. Even when I want to tell God, “No, we’re going to do it my way!” I hear the Holy Spirit subtly remind me that my way is often for my own selfish desires. I am thankful to have a husband that leads our family to obedience in Christ. I’m thankful that when I’m struggling to process things, I have a husband that will pray with me and for me. 

The Legacy
Last summer my dad and I finally accomplished something we said we would for years, and made it to Cooperstown, New York to the MLB Hall of Fame. We spent hours in the museum looking at memorabilia, rosters, championship rings and statues of great baseball players throughout the years. It was a dream come true for two baseball fans like us. 

If you’re wondering why Cooperstown, New York was chosen as the place to celebrate Hall of Famers record breaking careers, it’s because it’s the town where baseball was founded way back in 1839 on Doublesday Field. 

Doublesday Field, the birthplace of baseball. 

Much like we looked on in awe of how far baseball had come, and at our heroes accomplishments, I hope my family looks back on our marriage one day as All-Star! I pray for winning seasons in our marriage, and for grace and forgiveness during the slumps. I pray for rosters full of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I pray that when any of my teammates are seeking wisdom, they look to their wise Coach first, and obey the signs and directions they are given. 

Ladies and gentlemen may I direct your attention to the Jumbo-tron for a special dedication:

Mark, I would like to thank you for 15 amazing seasons. You’ve handled every curve ball and change up I’ve thrown to you. You’ve calmed me down on the mound and met me in the dugout with ice when I needed to cool down. I cannot imagine being anyone else’s teammate. I know the Trade Deadline is fast approaching, but I appreciate you always keeping me as your starter.  I love you and will always be your biggest fan.  I'm looking forward to many more seasons. 

Thanks for reading!  I always appreciate the support. 

Monday, June 15, 2020

My New Hobby...

If you know me, you know I love writing.  Thankfully I get to teach 5th graders to write for a living!!  There's just something about word choice, the power of imagery, and a subtle, yet sarcastic voice in writing that I love.  I have struggled with wanting to jump back into blogging the past few months, but wasn't quite sure what to blog about.  It turns out my students are right, writer's block is a real thing!  After months of rough drafts that went no where, I decided to blog about my new hobby that has kept me occupied during this slower pace of life. 

There are three hobbies I have always wanted to acquire: running, reading and ice skating. This whole quarantine thing has helped me to accomplish two. Ok, just one, but I’m really working on the second. First off, I live in Texas, so my Nancy Kerrigan dream is out the window. Let’s focus on my realistic dreams, reading and running. A few months ago I decided to be intentional with the extra time I have been given while the world slowed down and start running. In order to accomplish this, I needed something to keep my mind off of my throbbing calves. Enter Audible. I found that when I got really into a book, I never wanted my walk/jog to end. 

**Side-note: I call it walk/jog because there is waaaay more walking than jogging. It’s not that I don’t have the endurance to jog, it’s just that I have the running form of Phoebe Buffay, and I actually teach in the neighborhood I live in. I need these kids to take me seriously, people. So, I only jog when I’m 99.9% sure no one can see me. 


Ok, now let’s hit the books...

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle: “At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen?” 
As a writing teacher the clever plot is what got my attention. I could imagine giving this prompt to my students and seeing where their creativity went. Honestly, I teach 5th graders, so I would probably get a lot of Stef Curry, Kobe Bryant and YouTubers I have never heard of, but that actually might have been a little more interesting than this novel...

The main character shows up to her birthday dinner with the five people she had named as her dream dinner list, ready to celebrate with her, and confront a few life altering decisions, too. I had high hopes for this book, but it was a little slow and fell a little flat for me. I actually read this one, and did not listen to it on Audible. Who knows, maybe that’s why it felt slow to me. I didn’t hate it and I do think this might make a good movie, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.
2.5 out of 5 Stars. 

Open Book by Jessica Simpson:  I listened to this one on Audible and really enjoyed the fact that it is read by Jessica (we're on a first name basis now). I realized while listening to this book that I really loved memoirs. I think it’s because I’m nosy and I want all the details. Well, Jessica Simpson gave ALL the details! I don’t think this book is for everyone, but if you remember tuning into MTV’s Total Request Live with Carson Daily every afternoon, then this might be a fit for you. Jessica details her rise from a Texas preacher’s daughter to stardom, her marriage to Nick Lachey, dating superstars John Mayer and Tony Romo, and eventually meeting her current husband. Since I loved it, I would give it 4.5 stars, but keep in mind, if you never bought jeans at the Wet Seal or went through a Delia’s catalog page by page, you might not find it as charming. 

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis:  I’m going to keep this one short and simple. Girl, find a new hobby. 

I wasn’t a fan. I liked hearing the details of Rachel’s life (remember, I’m nosy), but I didn’t care for her advice and didn’t always agree with her spiritual interpretations. I think a small dose of humility would be good for our friend Rach!  I would give this 2 out of 5 stars. 

Sisters First by Barbara Bush & Jenna Bush-Hager: I really enjoyed this book! I listened to this one on Audible, too, and loved that they alternated writing (and reading) every other chapter. As a Texas girl that grew up in the same time frame as the Bush girls, I felt I had similar life experiences as them. Well, I mean my grandfather was never Vice President, my dad was never the governor of Texas or president...and I’ve never lived in the White House, but like Barbara, Julio Franco was my favorite Texas Ranger, so it’s basically like we were raised together. 

Overall, I really enjoyed hearing their childhood and teen stories. I also found their 9-11 stories touching. I had not thought of how that day impacted them, knowing the pressure their dad was under. If I’m being completely honest, I enjoyed Jenna’s chapters more than Barbara’s. I think Jenna’s writing is a little more eloquent, and as she mentions early in the book, she is a natural story teller. Barbara has great memories, too, I just felt like her writing lacked the warm and fuzzy feelings that her twin sister’s chapters provides. 4 out of 5 stars. 

Jackie’s Girl by Kathy McKeon:  This book is why we don’t give up on books too early. I almost abandoned it after chapter two, but I am so thankful I persevered. Since I was about ten years old, I have been obsessed with all things Kennedy related. I blame that on my dad watching too many JFK documentaries during my Thanksgiving breaks when I was growing up. 

Jackie’s Girl is a memoir from Kathy (Kat) McKeon, Jackie Kennedy’s personal secretary. Kat began working for the Kennedy family shortly after JFK was killed, when Jackie and the kids had moved to New York City. Kat basically went from an extremely poor, Irish immigrant, to living on the Upper East side of Manhattan’s most coveted block overnight. 

I devour any insight into the Kennedy family, so hearing Kat’s anecdotes about Caroline, John, and of course the stunning Jackie, were right up my alley! Kat also writes about her life in Ireland, traveling with the Kennedy’s, Robert’s assassination, Jackie’s marriage to Aristotle Onassis, Caroline’s marriage, Jackie’s death, and John’s tragic plane crash.

This book was so well written that I was actually sad for two days after I finished it. Kat had such a bond with Jackie, that a true friendship developed. It was also evident how much she cared for Caroline and John. I loved every single part! Nothing is perfect (or should I say Camelot), so I’ll give it 4.75 out of 5. 

After finishing Jackie's Girl I was craving more Kennedy info, so I began reading Once Upon A Secret by Mimi Alford. 

I finished this book two days ago and I'm still not sure how I feel about it.  This book was published almost ten years before the Me Too Movement, but it really made me think about how people abuse their powers.  Mimi Alford was a 20 year old intern at the White House in 1962.  She had an 18 month affair with JFK that lasted until his death.  She kept her secret for forty years until a tell-all novel mentioned her name in 2009.  As I mentioned earlier, I devour all things Kennedy, but this one was a little unsettling.  Mimi does a great job detailing her story and how it impacted her life after Kennedy's death.  I would give this memoir 4 out of 5 stars, but just remember, this story casts a little shadow on Camelot.


I also started STori Telling by Tori Spelling, but after losing countless brain cells, I decided to jump ship. Who would have thought Jessica Simpson could out write Tori Spelling? Maybe Donna Martin was a few graduation credits short after all. #DonnaMartinGraduates #90210Reference

What’s up next for me? 

I am reading is Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham. You might know her best as Lorelei Gilmore from The Gilmore Girls or Sarah Braverman from Parenthood. So far it has  managed to capture my attention, but I’ll let you know my final thoughts when I’m finished. 

I hope you enjoyed my reviews and found something that intrigued you. In the words of Reading Rainbow’s Levar Burton, “But you don’t have to take my word for it!”   Man, I wanted so bad to be one of those book reviewers in the 80's!

Let me know if you have a book or memoir you recommend! Thanks for checking out my corner of the world!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Opening the Vault...

Welcome!  I have had a few friends suggest that I revive my blog during this quarantine time.  It's like they think I have an abundance of free time, but let me tell you, these jigsaw puzzles aren't going to put themselves together!  I have gone back and forth with the decision, but have decided to temporarily open the vault for a limited time.  That sounds official, doesn't it?

So, take this time to walk down memory lane with me, see what we were up to four years ago, laugh a little at my expense, or get a new dinner idea.  I haven't decided if I'll be adding new blog content, but I hope you will enjoy some of my previous posts.

Speaking of dinner, here are a few of my most popular recipe posts you can make tonight!

It's a little chilly tonight, this Tortellini Soup would definitely hit the spot.

Make tonight a date night in and enjoy my husband's favorite, Cream Cheese Chicken.

This Foil Packet Salmon is one of my guilt-free favorites.  

Leave room for dessert!  This Sopapilla Cheesecake is always a favorite!  

Or, if you're already thinking about breakfast tomorrow, check out my Never Fail Quiche. 

Make sure you look under the food tab for more recipes! 

Thanks for checking in, friends!  Who knows, maybe I will be back soon with a new recipe idea!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What's Up Wednesday

Since I took an extended Christmas break, I thought I would participate in Sheaffer, Mel and Shay's What's Up Wednesday linkup today, so you could catch up a bit with us....

What We're Eating This Week...

I have been back on the no sugar/low carb (Trim Healthy Mama) way of eating the last few weeks, and I feel so much better.  My menu this week isn't too extravagant, but I'm not going to be home much, so we're keeping it simple.  

Sunday: Chili
Monday: Grilled Porkloin, Sauteed Mushrooms, Baked Sweet Potato
Tuesday: Spaghetti & Meat Sauce (Zoodles for me)
Wednesday: Breakfast for Dinner (My little kids think I'm a genius when we have this)
Thursday: Grilled Fajitas (Low carb tortillas for me)
Friday: We're going to try our own chicken stir fry...I'll let you know how it turns out...

What I'm Loving...

As I mentioned before, I took an extended Christmas vacation and really considered "retiring" from blogging.  I am so thankful for my blog friends that emailed me, text me, commented on my blog, and really encouraged me to continue in this community.  I am so appreciative of your sweet words and friendships!

What We've Been Up To...

Here's the month of January in a nutshell...

We had a snow day...well, kind of.  That's Texas snow to my northern friends (Johannah, I know you're laughing at our "snow").

Some of us decided to play in the snow...

Some of us opted to hibernate... #teenagers

We celebrated Gigi's birthday with homemade strawberry swirl cheesecake cupcakes from Jentry's new American Girl "Cooking Book"...and Jentry may have decided to blow out Gigi's candles while everyone was preoccupied taking a picture.  

We hung out with Pop at Starbucks...

And, like all good consumers, we took advantage of January Clearance sales at some of our favorite stores!  

What I'm Dreading...

Reading one more political Facebook post.  

What I'm Working On...

My mom bought me a Silhoette Cameo for Christmas, so I am learning how to use it, and looking forward to making some fun Valentine and Easter projects with it.  If you have one, and have some tips or favorite sites, please share!

What I'm Watching/Reading...

My women's Bible Study group just started a new study on Jonah a few weeks ago.  This is an excerpt out of last week's homework that really hit home for me:

I am all around you, hovering over you even as you seek My Face.  I am nearer than you dare believe, closer than the air you breathe.  If My children could only recognize My Presence, they would never feel lonely again.  I know every thought before you think it, every word before you speak it.  My Presence impinges on your innermost being.  Can you see the absurdity of trying to hide anything from Me?  You can easily deceive other people. and even yourself; but I read you like an open, large-print book.  

God knows us like a book, but not just any book, a large-print book.  He sees everything and "gets" us.  I find so much comfort in knowing that he is always there for me as a great Counselor.  I am really enjoying diving into Jonah (no pun intended) a little more and trying to discover if there's a Nineveh in my life that I need to arise and go to.  

What I'm Wearing...

I finally jumped on the "blardigan" (part blanket, part cardigan) wagon, and boy am I glad I did.  I would say that in the past month that I have been a "blardigan" owner, I have probably worn it at least 20 times.  I've worn it around the house, preschool drop off, to dinner my my husband, preschool drop off, to church, and did I mention it's the perfect thing to throw on for preschool drop's really one of the most comfortable things I own.  I'm pretty sure by March I am going to be known as the lady in the black sweater.  I have yet to take a picture of myself in it, but here's what it looks like in case you're curious...

I know many of you are still skeptical of QVC even after reading my QVC Favorites post, but yes, QVC has "blardigans," too.  

What I'm Looking Forward To Next Month...

My favorite teenager is turning seventeen next month!  Oh my goodness!  Where did the time go.  It seems like yesterday we were picking out High School Musical backpacks and playing with Polly Pockets, and now we're prom dress shopping and talking about college visits.  I can't wait to celebrate another year of my beautiful girl's life!

That's What's Up with us this Wednesday?  What's up with you?


Monday, January 23, 2017

Remember Me?

Hi friends!  Remember me?  I'm that blogger that blogged way back in 2016.  I took a little time off to enjoy the holidays with my family...and then I fell of the blogging wagon.  To an outsider, blogging may be easy, but it is really a time consuming little hobby.  Dinner isn't just "cook it and put it on the table" anymore.  It's "take a picture of all the ingredients, take a picture of the different steps, take 5 pictures of the finished product on a plate before you decide it looks better on a different plate.  Then take 20 more pictures trying to find the perfect light at 7:30 at night while your family complains because they"  

You start to analyze everything you read or watch, wondering if you should share it with the world (aka your loyal readers).  You use a life changing beauty product and feel it is your duty to shout it from the roof tops (aka Friday Favorites).  You take 56 pictures of your children in one day just incase you can only come up with four Friday Favorites...and you really need a 5th.  Everything starts to become a blog post idea, and before you know it your brain is over the brim, full of ideas and you stay up until one in the morning jotting down drafts, some of which will never be published.  It can be exhausting, and you start to wonder why in the world do I want to do this?  Maybe I should have taken up ceramics instead?  

After taking a month or so to clear my head, and toying with the idea of blog retirement, I have decided to stick around.  I have been blessed with some fantastic friends and family that have encouraged me to continue this time-comsuming, draining, rewarding little hobby of mine.  I may not post as often, but I'm coming back... Soon.  Why?  Because writing is my thing.  Or, at least I want it to be.  I hope you'll stick around, too.  

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Friday Favorites: Christmas Edition

I think it's Friday, but I'm not sure.  During Christmas vacation every day seems like Saturday, right?  Assuming that it's Friday I am sharing a FIVE of my FAVORITE things from the last few weeks....

I have been in a bit of a "blogger slump" lately due to the busyness of life.  This week I tried to get back on track with my posting.  

On Tuesday I shared a few of my FAVORITE seasonal purchases from Trader Joe's.  If you need some ideas on what to eat or drink this Christmas, be sure to check out my post.  

On Wednesday I confessed my guilty pleasure; I'm a QVC shopper.  I shared a ten of my FAVORITE QVC purchases.  Like my FAVORITE dishes...

I posted my What's Up Wednesday post...on a Thursday, because I'm a rebel...or possible just running behind.  Check it out and see what we've been up to, and a few of my FAVORITE memories from this Christmas.

Yesterday we boarded the North Pole Express in Grapevine, Texas.  The kids wore robes and pajamas and Mark and I wore robes (over our regular clothes...I felt like I needed to clarify that).   We boarded the train where an Elf greeted us and led us in Christmas Carols.  The kids wrote letters to Santa and put them in a "special bag" for the Elf to deliver to the Santa's Workshop.  Mrs. Claus came aboard and greeted the kids and gave everyone a silver bell to wear around their neck, before we pulled into the North Pole.  It was "snowing" at the North Pole, but after Jess tried to catch a snowflake on his tongue he said it "tasted soapy!"  Then we went into Santa's Workshop where the elves and Santa put on a musical show that the kid's loved!  The elves passed out Frosty Chocolate Snow Milk in a souvenir mug.  We had a great day!  The kids were the perfect age for this.  If you're in the DFW area, and have small kids, I would definitely recommend a trip on the North Pole Express.  Be sure to buy your tickets early though, it sells out in October.  

You may have noticed that my sweet Kendall isn't in any of the North Pole Express pictures.  No, it's not that she was too cool for school...but, really she probably was too cool for the train.  Anyway, she left last Saturday to spend the week with her Dad and his family.  She will be back home on the 26th.  Even though it stinks to not have her here for Christmas, I know she is enjoying herself with her family.  
Last month her aunt bought her an advent calendar that she opens everyday.  Jess and Jentry love to see what's behind the little door everyday.  She wins Big Sister of the Year for Face Timing them everyday to open her calendar so they can see what she got.  My little kids are so blessed to have her as their sister!

We miss you Kendall!  Can't wait to see you Monday!

 Last week my monthy Bunco group met for our Christmas Pajama Party (& Bunco ...of course).  We were missing a few of our regulars due to schedule conflicts, but this is such a fun group of ladies!  Taking time to do something for myself is something I have a hard time fitting into my schedule, but I am so thankful for this little bit of girl time I have each month with these amazing ladies.  

We tried so hard to take a silly picture, but we are not up on our silly poses.  Bunco ladies, we have twelve months until our next Christmas party.  We need to be Pinteresting silly faces, so we can nail this picture next year!

I posted something similar to this last December when I was just dabbling in blogging, but it's been on my mind again this Christmas season, so I thought I would share:

My mom bought the kids this Little People nativity after Thanksgiving last year. They have loved playing with it so much! Every night when they go to bed, Mark & I put it back together; but every night it seems Joseph is missing. The irony is not lost on me. How easy would it have been for Joseph to abandon his fiancée and her new baby? How many times did Joseph have to explain his "baby mama" situation? Mary is often admired for her faith & purity, but in 2017, I want to have Joseph-like integrity. I want to trust in God that even when it makes no sense to me; even when it's messy or complicated, it's all in His plan. What are your goals for 2017?

Thank you so much for stopping by today!  I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!

I'm linking up with my Friday regulars today...

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