Sunday, September 29, 2013

a golden birthday

Steve turned 28 on the 28th yesterday.  We were blessed with absolutely perfect weather - low 80s and sunny - all day, which was great because we had a full day of outdoor festivities planned!

We began the morning with a birthday breakfast and then took off for our first ever Westie Walk.  We heard about the event through a random Starbucks bulletin board post and figured we'd give it a try.  None of us really knew what to expect.
Turns out, the Westie Walk was amazing.  Imagine one hundred and fifty little Westies all gathered in one place, and then a parade of the cheerful pups on a twenty-minute walk led by bagpipers.  It was absolutely precious.
There were Westies everywhere.  Some wore kilts, others had dresses on - there were even some Colts uniforms.  Some of the owners went all-out in Westie sweaters and Westie hats.  We weren't that hard-core but it was still fun to people- and dog-watch.  Lyla absolutely loved it.
Lyla is a social butterfly and loved meeting as many other dogs as she could.  She was worn out when the event was over!
After the Westie Walk, it was time to start getting ready for Steve's birthday party.  Since Steve loves Mexican food, we decided to make fajitas for our guests.  We marinated steak and chicken for about eight hours.  In the meantime, I cut up red, yellow, orange and green bell peppers, along with sweet onions and mushrooms.  We had about 15 guests for the party, so there were lots of veggies to chop!
(the little 4x6 in the corner is Steve and his twin back in the day.  Such sweet birthday boys.)

Next up was the birthday cake - a chocolate cake and yellow cake cupcakes w/ chocolate icing!
Next came present-opening for Steve.  He got a new firepit from me, and some great presents from family members.
Finally it was time for the twins' party!  The party itself was a huge success.  We have been blessed with so many wonderful friends and it was great just spending the evening outside enjoying the weather and each other's company.  There were a few games of cornhole and bocce ball, and Lyla of course was in the middle of all the excitement.
The birthday boys...
 Time for cake!
We hung out as the sun set and lit the firepit as the night sky set in.  
 Steve and I ended the night exhausted but with full hearts.  I couldn't imagine a better way to celebrate my love's golden birthday (and his twin's!) than with so many sweet and wonderful people.

Today, we are recovering and enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon watching the Colts game.  Life is good, my friends.  Hope you had a great weekend!

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Friday, September 27, 2013

a gentle and quiet spirit

Today I am linking up with the lovely Susannah and Hayley on what it means to have a gentle and quiet spirit.
Simple Moments Stick
Do not let your adorning be external - the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear - but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.
- 1 Peter 3:3-4 (esv)

As Christians, we are called to look beyond the physical and see ourselves (and others) as God sees us.  God sees the inner workings of our hearts and finds beauty in a gentle and quiet spirit.

"For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."  - 1 Samuel 16:7 (esv).  

Now I must admit - I have never been one to describe myself as "gentle" or "quiet."  I am generally loud, very chatty and oftentimes don't know when to keep my mouth shut.  I am an extrovert and typically like to think that I exude energy... but not gentleness or calmness.  So I have struggled in the past with this particular passage of scripture.  How can God give me this extroverted and loud personality, but then say that it is a "gentle and quiet spirit" that is precious in his eyes?

That's because a gentle and quiet spirit comes from THE gentle and quiet Spirit.  The Holy Spirit.  All those who have been saved by grace are filled with the Holy Spirit - the third member of the holy Trinity.  I like to think of the Holy Spirit as a shy spirit... He works behind the scenes deep within our hearts, and is active in our hearts in ways that we may not necessarily even recognize ourselves.  He is very powerful and strong, but oh so sweet in how He works in our lives.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  - Romans 5:5 esv

The Holy Spirit is the epitome of gentleness in how He speaks to my heart.  He can be oh so quiet in the little ways that He will convict me of certain behaviors or sin patterns.  But through His gentle ways, He guides me as I strive to be more like Jesus.  So when God looks at a person's heart and sees gentleness and quiet within, He is seeing the effects of the Holy Spirit at work within that person.

...for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.  - Luke 12:12 esv

I can still be loud but also have a quiet (restful) spirit.  I can still shout for joy but exude a gentleness to my nature.  We all can.  That's because underneath each of our individual and precious God-given personalities, we are being cultivated by the Holy Spirit.  And the more that we invest and grow in our faith, the more that the Holy Spirit can work through our hearts and minds... and the more He can help us exude a gentle and quiet spirit.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  - John 14:26 esv

the smell of chlorine

It's Friday!  I'm at a conference for work all day today so I'm attempting to post from my phone for the first time. Please excuse any formatting errors!  Today I'm linking up with Lauren Elizabeth with my top five silver linings this week:

1.  I'm on Day 2 of this work conference, which means my work-Friday was actually Wednesday this week. The nerdy side of me is thrilled because today I get to learn all about recent updates to the law all day and then go home!  Woohoo!
2.  I swam 3,500 yards this morning. Without any back pain.  It was amazing.  I'm sure I'll post on this in more detail soon but long story short, I was a competitive swimmer for years and suffered a career-ending injury in college. I haven't been able to swim without pain for years but today I was pain-free!  I can't even begin to tell you how great it felt to be back in the water again. And I smell like chlorine now- I love it. 
(Image via google)

3.  My sister passed her second med school board exam - with flying colors!!  I am SO proud of her.  Next stop, residency interviews!  
4.  Steve's birthday is tomorrow so we are hosting a birthday fiesta complete with fajitas. We haven't hosted a large crowd in the new house yet so I'm looking forward to playing hostess. Happy birthday S!
5.  Tomorrow is also a big day for another reason- Lyla's first official Westie Walk. Apparently there are 144 other westies signed up and I think Steve and I are more excited for the event at this point than Lyla is. 

Have a great weekend friends!  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

what god can't do

God can do so much.  He's omnipotent, omniscient and never-changing.  He is the Earth-Creator and Life-Giver.  With just a few spoken words, He brought the entire world into being.  He can raise the dead.  It's incredible what God can do.

But lately, I've found myself captivated and encouraged by what He can't do.

I'm not saying that God isn't all-powerful - He is.  But there are some things that, due to His very nature, God cannot do.  It's like the sun.  When the sun rises each day, it brings light to the world.  Every morning, we know that the the day will be lighter than the night, because the sun has risen.  It would be preposterous, then, to say that the sun has the ability to not shine or to un-shine, right?  The sun cannot exude darkness, because the sun, in its very nature, is the opposite of darkness.  The sun cannot remove light from this world - it can only give it.  It exudes light - because it is light.  A big burning ball of light. 

God is the same way.  Because God is holy and righteous and truth, we know that He cannot be the opposite of these things.  There are just some things that God cannot do, because He simply will not.

God will never lie.
God is truth, so by his very nature He cannot lie.  Because He always speaks truth, we can fully believe His Word.
{Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life." - John 14:6 esv}
{And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret. - 1 Samuel 15:29 esv}
He will never un-forgive you. 
God says that you are forgiven forever, and He never lies.  Which means that you don't have to do anything to re-earn your salvation.  In fact, you shouldn't even try.
{As far as the east is from the west,so far does he remove our transgressions from us. - Psalm 103:12 esv}
{And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.  - Col. 2:13-14 esv}
He will never break his promises.
God has made some pretty incredible promises.  He promised elderly Sarah a baby, nomad Abraham a nation and the enslaved Israelites freedom and the Promised Land.  But despite man's unbelief, He always follows through on these promises.  His promises cannot be broken.
{ Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. - Hebrews 10:23 esv}
{Not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you.  All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.  - Joshua 23:14 esv}
He will never change His mind. 
God is unchanging.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore.  He doesn't change His mind, so we can be certain that our future and salvation is secure in Him.
{God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? - Numbers 23:19 esv}
{Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  - Hebrews 13:8 esv}
He will never ignore you (or your prayers).
I struggle with this sometimes.  But He has promised that He hears our prayers, and we can trust His promises. 
{Whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.  - John 16:23 esv}
{Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.  - Mark 11:24 esv}
He will never not love you.
God loves because He can't not love.  He loves you because of who He is, not because of who you are.  So it doesn't matter how perfect or imperfect you may think you are - He loves you the same no matter what because He loves perfectly.
{Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  - 1 John 4:8 esv}
{The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.  - Zephaniah 3:17 esv}
{Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. - 1 John 4:7 esv}
Yes, I think I am just as thankful for those things that my God can't do as I am for those that He can.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

fall frenzy

It's hard to believe that fall is just around the corner.  School is back in session, football is on TV and I'm just about ready to switch out my flip-flops for some boots.  Here are some of my other "to-do's" this fall:
 - throw a backyard birthday party for Steve and his twin
- go on a hayride
- drink hot apple cider (which is not just warm apple juice, for those of you who are wondering!)
- go apple-picking and visit a pumpkin patch
- knit a new scarf
- attend a local high school football game (along with Colts games, of course!)
- stargaze in our backyard under a plethora of warm blankets
- take a scenic drive through brown county to see the leaves change
- have friends over for a backyard bonfire
- attend Steve's and my 5-year college class reunions
- run a 5k race
- attend a local fall festival
Can you feel it?  Autumn is in the air!
via google

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

while away

September is a glorious month - we are spending all month in Indy.  No traveling, no out-of-town weddings... it's been great.  For whatever reason, being less busy has led to less blogging.  Here's a little bit of what we've been up to while I've been away.

A little bit of baseball...                               {indians game}
 A little bit of art...                                     {penrod arts fair}
A little family (early) birthday celebration for Steve and his twin...     {happy birthday s!}
And a little bit of football...                                  {go colts!}

I promise to get back into the swing of things soon... until then, I hope you're having a good September and enjoying the early signs of fall as much as I am!

Friday, September 6, 2013

from one amy to another

I've been reflecting a lot lately on this phase of my life called my "twenties."  I'm over halfway through them, and starting to look to thirty.  There's so much to look forward to, but also so much I have learned in this phase of my life.  I have found myself thinking back to who I was as a twenty-year-old, and wishing I could pass along some "life lessons" to that girl.  As a twenty-year-old, I was still learning so much of who I was and who I wanted to be.  Now, seven years later, I feel like I have a better understanding of who I am, where my priorities lie and who/what is important to me.  I've learned a lot since I was the girl in this picture and am so thankful for the journey of life that she has traveled to get to my present-day. 
But if I could sit down across the table from her, maybe over a chai tea latte, some froyo or a glass of white wine, I'd love to share some of my heart with her.  I would tell her:
  • It's okay to be pale.
  • There is absolutely nothing wrong with going to bed early.
  • Not everyone will always wish you the best - but that's okay.
  • Just because you're swimming 4-5 hours a day doesn't mean you should eat whatever you want.  Make smart food choices, because when swimming stops, you'll have to eat like a regular person.  And it will be quite a shock.
  • Spend time alone with God every day... it will make the rest of your day so much better.
  • Stop looking for love.  It will find you when the time is right.  And stop worrying about finding The One.  Believe me - you'll know when you meet him! 
  • Swimming isn't everything.
  • You don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of.
  • Don't pretend to be someone you are not - God sees right through you.
  • Soak up the little moments of college - you'll never experience anything like it again and you will think back on it with fondness for the rest of your life.
  • Thai food is really delicious.
  • Guard your heart. 
  • Embrace your inner nerd.  She's bound to come out sooner or later, anyway.  (but surprise: you're not going to do anything with that biochem degree after all!) 
  • Pizza at 2am is not a good idea.  Ever.  Ok fine... rarely, ever.
  • RELAX.  You don't have to try to be perfect at everything!
  • Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
  • You have the rest of your life to pursue your dreams - keep 'em big!
  • Believe it or not, after you move away, you will actually miss Houston.  But don't worry, you'll get to travel back more than you would have thought and each trip gets better and better.
  • You're beautiful in your own skin. 
  • Mexican food just isn't the same outside of the Lone Star State.
  • Love doesn't always look like what you see in the movies.  But it's better than the movies, because it is real
Yes, I think we would have a really nice chat.  Oh twenty-year-old me - what an incredible journey these seven years has been.  Can't wait to see what the remaining three years of my twenties have in store.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

the homestead

It's official: my parents are all mostly moved in to their new house!  I am so thankful that I was able to fly down and help them get settled in over the long weekend.  As I mentioned in this post, the house is remarkably similar to my folks' prior house in Houston, so it felt like home from the start. 
Isn't it beautiful?  Even Herman seemed to figure out that it was the old house, only better.  He's a smart one.
Gannie and my little sister both came into town to help, too.  My sis was on a week-long break from med school rotations, so the timing was perfect. 
Seeing the house getting put together (or back together) was so fun.  This picture in particular holds a special place in my heart and reminds me that even though Steve and I may not live in Texas, both of  us are still there in spirit (and on display in the living room). 
Seeing our wedding pictures on the mantle makes my heart sing.
We spent most of the weekend unpacking boxes, but still took some breaks to have some fun (aka swimming in the pool, extended lunch breaks and tex-mex of course!). 
I also stumbled across a plethora of awkward ninth grade photos, aka the "Awkward Amy" stage.  Oh, to be young and in braces again....wearing denim on denim... although rumor has it denim on denim is back in?  I can't bring myself to try that trend - must be because I overdid it as a high school freshman.  Anyway, it was fun to uncover these memories.
My sister was the first to leave yesterday.  Saying good-bye to her is always hard.  She had to fill up her car with gas, so of course the entire family accompanied her to the gas station before she left.  We are big on family bonding. 
Love her.
It was hard to leave, but I am so glad that I was able to share in this special memory with my family.  Being far away from them can be incredibly hard at times, and while I was unpacking "my room" I couldn't help but wish I lived down the street so I could stop by any day.  That's not in the cards for us right now, but I am so thankful for God's timing in pushing the closing back just enough that I could be there with my parents on the first night that they spent in their new home.  And I can't wait to visit the homestead again soon.