Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

Baltimore is a beautiful city full of charm. While D.C. is great is will never be able to capture the realness of Baltimore. In the past weeks a cloud has covered Baltimore. In the daytime there is an eerie silence. Guards and police are posted on every corner. Businesses are closed. The fear hangs in the air like a thick fog. Things are not right. The tragedies of Ferguson are saddening but this is our turf. This is personal. Want to talk about surreal? Driving past sites where riots were taking place less than twenty-four hours ago.

I couldn't even count how many times a week I remind a flustered little sibling, "Just because (insert person, place or thing) did it does not make it right." Violence is and will forever be wrong. And two wrongs will never equal a right. Our human hearts will forever be set on evil. But never is the power of the Gospel more real than when we see the depravity of humanity up close. What could overcome such a force? What could possibly transform hearts so full of hate? Only the Gospel. We are wicked sinners. But Jesus is a wonderful Savior.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Two Years

Two years ago Henry entered my world. I had no idea what was I was in for. I will never be able to understand how this little person...this little person who most of our world does not consider worthy of life...could so completely transform me. How can one person who says no more than four words change my entire way of thinking, my priorities and my life goals just by being himself?

Happy birthday, little man. I am so grateful God chose to place you in my life. It has been my greatest honor to know you and be able to invest in your future. Your bravery and strength to keep fighting, despite the challenges, has inspired me in more ways then you will ever know. There have been some crappy dark times but it has been worth the hurt to see you shine through them all. Kid, you are going to move mountains and I couldn't be more excited to be on your team. xoxo

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Is it getting chilly in here? | The Frozen Birthday Party

Okay, so I know it's spring and we are all in sunshine and flower mode but before you get too carried away with the flip flops and lemonade let's timeout for a flashback to December...

Saying my little sisters are obsessed with Frozen has been an understatement since they started wearing Frozen panties (and yes, it is okay to talk about their Frozen undies because if you asked...or not...they would tell you exactly which character their sporting on their little tushies. I digress.) Basically, if they aren't watching the movie they are singing the songs, wearing the costumes of coloring the activity books. I completely indulge this obsession because...well, one day they'll be grown up and I'll miss hearing their little voices singing "Let It Go" at all hours of the day...or night.
Ellie has been asking for a Frozen party since last April so when November rolled around and we starting talking birthday plans the key word was, well, Frozen. I was super excited to head the planning because I already had so many ideas...the hardest part was narrowing them down.

I'm usually totally chill about parties. Okay, so that's a lie. I'm usually obsessive compulsive about every detail BUT I usually manage to transition fairly easily between planning and...non-planning (?) mode. For some reason, weeks leading up to this party, I kept having dreams about guests showing up early, decoration collapsing...generally everything going terribly wrong...apparently I need to get a life. Weird dreams aside, the day came and despite sleeping in and therefore preparations beginning late and therefore my throwing on clothes like five seconds before people arrived, the party went off more or less without a hitch. One little guest told me it was "the best day ever!" which makes it a success in my book.

For the menu we stuck to kid friendly light lunch foods. Melting Olaf yogurt cups (I spent a long time debating whether or not they would be too morbid before deciding the kids probably wouldn't notice or care), Sven's carrot sticks and snow dip (all the cheesiness), Olaf cheese sticks (I doubled sue me), Anna's snowflake sandwiches (because we finish each other's...), Arendelle Fresh Pressed Juice (I was desperate?), Elsa's cake pops (not pictured) and...
graphics for juice box wrappers and buffet cards via Etsy
...Chocolate cupcakes with whipped frosting. Literally the best cupcakes ever...shhh...don't tell anyone but they are from Sam's Club...and $15 for 30...major score.
As far as decor, I tried to lean more toward the blue, silver, winter, icy aspects than the character because character parties make me cringe. And I'd rather you feel as though you are walking into Elsa's ice palace than the Disney store. I found these awesome snowflake ornaments (seriously, who has a tree that big?) at Dollar Tree for...umm...a dollar. They were big and glittery and perfect. 
By far, my favorite aspect of this party was the ceiling decor. Guys, ceiling decor is one aspect on which I will never compromise. Even the smallest addition can add so much toward changing the entire feel of the room. We simply hung light blue tulle and mixed in some of my awesome snowflake ornaments. 
Feeling chilly yet?

Table decor... Guess what? MORE TULLE. And also sparkly snowflake picks from the clearance bin at Joanne's. We mixed in a few characters because, well, it is still a character party, tied up the napkin rolls with twine, and we were good to go! Phew! Really slaved on that table layout! (Yes, those are plastic plates. Cut me some slack. It's a kid's party.)

Unfortunately I do not have a photo of the favor bags, which is a shame because Ellie and Carmella assembled them and they were pretty darn adorable. Insider the bags were (edible) snowman assembly kits, fancy-but-really-easy chocolate dipped marshmallows (simple amazingness) and their very own Frozen play goo (You're welcome moms.) In addition, on each child's chair was a scarf for them to take home.
And then there were the party games. You know, pin the nose on Olaf, Frozen lyric scavenger hunt, play snow, puffy Olaf paint...THE WORKS.
And there you have it! Great, theme Ellie...this party was such a blast to plan.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Currently Reading | April

The Monogram Murder by Sophie Hannah - I was reluctant to read this new Poirot mystery. I am not a fan of fan fiction (unintentional lousy pun) and tend to view the genera as a bunch of cheap knock-offs. And when I have something I love as much as I love Agatha Christie and Poirot, I don't want imitations, I want the REAL thing. mom read The Monogram Murders on the suggestion of a friend and thoroughly enjoyed she never steers me wrong and is the biggest Poirot fan I know, I decided to give it a go and was surprised how much I enjoyed it! While not Agatha Christie (let's face it, that would be impossible) Sophie Hannah does an amazing job capturing the feel of Agatha Christie and, I believe, preserved the overall character of Poirot, with a few, minor exceptions. I have to say, unlike Agatha Christie, the ending was predictable and the motive was weak. But overall, a pleasant vacation read.

Won By Love by Norma McCorvey, Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade - This book is just an amazing story of only-God-could story. Prepare for an emotional journey and some rather deep thinking.

Great Expectation by Charles Dickens - I'm not really sure how I got through English literature without reading this book...regardless, this is my first time through and Dickens has not disappointed...but then, has he ever? Reading this book is like having a bathtub full of sand and watching the sand spiral down the drain. Pip is asking for trouble and the big sister in me wants to reach into the pages and knock some sense into his crazy head...but I do promise, there is a happy ending.

What are you reading?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Facing Mortality

I've never enjoyed spring. I have no idea if it is a sub conscience negative association or just the change in lifestyle but, whatever the reason, the seasonal shift tends to make me anxious. Somewhere around  May I return to my normal. This year is different. For the first time I'm finding myself loving everything about the season, even the change. Or maybe especially the change. I feel like for a long time there has been so much darkness. The grayness is not just outside my window. This week I have been facing the uncomfortable reality of human mortality. On the same day I'm rejoicing in the marriage of a friend on the west coast a friend on the opposite side of the country shared the news of his stage four cancer. Guys, that make you realize how fleeting time is. When you are so focused on making it through today it's hard to see the eternal perspective. Seeing trees, which only days ago were nothing but bare branches, come to life does something to the spirit. There is a sense of refreshment in stepping outside and feeling the sun warm your bare skin. Life is short. This present trial cannot last forever. What now seems all consuming looses significance when you consider our eternal destiny. Take heart. Feel the sun. And carry on. Another day awaits.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

When Mistakes Happen

...because mistakes do happen...and yesterday I make a whopper of one.

So I went to park the van. The parking lot was narrow so I was already nervous but then this car pulled up behind me with a clearly impatient driver and I misjudged the distance and hit the car next to me while pulling into the spot. If I was nervous before, my state at this point was complete panic. It was not my finest moment. There did not appear to be any damage to the other car (the poor van suffered a huge dent...darn plastic cars...). I had no idea how I could locate the owner so I pulled around the building where there were several, wide open spots and parked.

Later I got a call. From the owner. Who turned out to be an acquaintance of my mom's. Apparently the impatient driver had contacted the owner and told her I "repeatedly rammed into her car." What??? Thankfully, because the owner knew my mom, she decided to contact us instead of the police or insurance company.

And that is the story of my first ever motor vehicle accident. It is not an experience I wish to repeat.

Mistakes happen, especially when you get the notion to drive around several tons of cheap metal. And while I would like to go back and rewrite the whole day, it's almost (almost) worth the uncomfortable experience if from this I learn the lessons necessary to do better next time. Lessons like...

Always, always make things right. Although I feel the person who contacted the owner was unfair and malicious in his/her description, I am so glad he or she did contact the owner. It gave me a chance to apologize and makes things right. Because, mistake of not, I did something wrong that hurt this woman's brand-spanking-new car. And, silly as it may seem, it would have nagged at me for a long time if I had not had a chance to make it right.

There are some really great people in this world. The owner was so super kind and forgiving...which really is a good thing because if she has been she had every right to be...I would have crawled into a hole that would have taken more than yoga pants and Emma's ham and bean soup from which to revive me. And then my parents were so helpful and understanding...despite my wrecking their van.

There are some really nasty people in this world. Like the witness. It was one thing to notify the owner. It's another things to tell such an exaggerated falsehood because they had a bee in their bonnet. And that lie really hurt. I know I have hurt people through carelessness or lack of thought but I have never tried intentionally to hurt someone and that someone would think I would really hurts. There are mean people in the world who enjoy stirring up trouble. You can't take is personally. Accept that's who they are and resolve to be different.

Don't allow yourself to be bullied or pressured into a poor decision by other people's impatience. You're the one who is going to have to live with your choice. Take all the time you need to consider. It could save a poor car's bumper.

God gives grace (even when we act stupid). Seriously, what are the chances of me "just so happening" to park next to a car that "just so happened" to belong to an acquaintance out of the probably one hundred cars in the lot? God is good.

And last, but definitely not least, if you drive a fifteen passenger, boat of a van...park far away from other vehicles. Let's face it, we can't all have my mom's talent of, as my aunt so well put it, "being able to parallel park a Mac truck in a motorcycle space."

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter Sunday

Hello, friends! Hope you had a lovely Easter! Between a super busy week and uncertain weather I was a little nervous about hosting thirty guests. God was good! From a wonderful worship service to perfect egg hunt weather and amazing food and friends, I really couldn't have asked for better. I feel you can be a lot bolder with the color scheme at Easter and I'm very happy with the table design. Per usual, we served both an Easter and Passover got it, ham and lamb side by side...okay, so maybe not Kosher but delicious none the less. And of course, the kids are the best. Easter is definitely a kid holiday. We let them eat all the sugar they can lay hands on and in exchange they look cute in their clothes and hunt the, win. Thankful for a beautiful day and the people I was able to spend it with!

“If man had his way, the plan of redemption would be an endless and bloody conflict. In reality, salvation was bought not by Jesus' fist, but by His nail-pierced hands; not by muscle but by love; not by vengeance but by forgiveness; not by force but by sacrifice. Jesus Christ our Lord surrendered in order that He might win; He destroyed His enemies by dying for them and conquered death by allowing death to conquer Him.” -A.W. Tozer

Thursday, April 2, 2015

7 Life Goals (You Probably Didn't Know)

...because every once in a while it's nice to have a getting-to-know-each-other post...and just in case you had any questions about my normality. The random, bizarre and uncommon (by no means my top seven or most important...) no particular order...

1. Hold a beating human heart. I swear, I'm not a total creep...but could there be anything more amazing? We devote so much time to studying this magnificent machine. Seeing it in action would be simply thrilling.

2. Never weigh more than my significant other. Guys, you've gotta have standards.

3. Work at Disney World. If WDW was not located in Florida (I wilt in the heat) I would give up this doctoring idea and seek Disney employment. I mean, come on. It's the happiest place on earth, for crying out loud!

4. Host a black tie event. Mr. Carson is my hero. I love planning events. The more formal and elegant, the better.

5. Be a single, adoptive mommy. Because, adoption is a beautiful thing. And, you know...I promised my dear mother grandchildren.

6. Own a manor/estate and find a way to make it an integral part of the community. Ie. have an excuse to have a totally excessive home because it's actually worthwhile. Not because I necessarily like big houses (I don't) but an estate would be so convenient when hosting parties.

7. Read the complete works of Shakespeare and be able to quote portions.  Not the biggest Shakespeare fan but, I've gotta say, it makes for some pretty awesome cocktail chat.

And there you have it! Enough about me. Tell me...what are some of your life goals?