April 30, 2010

Happy Weekend!

Here's what going on in our lives right now:

-Our house is still on the market. We thought we might have more interest because of the tax credit coming to an end, but that wasn't the Lord's plan. We're really thankful, because Kurt doesn't finish until June 30th. So the longer he can stay in our house, the better. Due to closing, having painting done in the new house, etc., Evy and I will be moving up to Cape the last week of May/first week of June. We are trusting the Lord's perfect timing! It does start to mess with your psyche though; why wouldn't someone want MY house!? Ha!

-In the midst of planning our Disney trip, doing graphic work for people, having playdates with our besties, and packing for another trip, I feel crazy.

-Speaking of an upcoming trip, I don't even think I mentioned that Kurt and I will be going to Dallas next week for Kurt to take a review course for his Board exams. They are paying for the hotel and some travel expenses, so it made sense for me to tag along! Evy will be staying with my parents and my grandparents will be coming to see her. Even though I'll be gone from her on Mother's Day (sad!), I know she will be lavished with love and attention. :) I'm looking forward to seeing my dear family, spending time with a couple of my dear friends, and picking up the DINING ROOM SET I just bought in Dallas!

-Yes, I bought a dining room set. Well, a table and chairs. I saw it when we were in Dallas in December and couldn't get it out of my head. I purchased it over the phone while we were on our way to the Subway in Boston--craziness! I have to have a little Texas in my house. ;) We're picking it up when we're there next week. Here's a sneak peek:

-I am setting my alarm early tomorrow morning to try and get a reservation for a restaurant in Epcot that is small and hard to get into---we'll see if it works!

-My South Series still isn't complete. I've actually liked stretching it out---so there is more to see!

-My blog friend Mallory gave me the Sunshine Blog Award. THANK YOU, Mallory! It always brightens my day when someone lets me know that they enjoy my blog!

-Every now and then, I like to showcase some blogs that you might enjoy. I always like finding new blogs to read, so I thought you might like to know of a few I read. I'll start showcasing more in the future!
  • My friend Sarah has a super cute regular blog, but I found out that she also has a Disney blog--like me! Check out her Disney blog! I think it's GREAT to read different takes on the Disney experience: Disney: Mom Style.
  • I have a lot of mutual friends with Sherri Grippo from Bella Bambino Photography in Cape Girardeau. She will be the photographer we use once we move to Missouri, and I can't wait to work with her. She is SO talented and creative!
  • Alyshia at Let It Shine has the most beautiful, unique style---and she does it all herself! I LOVE seeing the vignettes she'll come up with next in her home. One of my favorites that she's made: Crucifixion Nails. Seriously, amazing.

-I am so in love with my daughter. She just does things every day that make me stop and say, "Thank you, Lord!" Her personality is really starting to come through and she's so funny. I can't stand it!

Happy Weekend!

April 29, 2010

Guess What?

Remember how I've talked about Kurt and I going to New York City this fall?

Well, something has happened.

You see, I have a long-standing love affair with a certain place.

My earliest memories are there:

And my family has created memories there for years.

Kurt and I took a Babymoon there that was one of the most incredible, happy trips we've ever experienced.

We even introduced Evy to this special place, well, very early.

And we have decided that we must go back. That's right; this fall, we're going to


We spent a lot of time talking through everything and making lists of pros and cons. We have decided that we are going to go to Disney in October (like we did in 2008 when I was pregnant), and Evy will stay with my parents. She's still too young to enjoy the attractions and characters (she would be terrified, actually). Some people would think that Kurt and I are crazy for using our adult vacation time for Disney World. However, I know how to do Disney, and it's stress-free and nothing but pure happiness. It's our idea of a perfect vacation. So, we're going! We will take Evy as soon as she's old enough to appreciate it and have FUN.

We are aiming to go to New York City in the spring of 2011. We have already budgeted to save for these trips. I don't feel the need to justify the trips we take, but I can imagine some people might think, "Wow, tough life with all of this traveling." The thing is, we live very modestly day to day. I don't buy designer brands, we rarely eat out at restaurants, and I don't ever go shopping just to shop. This way of life won't change much, even after we're living in Missouri and Kurt is working as a physician full time. We would rather spend our money on giving to others, paying off debt, and traveling with the "extra" money we save. Also, I will have a set amount of money per month that's "mine," and I'm setting aside half of it to save for the trip. So we plan accordingly for these trips and work for them! That's the honest truth!

Planning a Disney trip just feels right. Since we're exactly at the 6 month mark until our trip, I have started making dining reservations (as anyone who reads my Disney blog knows, I plan meals before I do anything else!). Having just gotten back from Boston, I needed a breather from planning an urban trip. They are a BLAST, but more work (at least with the way we like to travel--maxing out our time and seeing/eating a LOT!). Disney is so easy for me. I feel so blessed that we will have this opportunity. We don't take it for granted! This trip will celebrate the end of Kurt's residency--I can't believe I'm even typing that!

To celebrate our trip, I added a super cute countdown at the top of my blog, and also spruced up my Disney blog. I'm sure it will be getting some attention in the following months!

I was so excited to make the announcement of our change in plans. Going to Disney is like going home. :)

April 28, 2010

Lions, Tigers, Bears, and BITTY!

(Kurt titled this post. So cute!)

I'm still catching up in journaling our family life lately! In early April, we took Evy to the zoo for the first time. She people-watched more than animal-watched, but the weather was beautiful and we had a wonderful time with her. We love every second with our sweet girl--life is so beautiful.

Lord, thank you for these sweet days!

So Long, Insecurity!

"So Long, Insecurity." What do you think of when you read those words?

“I'm not insecure. Like, really. I'm not insecure. I promise.”

“Wow, I wish I could be secure.”

“I've never met a secure woman in my life.”

“Yeah right!”

Whatever your reaction is, you have to admit it gets your attention. The minute I heard the initial buzz that my best-friend-who-doesn't-know-it-yet Beth Moore was releasing this new book, I instantly knew I would read it. The timing was so impeccable.

I'll go ahead and state very vulnerably that my two primary insecurities are my weight and being perceived the wrong way by people (in the sense that I try really hard to communicate my faith and beliefs in a kind and respectful way, and I want people to understand that).

I'll go ahead and say this right now : Every woman is insecure about something. So it's not fair to say, “What on earth is SHE insecure about?” or “Yeah, tough life—I'm sure she really has a lot to stress about.” You don't know a person or what they are privately going through. So let's leave the judgement away from this conversation, shall we? I am being honest and putting my insecurities out there. You have now read them. Phew!

I read the book and completed it well before the conference. To say that it was life-changing is an understatement. At its core, it was a challenge to totally reshape our method of thinking as women. That's not easy!

Interesting sidenote: the day I finished reading the book, I received a blog comment that totally took me aback and made me very insecure about my physical appearance for a little bit of the day. However, suddenly it dawned on me : I just finished a book about claiming my security in the Lord. OF COURSE the enemy is going to attack me! It became so obvious that I had to laugh and thank the Lord for the immediate opportunity to put what I learned into practice!

I was sad that I wasn't able to go to the conference live in Atlanta along with the million bloggers that did, but I had the privilege of going to a live simulcast at an area church. I took my friends Jennilee, Sarah Denley (you probably know her as SD) and Carrie. It was such a wonderful time of worship and hearing Beth speak. I was also impressed by the feeling of camaraderie among my fellow women. I looked around and realized that these women all struggle with the same feelings of insecurity that I do at times. It made me feel so much less alone. It really left me with a sense of community and an urge to support my sex. It's not easy!

I strongly urge you to read Beth's book. Even if you don't think you're insecure, at the very least it might give you insight as to how to interact with other women, and pass on security to your daughter(s). That's what really impressed me : I MUST claim my security in Christ and start ACTING like I'm the child of God that I am; if not for me, then most definitely for my precious little girl.

I read this book with a highlighter in hand, and it's now FULL of purple highlights! There is so much I learned, but I think I should just let Beth speak for herself. Here are a few (of many) of my favorite thoughts from “So Long, Insecurity.” So many were like she was speaking directly to (or about) me. There are a lot of them, so you might want to absorb them in segments a few at a time! :)

  • “These are perilous days to be a woman, but to be sure, they're the only days we have and they're passing quickly.”

  • “Insecurity's best cover is perfectionism. That's where it becomes an artform.”

  • “I dread the backlash of people far more than the backlash of God at times. He's infinitely more merciful.”

  • “Jealousy is always the result of a perceived threat”

  • “I used the word 'perception' because it is entirely possible to perceive that we've been rejected when we haven't. We can confuse 80% reciprocation with 100% rejection.”

  • “People who are especially tenderhearted are significantly more predisposed to insecurity.”

  • “I feel everything. My joys are huge, and so are my sorrows. If I'm mad, I'm really mad, and if I'm despondent, I wonder how on earth I'll go on.”

  • “God gave me this tender heart, and though I want to give up my insecurity, I really do want to hang on to my heart. I like to feel. When I don't feel something, it's like being dead.”

  • “He [the Lord] knows it's scary to be us.”

  • “Pride lives on the defensive against anyone and anything that tries to subtract from its self-sustained worth. Confidence, on the other hand, is driven by the certainty of God-given identity and the conviction that nothing can take that identity away.”

  • “God, too, delights in being able to say, 'Look, look, everbody! This is My child!' Yep, even after all the foolishness.”

  • “He [Jesus] has enough security for the both of us.”

  • “Insecurity is about losing our God-given dignity.”

  • “We can start recognizing triggers and responding to them differently today. I did say TODAY. The cycle begins to break when even though we may still FEEL insecure, we make a very deliberate choice to not act on that feeling.”

  • “It's about responding in a whole new way on the basis of a developing belief system that is making its way into our heads but is still en route to our hearts.”

  • “Pride is dignity's counterfeit.”

  • “To possess dignity is to be worthy of respect. Worthy of high esteem. Absorb this: you are worthy of respect.”

  • “When it comes to dignity and security, we have a golden opportunity to know in advance that we are praying the will of God for our lives.”

  • “In so many ways, men are just like women. Each gender was created in God's spectacular and multifaceted image. Each of us houses a human soul that craves love, acceptance, and affirmation and fears anonymity and rejection nearly to the panic point.”

  • “I can't remember ever hearing a female say that she feels the need to prove that she's a woman. We tend to consider it a fact that was settled at conception. We may want to prove that we are desirable women, capable women, intelligent women, or even real women, but there's still a subtle difference. Men aren't tagging their gender with an adjective. They want to prove to be men.

  • “Generally speaking, men withdraw when they feel insecure—and women cling. Men give off the don't-mess-with-me vibe. Women give off the please-mess-with-me vibe.”

  • “Women who have received Christ are sealed by God, inhabited by the Holy Spirit, and can't be possessed by demons. But trust me when I tell you that we can still run their errands.”

  • “God is the only one who can know a person's every thought, every motive, every temptation, and every flaw, yet still feel good about Himself. If we want to become secure women of God, we must cease asking questions we can't handle the answers to.”

And finally :

“Jesus was a carpenter by trade. He can rebuild lives blown sky-high even by our own two hands. He is an artist by essence who can paint over the walls of a mind trafficked by torment. He is everything we need, inside and out, because He sees it all. And yes, He can handle it.

The healing of the mind requires far more intimacy with Christ than the healing of mere bodies. He rarely snaps His fingers and whitewashes our thoughts, because, were it so easy, we'd turn around and open them to destruction again. Instead, He chooses to transform our willing minds one reflection at a time. Start right now. Tell Him what keeps haunting you. Ask Him to grant you His own words to recite the moment you replay those old conversations and images. Then take all that insatiable desire to delve into the unknown and focus it right on His face.”

Beth, I thank you. Lord, I praise you!

Here's to claiming our security, girls!

April 27, 2010

One If By Land, Two If By Sea : Boston in Pictures

Well, here they are! The picture of our Boston trip :) This is a LONG POST, so get refreshments. :) I'm so glad to share these with all of you!

Kurt and I arrived in Boston and went to look at Harvard University.

The next day, my family had arrived and we went to the Marathon Expo to get Dad's bib, jacket, etc.

This is my brother. You're welcome, ladies.
We became proficient in the subway system! I'm a big fan of underground transportation in any large city; super efficient and easy!

We ate lunch at Wagamama, a Japanese place. I ate at Wagamama when I lived in London for a bit, and I was so excited to show my family their food. It's so yummy!

Next, it was Freedom Trail time! We saw almost the whole trail, which is very impressive for the time span we had. We had so much fun as a family!

Andrea was quite enthusiastic as we started the trail.

Will was more subdued but also very prepared for the bit of rain we had.

In front of Paul Revere's home. SO interesting!

This is my favorite picture from the trip! Old North Church is behind us, where Paul Revere hung the lanterns to warn of the British coming. This section of the Trail is of my best memories, because we all sat in a cafe across from the church as a family and soaked in the fact that there was SO much history right before our eyes. It was a sweet, simple moment, but I'll always remember it!

That night, we ate at the famous Union Oyster House. It's the oldest restaurant in America that has been in continual service since the 1800's. The cornbread was out of this world!

Monday was RACE DAY! You can read about the details here. This was when we were waiting for Daddy!

There he is!!

After the race, we were so happy to greet Dad and tell him what an awesome thing he just accomplished! (This is my dad with his parents, who flew in from Texas.)

My adorable parents. :)

The whole gang!

Tuesday, my family traveled home while Kurt and I enjoyed one more day in Boston. We were going to drive to Concord to see Louisa May Alcott's home, but renting a car would have been kind of involved at that point. We're going to do a driving tour of New England at some point, and we'll include it then!

Here's the beautiful Boston Common:

We explored Beacon Hill, which was one of our favorite areas.

We visited the Nichols House Museum, an old home in Beacon Hill. It was so interesting!
We also visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It was tucked away in a different area of Boston, but what a gem! Pictures weren't allowed, but it was awesome. The building was built to look like an Italian villa. Here are some official pictures:

The museum was the site of a major art theft in the 1990's. Thieves dressed as police officers stole some works of art and they have yet to be recovered. The empty frames are left as a tribute to the stolen works.
This is an official photograph of the interior courtyard. This is in the middle of Boston! Can you believe it? We were so surprised and enjoyed it so much. There was a lot of Medieval and Renaissance art, which I really enjoy.
After having some delicious sushi, we walked by this beautiful church on Boylston Street (the major street where the marathon finished).

On a whim, we walked into the Boston Public Library. It was fantastic!

I am so, so thankful that our family had the opportunity to go on this trip together. There are no words! I will treasure this trip and the memories we created!
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