30 January 2014

ocean: day two

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We visited the Santa Monica Aquarium on the pier.

 

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The girls enjoyed the touch tanks.

 

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A Sunflower Sea Star magnified.

 

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Coral, up close.

 

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“Watch out, Faith!!”

 

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Silly girls. :)

 

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Yay, daddy’s done with work and he can play now!

 

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We loved having dinner at Gilbert’s de Indio, our favorite hole in the wall Mexican place on Pico.

 

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Me and dimples.

 

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We rode all the way to Venice on a cold and cloudy morning. Burrrr….

 

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And the girls enjoyed all the parks along the way.

 

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Girls’ favorite activity today: BIKE RIDING ALONG THE BEACH!

I used to work in Santa Monica and drive down PCH from Malibu every day. Needless to say, there are some things I miss about LA life and some things I truly don’t.

I miss: the OCEAN. my skin being softer. Whole Foods Market. the Dodgers. And great Mexican food. It’s been 7 years since Morgan and I ate at Gilbert’s and they remembered us when we walked in the other night! Nothing in that place has changed one bit. Not even the servers. It was perfect.

I do NOT miss: the traffic. the congestion. the lifestyle. the lack of friendliness. anything about LA, really. frizzy hair. the cold-- yes, to us thin-blooded desert rats, we were down right FREEZING most of the time. I know, go ahead and laugh.

note to self: must invest in some winter clothes one of these years.

Coming back to LA after 7.5 years was a bit of an eye opening experience. Our lives have changed so much since then. We are no longer hip young professionals (were we ever?) LOL. We are now blessed with a growing family and a community of friends and relationships we value dearly.

There’s nothing like a trip to your past to remind you of how very grateful you are of your present.

Ocean, or no ocean. ;)

A quick trip to the ocean

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The beach cottage where we stayed.

 

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Breakfast on Ocean Blvd.

 

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I’m happy she REALLY enjoyed that $6 glass of fresh squeezed OJ. :)

 

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Yes, I did pay $12 for 2 glasses of OJ but to my defense, the prices of OJ were not published on the menu… ah, I should have known when the oatmeal was $8! Ha!

 

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Collecting seashells.

 

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Muscle Beach.

 

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The many colors of the boardwalk.

 

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On the Pier.

 

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Ferris Wheel at Pacific Park.

 

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They wanted to sneak up quietly on this bird so they could take a good look at its feet.

 

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She got so very close!

 

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Best Buds.

 

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Looking for more sea treasures.

 

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Daddy had some business in Santa Monica for a couple of days so naturally, the girls and I tagged along. We didn’t want to be away from him, even for a couple of days. Plus, any opportunity to be near the ocean is one we’ll always take.

We had originally booked a hotel room but decided to rent a little cottage, just steps from beach instead. The girls loved the little house and enjoyed all the walking and exploration.

Girls’ favorite activity today: BEACHCOMBING!

26 January 2014

For the love of Sundays

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So, it’s been one week since we moved into our new home and I must say, we’re settling in nicely.

As we pulled out of the driveway for church this morning, I noticed something on our bistro table. I happened to have my camera with me (a rarity these days) so I quickly pulled it out and snapped a photo of the latest little gifts left by our sweet neighbor boy.  

Church is always SO VERY GOOD but today’s teaching spoke directly to my heart. Don’t you just love it when that happens? It’s as if God was with me all week and knew exactly what I needed to hear this very morning. Wait, He was.

It’s been a quiet afternoon of naps. The girls are out playing now while daddy works in the garage. A hearty turkey soup simmers on the stove for dinner. Ummm, the smell just whispers, comfort.

Lord willing, card games and maybe some snuggling on the couch for a family movie will round out this particular Lord’s day. 

Sundays… aren’t they the best?

22 January 2014

New Year, New Nest

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Happy New Year!!

Again.

I realize we’re already a few weeks into 2014 but to me, it feels like the year is just beginning!

The week before Christmas, we found out we had to move. We could’ve waited until the house sold but we decided it was best to try and be settled before any new addition arrives to our family.

So, we moved! Praise the Lord for all the help... and for strong young backs!

Our last home wasn’t ideal but it was in an ideal location and we were absolutely blessed by our sweet neighbors.

However, life changes and with that, we need to be willing to change as well.

The upside: The move was a GREAT opportunity to PURGE. I thought I got rid of a lot of stuff before Christmas but it was nothing compared to the last few weeks!

We donated a ton, had a yard sale, and also sold several large pieces of furniture on Craigslist. We ended up making enough money to pay for the move as well as few new things we needed. Most importantly, we didn’t bring over anything we weren’t going to need/use in the new house.

Such an AMAZING feeling!!

Remember the days when we were young and single and we could pack up and move our entire apartment in one day?

It’s pretty crazy to think of all the “stuff” we accumulate each year. Needless to say, I find it so freeing to let it go every once in a while.

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We’re 4 days into our new home and we’re loving it so far! I’m calling it a home and not a “house” anymore because as each day passes, it’s beginning to feel (and look) more like home.

I am so grateful to Lord for the lovely mountain views He provided from every room (a delightful answer to prayer) and lots of space to spread out (all useable space at that). Am I giving the impression that I have issues with keeping stuff or having space that’s not being used? Um, that would be correct!!

So far, we’ve had a sweet 7 year old boy leave a note at our front door introducing himself. He later came over with fresh roses, picked from his front yard. The girls said it was an answer to prayer that God blessed them with kids to play with.

Until I moved away for college, I only lived in 2 homes my entire life (both in the same city, just across town from one another). Never did I think my kids would experience so many moves in their short lifetime.

However, the girls are resilient and they’ve taken each move in great stride. I’m sure it helps that we’ve stayed in the same community each time. Also, the benefit of not having to change schools is HUGE. Their family and their foundation remains constant so it seems there’s less concern for where they’ll be resting their head at night.

I suppose every move is just an opportunity to grasp the fact that this is not our home anyway. At least that’s what I tell myself and the girls. We’re reminded to hold loosely to the things of this world. Things like a home and all our earthly possessions. We want to be ready and willing when God calls us to do something or go somewhere. We would also be wise to examine regularly if we’re making anything an idol, apart from God Himself. I’ve been down that road before and it does not lead to peace. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. It’s more like bondage. 

Believe me, during the last couple of weeks of purging and packing, there were times when I thought putting all our stuff in a big pile and burning it might be a good idea!

Of course, I kid… sort of. :)

So, here we are-- a new year, a new nest, and a new beginning for our family.

The truth is, I was ready for a change. I just didn’t know it was going to happen when it did.

Thankfully, we can trust the One who does know!

Looking forward to all that He has planned for us going forward.

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” ~Revelation 21:5

13 January 2014

On life’s disappointments

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In her mind, she envisioned what would soon be. She dreamed about it and talked about it everyday for the past 8 months. Even as we gently reminded her that this was all a possibility, not a certainty, she was not easily swayed. Her love hung out on a limb for all to see.

This was the answer to her prayers and it almost became a reality…

Until the day she learned one of life’s toughest lessons… To love is to risk.

And with that risk, there could be disappointment. 

Let me back up and share that this tender-hearted child of mine is not one to be easily disappointed in the comings and goings of life. She’s my go-with-the-flow girl, mild-mannered and graciously adaptable. She is a true optimist in every sense of the word and she rarely complains, whines, or gets her feathers ruffled.

Her personality is amiable and lucky for me, she’s not one who expects much. Therefore, when she receives much, I’m always so blessed to witness her sweet sense of genuine gratefulness.

However, in this particular case, with circumstances beyond our control, the unplanned lesson for the day became learning through life’s greatest disappointments. As her mama, watching her hopes and dreams crumble through her soft little fingers was indeed, heartbreaking.

As the tears subsided and the hugs pressed in close, I began to speak truth into her wounded heart.

Life is full of disappointments but they can also be the greatest opportunities for us to learn and press further into the One who knows what’s best.

The sweetest blessing came from watching one sister take care of the other. I listened gratefully as she lavished words of encouragement, scripture and stories of faithful servants who were tragically disappointed in the circumstances of their day. Yet they continued to hope, trust, and press on!

“God has a plan for us, sister… we don’t know what it is yet but we have to trust that it’s good because He is good.” 

Father, for every future disappointment that comes their way, I pray they will always find comfort in the truth of these words and in the loving arms of one another.

06 January 2014

On hope, trust and oceans…

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If you think about it, we’re all hoping and waiting for something. We can either spend that time in anguish or we can learn something from it.

Waiting is risky business but those with the greatest faith, took the greatest risks. Noah, a hero, commended for his faith, didn’t sit by idly with a finished ark. He waited for rain never before seen.

Like it or not, I’ve learned that waiting in hope is a mandatory process of faith. This week, I find myself waiting for something big. You might say I’m in the throws of embracing the “now” and the “not yets” all at the same time. My faith is being stretched and I’m living out the fact that trusting is the key that unlocks joy. Trusting—it’s a radical step, isn’t it? It means I’m choosing to live by the conviction that something will happen, far beyond anything I can imagine. That, in fact, something is happening, right now, while I wait.

God is forging my character. That means what I become will be just as important as the thing I wait for. So to wait in hope is not just to pass the time until the wait is over. It’s all part of the process God uses to make us into the people He created us to be.

It’s definitely not easy. To wait on the Lord is to risk everything. I risk all my control, my power, my security, my heart, all of it.

And as each day passes, I’m gently reminded… Perhaps we aren’t waiting for the Lord after all? Perhaps its Him, who waits for us.

At some point, we must decide to get out of the boat and step on to the water…   

you call

 

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… I will call upon Your name

Keep my eyes above the waves

My soul will rest in Your embrace

I am Yours and You are mine.

01 January 2014

The Audacity of Hope

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I used to think hope was weak. I thought it represented something more like a wish or a fancy. In other words, I thought of hope as the flimsy and unconvincing cousin to faith.

Fast forward now as I’ve spent some years in the classroom of life. Turns out, it actually takes bravery and sometimes, even audacity to hope.

I’ve learned hope cannot exist without faith. Hope is holding on to something intangible, even when we cannot see the way. Hope shines a glimmer of light in the darkness.

Hope is not simply a wish after all. It is a belief.

It is the quiet expectation of God showing up and making everything beautiful.

Hope is that glorious place in-between where things are and where they’re yet to be…

During this adoption process, we’ve had some well-meaning people share their very real and tragic stories with us regarding adoption. We have no doubt, these stories were shared with us in love.

“Perhaps adopting from the foster care system is a little more risky?”

“Perhaps opening up your seemingly picture- perfect lives and harmonious home to the possible upheaval and baggage of a troubled child/ren, isn’t the wisest decision?”

“Maybe you should consider your retirement instead of adding to your family?”

The truth is, we have thought about these genuine concerns. We have pondered the what-if’s and the maybe’s. We’ve tried to imagine what our future might look like with more children and all the changes going forward.

However, in spite of these sincere questions, there is an element of hope I failed to mention. The element of holy surrender. When we finally surrender our will for the will of God’s, He seems to turn all those doubts and anxieties into hope. And as we walk closely with the Lord and learn to rely on Him for everything, that hope begins to manifest itself into trust, peace and contentment.

I’m not saying we never worry about anything around here. I’m just saying that hope, surrender, and faith are choices we make every single day.

In other words, if I were a betting woman, my money would be on God. He’s in the business of taking high but worthy risks. He’s known by names such as Redeemer and Restorer. He can make ALL things new and He has a way of giving us exactly what we need, even when we had no clue we even needed it! Then, to top it all off, He can bless us beyond our wildest dreams.

How do I know this?

Because this has been the story of my life!!

I serve a faithful and loving God who knows me and all my faults yet He still chooses to use me for His plan and His glory. 

… So who am I, not to hope?

I hope and I wait- expectant and confident in Him, who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory… in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. –Ephesians 3:20-21 

We are filled with great HOPE for the New Year!

Welcome, 2014.

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