Friday, February 17, 2017

TRYING TO DO WHAT WE NEED: GETAWAY

Every year, we head somewhere with CFA in February, and we usually attach a little getaway for us to that.  This year, we headed back to Dallas, and John and I scheduled one extra night.  We deliberated for a while as to what we should do with this one night.  We've spent a ton of time in Dallas, and we even have friends that live there or nearby.  I wish with all of my heart that we had enough time to do all the things, but we don't.  We realized that we just needed some time to ourselves without much planned at all.  We needed (and still need!) down time.

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It is amazing that doing just about anything without our children feels pretty glamorous - even eating at Firehouse Subs in Texarkana.  We got to Dallas mid-afternoon and checked in Hotel Zaza, which turned out to be quite lovely.

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John had planned a special Valentine's dinner for us that was a surprise for me, and let me just say that he knocked it out of the park.  We got dressed up, and I found another occasion to wear my long pink tulle skirt, which is never subtle, but I love it.

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He found a restaurant that serves soufflés for every course, which was perfectly unique to us.  Also - everything we had was absolutely delicious.

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Their signature appetizer is the "Marshmallow Soup", which is a tomato based soup with goat cheese "marshmallows."  Now I just want goat cheese marshmallows on everything I ever eat.  Doesn't seem like too much to ask.

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For the main course, I actually ordered the lobster soufflé which came baked in an actual lobster.  We felt very fancy.  

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After dinner, we were so stuffed that we decided to walk a bit and ended up wandering around a nearby Trader Joe's.  Why are they not in Little Rock?  I would LOVE to have this flower selection at these prices, though I will say I have become a frequenter of the sale flowers at Kroger and can find good deals there.

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Because of our current level of exhaustion in life, we headed back to the room and were asleep by 9:30 p.m.  We slept for 13 hours and probably could have kept sleeping.  We went back to one of our favorite brunch spots, Henry's Majestic.  Yum.

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Having a brief 30 hours of just us was such a treat, and I'm so glad we got a little downtime before heading to the CFA convention that we love but is sort of tiring as well.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

VALENTINES 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!  I hope this day finds you filled with love for those around you.  I know it can be heavy with unmet expectations, but I hope and pray that it finds you knowing how much you are loved by our heavenly Father and how much love you have to give.

I don't usually like to repeat the same Valentine's ideas, but this year I was so busy creating cookies that it felt the simplest to do exactly what we did last year over again.  And you know what - that's okay.  In fact, it actually makes a ton of sense.  As a bonus - I did use props this year, and I sort of love how their Valentine's turned out.

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I ordered the Light Box from Amazon, and it actually shipped from China, which was pretty bizarre.  But - I love it, and it works perfectly, so I'm not complaining.  The kiddos were remarkably cooperative for this little photo-shoot.  I'm sure all of the rolls of Smarties did not hurt.

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I love these sweet faces with all of my being.  We aren't together today, so grandparents went to class parties in our stead, which I really appreciate.  Lily and Bella actually did all of the work cutting the Valentines and taping them onto Airheads for their classes and the twins - it is amazing to see them becoming truly helpful!  So fun.

Here's a walk down our Valentine's memory lane stretching back over six years - precious moments that I am so thankful to have.

{2016} {2015} {2014} {2013} {2012} {2011}

Again I will say - Happy Valentine's Day from our clan to yours!

Monday, February 13, 2017

LIFE LATELY

Getting out of the blogging habit makes it that much harder to just sit down and write a post.  Since my computer crashed over Christmas, I haven't really organized my pics since then, and everything feels a mess.  But, now that I am through Valentine's cookies, there is a bit more margin, and I am hoping to get back to blogging at least a couple times a week.  Give or take some depending on how I'm feeling.

To sum up lately, we've been a bit all over the board.  Here's a smattering of what that has looked like.

Bathtime fun never gets old.

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They all especially like to make a turtle pile while wearing towels.  This *usually* ends well.

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Bella celebrated 100 days of kindergarten by wearing a hat with 100 safety pins attached - just like Lily did two year ago ... we are nothing if not good at recycling.  Also - look who's missing their teeth!

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Our dear friend, Joel, from Rwanda stayed with us for five nights.  The ONLY picture I got of him was while we were at a UALR basketball game.  We had floor seats and actually made it through a whole game - a new record for our family!  Having Joel was such a treat!

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Speaking of Rwanda - we are hoping and planning and praying to make a family trip there this summer, so we got passport photos taken for all the kiddos.  They actually all "smiled with their mouths closed" for the pics without too much fuss.  #progress  We were still a bit "circusy" at Walgreens.

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I took the kiddos to a Walk for the Waiting photo shoot, and they actually cooperated with this as well.  Progress really is a beautiful thing.

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I got to bear witness to this dear friend's adoption (in the middle), and it was such a privilege to see how God wrote their story.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE getting to watch God at work, and seeing forever families be formed is such a gift.  Love you Hassell fam!

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Lily had to do an animal project for school.  I'm still not clear on the details, because I have mostly told the girls that they are responsible for their homework.  Also, some sort of emergency came up that week, and John ended up being the one that made sure this made it to school.  My understanding is that Lily was supposed to create an animal.  She chose a clam and this is what she made.  I'm fairly certain that she is my daughter based on this creation that does feature an entire Ball jar full of antique marbles as pearls.  😂😂😂  She is also becoming quite adept at raiding my scrap fabric stash.

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Lily also was a huge help with my Valentine's cookie orders (with some assistance from Bella), and she filled every box with confetti for me.  (Though this one is clearly overfilled!)

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I'm thrilled to be able to say that all Valentine's cookies were picked up last week!

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We ordered new light fixtures for most of our main living spaces, and I am so excited to receive them soon!  This did require some measuring, and we will need to fix the way this room's light hangs.  Hence my husband standing on a table in the night.

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Violet is almost completely potty trained!  William is getting closer all the time.  More #progress.

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That sort of sums up lately!  Blogging is fun - hopefully I'll see you again here soon!

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

JOINING IN PRAYER

The last couple of weeks have truly been a swirl of activity both good and heavy, which is almost always the case.  This week I have been buried in Valentine's cookie orders, which has been fun for me, but it has also filled every spare moment in the past few days.  Even in the midst of this, I don't want to miss recording the powerful experience I had last Friday.  It was so encouraging to me, and I hope it will be encouraging for others to read now and myself to read in the future.

Some good friends of ours live in a neighborhood not too far from our restaurant that has experienced an uptick of violence in the last couple of months.  This has included gunshots on a more and more routine basis, usually late at night.  A couple of weeks ago, a stray bullet found its way into our friends' home, and while none of them was hit (praise God), it was a rattling incident - especially since the gunshots have continued in subsequent nights and passed into neighbor's houses as well.  Their way of living has changed for the foreseeable future.

In the face of these frightening developments, our friends called for prayer.  And while they certainly asked for us to all pray on our own, they also organized a prayer meeting at their house and invited their neighbors, as well as police officers that patrol the neighborhood.

Even now, I start to tear up thinking of this room of gathered strangers of all races and income levels joining together to petition the Lord on behalf of our friends and their neighbors.  At one point, we laid hands on everyone who lived there.  Next, we laid hands on the police officers who have the huge responsibility to serve and protect these particular streets.

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We walked the streets in prayer, asking for God's protection for each person living there, asking for God to intervene in the lives of those perpetrating the violence who must feel as if they have no hope, asking for angels to surround the homes, asking for peace and comfort and joy in the midst of the suffering encountered.  I was reminded that only light can drive out darkness and only Christ is the true source of light in our world.  Instead of fretting about the issue, it was confronted head on in prayer.

Our battles here are not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil.  It is so easy to slip into thinking about problems here as things that should be solved here on earth, which distracts us from the larger spiritual issues at play.  Joining with others for an hour of real prayer was remarkably empowering, because it reminded me that God is the one who enacts true changes.  He moves hearts.  He changes minds.  He can drive out the darkness, and we are asking him to do so in this particular neighborhood.  We can have hope because of who Christ is.

Even now, I pray for these dear people - both the friends and neighbors living in homes that currently do not feel like refuges and also the people who are recklessly endangering lives because they feel no hope in their own lives.  We're all so very broken, and I'm praying in hope to see the way that God brings himself glory in a dark situation.