amo.says

my life in my words


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Let My Soul Sing

Part Of Our Westside Kids P&W Crew!

Part Of Our Westside Kids P&W Crew!

 

One of the fun aspects of working in Children’s Ministry is integrating my bent toward creative communications with practical ministry tools. As a Children’s Director, my inbox is constantly flooded with “the next best thing” . . . which actually looks and sounds a lot like the previous best thing, which actually wasn’t something that I think would appeal to our kids. All of that has taught me that though it may be a great thing, it’s not the best thing, and that’s okay. Different strokes for different folks, eh?

 

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Singing along to SHINE by North Point Kids—this one was a total favorite for all of our kids!

 

Our Children’s Ministry curriculum is supplied through a four-year package from a well-known ministry resource company that I’m sure supplies hundreds (if not thousands) of ministries with the tools necessary to make ministry a lot less stressful, more engaging, and easier to manage than what has been used in the past. While I truly appreciate all that the company, and its curriculum creators invest into providing said resources, there are some aspects that are not my idea of the “best” thing for our particular ministry. This shows up mostly in the form of their praise and worship resources. Each quarter of the curriculum comes with its own set of videos and songs to use on that particular set of lessons. Those songs are designed to help reiterate the theme and engage the kids in a meaningful time of praise and worship. However, that hasn’t always been the case for our kids. On more than one occasion, kids in our ministry have noted that the songs are not exciting, the moves are too difficult to follow, and they find it hard to move past the cheese factor on some of the videos. I get it—I really do—I also find myself conflicted in some of those circumstances. After going through a couple of series experiencing a lack of momentum during our worship time, I decided to look outside of our set curriculum. What I found was a fresh take on kid’s praise and worship songs!

 

Our Children's Ministry Intern, Chelsey D., leading the kids in one of our songs!

Our Children’s Ministry Intern, Chelsey D., leading the kids in one of our songs!

 

Some of my favorite artists to utilize have been AMBER SKY RECORDS and NORTH POINT KIDS, and GATEWAY NEXT. When I swap out songs in the series soundtrack, I usually stick to lyrics videos because they are readily available from those groups, however the motions are not. That poses a new problem, but also opens many new doors for ministry. It is in those moments that I’m able to integrate creative communications with practical ministry tools. In the anticipation of planning the next series, I will review the curriculum-included songs and watch the accompanying motion videos. From then, I’ll decide which ones fit with our ministry style and which ones I don’t think would fit. Then I’ll whittle down the list to see how many songs I need replaced, making sure there is a good balance of both praise and worship tunes. Then, I will preview other songs from various sources and ask myself:

  • What is the biblical truth found in this song?
  • Is it catchy enough?
  • Does it fit with our theme?
  • Does it provide too many lagging moments?
  • Would it be easy to choreograph and teach?

We also try to include some more traditional favorites to “pass-on” to the kids. Last series, we did THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE and it was so sweet to see the kids singing along to the same song I learned when I was their age. As I finalize the list of  songs we’ll include, I buy the ones I need to and make sure that they are all loaded on my phone’s music playlist. I’ll listen to them for a couple of weeks everywhere I go so that I can get them stuck in my head and allow for any creative inspiration to arise. Then, when I’m at home, I’ll shut myself in my room and practice some sample choreography. From there, I decide what works, what doesn’t and what is too repetitive. These moves have to be easy enough for our Pre-K crowd and engaging enough for our Elementary crowd (we do an all-ages worship set in our main meeting space). After settling on moves for the 4 or 5 songs (on average) that need choreography, I steal away to the dining room upstairs in my house where we have a full wall of mirrors. I’ll blast the songs from my headphones and then watch myself in the mirror to see how everything flows and work on transitions. A few weeks before our new series, I’ll create and burn a soundtrack CD/DVD for all of our workers and volunteers to have so that they can get accustomed for the songs we’ll be doing in the next series.

 

With the new songs we've introduced, we have more kids coming up asking if they can dance with us in front of everyone because they know the moves! I love seeing them so excited for praise and worship time!

With the new songs we’ve introduced, we have more kids coming up asking if they can dance with us in front of everyone because they know the moves! I love seeing them so excited for praise and worship time! [Photo by Corbett Stubbert]

A lot of the assistance I receive in this aspect of ministry comes from our first service teenage volunteers (from our youth group). They show up about an hour and a half before service check-in time begins and they help me do “last looks” to be sure that all of our rooms are set to go for the morning with all supplies needed. Then, we’ll vote on and organize the song set list for that morning, since they help me lead in both services. During that time, I’ll also introduce new songs that I’ve been working on and they’ll start learning those moves, as well as helping me re-choreograph trouble spots and give me honest feedback on how they’re feeling about the flow and moves of each song. They’ll also look at the videos provided by our curriculum and let me know ahead of time if they think those songs are workable, too cheesy, or not engaging enough. We’ll go over the new things we’ve learned and that morning’s set list a few times before we all head upstairs for a quick bite to eat and coffee to sip on. Then, it’s GO time!

 

This song is called RAISE YOUR HANDS by Amber Sky Records

Kids take to the sides to give themselves ample dancing room and sometimes they ask to join us up front! I love seeing our Westside Kids Crew Leaders joining us onstage and in the crowd, helping kids to not just wake up (gotta love those early Sunday mornings) and start the day with praise & worship, but also to get a head start on the fun times they’ll be having in class that day. It’s great knowing that our team is passionate about being involved with this process. We can already see the foundation it is building in the lives of our kids. During class time, some of the kids will request specific songs from our series soundtrack to play as they work on their crafts. This past Sunday, even after service was over, some kids stayed behind and danced on the stage to another one of our soundtrack songs. I love knowing that we get to join God in helping to guide these kids as they begin to understand the beauty, fun, and freedom that comes through praising and worshiping our King of Kings!

I love seeing our kids get excited about taking a next step to help lead their peers!

It’s so fun seeing our kids get excited about taking a next step to help lead their peers!

For those involved in ministry who are looking for some fresh new songs/choreography to add to your Sunday mornings, here are a couple of the new songs (not part of our provided curriculum) that we are featuring during this current series, READY, SET, GO!:


This song is called GROW UP by Amber Sky Records and was recorded at our Kid’s Praise & Worship Workshop


This song is called HERE I AM TO WORSHIP by Integrity Music and was recorded at our Kid’s Praise & Worship Workshop

And as a bonus, here’s one I am strongly considering for our next series, SCHOOLED:

 


This song is called LET YOU KNOW by Amber Sky Records

Again, it’s a couple of months away and it may not make the cut, but I think it’s might be a fun mid-set song. We’ll see! For those on our Kid’s Ministry crew reading this—THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for ALL of the time and energy you put into making each Sunday a truly Fun Day for the little lives entrusted to our care! You rock!

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I Want You Back

Yesterday I mentioned a bit about my life as a youngster. Today, in typical #ThrowBackThursday style, I wanted to go back in time and share some of my favorite things from my teen years!

Let’s start with this gem of a TV show . . . only my fave show ever!

10 Awesome Sauce Points if you can mimic Jessie Spano’s caffeine pill meltdown in front of Zack.

And don’t be surprised to walk in on teenage Amo standing on her bed,
with a “microphone” brush belting out this rockin’ tune:

My fashion icon back in the day:

Gwen Stefani of No Doubt

Movie I could not stop watching:

I actually spent one entire summer at my dad’s apartment and he had no TV, only a VCR and this was the only thing worth watching cause I SURE wasn’t going to willingly watch The Music Machine. Eventually, we got The Last Unicorn

and then it was a daily rotation of Willy Wonka and The Last Unicorn. PS: I used to think that Schmendrick was hot!*

My Teen Crush was:

Yeah, not much has changed 😉 . . . still holding out hope for that one 😉

And last, but not least, say Aloha to my favorite food as a teen:

Guess I’ve always been a sucker for pineapple! 😉

Also, in honor of Throwback Thursday, I’ll share with you one of the videos I showed to our youth group this past Sunday to show the differences between teens nowadays and their parents back in the day:

HAPPY THROWBACK THURSDAY, Y’ALL!

* Oh come on! I was a kid!


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If The World Had A Front Porch

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If the world had a Front Porch, it would be sweet. Not just a sweet feeling—a sweet flavor; a sweet memory re-emerging; a sweet treat! It would also be in Round Rock, TX, I mean, if we were talking about FRONT PORCH FROZEN DESSERTS, that is. Oh wait, we ARE!

 

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Go ahead, grab a seat on that rocking chair right there. Now take this tall glass of sweet tea, and listen up as I tell you about one of my favorite Frozen Dessert shops in Texas!

 

One might call these the pearly gates . . .

One might call these the pearly gates . . .

 

Now, it’s no surprise that I’m a FroYo Fanatic. In fact, I almost took a photo of all the FroYo spoons I’ve saved from some of my favorite spots and then realized how utterly embarrassing it is. As a native Austinite, transplanted to Seattle, who has not been home in what seems like forever, the only reason I had heard of Front Porch was because a large number of my friends in the Austin area posted about it, tweeted about it, and posted Instagram pics of their creations. Upon seeing their tasty treasures, my curiosity was piqued and I KNEW I had to make Front Porch a Must-See on my latest visit home!

 

I think it's safe to say I've found my home-away-from-home-away-from-home ;)

I think it’s safe to say I’ve found my home-away-from-home-away-from-home 😉

 

Oh baby, I am SO glad I did! The ambiance was very calming and a refreshing contrast to the bright neon-glow of most popular FroYo shops I’ve visited. Instead, I felt right at home with the rustic wall decor, wood flooring, and simple chic containers. What also impressed me was the large variety of unique flavors! At most shops here in Seattle, you get a standard sampling of Strawberry Banana, Coconut, Chocolate, Vanilla, Taro, NSA Raspberry, and if you’re lucky, a “wild card” in (my favorite) NSA Low-Carb German Chocolate. However, perusing the flavor wall left me perplexed with a question I’ve rarely been plagued with at a FroYo shop—BUT WHICH ONES DO I CHOOOOOSE?!? I actually felt like I was at Amy’s Ice Cream (one of my favorite ATX shops when I used to eat ice cream) with all the flavor possibilities.

 

These are some GREAT suggestions, a la Amy's Ice Cream!

These are some GREAT suggestions, a la Amy’s Ice Cream!

One of the cute little touches that sets this place apart is their ability to "bring it home" with some dine-in melamine bowls!

One of the cute little touches that sets this place apart is their ability to “bring it home” with some dine-in melamine bowls!

I see you smiling coyly at me, waffle bowl . . . I hear you calling out my name.

I see you smiling coyly at me, waffle bowl . . . I hear you calling out my name.

 

For those of you wondering, Swirl Fusion is code for FroYo SHAKE!! Ugh, if I hadn’t already had my sights set on that waffle bowl and gigantic bar of toppings, I would’ve hit up the Swirl Fusion. Oh well, now I know what to order next time . . . or, YOU could order it and let me know how heavenly it tastes!

 

Along with delicious waffle bowls, they offer "bottoms" that you can add in for a unique flavor. I like that they're all about the WHOLE flavor, and not just the FroYo flavors.

Along with delicious waffle bowls, they offer “bottoms” that you can add in for a unique flavor. I like that they’re all about the WHOLE flavor, and not just the FroYo flavors.

 

Oh, and just in case there was chance of me being confused, they also helped me out by suggesting a named flavor swirl with the two flavors in each fountain. I know it sounds silly, but for me, that actually helps a lot. I just need a lot of hints in life, okay, people!? 😉 Speaking of their plethora of constantly changing flavors:

 

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As you can see, every flavor (and unique combo) features a great photo descriptor of the flavor and highlights any pertinent allergy information. Well done, Front Porch, well done!

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Who knew one wall could contain SO much magic?!?
I think I can speak for us all when I say,

“HOLY YUM!”

It was a tough choice, but one was my favorite:

I'm a sucker for lemony goodness!

I’m a sucker for lemony goodness!

Now before you go on thinking that this place is just cutting corners, let me share some of this quality goodness info with you . . .

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Kosher Certified, Locally sourced

 

Their Yogurt is sourced from a nearby Arkansas farm—Honey Hill Farms. The quality of their yogurt was much greater than the other FroYo shops that I’d tried out during my vacation, including Yogurtland, Orange Leaf, and Kimmie’s Frozen Yogurt, to name a few. It was thicker, creamier, and didn’t taste too “icy” or “strained.” Some might say that FroYo is a guilty pleasure, but honey, when it tastes THIS GOOD, there’s nothing guilty about it!

 

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The REAL deal

 

Much like many others, the toppings selection is a mecca of tasty treasures and this one blows every topping bar I’ve seen out of the water! Usually my YoBowls consist of a lot of FroYo and some basic toppings like coconut or sprinkles, but this one gave me some new flavors to try, so I did. It offered a lot more variety than any other shop I’ve been to which made the decisions of what to add both exciting and frustrating—Seriously, could I just get a bowl of toppings?

 

Sweet dreams are made of this!

Sweet dreams are made of this!

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My FAVORITE sector vector and a warm welcome to a sistah with sugar sensitivity!

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This Round Rock honey alone is worth the trip! ❤

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Oh wait, you thought it ended there? Yeah no!

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No wonder all my friends keep going back—the possibilities are ENDLESS!! They are constantly rotating those flavors, featuring some for only a few days, and then providing a very wide variety of sauces and toppings to enable your creative juices to run wild. I also got a chance to speak to the manager about their flavor selections. She informed me that her children, who help her and her husband run the shop, are master craftsmen when it comes to choosing the flavor rotations and combinations that they feature. It’s not just flavors thrown in for flavors’ sake. There is a lot of thought, care, and concern that goes into every selection. But wait, there’s more! 😉

 

This seriously rocks! Down with Muzak, up with RockBot!

This seriously rocks! Down with Muzak, up with RockBot!

 

Nothing makes me want to hang around in an eatery than the music selection. The ambient music playlist is a major factor when it comes to choosing my favorite coffee shops, so discovering that Front Porch actually uses the latest technology to let you essentially ‘rock the jukebox’ through their user-friendly RockBot app is the cherry on top to this Mom & Pop Shop!

 

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Thanks to their innovation, I can choose the playlist from their previewed options. Win-Win!

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Now I can pick a rad tune to keep my toe tappin’ as I sit and enjoy my sweet treat!

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Plus, this screen doubles as an announcement panel—always a great tool to keep handy—much classier than a printed sheet of paper taped to a front door. And I love that you can text in your comments/suggestions!

And you KNOW that no FroYo experience is complete without the right spoon. These are a great shape and texture, plus they're eco-friendly!

And you KNOW that no FroYo experience is complete without the right spoon. These are a great shape and texture, plus they’re eco-friendly!

All in all, it was a fantastic experience and I can't wait to indulge even more when I go back home in January!

I often grab a hot cup of coffee before heading into the FroYo shops here because, COFFEE, people! 😉 I’m still waiting for Seattle FroYo shops to jump on the smart train like Front Porch has and offer COFFEE with their frozen treats. 

I only wish I could have taken some of this back on the flight with me.

I only wish I could have taken some of this back on the flight with me.

 

All in all, it was a GREAT experience and I’m glad
I took the time to add this pit-stop to my itinerary.

It will definitely be a Must-Go stop when I head back home in January!

 

Thank you, Front Porch staff, for allowing me to take a tour of your shop and try out your yummy goodness! Your service was excellent and I truly appreciate your Southern hospitality. In full disclosure, they offered me a free cup of FroYo in exchange for photos of their shop to use online. The review and recommendations are all my own!

Thank you, Front Porch staff, for allowing me to take a tour of your shop and try out your yummy goodness! Your service was excellent and I truly appreciate your Southern hospitality. 

 

Well, what are you waiting for??

 

Hop in your car, blast some rad summer tunes and head on over to Front Porch for your cool and creamy weekend warm-up! 

 

#TreatYoSelf

 

FRONT PORCH on Facebook
FRONT PORCH on Twitter

 

In full disclosure, Front Porch graciously compensated me with a free cup of yogurt in exchange for photos of their shop that they could use online. The review and recommendations are all my own!


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Now

I’ll be honest—lately, I’ve been in a funk. I’ve been feeling pretty low, whiny, and defeated. I know I have no right to, nor am I at a place in life where I should be “allowed” to feel that way. I have people in my life who would say that I’m being ridiculous because I’m feeling sorry for myself. They might even label me ‘near-sighted’ because I only see my problems and not those of others in third-world countries, struggling with poverty and disease. They would berate me for not caring about others and being ignorant to the needs that other people have—selfish to the core . . . and they’re right, I probably am. In fact, I most definitely am. I admit wholeheartedly that I am 100% a selfish, arrogant, prideful, and ignorant human being. I have weaknesses to the nines, and it’s those weaknesses that remind me daily that I am so very, very, very, VERY, much in need of a Savior. I am in need of a pure example of servant-hood laced unconditional love—the love that only Christ could give—through His Word, through prayers, and through true friends who aren’t afraid to hold me when I’m ugly. You see, even us selfish, arrogant, prideful, ignorant human beings have a deep-seeded urge to get out of our funks and being “encouraged” and “guilt-tripped” with tough love isn’t always the answer.

Sometimes the answer is a “running buddy” who will remind you of the truth of who you are as whole person and as a follower of Christ. I’m thankful for my running buddies. It is through their e-mails, texts, and coffee dates that I see what lies on the other side of the darkness—they are light and fresh breath! And not because they make me feel good about myself, but because they tell me what they’re hopeful of in their future. They share powerful Scripture verses  and testimonies of what God is doing in their lives and those challenge each of us to love deeper and give greater. They don’t offer answers or questions—they listen and we move on. They share their dreams, weaknesses, funny anecdotes, and fashion tips 😉 And for a hot second, I’m reminded that no matter what crap is happening in my heart and mind, there is SO much beauty and life in front of me. The beauty and life that comes with true friendship + community also serves as fuel to get me out of my funk and back into the ring, ready to fight for more life, hope, and freedom!!

 

Enjoying a much-needed Girl’s Night In, watching The Help with my sweet friend Cindy L.! Viva le sleepovers!

“Running tunes” help too!

Every once in a while you find that one song that just “gets” you.

It becomes an anthem.
A homing device.
A life-preserver.
A lighthouse beacon as you’re drowning in the deep dark seas.
That’s what Paramore’s NOW has been for me.

These lyrics have been racing through my head ever since I first heard the new single and bought it. I listen to it in the morning when I’m getting ready, reminding myself that the day is ready for the taking. I listen to it while I’m doing work projects, reminding me that I’ll be back at my jobs sooner than later. It’s on repeat when I’m doing my PT exercises, reminding me not to quit when I feel lazy. The words to this song pretty much sum up every bit of emotion that I’ve been facing lately. I’ve never been a patient girl, and limitations don’t suit me. I’ve definitely learned to slow down and take it easy, but deep down inside, I was born to fight. It kills me to see people out my window running to catch the bus, and at the gym jumping rope and dancing along in Zumba class, because I still can’t do those things . . . yet!

A couple of weeks ago, I had my housemate drop me off at a coffee shop and while I was in that coffee shop, an older lady that also had a cane with her looked over at me, then looked at my cane, and then looked back at her book and just shook her head. She didn’t say a word to me. I don’t know what she was thinking, but the look on her face was one of disdain, maybe even laced with unbelief. I got so frustrated and upset because I felt that I was being judged for my weakness. Once again, this cane had made me feel “less than.” And then I looked back at my computer and turned on THE RESOLUTION by Jack’s Mannequin and said to myself, “Don’t worry lady, I won’t have this for very much longer! I’m going to beat this!” If I were in that situation again today, and I was actually able to do it, I’d jump up on a table with my cane and do an impromptu “Love Is A Battlefield” style dance number in front of that lady . . . to Paramore’s NOW.

PNLyrics

 


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Girls Love To Shake It | Fit Life Friday

Happy Fall, y’all!

 

Can I just tell you how IN LOVE I am with all the fall colors happening around the city right now? Be still my heart, it’s gorgeous! The only crummy thing about the changing of seasons is the change in the weather. I mean, it’s nice for the part of me that loves scarves and mittens, but it’s such a de-motivator when it comes to getting up and out the door to get a workout in! Now that I’m not working out to lose weight, but instead to stay active and fit, I find it easier to give myself excuses not to work out or not to give my all in a workout—that’s no bueno. One of my biggest saving graces is that a lot of my workouts are with my buddies at the gym so that I have an extra reason to get there and get the workout done! So what do I do when I’m not motivated??? I crank up some peppy tunes and ride that momentum to power through the workout.

It sounds silly, but the right music really does get my mojo going and pushes me past the excuses and half-heartedness. Group classes are easy to get through because the instructor will have the techno-mix going with the choreography/guided exercises, but when it’s just me and a kettle bell, I gotta choose the right jams to get me outta my “meh” jam. To celebrate the art of shakin’ that groove thing and to carry us in to weekend with a little extra pep in our step, let’s hit play on my FitTunes Playlist and hit up that stair machine to stay active and fit!

 

AMO’S FitTunes PLAYLIST

Warm-Up

GIRLS LOVE TO SHAKE IT by Love & Theft

TIL THE WORLD ENDS by Britney Spears

Work-It Circuit!

 

HALL OF FAME by The Script, featuring will.i.am

SOMEWHERE IN NEVERLAND by All Time Low

ARE YOU THAT SOMEBODY by Aaliyah

GIMMIE DAT by Ciara

SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW (cover) by Mayday Parade, featuring Vic Fuentes

TRIUMPHANT (Pulse Remix Extended) by Mariah Carey 

THE FIGHTER by Gym Class Heroes, featuring Ryan Tedder

Cool It Down

 

SUPER BASS (cover) by Nicolle Galyon

NOTHING’S GONNA STOP US NOW by Starship

By the time I’m done singing along, the endorphins have kicked in and I feel re-energized, ready to take on the world! So what are you waiting for? Load up your mp3 player with some bumpin’ jams and get moving!

 

*ahem*
Now, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll be needing a little post work-out snack, cause let’s face it, all I do is eat! 😉

Post-workout Snack = Broccoli + Cauliflower, Cinnamon sprinkled apple slices, Cashew Butter, Dunkin’ Donuts Mocha Mint Coffee ♥

Happy Fit Life Friday, y’all!!


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Triumphant

I mean, I *guess* you could say I *kinda* like apples…

How ’bout dem apples?? 😉 My boss brought those in from her apple tree and they are SUPER yum! I kinda feel like a hoarder though . . . even though she said take as many as you want and there are still a bunch left!

But even more than that, I love APPLES TO APPLES!!

Especially when I get to spend the evening playing it
with a bunch of my closest friends!

Sharing life and love is just my kinda thing. Whether it’s getting together to hang out and play games, or if it’s one-on-one lunch dates

Enjoying company picnics with my rad co-workers

Or days spent cleaning and organizing my workspace with my best friend

Enjoying quality time and home-cooked meals with my friends and their kiddos

Potluck nights with my awesome Community Group

Cruisin’ the streets and having lunch with my best friend’s mom

Embracing my awkwardness and lack of hand-eye-coordination with my Zumba buddy

Catch-up Coffee Dates with friends I haven’t seen in what seems FOREVER

or celebrating Birthdays of incredible ladies
that inspire me to live my life to the fullest!

There are just way too many reasons to celebrate life and those that are a part of it!

Another thing I love is getting treasures in my mailbox. And a few days ago, I got some mailbox treasures that will help me celebrate others for a nice long time!!

I came home to a package from one of my favorite crafters, PLAIN JANE’S CARDS!

Jane Grizzle is an incredibly creative and crafty lady. She makes beautiful cards, of which I’m a HUGE fan! They’re simple, clean, fun, and festive—which is just my style!

I had recently participated in a giveaway she was hosting on her blog and I WON!!!

“What was the prize??” you might be asking. Well, let me tell you . . . nay, let me SHOW you!

Check out this CELEBRATIONS CARD LOOT!!

I’m so excited to have won these lovely cards because there are so many people in my life I want to share these with!
Thanks, Jane!!

And now, for a little celebratory tune up on this here blog!

Go ahead, get up, shake them hips, do a little dance, and CELEBRATE LIFE!


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Two of Hearts

With all the new exciting things happening in my life, I’ve REALLY felt the love!! So, I figured now would be a great time to share some love as well! Okay, okay, so basically it’s more a sharing of things I’ve fallen in love with lately, but still, it’s something, right? Since my heart is so overwhelmed with lovely things, why not double the fun? Here are some pairs of things that have captured my heart lately:

 

Techy Things:

I really need to thank my friend (and Seattle Dad) Del Irwin for giving me the hot tip on this one!

  • The Flipboard social magazine app on my phone. For the most part, all of my bus rides involve reading—blogs, e-mails, books, and NOW, Flipboard! I have Flipboards set up for FOOD, DESIGN, PHOTOGRAPHY, NEWS, TECHNOLOGY, GAMING, CELEBRITY, MUSIC, FILM, and HOME. So as I’m riding the bus or waiting at a stop, I can browse my Flipboard and read up on some really innovative things! And the app allows me to e-mail the links to myself, favorite them on Twitter, or send them to my Evernote (my favorite option, by the way). It’s an extremely convenient inspiration and information source for me!

 

Thanks for the hot tip on this one, Korin!

  • Okay so this one is more of a gadget, but just go with me, ‘kay? Recently, my friend Korin and I went to our friend Kathy’s house to watch Sense and Sensibility. While we were getting the air-popper ready, Korin mentioned this new microwaveable air-popper bowl that she had bought. I was fascinated and was on the hunt—I NEED one of those! I currently make my popcorn in a skillet on the stove, but it’s so tedious and truth be told, our pan lid doesn’t really fit so I have to hold it the entire time—lame sauce! So I recently went to TARGET in search of this bad boy and I got one!! And I used it yesterday and I’m in LOVE with it!! It’s a perfect option for me and I don’t need to even add oil for it to make the perfect bowl of air-popped popcorn! My snack life is revived!!

 

 

Tasty Things:

Nomilicious!

  • My snack platter this week is my favorite combo thus far! It’s full of variety and packed with so much flavor and sustenance. On the menu, we have: A sliced cucumber, blueberries, a sliced apple, Toasted sesame crackers with cashew butter spread on them, a hard-boiled egg, and a mug of Laughing Man Espresso Roast! Also, you should know I’ve gone into a mild panic because I’m ALMOST OUT of my Laughing Man coffee grounds!!! . . . time to order more online!

 

  • Italian Chicken Sausage + Orzo Pasta with Basil, Zucchini, and Red Pepper. My love for this dish is unending!! I made this for my lunches this week and it’s so ridiculously full of flavor. Every time I eat it, I feel like I’m decked out in a white sundress, dining on the grounds of a mansion while sitting at a fancy schmancy table in the bright warm sun! I dunno why, but this light and filling dish just makes me feel like royalty . . . maybe it’s the basil, or just the combo of everything, who knows. But seriously, if you can, please make this at home. You won’t regret it! I used Italian Chicken Sausage for the meat in mine, but I’m sure you could sub in any kind of meat you want and it would be just as awesome!

 

 

Thoughtful Things:

As I mentioned before, I love to read and since I’m on the bus so much here in Seattle, I get a LOT of reading in. I’m constantly reading e-newsletters and blogs to stay up to date on information that interests me. Here are 2 of my FAVORITE blogs that I follow:

 

  • Orange Leaders Blog. Orange Leaders is “a gathering of leaders who are passionate about engaging churches and families to influence the faith and character of the next generation.” It is run by the reThink Group and offers so much practical and spiritual insight into leadership development, which is my perfect cup of tea! ♥

 

  • Carrots ‘N’ Cake. Tina blogs about so many incredible things that inspire me! She offers so many great anecdotes that cover a great range of topics that interest me—from fitness to food to family life—and she’s so great at keeping things real. Plus, she’s a huge fan of nut butters, just like I am!! Her blog has helped me grow leaps and bounds throughout my Fit Life journey and I always look forward to her posts! In fact, I’m such an fan that I’ve even found myself adopting her phrases (like “HOLY YUM!”) 😉

 

Tune-worthy Things:

  • LINK IN A CHAIN by Missy Higgins. Missy Higgins is one of my all-time favorite singer/songwriters, hands down! Her style is clean, creative, and innovative sound—and that Aussie accent is pretty rad too! So when I found out that Missy was coming out with a new album, I got butterflies in my stomach. After purchasing (and listening on repeat to) her latest release, THE OL’ RAZZLE DAZZLE, I was reminded of why I fell in love with her music all over again—it’s just wonderful quality all-around and inspires me to create music that matters! LINK IN A CHAIN is my favorite song off of the album because it challenges the listener to break through the chains they’ve lived in for so long and live an extraordinary life, which is something I value so much in my personal life.

 

  • BE YOUR EVERYTHING by Boys Like Girls. Let’s get real, I’m a sucker for a good love song, and this one just hits the spot! It’s not a super slow song that reminds you of a scene out of A Cinderella Story. Instead, it fits my style and makes me think of speeding down the highway to destination anywhere with the car top down and the love of my life holding my hand as we head into adventure! It’s power poppy with some spunky punk grooves and Martin Johnson’s voice just soothes me for some reason. This song is featured on their recent release, CRAZY WORLD EP—go ahead, give it a spin!

 

 

Twitteriffic Things:

I feel like I spend less time on Twitter these days, but when I do, I can count on 2 friends of mine providing enough entertainment to make up for anything I may have missed during my absence:

 

  • emzuniga. This girl is a RIOT!!! Elaine and I went to school (MCAustin) together for 3 years before she moved to Louisiana to pursue an MC Staff position there. Through the years, we’ve kept in touch through social networking and do our best to see each any time I’m back in Texas on vacation. I love the practical wisdom and quick wit she shares with me when we’re together! Her Twitter feed never fails to keep me smiling, with her snarky thoughts, intellectual marketing insights, fun pics of her rambunctious kitty cats, and the delicious food that she makes! If I could bring myself to do it without feeling like I’m such a creepster friend, I’d ‘favorite’ all of her tweets and save them for a rainy day!

 

  • AudreyHannahB. Audrey is one of those powerful women that I wish I lived closer to so that could frequently go out for coffee with her. Alas, I must settle for her sweet, quirky, fun tweets about photography, business, spiritual life, and family. She’s the incredibly inspiring wife of my long-time teacher/mentor/creative guru from MCAustin, Brian Brooks at Innovado. But don’t think for a second that she is merely arm candy—this chick can hold her own! She’s funny, wise, kind, and an astoundingly creative professional photographer! She has her own photography business, AUDREY HANNAH PHOTO that takes her all over on adventures, helping people of all ages and backgrounds capture treasured moments in the most gorgeous ways! Don’t believe me, just check out this sweet shot that she took of a sweet couple in Colorado:

 

Photo by Audrey Hannah Photo

 

 

Treat Things:

Why not finish with something sweet?? Since cleaning up my nutrition and completing the No-Sugar Challenge, I’ve become much more sensitive to sugary sweets. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still CRAVE sweets, it just means that I have to be more conscious about my choices because too much sugar will make my stomach hurt something fierce and will make me feel lethargic and out-of-sorts. Therefore, I’ve been on the search for substitutes that make it easier for me to enjoy the sweeter things I crave. Two of my favorite recent finds are:

 

 

  • Dreyer’s No Sugar Added Fruit Bars. Out of habit, I still venture down the Ice Cream aisle any time I go grocery shopping. I’m a sucker for cold sweet treats!! I’ll admit, I was skeptical when I bought these because (1) I never really jumped on the Splenda train and (2) Most of the time, Sugar-Free or No Sugar Added equates to No-Flavor At All. 😉 HOWEVER, and this is a BIG HOWEVER, these fruit bars are a WIN!!! It’s just the right amount of sweet, I can’t taste the ‘ol “Splenda after-bite” I had become familiar with back in the day, and they are so refreshing and delicious!! Now it’s just tough not to eat 10 of them at a time! :O [Bonus: The Black Cherry is my favorite!]
  • Private Selection brand Acai, Pomegranate, & Blueberry Green Tea. God really DOES answer prayer! A few years ago, I led a missions trip to Brazil. It was there that I was first introduced to the glory of Acai. And NOW, three of my favorite flavors have all joined up to fight crime in a healthy Green Tea blend!! Talk about tasty sweet loveliness—Holy Yum! This tea is a perfect treat for me and I’m so glad I found it. I picked it up at the grocery store over the weekend and I’ve had at least 3 mugs of it daily since! If you’re a fruit lover like I am and you’re looking for a way to get that sweet fix without the sugar buzz, this is the way to go! ♥

 

Welp, that about wraps up my current “Love Life.” 😉

How about you? What are some things that you have fallen in love with recently?!?