Thursday, June 27, 2013

Why Idols? Identity

So I'm going through Kelly Minter's No Other Gods Bible Study & a lot of it has struck a chord with me. (I knew it would!)

This week, the study is focusing on the question, "Why Idols?" (Why is it that we choose idols? Why are they appealing? Why are they so hard to resist?)

Each day has a different focus & I've been struggling, wrestling, & grappling with each day's focus to allow the Lord to speak to me & to penetrate my heart. Each topic has been really good & I'll probably end up having a word or two about each of them.

The first day's focus is on Identity. I think this is huge. Here are some key things I liked from the Bible Study. I will put the book's greatness in these brackets to keep my thoughts separate from Kelly's:

[While Kelly was doing research for this study, she would ask people why we turn to functional idols, & the most consistent response she found was: Identity.
"It seems that women everywhere are caught in an endless pursuit to discover their identity. ...finding identity can be a lifelong battle, a continuous cycle. Husbands don't seem to solve it. Kids apparently don't do it. Careers fall short..."
The Biblical example she gives here is found in 1 Samuel 8:1-22 when the Israelites wanted to have a king like other nations. Even though the Lord told them through Samuel all of the horrible things that would happen to them if they decided to have a king, they were not deterred!
"The curious part to me: The Israelites already had an identity. An amazing one at that - they were the chosen people of God! But as they began to forsake God & follow other gods, they lost sight of what they had and, most important, who they were."
(This is lagniappe, but she included this & it gave me a chuckle.)
From an episode of "The Cosby Show" -
Denise had a boyfriend over for Cliff to meet for the first time. He said he wasn't going to college b/c he was going to spend his time "finding himself." Cliff asked, "Well, how long do you think that'll take?" He said, "Five to ten years." Cliff said, "Well, you'll be able to find yourself & several other people by that time." Later Denise said, "Well? Do you like him?" Cliff said, "I don't know if that's him. He hasn't found himself yet."
The only way the Israelites were going to "find themselves" was to realize that God had already found them - & that is everything.
Deut. 7:6 says, "For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. He has chosen you to be his people, prized above all others on the face of the earth."
& in case you didn't get it the first time, Deut. 14:2 says it again!
1 Peter 2:9-12 says, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. You once were not a people, but now you are God's people. You were shown no mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners & exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul."
& we are to be foreigners: "...we will be strange & alien-like b/c our lives will stand out as so breathtakingly good in comparison with others. As a result those around us will want to glorify God."
"The extreme goodness of our lives is the peculiar part. Goodness should be setting us apart in distinctive ways. Not a goodness that comes from self-righteousness or legalism, but goodness that is the fruit of obedience."
"Fulfilling our sinful desires will snuff out this burning goodness. By indulging them we actually become the reverse of peculiar & strange. We become...normal. For those of us seeking individualism & distinctiveness, chasing our lusts will only make us like everyone else, with little identity at all."]

(My thoughts)
Christian, or not, everyone wants to have their own identity. We are all created w/ a God-shaped hole in our souls & it doesn't matter if we fill it with good things (spouses, children...) or bad things, if we're not filling it with GOD, we will continue to be unfulfilled & searching for what completes us.

I'm not responding to this to point fingers b/c "I done been convicted!" I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to my identity. I have all these grand ideas of what my life should look like & the roles I should fill & I'm ridiculously hard on myself to be who I think I should be...not who I am in Christ. (See Jax's Birthday post-My Plans & God's Plans. Yup...ya think He's workin on me?!)

The saddest part to me about this one is when this lack of identity is found in Christians. It's like when you're looking everywhere for your sunglasses & they've been on your head the whole time! (That's never happened to you? Oh...yeah, me neither.) We Christians are searching & searching, when we have the answer all along! We're looking for something that we already have. We are the Lord's!
Over the past few years I've noticed so many hungry, wandering people looking for identity. I've seen a heartbreaking trend of Mom's tearing their families apart to seek love & attention from other men, or because their life doesn't look the way they thought it would, or various other reasons. This is the way the world does things. Someone who does not have Christ must jump from high-to-high to keep their God-shaped "hole" filled. It should NOT be this way for us! We have hope! We have the answer! We have Christ!! We should be different from the world (& striving to be that way!) We shouldn't want the world's king or all that involves, because we have the KING OF KINGS.

The thing that Kelly said that the Lord has pounded into my heart is, "The only way the Israelites were going to "find themselves" was to realize that God had already found them - & that is everything." 
Y'all. We make everything so hard...& so messed up! There is no need for mid-life crises or to look ANYWHERE to find ourselves. Our true identy can only be found in the one who made us!!! If we're looking anywhere other than at Christ, we're never going to truly be fulfilled.

Monday, June 24, 2013

My Baby is ONE

Happy Birthday John-John!
This year has absolutely flown by! You are a huge part of our family. Your Daddy & I often wonder how the smallest one in the family could have such a resounding impact on us all. (& by resounding impact I do mean all the sweet & positive things that connotes, as well keep us on our toes, boss us all around, & have us all falling in line behind you.) You're already a strong-willed Filipino & just such a mess!  (D is certain it's from my side of the family.)   
If this is life now, I can't imagine how it will be when you can say more!

Right now:
-You are on the verge of walking. (I actually think you can, but would rather be carried :))
-Your very favorite person is Jax.
-You love milk, fruit puffs, cheese puffs, green beans, bananas & tomatoes.
-You love to show off new tricks & say, "Ta-Da!"
-You wear size 4 diapers & all your brother's hand-me-downs.
-You are into everything.
-You are tenacious, bossy, & like to run the show. You definitely know what you want & won't take anything less.
-You want to be so big all hours of the day, except for bedtime, then nothing but Mommy will do. (50% of me loves this, the other 50% is EXHAUSTED!)
-You love to show off your head. It IS a grand one indeed!
-You already love super heroes, cartoon characters, & know how to sword fight.
-Your smile lights up a room. 
I love you baby boy & I am so thankful that the Lord chose to give you to us!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Jax's Birthday / My Plans & God's Plans

Other than writing a note to my baby boy on his birthday, I've pretty much avoided talking about Jax's birthday on here. For those who know me, this is totally unlike me! I'm the crazy mom who starts planning the next birthday the day after the present birthday. Nothing was different for this year. I've had Jax's He-man & John's Little Man party planned for months. Most of the details were thought out. I had two ridiculously huge parties ready to go, (John just HAD to have his own for his 1st bday!) but when we went to reserve the building in town that would fit the big jumpy inside, it was booked. ALL MONTH! So not only could I not have 2 separate parties, I couldn't even have one party the whole month. I did not wait till the last minute to reserve the building...who knew Vivian was the event capital of the world?! :) 

At first I pretty much thought it was the end of the world. D & I called around to all kinds of places, & you know how you just work & work at something so hard only to get the same results (NOT HAPPENING)? We had a rough couple of weeks. "Planner Jenni's" plans were NOT working out. At this time, D & I were also trying to plan a nice anniversary weekend getaway in the middle of 2 seminary classes he had. Again, it just wasn't going to happen. It seemed like nothing was going the way I wanted. It was so frustrating!!! I gripped my plans, white knuckles straining, & took it to the Lord. I finally came to the conclusion that He had other plans for me & that I needed to let go of my own plans. Surprisingly, I was ok with that. I'm starting to come to grips with the fact that His ways are not my ways & His thoughts are not my thoughts & I am SO thankful for that! I do know that the Lord gives me His best for whatever I thought was good enough.

[For those just dying to know, I just reserved the Community Center for the first date available...late July, but I may end up just doing it at the church. And as for the anniversary celebration, we were not able to get a room for the weekend (it was Memorial Day weekend), so D just came back for Fri. night & Sat. & we were able to have a date. It was great.] It's so great how the Lord orchestrates the small stuff just as much as the big.

I've recently started a Bible Study by Kelly Minter (No Other Gods) & she mentions in it, "I think we put an increased expectation for our accomplishments on ourselves..." & yes!!! That is so true. I told one of my friends that the boys' party was probably going to be a month later & she told me not to beat myself up about it. Boy, does she sure know me! The biggest reason I was upset was because reality was not living up to what I had built up in my head. Jax didn't even expect anything big.

I don't think Jax even knows he hasn't had a birthday party. (Other than knowing he didn't have a He-man party.) So far, Jax has had only 3 celebrations, & I realize that that is way beyond what most kids get. I'm not responsible for 2 of the 3 celebrations. I'm so thankful for those who love us. 
Jax's first celebration was with his SS class the day before his birthday. I made him a donut cake to take to SS for breakfast since he doesn't have a birthday during the school year. He has amazing SS teachers who love him & make a big deal over it & just make him feel so special. I just love them!
Jax's second celebration ended up being on his birthday. With my family we get to pick what we want for dinner for our birthday & we just do a little dinner party. Jax picked Chuck E. Cheese for his bday dinner this year, so off to CEC Mitz & Mimi took us!
Finally, Jax had a third celebration at some church family's house the day after his birthday. He got a super fun present, a yummy gourmet hamburger supper, a fun swim in the pool, & an extra special bday cake with all the ingredients he requested! (strawberry, pineapple & chocolate) How rotten!

I'm starting to understand why things werent working out for those couple of weeks, & for the things I don't understand - that's ok! So far, the Lord's plans have turned out far greater than anything I could have planned. Thank You Sovereign Lord that YOU REIGN!

Jax's CEC birthday dinner.

Here's Jax's birthday dinner at the Bowers'. Note: we were about to go swimming. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Friday Favorites & Purple Cow

It's Friday!!! I really don't plan to do this every Friday, but I thought it would be fun to do again while road tripping with the Hubs!

Last Friday, when D was driving us to a movie, I read him my blog post of Friday Favorites. When I finished reading THE WHOLE THING aloud, D told me, "I've never wanted to say, 'Purple Cow' more!" HAHA!! 
A while back D & I heard of this thing a couple did when talking to each other. If one of them begins talking about things that are trivial & of no interest to the other person, the listener would just say, "Purple Cow." This would let the other person know that you didn't understand or didn't have any interest in that topic. To the listener, you may as well be talking about a purple cow! Once PC is said, you change the subject, or let the other person pick a new topic. We really don't overuse the Purple Cow thing because we really want it to be a positive thing in our relationship. We respect the use of PC & usually realize...why was I talking about that with him anyway?! I save mine for the times D wants to talk about hunting or sports - especially those ole Cowboys. He uses his when I'm talking about makeup or accessories or what Sally told me happened that day. (Let it be known that he uses PC more than I & I think he would like to use it even more!) Let's face it, men & women are different animals & can often times speak two different languages. If used correctly, PC can be a great relationship tool!
If you read last Friday's blog post & it was crammed with information about stuff you could care less about, this post won't be much different. Now is the time to use your, "Purple Cow."

Since we're on a little road trip, my first fave will be traveling! I love it! Whether it's driving or flying or cruising, I love to go!

Another favorite is an everyday favorite & a road trip MUST: a Sonic Raspberry Tea. Sonic sells THE BEST drinks! It's a combination of a good drink, nice sturdy styrofoam cup, & the best crunchy ice!

My next fave is Twitter. It is fun on a road trip, but my very favorite time to be on Twitter is on Sunday mornings in my Sunday School class. We have the greatest SS teachers who are a mixture of great Biblical knowledge, as well as being prime candidates for having their own reality show. A few class members tweet some of the awesome things our teachers say (I won't name names!). It's super fun!

Fave number four is big stud earrings. My very favorite go-to earrings are my big stud CZs or my big pearl studs. They go with anything from a t-shirt to a formal. I buy my earrings like I buy my sunglasses: cute but inexpensive - that way I don't have a heart attack when I lose one! 

One of my very favorite labels is Ralph Lauren. I just love that preppy, timeless, classic style. I love my men to be decked out in it a lot of the time & love that I can find the same shirts from John's size to D's size. The greatest thing about RL is that there are great sales on the website & I can also buy it at discount prices at TJ Maxx & Marshall's. 

This next "fave" is one of a different kind. Since I'm a sale shopper, I'll eye an item for a while to see if it will go on sale. A lot of times though, I'll wait too long & the item will sell out! Instantly, this item I "liked" becomes a sort of a mission for me. I will stalk that puppy down on eBay or any other forum in hopes to find it. I'm in that situation with a dress right now. What is it about the appeal of things we "can't have."

Today's last favorite is not only Monster's University, but also kid movies in general (Disney in particular). I've always loved kid movies, but they're even more fun after you have kids!

I hope you all are having a wonderful Friday!

My Supermen

These pics are from Saturday night. We had boxes out from giving D his Father's Day gifts & they provided about an hour of wonderful entertainment. (It probably would have gone longer, but it was bed time.)
I just love these pics because it is JUST LIKE children to have a big messy pile of toys to play with, but what do they want? A box. Awesome.

My Sweet Daddy

I am so blessed to have the Daddy that God gave me. My Dad left his life & family in the Philippines to begin his new life with his wife in the states. (My parents have a pretty romantic love-story. I'll share sometime.) Our whole relationship can pretty much be described by one word: sacrifice.

He sacrifices his time. He is one of my best babysitters right now. His flexible schedule allows him to help me sometimes during the week & that truly helps me keep my sanity! Plus, my boys love their Mitz! 

He sacrifices his money. What can I say? I'm his only daughter! For my entire life my Daddy has provided for all my needs & probably way too many of my wants. (Thank you Daddy!) He still spoils me today-especially through loving on my babies. 
If any of you know a Filipino, you know that success in business is everything to them. Luckily, my Daddy is a great businessman. Since I was born he has given his time, money, & energy so that he could give me & my family the best lives possible. That even includes today. He has spent his whole life planning & providing so that my Brother & our families' futures are taken care. (Let it be known that he expects us to work for & earn it!)

He sacrifices his own feelings for what he knows is best for me. My Daddy is one who doesn't like the spotlight, stands in the background most of the time, but he is a strong & steady presence during trials & when strength & wisdom are needed. He gives wise counsel when it's needed most. I'm so thankful for his voice of reason in the midst of some of us more emotional & dramatic people. :)

It's so cool how my Daddy's role in my life reminds me of the Father. God provides for my needs & a lot of times blesses my wants. His wisdom is infinite & He gave the ultimate sacrifice.

I'm so thankful for my Daddy & for my Heavenly Father.

That's Just My Baby Daddy!

We've had a pretty low-key Father's Day weekend (aka Superman weekend). D has bronchitis (ain't nobody got time for that! lol couldn't resist!) & I think John has been teething (quite dramatically I might add)! 

For Father's Day I've got to brag. I got me a good man! (I married him on purpose & I'd like to think I have good taste.) D is such a great Daddy! He is super-involved in all parenting (baths, diapers, etc.) thank goodness! He loves his mini-mes so much & is super proud of them. It's precious!

For Father's Day we got him a bunch of shirts. They were much needed since he's been workin on his fitness! The boys also got him an adorable book & other fun goodies. Another small gift that Legendary Films gave D for his Father's Day was the release of Superman. :)

We refuse to let our crazy ailments get us down. We've had a really nice weekend!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Favorites!

I'm a vlog junkie.

If that sounds like a foreign language to you, it's a video blogger, or someone who records their life & shares the video with the rest of the world. One thing that I love that they vlog about is their favorite things. So, I'm a vlog junkie & a product junkie. This is the perfect combo!!

Beth Moore even blogged about her favorite things the other day. If it's good enough for her, it's good enough for me! Plus, we're bffs...she just doesn't know yet.

That's all this post is today. Randomness/useless information at its best!

I have been LOVING some Kelly Minter Bible Studies!! I just finished Ruth (like yesterday & yes, there's a blog post about all that marinating in my mind) & I've read all the intro stuff for her No Other Gods Bible Study today. Talk about some good stuff!

My next fave are these colored pens by Foray. My thoughts went to these next because I always journal while I do my Bible Study & I like it to look fun. I'm kind of a pen snob. I love colored pens, but I can't stand gel ink pens (I don't like any kind of scratchy feeling when I write) these are some excellent ball point colored pens. Yay!

Another fave (& another thing I write in w/ colored ink) is my Erin Condren planner. This is at least my 3rd year to use one of her Life Planners. Yes, I have a smart phone, & yes, I have an ipad, but there is NOTHING like the ol pen & paper. I'm visual & a list-maker & I will always have a paper planner!

Fave #4 - Grape Gum. Particularly this kind OR Bubblicious. :)

The next few are some Summer Must-Haves. My Summer look includes: nail polish (in lots of fun colors), lip gloss, big sunglasses, & big eyelashes for when you must take off your sunglasses. I love tan skin in the summer & love to use minimal makeup. Most Summer days I try to get away with wearing eye makeup & lipgloss only.
My favorite nail polish brand is Essie. I also love OPI & Sally Hansen, but Essie has just got all the right colors this season!

The greatest lip gloss right now is Revlon Super Lustrious. I have the last three & just can't get enough! (I'll have to get up the courage to try out the first! Idk about purple...) The 2nd color is Snow Pink, the 3rd is Pango Peach, & the 4th is Pink Pop.

To go along with the lip theme-I'm sporting Loreal's lip Balm in every color. I love that they're super moisturizing with a tint of color. Sometimes if I'm feeling really wild :), I'll layer the Super Lustrious over the Balm.

Love me some Sunnies! I always get the inexpensive ones because I usually break or lose them. These pics are similar to my favorite four I've been rocking:
Top L: Steve Madden Aviators I got at TJ Maxx for $9.99!
Top R: Some pink heart sunglasses from Target for $12.00
Bottom L: Some big bright pink ones I got for $5. I don't remember where...
Bottom R: Some black Tom Ford wanna-bes that I buy at the French Market every time I'm in New Orleans (yes, I lose & break them that much) for about $10
Maybe I should just invest in a hard sunglass case!

Then, when the sunnies come off, I don't want to look like I just woke up, so I like to keep my eyelashes big. (Plus, D likes big eyelashes & he cannot lie.) In the past I've loved me some Loreal Voluminous & Cover Girl Clump Crusher, but I recently started using Mary Kay Lash Love (my Mom sells MK) & I have seen the liiiiiiiiggghhhtttt! Love it! I have 2 in regular & I think I'm gonna get a waterproof one to try out for the Summer.

I am most definitely a lover of all things coconut! I love to eat it, as well as wear/smell like it. Some of my coconut faves are:
Banana Boat's after sun lotion- it has a hint of coconut in it & is super-hydrating for after sun/pool time
The Body Shop's Coconut Body Butter- I love to use it on my hands, feet, knees, & elbows before bed. Super rich & smells so great.
Treat's Coconut Cream chapstick-I use this before bed too & it smells so good, I could eat it!
Lip Smacker's Pina Colada chapstick-just YUM!

Finally, a super favorite of mine is the SUNSHINE! Love me some Summertime!