April 27, 2016

The Long Road to Home

When I married Adam we had a plan, as the joke goes "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." And isn't that the truth?! We thought grad school, job, family, etc... Mainly we thought after years and years of grad school a job would quickly follow -ha! Anyone who has been on this long journey with us knows what a joke that is! It took 7 years for Adam to get his first job which not only "messed up our plans" but took us on a long, wind-y road to finding our home. When we took a big leap of faith and moved to Waco, Texas in August of 2010, it became clear quite quickly that Waco was home. When Adam's job took us to California the three of us experienced a hole in our hearts we couldn't ignore or fill, and it was the Waco-shaped hole of home. If you know me personally and have walked with me closely these past 2 years then you already know how much begging and pleading I have done with the Lord to take us back to Texas. Being a Christ follower is a funny thing sometimes because you have to wrestle a lot with what the Lord's plans are in relation to your desires and the two don't often add up and its hard and confusing and scary. I won't go into all the details and ins and outs of what this journey/process has been like the past 2 years, (more specifically the past 4 months) but what I will say is that God is faithful. My husband recently accepted a tenure track position at a university that is taking us back to Waco, to say we are thrilled would be an understatement. But here's the thing, I don't ever want to be "that person" who proclaims God's faithfulness (only) when things "go my way." If you've been following my blog for a while you know this isn't me at all but I am very aware of how easy it is to proclaim God's faithfulness in the good times, and I realize how hard life is/can be and I want to be sensitive to that and proclaim: God is faithful no matter what. Adam and I have often been on "the losing side" of the job hunt, we've made it to the final round and not been the one chosen. Clearly there was someone who wasn't chosen because Adam was and I know that heartache and disappointment and I don't take that hurt lightly. Adam getting the job means someone else didn't and I imagine that person is on a long road to a job or a home, I get it. As I've said more times on this blog than I can count, God is faithful even still, as true as it is that good things come in small packages (I love my Christmas stocking the best of all! :) I believe long, hard roads (often) lead to extreme gratitude, affirmation, and thankfulness. The road to home has been a long one for us, but man, it feels really good to be on it. xo

April 5, 2016

"Moving On"

I love how you can hear a song and it grabs you and speaks to your heart in that exact.moment. This new song by Mat Kearney is my current jam. Good stuff here.



We were young, we were brave
With our eyes wide shut in the choices we made
Well you lit the match and I got caught with the flames
And your voice still rings out through my mind
And the thorns still twist down in my side
All the promises that we left for dead in the night (woo woo)

Because I'm moving on, letting go
Forget the past and giving up the ghost
All we are is fading stars, life's too short to stay where we are

Forgive, let live and move on tell me that's gonna make me stronger
Forgive, let live and move on (woo)
Forgive, let live and move on tell me that's gonna make me stronger
Forgive, let live and move on (woo)

Maybe I'm broken, maybe its the fame
Maybe it's the moment you said I had changed
Where did thirteen years go like I didn't know you at all (woo woo)

I heard you were back with regrets and you meant it
I had a reply to your text, never sent it
Bridges were burning in accusation
Funny how time is the great revelation (woo)

March 31, 2016

March 23, 2016

I want an oompa loompa now daddy

Anyone who has seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory knows this line, Veruca Salt says this to her dad in the whiniest, most obnoxious, spoiled, entitled way "I want an oompa loompa now daddy!" Adam and I often say this to each other and we say it to Brennan and Brennan says it to us - all in good fun when we want something that we know we don't deserve, or when we want something that's coming to us but we want it NOW. Its an on-going joke in our little family but we all know what it means in the moment and it renders a good laugh or some understanding of how hard it is to wait. I HATE WAITING. I am in a season of my life where I'm waiting...for several things...and I hate it, like HATE it. I've spent some good time talking about waiting on this here blog, its something I've struggled with for as long as I can recall and the deeper into my walk with the Lord I get, I don't find that it gets much easier (insert cringy crying emoji). I've been very intentional about trying to wait better (whatever that means!) and I try to give my frustrations over to the Lord for him to deal with, that does help some I guess. I'm reading a book right now with some good stuff, [I'd rather not give the name of the book b/c it implies something that leads to questions I can't answer on this public forum but if you know me personally and want to know, you can shoot me an email and I'll pass along the info]. Anyhoo - I read something today that stopped me dead in my tracks, and as with anything that I find helpful/interesting/of value to me and thus maybe to someone else I share it here. It said : "The work that God does in us when we wait is usually more important than the thing for which we wait!" DOH. Right?! I'm waiting for several things in my life, some exciting and hopeful things, some hard and kind of icky things but I find this relevant with all my waiting. As much as I hate limbo and the in between, its so crazy to realize that even when those "things" come to fruition, this process is/can be the "meat" if you will. Sigh.

Its no secret that God uses bad to bring about good -that's all over the Bible so clearly that's no revelation and as I've discussed many times this past year+ good things come from pain, but another line from my book that "got me" today was: "I've had to conclude that God would not allow spear throwers into my life if He did not intend that their arrows bear fruit in my life." UGHHHHH, its so hard, and I don't like hard! But is sooooooooooooo (unfortunately -insert cringy face) true! [Btw the definition of a "spear thrower" is someone who lives by their own set of rules, who has a manipulative and divisive spirit, displays acute insecurity and jealousy, etc...]. I'm sure we either all have someone like this in our life or at the very least we know of someone like this. Man, the process of refinement is so.dang.hard. and it wears me out sometimes. I hope this doesn't come across as self-righteous, I'm a disaster in my own right so this isn't me being judge-y - "look at these messed up people I have to deal with that only make me better." That's SO not my point, my point is simply that we all have things/people/issues in our life that are hard and (maybe) don't appear to be going anywhere, and our job is to figure out how to respond the right way in the midst of this reality and to be "better." Not a self-righteous better, but better as in a better person, choosing the high road when it would be so easy not to b/c God is using whatever ___X____ scenario is in my/your life to bring about fruit (ie growth, maturity, good things we can pass on to others, etc.). Sometimes I can't stand the reminder of what I already know to be true but its too good not to share, ya know? I know God is making me better, its come through a lot of pain and heartache and betrayal and things I would never want to experience if given the choice, but who of us would choose hard things?! But how many of us have benefited from hard things? Sigh. DARN IT, right?! I was telling someone recently that I'm not the same person I was a year and a half ago, I've changed...(I mean, please, I'm the same...I feel like I've hardly changed since jr high), but I mean, I've changed in that I know I'm better than I was in a few ways, a few big ways. They might not be apparent on the outside (I'm mainly referring to my heart), but I can feel them on the inside -and that's something, that's God-work. God-work is hard, refining, drag -you-through-the-mud work, but coming out on the other side brings good life-giving things. Keep in mind that your process might in fact be "the thing." Keep on keepin' on. xo

March 17, 2016

Spring Break // Spring Break

Whew! Its been kinda nutty around here! Its always a bummer when Adam's spring break doesn't line up w/ Brennan's, it seems they both end up getting the shaft a bit b/c you can't really miss a week of work and its not ideal to miss a week of school (esp right before a long break). This year my sister asked if Adam and I wanted to join her and her husband in Sun Valley, ID for a few days and it just happened to line up w/ Adam's spring break! It took lots of maneuvering and some serious graciousness by several friends of mine to look after B but we made it work and off we went! (B got sick before our trip so it was looking like we might need to cancel but thankfully, she got well enough and we were able to go and have a good time). We ate good food, played lots of darts, walked around the cute town and went shopping, took the ski lift up the mountain and ate yummy food while taking in beautiful view, etc. Fun times. When we got back it was B's turn! Some dear friends of ours joined us for FUN TIMES at the brand new so Cal Great Wolf Lodge! We all had a great time and came home water logged and wiped out! Yesterday Adam took B to Disneyland (he had a free hook up!) and the two of them had a great time and came home late tired and happy. :) Today Adam is at work and I'm going to take B to a movie and tomorrow we're having a long play date to round out her spring break, I'd say we all scored pretty well this year on spring break fun!

It feels like its been go go go lately with nannying and travel, March has flown by! I just announced a shooting trip back to Waco at the end of April, I have one spot left if there happens to be any interested Wacoans reading this! :)

Lastly, HAPPY ST.PATRICK'S DAY! As I have said many times before, since living in Ireland St. Patty's is especially heart warming to us, I hope everyone out there is wearing green and giving the Irish some love today! xo

February 25, 2016

getting out of dodge

Its been a busy week around here! I started back up my nanny gig that I got last fall so a couple days a week I'm busy with twin newborns and a 2 year old! I assist the mom, I'm rarely alone with the girls but when I am, wowza! Not enough hands! Props to all the parents of multiple's, that's no joke! Whew!

Today the 3 of us are headed to Waco and we all can't wait! Its been a long time since Adam and B have been back so everyone is anxiously awaiting our flight tonight! Its going to be a busy whirlwind of a trip like always, but its always good for the soul too. Today I'm doing laundry, editing and packing so I'm gonna get after it! Hope everyone has a lovely weekend! xo

February 17, 2016

The Desert -a new perspective

I am still on the email distribution list for our church in Waco, which means I get the weekly "in the life of the church" emails that get sent out. This past week's was really poignant for me and struck me so I want to share it here because 1. I thought it was really insightful 2. It was really meaningful to me at this stage in my life 3. I think its important to share life-giving information, you never know what someone else is going through.


The most shocking thing about the Temptation of Christ is the first line: “and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.” (Luke 4:1).  It’s shocking because we know what happens next.  As Jesus fasted, the Devil approached with three temptations: one of hunger, one of power, one of safety.  We know that Jesus is able to deny Satan and the Spirit leads Jesus out of the wilderness.  This isn’t the end of the matter, however.

            “Was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.”  It is God who leads Jesus into the desert.  Nothing good happens in the desert.  The desert’s hot, no water, no food, almost no life and the sun is unforgiving.  The sheer vastness of it drives minds mad.  Furthermore, people believed the desert was a haunt for demons (Luke 11:24; Matt 12:43).  Still, Jesus “was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.”

            Do you ever feel like you have been led into the desert?  Maybe you have.  Maybe it was God who did the leading.  After all, if God led the Lord into the desert are we, as his followers, expected to do any less?

            Thank God for the Lord then.  If God is to lead us into the desert we have the Lord as our example.  He was in constant prayer before being led into the desert, once there he fasted, and because of these his mind and spirit were completely in tune with God.  There were no distractions for Christ.  This is why he could deny the Devil.

            The Lord said “If anyone would follow me, they must first deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34).  The “follow” part is wherever Jesus leads, that most certainly includes deserts.  The hope then is this: “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14).  Just as God led Jesus into the desert, he led Jesus out of the desert.  The key is, as always, to keep following. Amen.    (written by Kelly Doolittle) 

I think when we go through times of "being in the desert" we don't often think it was God who brought us there, we just beg and plead with him to take us out! Right?! Its an interesting thing to sit and wrestle with, that God brought us to the hard place, the barren place, and is choosing to leave us there....for a while. Several months ago I was in a bad place, the darkest hole I've ever been in and someone said to me "He won't leave you here." In that moment I wanted so badly to believe it, that this wouldn't be my new normal but I wasn't entirely sure. You see, when you're in a dark place, and its unfamiliar territory you start to question a lot of things (including your sanity!), and what were once simple truths become big questions, its frightening. Now that I'm on the other side of that I can better understand and appreciate the words "He won't leave you here." The good news about that is, now I can tell someone else that same thing-and know that its true, and speak truth into their darkness. Good things come from pain. I was doing my Bible study homework today and the take-home was that God remembers his people. Its fitting that today I'm being reminded that God can/may be the one leading me to the desert but he won't forget me and leave me there. "Just as God led Jesus into the desert, he led Jesus out of the desert." As Kelly said above "keep following." Amen. xo

February 16, 2016

Better

Whew, 2016 has been a doozy (understatement). Each time I think a do-over is going to happen, we get another whammy. I started feeling better a few days ago and since B had Friday off school we thought we'd do something fun and get outta dodge for the day. We woke up and started getting ready to head to Santa Barbara for the day and as we were about to leave we saw water coming from the guesthouse...ay yi yi. Needless to say, we had to sit around all day and wait for a plumber to deal with a clogged drain...plans ruined...AGAIN. So far 2016 has been one for the record books but in a baaaad way. I'm SO THANKFUL to be finally feeling better that the other stuff seems pretty small, perspective is always good, right?

Saturday B had a birthday party for a dear friend, afterward the 3 of us got in the car and drove to Big Bear where our friends invited us to join them for the weekend, that was fun! We played in the snow, ate yummy food and had a fun time being away and just relaxing and getting a breather for the first time in a while. 2016 do-over now please?!!!

The other day I was catching up with one of my best friends in Waco, we talked for about 3 hours and we were discussing the past year and a half for me and how hard its been and all that it has entailed and she asked me what God has taught me in this time, what my take-away is (if you will) on this season of life. I told her that in all my years of life, the many Bible studies I've done, the lessons I've learned, the hard things I've gone through, etc. the "theme" or the constant that I always come back to is God's faithfulness. God is faithful when I'm not, he never leaves me or forsakes me, he never gives up on me when my faith is weak, he doesn't delight in my suffering, he doesn't walk away when the going gets tough, but he also doesn't coddle and make life easy. Like any good parent, he allows me to learn from my mistakes, he doesn't shield me from hard things, and he doesn't always tell me what the "right" answer is to the question, he gives me free will and lets me decide. But also like a good parent, he is faithful and he shows up, he is comforting in hard times and he rejoices in the good times, he gives peace when nothing is peaceful, and he hurts when I hurt so I'm never alone in my suffering. I've been doing a Bible study with a few ladies the past several months and the name of the study is "Believing God," there are several points that the author of the study is trying to "beat into you" and a couple of those points are:


*God is who he says he is
*God can do what he says he can do

I think so often we doubt God when things get hard, that's our go-to rather than instantly being trusting and trusting that he will deliver us/redeem the situation. I get so mad at myself when I do this because really...I should know better. I mean, I've been a Christ follower now for greater than 30 years, and yet my faith is so quick to weaken when the going gets tough. Its been a good reminder that God is who he says he is, and he can do what he says he can do -he has that power, its not just a thing he says. :) God is faithful, no matter what is going on in your life, you are seen and cared for and not forgotten (even if it feels like it), hang in there. xo

February 10, 2016

VeRtIgO

Man, it has been a week. Last Wednesday I woke up to the most violent room spinning/vomiting I've ever experienced and I'm still not "normal." I've gone to numerous doctors and Adam and I have done some research online, I've been diagnosed with "Labrynthitis" which basically is just something that needs to heal itself over time. YUCK. I'm not nauseous anymore but I'm still dizzy and can't drive, I've hardly left the couch for 7 days now. We had to cancel our trip to Texas so that was sad, and we're pretty much just living a day at a time over here. I keep waiting for my "do over" on the whole new year thing....still waiting. :/ Thanks to everyone for your prayers, texts, emails, etc. means a lot. Here's to brighter days ahead. xo

January 27, 2016

my surprise and a blog post

I realized I didn't speak about my "surprise" that I mentioned in a couple blog posts below. I hatched a plan to fly to Spokane, WA last Wednesday to surprise my friend for her birthday, it all went off without a hitch and she was SO surprised and it was SO great! It was one of those moments in life where the long hours of travel, cost, etc. was SO worth it to see her face and to share in her special day, I love things like that -that's the good stuff of life right there.

I finally got around to updating my blog, its always so hard for me to get going once January rolls around! To check out a cute fam head over HERE. Happy Wednesday, y'all! xo

January 25, 2016

processing season

Its been an interesting season (for lack of a better word) in the Winn household lately, lots of processing going on here. Its a new year, and due to certain circumstances its led Adam and I to have many talks about the future, what its going to look like, where we are, where we want to be, what God has for us, what faith really looks like, etc. Some days are easier than others but all in all its been good, just a lot. I invite a lot of people into the crevices of my life to do life with me, people that I know well and trust and who I know love me and the Lord and who genuinely want to see God's will in my life. Its so reassuring to have people speak into your life when you know they are safe and who want good things for you, want Jesus-things for you, and I'm so thankful to have an abundance of these precious people in my life who love me so well. I'm a blessed gal, indeed. I was doing my Bible study homework this morning and one line really struck me today, it said "Remember, God looks on the heart of our desire more than the desire of our heart." [Beth Moore, Believing God] This was really encouraging for me today. I know sometimes I can get really caught up in trying to "make the right call" and I'm reminded, its not always about making the "right" call as much as the process in making the call at all. I spoke to a dear friend of mine today in Waco, I met her through a Bible study she was leading at her church and we've remained good friends ever since. She reminded me too today that God cares about our process and our heart in the process often more than the outcome. Isn't that such good news? I believe with everything in me that God is faithful "even still" (as I often say) and its such a neat reminder that he is looking at our heart in the decision making and not necessarily so focused on our outcome. Sometimes obedience isn't always an easy thing to distinguish, its a good reminder that God gives us brains to make decisions and that he will be faithful to the end. Not sure if someone else out there needed this reminder today, but it was really good for me.

This weekend was really good! Friday we had some dear friends over for dinner and chatted the night away while the kiddies played, love those times. Saturday Adam picked up our new couch and with the help of a precious friend BARELY got it into the guest house in its new home. :) Saturday night we ordered Indian take out and had a chill night at home -lovely. Sunday we met some friends for lunch and I spent the afternoon on the porch enjoying the beautiful day and now here we are at Monday morning (which always seems to come too soon, no?!). This week I MUST do my business taxes (can't put that off forever), my in-laws are coming for a quick visit, and my dear friend Sara is turning 40 and is having a Prom to celebrate! (I bought quite the dress for said occasion! [insert big-eyed face]). Hard to believe February is almost here, that came fast! I hope everyone has a lovely Monday and a great week ahead! xo

January 19, 2016

annnnd still rough....

Man, so far 2016 is NOT my favorite year! We've had some tough stuff going on in this house, I won't over-share here, but its been a hard year so far. Our most current situation seems to be a bathroom issue. Sigh. There seems to be a weird smell from the shower, after doing some research online our best guess is that some plywood has gotten wet, so we'll need to get a plumber out here (AGAIN) and I imagine we'll watch more money fly out the windows. Ah, the joys of home ownership! Today is Adam's first day back to work since mid December (the professor life is a good life :), and B's first day back after a long weekend, its kinda nice to have the house to myself. :) This weekend was good! Aunt Robin and Uncle Lawrence were in town visiting for several days, Aunt Robin and I did some shopping (I ended up scoring a great deal of the comfy-ist couch EVER!) and we ate yummy food and had some great talks. Saturday we all went out to Moreno Valley and I helped to host an engagement party for our cousin and his new fiancée -so fun! Sunday we had a lazy day, we all hung out in our pjs, watched some football, ate grilled cheese sandwiches and just relaxed. This week is kinda busy for me, it involves a secret so I can't say much at this point but the ol' blog will be quiet for a few days. :) I hope everyone's 2016 is off to a better start than ours! Cheers to brighter days ahead! xo

January 11, 2016

Rough Start

Whew, so far 2016 has been kinda rough! Right when we got back from Christmas vacation we picked up our car from the shop, had to pay the deductible, etc. Boo. Then several days later it poured down rain here in CA (which we desperately need) and then we had no hot water. This has happened to us before, when it rains really hard sometimes water gets into our water heater encasement and the pilot light goes out, not a big deal, typically we wait an hour or so and we re-light it. Well, that was not the case this time...we waited a while, tried to light it, nothing happened, this went on for a couple days before we realized we needed to call a plumber. To make a long story short, $1400 later, a new water heater is installed along w/ a gutter on the roof above where the water heater is to re-direct the rain. The $1400 along with the car deductible has made January kinda ICK. And going 4 days with no hot water was no picnic either (imagine heating water on the stove in a kettle and taking it into the shower..no good).

This weekend was busy, Adam and I each hung out with friends on Thursday, Friday we went to our friend Laura's house for dinner and visited with her and her mom (they were our neighbors from our month rental when we first moved here), Saturday I felt like cooking so I spent the day in my kitchen trying new recipes. I made a roasted corn and tomato soup, chocolate peanut butter bars, braised beef and cheddar grits -all of it was pretty darn good if I do say so myself! Our sweet friends came over for dinner and we had a lovely evening chatting the night away while the kids played. Sunday I went to the flea market with my long-time friend and flea market companion, Lauren and then later than day Adam, B and I went to the grove b/c B wanted to spend her AG gift certificate (which she wasn't able to do b/c the item she wanted was out of stock -sad!). Then Adam and I watched The Golden Globes last night to end the weekend, good times and way to go, Leonardo! (Adam and I saw The Revenant Friday morning, it was good, but only1 viewing is needed, but needles to say -Leo deserves all the awards he gets for this one).

This week is going to be a busy one! Birthday lunch, coffee meeting, Aunt Robin coming into town for a few days, my friend Daniel is in town, photo editing, Bible study, helping to host my cousin's engagement party this weekend, etc. The ol' blog will be quiet this week but I hope everyone out there has a lovely week! Thanks for reading and I hope your 2016 has been off to a better start! xo

January 4, 2016

2015 Highlights/Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone! I can't believe this will be my 9th year of blogging here on this little corner of the web, wow! I hope everyone had a nice holiday break, we sure did! It was so nice to be in the NW visiting family and relaxing, and then to have some time back at home hanging out with friends and resuming normal life before school started today (which came too early and I wanted to throw the alarm across the room!). I do love the fresh start of a new year, I like the idea of a clean slate and starting a new season with hope for what's to come.

If you've been reading my blog then its probably not a secret that 2015 was not my most favorite year...by a mile, but it was also a year of good things too. I think that's how life often is, some good with some bad, and you just hope and pray there is more good than bad. I want to focus on the good things that 2015 brought so I'm going to do that, I often do a list of highlights of the good and the bad but this year, I'm choosing to just focus on the good here:

*numerous dinner parties with dear friends

*lots of company that came to visit us and stayed at the Winn Cali Cottage

*spending a glorious week in Cabo with some of our favorite people

*a weekend a the beach with sweet friends

*going to see Britney Spears with cousin Mike in Vegas

*going on a fabulous cruise with 2 of our besties to Mexico

*one of my life-long best friends coming to visit and getting 3 whole days with her all to myself

*the numerous visits to Texas to visit friends

*the several nights at the Cal Phil with our good friends

*going to see my all-time favorite band Toad the Wet Sprocket with Adam

*going to Denver, CO to see Taylor Swift with a Waco friend who had also recently moved

*our annual trip with Doug, Kemi and cousin Mike to root the Ducks onto victory in Boulder, CO

*B turning 9 and having her party at the American Girl doll store in LA

*spending my birthday weekend in Palm Springs with my sister, bro-in-law and Adam

*buying last minute Justin Bieber tickets and rocking out at the Staples Center with my little family

*the many coffee dates, lunch dates, Bible study mornings, etc. with sweet friends who enrich my life and continually remind me what life is really about

2015, I'm not at all sad to see you go but thank you for all that you brought, the good, the bad, and the ugly, I know some years are just harder than others and this was one of mine, but cheers to 2016! Happy New Year, all! xo

December 17, 2015

blogged!

I've blogged a couple mini sessions from the Pacific Palisades over HERE, check it out! xo