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Hi, welcome to our blog! We are newlyweds living in Memphis, TN. We love life, adventure and of course each other. We're starting a blog to keep track of any and 'all things Jacques' so we can look back and cherish memories from our first year of marriage. We'll be sharing memories, I'm sure a lot of our dog Bella, favorite recipes, books, trips, spiritual thoughts, home projects, and anything we're enjoying in life at the moment! We hope you enjoy as well. Much love, Michael and Rachel Jacques

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

You only have to be silent...

(And Moses said to the people), “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV)

What a great reminder during my quiet time this morning. We shouldn't be afraid of what the adversary is doing in our lives because God is so much more mighty and powerful. Moses told this to the Israelites before God parted the Red Sea that killed the Egyptian army coming after them.

God asks us to stand firm in our faith and watch to see what he will do. Take heart! He will fight for you... and you only have to be silent. Wow! What a blessing. Hit me like a brick this morning. So thankful for this promise.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Virtuous Wife - A trustful heart & the freedom we have through Christ

Okay guys... my apologies for being so horrible with being timely on the blog! This post below I have had saved in drafts for about two months and it was 3/4 complete I just never had time to finish it ... until now! And so continues the Proverbs 31 series. Sorry it's taking so long! More to come about anniversary trip, fall recipes, etc! Thanks for your patience!!

It's September 6th (again sorry for the delay... it is now October 25th) which means it's one month until Michael and I's one year anniversary and my second Proverbs 31 deep dive blog post. For those of you who may have missed out on the first one you can read it here - (A Virtuous Wife - "a woman of strength"). I've decided to re-read and dive into Proverbs 31 to remind myself of what being a virtuous wife really means and to keep myself accountable.

The verse I'm focusing on today is:

"The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain." Proverbs 31:11(NKJV)

I've been thinking a lot about this verse over the last month. It's a beautiful verse for sure but what does it mean? Other translations always seem to help a bit so I've listed them below.

"Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value." (NIV)

"Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life." (NLT)

"The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain." (ESV)

I tend to favor the NKJV and the NLT versions because I think they most accurately depict what the author is trying to portray. And just who is the author anyway? King Solomon wrote the majority of Proverbs but King Lemuel is thought to have written Proverbs 31. The funny thing is that no one is sure who King Lemuel is and many think that he was a fictional character that Solomon used and that Solomon himself may have written Proverbs 31 or maybe even Solomon's mother which would have been Queen Bathsheba. Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs when he was at the height of his power. Perhaps, his mother had some words of wisdom for him so he wouldn't make the same mistakes his father, King David, made? Who knows. I am just specultating. But one thing I do think for sure is that a woman wrote Provers 31.

Back to the verse. :) The reason I favor the NKJV and the NLT versions is because of the key word in them - trust. I truly believe that this is the root of a marriage and any relationship for that matter. I've found that it's can be easier for a woman to trust and open her heart than a man. I decided to do a little research of my own and try to be sneaky so I asked Michael one day, "Why do you trust me?". He thought I was crazy and said, "I don't know Rach, I just do". That's a man for ya isn't it? But to be honest a lot of times men don't know why they open up that spot in their heart and begin to fully trust you. He also proceeded to say, "You've never given me a reason not to." Now we come to the reasoning of a man's brain. :) Women tend to think and act on how they feel and their emotions while men are much more reasonable and think about facts and what they can justify. Neither way is wrong & both have it's pros and cons... we are just very different.

So when I think of why he trusts me (and I'm probably overanalyzing like most of us tend to do) I think it's because I have been there for him. I'm there in the good times and the bad. I ask questions that tug at his heart strings and sometimes make him discuss the hard stuff. In the end, I think it does us both good because he gets things off of his chest and I get to know what's on his heart. He knows that he can come home from a bad day and tell me anything and his secret and the secrets of his heart are safe with me. That's how he "safely" trusts me like the verse says. Some women I've known tell everything about what's going on in their relationships and while I think it's wonderful to have girlfriends and discuss your marriages and relationships I also think a marriage is supposed to be intimate and precious so I hold many things close to my heart that I don't share with anyone. There are private things that I only know about Michael and he only knows about me. We talk about our problems to each other not to everyone else... not even my mom although I must admit that is hard. :) But I've found that when we communicate with each other and sit down to discuss things we end up solving it within 5 minutes and the rest of the night is snuggles and laughter! So, ladies, I encourage you to communicate with your husbands, boyfriends and in any relationship you have. Communication and keeping things personal are key to trust, especially for a man.

The verse also says in the NLT version that she "will greatly enrich his life". Now, this I hope I am doing but I think it wouldn't be as easy to do if he wasn't enriching mine. I'm so thankful and so blessed to be in a marriage that works two ways. My favorite place in the whole world is to be at home with Michael. I think that my happiness naturally enriches his life because I am happy and willing to do the things that enrich his. I don't think it's always about doing things like having dinner ready or laundry done, but what I really have noticed is my personal state affects him. If I haven't been in the word and I am stressed out, he is stressed out. If there is something not right with me, there is something not quite right with him. It is so important for me to focus on my relationship with God first in order to enrich my life and his. This also works two ways. First and foremost, it's about your personal relationship with Christ. That is the key to true fullfillment and joy. Happiness is fleeting but joy is constant and our Savior provides that to anyone who is willing to accept it. So, I lean on God to be joyful in my home so that Michael will see that and after first leaning on God, he can also lean on me as well.

Enriching his life is more than being the best cook (THANK GOODNESS!)... although I think this cake for his last birthday turned out pretty good!

I'm doing this Proverbs 31 series because I think it's important for us to know these attributes that God finds precious about us. However, one thing I didn't realize until last night when I attended the Abingdon Women speakers at our church and heard Kim Dunnam Reisman speak event was that Proverbs 31 wasn't written for instruction. We (and I mean especially ME) have turned it in to a "to-do" list. It's meant to be an ode to women, not a list that we have to live up to. It bogs me down and makes me exhausted just thinking about doing everything this women did. But you know what? It doesn't tell us about her hard days does it? The days that she thinks she can't go on and she can't possibly do one more thing. But I think it sums it up nicely at the end. No matter what she does or how "perfect" she seems to be... it doesn't matter to God. What truly matters is that she fears the Lord. That's why she is praised. Not because she's the best wife, mother, philanthropist, etc.

One thing I'm realizing more and more is that I truly am free in Christ. I can read His word and strive to live up to those things that will glorify Him but at the end of the day I don't need to beat myself up and neither do you. I'm going to leave you with 2 things.

1) You are beautiful, smart, love and cherished by the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the name above all names. A friend of mine shared this video with me and I think you'll like it. Ladies, this is what God feels for you regardless of how "perfect" you are (thank goodness)!

Click here to see the video!

2) A verse that has been on my heart. We are free in Christ and I hope you can live that way today!

"But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter."
Romans 7:6

I promise the next blog will come sooner rather than later and to speed things up a bit I'm going to do verses 12-15. Until next time.

In our sweet & precious Savior,

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Virtuous Wife - "a woman of strength"

Here I am nine months after my husband, Michael, and I said our vows. It's amazing to me what God has done with our marriage in that short time. And not only during that 9 months but I have felt Him working in our lives since we were engaged two years ago. From not having a church home, to finally finding a church that we really enjoyed, to joining, coaching basketball (Mike), attending the Marriage and Laughter seminar in January and finally to God leading us and a few other couples to start our own Young Married Sunday School class, He has truly been working. I have seen one of the biggest changes in my husband's heart which completely melts my own. The man that used to be on a time frame in church and didn't like to read the bible, now beats me getting up and ready for church and is probably more consistent with his quiet time than I am. I say all of this to show you how God is truly working because it is through Him that we have found this undescribable joy and fullness in our lives. Our marriage is only complete in Christ.

I have really taken pride and joy in being Michael's wife. I say in my letter to Michael on our wedding day that I was never the girl that dreamed about her wedding day. I dreamed about having a "big girl job", traveling, and life but that I could all of that and have the man of my dreams. Looking back, how silly was I to not dream about being married? I guess I was afraid of being fully reliant and dependent on A MAN. I mean, come on... they are just men. But God had assured me time and time again why I fell in love with Michael and why he is my partner and why I should be reliant on him. So, I strive to be the best wife I can be. In the beginning, that meant doing all the laundry (still try to do this because let's face it I don't want him doing mine :)), cooking most nights during the week, and other "wifely duties". However, it was soon clear to me that those things didn't make a home. It wasn't going to feed my husband's heart and I started thinking was I really living the life of a Christian wife and doing the things God called me to do?

This is really when we began to get more involved in church. We bought Michael a bible, we began having quiet time together one Monday mornings to reflect on what we learned during the sermon on Sunday, and we've tried to do a bible memory verse each month. We also try (although we have been really bad lately) to read from a couple's devotional, "The Love Dare" each night before we go to bed. Also, little things such a prayer before every meal, even out at restaurant has become a staple in our marriage and something that him and I look forward to.

As I continue to think about what it means to be a Godly woman and wife, I decided I was going to reflect back on one of my favorite chapters in the bible - Proverbs 31 (specifically vs 10-31). I'd like to do this on the 6th of each month (Michael and I were married on October 6, 2013) as a reminder. You may be very familiar with this. It is the "token" Christian wife scripture. However, I think it is much more than that and can be applied to all women. There are so many things we can learn from this annonymous woman. Over the next couple of months I'm going to be writing about my journey through Proverbs 31 as I dive a little deeper. I have found this blog as an outlet for me but also if I can help any women, encourage just one of you, then that makes pleases God and makes me happy.

I'll begin by saying what in the world is a VIRTUOUS wife? It sounds pretty cool doesn't it? I feel like a little kid in class raising my hand saying "I want to be one! Pick me!". A virtous wife, in a literal sense, means "woman of strength". Now I'm really waving my hand in the air wanting God to pick me. But the truth is, God offers this to any woman, not just a select few. So why is this meaningful? And what does being a woman of strength mean?

1. I think this is meaningful because God said so. :) God has created Eve from Adam's flesh (or to be literal Adam's rib, Gen 2:21-22). Notice the key reasons God created women in the verse below (I've bolded them).

Genesis 2:18 – 24
18) Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." 19) Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20) The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. 21) So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22) The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23) The man said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." 24) For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25) And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Adam couldn't do it alone. He needed a "helper sutiable for him". Notice that it didn't say just any ole helper or another man. He needed a woman, and the right woman at that. God knew exactly which woman Adam needed and he created Eve. And it's important that it was a woman, not a man, because God knew that men needed the kind of helper that would be emotionally supportaive and posses different qualities than a man.

God also says that a virtuous woman's worth is far above rubies (Proverbs 31:10). Did you know that rubies are worth more than diamonds? Let's put it this way, if diamonds are a girls best friend, then rubies are a girls soul mate. :) I'm not a jewelry expert but I believe it is in part because they are so rare. Also in vs. 10 it states "Who can find a virtuous woman" indicating that virtuous women, like rubies, are also rare. In other words, a women who is virtuous is precious to God. So, we are VERY important to God's design, ladies.

2. What does being a woman of strength (a virtuous woman) mean? Does it mean strong in the literal sense? Probably not... although having a strong and healthy body does help you be more confident and more active which leads to being a healthier woman and wife. A woman of strength indicates the kind of woman that the woman in Proverbs 31 is. She knows what she believes. She loves the Lord and can handle anything that comes her way because she has the Lord on her side. She not only takes care of her family but she works, and works hard not only in her home but outside of her home as well - volunteering, working with her hands, making investments/ she makes thoughtful decisions on behalf of her family. Geez, she is pretty great. When it comes down to it I think it's all about her heart and her intentions to do what is pleasing to the Lord and what is right for her family. If you don't have your own family yet, that means to your parents and friends.

Over the next month I'll go through the verses and we'll see what all of her characteristics are. I'd like to focus on them one at a time to reflect on what they really mean and how to practice them in everyday life. The first part we'll be focusing on is the verses below:

"The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain." Proverbs 31:11

Until next time,
R &M

Monday, July 15, 2013

Dobie Update!

It's been a while since I have mentioned Chloe... Not because she hasn't been on my mind (constantly I might add) but because I have been anxiously awaiting news of how her training was going. 

(In case you need a refresher: We fostered Chloe and after a month or so we decided to adopt her but shortly after had some aggression issues so he has since been in training in Springfield, TN with a highly recommended trainer. Chloe is above right and our dog, Bella, is above left.)

I talked with Erica and Melanie from Streetdog Foundation (the rescue group I volunteer with and that is helping Chloe find her forever home) and I have exciting news to report! 

Chloe's Report:
She is now at a foster home in Dyersburg, TN. Her new foster, Melissa, and her family are going to contiue training with Chloe until they feel she is ready for a home OR may even adopt her themselves. Melissa's 15 year old daughter is in love with Chloe and rightly so. She is so easy to fall head over heels in love with. The report from the trainer is that she is extremely smart, needs an alpha human in her life and also needs a "job to do!". In fact, this trainer also does search and rescue training and has offered to train Chloe for free. Her foster, Melissa, has worked at shelters and humane societies and with rescues so she also has a lot of experience and has trained dobermans in the past. So, not only does Chloe have a strong alpha human in her life but she also may be a search and rescue dog! How cool is that? As always, I stand amazed at God's plan. 

This is also something that has been on my mind lately... the need for me to control my life and question the ultimate plan and path that God has in store for me. So often I want to control but this is just one example that shows how more amazing life can be if you "let go and let God". Not only is Chloe better off now, getting the training and lifestyle she needs to succeed but Michael, Bella and I are happier than ever. Life is "back to normal" and Bella is 100% her sweet, prissy and smart self. I love my little family of 3. In fact, we just celebrated Bella's 3rd birthday! I can't believe where the time has gone. Below is a collage of Bella's birthday night. We had a great time!

I am so happy to give a good report on Chloe and so happy that our sweet girl is another year older, healthy and happy! God is so faithful and we are so blessed.

I hope you have a wonderful week and enjoy the little things in life like dogs' birthdays! :)

R & M

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Big man, even bigger heart

On February 1, 2013 you may remember a post titled "Little Lady, Big Heart" about Michael's grandmother, Nanny. Now, on June 20th, only 4 and a half months later, I'd like to share with you about her husband and Michael's grandather, DD also known as Jim Reid, who passed away on Tuesday, June 18th after over 200 days in Methodist Hopsice and after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease.

Jim Reid smile :)

Love this picture of nanny & DD at Christmas time... I'm pretty sure this was the Home Builders Christmas Gala.

"Jim Reid was respected throughout the building and business communities as a good, honest man who could wear his jeans and t-shirt with a cigar in his mouth to dig a home's foundation in the morning and then be in a suit and tie to meet with the bankers in the afternoon."

The quote above is one of my favorite parts of DD's obituary. DD was the kind of man that wrote love letters to his future wife every day, drove long hours to see nanny when they lived hours apart, started a family business bulding homes with a little bit of experience, a dream, and a lot of hard work, gave anything and everything to his family, came to every basketball game, graduation, and birthday party that any of the grandkids had, and knew that a simple life was a happy life. What an extrodinary person he was and what an extrodinary legacy he leaves with his sweet family. You can read his full obituary and see what rich life he lead, sweet pictures that serve as memories of who he was and who he has helped his children and grandchildren become, and memories that will always be in our hearts, here.

Here are a few of the pictures that I just love. You can tell how much these boys (Michael and Aaron) adored their DD even from a young age.

DD & Michael (love those little red curls :)

DD & Aaron (notice DD's got his popsicle in one hand and his cigar in another :)

The boys with nanny & DD

DD with his Reid Homes shirt that Michael & Aaron got him. This is exactly how I will remember DD... In his chair at home surrounded by famiy with a slight smile and big blue eyes peering up at us.

There are truly no words (although DD's obituary will give you insight on the kind of man he was and the type of family and business he built) that can describe him and his family. I am so blessed to be a part of his legacy through marriage to Michael. I can only hope that Michael and I can live like him, love like him, and raise a family like him.

We love you DD.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Next to me

We had the best time this weekend at our cousin's (Matthew & Sarah's) wedding! It was in Rogers, Arkansas which was just as pleasant as they said it was. Rogers is a smaller town, relatively speaking, with the cutest square, great shopping and beautiful scenery.

As I watched Matthew & Sarah say their vows I couldn't help but remember our own. Being with Michael in the chapel at our church in front of all of our friends and family, while saying our vows, was the hands down the sweetest and most intimate experience of my whole life. How wonderful is God and his gift of marriage?

We will be married 8 months this week. Life has never been sweeter. Yes, we have definitely had our share of ups and downs, believe me... there are times when I want to ring his neck for being on his phone all the time and leaving his golf stuff in our dining room and I know there are times he'd like to ring mine (although I have no clue what for... :)) but I do know this much - God gives you little glimpses of what heaven must be like when you find that one who your soul loves. Saturday night reminded me of just that. Although we were in the middle of his family celebrating Sarah and Matthew, we were also in our own little world... on the dance floor, at the bar, wherever we were at the reception. We had such a blast together! Sometimes you just need to dance and laugh and God knew exactly what we needed. I am so thankful for this gift of marriage and I thank my God for him.

On the dance floor. :)

As we were driving home and holding hands one of my favorite songs (as of late) came on. I couldn't help but smile as I looked down at his hand in mine as he was so sweetly rubbing my hand. In that moment I didn't want to move. I really just wanted to freeze in time and remember how much fun we had. It's hard to explain unless you've been there. Anyway, I want to remember it and want our future children to know how this feels, how their parents felt about each other and how love is supposed to feel... so I'm blogging it. :) The days of pen and paper are long over!

Without further ado... I'll let Emeli take it away. Click here for the music video of one of my favorite songs lately & the song that reminds me how blessed I am to have Michael next to me!


Friday, May 24, 2013

Chloe, our little spark

Well as most of you probably know by now (because I couldn't keep this news off of facebook and instagram), we have officially adopted Chloe. For those of you who may not know who Chloe is let me fill you in...

This is Chloe.

And this was her first night in our home. :)

She's a one year old doberman, one ear flops and the other stands straight up (one of many characteristics that I find adorable about her), she's a skinny petite little thing that loves more than anything to be close to you, put her big paws on your leg, arm or even face if you let her, who's cropped little tail is always wagging, sits directly on your feet and loves to gaze up at you with those big brown eyes, loves food of ANY kind (after all when you go without, you're up for anything) chew up toys (no matter how durable you may think they are), runs as fast as the wind, and has the most genuine and sweet little heart that I've ever seen in an animal (well besides my Bella girl, that is). I'm a little in love if you can't tell!

Chloe has consumed most of our lives this past month. If we weren't with her we were certainly always thinking about her. We were connected with Chloe through the dog rescue group that I volunteer with - Street Dog Foundation. They knew that we were doberman lovers (after all Bella is at least 1/2 of my heart) and called when they found her. She was dropped off at Shelby Forrest. We think she must have been living in the woods for weeks. When she was found her ribs showed, she had ticks, and worst of all (but we didn't know at the time), she was heart worm positive. How can someone dump such a sweet little girl? I mean look at this face!

I will never understand this and pray that those people are shown more mercy and grace by our God then they have given.

Michael and I just knew that we should foster Chloe from the minute we saw her. I'll never forget meeting this wild little skinny doberman and then looking down at Bella who's my calm, mature princess (who also has notably not skipped a meal.. :) and thinking WOW. How can we really go from this to that? We're so used to Bella who is for the most part poised, trained and in her little routine.

We thought and prayed about it and decided to take Chloe in and let me tell you it was an experience for the first 2 weeks. I've never realized how mentally and physically draining fostering is. It's something you just have to experience for yourself. It took some adjusting for Miss Bella too although now I don't think Bella could imagine being alone again.

After she started heart worm treatment, which was pretty rough on her for a couple of days, we found friends that were interested in taking Chloe for a 2 week trial. When the day came that they picked Chloe up I literally felt like I was giving away my own child. I was a hot mess the entire week... crying, calling Michael and my mom, etc. When it didn't work out with the family I couldn't wait to get her back. From the moment she walked back in that door (and we realized she was in heat... what an experience that was... never thought I'd go to Target to get Depends for a dog) we knew that we couldn't let her leave again. Bella was instantly happier. That week she had been moppy around the house. We also kind of felt like a little spark was missing.

In the 2 weeks since we've had her back she has learned to wait patiently for her food, share toys and even bones (which is a BIG deal around our house) with Bella, sit when commanded, walk on a leash, and give kisses. :) She took her last heart worm treatment yesterday so now she can really run and play again! Yesterday was also a big day because she was adopted into our family as Chloe Ann Jacques. (Oh yea Mike... I gave her a middle name too) :) We celebrated with a "Welcome Home Chloe" peanut butter cake from Three Dogs Bakery, a ceremony with Streetdog, a sweet poem and a bag full of goodies!

We are so happy to say she's ours. Here's some pictures from our little celebration.

Waiting on cake!

First family photo but certainly not the last. We love our girls!!!

So proud to be her mama!

First experience with cake was a success. She couldn't get enough. Don't worry, Bella got 1/2 too. :)

I hope we can give Chloe the forever home that she so deserves. We love her so much & think that she loves us too! If you are considering fostering or adopting, DO. You don't know how big of a difference you can make in a dog's life and how much it will impact yours.

R & M

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sign. Sealed. Delivered.

I'm so excited to announce the our investment house is officially SOLD! There was a lot of hard work put into this house. Congratulations are in order! :) 

I am so incredibly proud of my husband. Not only for his work ethic but also for his passion... for what he does, for his family, his girls (Bella and Chloe... More on who Chloe is a little later this week), friends and most importantly his passion for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I told Mike recently that I have seen God working so much in his life (and in my own)... It is truly a blessing. My heart is full of joy. There is nothing more attractive to me than seeing my husband lead our family and love on me & our girls. Now, that is what I call sexy! :) 

I love you more and more everyday Michael Jacques. Just thought you should know. 

"I thank my God every time I remember you." Philippians 1:3 


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Simply Be

It has been quite some time since I have posted on the ole blog... about a month to be exact. Where has the time gone? It seems like I am always so busy running from point A to point B, checking off things on the "to-do" list, making sure Michael and Bella have food to eat so they don't starve... okay that was a little dramatic but you know what I mean. It seems like our culture is all about doing more and being more and that the busier we are, the more successful or productive we will be and feel. I am 100% guilty of this as I suffer from the "can't say no" over-commitment complex. I stay busy because I don't know how to simply just be.

I recently took a trip to Palm Springs, CA to see my brother. It was absolutely gorgeous. Stunning mountain views, palm trees, and the breeze was incredible. Here's a picture of my view each morning. Here's a picture of my brother, Jake, and I. Trust me, the coffee tasted better with this view. :)

They say the mountains that surround Palm Springs provide a sense of spiritual healing. The energy there is hard to describe. The way of life even more indescribable. I wasn't over concerned with checking emails, running errands and planning out our vacation for 2014... I simply enjoyed what God had given me... what was right in front of me. And everyone there seemed to be doing the same thing! I had a bit of culture shock. Although, I've been to California before it felt different this time. Maybe I noticed the smaller things or maybe God was pointing them out to me. Let me show you what I mean.

While we were visiting Laguna Beach for the day, I watched this lady (in the 2nd picture above) stroll along the street wit her dog and come up to this little shop to get her gourmet cheeses and perhaps dinner for the night. (I was enjoying my gelato in the same shopping complex that she came into... I have a weird obsession with gelato and people-watching for that matter). She brought her adorable dog with her because, well, they all bring their dogs everywhere. He sat there and patiently waited on his owner to come out from the shop. Not tied to a leash, or anything. I thought this was pretty cool so I snapped a picture. I liked sitting there and picturing what her life must be like. Even if she did the same things I did during a normal week (which I can bet she doesn't), she sure looked like she was enjoying her day and living in the moment. And even the dog seemed different. He seemed at peace and enjoying his life too. We saw more dogs on the beach and they had the same look. Relaxed and taking it all in. Wouldn't it be neat if we could do this every day? Here are a couple more pictures from Laguna.

Next is our experience at the Mexican restaurant. See below!

This is a picture from a fabulous Mexican Restaurant off the main strip in Palm Springs. It was a neat Mexican restaurant that seemed like it was inside but although it had walls, it was all open sky. And the live music put everyone in a great mood. I SO WISH I would have snapped a picture of the lady I'm about to tell you about. She seemed to be in her 70's... maybe even early 80's. She had white hair, a thin frame and wore a smile that made you want to know more about her. She was dancing with a tall, thin, young guy with dark black hair. He was Hispanic. My brother, my mom and I couldn't stop watching them. At first we thought maybe he worked there and was being nice to dance with her. But then they went back to a table and proceeded to talk and laugh before getting up to dance to the next song. We couldn't figure out the situation but it didn't matter. What mattered is that she was having a night to remember. She was enjoying every bit of it. The air, the music and her gentleman. How often do I take my nights for granted? Too often to count. This lady left a lasting impression on me.

And last is Jaclyn - the ranch owner from Morango Valley. Jaclyn moved out West after a divorce in 1986. She raised her kids in the dessert of Morango Valley and has built herself a lovely place with mountains and desserts as her scenery. But let's not forget the 30+ horses, 50+ chickens, 3 dogs and cat that she feeds every single day. She runs the entire ranch by herself. On top of that, she gives horse rides for tourists (like us) where she welcomes them into her world for 3 hours of bliss. This was no tourist adventure, let me tell you. As we rode along the mountainside it was so peaceful and I couldn't help to think what her life was like either. Simple. Beautiful. And more than anything enjoyable. She loves what she does and truly lives life to the fullest each day. What an inspiration! Here are so more pictures of us riding horses. This was incredible!

These 3 women, among other moments I experienced while in California, got me thinking about how I don't take the time to truly enjoy life like they did. Whether it be culture thing or a personal thing, there are no excuses. We control what we control and I know that what I can control is my priorities and my schedule for the most part. A great friend of mine left me with an email ending in this quote below.

“What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what gets you out of bed in the mornings, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”
Pedro Arrupe (1907-1991)

I don't think I need to add anything to this beautiful quote. I'll simply say this...

I think this is something we all struggle with today. From elaborate weddings, showers and events that we feel like we have to plan, trips we feel like we need to take, constant home improvement projects, striving to keep up with trends in clothing, social media, and the like... what are we living for? I don't know about you, but I'm really kind of tired of it. I feel that I'm in my happiest place when I have time to sit on the back porch with Michael and Bella and feel the wind and sun on my face, when there is nothing on the "to-do" list and I've had time to mediate on things that are most important in my life. Most importantly, when I've spend time in God's word and he is teaching me what pure joy and peace truly looks like. It's then that I can really seize the day and really live.

My happy place. :)

I am determined to simply be and I hope you all can find time to do the same.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Tea Cup Theology

I am reading such a wonderful book that I wanted to share with you.

I am a part of a Women's Christian Book Club that some girlfriends and I started about 2 months ago. We are meeting once a month and doing brunch, chatting about girly things, prayer requests and discussing our book. The first book we chose wasn't that great so last meeting we decided to start over. We picked "Calm My Anxious Heart" by Linda Dillow.

What an awesome choice! I am only mid-way through Chapter 2 and I am already in love with it. Last night I literally turned off my Kindle and said, "Wow" out loud.

One thing from the first chapter that I really loved was her analogy of each woman being like their very own special tea cup (hence her paragraph title, "Teacup Theology").

Picture credit: http://www.handmadepotteryart.com

Some may be dainty with lace pattern trim, others may be bold with funky patterns and some may just be plain and solid as a rock... unbreakable. We are all designed differently. And each tea cup also holds a different amount or portion. God knows exactly what we need to fill our cup. What I have in my cup will look different than what my friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers have in their cups. The cool thing about it is that God fills our cup with our portion. He knows best and knows what we can handle. So instead of wishing to be like another cup and have what the other cups may be holding, we need to learn to trust God and be content with what he has given us.

I know right? Easier said than done. Even Jesus asked for a different portion in his cup in the Garden of Gethsemane (when was praying to God about his crucifixion)

"And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39

But later when he went away again and prayed he said, "...My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done." Matthew 26:42

So how can we expect to do this? Just like Jesus did. By taking our cup handle and lifting it up to God. After all, every tea cup has a handle. And I am so, so thankful that through the blood of Jesus, we do.

I am so looking forward to continuing this journey to contentment with this book, God, and some good girlfriends! I can't wait to finish reading and I'll definitely share more. Hope everyone is having a great start to Holy Week and is focusing on the cross... the one thing that truly matters in this world.

R & M

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

More than just a house.

Today is the day that our investment house goes on the market!(For those of you who may not know, Michael and I officially closed on a foreclosure property on February 8th with the intent of flipping the house and selling it. This was by all means Michael's idea and one that I was skeptical of at first... more on that later.) Here's a picture of my man in front of the house and for sale sign!

I am one proud wife. :)

This journey has really produced a number of emotions for the both of us: fear of the unknown, excitement, stress, joy, a little bit of sadness (sadness during the loss of his grandmother nanny and reflection back on the good ole days when his grandfather was starting their family business), humility, and unexpectantly a lot of love and appreciation for one another. Let me start from the beginning.

Michael has always had big dreams and big plans. I enjoy listening to what he wants to do and I do believe in him 100%. His passion and his drive are qualities that I admire in him. One of the most serious fights we have ever gotten into was involving this investment house and that's because... it was about money... dun, dun, dun (you know what sound I'm going for right?) It's what we were told couple's fight the most about in premarital counseling and something we knew we'd have to continually work on because we are both so independent with our money. To add to it, I am conservative and risk adverse and he is not conservative at all and is very comfortable with taking risks so that makes it even more interesting. It made me nervous to take out a loan to do this. Hey, I blame it on Dave Ramsey. I still carry cash that I get from my envelopes each month. :) Michael assured me that he knew what he was doing. After all, this is his career. This was lesson # 1 for me: Trust in God and submit to your husband. As much as I wanted to fight back and say no, we can't do that... it's just too risky, (okay well I did say that), I realized that this is something that he really wanted to do. And something that he says that is so sweet and touches my heart every time about why he wants to do these things: "I'd love to be able to make money in order to give more money back". Who can argue with that? Plus, God commands that I let Michael lead our family. "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." Ephesians 5:21-24 So, after one big fight and a lot of discussion and prayer, we decided to take out a loan and begin the search for the right foreclosure.

Michael looked for the house for months and finally found this one. I don't know what I was expecting... a house with maybe a little bit of work needed like paint and light fixtures? Boy, was I wrong.

Words cannot describe the condition we found the house in... nor the smell. So here are some pictures to show you what the house first looked like.




















I know what you are thinking... there is no way you could pay me to live in something like that. What hit home the most for us is that there really are people living like this today. And in case the pictures didn't do it justice, this is before the old mildewed clothes and dog feces was on the floor. How many times have I complained about my house because I didn't have the perfect mirror for the entry way or the right window treatment in our master bedroom? I know, I know God... "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life--in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing." Philippians 2:14-16. This is a daily struggle for me and one I intend to work on.

Again, I was hesitant about the house but Michael was confident and assured me he had everything under control. Have I mentioned how much I love and admire this man?

Weeks went by and we cleaned, power-washed all of the inside and outside walls of the house, got sheet rock done, pulled up old carpet, replaced floors, cleaned, painted, cleaned again, got all new fixtures and kitchen/bathroom appliances, and cleaned some more. This is my version of it... I'm sure Michael would tell you a MUCH longer story. He and his dad were there day in and day out. I'm so proud of him and how hardworking he is. He keeps ME motivated! Love you, Mike. :) Here's some pictures of the "in between" before and after pictures.











Throughout this time I can't tell you the sense of joy I had in my heart and the love that grew even deeper for my husband. I always tell him how proud I am of him because I always am. But throughout this process I hope I told him enough. It's hard to describe with words how much I love him and how extremely proud I am that he is my husband. To be honest there were times that I struggled with wanting to go to the house and clean. Picture a beautiful sunny Saturday morning. What would you want to do? Sip coffee on the couch? Go to the park? Shop? Me too. And for the most part I still got to do that stuff but some Saturdays were sacrificed and after I actually got there I was so glad I did. He needed my help with cleaning. After all, we are a partnership and I know (for a fact) he does things for me all the time that he doesn't particularly want to do(sweet boy). Plus, we had his wonderful parents there to help which made it so much easier. (I have the best mother-in-law in the world... love you Mrs. Ronda). After I would help it felt so rewarding and like the least I could do for my husband who was working on this house every day of the week (including the weekends). He thanked me and appreciated me in a different way than he had before... and we learned to express that appreciation didn't we Michael? :) Yes, I need words of affirmation as does Michael. It's one of our "love languages". If you don't know what I'm talking about, google it! Great book.

Finally, yesterday, we went back to the house to take all of the after pictures. It was even more put together than when I had last seen it. It is truly a place that will make some family very happy and I can see many memories being built there. We went to eat sushi to celebrate and a little TCBY afterwards. :) Here are some of the after pictures!




























So you see, this was not just about building a house. We learned a lot about each other. We learned even more what marriage really means and how we want to build our family with a strong foundation in Christ... (“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:46-49) That's what Michael and I want for our family... to build our home on a solid foundation that will not waiver... that is all about Jesus.

Michael learned a lot that he will use for his future investment house endeavors, a lot about himself, a lot about me, and a little glimpse of what his grandfather must have went through starting the business... How incredible! I'm sure there is much more he would tell you he learned but the man is not a writer... or a reader for that matter so you'll have to just read my version. :) And I, well, I have learned a lot this past month and a half. I have learned (yet again) how incredibly blessed I am to have such a loving, hardworking and intelligent husband and more than anything how blessed we both are to have family and friends supporting us and a God that has been through every emotion that we experienced, who loves us unconditionally (even when we wanted to strangle each other or walk away), who we can talk and walk with daily, and who has overcome the world. We are both so humbled, thankful and blessed.

I am so glad I got to experience this with you, Michael. I can't wait for our next one! But first, we have a house to sell... and prayers are always welcomed! :)

Until next time,
R & M