Thursday, March 10, 2016

Reversing a Rainy Day Mood

In my part of the state, it has been rainy and overcast all week. Not my favorite type of weather unless I’m cuddled up in bed with a warm drink and a good movie.  People generally grumble and complain about the dreary weather and seem a bit grumpier than usual. Early in the week, I paid little attention to the grumbles but a rambling whiner on Facebook grabbed my attention today. She listed several unfortunate circumstances that had basically ruined her week and the rain was on the list of culprits for her less than desirable week.  In all honesty, after reading her post, I was agitated by her complaints and clear overindulgence in #firstworldproblems.
However, I started considering how the rain can have a significant impact on anyone’s mood, if they allow it to. If you are one of the many people, myself included, that tend to be a little grumpy on rainy days, I would like to encourage you to reconsider what a rainy day means!  Rain is refreshing and symbolic of new life! It’s God’s provision for plants, animals and all of mankind. After a rain the flowers are beautiful and the grass is a lush, vibrant green. The sound of rain on the window pane is soothing and relaxing, even in the midst of a chaotic work day.
Instead of feeling sad when you awake to realize the day's forecast requires an umbrella, find an activity that you can enjoy on rainy days. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • Curl up under your favorite blanket with a warm drink and captivating book.
  • Stay in your pajamas and binge watch a new Netflix series in bed.
  • Pull some toys from the bottom of the toy box and create new games with your kiddos.
  • Put on a jammin’ playlist and get ahead on chores I’ve been avoiding
The next time it rains, allow the rain the trigger thoughts of renewal and cleansing in your own mind! Pause for a moment to enjoy the fresh smell of a spring rain and bask in the calming breeze that lingers in the air as the rain ceases.

Did I leave your favorite rainy day activity off of the list? How do you make the choice to enjoy a rainy day?
Thursday, February 25, 2016

Why You Should Use the Simplest Feature on the Most Common Bible App

Do you have an ever-growing stack of devotionals and journals that you were oh so excited to started but somehow never completed? Do you find that you desire to move on to a new study before you finish your current one? If this is you, keep reading!

One of my commitments for the year is to wake up earlier in the morning in order to be more consistent in my daily quiet time. I recently discovered the simplest feature of one of the most popular bible apps could help me follow through on my commitment! Chances are good that you already have the YouVersion Bible App downloaded on all of your electronic devices (if not, go ahead and do that now…I’ll wait). Perhaps you’ve been using it for years, as I have and you enjoy many of the useful features like creating verse images, bookmarking and highlighting passages, and even recording notes in the app. These features are all helpful, but not the feature that has aided me in my daily reading.
A few months ago, my husband kept sharing wonderful spiritual insights the Lord was communicating to him through a new devotional he was reading. After several days of hearing about it, I inquired deeper. He shared with me that He had almost completed a 7 day reading plan on the YouVersion Bible App and encouraged me to go browse the app and save any reading plans that looked intriguing. Now, the devotionals or reading plan feature on the app was not new to me. I have completed several of them in the past. But I realized two things after our conversation, there are plans of varying length and I can save plans I see for future use.

What’s so earth-shattering about these realizations? The option to save reading plans for later allowed me to choose a plan but not commit to it today! There was something very freeing about that for me. Recognizing that I could start and complete a full reading plan in just one week was revolutionary! Often times in the past, I am so excited to start a study on a particular topic and the enthusiasm slowly fades until about 3 weeks in I’m forcing myself to “just finish” so that I can move on to something new. I’m not tired of God’s word or tired of studying I just seem to have a fairly short attention span when it comes to devotionals.
Since starting to utilize the Bible App Reading Plans to enhance my quite time, I can proudly say that I have been more consistent with my bible reading and each morning (well most mornings!) I look forward to reading and I complete the plan with the same enthusiasm as day 1.

So there it is folks, the simplest feature on the most common bible app that can help you be more consistent reading the bible! Which tools help you stay consistent in your daily time with the Lord?
Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Baby's First Trip

Hubby and I started an annual travel tradition six years ago. Every year we take a New Year trip, around New Year’s Day, to a fun location! We typically seek a domestic location that doesn’t require much travel time via car or air to reach. Usually, the trip lasts about 3 or 4 days and serves as an excellent kick off for the New Year! This year, as new parents, we had a 10 month old baby, Jaxon, to join us in our annual tradition. My mother tried to convince me that we should leave Jaxon with her while we went somewhere fun but Josh and I were both determined that we wanted this to become a family tradition.

The Destination
So the planning began, where would we go, what would we do, how would Jaxon react?? The first objective was to choose a location.  We needed to find somewhere that would be a short flight (less than 2 hours) or drive (less than 4 hours), was baby friendly, and offered plenty of indoor fun to protect us from the cold winter weather. We tossed around several ideas and eventually settled on Austin. Josh and I have visited Austin several times together but never visited as sightseeing tourists together. We thought there would be plenty of great opportunities to create memories.

The Drive
Jaxon has never been extremely fond of riding in his car seat but he will tolerate it when necessary. We chose to leave early in the day to take advantage of Jaxon’s pleasant morning attitude.  It took us a little over 4 hours to make it to Austin and baby boy slept for about 3 hours of the drive! When he woke up, we promptly took a break to grab some lunch, stretch our legs and change his diaper. He started to get fidgety during the last 30 minutes of the drive, so I sang songs with him and made silly faces. Honestly, I must say that the drive was a piece of cake!

The Hotel

I was delighted to find a great deal on a very unique hotel, Habitat Suites. This all-suite hotel is a former apartment community that has been converted into a hotel! Each suite has a separate living area, bedroom, and kitchen. The absolute perfect setup for a family, especially with young kids. The service was good and they even provided a free hot breakfast each day that was delicious! After our stay here, we decided that in the future we will always stay in suites when Jaxon is traveling with us. It is so convenient to put him to bed in another room and then relax on the couch and watch TV as a couple. Not something we could have done, with our light sleeper, in a regular hotel room.

The Adventures
Our first stop was the Hope Outdoor Gallery. Parking was a challenge but well worth the effort. This place is constantly evolving and you can watch the artists work! Definitely take the time to stop by the next time you are in town and snap a few fun pictures.

The following morning, I had a walking tour of the Capitol area scheduled. It was quite chilly outside but we decided to bundle up and go anyway. The tour was a 90 minute walking tour that started right outside the capitol building. Well, Josh and I were willing to brave the cold but our little guy wasn’t having it! We made it about 2 blocks away from the capitol, less than 30 minutes into the tour and politely departed from the group to seek a warmer activity. We headed to the capitol and took a tour. The guided tour was quick and informative. However I must say the highlight of the capitol was taking an adorable picture of Jaxon in the main foyer area! Hopefully he will appreciate my forethought someday when he’s able to use it for a grade school Texas history project!

On day two Josh went to stand in line at Franklin’s BBQ at 8:30 in the morning! Jaxon and I stayed and played, ripped up paper, in the hotel room.  Josh arrived with lunch around 12:30, that’s right he stood in line for 4 hours! Was it worth it? In my opinion, no but then again, I’m not a big BBQ fan to begin with. I’ll share this… The pulled pork was the best I have ever had, the ribs were peppery and delicious, and the sausage was absolutely disgusting!

After lunch we headed to the Lyndon B Johnson Presidential Library and the Bullock Texas History Museum.  The Bullock museum was very child friendly and it is FREE on second Sundays! We stayed at the Bullock museum for a little over an hour and then headed to the LBJ Library. We really enjoyed how the exhibits made history come to life! My favorite part was the phone call recordings throughout the library.  There were telephone’s dispersed around the museum that you simply picked up to hear the recorded calls of President Johnson speaking with celebrities, politicians, and family members.  It was really neat!

On our last morning we got up early, had breakfast, and packed up to leave town. We stopped by the Texas State Cemetery. It is a beautiful, peaceful place. Unfortunately, it was just too cold to truly enjoy a stroll across the entire site with a baby. We were able to see a few headstones of very influential Texans including Stephen F Austin and Barbara Jordan, and took a stroll through the onsite exhibit center.  I would like to go back perhaps in the spring when the weather is milder to explore a bit more.

After a brief visit to the Texas State Cemetery we headed home. Overall, it was a calm and fun first mini vacation as a family of three! We had the opportunity to explore our home-state capitol, laugh, relax, and create a few memories that will last a lifetime.  Here's a few highlight pictures from the trip!

Have you visited Austin, Texas? What are your favorite places to visit while in town?