We’re A Coastal Kind Of Family

We’re A Coastal Kind Of Family

Well, this is my first old-fashioned blog post. You know, the kind where you actually share family photos, thoughts, and reflections without a “top 5 ways”, or links to where you can buy things. So, here you will find some super sweet pictures of our family enjoying the beautiful coast we live on, my thoughts on summer, and our love for the coast.

We are a warm weather, long beach days, sun kissed (or maybe I should say golden/bronze. 😆) kind of family so the coast is pretty ideal for us. But, we mainly love it because of the the extended warm days we spend riding bikes to the nature trails, swimming in the pool, or at the beach. We love the convenience of getting to the beach or on the water in less than 20 minutes.

This summer (and yes I know it’s technically not summer yet, but in Corpus Christi it feels like summer in April so I’m already there mentally 😆) we are loving our evenings out on the boat. At ages four and five, our kids are finally at a age where it is enjoyable to take them out on the boat and actually get to stay out on the water for a substantial amount of time. Our favorite time to go is around five in the evening.  That gives us plenty of time to fish, eat our packed dinner, and find a shore to explore. Some times we go as a family and sometimes we bring friends along. Either way, it’s always a blast. My heart is so full just watching our kids explore God’s creation with fascination, finding crabs, seashells, and fish.

There’s just something about going outside, especially by the ocean that resets my mind and puts me in a total relaxed mood and all stress falls away. It’s bliss for me. On another note, regarding summer in general.

This summer I made a few vows—to soak up all of the sweet moments, being fully present in them all. To say yes when my kids want me to swim with them,  even if I did just wash my hair. And to have fun with my family!

Really, I want my kids to look back on their childhood and think of how fun their mom and Dad were. The dance parties on the boat, the night swimming in the pool, and all of the laughter. I want them to remember us living life to the fullest—loving each other and others so well along the way. I hope you find your summer bliss as well. If you live near the coast, I hope you find more time to soak it up.

 

 

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Simplified Ways To Study The Bible

Simplified Ways To Study The Bible

We all live such busy lives and sometimes it seems hard to make the time to sit and read or study the Bible. But, when we do make time for the word there are so many benefits! My husband always says,

“If you don’t know what the Lord is saying, then start with reading what He has said”.

And it’s so true, the Lord can truly speak to us through His word and that makes all the difference in our lives! I find that reading and speaking the word over myself is the best way towards renewing my mind, and replacing lies from the enemy with truth from our Father.

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite ways to study the word in such a hectic life full of little ones and ministry. There’s really nothing religious about it, and I honestly don’t spend long amounts of time reading every single day. Because, well, life happens. Here are my current top five ways to study and why I love them!

All titles are clickable links to take you to the source.

1. Read Scripture app

I recommend this app to everyone! Especially if you are new to reading or truly understanding the Bible as a big picture. The app includes videos that illustrate most of the books by drawing out and explaining each book in such a simplistic way. I could not love it enough. Lots of times if I am rushed for time, or if I am driving or cleaning, I let the videos play just to listen. Great resource!

 2. She Reads Truth devotionals

She Reads Truth devotionals are so beautifully made with water color images, fantastic photography, even some DIY projects. But, besides the pretty factor, I enjoy how each devotion is on one book of the bible, and each day is based on a group of scriptures that tie into a theme. I have personally finished Proverbs and Genesis and just ordered 1 & 2ndCorinthians. On each day’s devotional, there are scriptures to read, and questions to answer. I typically read each scripture in various versions, then wright my thoughts on the writing space more often than specifically answering every question. I use it more as a place to reflect and break down scripture. This is great when you only have a short window of time to read.

3. She Reads Truth app

Much like other Bible apps, She Reads Truth app offers various study plans you can choose from and its great for on the go readings!

4. Passion Translation Bible

This is my all time FAV translation right now! I love, love, love all the footnotes and word translations offered for verses. Bible-gateway, and the YouVersion app now offer the TPT, but you can also buy the actual books (which I personally own and love because I am old school and love feeling a book, highlighting, and making notes) on amazon.

5. Apps to study word meaning:

Blue Letter Bible, Concordance, and Glo Bible apps.

Any time I’m preparing a message, or wanting to really expand my understanding of a verse or word I use these study apps. They are used for a deeper, more time extensive study. Each app will offer different capabilities, but over all I use them to read commentary from theologians, compare translations, and to find word definitions and translations.

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I hope this was helpful, and please feel free to ask any questions and let me know your favorite ways to study the word too! I love hearing from you guys! Until next time, I pray that your time with the Lord is the sweetest, most life-giving time that sets you on the right path and mindset for your day.

 

 

Why I started watercolor painting + Free prints!

Why I started watercolor painting + Free prints!

Some of you may remember that I wrote a children’s book in honor of my sweet Eden. Well, originally I had asked one of my super talented friends to illustrate the book, but as she began the painting process, I started feeling a nudge from the Lord to be the one to illustrate the book. Thankfully, she’s such a loving and encouraging friend that she totally understood and became my biggest cheerleader. (Gosh, I’m thankful for true friends!) At first, I honestly felt anxious at the thought of it. I do see myself as a creative, but I had never tried painting. I had no previous experience with watercolor, nor sketching images. Well, beside drawing giant block letters when we made pep rally signs in cheerleading. Oh, and all of those basic drawings as a kindergarten teacher. Which, my students thought were pretty amazing. But, besides that, nothing more.

Nonetheless, I decided to ask for an “art” table for Mother’s day so that I could create a simple little nook in our massive bedroom. (I have no idea why they built it so huge!)  I found the table at IKEA (of course :)) It’s right by a large window/door that gives me the best light ever for painting. It’s my happy place.

Then,  one day, after gathering supplies, I decided to sit down and just try it out. After looking at inspiration pictures online, and watching a few videos, I started to get the hang of it. The more I sketch and paint, the more I love it. It’s a new passion that I cannot get enough of. I am about 25% of the way done with my book illustrations. As much as I wish I could be done already, I am learning to take my time, enjoy the learning process, and trust the Lord’s timing for this book’s completion.

It’s a huge learning curve, but I know I’m the one for the job. Besides illustrating,  I have also been practicing painting some of the things I love or find inspiring.
I plan to continue sharing my watercolor journey with all of you, which is a super vulnerable, yet freeing move. Soon I’ll share my favorite supplies, as well as online classes I use, and of course I’ll offer more printables to my subscribers.
Who knew, at 34 years old I would find a love for painting?! It’s never to late to find a new passion guys. To see some of my paintings and more of my day to day painting fun, follow me on Instagram and check out my highlight stories.
Here are some super cute llamas I painted this week just for you.  I mean… who doesn’t like llamas? Just click the link below and subscribe to my blog and you will have access to both PDF files to print at home and use however you wish! I plan to frame one of these llamas and put it on the wall of our home office 🙂
For a more authentic look , try printing on watercolor paper. Please let me know if you have any trouble downloading or printing. I’d be glad to help you out! Until next time, have an amazing weekend and don’t forget to take time to create!
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A Letter To My Children

A Letter To My Children

I’m sure you’ll eventually learn this about your mother, but I thought I’d make sure it’s down in writing, just in case you ever needed a reminder. I’m writing only weeks after my thirty fourth birthday, as I’m reflecting on a gathering your dad and I attended recently. This gathering was full of wealthy and influential people, which isn’t an uncommon occurrence within the realm of pastoring or owning a business. This time though, the entire night I noticed such a reoccurring trend of pretentiousness.

This certain attitude used to irritate me to no end. “Who do these people think they are?”, or “Why is it so hard to find real people?” were some of my thoughts.  Eventually, I found myself avoiding contact and being ready to leave.

I’m sure by the time you can read, I will have thoroughly explained this word, but just in case you’re not fully aware of it’s depth, here’s the definition:

pre·ten·tious
attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, exaggerated importance, worth, or stature.
Some synonyms that truly define this as I’ve seen it play out in life:
  • Showy
  • Artificial/fake
  • Inflated
And I’ll add “stuffy”

The thing is, this gathering would have drove me kind of crazy in the past. I would have been planning our escape plan within the first ten minutes. But, the very attitude that used to rub me wrong, is now the attitude that tells me the most about the person. Pretentiousness now acts as red flag; a reminder from the Lord of their need for love.

What I had not realized when I came across this attitude before was that—

The more pretentious the person, the greater the amount of shame hides within.

A person full of shame is believing something is wrong with who they are. Being pretentious is just one of the many ways shame shows itself.

My loves… please be real, authentic, true to yourself, preferring of others, humble and kind. Because, fake-nice faces and halfhearted, disinterested conversations are unbecoming, and obvious to anyone around who has an ounce of discernment.

Be truly interested in what others have to say, not asking questions you don’t truly care to know the answers to.

True honor comes from being humble.

God resists you when you are proud but continually pours out grace when you are humble.”
James 4:6  (TPT)

I pray that as you grow, you become so aware of just how loved and valued you are by the Father, that shame never stands a chance.

I pray you grow to know your worth, value, and your true identity as His beloved child.

It is only in knowing and being known by your Father that you are able to live life never needing to measure up, look, or act any way other than who you were created to be.

Only then will you be able to live without barriers that prevent you from truly connecting with those who are not just like you.

If by chance, you have seasons or moments when you forget His goodness, I pray you find yourself surrounded by the kind of people who will remind you. The kind of people who only accept depth and truth, over pretention.

And last, I want you to know that you will always come across pretentiousness on all different levels from others. Always remember, every single person is loved deeply by the Father and we are called to love them just the same.

Coffee Waves Port Aransas Restored

Coffee Waves Port Aransas Restored

In March of 2010, almost eight years ago, Coffee Waves Port Aransas opened for business. My husband David, who I had just started dating then, designed the shop. Coffee Waves truly holds such special memories for locals, winter texans, spring breakers, and vacationers.

We were devastated when Hurricane Harvey wrecked havoc on Port Aransas. For more on our initial thoughts and journey towards overcoming, check out a previous post called “Unified Front: Hurricane Harvey Update“.

“Sadly, our coffee shop in Port Aransas is a total loss. The front door was knocked down by a wall of seaweed & trash. At least 3 feet of heavy flooding came in the shop, not to mention all the wind and rain. Please pray for my family, and the employees that will be without work for quite some time.” -David Bendett

After the shock and heartbreak, we went hard into clean up and rebuild.  We had our two littles come see the the damage and the rebuild process. They may not remember, but now we have photos to show them as we tell the story years from now.

With help from amazing volunteers, our favorite contractor, and a very supportive landlord, we were able to remodel and open for business four months later! The great thing about remodeling is that we got to make all of the changes we had longed to make over the years! Here are just a few of the changes-

  • Expanded kitchen
  • Improved bar layout
  • Office space
  • Increased seating options

I had so much fun designing this shop! The goal was to brighten and open up the space. White shiplap and tile, grey walls, and lots of plants made that happen!

For a pop of color we added a bright and fun chalkboard mural. The bench seating below the bar really helps us maximize seating in those busy summer months. I’d say the hanging plant rack is up there in my favorites along with the cement bar and chalk wall.  The shop is back and more beautiful than ever. That’s just how good our God is!

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The quote on the wall is something I came up with and something I believe down deep. I pray it brings hope to all who come in our shop.

And last, I want to say THANK YOU so much for all of the love and support! We are so excited to see Port Aransas restored to even more beauty than ever before!

May our shop serve as a place of peace, rest, and normalcy amidst the recovery process in Port Aransas.

 

Everything does not happen for a reason.

Everything does not happen for a reason.

I joke often about the fact that I I feel like I have a case of childhood amnesia. I swear I draw a blank for most of the things that took place in my life as a child. But, there are random times that I do remember, and those things remain so clear and detailed in my mind. When I think about this particular moment, I am in awe of the detail the Lord includes and allows us to remember within the story He writes of our lives. The story He is writing even when we have no clue that He is.

In middle school English class I wrote in a poem,

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

I stood at my teacher’s desk as she read my question outload, and responded with, “well, wouldn’t we all like to know the answer to that!”.

Reflecting back, I realize what depth that question carried, and what truth her answer revealed. The question I asked in middle school still stands as one of the most commonly asked questions people struggle with regarding faith in God.

The thing is, the closest we can get to having an answer to this question is–Once sin entered the world, so did free will. The fact that people have choices AND that there is a very real enemy working against us, with one sole mission to kill, steal, and destroy are the truths that bring us closest to a clear “why”.

Instead of focusing on the unknown, I prefer to focus on what I know to be true. The Bible is full of promises we can stand on. It’s also full of stories that reveal the true nature of our God.

Too often, instead of building relationship and trust in our Father, we try to answer or justify the unknowns within life by saying things like, “Everything happens for a reason”.  But the thing is, it only takes one tragic event in one’s life before that statement seems kind of cruel. The intention behind it is to bring comfort or resolve to a circumstance, but given the right circumstance such as premature death, sickness, harm done to innocent children, and that saying just doesn’t mesh well.

We might as well classify our Father as an abusive, controlling type if we believe He would cause or allow tragedy and pain to happen to us for any reason.

But, here’s the good news! We do have answers! We do serve a God with a solid track record of making wrong things right. This is where our hope lies.

Once we really start learning the true nature of our Father, we are instead overwhelmed by His love for us. We learn that–

He grieves and weeps with us.

He is closest to the broken hearted.

He is our help in our time of trouble.

And one of my all-time favorite character traits of His is–

He is always working on our behalf to fix the wrong and make it right again.

He trades beauty for ashes.

In the last year or so, my family has experienced such pain, tragedy, and hardship.

I know what it’s like to be standing in ashes.

But, I also know that there’s no story that ends like that, IF we rely and put our faith and trust in Him.

For the Lord God is brighter than the brilliance of a sunrise!
Wrapping himself around me like a shield,  he is so generous with his gifts of grace and glory. Those who walk along his paths with integrity will never lack one thing they need, for he provides it all.   Psalm 84:11 (PTT)

We can rest assured that in our time of trouble, when the pain is so unbearable, He is writing a beautiful story. On the other side of the pain is the healing, mending, breakthrough, and beauty. Within my own story, I am already starting to see how the Lord is turning my tragedy into purpose.

The bible says that we can expect the Lord to redeem and restore. This means we can rest in the promises that the Lord is working on our behalf to give us a FULL, COMPLETE AND PERFECT COMPENSATION–Even more than double for our trouble. I believe it, I expect it, and I am already seeing it take place in my own life.

While we may not have all the answers for why bad things happen, we know they did not happen for any good reason. Even in the bad, we can find purpose instead of reason. The purpose is part of the beauty that the Lord forms from the ashes.

Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope!

Romans 15:13 (TPT)

The Power In Wearing Tennis Shoes

The Power In Wearing Tennis Shoes

Shortly after having our second child, 18 months after having our first child, I found myself sitting in the doctor’s office with tears in my eyes. I was there for a basic yearly physical, but I knew something needed to change in my life.  I was feeling overly emotional, depressed and drained, but I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly was wrong with me.  As my doctor asked me how I was feeling physically, I answered— “I’m an emotional mess and I have no idea why. I feel sad often and I have no energy or desire to do much of anything.”

Looking back, what’s awesome about this doctor is that he wasn’t quick to prescribe antidepressants, instead, we talked about options. We talked about the reality of the situation…I was tired because I had two babies under two and I needed more sleep. I was hormonal because that’s what comes with birthing babies. I was on a low because of these two factors, as well as postpartum baby blues.

His next question would take me by surprise and humor me,

“Do you exercise?”

“Ok, did this man not just hear my situation? I’m sleep deprived. Why in the world is he asking me this insane question?”, I thought.

Thankfully, I kept my immediate thoughts unspoken. He continued to tell me some of the benefits that come with exercising just 30 minutes a day. I eventually found more benefits to add to the list–

The next morning I dreadfully put on my tennis shoes, placed my two littles in a double stroller and went for a walk outside. Over time, that walk turned into a partial walk and partial run. I then started to look for ways I could jog alone as my “me time”, and to my surprise, I did begin to improve over time.

Let me also say that I am by no means that girl who is on the anti-medication trail. I believe medication is completely necessary for some and there’s absolutely no shame in that. For me, thankfully, exercise was and still is the medicine that keeps me healthy. To this day, if I get out of the habit of exercise, the struggle begins.

In some of the darkest seasons of life, it wasn’t soley the scripture I memorized and quoted, it wasn’t the diet restrictions I stuck with that helped me overcome. It was and still is when I add to that by putting my tennis shoes on and forcing myself to be active.

I love to run, but I don’t just run, I listen to worship, I’m alone with my thoughts, I listen and talk to God, and mainly— I regain God’s perspective instead of being consumed by the immediate.

This time of year, most of us have a renewed sense of inspiration to modify our lifestyle to bring about a sense of fulfillment–to live as we are designed to by the Father above.

The things is, being completely healthy includes both physical and spiritual aspects.

I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

3 John 1:2

In this scripture, John is praying that Gaius’ physical health would match his spiritual health. Our God is concerned for both our physical health and our spiritual well being, otherwise I don’t think John would have prayed this prayer for Gaius.

Our overall health is important to the Lord.

Being the list maker that I am, I tend to make long lists for everything, and there’s no exception when it comes to the lifestyle changes I’d like to make within the following year.  Over time though, I realized that if I made exercise the priority on my list, then the energy and motivation to accomplish the goals on the rest of the list came naturally.

Consider adding “wear tennis shoes more often” to the top of the list for next year. Maybe, just maybe, once you’re wearing them you may feel more inspired to do something active in them. And maybe after being active, the other goals on the list end up getting checked off in the process.