#redwhiteandbetsy: Fourth of July ’14

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Fourth of July in Arizona is rough for midwestern girls. Where are the parades? The random fireworks watching spots? The relief from the heat?! Last year, we threw a going away party at a house I was housesitting at. (I had permission!) This year, Mag and I decided to visit Bets in sunny San Diego!20140712-104447.jpg

The drive was pretty uneventful….but we did see fireworks from the road! Fun surprise and a great kick off to America’s birthday. (Oh and I got new red lip stick for the occasion from NYX’s Butter line. Love it- smooth, matte, and CHEAP!)

We got in late Thursday night, grabbed some Mexican food, and crashed. The next morning was the Fourth. I always envy toddler style on Independance Day…it’s just so fun and patriotic. Between my American flag bow, necklace, and little girl dress ($7 from H&M with a cute tie back!), I think I got close to 3 year old swag. Betsy was the adult and refused to cheese it up with us.

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Obvi, I had yelped a million delish restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter area of SD. We decided to head to Cafe 21…it was packed. The hostess was adorable & efficient, though.

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I ordered the Cafe 21 Shrimp corn cakes and we ordered the sangria flight. OMG! Local bread, butter (!), and it was topped with edible flowers! Brunch of my dreams!

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We spent the rest of the afternoon at the pool at our hotel….which was packed. There was good people watching though and a gorg view of the ocean. That night, for the fireworks, we posted up at a restaurant at our hotel and ordered apps & zerts.

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We had our beads on, patriotic wear on, and watched fireworks go off all over the bay. Happy Birthday, USA! <3

 

The next morning, we decided to take the ferry over to Coronado.

 

 

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Our friend Chris met us over there and we wandered around the island for the afternoon….

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We did everything vacation-y- dipped our toes in the water, snapped pictures, ate ice cream… everywhere was PACKED, though. Everyone else got out of AZ too.20140712-104553.jpg

 

These two….the best sisters I could ask for! Even though they made me sit at the front of the boat. :)

20140712-104604.jpgThe sun sort of zapped us, so we took a litttle nap because we had late dinner reservations. Our hotel was doing a movie by the pool (The Sandlot!)- Bets & I watched for a little bit before we walked to Seaport Village.

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We ate at Puesto…amazing tacos. I ordered a Strawberry Mint Agua Fresca. I’m not usually a huge mint fan, but it was perfectly refreshing!

 

The next morning we went to Betsy’s church! They invited us right in and I got to meet my Facebook friend Laci for the first time in real life! (While Marina was meeting Rihanna in real life AT THE SAME TIME!) Angelique was there too!  Church was great, obvs I balled my eyes out, and it had a gorg view of the coast.

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Obvs I took a creeper pic to text Marines. It makes me really happy to know that Bets is a part of a great community in SD. :) Plus it’s just so fun to have friends that are family through the Kingdom of God! <3 I just kept thinking about that…it’s more than just having friends ALL around the world, it’s about having people “get” you on a spiritual level. I don’t really “know” Laci, but we hit it right off. I haven’t seen Chris in forever, but he was such a great bro to me and my sisters.

It was a lovely weekend, and I’m already thinking about where we should spend our next 4th! Shout outs to: my dad for hooking us up with a baller hotel, Chris for being an amazing host, Bets for letting us play tourists, Esther for leading a great church…service? (That seems like the wrong word haha), and Mag for driving the whole time. Here’s to another great year, America! I pray you’re richly blessed!!

it’s a celebration.

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On Mondays, we go and feed the homeless. It’s especially weird to go from super luxurious North Scottsdale to a parking lot to serve hot dogs and day old cake. Not that either one is better or worse, but it’s certainly a contrast.

We laugh and see new friends, check up on old friends and try to practice that “pure & undefiled religion” James talks about. We eat, learn about Jesus, and sing. Oh and we laugh. Loudly. Tonight, the lady was preaching and I was sitting next to one of my small friends. She pretends to be shy, but she’s not really. She wants to be a police woman when she grows up so she can protect people. The word tonight was from Jeremiah 29:11. I looked at my friend and said, “You know she’s talking to you right? He has big plans for you!” She stared. She usually does, but she smiles too. “The Bible says God will give you the desires of your heart- what do you really want?”

“A birthday party.”

Dang.

Growing up, I had the best birthday parties and this was way before Pinterest. Every year. My mom never missed one. Birthday parties are more than cake and decorations and presents- they’re about being celebrated because you are just you! You didn’t do any work to be born, you didn’t earn it…you were just you.

I want that little friend to know how celebrated she is. Of course, I want to throw a birthday party, but more than that I want her to know how over the moon Jesus is for her and there are plans for her life. Big ones.

When I went to summer camp, the counselors did this skit around the camp fire. Someone would pretend to have a present and talk about how awesome it was. The more they shared the present with people, the bigger it got. One person decided not to share the present and it shrunk until it disappeared.  In the end they revealed that the present was love: the only thing that grows the more you give it away. The really amazing thing about celebrating other people is that it doesn’t mean you are celebrated less. It means you get to experience more joy. The more you embrace being loved and celebrated yourself, the more you can celebrate others.

I want to live my life in such a way that I let other people be celebrated so they can be introduced to the One who dances over them. Jesus- let me embrace more of who I am so I can help people embrace more of You.

“Enjoy this time, girls…”

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This weekend was so fun. I went to new restaurants, rapped my heart out with the windows down, laughed, had a day full of hot tub musings, went to a festival, and ate bacon off of a stranger’s plate. It was just so fun.

As I was thinking about my single ladies today, I couldn’t help but be so happy with this season of my life. It’s spontaneous. It’s joyful. And it would have been a totally different weekend if we had boy friends or husbands or kids. Not less fun, necessarily. But it would have been different.

A few weeks ago, Abby and I were at this conference at our church. There was a greeting time and we started to chat with a woman in our row. She asked us if we were college kids. (There are lots of Chi Alpha kids who go to our church.) We laughed and told her we were like super old. She said to us,

“Oh enjoy this time girls. Have fun being single. Being a mom is great- every season is great, but enjoy this time.”

She was so genuine. So encouraging. So RIGHT! Usually the message to single ladies in the church is (whether it’s blatant or just implied) that our lives must be just so sad/incomplete because we aren’t married. Someone once told me that he/she felt like single women in church should be treated and taken care of like widows. Someone also once told me I must feel like I’ve been “put on a shelf.” Yeah…..nope. Never felt that way! Mostly because I’m living my life to the fullest in the season I’m in, and I’m having a blast!

So right now while I’m single and later when I hope I have a family and later when I’m super old, I’m going to have fun and enjoy. To the new moms, to the grandpas, to the young professionals, to the high school kids- you are hereby released to be content in the season you find yourself in! You’ll never be in the same season ever again!

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13

Let me tell you how I got this shave ice…

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It all started when we decided to go to Scramble’s new Scottsdale location after church on Sunday. Have you been there? I love that they say, “Eat healthy or comfort food- it’s up to you.” The perfect place to go with a group. I knew when I saw this sign on the wall that I had found the perfect place:

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Sigh. Definitely one of my life philosophies. I love bacon. My friend Chris sends me frequent pictures of bacon themed items. Between my mom and Rae’s mom I’ve received every bacon novelty gift on the planet. (Bacon mints anyone? What about bacon floss? Yep. Had both.) Naturally, I ordered what our server called the “vegan not so vegan”- vegan French toast (amazing) and bacon (double amazing) for my side. We enjoyed a pleasant breakfast discussing things like what the opposite of “hood” is, Rick Ross, and more. (Sorry Abraham…)

We decided to head to the Aloha Festival in Tempe. But before we left the restaurant we had to go to the bathroom. Like every group of girls since the beginning of time. It was a one stall set up. As we were waiting in line, a family got up from their table and left. Abby LOVES betting me money to do things I’ll never do. (Mostly talk to boys.) This time though, I was up for the challenge. She bet me $10 that I wouldn’t eat the lone piece of bacon the family had left on one of their plates. I upped the bet- one shave ice for eating the leftover meat candy. She agreed and I grabbed it and shoved it in my mouth. Victory.

We headed to Tempe Beach Park and waited in line for the the prized Shave Ice. Oh and BEFORE we got to the booth, Abby bet Claudia a shave ice that she wouldn’t take a picture with this random dude. Obviously Claudia did it. Here’s proof:

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We were behind the cutest family in the shave ice line. Obviously, I had to tell them that I thought they were cute and I could tell that they really loved each other. Abby bought us shave ice- watermelon flavored. It was an homage to Beyoncé. (If you don’t get it, you just don’t get it.) We enjoyed it while watching several beautiful hula dances:

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And that is how I got shave ice. The End.

High Five for Friday. #h54f

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1. I’ve just been really into this song this week.
2. We made vision boards in small group this week. My word for the year is “fight.” My goal is to learn how to fight for the things that are important to me instead of letting life sort of take over. And to learn how to put on the full armor of God. I want to fight for bigs things this year.
3. Presents are always fun.
4. Love Abby. We were wearing reverse matching outfits.
5. Sushi with the Dolls. Always down for a group pic. Also- it’s an addiction. So much sushiiii

Honorable mention goes to Christina. But I’ve been trying to take less creeper pictures of her. Ha

That was my week! This week is going to be busy- I can feel it! Some days, most days, I feel like I have twenty tabs open in my brain and I can’t shut any of them! I can hear Lori’s voice telling me to learn how to rest. Maybe that can be a goal too- fight for balance.

Linking up with Lauren Elizabeth’s High Five for Friday!

High Five for Friday! #H54F

This has been a great week….even if it meant saying goodbye to dear friends Jen & Clark. Jen and I kicked off our friendship because I asked her to join my financial support team when I was working for Chi Alpha……after she had just quit her job. Haha We met at D’lish and just chatted for hours… And we’ve been friends since. Jen & Abby have been such huge answers to prayer in my life and it’s really hard to see Jen leave. But- it’s for the best and it’s very bittersweet. I celebrate this new season they are stepping into, but it sucks for Team Tissue. (That’s what Abby and I call ourselves because we’re ALWAYS crying.) Okay I’m getting ahead of myself…. Here are my top 5 of the week.

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1. Jen & Clark going away coffee. We threw together a last minute coffee get together at Lux so people could say goodbye to these fabulous people. I had never been to Lux- it’s awesome! I weirdly didn’t have coffee but their Mac & Cheese was a awesome….mostly because it had bacon & jalapeño.

2. Frozen. Betsy is in a wedding tomorrow (Congrats Larissa & Herman!) so she is in town for a few days. Mag, Bets, Candi, and I went to see Frozen. I cried literally the whole time……. It’s so good. Who ever wrote it HAS to know Jesus! It says so much about being honest about your feelings. It shows how hiding only hurts those around us. It shows that when we think we are protecting other from our burdens, we’re really hurting them! It says when we embrace freedom, it allows others to be free. It’s says true love can melt a hardened heart! Yes- I got all of this from a Disney movie.

3. Sushi with the dolls. I actually had sushi 2 nights in a row. I’m probably going to get mercury poisoning…or whatever you get from sushi. It’s so fun to go with friends. I wish everyone worked with people as fabulous as I work with!

4. Raisin Town! It’s so fun to hang out with Rae while she’s in town! We were able to grab breakfast at Snooze. They just opened an Arizona location- and it’s so so so good! (There’s on in San Diego and Denver!)

5. Busted out the new boots! I got these new boots after Christmas and I was so nervous to wear them! But I actually love them and I’m so glad I took the risk!

That’s my week- lots of time with great friends. Life in the fab lane…… it’s great.

Linking up with Lauren Elizabeth’s High Five for Friday!

Christmas in Cary

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For the first time in 3 years, my sisters and I ventured back to our home town of Cary, Il 60013 for Christmas! We were so so excited to see how things had changed and what it would be like to go back.

It was weird. We went to some of our fav restaurants: Portillos (even though we have them in AZ now!) , Kojaks, and The Tracks. If you’ve never had a burger from The Tracks, then you haven’t lived. So amazing.

It was freezing cold- like 2°….literally. We survived, though! Mom and Dad spoiled us rotten. My dad makes the best breakfasts. I have great memories of waking up to the smell of pancakes and bacon. Mom had every detail perfect- from cute welcome baskets with new PJ’s & treats to Christmas presents that we didn’t even know we wanted. (My mom is the ultimate gift giver.)

It was funny to go back and realize that Cary does have a certain small town charm. I think it’s one of those things where everyone hates where they grow up. So much of my life feels like it’s in Arizona that it sometimes feels like I never lived in Cary.

We spent a day in the city shopping. There is just no other city like Chicago. It’s old & new, normal & spectacular- all at the same time. We grabbed some great bargains.

And then it was time to go home. It was weird for Betsy to head to SD and not home with me & Mag. It was so nice to spend time with the whole family and really special to have a white Christmas.

I’m glad to be back in AZ. I have a great feeling about 2014. Lots of new chapters opening and lots of change at hand- I’m excited.

Here are some bonus pictures:
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The Giving Keys.

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This year, for Christmas, my sister Maggie got all the girls in the family these cool key necklaces. I love keys (and have given them as gifts before!), but these offer a little bit more.

They are from The Giving Keys. This company employs homeless people that engrave and assemble the necklaces (and other cool accessories- like rings and phone cases!).

Caitlin Crosby, the founder, started the company with the idea that “in a way we are all like these keys — unique, flawed, scarred, and at risk of being discarded.” I love that.

The other catch with The Giving Keys <is that when the key has served you well, you are supposed to pay it forward to someone else who needs it.

Mine says "grace." On my drive home, I was thinking about what the word "grace" means. Grace is not sweet or amazing unless we realize our desperate need for it. This is the upside down kingdom: When we realize that we are sinful creatures, full of lust and greed and selfishness- and we put all of that at the feet of The King- then what we get back is overwhelming grace. That is supremely humbling.

I need lots and lots of grace, so I'm sure I'll have my key for quite a while. It's a reminder, tied around my neck, of my need for oceans of grace.

"Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

High Five For Friday! #H54F

What a FUN week! Here are the top 5 fun things!

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1. Spaghetti Dinner! Jen & Clark had us all over for a spaghetti dinner. It was so lovely- I got to see Mag, Clark made his own version of egg nog, and the boys built a fire!

2. Nails & Breakfast Buzz! I’m in love with my latest nails & I hit up D’lish for a breakfast buzz smoothie! My fav!

3. New Planner! I love it! So classic and pretty and simple! Love!

4. Aubray! Christina and I got to see Aubray compete in her show! It was so fun and weird and interesting and crazy. These people are BEASTS! But Aubray did a great job and it was so cool to see her in a different setting than I’m used to seeing her!

5. Team Tissue. Love Abby and our tears a plenty.

Great week! So much celebration & time with friends.

It’s raining right now. I am not the typical Arizonan. I hate the rain. It’s inconvenient, it makes my hair frizz, and it sucks to drive in the rain. I’m trying to make the most of it by sipping some coffee and listening to the rain before work. This weekend, I’m excited to go to Andrea‘s HP Warm Up Your Walls party with the girls! Yay!

Linking up with Lauren Elizabeth’s High Five for Friday!

High Five for Friday: I’m back.

Time for another installment of High Five for Friday. In the spirit of blogging and Thanksgiving and whatever…..I’m finally back in the saddle.

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1. You guys…I met an Internet/youtube celeb. Seriously, I texted my sister and she was like,”Hahahaha oh I’m glad you hung out!!! She’s always been a mystery to me.” The sad part about this is that we met at a going away party for Chad & Shaina. :(

2. Clean sheets and sleep. I slept until 11:40am this week. That is crazy for me. But felt so good!

3. I redid my chair! I love it!

4. Social Media Seminar. SEO, Google+, HTML…it’s a myspace generations dream come true.

5. Movie day. My dear Claudia & I had a movie and pizza and failed pancake day. It was glorious.

That’s my top 5 for the week! I’m excited for this weekend! I get to go see Aubray compete in her fitness show. She has worked so hard. Plus-I’m soooo excited for the people watching!

How was your week?!

Linking up with Lauren Elizabeth!
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