Monday, February 24, 2014

Women of Faith | Houston TX roadtrip

This weekend was AMAZING!

On Friday, I got off at noon. My friend Monika met me at my work. She loaded her stuff in my car, and we headed to our friend Portia's house to pick her up. Then, we were off!


Actually,  by the time we got on the road, it was 1:30. We had to get lunch & gas & all that. I really wanted us to go by the hotel first, freshen up & then head to the women's conference. But we just didn't have time. We went straight to the conference! The traffic was insane. And we were so hungry! Oh-well, food would have to wait! We made it!


Lakewood Church is HUGE! HUGE! I have never seen anything like it. Seriously. We have several churches in Baton Rouge that are considered "big churches". Lakewood made them seem REALLY small. I personally LOVE going to a small church. LOVE IT. But woah. I just couldn't get over it. It was like going to the River Center or Centroplex (or whatever place you go to in your state to see concerts or whatever).


The parking was underground. There were elevators & escalators. A HUGE AWESOME book store/gift shop. TONS of bathrooms (which didn't matter with 30,000 or however many women. Every single line was about a mile long!). I have never seen so many women in my life either! I mean, no men or children. A few tiny babies. But WOMEN of all ages & shapes & sizes! Everywhere! Haha.

On Friday night, Beth Moore spoke & i just love her. I have done two of her Bible Studies but i have never heard her live. What a blessing! I seriously teared up when she got on stage. She is just so sweet & I want to have lunch with her! Haha! At one point in her message she asked for a single mom to raise her hand. One did & she told her to come on stage. She looked her in the eyes & told her what a great job she is doing, etc etc. Then she asked for every single mom in the place to stand up & for people on the sides of her to hold her hands tight. And she prayed over them. It was so moving, i cried! Several single moms stood around me & I wept for them. I know that God really touched them in that moment.

She also talked about mammograms, which was HILARIOUS.

Kari Jobe led worship for the entire conference. I love her! I have heard Kari live before. She is pretty fantastic. :)

That night, after the sermon, we headed to our hotel. We got lost a couple times (the GPS on my phone is TOTALLY confused by Houston!). We found our way & also found a Taco Cabana. YUM!!! It was delish!!

Saturday morning, we were LATE because #1, we left late, #2, we stopped at Starbucks & #3, the traffic near Lakewood Church was ridiculous! Sadly, we made it after praise & worship. And halfway through Lisa Harper's sermon.  Y'all. Lisa Harper was the only one in the line up that none of us had heard of. I had never heard any of them live, and only had heard of two of them on dvd, but hadn't heard of Lisa at all. But she may have been one of my favorites. She is HILARIOUS. Very witty. She is 50 & single & passionate about God & adoption & so much more. She is a GREAT speaker & teacher of the word. Wow. I loved her a TON!
 
Priscilla was next. I am currently doing her Bible Study, Gideon. I just think Priscilla is a fantastic teacher of the word. All of them are, really. We have so many fantastic women speakers. I couldn't pick a favorite. But if i had to, well... i really couldn't. They each bring something different. ALL of them are funny. All of them can preach!

We had a 30 minute break which is when i went down to the floor & found Beth, my favorite. :) She is the author of Baby Hunger & the leader of my support group. She is an amazing woman. I just don't know what i would do without her!



After break we had two more speakers. Sheila Walsh & Christine Caine. I have heard a MILLION good things about Christine Caine, but i have never heard her myself. She was really the biggest PREACHER of them all - a little bit of dynamite! Girl is on fire for Jesus! This is the chic who started A21, the campaign against sex trafficking. She is AWESOME. She is also from Australia. And Sheila is from Scotland. Loved their accents. :)

 
My friend Portia INSISTED on buying me stuff from the conference. She wasn't going to go... she only went because i didn't want to go by myself & couldn't get anyone else to go (Monika wasn't sure at the time), so she agreed to go. But God spoke to her & really worked out some things in her heart, and she wanted to repay me. It was the kind of thing where if i would say, "No, you don't have to do that!" she would say, "Girl, don't you rob me of my blessing! Now go get you something!" Ahhhh! I couldn't decide between three books, so she got all three for me! Then, when i wasn't looking, she threw the conference DVD in too! Crazy! But i am thankful! :)

Now, Beth was staying for the RESOLVE walk, but her friends that she had come with were going back home. So the plan was for Beth to join us after the conference, stay the second night with us, and ride home with us! I was perfectly fine with this!


After the conference we went off in search of food. And we found this restaurant. A tapas reastaurant! Spanish cuisine. I am so glad we tried it, it was DELICIOUS!



 

We went back to the hotel & there was a LOT of delirium, laughter, the crying-pee-your-pants kind. It was great. Then we took a nice long NAP!!! We were all exhausted! Haha!

We woke up & went to eat again! This time at Schlotsky's Deli because they advertised Cinnabon & Monika had to have it. Haha! But i am glad we did! It was delish!

The entire conference was just fantastic. And i know all three of us were moved & I really feel like God stirred something up in me. I feel so passionate right now, like i want to get moving in the giftings & callings God has placed on my life. I really do. I have been focused on everything else going on, but i want to be passionate about what God has done in my life, just like those speakers are! Whether it to be continuing to lead worship or even to speak! I want to do it. I want to live life doing whatever God asks of me. I am totally inspired. But i want it to be more than that. :) I want to actually start stepping out in faith. Kind of scary! :)

I know God did a work in my friend's lives as well. BethMoore ended the conference by having everyone get in groups of two & hold hands & look in each others eyes & say all these amazing things to each other. Positive things about who we are in Christ & what God is going to do in & through us! It was kind of awkward looking at both of them at the same time, since we made a group of three, but it was really good! Tears were streaming down our cheeks & i know God was working. I really could go to more conferences like these! :)

The RESOLVE (infertility awareness) walk was on Sunday morning & it was great!! Will tell you about that in my next post. :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I did not mean to desert my blog, y'all.

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Guys. My apologies for not writing in 590404 years!! I was doing so well when the year started, having lots to blog about. But suddenly, I got nothin! Or, when i do have something I am just too busy & non-stop... by the time i get home, i crash, leaving no time for blogging! Or reading blogs! I must catch up on that ASAP!


Anyway. This is going to be super random, because i have probably lots of unrelated things to say. Or maybe not. I'm just kind of winging it.
 
Hmm...where to start? 

Three weeks ago? I randomly ran into Vicki Yohe. Now, Vicki Yohe used to be my FAVORITE singer, i went to a concert & i have her cd. I haven't heard from awhile but apparently she is still singing like crazy! I met her by random coincidence & THEN she came back & gave me her new cd! & it is amazing! AHHHH! Check her out, y'all. Amazing soulful voice. 

 
The only 2 things i have to share about 2 weeks ago is, 
 
#1, i got a great haircut at Salon Boheme by the fabulous Erica (who was one of my students when i worked at Aveda)(I say "my" student, but i wasn't a teacher there! I know nothing about doing hair, just to be clear!) 
 

 
When i left the salon, I FELL! HARD!!!! Nobody saw, thank you dear LORD, but i hurt myself pretty bad. I couldn't bend my knee hardly at all the next day, and it was still incredibly sore on day two. After two or three days, i could bend it but could NOT put ANY pressure on it... and that is still how it is today! YIKES! I mean, it doesn't hurt at ALL anymore until i need to get on my knee for some reason (this happens more than you would think!) & then i scream out in pain! And there is a bruise ALL THE WAY DOWN MY LEG! 
 
 
But the haircut was worth it. Maybe. Maybe i should have gotten the haircut but watched my step when i left the salon... 
 
& #2, i got a sweet gift from one of my favorite bloggers, Erika, in the mail! Notice these two awesome things happened by people named Erika. Both spell it with a 'k', too. Free book & awesome haircut. Apparently erikas are awesome. The end. :) P.S. I finished the book & it was SO GOOD & FUNNY! Who wants to read it next?! It is "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me & other concerns" & is written by Mindy Kaling, who is a writer/director/actor on The Office. 
 
(Technically this may be in the 3 weeks ago category. I haven't blogged in so long, i don't even know what today is.) 
 
 
Annnnd, on to last week!

Last week SUCKED. With a capital S. Especially Wednesday & Sunday. (Sunday of this week. Which is not last week, but it is being clumped with last week, i guess.)
 
I can't really remember Monday. Tuesday was work & my Bible Study. Wednesday was CRY ALL DAY LONG BECAUSE INFERTILITY SUCKS!!!!!
 
Seriously. It started at the eye doctor. Hubby & I had a (LONG OVERDUE) eye doctor visit & while we were in the waiting room we started talking about infertility. I was emotional already, i guess, but hadn't verbalized it. After we talked about it, I pulled out my little index card notebook where i had written scriptures in it to read when i am afraid or angry or sad. I read every one to Brad & when i got to the second to last one, it said, "Children are a blessing, a reward from the Lord." or something like that. I started telling Brad that I didn't understand WHY God was so bent on blessing EVERYONE ELSE with this reward, everyone but me! (I know that isn't true, but it was my perspective in that moment!) I couldn't even finish what i was saying before my voice broke & I headed to the bathroom. The receptionist was probably like "WHAT IN THE WORLD?!" If only she knew.
 
I came back to my seat, after collecting myself, we had our appointment, got some new contacts & ordered some new glasses! YEAH!
 
Side note: Our new glasses came in this week, and we have yet to go get them, because their hours are 8-5 Mon-Thurs, and 8-12 on Friday. Seriously??? I cannot take off of work just to go pick up my glasses!! Geez.  (My work is open 7am-6pm Mon-Thurs and 7am-5pm on Fridays just to accommodate working people! I guess i assumed an eye doctor place would be the same way. Gah.) So you will see my super cute new glasses later. I like them so much I might actually wear them more than just at night & on weekends! Maybe.
 
We got home & i had a meltdown again (basically, finishing the meltdown from the eye doctor... since it wasn't for the public & I had to cut it short! Ha!).
 
I came to work, and the emotions of the morning were just below the surface. I did NOT feel okay. I thought if one person looked at me wrong, it would be all over with! HA! Well, first, my hubby texted me that i couldn't spend a DIME, because we were financially in a bind after our fertility treatments + that eye doctor appointment (which cost us much more than we imagined considering i have vision insurance! BLAH!) (I may have also done a little bit of overspending). Not five minutes after his text, my boss came to get me & had me walk with her to another lady's office so she could tell me ... well, it's a long story, and really not something i should blog about, but just know it made me really mad & i was thinking the whole time, "do not cry, do not cry, do not cry" but i did cry, because that's what i do when i get mad! When they were finished telling me what they had to tell me (which had to do with missing work due to infertility treatments & snow days!!), I had to go to the restroom & have another meltdown & get myself together & go back to work. And then i started crying AGAIN when my boss came in to see if i was okay. Basically... i cried all day long! Mostly in public! Which is basically my least favorite thing to do, ever. AHHHHH!!! 
 
Worst day ever, y'all. Although I do have a really sweet coworker. :) 

(It did cheer me up. But just a little bit.)

Side Note: Did you know Natalie Grant battled infertility? I had no idea! This was her FB status last week!

 
Thursday was fine, no tears at work, although i did have some tears that morning! Just very very sad. About life. I felt very... fragile... all day at work. That's the only word i know to describe it! Okay, but shaky.
 
Friday, things perked up a bit as it was Valentine's Day! We had decided to celebrate ours on Sunday, so i was surprised to go get my morning coffee & see some beautiful roses! Yay! (Yes, i like Valentine's Day!! Trust me, my hubby would not get me flowers out of obligation on any day of the year! And, who cares if it is commercialized, so is EVERY OTHER HOLIDAY!!! The end.)  (Also... Kelly wins the award for my FAVORITE Valentine's post every year. She had a similar one last year, and this year she did not disappoint me again! Ha! Thank you, Kelly!)
 
 
I had told Brad last year not to spend so much on flowers! I mean, he made the mistake of TELLING ME how much they cost & i was sick!! Seriously. So i told him that Whole Foods & Fresh Market have BEAUTIFUL flowers for WAY cheaper than Heroman's! Anyway, he got these from Whole Foods & they are GORGEOUS! I am only telling you all of this, because these are the biggest fullest roses i have seen & cost a lot less than previous valentines! (You can't even tell in this pic how gorgeous they are!) 
 
 Valentine's Day at work - in my new shirt with my "love" necklace & heart earrings. :)
 
I also worked a show this weekend! This lady from our theater, Celeste, did a Valentine's concert. I was her stage manager & ran sound & lights. It was AMAZING! I am so glad i was able to do this. It was only one rehearsal (Thursday night) & two performances (Friday night & Saturday matinee), and it was a great show. She sang a bunch of popular old love songs that are from musicals & it was very very good. The lighting was excellent! (That sounds like i am bragging on myself but i didn't design the lights! I just pushed the button so they would change on stage!) Dr. Terry Byars, an EXCELLENT pianist was her accompaniest, and this man Andre sang some songs with her too. They also had a teen boy play a penny whistle to one song that was irish. It was beautiful & I had a blast! 
 
Me with Celeste & Andre 

Remember i said Sunday was another bad day. Not as bad as Wednesday but still. Sunday morning, i had meltdown #49040 of the week before we left for church. I almost didn't go, but i changed my mind and went. I stayed in the car when we arrived long enough to stop crying so i could put my makeup on! After music practice, Brad found a starbucks gift card in his wallet, and i just happen to think that that was a God-thing! So we had a quick mini-date at Starbucks. This means we skipped Sunday School. This may or may not be our third time to do this. Ha! (We were back in time for service. In case you were wondering!) The sermon was really good for me & we stood for prayer. I am sure at this point people are wondering what is wrong with me, since i used to be so happy all the time & now i cry at church all the time!) (Not many know about our infertility at church. Most of them don't know i blog.)

 
We were supposed to go to lunch after church for our valentine celebration, but we remembered that our neighborhood was having a jambalaya dinner to meet the new owners, so we went to that instead. I mean, free jambalaya??? Seriously? (If you have not had good jambalaya, you are missing out! Please get you some next time you come to Louisiana!) So we did that. It was quite hilarious seeing me & Brad (two introverts) sitting at a table around a bunch of people we don't know (our neighbors). Hahaha. Yeahhhhhh, we were not the biggest conversationalists but it's all good. The jambalaya was excellent. So it was worth it.
 
Afterwards we went home & watched the rest of Scandal season two all afternoon. I mean, ALL afternoon!!! It took from after lunch to way past our bedtime. It was worth it. AMAZING show! Excellent writing! Brilliant acting!! I love the characters (except Fitz & Hollis! I love Fitz's hair though.) Anyway, now we have to wait for Season 3 to get on Netflix! SOB!!!!! But seriously. If watching back-to-back Scandal episodes curled up on the couch with Brad was our valentine's instead of dinner, that is FINE WITH ME! :)
 
SO, yeah! That's about it! I am very excited about this weekend, though. I am going on a little trip with some of the girls from my infertility support group. Two of them are riding with me to the Women of Faith conference in Houston!!!!! It is Friday night & Saturday morning. Then we will hang out or go out to eat or something & spend another night. On Sunday we are meeting up with several other girls in our group for the RESOLVE walk. RESOLVE is a national organization that supports couples dealing with infertility. They are doing a walk to raise awareness. Our leader, Beth, wants to do our own 5k here in Baton Rouge, so we are going to get ideas! And to support Resolve, of course! :) It'll be a great time
 
Thanks to those of you that are still here! This is what happens when i don't blog for so long!! I write novels instead of blog posts! 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Angela & Kevin | Maternity | Downtown Baton Rouge

I hate that this needs to be said, but if you are one of my infertility sisters, & today is not a good day, feel free to skip this post. I know how it is. I get it. Still wanted to share these because it's one of my favorite photography sessions so far, and it's a longtime family friend. I will add that for some reason i do okay emotionally at maternity shoots. I guess when i get behind that camera, i am only thinking about photography & getting good shots for the parents-to-be.

Angela's dad became my youth pastor when i was only in 9th grade; my earliest memory of Angela is her asking me a bunch of questions when she was about 6. She was the cutest little thing! And she still is. Her family has meant SO MUCH to me over the years, and I was  honored that she would ask me to do her maternity shoot. It was the first time for me to meet her husband, Kevin, and i thought they were adorable together. They will welcome their first child, a boy, this month. Here are a few of my favorites from their session.


 
 
 
 





Congrats, Angela & Kevin!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sleet Days in Louisiana

So, last week was crazy. CRAZY! I hear that it was crazy all over the continent, so here is how it all went down for us, in south Louisiana.

Two Fridays ago, a lot of schools & offices closed due to some winter weather. (You have to understand how weird it sounds to hear the word "winter" being said about weather here in Louisiana. It is just... really strange! We don't usually get winter!) On Thursday evening, while my husband was anxiously waiting to hear that his office would be closed on Friday, I didn't even get my hopes up. I work at a hospital. I figured we would be open, no matter the weather. This was my car on Friday morning before I left for work...


For some UNKNOWN reason, i took the interstate to work that day. The reason this is strange is because THE INTERSTATE WAS CLOSED! Seriously, i don't know what got into me. I knew it was closed. I planned to take back roads to work. However, out of habit, i headed straight for the interstate & without even giving it any thought, i just got on it! Just kind of bypassed the "road closed" signs. And, while i wouldn't do this again (& didn't when given the chance!), I have to say... BEST. DECISION. EVER!

Even though i really didn't DECIDE to do it. I kind of got on the interstate & thought... wait... this is closed...what am i doing?!?! (I am not kidding. This is actually how my brain works sometimes.)

The reason i say "best decision ever" is because Louisiana is FULL of crazy drivers, drivers who are crazy even when it is 75 degrees & sunny! They do NOT know how to drive in sleet or snow or even rain, really. By taking the interstate, i was avoiding all of them.

See? I AM THE ONLY CAR!!!!! For miles! I didn't even see a police car! 


(Yes, i took a picture while driving. Sorry.) (An officer is going to find my blog & mail me a ticket, aren't they? Crap.)

Anyway. That was my adventure on Friday. Ha! So imagine my surprise when i got to work on Monday & there was talk of us CLOSING! Not the entire hospital, obviously. They might need to keep the ER & ICU & places like that open. But non-essential areas (outpatient/elective procedures, etc) would be closed. And that means ME, because i work in mammography. So, glory hallelujah! We would be CLOSED Tuesday & Wednesday! YES!

The prediction was for a snow STORM, which is just... ridiculous sounding. Snow STORM? REALLY?! I have seen snow maybe 6 times in my life... but a storm was never involved. It's just strange hearing people using the words winter, snow, storm, & louisiana all in the same breath!! It just didn't make sense. I was assuming i would be working, so i was kind of a scrooge about the whole thing. I did NOT want to drive in that mess again! But suddenly we were closing, i had the days off, and i was VERY giddy! Oh please let it snow, please oh please oh PLEASE! 

On Tuesday morning I had a doctor's appointment. (You don't just cancel fertility appointments - snow prediction or not!) We hoped we would be able to make it back home before it started getting too bad out there, and we did. It was raining and COLD, but that's it. Whew! But soon after we got home it started sleeting & it sleeted ALL DAY LONG!! I think this was as unusual to me as seeing snow! I mean, it was crazy to me that SLEET can accumulate & stick to the ground just like snow can!! I know that should be common sense, but i never really thought about it. The only times it has ever gotten cold enough to sleet here, it would either stop sleeting or turn to snow. I don't remember it ever sleeting or snowing all day long like it did on Tuesday.

 


Brad assured me that the temp would keep dropping as it got to be evening, and that it would turn into snow when it did. Well, the temp kept dropping but the sleet stopped. So we didn't get any snow. Sad-face.

 My friend Laura made my hat! Check out Wix-Works! :)

We were still off Wednesday. Even though the snow/sleet had stopped, the roads were ICE. I have never seen anything like it, ever!! I mean, just SHEETS of ICE! I walked around at one point & took a few pics in our neighborhood. By that point, most of it had melted though. Not much to see.



Thursday we were already scheduled off for my IUI, so wow. I somehow got THREE days off in the middle of a work week! Three days home with my hubby! It was LOVELY! Three days off included a lot of -

Cooking:


I made omelettes Tuesday & Wednesday & cooked dinner, too! This is kind of a miracle for me... i never have time to cook in the mornings & normally am too tired to cook in the evenings! I know - bad wife!! Hubby ate good this week though! :)

Reading:
This book, highly recommended to me by Erika... LOVING it so far!! :)

Watching:
SCANDAL. Oh my goodness. My new favorite show, HANDS DOWN! I had no idea. I thought it was just about a woman having an affair with the president & that is just... bleh, to me. But it is about SO MUCH MORE. Highly suspenseful! So many twists & turns! I got Brad to watch it with me & he is hooked. Seriously... this is some of the most brilliant acting & writing i have seen! LOVE IT!

And this sweet puppy snuggled at my feet. He LOVED us being home!! :)
 

A wonderful time was had by all! Of course, Friday it was back to 60 degrees, and yesterday it was up to 70 degrees, I am not even kidding you! The ice has all melted & everything is back to normal. And I'm loving it! It feels awesome outside! I have been sick these past couple of days... & have missed out on some fun things i had planned for yesterday. Kinda bummed about that! But I am starting to feel better, I think!

Hope you all stayed warm last week, as much as possible anyway!

Happy February!