March 24, 2015

Words of Wisdom

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love quotes-God

March 17, 2015

Design in Color // Pink Living Spaces

Maybe it’s because of having a little girl or maybe it’s because I love the tones and variations you can get with pink, but, either way, I sort of love how the below spaces incorporate pink.  Sometimes subtle, sometimes bold.  In all cases, chic, bright and colorful.  Love.  What do you think of pink living spaces?  Yay or nay?

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pink-living-room-1 pink-living-room-4 pink-living-room-5

March 15, 2015

My Thirty-Fifth Birthday

Cheers! Salute! Cin cin! Salud!  I’m 35, alive and well.  And boy does it feel good.

Here’s a secret about me, in case you didn’t know:  I love birthdays.  Love them.  I love celebrating people and giving gifts and being reminded of how awesome life is and how fortunate we should feel being one year older.   I love the candles and balloons and hugs and cards and cake (and/or cupcakes; both are perfectly acceptable) and wine and cocktails and food.  And most importantly, I love the moments, the oh-so-special and intimate moments with those you are celebrating with. Because let’s be honest.  Blowing out candles, eating cupcakes and drinking wine alone is just another Thursday night, right?!  Ha.  Maybe the cupcakes and wine part. 

But blowing out candles, eating cupcakes and drinking wine with friends and family (or friends you consider family), celebrating life, is truly a gift in of itself.  It’s a blessing.  A blessing that, this year, for me, made my heart explode.

Rick, knowing I love hosting gatherings in our house, had an idea to hire Mr. Paella for my thirty-fifth birthday.  Mr. Paella is an alleged true Miami experience…a right of passage, if you will.  So.  I invited some of our new-found, special Miami friends to come over, drink Sangria, eat paella and toast to 35.  Backyard, candles, dining al fresco, good food, even better people.  Birthday perfection.  Well, except that it rained and so the party and paella cooking had to come inside. #improvise

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And an hour before party time, I was welcomed at my front door with our dear friends from Chicago.  What?!  Surprise!  And then moments later, two more friends from Chicago came in through the back door.  Double surprise!  Oh my gosh…

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And then one-by-one, more people came through the door.  And drinks were served.  And worlds started colliding like fireworks on the fourth of July.  And my heart began to do a little pitter-patter.  Because looking around your house and seeing the faces of people you call friends, people you love and people I never even knew existed six months earlier is remarkable.

And we toasted.  And I opened gifts.  And we ate.  And talked.  And my Irish friend talked to my Cuban friend.  And my friends from Palestine talked to my friends from the Ukraine and Russia.  And my Chinese friends talked with my European friends who talked with my Argentinean friend who talked with my Japanese husband.

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And this is the beauty of birthdays.  Of celebrating life.  Of taking a risk and moving to Miami where just months earlier, I didn’t know anyone.  This is the beauty of people coming together, in our house, and remembering, God does all things for good.  And God is creative and awesome and faithful.

I am so incredibly thankful to be thirty-five.  To have a husband that plans super fun parties and surprises me.  For friends that show up, near and far.  For a sweet daughter who slept 12 hours (best birthday present ever) that night…and the next.  For cupcakes and food and wine.  For a reason to toast and celebrate life.  For Miami.  The weather, the people, the paella.

Here’s to a brilliant year ahead.

February 26, 2015

Halfway to 35

Hellllooo!  I am still alive and well in the absence of social media, if you can believe it :)  Yes, I know, it’s crazy to think life goes on and can be lived just as well, if not better, without it.  Remarkable, ha?!

17.5 days ago, precisely, I started a little 35 day journey of writing, reading and fasting.  Writing about whatever comes to me in the first 45 or so minutes after waking up and before little Zoey gets up.  Reading through the book of Joshua.  And fasting from social media.  I have received texts, emails and phone calls from people cheering me on and asking me how it’s going.   So today, I thought I would share with you a few things that I am learning.

The first thing is this.  God has to be first in my life.  It’s no coincidence He asked me to get up before my whole family and spend time with Him.  First.  I’m not going to lie, what it means to have God first is huge and scary and I actually get a little uncomfortable writing it down right now.  Because what does that even mean, how does it really work and do people think that I am crazy?! But instead of going into freak out mode, I am going to just continue making Him first each morning and not worry too much about it.  He has definitely spoken to me, inspired me and challenged during these mornings and that, my friends, has been remarkable and gives me a thirst for more.

Second.  I am learning to live a bit more in the present.  Living for right now, for today.  Listen.  I actually cannot stand the clichés of “one day at a time” or “be present” or “present over perfect” and the list goes on.  Sometimes I think people post those quotes and actually have no clue what it means to live them out (ahem, guilty as charged).  Because I would argue that 99% of human beings struggle with this.  Actually, I change my mind.  100% of human beings.  Living right now, for today, without worrying about tomorrow or the next day is borderline impossible.  At least for me.  But for some unexpected reason, God is slowly (double emphasis on the word slowly) showing me how to do this.  One example I’ll give you is this.  We recently took our first trip to Chicago.  With a newborn.  For a  work conference.  Sandwiched and squeezed in between visiting friends and family.  My brain couldn’t help but go into the stress of it all.  How will we get to Brenda’s house?  When will I pump?  (sorry, TMI)  What if Zoey doesn’t sleep?  What if I don’t sleep?  And the list went on and on and on.  And God intervened, like he usually does, but this time I was listening and hearing.  And he stopped me.  And said, Ann, today.  That’s all you have to face. Just today.  And I’m with you today and my mercies are new each morning.

So instead of STRESSING about today and tomorrow and the next day, I started to live today, appreciate the  moments and be thankful for them.  I remember nursing Zoey and having a couple of hours with her before visiting like 74 people over the course of 3 days and my mind started racing.  And then I stopped.  I soaked up that moment while nursing her and told her that we were going to have a mommy/daughter morning in the hotel.  We snuggled and played and laughed.  It’s quite amazing what happens when you just stop and change your thinking into the present moment you are in.  Needless to say, my days have been substantially different and noticeably better and more peaceful. 

And the third and final point I’ll share with you (I have many more, but, just giving you a little insight into what is happening!) is regarding my social media fast.  I literally have not been on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or my blog in 17.5 days.

I would be a big fat liar if I told you I didn’t miss it.  I do feel disconnected.  And I do feel a little bit that I am missing out.  On what?  I guess just being a part of people’s lives cyberly (yes, I just made up that word and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the word of 2015).  Or sharing pieces of my life.  Moments that I want to desperately communicate as I think a few words or a picture could inspire or help someone.

And with all that said, conversely, I do feel a little less handcuffed.  I am able to be more present.  My mind is clearer.  I go to bed earlier. (Before, I would go on Facebook before bed and next thing I knew, 30 dang minutes had passed!  People, sleep is precious when you have a newborn and I would literally lose 30 minutes, sometimes more, on Facebook when I should have been sleeping!)  It is making me that much more focused in these 35 days and does, absolutely, help me to pay more attention to real life.  I can’t say something crazy remarkable has happened but, I am still in the midst of the fast and going to forge ahead.

So there you have it, friends.  A little sneak peek into what God is doing and what I am learning.  I have about 8,000 words typed.  15 pages.  Many new thoughts, some messy, others inspiring and exciting.  A few clear takeaways.  Small triumphs of clarity for my life.  Awesome, intimate time with God.  Some disappointing mornings where I feel nothing, hear nothing.  Tired days (getting up at 6am often times makes for a delirious, emotional Ann…just as Rick…it’s super fun).  Purposeful mornings.  Confusing moments.  It’s awesome and I have to say, I am excited for the next17.5 days of this 35 day journey!

February 8, 2015

Thirty Five

Whoa. I am sitting on an airplane bordering panic attack (which I have never had in my life), throwing up and falling asleep. Normal.

Coming off of a weekend where thousands of women united with eyes wide open to see what God will do and ultimately, what we will do for God, I am super uncomfortable. Because over the last 3 days and 2 nights, God has asked me to do something. Something that is going to seem relatively easy to most of you, but extremely hard for me.

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He has asked me to fast.

Not from food (though that’s what I was secretly hoping).

But from social media.

And he’s asked me to get up every morning before Zoey wakes up and write.

For 35 days, precisely.

And it’s no coincidence that 35 days from this day is my 35th birthday. People, I can’t make this stuff up.

God calls people to go to scary, violent places in the world. They go.

God calls people to quit their jobs. They quit.

God calls people to fast from food. They fast.

God calls people to end relationships. They end them.

God calls people to adopt children. They adopt.

God calls people to leave their church job to join the secular world. They join.

God calls people to crazy, incredible places and spaces. And those who listen and follow Him get to be a part of something remarkable. Something they never intended for their life. And because they listened to God, they experienced His plan, His will and often, the fruits and blessings that blossom on the other side.

So being asked to fast from social media and get up 45 minutes earlier than my sweet newborn seems easy compared to the aforementioned, theoretical asks from God. It seems almost childish, trivial. Almost like an ask that is too small from God.

But people. It makes me uncomfortable and anxious and it’s big and weird. I don’t want to do it. I keep trying to tell myself that the calling He put on my heart is actually something I made up and that it’s not from Him and therefore, I really don’t need to do it. But, I know it’s not from me because if it were my fast, it would be a food fast with a selfish ulterior motive to lose weight.  Go ahead and laugh. It’s the truth. And I also know it’s not from me because getting up before Zoey? Writing? About what? Yeah, exactly.

A fast from social media?

Really God?

Do you realize that on February 16 I start a new job where my role is, more or less, director of social media? Ummmm. Yeah, so there’s that.

Do you realize, God, that I have a blog that millions of readers (okay, hundreds…what’s the difference anyways?) want to receive in their Facebook newsfeed from my Facebook newsfeed?

God, don’t you realize that I am fully addicted to social media which by definition means I can’t live without it? Oh, yeah. And there’s that, too.

And wake up before Zoey? You are crazy! I get like 5 hours of sleep on average and you want me to cut into that to spend time with you and write? Seriously, God, I think you have lost your mind.

Ugh.

I am kicking and screaming here. I don’t want to do this. But the words I keep hearing are “you don’t want to miss what I have for you.” And it also brings me to a point that was made this weekend at the If Gathering by Jennie Allen. Summarized, she talked about the day when we meet face-to-face with God and when we will see ALL the opportunities and plans He had for us and how sad it will be if we didn’t pursue those because we didn’t listen to Him. Because we weren’t brave.

I am not exactly sure why I have so much anxiety on this but one thing I do know is this: I am 1,000% fearful that I am going to do this and at the end of 35 days, on my 35th birthday, God will have said nothing and nothing will have changed. Or conversely, that God will ask me to do something even bigger than fasting from social media for 35 days. Or that He will reveal something about me that I don’t want to be revealed.

How awesome is my faith after coming off of a faith-filled women’s Christian conference?!

So. I am fearful. Already tired from the sleep I will lose. Annoyed that I won’t be able to maintain my addiction to beautiful images on Instagram.

Yep, this is my response to a seemingly easy call from God. But underneath the fear and anxiety and questioning God is a woman who heard hundreds, if not thousands of words from women leaders this past weekend at the If Gathering. Words that mattered, that changed me, that scared me and that made me closer to God. And words that distinctly said to be strong and courageous.

And so my leap of faith is this fast and morning writing thingy (because what else is it called?!). It’s my small, but obedient way of being strong and courageous. Here goes…

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