Favorite Things Monday

I know there is nothing realistic about wanting life to be like the weekend. Don’t get me wrong, we tend to be the type that have to be intentional about slowing down. We are on the go often. Weekends are not so much a time of rest but they are often time together. Family, church family, church service, soccer practice, rest, preparation for Sunday and the week ahead. It’s how I spend my time that makes it the most special.

The challenge? Take the good things about the weekend into my Monday.

This is where gratitude changes everything.

“It’s the beginning of whatever this is going to be”

Words from the wise. Words of the lesson learned. Words of the one and only Amanda Smith. It was one year ago to the day when Amanda and Natalie arrived at our house. We hadn’t seen Amanda in a few years. She was getting ready for a huge and scary life step. A step she had known for years that she was supposed to take. A step that was required once she realized that God doesn’t change His mind about us…and He wasn’t changing His mind about that particular plan. A year ago, a terrified girl sat at my table. A year later, there are still a thousand unknowns in her life but that terrified girl is gone and a confident girl now stands in her place. She has learned that God is faithful. She has learned that the fight is worth it. That confidence comes from Jesus…from a place of experience…and experiences that only happens when you take those steps.

Once a youth pastor, always a youth pastor. Those years have awarded me those conversations around my table.

Dory made me a little emotional. Yes, Dory. The fish. The “just keep swimming” fish with short term memory loss. The kids loved it. I liked it, then it made me sappy. Stinkin’ Pixar and your genius story telling.

Also, we (um…I) watched said movie with a purse full of breakfast tacos and Starbucks. There is no going back from that.

Glasses and haircuts that make my babies look like legit big people.

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They were both thrilled with the changes. I had been asked if Cephas was upset about the need for glasses. Nope. Not even a little bit. It helps his rock start status.

It’s still summer. The kids are staying super busy and Ray and I are super tired at the end of every day. The absence of school stress has made a huge difference in my home. The activity level of their day has made for siblings that get along (for the most part) and for sleepy nights. We are under the 6 week mark to our family vacation. I love summer!

Summer and Saturday forever.

I started reading a new book. I thought I needed something fiction and brainless to read. While that may be true, I picked up this one instead. It has been a timely and refreshing read. Wild and Free. Don’t we all want to be? Sometimes I feel a little too wild and maybe a little too free. This book basically said God created me that way. It is written by very different woman. The difference line is really drawn in personality. If you don’t totally see yourself in you, you will in the other. Read it.

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It all matters. All of it. Every little minute. The calm ones, the busy ones, the ones where my sanity is on the brink and the ones where I am doing what I do on a regular basis. The monumental and the monotonous. Our moments matter.

Moments gathered around a table, a pool, an indoor soccer field and in a church building. I am grateful for each of them. God is present in all of them and amazing things happen when we are willing to be present where we are.

Happy Monday, Friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blank Space

Did the title alone have you singing Taylor Swift? You are welcome. I promise there is a point here…

I had the chance to attend the If Gathering this past February. A gathering of a ton of women and some of my favorite speakers, writers and leaders. It was far better than I could have imagined.

Why wait this long to write about it? It’s been a bit of a crazy few months but this has been on my mind and my heart since the conference.

During the last session, we walked in to find a domino piece at each seat. The idea was what can happen when we fall into each other. When each piece, playing it’s part falls into another and how that can change everything. We were encouraged to write on our piece what God was speaking to us that weekend. I wrote a few key words along the sides of my game piece. A few women got up and shared. A few just so happened to have a significant number of their game piece. What are the odds, right? The 6th grade teacher had 6, the mother of three had a 3, the leader of the non-profit had 12… you get the idea.

Sometimes God tells us specifics moving forward and sometimes He tells us to do the last thing He told us to do. Sometimes He tells us something profound. Sometimes He tells us to just keep swimming.

For a long time, anytime I would go to do something, I felt like God was telling me to start from scratch. That women’s community group? Start from scratch. What’s the next step? Start at the beginning. Just pray. I love the bigger picture. I do not like a glimpse of the bigger picture and that’s it.

I’ll be honest, it’s had it’s moments where it is more frustrating that encouraging. More praying about than obeying. More wanting and less action.

I know you are just dying to know.

What was on my game piece?

Glad you asked.

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Yup.

Surely this isn’t a surprise at this point.

Blank space.

A big ole blank space.

So what about it?

There is nothing sexy about being faithful. No one is writing books about how easy it is. Doing the next or the current right thing can be the hardest thing. People make up crap about God not giving you more than you can handle. Those people don’t know.

In your shoes, in your blank space, you know good and well that it is indeed more than you can handle. You also know that when God gives you a blank space, He will fill it.

When He gives the big picture, it’s best that we follow His lead.

When He gives a blank space and says to pray, it is not inaction but obedience.

When obedience and faithfulness in the seemingly small steps breaks your heart, know that it is not in vain.

This little game piece has permanent residence on my night stand. Sometimes I preach to myself and I do just about every time I see this.

Blank spaces… with dreams in my heart that won’t die, passion in my heart that won’t relent and a grace covered determination… When God gives a blank space, He will fill it.

Favorite Things Monday

Happy Monday Everyone!

It’s a little challenging to sit and write today, but I am determined to keep it honest…and consistent.

It is week 3 of summer vacation and my kids are on their third VBS for the summer…of the same curriculum. It’s the last week of Submerged. They know all the songs and the memory verse…like a boss! They have loved it and not an ounce of complaint.

 

Round Rock Express games… Who knew. Cephas loved every second and we loved watching him love it. He loves to be excited. He stood by the fence with his glove in hand for most of the game.

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Also…soccer… COPA is happening and we are cheering Team USA

Ray and Sophia had their eyes on both games by the end of the Express game.

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Favorite things? This song… Diamonds by Johnnyswim 

 

Emotions are hard. They hit hard. When I lost my cousin Caleb, my friend told me that grief is like standing in the ocean with your back to the waves; you never know when or how hard it is going to hit. This past Wednesday, it hit hard. Like, tears streaming down my shirt and feeling a bit like I had gotten beaten up the next day kind of hard.

How does this fit into my favorite things list? I’m glad you asked.

This song hit so hard it about took my breath away. My heart hurt for my family, for Matt and Rhonda and for what I miss about and what should have been in Caleb.

The grace of God covers and just makes me bossy, sing louder, love bigger and in the face of pain, stand my ground.

Starting off our church service with that song on Sunday morning was standing my ground, knowing that while grief may hit like a freaking tidal wave, God’s grace covers me, my family and that in the end, WE WIN!

 

Father’s Day – I am so grateful. I love getting to celebrate Ray any time but Father’s Day is special…and he is one awesome Dad! We did so with a full weekend of grilling, relaxing as a family…and a date night that turned into a a date 36 hours. I’m a quality time junkie and he is more of an introvert. This makes for simple but perfect date night.

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I am blessed beyond measure. My kids are blessed beyond measure. I am grateful to be able to say that Ray and I are who are because of the godly fathers and godly men who have invested in us. For any man who wonders what they have to offer…your presence and love has the potential to be a reflection of the heart of God to those around you. Love well, be present and know that it all matters.

 

 

Favorite Things Monday – Tuesday Edition

Sunday morning happened. The news broke and it broke us all. The victims, their families, the city of Orlando and the LGBT community…we pray for you and with you. Hate will never win and we will never back down in the face of it. Ever. We will love better, bigger and you will have no choice but to see that when we love like Jesus commands us, it changes everything. The tragedy leaves me speechless but we are not a nation or a church that can be silenced by fear.

So how or why gratitude in the face of tragedy?

I need the reminders that there is so much good. There is good in the face of pain, tragedy, sorrow, unanswered questions and fear.

God is good and there is always something to be grateful for.

I got to spend time with these guys this weekend. It had been 10 years since we sat at the same table. They met Sophia for the first time and the last time they saw Cephas, he wasn’t mobile. 10 years can change a lot of things and somethings it doesn’t touch. I am forever grateful for Tim and Lenora, their role in our lives, their love, encouragement, wisdom…and that they on a whim decided to road trip from Virginia to Texas and we were a stop on the way.

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God gave us this kid. There is no mold that can contain him. He loves music. He says he is going to write songs for the church. I believe him. He’s got goggles and Go-Pro. Watch out world.

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It’s summer. Infuse all the water. Strawberries and limes…lots of ice and it’s summer in my office. Get creative and drink happy water.

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Timehop has shown me lots of sentimental love lately. Lots of it. My babies were babies, my cousins were babies. I miss them all. Grateful for every memory and for the ones we have to make. Love them!

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Favorite Things Monday – Late Edition

It’s definitely not Monday morning. Life happens folks but I am determined to keep this going. Gratitude matters. I need it. You need it.

Kicking off this week’s favorite things is pretty easy…

Summer is here! Summer is here! Summer is here!

My kids have had their last day of the school year, everyone is moving up and we have celebrated the end of another school year. It was a tough school year but one that was an answer to our prayers for Cephas. We are grateful. A huge THANK YOU to the awesome Miss Sanders. What a gift!
It is my favorite time of the year. I blame my mother for this love affair with sunshine, water and warm weather. Water was (and continues to be) her cure-all. Three girls in less than 4 years with personalities so different, you wonder how we all came from the same two people. We fight? Stick us in water. It’s hot? We go to the pool. It’s raining? Go the the pool anyway. Vacation? Go to the beach and inevitably cry when we leave. Bad day? Take a bath. Good day? You get the idea. The answer is always somehow, some way involves water.

Summer vacation has begun. This doesn’t mean that things have slowed down in the Ortiz home. When Momma works full-time outside of the home and Dad often works from home, summer takes some planning. In order to enjoy it and the parent’s sanity and productivity to stay in check, Ray has figured some things out over the last few years. This involves several Vacation Bible Schools around town. Same curriculum? No problem. They may wonder why these kids know all these verses. It has zero to do with the fact that they are pastor’s kids and everything to do with they had the exact same VBS the week before. That won’t be the only thing filling up their summer but it does take up a few weeks.

I mentioned the wild man I married who mostly works from home. He is the organizer of all the activities on top of a thousand other things. He’s pretty awesome. After this past weekend, I just need to say… My husband could beat up your husband.

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I mean, he won’t but he could and isn’t that what matters. He also said this was his starting weight so it wasn’t that much. Whatevs man. That’s crazy.

Another favorite thing? The Vogt’s and living in a city with all the cute places to eat. Getting a Saturday morning with Erica, eating food, drinking coffee and ending it poolside was a total win. It’s always a pleasant surprise when a place looks like a cute girl place to eat and the food turns out the be way more man friendly than we anticipated. So, thank you Epicerie for greatness…and beignets.  IMG_9742

It was a full weekend but one that left us full too. Good friends, neighbors, an amazing church family and an eventual chance to catch our breath.

Monday’s may be hard but I am tougher. So here we are… Gratitude for what is and trusting God with what I can’t see. Learning moment by moment to trust Him with the desires He has put in my heart, the ones He won’t let die and trusting that He has this thing with finishing the good work He started in each of us.