Sunday, December 22, 2013

Suddenly!

Christmas is only two days away and there's still so much to do.  I wanted to take a little time and remind about the true meaning of this season.  I haven't posted at Christmas since "My Lessons from a Virgin" post so I'm excited because it's been awhile.

Today my pastor shared excerpts from the scriptures that share the Christmas story.  As many times as I've heard the story one word resonated with me. 

Suddenly.....


Luke 2:8-12 (MSG)

 8-12 There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.” 
 
Shepherding is among the oldest careers.  It was a lonely occupation because shepherds normally lived apart from society.  It's interesting that God chose shepherds to share His glory with.  What an awesome blessing!  While they were working, minding their own business, God decides to show up....suddenly. 
 
I love that.
 
It provides such hope to us today.  No matter where we are in life, God is able and willing to meet us right there.  He chose the lowliest in their society to be the first to visit baby Jesus.  He didn't ask the leaders of the day, the priests, or even Mary and Joseph's family members.  He chose shepherds and suddenly their lives were changed forever. 
 
The same can happen to you.  He can suddenly change your situation.  Give Him the opportunity by talking with Him, listening to His gentle whispers and seeking Him in all of your challenges, difficulties, and even victories.
 
 
 

Roslyn and I will take the next couple of weeks off from blogging and work to spend time with our families.  We will eat lots, laugh hard, and love those around us.  From opening gifts to a family game of baseball, we plan to have a blast.  We realize that there are those that will spend Christmas in a hospital, grieving a love one, or fighting depression that plagues them this time of year.  We hope to inspire you with this post.  Believe with every fiber of your being that God will suddenly change your life in a positive way! (Posted by Renee)
 
 
 
From our families to yours......
 
Merry Christmas and a Prosperous and Blessed New Year!
 
(Posted by Renee) 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

When Ordinary Turns To Tragedy



I enjoy lazy and routine days.  Ordinary days usually involve hanging out with my boys.  These days they play outside for hours with their friends while I read emails, scan through social media, cook dinner or even coupon.  I usually crave ordinary routines because my days seem more normal when the mundane happens.  Wake up, exercise, take the kids to school, work, eat lunch…you get the idea.

Lately, our world has seemed anything but ordinary.

You are navigating through life and somehow a disruption appears in your day.  It can be as simple as a flat tire or newly painted nails with chipped polish (I HATE that).  Your disruption can also be as insurmountable as rushing a loved one to a hospital because of tight chest pains or hearing the words, "He didn't make it" as the doctor tells you the fate of your college age son that was just in a car accident.

What had been ordinary all of a sudden thrusts you into a season of a "new normal".  If you have ever lost someone that is close to you, you realize just how FINAL that is.  You don't get a second chance to say good bye. Even though their clothes are still in the closest hanging, just as they did before they left the house.  You hope to receive another phone call or see them running into the house again, but with death "it" never happens again.

How do you manage when ordinary turns to tragedy?

Honestly, I don't know that anyone knows the answer to this question.  You just get through it.  For those of us fortunate to be living an "ordinary" day, we must learn to be intentional with every moment.  Don't put off tomorrow what you can do today.  We never know what is around the corner for any of us.  Those that are dealing with tragedy were in the middle of ordinary and then their day experienced an abrupt change.

Cherish time with your family.  Put away those technical devices and listen.  Be engaged in the activity and lives of your kids, family and friends.  Passionately contribute to your organization, your dream or entrepreneurial business.

Work while it is day because a time is soon coming when no man will be able to work.  

I just talked with a woman a few weeks ago who struggles to slow down.  Her hands and mind are constantly racing to complete the next project or task.  But as we know, there is always more to do.  Is life ever really complete?  When I spoke with her she said, "I won't rest until I die…then it will be an eternal rest for me."

Find Balance - Choose a Hobby
We need to find balance between work and rest.  Find something that allows your thoughts to focus your energy not just in one place.  If work is the center of your existence, then a bad day at work leads to a bad day at home.  Take a Zumba fitness class, build model airplanes, learn to play golf, volunteer,  join a book club.  The idea is to do something just for YOU.  This will enable you to then have other sources of inspiration.  It will provide the perfect harmony between work and rest.

Ordinary turning to tragedy causes us to feel a myriad of emotions.  Anger, hurt, confusion, insecurity, violation, fear and sadness just to name a few.  We are instantly faced with pulling on strength we didn't know we possessed.

God rarely uses someone who hasn't dealt with tragedy or suffering.  

The initial pain hurts like hell, but as you put one foot in front of the other you realize, you can make it! There are no words that can free you from pain of losing a loved one or discovering a rare illness. You just have to manage through it.

PAIN HAS PURPOSE, so in those moments of anger and confusion realize there is a larger plan that you can't see.  God's plan is not to give you all the details of His plan. Focus all your mental energy in a positive direction. Don't be mad at those that are trying to encourage you.  They just want to support you.  Even in the darkest pit of despair, it is possible to have peace.

If today wasn't good, remember God still is!

I was encouraged this past weekend listening to the parents of the Sandy Hook tragedy. A year ago their ordinary turned to tragedy.  As a parent, burying your child at the age of five or six would spiral most into an utter depression.  "Why get off the ground when the world around you is spinning, so I stayed on the ground for six months."

These parents were able to speak about their journey and also the path that has been revealed as they fight for stronger gun laws and increased safety in schools (their pain had purpose).  The purpose of the pain was larger than just their family.

Whatever you are facing be encouraged by others that are survivors.  You are not alone.  Leave us a comment and let us know if there is any way we can pray for you.  God hasn't abandoned you and loves you with an unconditional love. (Posted by Roslyn)

We've heard the saying, "When it rains it pours.  Declare a new mantra, "When it pours, He reigns".  



"...When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Do not be afraid, for I am with you." Isaiah 43:1-5

Thursday, December 5, 2013

BIG REVEAL - 40 AND FABULOUS!

It is finally here - our 40th birthday! 

Renee and I did our own little countdown last night as we moved closer to December 6th.  I asked my mom, "How did you feel 40 years ago?" She responded, I was in PAIN.

As we promised, we our revealing our photos.  We are ecstatic about showing them to you.  Thanks for taking time this week to journey down memory lane with us.  Each and every step, Renee and I wanted to engage our readers, family and friends in our birthday celebration.

We love all the text, thumbs up, cards, hugs and genuine well wishes.  We pray, in some small way, we've inspired you to go BIG or go HOME on your next birthday.  (Posted by Roslyn)

Glasses up in a toast to the twins turning 40!  CHEERS!
 

We loved the vintage suitcase that our photographer let us borrow from his parents!


 
 
 
 
 

Our fun & edgy shot!

 
 
 
We looked at each other and reminded ourselves of all we've overcome!

 
 

Our photographer found a beautiful 1960's tandem bike for us to use!
 
 

We find a way to have fun no matter what!
 

God is awesome!
 
 
 

 
Help us celebrate our birthday.  We're having a party on Facebook!  We want to get 400 likes on our page for our 40th birthday.  It will be a great gift!  So jump on over and like our page.
(Posted by Renee & Roslyn)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Twins Throwback Thursday

Isaiah 61:7
Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.
 

It's Thursday and officially the last day in our 30's.  We are about to turn the page to another chapter in life.  I will look forward to Renee calling me at 12am, so she can be the very first one to wish me a happy birthday.

Are we really the only ones that get this excited about a birthday?  Normally, we are a little more reserved, but since 40 is the new 20 - we wanted to go out with a bang!


My younger self at 16!


I've always wanted to write letters to my younger self.  If only I knew then what I know now.  If I had to put anything into words to my younger 16 year old self, I would simply say:


FIND YOUR VOICE!









Once you find your voice in society, you have strength and courage to articulate any need or concern.  Renee was always more outspoken than me, so it took a while for me to find my voice and stand up for what I wanted.  Sometimes we can live afraid of speaking because of what others might say.  We look away timid or scream so loud no one wants to hear our voice.  


But when you settle into that "sweet spot" of not taking NO for an answer and tenaciously going after your dreams…well then my friend, you are a force to be reckoned with. (Posted by Roslyn)


Almost 40 and loving it!

Q:  What would you say to your younger 16 year old self?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

We're Turning 40! (Hair and Makeup)

Isaiah 61:7 (ESV)
 Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.
 
 


Frenchie paying attention to every detail.
 

 
If you thought choosing the right photographer was important for our 40th birthday photo shoot, then you probably understand how critical it was to have the right makeup and hair team. Fortunately I have a wonderful stylist who’s been a part of my life for over eleven years. Francoise Gomes is the Owner of Frenchie's Hair Design Studio in Orlando, Florida. She’s well known in the local area and enjoys enhancing the beauty of women. We worked together for weeks to discuss attire, vision, and styling options. 

During my consultation, Frenchie suggested using Natasha Bradley, Owner of Diva's Makeup and Brow Bar, for our makeup needs. Roslyn and I both loved the idea because it was such a great way to support small, women-owned businesses.  If not for her suggestion, we would have ended up at a makeup counter at a local department store.  Choosing this option made our day extra special!


Final makeup details on Roslyn



The day started early because we would need to drive to Tampa for the photo shoot.  Frenchie and Natasha (affectionately known as Diva), were the perfect "tag team" duo.  They worked in beautiful harmony together.  They were both serious about their craft yet took time to create an atmosphere of joy and laughter.  Our time with them ended in prayer and a few tears were shed.  We can't thank them enough for blessing us on our special day! (Posted by Renee)

Makeup-a girl's best friend!





Monday, December 2, 2013

We're Turning 40! (Our Photographer)

Isaiah 61:7 (ESV)

7 Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.


In case you haven't heard, we're turning 40!  Yesterday I shared the significance of this number and how Roslyn and I decided to celebrate.  I thought it would be fun to share a little about our photographer. 

We searched high and low for the perfect photographer and found it in Brian Adams Photographics. From the moment we spoke with him on the phone, we knew he was the one. His ideas were edgy and fun. He was just what we were looking for. All we had to do was share our vision for the shoot and leave the rest to him. Immediately he had visions of a roof top and a tandem bike.


Our meeting with Brian

We immediately embraced his warmth on the day of the shoot even though we were meeting him for the first time. We were naive to the process so he made sure to coach us all along the way.



Brian letting us know his vision for the shoot!

One thing we realized that day was that the "perfect" shot, comes at a price. By the end of the shoot my beautiful Nordstrom's gown ended up caught in the chain of the tandem bike. My bare feet were black on the bottom and we were sweaty from the hard work of looking cute. All in all it was the best experience and beyond what we ever could have imagined.


Brian getting the "perfect" shot


Make sure to continue with us on our birthday journey as we celebrate the BEST that's yet to come in our new season! (Posted by Renee)

Don't forget to "like" us on Facebook or join the conversation on Twitter.

 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

We're Turning 40!

Isaiah 61:7 (ESV)

7 Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.

We are turning 40 this week and it's an exciting time in our lives.  On any year, we both love our birthday, but this year is extra special.  There is such significance when turning 40.  I've always heard that it's a time when you become enlightened.  You see the world completely different.  Not sure what will come in this year but we expect greatness!



Forty is such a significant number in the Bible.  It represents the ending of a period, trial or chastisement.  Whether it was Noah in the ark for 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days, or the children of Israel wandering through the wilderness for 40 years, the number is noteworthy and momentous.  A 40-something time period in the Bible is always a period of testing, trial, or probation, and ends with a period of restoration, revival or renewal



Roslyn and I are choosing to embrace this time in our lives.  We aren't the gals who try and hide their age.  We make sure to celebrate every test, trial, and victory. 

We decided to kick off our festivities with a 40th birthday photo shoot.  We've never had a high fashion photo shoot together, so with the help of our fabulous husbands, we made it happen.  Over the next few days, we will share a "behind the scene" look into our fun-filled day.  Make sure to party with us all week because we will unveil the photos on Friday!

For all our readers that have already crossed over into their 40's, please leave us a comment below with some great advice. (Posted by Renee)

Don't forget to "like" us on Facebook or join the conversation on Twitter.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Check Your Luggage

I've recently been spending time in airports traveling.  It can be one of the most stressful experiences, especially if your luggage doesn't fit.  Those overhead bins can become very tiny once all the bags start piling into them.  I just sit and wonder, what do they have in all those bags?  Backpacks, shoppers, totes, briefcases, laptop cases and handbags - we as travelers, are carrying around a ton of "stuff".




I can't exclude myself from the equation because my handbag is heavy.  Anyone who picks it up says, "What is in here?"  I get so embarrassed because I literally have everything but the kitchen sink in my handbag. Two wallets, two cellphones, checkbook, coupons, mascara, mirror, makeup, lotion, hand sanitzer, pain medicines, tissue, comb, mints, gum, business cards, sunglasses and over 20 different lipstick/glosses - YIKES!!!  All the years that women carry around that stuff and we wonder why we suffer with low back pain and shoulder discomfort.

Why do we need all that STUFF?

Freedom comes when we rid ourselves of waste.  I feel so productive when I clean out old clothes from my closet, recycle junk mail or organize my cabinets.  When we delete items, we free up time to focus our energy elsewhere.

Why buy more clothes/shoes, when the closet is full?  

When you have a goal or vision, you can't hold onto the past or allow your past to hold you.  The past with its hurt and pain can be draining. Looking back waste time.  You need all the strength, fortitude and vitality to pursue and press forward to your dreams.

We are moving into the holiday season.  At some upcoming gathering, you will be surrounded by people from your past. Maybe you haven't seen them in a long time.  On the other hand, they might be friends or family that you see all the time.

In fact, they could be constantly dependent on you.  You are the one that bails them out when life goes wrong for them.  You pride yourself on being their savior, but in fact your are enabling a codependent behavior.  There is a fine line between helping and enabling.  Helping someone can quickly move down a slippery slope to that person consistently needing you and your resources.

People need to be deleted or removed when they become distracting to your purpose.  

Those "heavy weights" burden you down and eventually will suffocate you.  Ask God for wisdom on what relationships need to stay and which ones need to go.  Free yourself of clutter before you enter a new year (2014).  Stop being emotionally connected to your clutter, dysfunction and drama.  Whether it is people, habits or negative thoughts, don't allow them to occupy your head space. (Posted by Roslyn)

Look around, the person in the airport with the least amount of stress, is usually the person carrying the least amount of luggage. 



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ready.Set.Shop


BLACK FRIDAY - NOVEMBER 29TH

We are a week away from Black Friday.  This is the biggest shopping day of the season.  Many Thanksgiving holidays are remembered for delicious food and gathering of family.  But for many of us, we see the Thanksgiving holiday as a time to SHOP.

Over the past two years I've written great tips on How To Survive Black Friday.  One tip is to stick to your budget and come prepared with your list.  Many retailers are opening on Thanksgiving (Ex. Macy's opens at 8pm on Thanksgiving Day) to give shoppers every opportunity to spend money and cash in on special priced doorbusters.

What is an item you plan to buy on Black Friday? 

Flat screen tv, new laptop or maybe an $8.00 toaster.  Whatever it is, start planning now.  Have a ton of patience, it's a jungle out there. (Posted by Roslyn)

Happy Shopping!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I Failed as a Parent

For the first time in my life, I'm the mother of a middle schooler.  For the parents that have walked this road, I'm sure you understand how challenging this time in a child's life can be.  Although I've taken several parenting classes and even blogged about the parenting book that changed my entire thought process toward parenting, I failed as a parent this week.  Let me be clear, I'm not a bad mom, but if I were given a grade for my actions during a heated moment with my daughter, it would would've been an "F".

I have an amazing daughter who's in the "tween" age range.  Anyone who meets her will immediately picks up on her nurturing spirit.  I'm trying to adjust to the fact that in one moment she can be sweet as pie and the next she's, let's just say, different.  She can be reserved then quick and sarcastic with her mouth.  She wants to hold your hand and give you kisses one minute then race up the stairs to get away from all of us.  Get my drift......it's just a different day and time.


My husband and I are like most parents.  We sacrifice for our kids so that we can give them the best that life has to offer.  We want to provide opportunities that we didn't have growing up.  That's why when she responded to one of my requests in a way I didn't agree with, I lost it.  The whole incident happened so quick but at the end of it, I was yelling and she was on the floor in tears. 


You would have thought I hit her but I didn't.  I didn't need to.  My words and demeanor were sharp enough to kill.  At one point, I remember seeing fear in her face like I've never seen before.


At that moment, I had failed as a parent.

Ephesians 6:4 (TLB)

And now a word to you parents. Don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful. Rather, bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord himself approves, with suggestions and godly advice.


Almost immediately I regretted my actions and the harshness of my words.  Respect from my children is mandatory, however, it doesn't only go one way.  I have an obligation to respect them as well during our interactions.  Throughout the evening, I continued to think about how I blew up.  I knew the Lord was leading me to apologize.  I hesitated at first because this would be a different experience for me.  Pride tried to take over but I knew I was wrong and it had to be said.


I'm happy to say, I apologized.


Not only did I apologize, I wanted to find out her feelings and perceptions of the incident.  We talked through the situation and it was amazing to me how differently she perceived our interaction.  I didn't fear that saying, "I'm sorry" would lessen my intolerance of disrespect.  I knew that if I didn't move to a place of trying to understand her and apologizing for overreacting, she could begin shutting down.  There could come a day when she wouldn't want to talk to me anymore but instead, share her feelings with someone else.  This was a pivotal moment for us and I wasn't going to allow feelings of arrogance and pride hinder me from what I knew needed to be vocalized.


It ended up being such a beautiful and tender moment.  We embraced and talked about how I could parent better.  I vowed to yell less and listen more.  I'm not a perfect parent, but I am one that is completely committed to having a relationship with my children built on mutual respect. (Posted by Renee)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mundane Mondays

It's that time again...Monday!  There isn't much to really enjoy about Monday.  For example, my wedding anniversary was last Monday but we chose to celebrate on Friday simply because Monday isn't known for happiness like Friday.  Monday is the most unromantic, unfun day of the week.  Even Wednesday has become famous by a Geico camel commercial shouting, "HUMP DAY"!  Most dread heading back to work on Monday after a relaxing weekend.  Everything about Monday is MUNDANE. Same traffic, same lunch, same tasks repeated every single Monday - do you catch my drift?

Sometimes even the MUNDANE can have meaning.  Many people will spend more time at work this week than they will at home.  The work days are becoming longer as more companies have eliminated positions and straddled the extra work on a few remaining employees.  Coworkers have their "own drama" and you might not always be in the mood to hear the latest "disaster" in their life - you've got to much work to complete!

Today, I was in the midst of a MUNDANE routine.  I was holding the hand of a woman I didn't know when I was asked to pray for her.  She was dressed up and all smiles. Her teenage son just had a hair cut and was also looking very sharp.  I was sitting behind them.

As I held her hand (from behind), I could instantly feel something.  Realize, because I was rushing into the MUNDANE, I had not even looked at this woman's face.  As I was praying for her, she broke down.  Inconsolable tears started flowing.  Not a "cute" cry, but a "mascara running down your face & I don't care who sees me" type of ugly cry.

Her son didn't know what to think.  He really stood in shock, but as a mother I FELT her at that moment.  It is hard to describe but something so MUNDANE was turning into something EXTRAORDINARY.  I rubbed her hand, still not seeing her face, and squeezed it firmly...now more tears flowed.  It was my simple gesture just to say, "I'm here for you."  There was a release in that quick moment that I spent with her.  She suddenly was free.

She would now have wisdom born from pain!

The prayer quickly ended and she turned around.  I finally S A W her.  I SAW her hurt, I SAW her tears, I SAW a woman needing just a simple touch.  She hurriedly hugged me and whispered, "thank you."  I haven't seen her since that day but I'm still praying for her.

As you go throughout your MUNDANE Monday...keep your eyes peeled for the person who needs YOU because no one can do life alone.  We are all part of the village called the human race.  (Posted by Roslyn)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fun Fall Friday



A recent trip to Kentucky inspired me to embrace the new season of Fall.  The weather was crisp - a chilly 46 degrees.  The array of colors sprawled throughout the city, with the changing leaves was breathtaking.  It appeared as if someone took a paint brush and delicately painted a canvas for all to enjoy.  During my morning run, I saw many commuters driving into work.  They jumped out of their car not stopping for a moment to enjoy the view I found mesmerizing.





Florida stays green all year, so I enjoyed being nestled into true Fall weather.  The crunch of the leaves while running made me giddy inside - how about you?  What do you enjoy about Fall weather?  What Fall fashion piece is a "magical must have" for you?  For me, it is a pair of leather riding boots.


Enjoy a few photos from Louisville, Kentucky! (Posted by Roslyn)

 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bacon and Egg Potato Salad

Yummy goodness!


I love sharing recipes and when I found a recipe that combined potatoes, eggs, and bacon, how could I resist sharing it.  Over the years we've shared everything from Buffalo Chicken Dip to Strawberry Monkey Bread.  Well this weekend I was inspired to try a new recipe out of the July/August issue of  Food Network Magazine. 



Ingredients



Ingredients

  • 2 pounds small red-skinned potatoes, quartered
  • 1 pound bacon, chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 6 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook until fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
 
 
Hint for success:  Use thick cut bacon for maximum flavor
 
 
Meanwhile, saute the bacon in a skillet over low heat (this is very important).
 
 
 
 
 
After about 12 minutes, the bacon will become crispy.
 
 

I wish you could smell the bacon goodness!



Drain the bacon on paper towels.


Put the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat, cover and let stand 6 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool; peel and chop.


 

 
Drain the potatoes (do not rinse), transfer to a baking sheet and let cool 6 to 8 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, scallions, red onion, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.
 
 
 

Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and add the bacon and hard-cooked eggs; fold in the mayonnaise mixture. Serve at room temperature and enjoy! (Posted by Renee)
 
 
Don't forget to visit us on Facebook or join the conversation on Twitter.