Saturday, February 11, 2017

Marshall Turns Two!

Our baby turned two this month! It was also his "golden birthday". It's hard to believe he's not a baby anymore (even though he will always be my baby). I was torn between feeling sad that he was getting older, yet happy that he's growing and continuing to amaze and fill us with so much joy. Everyone warns you about the "terrible two's". We've seen a few glimpses of those typical toddler tantrums, but for the most part, he's gone easy on us (so far). 

On Marshall's actual birthday, we spent the day together as a family. We baked blueberry muffins the night before (one of his favorite treats) and sang happy birthday to him with a candle at breakfast. We quickly learned that Marshall does not like birthday candles. Regular candles are fine. Just not birthday candles. Noted. Maybe next year.

We took him to the Strong National Museum of Play, which he loves, and we got a membership as part of his birthday gift. There's so much to do there! I'm looking forward to taking him many more times throughout the year. 

We had a small family celebration the following weekend with cake and ice cream. Although, Marshall would have been perfectly happy with just the M+M's. 

He is such a blessed little boy to have family and friends who sent cards and sweet gifts. It's so fun to see him open gifts and get excited. Marshall, you are very loved!

It's been quite challenging these days to take (good) photos of my fast-paced, busy little guy! I really wanted to do some type of photo shoot for his birthday. Filling his crib with balloons turned out to be a big hit. He had a blast and I tried my best to capture him in action!

Marshall, you are so much fun and energy, determination and humor. You are definitely all boy. With your running, throwing, climbing and everything in motion. You love trucks, cars, Play Doh, vacuuming (yay!), snackies, the lawnmower, watching your shows, and helping me. Some days you're literally my shadow. You. Love. Ketchup. You get attention and smiles wherever you go. There's no doubt you're going to test my patience and give me more gray hairs. You sleep like a champ (just like your mom and dad used to). You do not like brushing your teeth, eating beans or most vegetables, wearing winter hats, or sitting still. You have an impressive vocabulary, and you've been talking up a storm since Thanksgiving. I love your little voice and the way you say things. You are so smart. Part of me hopes you never grow up and never stop being this cute. I kiss your cheeks every chance I get. Because I know one day you won't let me. You have such a sense of humor and crack us up everyday. Your laugh is the best. Your smile is my favorite. And your blue eyes. Just like your Dad. I love you more every minute.

Happy birthday, sweet boy! I'm so grateful God gave you to us. You are loved beyond words.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Jones AC Services Logo

In the fall of 2016, I had the pleasure of re-branding Jones Air Conditioning Services, located in Delray Beach, Florida. Jonathan Jones, is the owner and operator (and he is married to my beautiful cousin). He's also one of the hardest working, nicest guys you'll ever meet. I was thrilled when he asked me to work with him to give his company a makeover and boost his brand identity. 

After designing a new logo and establishing colors, I applied it to corresponding business cards, carbon copy invoice forms and a large magnetic sign for his vehicle.  

This was such a fun project for me because I got to research and strategize the field of air conditioning services, which is one that I have not worked with prior. I enjoy creating artwork for different applications, too. This is my third vehicle related design. Thinking about magnetic signs driving around Florida gives my heart a little flutter.

I also couldn't have asked for a better client - not just because he's family, either. I really like being able to help support a family owned and operated business.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

50th Surprise Birthday Party

In January, my sister, Lisa, threw her husband, Chris, a SURPRISE birthday party. And he was completely surprised! Success! This was a big birthday, too. 50! However, Chris certainly doesn't act or look his age! 

You make 50 look good, Chris

When Lisa started planning the party, I volunteered to design the invitations and help with decorations. I love party planning! 

We wanted to celebrate his 50 years in a fun, upbeat, and classy way. Lisa selected the color theme and plaid napkins in blue and green. Then we added touches of gold and silver. I cut out "50" numbers in gold, attached them to skewer sticks for each centerpiece and wrapped large mason jars with burlap. We filled them with paper filler, added curled ribbon and a Bible verse. I had silver chargers and enough small glass jars to hold flame-less candles, which we filled with rainbow sprinkles. How cute is that?! 

Lisa made a photo collage in the shape of "50" on foam core and we used my two burlap message boards to pin the rest. Everyone always enjoys looking at photos from throughout the years. 

It was a fun afternoon of celebrating with family and friends

Chris, you are loved by so many! God has blessed you with a beautiful family and dear friends. You are a testament of God's goodness and faithfulness and we are thankful for you!

Monday, January 30, 2017

My Jesus Story

I was challenged by my D-Group (my women's discipleship group that meets once a week and we study the Bible, pray and encourage one another in our relationship with Christ) to write my testimony and share it with someone. I've always struggled with sharing my testimony, especially out loud and in person, and I'm still intimidated by the word "testimony". It's always felt so big to me, like it needs to be a monumental story of epic proportions. I've known God as long as I can remember, and my story may seem simple. But, I've taken another stab at writing it down, in a condensed "elevator speech" approach, and I'm calling it "My Jesus Story" because it's all about Him, not me. 

Maybe someone needs to hear this today. Here goes. 

Although I grew up in a Christian home, raised by two Christian parents, and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t expected to attend church, my relationship with God has been a lifelong journey. For almost 35 years, I’ve been growing and learning who God is. Strong roots took hold in me very early. I remember being just a little girl, praying in our kitchen with my mom, asking Jesus into my heart. I knew that Jesus loved me and that I loved Him and I wanted to follow him. I loved Sunday school and the church that my Dad pastored. But, life isn’t very complicated when you’re 5 or even 9 years old. I remember being baptized in Lake Ontario during a summer church picnic. I knew that I loved God, I chose to follow him and I wanted to be baptized. I was blessed to attend a Christian elementary and middle school, and then a Christian high school and college. It felt safe, and real, and I was surrounded by Christian friends, pastors, teachers and godly examples. I knew the truths of the Bible, right from wrong, and I sincerely desired to please God with my life. I went on youth retreats and even short term missions trips and tried to obey God by following the rules.

There came a point, however, in my teenage and college years, that I started wanting the approval and acceptance of friends and boys, more than I desired clinging to the straight and narrow. I wanted to test the waters and see what I might be missing. I was selfish and more focused on what I wanted, primarily in the area of dating and seeking attention from guys. Always on a mission to find “the one”. In high school, I made non-Christian friends at my first job. And when I turned 21, I experienced going out to bars, clubs and parties with friends. At times, I drank too much alcohol, acted in ways that weren’t the real me and I made regrets. I stayed in relationships that I knew I never should have started. All the while, trying to maintain my “good girl” appearance, compartmentalizing my life, lying to my family and myself. There came a point when it felt like I was living a double life. The girl that my family and church knew and expected me to be, and the girl who was looking for love, approval and fulfillment in the wrong things.

2003 was one of the worst years of my life at the time. It was the year I knew I needed to make changes and decide who I was really going to be. I had to decide if I was going to continue choosing sin and selfishness or if I was going to choose Jesus - for myself. Not because I was expected to, or because of the way I was raised, but because deep down in my heart I knew I needed Jesus more than anyone or anything. I wanted Him to be the leader of my life. I wanted to know God more - really know Him, not just the Bible stories I grew up with. I wanted the peace of God and joy in my heart again. I wanted to become who God wanted me to be, not who I wanted to be or who I thought I needed to be. I wanted my faith to be real.

As I took steps back to God, He loved me unconditionally and was so gracious and merciful. I began to see how deceitful my heart was and that I’d only caused myself pain by turning my back on God in certain areas of my life. I couldn’t see that the entire time, I was so loved and cherished by my Heavenly Father. It was something I knew in my mind, but the depth of that truth hadn’t fully made it’s way to my heart yet. I didn’t need to go searching. He was right there the whole time, loving me, teaching me, and drawing me to Him.

2003 was also the year that I met my husband (although I didn’t know it at the time). Just one example of God’s many gifts to me. When I look back at who I was during that difficult time, part of me longs to go back and do it over again so differently. I’d save my self the pain of having to learn things the hard way. I think about potential situations that God kept me from and circumstances that could have gone much differently, were it not for God’s hand on my life. God is so faithful! I am unworthy of His love. That’s what’s so beautiful about God’s grace. Even my rebellious heart and the mistakes I made were paid for when Jesus died for me. He loved me before I was even born and sacrificed His life to save me. Thank you, Jesus!

I feel like such a different person today than I was back then. I know that I am a daughter of God, loved and accepted, not because of anything I did, or ever could do, but because of Who God is. I don’t have to live up to a set of rules or try to be good enough. Jesus is enough. He is the reason I’m here today. Every day I learn more about who He is and I’m humbled by the way He loves me and cares for me. I am far from perfect, and there are many times I still have to remind myself that I am His.

I’m so thankful for Jesus, His blood that rescued me, and for the security of knowing I will spend eternity with Him in Heaven when my life is over. He changed my life. There have been difficult days, and there will be more hard times, but I know that I can face them all because of Jesus. I’m not alone and He has a purpose and a plan, for everything.

Today, I’m a wife and a mom and I’m learning more than ever what it means to be a follower of Jesus. My faith has grown so much since I asked Jesus into my heart when I was a little girl. The same Jesus has been there all along, every step of my journey, and I know He will be there for all the days to come. He is my everything.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

New Years Eve 2017

We rang in the new year with our family in Pennsylvania. All 11 of us hung out almost the whole weekend, playing games, laughing and making memories. We celebrated our (after) Christmas together and exchanged gifts. I love getting to see our nieces open their presents and doing crafty projects with them. Marshall loved having so many people to play with him!

We managed to stay awake until midnight to welcome in 2017 and reflect back on the many good things in 2016.

 Happy new year!