Endurance

Facebook.  What in the world did we do before we were all connected at the hip?  Seriously, though? We are always watching people post to Fakebook.  Perfect smiles, perfect pictures, perfect lives.  We have all  been guilty of this, right?

Oh- while we are talking about that... what do we do when we are angry?  Yep, you guessed it... we get behind our keyboards either on small phones or behind our keyboards and we tell the entire world.  "Ugh, that restaurant messed up my order!"  "Can you believe wha the school did this time?" "Did you hear the latest about him? Yep, I can't believe it either!"   

Facebook groups where people are griping about whatever calling it "opinions" is the worst.   Keyboard giants are popping up everywhere.

Today, Kev finally drug me out of the house (because sickness).  We went to Tulsa to the Mac store to pick up my computer.  (it's been in the apple hospital for a month... that's another story... ugh)  
On the way out of town, we stopped by McDonalds to get the TaylorTots some nuggets.  {One day, said kids will be so angry that they missed out on all kinds of good food (like the Brook, oh yeah.)}

We pulled up to the speaker to place our normal order and we were greeted with, "Hello!  It's a wonder day how may I help you?"   What?  We stopped what we were doing and looked at each other for a couple of seconds.  Kevin's voice immediately changed to match the chipper voice coming from the speaker and we ordered food.  While we drove around to the window to pay, we were baffled... complimenting the gentleman.  I almost broke my neck when we arrived so I could take a look at this nice man.  He was busy, but smiling.  

We picked up our food and every one of us left McDonalds happier than we were when we pulled up.  We weren't in bad moods... but this man jump started our day.

What did I do?  I immediately pulled out my phone and complimented this man on Facebook.  Quickly, several people started commenting that they too had experiences with this gentleman.  Everyone is so excited to tell how nice he is. Ya'll, I encouraged business owners to steal him!  ha.

As we drove to Tulsa, I kept thinking about this guy.  My phone would buzz with notifications and I'd smile all over again.  

Why did this guy make my day?  Why did it effect my day so strongly?  Why did I rush to compliment him on Facebook?  Why was this so exceptional?

Then it hit me.  

This gentleman was showing the love of Jesus.  I know he must know him, because he was showing the love and the light of peace.  He was spreading kindness.  He was happy.  

Then I was concerned.  I saw Jesus today in a stranger and it was so abnormal that I wanted to tell the world.  (my small world, but the world none the less.)

Why isn't this the NORM?  Why is it normal for us to tell the world our disappointments but not the Joy?  Are we looking for something to complain about?  

Jesus convicted my heart today... and I am so thankful.


Hebrews tells us that we are running towards Jesus, but we are to run with endurance.  Endurance because the race is long and hard.  Endurance because we can see Jesus everywhere, if we look.  Endurance because sometimes it is very hard to show Jesus... but that is what we are called to do.

I'm so thankful for that gentleman at  *MKSdonalds McDonalds this morning.  My encounter with him opened up an opportunity for me to have an encounter with Jesus.  

Isn't that cool?   


Post the good news, friends.  Stop the negative.  Where have you seen Jesus lately?


In him- 
Jen



*MksDonalds is what we call McDonalds are our house.  That's a new thing thanks to my favorite little Brownie.  

Susan

Last week, we were lucky enough to spend a couple of hours with my niece, Susan.  

Emileigh and Susan with Joe and Muffy?  I can NEVER remember the dog's name!

Susan is just a few years younger than Kevin, so that makes she and I almost sisters.  But because her dad is the oldest, she has the joy of calling Kevin, "Uncle Kev."  Emileigh thinks it's hilarious.  I just love that she loves Emileigh.

There are a million things I love about Susan.
She is super supportive of my blogging.  Most of the time I post fluff because it's hard for me to hit post on the super personal blog that took me three days to write.  Ya'll would lose your mind if you read some of the stuff I write from the heart.  (Perhaps, someday, I'll share some of it.)

Susan always urges me to write.  She loves the stories from us about the kiddos.  I love that she is consistent.  

Susan lives in New Zealand which is half the world away.  She works with colleges, in Student Life.  You'll have to really ask her what that means, because I get distracted by world travel, oceans, and black sand.  

She is brave.  She's been all over this world.  She has the sweetest little passport with stamps filling the beautiful pages.  She is proud of that little passport, I am proud of it!  I tell her that I live vicariously through her... that is the truth.

She relies on NO ONE.  Strongest gal I know.  I long to have Emileigh have that part of the Taylor blood.  Kevin has that as well.  Me on the other hand can't go to McDonald's and eat dinner by myself.  

She has a tough relationship with her dad.  I can totally relate with her on this one.  

She is kind.  She has a way of talking to me which makes me feel as if I have known her my entire life.  

She has the best Bert and Betty stories.  I wasn't fortunate enough to meet Kevin's parents or 6 of his siblings, but she always is quick to share a story with me.  I get tons of "Kevin was a perfect kid" stories from people, because he pretty much must have been.  But Susan gives me the "Kevin was ornery." 

She has gifted my sweet baby girl a shawl from her grandma Betty that makes me tear up each time I think about it.  

There are some pretty big changes on the horizon with Team Taylor.  We have been seeking information, praying about the calling, and discussing the changes with all of our might.  We have gone from maybe  to plan zone.  

I'm thankful that, even though she didn't know it, she has helped us with some big decisions.  She has given us the encouragement that we needed.  My sweet little Emileigh looks a lot like her cousin, Susan.  It's my dream that she can be much more like her than just a beautiful face.

Susan and Emileigh, 2016  Eskimo Joe's Stillwater, Oklahoma





Unconditional.

There isn't anything that warms my heart more than watching my husband love our daughter unconditionally.












100 Days of School - Kinder Edition


When you were in school, did you celebrate the 100th day of school?  If we did, I don't remember it.  I can tell for certain, that my little won't ever forget it.

EmJ was given a task: Bring something to showcase 100 days of school!  um... okay..  When Boog was in Kinder, we did something with pennies.  But for my baby... my last little presh, that simply wouldn't do.

So- for Em's project, we did 100 faces of Emileigh :)

Gather your craft supplies.  Here is just a snippit of what we used:

* 100 photos.  (I printed 115, because you never know when you'll screw something up)
* 1 Project Display Board (you know, the kind you use for the science fair
* Sharpie Markers
* Glue
* Scrapbooking embellishment stickers 
* Scrapbooking paper for mats
-I chose the 100 pack from the Walmarts.  That way... I KNEW I wouldn't miss a photo :)
* Paper cutter
* TIME. LOTS OF TIME YA'LL lots of time.  


I measured out the board and then we used the maths to determine that I would have to cut my photos down to a 3 x 3 picture in order to mat it, and still have room for a title and larger photo.  

While I do own one of those handy scrapbook paper cutters, I realized super quick that it was going to take me FOR.EV.ER if I measured 100 photos... So, I made a guide:


Tear off the back of that photo mat stack.  I believe in using all of the supplies I purchase!!



Cut your mat the size you want your picture.  This is a 3 x 3 mat that worked PERFECTLY. :)  




*** Sorry- I forgot to add that you MUST have a beautiful made up helper.  This one is a MESS! Who seems to pull all of my creative juices out :)***


Take your guide and a silver sharpie and draw a box around each of the 100 photos you are going to want to use in your project.  




Again, you can use your cutter thingy, but it really is much quicker to do it this way... I mean, unless you have a BigShot.  In that case, use those dies and save yourself a ton of time!  We went the old fashion way.  



It doesn't have to be perfect (which is SUPER hard for me to understand) so allow the little person you have hanging around pitch in!  It is THEIR project, after all :)



After you cut out the little pictures, glue them on the mats.  yeah... I know -  more cutting ahead...  Its super worth it, ya'll!  Promise.

Isn't this picture precious?  LOVE.


We purchased white letters for the poster and then just colored them with Sharpies.  That worked so so good.  I'll show you a finished picture soon...


Daddies are GREAT helpers.  Ours cut the mats with a little helper.
  *notice a couple of things... (1) Em is now showered, THANK YOU JESUS (2) I prefer to drink out of a jar. Any jar will do... pickle jars are the best!*




Grease Live was on by this time... Em was more interested in that and was OVER this project... But isn't it looking ADORABLE?!?!?!?!



Here's the deal, ya'll.  You're probably going to mess up.  I did.  You might have to replace the stickers and move them around.  IT IS OKAY!  

Lay the photos down and get it all situated before you glue ANYTHING, though.  You have to do this step... do NOT skip it.  You'll be angry if you do.



The finished project.  

We added some scrapbook embellishments and washi tape. But other wise, the pictures tell the story alone.  

This was the most amazing, sweet, exhausting project we've tackled last minute.  However, it was so worth it!

Comment below if you have any questions... and if you attempt this, PLEASE leave me a picture.  If anyone will appreciate the hard work, I will !




**OUTTAKE - Em was not having fun about 24 minutes in...






He's always there.

If you are one of my friends, or someone who has known that I've had a blog for 8 years, you will be SUPER shocked to see that I am actually posting, again.  (I'm pretty shocked, myself)

This is a year that I want to explore via my blog posts, though... so I'm committed.

What was your very first memory?

Not something that someone told you about... or you've seen pictures of.   Something you really, really, remember.


My first memory is from a baseball field.  I remember having my little matchbox cars running them up and down the dugout bench.  

My uncle Mike was a Senior the year I was born, so I spent the next five years going to games with my grandparents.  I stayed with them a. lot.  
I've never thought of those young men much before I started thinking about this blog post.  Then, my mind went crazy.

- How many went on to play in the league?  A, AA, AAA, Bigs?  
- How many walked away and never picked up a bat again?  
- How many of those guys were super annoyed by that bratty little girl bugging them?
- How many are coaches, today?
- How many aren't living?


I'm struck tonight with this thought how many times in my own life have I had an impact on someone without being aware.  Those young men had SUCH an impact of my life.  They allowed me to play with them while they were playing the game a lot of us love.  They were patient and kind.

Are there folks that can say the same about me?

I want to be the light.  A person who inspires those around me, young and old.  Those men were Jesus in that moment.  

isn't that cool??   

I love how I can look back at my very first memory...and see my King.  

He's always there.

Day 1

January 1, 2016.


When I logged onto blogger, today, and clicked new post, a nice white sheet of blank screen stared right back at me.

That's what January 1 is all about, though, right?  Fresh starts.  We each have been gifted 364 days ahead of us to make this year The BEST year ever.

I'm going to be participating in that mantra.  With a little difference.  I'm going to be posting each day of this year.  Yep.  Everyday.  I'm going to be writing letters to my children. I'm going to share some pretty personal things, and Im going to post short snippets.

Why?  Because I feel called.

I feel as if Jesus is asking me to be vulnerable.  He is asking me to tell my story, then to tell people why I trust Him.

You see... If you are having a sucky day, you might not know the One who can bring peace that passes all understanding.

Is my life perfect? absolutely not, y'all.

I have stories that need to be told.  I need to tell you about growing up.  That is going to be very hard.
I have stories about marriage that will be hard.
I have stories about being a terrible parent to my children.

I'm going to tell you how I struggle with money and time and exhaustion.  How I long to please everyone, yet fail at that, daily.

Im going to show off two of the most important people in my life.  I'm going to share my dreams, my fears, my faults, and my tears.

I'm about to get real in 2016.

Will you join me?  My email is JenTaylor03@gmail.com  I'd love feedback and comments.  You can add them to the posts, or privately.

It's my prayer that I am able to encourage many of you this year but if it turns out to be just one - Well, that will be okay


Back to the blank white page.

There are some stuff in 2015 that was so hard to walk through. I failed multiple times, but just like January 1st, I've been given an opportunity to start over.  Jesus teaches me, and he FORGIVES me.  I'm so grateful for grace.


I'm also thankful for these two adorable kiddos!
The first picture of 2016- after I gave Blayne a haircut for the very first time.


There is a change in the air...





How was your weekend?  Here in America, we celebrate our Independence on the 4th of July.  Growing up, it blew my mind that it was an actual date... I would always ask, "When is the 4th of July this year?"   yeah... I'm that kid.






Thankfully, my kids are just 1/2 of me... (the cute half) so they were gifted with a bit more common sense from daddy.  Whew!





One of our traditions that we have kept pretty tight to is hanging out at my grandmother's house in Slick.  Slick is a tiny little ghost town in Oklahoma where people are proud to be considered redneck and rules are merely suggestions.  However, it's where my dad and his three brothers were raised, so it is home.







This weekend, though, was different.

Something was off.  Something didn't feel right...  It took me until Saturday evening to really put my finger on the feeling... and when I did, It almost made it worse.

Last week SUCKED.  Like, 2x4 to the face, sucks.   Why?  Loyalty, Friendship, Trust.  I am very much an introvert. I prefer to not be in big groups, I prefer to not participate in activities, go out... I am very content to sit in my living-room on my couch, binge watching Netflix (currently into House of Cards) and never walking out of my door.  People, I avoid WALMART!

I do however get lonely.  I have had some REALLY fantastic friends, and I am super blessed in that area.  Where I suck?  I am a terrible friend.  Remember the whole, sit on the couch and not speak to anyone?  yeah.  That makes me a terrible friend.  I might or might not return a text within 12 hours, I might not ever return a phone call, let alone listen to a voice mail... However, it is never my intention to be a bad friend.  It just happens.

Something else I'm not?  malicious.  I will listen to a story, I will give the best advice I can give and that's the end of it.  I feel like I am a "right fighter" though... I never want a bully to win.  I am loyal to a dang fault.

This week, I was hurt so deeply by a friend.  Someone whom I trusted, confided in, and prayed for.  Someone who I looked forward to raising our children together, who I felt close to.

Why am I writing it on this silly blog?  Because I'm not the only person who has ever been betrayed by a friend.  We all have... and I will go so far to bet that we have all been the betrayer at one time, too.
Yeah.  That didn't feel well, did it?

I look to the Word for comfort.  I started in Psalms and ended with Jesus...because, really, it all ends with Jesus, ya'll.  Talk about betrayed.  His very best, closest friends were there when he was arrested.  Once was a major player in the arrest.  His friends denied even knowing them.  Tell me how hard that must have felt!

I sometimes wonder how Jesus really knows how I feel.  Meaning: my mundane boring life...Jesus was so BIG.  HE CREATED ME. HE CREATED EVERYTHING!...He created loyalty...but he definitely felt sabotage and pain.  (He didn't create that, don't get me wrong.)

You know what else he did?  He taught me that I am to LOVE those people who hurt me.  LOVE THEM.  That is hard for me... but, it's important. It is my job to show them the love of Jesus.  The way I see it, they are going to wonder how I can smile and be nice.  Perhaps that will begin a conversation with someone who will be able to share Jesus and they will get it.  Maybe they already know Him, and they will see this as a wake up call.

I can forgive.  I will forgive.  I have forgiven.
The bible doesn't tell me that I will forget.  So I'll walk a little tighter, keep people away a little longer, and be a little less open.  I will take this week that started so horrible yet ended so well and remember the lesson.  I also look to Jesus and say, "thank you."  You could have fixed so many things, but you endured so I would feel that much closer to you.

Have you been there?  Which side?  Do you have any pointers?  I'd love to hear from you!


How about 4th of July traditions or pictures?  SHOW ME! :)









(did you notice the new watermark?  Yeah?!!  That is just something I've been working on... Stay tuned!)



If you could see the "back-office" of my blogger account, you would see several posts that have written and never posted.  More than several.  Hundreds maybe.  All posts that I have sat down and written.

Some of the content is phenomenal, some of it is junk.  It's all 100% authentically, me.  I've been doing some soul searching and blogging has always been where I felt most comfortable.  I am an introvert, one that LOVES to interact behind a computer screen or a cell phone text app.

Am I the only one?  Who else is with me?

Look forward to some posts being published.  I'm going to eventually rename the blog, revamp the brand, and hopefully connect to some great folks.

Thanks for always following me during my highs and lows.



It's three o'clock somewhere

The last time I was awake at 3:30am, I was sick. The time before that... We were heading home from Garth's concert.  The time before that?? Probably NEVER!  

I was the girl in high school who loved my midnight curfew because I couldn't stay awake 2 minutes longer.  

Perhaps I am just enjoying the quiet. 
Perhaps I've slept enough the last few days.  Who knows.  


Do you ever have trouble sleeping for no apparent reason? 



Traditions?

Christmas is 11 days away.  I'm not exactly sure where we are in the song.. if I should receive two turtle doves or if I should be receiving eleven lords a-leaping.  either way... the gifts would be the ONLY thing that would suggest Christmas in my house.  Well, except the pesky elf on a shelf that forgets to move days on end.  He does, however, remind my children to be nice... WIN.

gasp.

I feel guilty that my tree is buried in my garage, that my living room has been transformed to a playroom so there isn't a snowballs chance of a tree fitting in there, anyway.  I feel guilty that my children don't beg for decorations and fluff.  Guilty because there will come a time soon, that they won't care about a tree or decorations and I'll wish for nothing but a year with them small.

Am I the only one who doesn't go above and beyond for holidays?  I post the cutest ideas to my pinterest boards, yet never follow through.  I'm just tired.  Exhausted.  I come home to recharge and do nothing.

My children seem to appreciate the low key atmosphere, the days that are carefree with no schedule or requirements.  Weekends are spent in pajamas with mismatched socks and messy hair.  We eat picnic style whenever we are hungry- usually in living-room while watching cartoons.  We nap, we play, we do laundry.

This is normal, yet for some reason, 11 days from Christmas, I feel like I am cheating my little people from something I see enjoyed on television.

I look back and don't ever remember celebrating holidays.  sure, we had a Christmas tree with a hundred wrapped boxes under it.  I don't have many other memories of Christmas when I was younger.

Am I doing the same disservice with my own children?

What are your thoughts?  Am I scaring my children?