Sunday's Coming

It's not about bunnies, baskets or eggs. 
Let us forsake our earthly addiction for eternal gratitude. Let us learn to love Jesus in our hearts, not just with simple terms not fit for the Savior. Let us serve Christ not because we deserve Heaven, but because He deserves our love for His suffering and sacrifice.

Sunday's coming, He is risen - He is risen indeed.


Zoo Day

We had the opportunity to see so many gorgeous creatures at the zoo last Saturday on our family outing with my folks. One day I would love to see these stunning animals in their natural habitats, such wonder there is in this world!



A Simple Guide to Saving

I've been thinking on some of the ways saving money is a possibility, ways that anyone can get into without going total "Extreme Couponing". Please note - I'm no expert at this, but I do enjoy finding bargains and saving some cash (who doesn't?) every once and a while. 
Here's a list of some ideas the A. Bears have had some practice with...

Trade a Service

Sometimes it's easier to part with a talent than it is cash. That being said, awhile back I made an agreement with a friend who has his own recording studio to get David in for a session for the price of a photo shoot - he was happy to do it and I was excited to share the gift with David. Not a photographer? No worries. Trade your friends babysitting nights, homemade meals, or anything else that you + them could benefit from. Just remember - don't ever hold a trade against a friend, if they forget their end of the bargain, no big deal - they were blessed by your service and that's all that really matters.

 Check It Out

Looking for a movie to enjoy with your spouse? Wanting to treat your kiddo to a show? There are few reasons we find to purchase movies anymore, in fact we've gotten rid of probably a good 90% of our collection. The library is a great place to find tv series, new releases and some old classics all for free.99. If they don't have the new release you're looking for in stock, RedBox probably will, and if you haven't used your debit card there before, you might be able to get in a free rental by signing up for their e-mail list. 
I do still love buying new/used books, but our little man gets special date nights to the kids section where he can pick out all of his favorites to read throughout the week, 
fun family time + educational too! 

Free to Celebrate

Birthdays are a great day (or sometimes month) to receive offers of free meals, desserts, samplers, etc. Don't know where to start? Check out this site for an extensive list of birthday deals. 

Be a Cheap Date

If you're going to splurge on dinner out, you might want to look for a way to save on an after party. Go support local art by checking out what new gallery openings are happening, see if there's any live music playing at your favorite coffeehouse/bar, or share a dessert somewhere - less calories/less money. 

Look Online

There are tons of possibilities to save by simply checking out sites such as Groupon, Living Social, and Amazon. If you'd like to find an item for 100% off and don't mind used, check out freecycle.org. If you're going to be taking from someone, make sure to keep the freebies flowing by sharing some of your no longer used items too. 

Beauty for Less

While new clothes, pedicures and fancy blow outs can be fun, it can also be fun hunting them down for less. Check your mail for Kohl's cash and put that towards a clearance item. For one anniversary I found a dreamy Lauren Conrad dress just my size for over 80% off. Another outing scored me my favorite wallet and a simple pair of black flip flops for a whopping $0.32
My philosophy on hair is, well that it's just hair. Sure, every once and awhile I'll go the salon route (another thing to look for on deal websites) but I've also gone to a stylist friend for free and the local salon schools. If you don't mind being a guinea pig, check out your local reputable salon academy. The nice part is that instructors are checking in on their students making sure you're not getting scalped, and if it's not perfect, rock it anyway.      

Eat Healthy

Sure, organic can be expensive but so can soda, juice, and deep fried-dipped-in-frosting-goodness. We are surely no healthy eating professionals, just a regular trio making some weekly attempts at consuming better than before. Find out what day your local grocery store marks down their organic boxed items, and try to make a pit stop on those days. It might also be beneficial to purchase fruits and vegetables at a farmer's market type store, and boxed goods elsewhere. Granted you might not be saving too much money with the trade off, and at some points you might find yourself spending a little more, I think the healthy lifestyle and lessening of future medical bills are pay off enough. 

 Cut the Cable

We realized how unnecessary satellite tv was and decided to be done with the paid channels altogether. Instead, David picked up some bunny ears and while it's an experiment in physics sometimes getting a channel to come in, we enjoy the challenge and not the bill. Not only that, but if there's a favorite show out there on a cable network, chances are the episode will eventually turn up on their website. 


I've found few reasons to pay someone to do something we're capable of 
doing/learning/experimenting. Landscaping, painting and cleaning are a few expenses we prefer not to pay for. It might not be a perfect result but it'll sure have a home-like quality to it, and if nothing else, doing it yourself provides a great learning experience. Don't want to go at it alone? Find a friend that knows what their doing for some free advice. Some elements to yards and interior work can even be found for a great deal - check Craigslist.org for bricks/patio furniture/fertilizer, or pick up some "oops" paint at your local hardware store.


Keep your eyes open for an item just laying around to see if it can't be used for something else. Over here a couple of clothing items have been used for pillowcases, an old dresser was re-painted for the nursery,  some pre-marriage posters were able to liven up the office, and some old doilies got turned into a sweet table runner. Make sure to also be keeping your eyes open for things to donate, places like the Salvation Army/thrift stores/rescue missions could benefit from your old items too.

So, there you have it. A very simple guide to saving for the moderate and occasional bargain hunter. 



Moments to Shoot For

It's moments like these that make photography come alive for me

Moments with sweet old men in rocking chairs lightheartedly conversing with me as I stroll down a street, allowing me to capture them in serene bliss. Moments with a stranger allowing me to snap an image while they are being, simply them.


A New Graduate

The other day our doula and friend Jacqueline called to ask if I would be free to photograph her beautiful daughter Stephanie for her graduation photos, absolutely! Jacqueline, her two daughters, my little man and I all piled into the car for a photographic adventure - what a delightful day we had! We even came across a little four legged visitor, he couldn't escape my camera though - keep an eye out for our little guest.





Meet Melissa

Melissa is intelligent, sincere, compassionate, perseverant and faithful - to name a few. She is one of the lifelong friends I am so deeply blessed to have. Perseverance has led her to a career as a professor at a Texas college, and is a trait helping her continue her journey onto receiving a doctorate. In a single conversation with her one might be humbled, encouraged, contemplate great truths, and leave intellectually challenged.
In an all too often cookie cutter culture she has been graced with the ability to stay true to her faith and convictions - convictions that so deeply challenge a selfish heart to strive for better and give more to this world. If ever there was such a thing as an optimistic realist, it would be her. She sees situations for what they are, and uses her God-given gift to encourage those around her despite their circumstances. Melissa is a loyal, loving friend. She is someone I have always been able to dream up future adventures with - marriage, trips, missions... that in and of itself is a great gift to have someone to share that with.
Melissa lives out her values and imparts the truths she learns, and the world is better for it.

Meet Melissa, my ever-learning, ever-teaching Texas friend. 

If you happen to be in the Waco, TX area I encourage you to check out one of Melissa's passions, Church Under the Bridge. Click to donate and learn more about this wonderful community of givers.


A Shop Worth a Shout Out!

My little man and I made a quick stop in to Petite Party Studio this afternoon, an adorable little party store that has pretty little things to suit any theme. If you don't happen to live locally, give their online shop a look  -  such cute party supplies! This little phone photo just doesn't do the place justice, you'll have to stop in and enjoy for yourself!


Creator Bestows the Created

As I'm working on my third friend bio for 2013, a realization struck me. 
I've been sitting here thinking on all of these wonderful qualities friends have been blessed with, only to see that they are qualities reflective of the God that created them. 

Some friends are compassionate and welcoming, reminiscent of God incarnate who saves the adulterous woman, heals a ruler's daughter and sits at table with a tax collector. Others are creatively talented - blessed by the same Hand that paints the skies, sets the beautiful beasts of the earth on their legs and gives scent to the rose. Still others are strong and peaceful, reminding me of a Jesus who blessed the blind beggar yet cast salespersons from the temple.

Before introducing you to anyone else, I would most like you to meet this God that allows me to kneel before His throne, this Jesus that bears my burdens and forgives my debts and shame.

*Above references to John 8:1-11, Matthew 9:18, Luke 19:1-10, the creation story of Genesis Chapter 1, Luke 18:35-43, Mark 11:15-19.