Friday, March 30, 2012

Project 52:13 {His Peace}

thankful for... 
His peace.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance...
But when you ask, 
you must BELIEVE and not doubt, 
because one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 
That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

James 1:2-3, 6-7

* * * * *

This month has been a tough one for me.  The biggest test of my faith to date. It's hard to put into words the range of emotions and pain I've felt. The struggle was a personal one, and I had hoped to share a happy, miraculous outcome at some point. But it wasn't to be.

Yet today, I have peace. 
Peace that I know can only come from my Heavenly Father.

I am thankful for much, today. For my healthy, beautiful child. For my loving husband. For my praying mother. For my family and friends. For the knowledge of heaven and the opportunity to meet those we've lost- again, or for the very first time. For all that we've been blessed with but don't really deserve in this life. And above all, for His peace that truly passes all understanding.

Because believe me, I don't understand it. But oh my goodness- I am thankful for it.

* * * * *

"Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the LORD, who has compassion on you. 

Isaiah 54:10

* * * * *

Read more about my Project 52.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Project 52:12 {little messes}

thankful for... 
little messes

Rainy weather = days spent indoors = creativity and inevitably, little messes

Today I am thankful simply for a little one in my home to make those little messes. To dump out the bag full of magnetic letters and look up at me with those pretty blue eyes to see if I mind.

It's hard to get upset when I understand the want/need to get outside and stretch our legs. Plus, she's so darn cute. And I really like the way she says Letters.


Also? While pointing to the yellow Z she said zeeba? zeeba?

Sure, genius child. Make a little mess. :)

* * * * *

Read more about my Project 52.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

these rainy days.


Well, it's raining again today.. how about where you are? It's been pretty steady since sometime Sunday night. 

But I'm not complaining. I actually love the rain.

Especially if I can just stay tucked in and cozy at home, with a candle lit and the windows open to hear it pounding against ground outside. 

It's one of my favorites.

  Evie and I have been hunkered down, for the most part. Thankfully she really does love books, because that is all she has been doing the last few days. Either sitting somewhere on her own, surrounded by books and "reading" or coming to find me with a book in hand. She reaches the book up to me and then says "cozy?" That means she wants to sit on your lap while you read her the book and get cozy with a blanket wrapped around both of us. 

Another one of my favorites.

Somehow the rain is just so cleansing to me. Washes everything away and makes things look sparkly and new. Especially in spring. I love the vibrant green of the grass after a good rain. And I really love the gray blue sky and clouds during rain and storms.

How about you?

* * * * *

Last night I started uploading a bunch of pics from our trip to California last fall to make a photo book. I always use Shutterfly and have been happy with them. Uploading is always the longest/most annoying part to me, but worth it. Well, somehow I have a Groupon for a book, a free book code through email, discounts AND 2 free books from Target coupons. SO. I took that as a sign that I should get in gear and put together a book while things are FREE. Rainy day project for me.

But the 2 coupons from Target are only for new customers/accounts. I thought about opening another account under hubby's name, but didn't really want my pics in two different places. So I gave one away through Facebook last night. But I still have one left if anyone wants one! 

Leave me a comment or email me at strangeandlovelyride (at) gmail (dot) com if you want it! First come first served.

1 free 8x8 photo book from Shutterfly
New customers only
Expires 3/28/12

  Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Evie Time {Counting!}

Mommy Brag Time is now in session.

My 15 and a 1/2 month old child is counting people. COUNTING.

Tonight as I was getting her ready for bed, I started counting aloud the snaps on her jammies as I snapped them. 
Nothing unusual. 



What the what! She just said Three!

I kept going:



Ahhh!! Cue the Yays and Very Good Evie!'s and general show of mommy adoration. I seriously was in awe!
My smart girl.

Then we took our show on the road and went out to find Daddy.
Sister didn't disappoint. 

One, two, Fwee!
 And again while we were brushing teeth.

One, two, Fwee!

Four, five, Ssicks!

Evie has liked to "count" for quite a while now, using her little pointer finger and usually saying "two two" and pointing to objects when she sees more than one of something. And in the last few weeks she's started saying "one.." like she's going to start counting animals or objects in books. But those are the only two numbers I've every heard her say. Until tonight!

And I am so amazed that she knew the right number to say next. She wasn't repeating what I had just said- she already knew which number came next!

We are so amazed each day by this girl. She understands so much, it's unbelievable sometimes. Just a little sponge.

We're very proud of you Evie Girl!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Project 52:11 {family near & far}

thankful for... 
family near & far

Last weekend we traveled to Louisiana to see my grandparents, aunts and cousins. It was a long trip in the car, but very worth it. Evie was the hit of the show and kept everyone laughing and smiling all weekend- despite her refusal to nap the entire time we were there.

In the picture above, she is deliriously tired, and kept climbing on the couch so that her Grandy (my mom) and Papa Great (my grandpa) could pull her down while she said "weee!"

Such a simple and delightful thing.

Evie's only gotten to see my mom's parents twice, since they live so far away, but we're very very thankful for the time we spent together.

Family is family, no matter the distance.

We love you Nana and Papa Great! 

* * * * *

Read more about my Project 52.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Swim Lessons

How have I never posted about this?? I blame my age. Thirty is a tricky, tricky time in a woman's life. It's like glancing up and seeing your reflection in a store window and freaking out that you are two inches shorter and have a head full of white hair and orthopedic shoes on. After you've spit your coffee out of your mouth and clutched your chest, you realize it's the blue hair standing a few feet away from you that you're looking at.

Thirty, in a nutshell. Sigh.

Yes, her swimsuit from last year still fits. Teeny.

Well, Evie and I finished up her swim lessons a few weeks ago, so I thought I better do a little documenting. Since we signed up through a deal site, the class was only 3 weeks instead of the typical 4 weeks. So six classes total.

Admittedly, not enough time for her to master her butterfly stroke. And sadly, she's not jumping in on her own and straight up SWIMMING toward me, unassisted, like Manny the Olympian, but that's okay. We have all summer to practice our drills.

Daddy came to our last class to watch & document.

Evie cracked me up during class. Every time she went under the water, she would come up, catch her breath and then let out a scream. To show her displeasure, I imagine. After a while it was clear she was just doing it for effect. Sister sticks with what she knows.


She was a master at hanging on the wall and then climbing up onto it. And of course loved the little duck slide and tossing the random fish, crabs, etc. across the pool.

All in all, it was a good time. It was clear they wanted you to sign up for the next class. And the next. I feel like they could have taught us a few more things in the time we had, but I guess that's what they base their business on- class after class after class. But I'm glad we did it and Evie definitely has more confidence in the water, so this summer should be fun! Here's hoping I remember all the little songs we sang to go along with the routines...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Phone dump. On a Friday.

Daddy's Girl      ::      Twinkies      ::      Don't go, Aunt Mo!

Dinner 3x this week      ::      Oh! Hello!     ::     Gosh, you're pretty 

Kisses before church     ::     Who is this big girl!?     ::    Proud to be an American

Nakey Time     ::     Orange Leaf deliciousness     ::    Swings

Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Project 52:10 {My Mom}

thankful for... 
my mom

Realizing that your parents just might love you as much as you love your own child is pretty humbling.

My mom and I have had our ups and downs. As all moms and daughters do, I imagine. At our worst, I was a mean and hurtful teenager and she let me know she hoped that I would have a daughter just like me someday. Even at the time, I knew I didn't want that.

But now, we are friends.
I find myself calling her before other friends to talk through things. Like the oldest of friends, she knows me.
Where I've been, how I might be feeling, what I might be hoping.

But more than that, she has been such a great example to me of grace, forgiveness and love.
She has prayed me through many things, and for that, I am so thankful.

I love you Mom.

* * * * *

Read more about my Project 52.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Inspiration in blog land, of late.

This little blogland we're a part of is a funny place. So weird- you have "friends" that you may never meet or actually speak but that you feel you know and start to consider real friends. Ca-razy. I don't know about you, but when I first started my blog and started really reading other blogs, it was mainly for the inspiration I found in blogland. Beautiful pictures, funny stories, DIY ideas I wanted to try. I am a very visual person, so seeing gorgeous images of home decor, adorable kiddos, a refinished piece of furniture- that spoke to me. Inspired me. Got my creative juices flowing to get off my booty and start learning to take decent pictures, get out a can of paint, attempt to cook dinner or rearrange a room. Don't even get me started on what Pinterest brought to the game..

But lately the inspiration I've been finding has been more meaningful. It's been through words. And frankly, that's just what I've needed right now. Life is trying to throw me a curveball, but I'll be damned if I'm not going to go down swinging.


I thought I would share a little of what has been inspiring and encouraging me lately, in terms of blog posts. Of course, my faith and trust are in Jesus alone, but it's always nice to come across something in another part of your life that speaks to you at just the right moment. And I don't doubt for a second that he's orchestrating it.

*  *  *  *  *

I love the way Shannon at Flower Patch Farm Girl writes. Always have, always will. She's very honest and witty and has a great way with words. Plus, her kids are too adorable for words.

She just wrote a post about this book out called 7: An experimental mutiny against excess by Jen Hatmaker.

BTW- be sure you read her hilarious letter the to author of the book, asking for a free copy. :)

The author gave up something huge, something important to her, each month for seven months. Big things, like clothes, food, spending, media..

But not in the typical way. Nope. For one month she only ate SEVEN foods. Seven. Another month she only wore seven articles of clothing. For a month. Seven.

I can't even wrap my mind around that.

The goal was to simplify. We have so much excess in our lives, it's not even funny. I'm not entirely sure I'll be trying this, even a little bit, but the idea is very, very compelling. It definitely got me thinking about what I waste my time doing and thinking about... Maybe I'll start with just reading the book :)

*  *  *  *  *

This was the first post I read of Jami's at Hello from the Natos.

WOW is all I can say. I couldn't wait to read more.  She's talking about infidelity and forgiveness in this post. But you don't have to have experienced that type of betrayal to benefit here, believe me.
It's the forgiveness.

An excerpt that rocked my sock's off (emphasis is my own):

"you are just as jacked up as your husband. your heart is so dark. you betray Jesus everyday and he still loves you. he doesn't wait for you to do enough to pay for your sins, so he can finally take you back. no. you enjoy grace and mercy and unmerited forgiveness. every day. actually, every hour.

and now, you get to be a mirror of the Gospel to your spouse. because what can they do to make up for defiling you in such a way? nothing actually. nothing would ever be good enough. would it?

so instead of making them work for your forgiveness, you start with forgiveness. you make a decision. and you make a choice to absorb the cost of that forgiveness.

it's very costly, isn't it?
that's why it's a gift. like the gift Jesus gave to us when he absorbed our sins and said, no more. i'm paying for this. the cost is too great. i'll give my only son.
expensive and extravagant.

and so when we forgive, we mirror christ's forgiveness. we pay the tab. we stop making our spouse pick up the check. we say, no more. you can't pay enough for this.

this is the Gospel lived out in a tangible way. you recognize the darkness of your own heart and see the need for Jesus to save you. and that gift that God gave you, you give to others because you are just as terrible. and i'm not going to lie, it is difficult and hard and grievous to walk these steps in front of you. but you can because Jesus did."

Wow, right? She's also hilarious, which is big in my book. I'm excited to read more. Like this. And this and this. So honest.

*  *  *  *  *

It's so easy to get caught up in what's around us.. distractions and interests that are fine, in and of themselves, but can take up too much of our time and energy if we let them. Which ultimately takes us away from our time with Him. Priorities, that's what it's about. I enjoy blogging and reading blogs, but I have to remind myself at times to log off. And I know I'm not the only one who struggles with it. But He meets us just where we are. Inspires us right where we are. And sometimes gives us a swift kick in the rear to jump start the whole thing.
Like today. Just as I was writing this post (and putting off doing actual work. That I get paid to do),
my internet connection went out. Done. Off. I kept pushing the refresh button on all six pages I had open, and nada. And as much as I wanted to blame Cox Communications, I knew it was God.  

Oh, I thought. Duh. Shut it off, Aja. Pray. Sing. Praise Jesus and do it now.

So I did.

Just the kick in the pants inspiration I needed today.

Ben & his doppelganger.. Francine

Bachelor Ben and his doppelganger, Francine Frensky.

I'm dying. DYING. 

Someone posted this on Twitter and I nearly spit out my coffee.
Flipping hilarious.

Did you watch those crazy women last night?? Man alive.

ps. I tried to find the original source. I think this is it. Sorry if it's not!
pps. come find me on twitter and let me know who you are so I can follow you back!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tiny Dancer {15 Months}

Time for an Evie update! 


This precious baby is now 15 months old!
How and when that happened is beyond me. 

My Tiny Dancer is living up to her name. Always on the go, go go!

We took advantage of one of the awesome, 60 & 70 degree weather we've been having to get outside and snap some pics. As soon as I let her out of her stroller, she was off. She's always saying "walk, walk!", asking to get out or down so she can walk and run free. So busy.

This girly has SO.MANY words! She'll repeat nearly anything we say, and if it's a full sentence or phrase, she says the last word or words. And typically everything is said twice, as in, "hold you, hold you" or "side, side" (outside). So cute.

 Evie is such a ham. She loves to laugh and make you laugh. She has the funniest faces and is always cracking us up with the things she says and does. My current favorite is when she drops something or something spills, she'll exclaim "Oh no!" :) Gets me every time!

She has also started saying "bless you", unprompted, when you sneeze. She'll also say it when you cough, which is hilarious. Such a smart girl! And so polite. :)

At her 15 month appointment last week, our pediatrician asked what she loves right now. My first answer? FOOD. Sister loves to eat. And mooch off of whatever Daddy or I are eating. I think he was happy to hear that, since she's still on the teeny side. Officially 18 lbs 3 oz, thank you very much. But she's finally starting to outgrow some of her pants! I believe she's had these little white jeans for about 6 months now. :)

When we're not outside, getting dirty in the rocks and dirt, Evie loves to read. There are piles of books in nearly every room in our house, and she'll sit down and read her books for quite a while. Or she'll grab one and bring it to us and say "book, book", asking us to read to her. She could really sit and be read to for hours!

 I am so thankful for this baby girl. She has blessed my heart in so many ways. I am so thankful for her sweet, loving nature. I pray she is always so sweet and cuddly. 

Happy 15 months Evie Girl!

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