Wednesday, October 30, 2013


But seriously.
I do. 
My husband keeps asking me why we don't have a lot of fall decorations.
After all, it's our favorite time of year & we just LOVE Thanksgiving.
I want to respond because I'm too cheap & the one time I saw a whole
bucket-full of fall decor at that garage sale.. you wouldn't let me stop... ;)
But I typically just shrug it off and say, I don't know, we'll just have to decorate for Christmas.
Sorry honey, you probably knew the real truth anyways ;) 

Lately it's been kinda stressful around here. Just always so much going on..
So I am deciding to be thankful. 
For my wonderful husband.
For youth ministry. 
For our new home. 
& for all that comes with this season.
Have y'all seen ALL the pumpkin flavors you can get at the store? 
The pumpkin icecream has chunks of crust in it. I mean seriously.
Which brings me to my next point.. Fall is clearly a time to eat what you want.
Note the pumpkin pie I made just because I can.
That it's actually chilly enough in AZ to wear a scarf? I have been wanting to wear it every day since I got it from She Does Justice at the Influence conf but we were still up in the 90's. Now I live free in my scarves and boots.
My husband and I can get all crazy and dress up as batman and Robin batwoman..
& I can find sparkling cider in a 4-pack at Costco for less than 1 bottle costs the rest of the year.
It's beautiful here and we leave the windows and doors open all day.  
My cute husband lounges in the flannel pj pants I got him for Christmas last year.
There's pumpkins & turkey's and a cute little owl hanging outside our door announcing fall. 
& I am finally able to order a HOT apple cider from Starbucks. 
These things are worth celebrating. 

What are YOU thankful for friends?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pure Life {GIVEAWAY!}

A while back, I hosted my very first Giveway. 
Because it was my first time giving something away,
 I wanted to find something personal, something special, to give my readers.
I was searching through Etsy and just couldn't find what I
 was looking for until I stumbled across Jenny's site, Pure Life.
I immediately fell in love with this beautiful monogram necklace. 
Not only does she make some of the cutest handmade pieces,
her prices were better than anything I had found!
Jenny was seriously the sweetest, too! 
She is an AZ native, just like me, and we instantly hit it off!
I am SO excited to be featuring her on my blog, as I know first hand how amazing her jewelry is and how great she is to work with! 
I asked Jenny to share a little about herself and her shop with you & she was so kind to offer something to give away! 
Connect with Jenny:
Twitter    Instagram   Etsy
Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Jenny Melissa Rodriguez and as confusing as it is, I go by both Jenny & Melissa as a first name. Sometimes I even get confused as to what I go by. I co own my business, Pure Life, with my amazing boyfriend Dustin. We're partners in business, life, & crime and we handcraft all our pieces. I was born and raised in Arizona and I absolutely love it here. Dustin was born and raised in Long Island, New York and moved here when we was about 10 years old. I think Arizona is a perfect mixture of everything- amazing local business', food and not to mention, beer! I dabble in a bit of marketing for a local magazine so I am always working/running around Phoenix! When I am not working I try and spend as much time as I can with my family and close my close friends. You will usually find me at a local eatery enjoying some delicious food and drinks!

I currently live in Mesa, Arizona with my lovely boyfriend Dustin and our two pets Tuffy who is a Shih Tzu-zu poodle, and Miro who is a kitten we rescued at a local shelter. Both of these little munchkins keep us occupied and they always give us something to laugh about!

Why did you start this Etsy business & why do you love it?
My Etsy business all started from a small project my boyfriend- Dustin asked me to help him with. Dustin was working at a Phoenix based advertising agency at the time and needed some unique jewelry for a photo shoot. He asked me if I could help create some nice jewelry pieces and I was totally on board to help out! I had always had a knack for creating jewelry, even as a kid I remember selling bracelets and different pieces to my mom’s friends and co-workers, just so I could make some money before Christmas time.

After the photo shoot I had actually sold a couple pieces to the owner of the clothing company. I felt pretty confident at that point and thought about taking this "hobby" a step forward in the right direction. I went to Etsy and created my site and soon enough orders kept coming in and it bloomed from that moment on.

What is your favorite piece that you make?
I wish I could pick a specific piece to choose as my favorite but all my designs are near and dear to my heart! I do have specific pieces I enjoy making such as long beaded necklaces and anything involving wirework and/or beautifully colored stones/gemstones/minerals/crystals. My absolute favorites stones are Turquoise and Chrysoprase.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Hmm I would have to say I find a lot of my inspiration in nature, urban surroundings, fashion, art, music and my cultural background. I also am inspired by color a lot. I really like to create new color combinations and see how I can incorporate those into my work. Overall, I like to create pieces that make women feel beautiful & powerful!

Friday, October 18, 2013

New House- Kitchen

I am so happy to FINALLY share some of the After pics of our home. The kitchen has been done since the day before we moved in but we hadn't fully unpacked to take pictures. 
Can I just be cheesy and give a shout out to my amazing husband real quick?!
That man is amazing. 
Even with both his jobs, he still found time to basically remodel our whole house, in THREE weeks, before we even moved in. I am SO thankful for him and all he did to make our house so amazing! 
Here are some before and afters of our new Kitchen ;)

I originally wanted Butcher Block counters because of cost and I loved the country look.. but I am so happy with the granite and just glad we don't have to worry about it ever being destroyed. So I settled for that cute little butcher block island ;) We are still plan on adding some new hardware to the cabinets but it's basically finished. I'll share more soon when I actually feel like decorating ;)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

12 things I LOVE about Youth Ministry

in no particular order...
1// That I can be as crazy as I want with Jr. highers and they still think I'm cool. In fact, the crazier I get, the cooler they think I am ;)
2// I get to see students come to Jesus.
3// I hear students worship God. 
4// I get to eat a lot of candy & pizza & burgers. 
5// I swim 95% of the Summer because we have 2 pool parties a week. 
6// I get to be a part of teaching young woman the Word of God and see it drastically change their lives. 
7// I get 2 weeks off a year just to go spend time with a bunch of students (that I already love being around) and watch as God changes their lives forever.
8// I always have someone to sit with in Church when Nathan is busy.
9// I always have something to blog about ;)
10// I get to hear my husband teach every week and I love it.
11// Students are so sweet & always get me the cutest gifts for my birthday/Christmas.
12//If we ever need help with anything, they're all more than willing to be there for us!

I'm sure there are MANY more. But those are just a few reasons why i love youth.

Friday, October 11, 2013

You know you're a youth pastor's wife when..

 #31Days of Youth Ministry- Day 11
You know you're a youth pastor's wife when....

You come home to a house full of boys blowing up soap in the microwave.

You get text messages in the middle of the night from students and think it's perfectly normal.

 You move and most of the volunteers are high school boys.

Going to camp with a bunch of smelly awesome jr. highers is your vacation for the year.
You have 40 kids but you never actually birthed any of them.
You've attended more sports events for students then you ever did when you were in high school. 
You're no longer known by your first name but as .."this is Nathan's wife, our youth pastor..." 
You have never been so excited that a Holiday landed on a Sunday.. because now it means you just may get a WHOLE weekend to yourself (we have youth on Sunday nights!)

Yes this is day 11 of my #31daysofyouthministry.. Yes I skipped day 4,5,6,7,8,9 and 10.  Yes I thought I could do all of the following things including (but not limited to)

Pack all my crap and move my whole house.
Help remodel said new house.
Be a MOH in a wedding.
Plan a bachelorette party.
Be with my friend when she had her first baby.
Work (obviously)
Attend the influence conference.
& then of course, blog for 31 days straight.

Clearly I had to eliminate one because I had gone completely crazy. ;)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Something more.

There was a time in our lives, right after we were married, that we weren't a part of any youth programs.
We were just married and we spent our nights watching Netflix and remodeling our house.
It was fun for a time. 
But we were BORED. 
We constantly felt a stirring in our hearts that we should be doing something. 
We both knew it was youth ministry, we just didn't know how or when. 
About 2 years later, Nathan and I started leading worship for a friends youth group. We also were overjoyed to serve on the leadership team and be a part of the students lives personally.  
But Nathan still felt a tugging at his heart. that he was still meant for something more. That he wasn't meant to lead worship for students, but he was meant to lead students, as a pastor. 
He was still in college and pursuing his bachelors degree in theology and we honestly just didn't know what would happen in terms of ministry. 
At the time we, our very best friends were attending Access and has been asking, while slightly joking, why we wouldn't just come be their youth pastor. 
Nathan straight up just said no way. 
we had a life in mesa, y'all. What did they want us to do? Pick everything up and just become a part of a community we knew nothing about? Sell our home and move 1.5 hours  away from my family?! That was just crazy talk. 
Good thing The Lord doesn't care about anyone else's plans but that His will be done. Knowing full well the desire was burning us alive and our purpose was to be a part of that very church. 

#31DaysofYouthMinistry Day 3
Day 2 - I cheated & wrote about The Influence Conf..but it was awesome!
Day 1 - Why Youth.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Influence Conference 2013

I wrote two posts before settling on this one. 
I couldn't even get all my words together for all the good that happened at the Influence Conference this year. 
To be honest, I had no expectations. At least, no good ones.
I was believing so many lies before I went. 
That I wasn't good enough because my blog wasn't big enough.
That my clothes weren't cute enough.
That I would have a hard time making friends.
That I wasn't as funny as I thought I was. 
But deep within me, God was weaving something from the very start of this. From the very first moment I stepped onto my plane, I was filled with peace. 
My airport/plane experience was perfect. Both flights were early and I am so thankful to the Lord for this. I know He knew I needed this and it was just another reminder of how much He wanted me right where I was. 
  On my flight I took a good amount of time to read in John
 and journal what God was speaking to me about. 
If I can be honest, times like these are rare. I spend time reading in the Word every day but it's rare that I hear from The Lord. And it's not because He isn't speaking to me. It's because I don't spend enough time listening. 
Through a series of events, the best friend I had known all this time over the internet, got in to the airport just in time for us to ride to the hotel together. I remember running to the escalator to hug her because I was just overjoyed knowing I could finally be real life best friends with the girl who spoke an incredible amount of truth to me each day. The friend who knew exactly what it was like to be the wife of a youth pastor. The friend who was one of the big reasons I was even there.
It's hard for me to use the word perfect in any situation but I don't know how else to describe this weekend. The community of girls were exactly what they appeared to be on the internet. 
There was never a time I felt left out, too small, or unnoticeable.
We had meals together, went on walks to crazy "french sushi" restaurants together, and even took a bike ride together. Finally getting to sit down and share life with Brittany as I had been wanting to since first stumbling across her blog many months ago. love her!
Every single session I was in, I felt like the Lord had made it just for me. Every word, every single truth, He had orchestrated before hand for each one of us, individually.
Annie Downs said, 
"A preacher may speak to 300 people on a Sunday morning, but YOU are speaking to your crowd every day, maybe multiple times a day, and you are leading them. Your words are leading other people."
I can't get this truth out of my head. Can you even wrap your mind around how influential your words are? Even if you have 10 followers, you are reaching 10 people for Christ. Ladies, that's just incredible. 
And then there was Haley & Jessi and their incredible hearts for this online community. 
Jessi, so honest and so funny. So much truth and beauty from the deep dark places the Lord had brought her out of to where she is now.
Haley so raw and open. Hearing her say, my husband tells me to be more vulnerable in my writing, in my story telling. & that being a confirmation for me to do the same. Because my husband has been speaking those exact words to me for so long. 
Staying up until 2am rolling with laughter with Teressa & Karmen. Sharing secrets and mistakes and dreams. Listening closely to all the wisdom they had to share. & feeling so overwhelmed with a sense of grace when spilling my hang-ups to them. When Karmen left, I cried y'all.. What an amazing woman she is. Sweet Abby sharing a room with me and dealing with my extroverted self until 2 am & still finding time to grab me some Starbucks because she already knows the way to my heart.
There are so many amazing girls I got to meet like Amy & Emily, Jessi & Jessi, Kristen & Amanda. How can I sum up how much I love y'all?? I even got to hang out with Erin, and I knew her first y'all. So when she makes it big.. we're friends. 
Meeting Ruthie. Can I just say, she is even sweeter in person then on her blog and I didn't even think that was possible. She let me cuddle her new, precious little guy, Ford. She sat with me in sessions and we all were able to have dinner together. Ruthie is such an encouragment to me in my blog. I found her blog early on and loved the way she wrote about Jesus and how honest and open she was about her life. She is one of the main reasons I write the way I do now and why I continued to blog when it didn't seem worth it. It was amazing to spend real life time with her and get to know her because going into it, I thought, certainly Ruthie's blog is way too big that little ole me will get any time with her! But you know, the Lord showed up again and it was all in His hands.
I remember looking behind me in all of the sessions, every single husband of the core team, holding a sleeping babe. How they were there because they believed in Influence and wanted to see lives changed. 
Just walking into the worship room the last night, my eyes filled with tears. As soon as the first song played, they spilled over and I couldn't stop them even if I had wanted to. In every single moment I could hear the Lord saying, 
You are mine. You have nothing to fear.
You can't do it on your own, but I will do it for you.
I have never failed and I never will. 
I love you more than you could ever know.
You are free in me. 
You are free, You are free, You are free. 

He just kept speaking gently over me and I couldn't run away from it and I didn't want to. I wanted to stand there forever, with my hands raised to Him, letting Him sing over me. 
I saw the artist drawing a picture and on one side, she began to draw words, 
the first, anxiety. The second, fear. 
And I just lost it.
  Becauseas I watched her cover those things up, and replace them with scripture and a beautiful image, I sobbed because I knew it was for me. 
It was for all of us, in every way. 
But it was especially for me from my Jesus.
He said to ME, personally,
I love YOU. It's YOU I love. Just as much as this is meant for every person in this room, it is just as much meant for YOU. 
& then I felt a tap on my shoulder. 
It was my sweet new friend, Jessi.
She wanted to know if she could pray over me and I heard the Lord say, 
this, this too is for YOU. I will keep telling you, until you hear me, I love you, I love you, I love you. 
& so I sobbed through her prayer and I just praised the Lord. 
With all I had and without fear.
Without expectations.
& with a great sense of peace. Knowing that I am His. I am Free. I am so very loved.
I don't think there are any words to describe all the things the Lord did that weekend. 
I couldn't fill enough pages of His goodness and His faithfulness to break us, just to restore us to something new.. Something far better. 
This community.. they were everything I had hoped and more. You could see Jesus working in and through them the whole time and I don't think I can ever not go back.  

*I can only do one post today but I promise to continue my
 31 days of YM tomorrow

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why Youth.

It was a youth night again. It felt like that 5th time that week my, then boyfriend, Nathan, was at the church. "Why are you always gone... We never hang out.. I'm
starting to get tired of never seeing you.."
I was constantly questioning his desire to be there all the time and not with me. At the time, I could only attribute it to him not thinking I was as great as I thought he was. 
So I decided to do what any girfriend, desperate for his attention, would do..
 I showed up at all the youth nights.
 I wanted to know what was so great that was keeping him from wanting to spend every waking moment with me. I was hot stuff people, there was nothing better that he should be doing. I wish I was joking but it's clear to me now, I thought very highly of myself, expecting attention from him whenever I wanted it. 

At the time, I was in college and wasn't really moving toward any goal. I hadn't choosen a major but had a small desire to teach Jr. High or high school students but no idea why. 

When I got there, I watched as he interacted with students, taught them the gospel, and built relationships. So I jumped right in and began to do the same.
Because I wanted to be around him.
I wanted to  see what it was that kept him there.
& then something amazing happened. 
& I was no longer there just because Nathan was.
That was just an added bonus.
 I wasn't planning on falling in love with these students, caring about the choices they made, and who they would become, but I did. 

And for the first time, I had a deep sense of direction. A purpose that only God could place deep in my heart long before I even knew why it was there. 

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