Friday, June 27, 2014

5 on Friday

THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

Hey friends!  I'll be honest....I'm a bit stressed about a few things in life and just don't have enough time in the day to do everything I want to do!  I want to at least come back here to connect with you gals...your friendships are what keep me blogging!  So this one's a little quick! (iPhone photos it is!)


{ONE}


First, I want to direct you to Mia's blog at Make Me Up Mia for something that is so important....more important than blogging, what we ate or what we wore.  It's about saving her brother's life and getting justice.  My heart goes out to her family and I'm praying for them every day!  Please check out Mia's story about her brother's accident and how getting the word out can help.


{TWO}

Last Friday, my hubby and I went to a sushi restaurant with some friends from church and we had such a good time!  Both of these couples are the bomb and we look forward to hanging out with them again in the future.  We have some fun plans ahead!



{THREE}

On Tuesday, my hubby and I were supposed to have a softball game for our co-ed league but it was cancelled due to rain.  Instead, we stayed home, had dinner and played Rummikub.  I just love some down-time with my best friend :)  Our doggie, Riley, thought she was going to play against me at first.  Maybe I should have let her...I got killed!



{FOUR}

This week I've been plant sitting for my 10-year-old neighbor.  He started growing a lima bean plant a while back and it's big now!  They're on vacation and he didn't want it to die so I'm keeping the little crawler alive.  It won't stop wrapping around my blinds!



{FIVE}

So speaking of Mia, next week is our new Monthly Faves Link-up!  The first one will be on Wednesday, July 2 and we invite you to join us!  Write a post about your favorites (and least favorites) in June and link up!  Pick any categories you want!  You can see my May Favorites HERE.  Hope you're able to join!

A Deeper Joy


Have a fantastic weekend!!
Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Refuge House: Helping Victims of Human Trafficking in the Philippines

If you read THIS post about my trip to China and Thailand, you know that my heart breaks for victims of human trafficking all over the world.  It's such a dark and scary topic to talk about, but one that we NEED to talk about often and let the world know that it is NOT okay to buy and sell people.

What keeps me going in this quest to help these victims is stories of restoration.  I have met numerous girls/women who have been rescued and now live a life free of that bondage and are working through the healing process that comes after they leave.



Today I want to share about an organization in the Philippines that does just this called My Refuge House!  My friends, Crystal (Executive Director) and Kim (Director of Engagements), help keep MRH going.  Crystal lived in the Philippines and worked with the International Justice Mission (IJM) which eventually led to working with MRH.  I could go on and on about this girl's heart...she is truly a light for Christ and helping the oppressed.

MRH helps victims of commercial sexual exploitation and abuse by providing a safe place to live and helping them with the healing process through counseling, education and training.



I want to share one of the girls' stories with you today.  It's tough to read but SO encouraging to read about how the Lord is healing her through My Refuge House...

Jamie [not her real name] was rescued from a trafficker by law enforcement and taken to a shelter. She seemed to get along fine in the shelter and at her request, was sent home to be with her parents.
But a few weeks later her parents didn’t know what to do. Their daughter was missing again, and they were sure that the same “friends” who had sold her before had done it again.
So they asked for help. Help us find our daughter, they said. We don’t want her to be trapped in that situation, but we don’t know how to help her.
International Justice Mission (IJM) found Jamie again, and social services asked if they could put her in our home.
About a week after Jamie arrived in our home, we found out. She told our social worker that when she had been about 10 years old, her grandfather had raped her. She had dropped out of school and started to hang out with the wrong crowd. She never told anyone about it, because she was scared her parents wouldn’t believe her. Or worse, she was scared they wouldn’t do anything about it, even if they did believe her.
Last month, we were able to reunite Jamie and her family. Jamie enrolled in high school and is doing great at home. We were able to counsel her parents and thankfully, they were willing to do whatever it took to make sure their daughter felt loved. They were willing to fight for her, even against her grandfather.
But perhaps you’d rather hear it from Jamie herself? Here’s what she wrote recently about herself:
I can never forget my past, and the experiences in it.
On my paper (something she drew), I drew customers giving money, because when I think of the place where they usually brought me, I think of money, sex and customers. I had to entertain many customers, it’s like a life cycle for me, that I could not escape.
I cannot forget the abuse of my grandfather either. He raped me so many times. I was very young, and even though I never told anyone about it, it affected my life in every way. I dropped out of school and ran away. I considered myself worthless and believed my parents could never love me.
These are the most unforgettable, painful experiences of my life. I cannot forget them and they will always be a part of my history. Because of the trafficking and the abuse, I thought that there is no future for me. But I was wrong. With God’s help, he brought me to a safe place that became my second family. My Refuge House helped me to become a good person with ambitions and goals in life. I have changed a lot here and they gave me chance to finish my studies.
My family is also very supportive of me and they still accepted me despite my dirty past. My Refuge House gave me the support to tell them, and now I know they love me so much because of how they accepted me as me and didn’t reject me. With God’s help, because he guided me and praying has also become part of my life. These three serve as my ladder toward transformation in my life. I now know there is a brighter future that is waiting for me when I return to my family.


If you're wondering how you can help support My Refuge House, there are a few options.  And please "hear" me...they did not ask me to do this!  I asked them if I could, because I love what God is doing through them and want to see more girls helped!
1) You can pray for My Refuge House, it's staff, the girls in the safe house and the girls still out there being exploited.
2) You can support MRH financially.  Seriously, ANY amount helps!  Check out the various options for giving HERE.  Yes, it's tax deductible.
3) If you live around LA, Crystal can always use help for various events.  You can contact her at info@myrefugehouse.org
4) If you live in North Texas, Kim is working on events here and would love your help!  If you're interested in helping here, shoot me an email at adeeperjoyblog@gmail.com
5) Just start talking to your friends and family about the reality of human trafficking.  The more people who know about it, the more help there is!

*All photos are property of My Refuge House*

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sunshine Blogger Award

My sweet friend, Leslie at Martin Manifesto, nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award and I feel privileged.  Thank you, Leslie!


This is a fun way to recognize other bloggers that you love and to get to know each other better. Forming these relationships has been my favorite thing about blogging!

Rules of the Game:
  1. Post 11 random facts about yourself.
  2. Answer 11 questions from your nominating blogger.
  3. Nominate 11 bloggers to receive the award.
  4. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you've nominated.
  5. Notify them of their award.
11 Random Facts About Me

1. I was born in Orlando, Florida.  My dad was a horticulture major and LOVES plants so he worked at Disney's Epcot for a few years and they had me there.  Apparently, Mickey Mouse was my godparent.  They moved to Texas when I was 2 though so I consider myself a true Texan.

2. I'm a CPA.  I know this is weird for a blogger, but I actually have a more creative side that I love to express here!

3. I love green.  My eyes are green.  Baylor is GREEN and gold.  I always lean towards green, but try to branch out sometimes!

4. I have never broken a bone or gotten in a car accident. (KNOCK ON WOOD)

5. I wish I had been a meteorologist.  I think weather is the coolest.  Haha!

6. I am the oldest of 5 children.  Fun.  Though I think I'll have only 2 or 3, Lord willing.

7. My middle name is Elizabeth which is my grandma's middle name, which was her grandma's, which was her grandma's and so on...

8. My favorite food is french fries.  I know that's bad!  I wish it was spinach or brussel sprouts or something.  I seriously have to limit myself to once a week, otherwise I'd have them every day.

9. I'm obsessed with nail polishes now, especially Essie...thank YOU bloggers!

10. I volunteer as a budget counselor for women who have come out of the sex industry and are trying to change their lives.  It's awesome.  I love those women!

11. I am a people pleaser.  I'm working on this, but I thrive on the approval of others.  I have been working on this with God and have made progress but man, it's tough!


Now I get to answer the questions that Leslie asked:

1. What's the biggest lesson you've learned from blogging?

Don't compare yourself to others.  You can be so happy for others, but don't feel inadequate for the way you do life.  AND that blog friends are for real...seriously, we get real with each other and I love it!


2. Which year {age} of your life thus far has been your favorite? Why?

This sounds weird, but I have to say age 28.  This is when I went through a serious break-up and was horribly depressed, but I finally gave into the Lord and pursued counseling.  I realized that I had a lot of stuff to work through, not just the break-up.  I am a different person because of it.  I believe that I am a better wife due to counseling.


3. Where is the best place you've ever traveled for vacation?

New Zealand.  2.5 week roadtrip around the South Island.  AMAZING.  More to come!


4. What is your favorite iPhone/Android app?

Practical answer - Google Maps (life saver!); For real answer (dang, it's practical too): Goodbudget App - my hubby and I use it to budget our money and keep track of expenses and it's awesome!


5. What is your favorite online boutique?

Lily Boutique - LOOOOVE these dresses!  Super cute and totally affordable!  I've only ever sent one back.  I have all of these:


BBQ Shower / Engagement / Rehearsal Dinner

I think all three of these dresses are sold out, but they continue to add new cute dresses.  I seriously have to stop looking at the website because I want so many!  I want THIS one now.


6. If you could live the life of any TV character, who would it be?

Kelly Kapowski.  I mean, everyone called me that growing up.  Who wouldn't want to be as beautiful as Tiffany-Amber Thiessen and end up marrying Zach Morris?!


7. What was your first job?

I worked at a resort in the hill country of Texas called River Inn every summer in high school and even one in college.  I made food in the restaurant and took orders.  It was really casual and had, surprisingly, amazing food.

8. What skill would you like to learn?

I would like to learn how to sew.  My hubby wants me to learn and it'd be awesome to make some clothes or pillows or something.

9. What is your biggest pet peeve?

Oh gosh...I'm sorry if I offend you, but bad drivers.  I think that 90% of people on the road shouldn't be. They're distracted by their phones or just plain incompetent.  Our driving tests are far too easy.  I hate it when slow drivers drive in the "fast lane" or when people don't turn right on red.  People just aren't paying attention these days!

10. Who is the most influential person in your life?

My mother.  My mom isn't perfect, but she is pretty darn great!  She loves the Lord and has taught me about Him from the beginning.  She has always encouraged me to pursue my dreams and has always believed in me no matter what.  

11. If you had $1,000 you could only spend on yourself, what would you buy?
I HAVE to spend it on myself?!  Well in that case...  I'd buy all of the Young Living Essential Oils that I've been wanting, a few Stella & Dot necklaces, a Clarisonic, and probably some cute shoes - I haven't bought any in forever!

Now I nominate the following blogs and ask them these questions:


Here are my questions for them:

1. What is your favorite thing about blogging?
2. What is your most embarrassing story?
3. What is the number one priority in your life?
4. What is your favorite summer fashion item?
5. What is something we'd be surprised to know?
6. What is your go-to meal to cook?
7. What is the purpose of your blog?
8. Who is your role model and why?
9. What is your favorite attribute about yourself?
10. Where are your three favorite places to shop (online counts too)?
11. Where is the #1 place in the world that you'd like to visit?
Monday, June 23, 2014

Kitchen Makeover!!

Ahhhh!  I've been so excited about sharing our kitchen with you!  Ready to see some transformation?



My hubby moved into this house 3 years ago and the kitchen was hideous.  Horrible yellow-ish cabinets, black and white checkered flooring and the black appliances were fine but a little older-looking.  BUT it had potential and he saw it!!

Here is the BEFORE and AFTER....


Yay!!!  We love it!  So here was the progression...


Here's a little gallery.  If you go from left to right, it's kind of like spinning in a circle in my kitchen.


Hope you enjoyed!  Thanks for joining me in this little tour!

**The Sweet Summer Giveaway winner was Kayla V!  If that's you, check your email...Nina has emailed you!
Friday, June 20, 2014

5 on Friday!

This week flew by!  I love when it does work-wise, but I need to slow down and smell the roses.  It's been a busy week!

THE GOOD LIFE BLOG


{ONE}


Call me a nerd...but I am SUPER excited about finding natural ways of doing life lately!  I'm learning more and more about essential oils and have started experimenting with making my own beauty/home products so that I know exactly what I'm using which is not a crazy long list of unknown chemicals.  I am looking forward to sharing recipes with you and how I like them so far!  This week, I made makeup removing cleanser, deodorant and lip balm.




I'll be posting more about these soon!  I'm obsessed!


{TWO}

I had a really random lucky winning streak a few weeks ago!  After winning THIS Stella & Dot clutch from Allie's blog, I won a really freaking adorable print from Ele's blog at INSPIRATIONELE.  Ele is becoming my great friend...I just love her heart and her style!  Do me a favor and check her blog out now!

So the giveaway was from Kensie's Etsy shop where she sells adorable printables, cards, etc. 
Seriously, this girl has talent!  Check her store out!  I was able to choose the print I wanted so I went with this one:


It goes perfectly in our back living room!  Here are some other prints that I adore:

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Tell me someone else knows what book #4 is from!  Seriously...I cry when I think about it!


{THREE}

Cassie and Lauren have been doing the study No Other Gods by Kelly Minter and they keep talking about how much the Lord is talking to them through it.  How awesome?!  Kendra from Kenji Is Here and I have decided to do it together and I'm so looking forward to it.  Like I said HERE, I'm feeling a little spiritually dry so I think this study will get me into the Word more often.  I'm pumped!



{FOUR}

Last weekend was my nephew's 2nd birthday party!  We had a blast...he is growing up so fast and I wish he would slow down.  Maybe I'm biased, but I think he's the cutest little guy in the world!




{FIVE}

Don't forget to enter the Sweet Summer Giveaway if you haven't already!



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wedding Story: Costa Rica Honeymoon


Woo hoo!  I've been excited about getting to this post!  Our honeymoon was perfect!  It was so amazing to relax, turn off the cell phones, forget about email, stop worrying about wedding plans and just BE with my new husband!  Sometimes I want to recreate it and pretend like our cell phones aren't working.  Traveling out of the country always makes me realize how dependent we are on them and how distracting they are.  NOTE TO SELF: put away your cell phone at some point this week!

October 2013

So...Kevin wanted mountains and I wanted beach for our honeymoon.  We liked the idea of going to Hawaii because it has both but after looking at cost and flight duration, we decided against it.  I started researching Costa Rica and realized that it was perfect!  It has mountains/volcanos, rainforest AND beach!

Kevin hadn't ever been out of the country so we had to get him a passport and mine was expiring so I needed a new one.  That was an adventure in itself, but I won't go there.

Costa Rican Vacations planned our trip and they were awesome!  I will say - I think we overpaid, but I was stressed planning the wedding and didn't have time to do the normal research I do for trips.

For the first half of our trip, we stayed in the rainforest at the Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel.  Oh my gosh, it was amazing! I have NEVER been anywhere like this.  If you want romantic and secluded, stay here!


First, let me tell you about getting there...the travel agency had our own private van pick us up and drive us there - about a 2-3 hour drive.  Our driver was fun and friendly but when he turned down a rocky, secluded road while it was pouring cats and dogs, we kind of freaked out.  He said it was 9 miles down this road and that it'd take another 45 minutes to get there.  We saw NO other resorts or hotels on this road...only Costa Rican farmers holding machetes!  I have traveled a lot and been in sketchy situations, but honestly, I was afraid that I had led us into a trap and we were about to be kidnapped and our organs were going to be sold on the black market.


Thankfully, we drove up to this and let out our breath - we would live to see another day!  Off to a good start!


When they say "hideaway," they mean it's hidden so well that killer monkeys might hijack your van and attack you and no one will EVER find you.

Back to the good stuff... :)

There are something like 28 casitas so it's definitely intimate.  I think we were 2 of 15 people there.  If you want privacy, this is your place!  Though we did meet some pretty cool couples staying here too.

Our casita was awesome...




outdoor shower ;-) 



lovely porch for reading 

we brought our own alcohol since it wasn't included in our package

Did I mention that it rains ALL THE TIME in Costa Rica?!  Somedays it'll be sunny in the morning and then rain all afternoon and evening.  Honestly, it was really relaxing.  One day, we got massages that were AWESOME!  The sound of rain made it heavenly!

not us, obviously (via)

One day we went on a hike to see the Rio Celeste Waterfall...





I'm pretty sure I didn't wear makeup the whole time.  It was glorious.

This blue color is natural.  So cool!  For 24km, certain minerals mix in the water to make it this color.  It smells like sulfur which isn't the most pleasant but it's gorgeous! 

 Blue Lagoon

 Bubbles from volcanic activity





Eek!

Isn't that water beautiful?!

Next our private driver picked us up and brought us to the beach!  We stayed in Guanacaste at the Westin Playa Conchal All-inclusive Resort.  This is definitely the nicest all-inclusive I've ever been to.  I love not worrying about the cost of food and drinks!   They put us in a honeymoon suite with champagne and chocolate covered strawberries.


We had so much fun relaxing on the beach and in the pools.  The beach there was very different than the Mexican beaches I've been to...it's lines with trees, not resorts so it feels like it's natural environment.  There were even monkeys on the beach!



We went on a fishing excursion out to Catalina Island (couldn't get off on the island).  Neither of us are big fishers, we were just excited to see the islands and snorkel a little bit.  We ended up LOVING the fishing! They set it all up for you, you just reel one in when it bites but holy moley, the fish are huge!  Kevin caught a black tuna and then we each caught a 40 lb Mahi Mahi...and Kevin had to help me reel mine in....my arms felt like jello.





 black tuna






The best part...we were able to bring a filet of the Mahi Mahi back with us and a chef at the resort cooked it for us.  That was my favorite meal ever!  He fried half of it and grilled the other half.  The dipping sauces were amazing, as well.  I've never been so stuffed and we just couldn't finish it!


We were sad to leave but had a blast!  I'm ready to go back!



Don't forget to enter the Sweet Summer Giveaway!  Only 2 days left!