Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas in Houston!

Mark and I are spending one week in Houston with my family and one week between San Antonio and Houston with Mark's family. It's been a great time so far! My dad's birthday was on the 15th and my mom's was on the 22nd, so we have been celebrating non-stop. Here are a few pics from the family get together and b-day party.

Our dogs had a little celebration of their own as they made cushion confetti on the back porch.

They're not as innocent as they look.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmastime in New Orleans!

This year I made Christmas decorations and ornaments after seeing some fantastic ideas at the Christmas show in Birmingham! It was so much fun! (ok...I didn't make the stockings, but I thought they looked cute and wanted to post them!)

Mark and I love Christmas in New Orleans! From the streetcar sunday school party to the music of First Baptist and the French Quarter, it is a great place to be around Christmas time. This weekend we had two parties and tonight we went to "Keyboards at Christmas" (6 grand piano players play Christmas music at the same time.) Next week is "Christmas on Canal", our choir presentation! Oh yeah...and our Christmas morning, since we will be leaving on the 19th for Houston. YEA!!! I love early Christmas! Hope you have a merry one!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


My parents came to visit us on the anniversary of Katrina. It was to be the start of a long Labor Day weekend full of quintessential New Orleans fun. We were to go to the French Quarter on Saturday for Beignets and shopping, Mulate's Saturday night for Cajun food and music, church on Sunday, a possible swamp tour, and any other New Olreans adventures that we could fit into the schedule. What a plan we had and how much we had looked forward to it! Well, our weekend didn't quite go as planned, but the experience was definitely a "New Orleans adventure". Afterall, isn't that what we wanted in the first place? Maybe not this kind of adventure. Late Friday night, August 29th, my parents arrived to our house in River Ridge, LA. By Saturday morning, the WWL anchormen confirmed that Hurricane Gustav was on it's way to the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas gulf coasts. There was a voluntary evacuation for some of the southern parishes. "No big deal," we thought as we watched the news. We will wait to see what the Jefferson and Orleans parish presidents say about evacuating. Meanwhile, most of our street and the surrounding neighborhoods were packing their cars for a week long (or more) vacation (or evacuation). Mark and I felt like Generals in a battle yelling, "Hold...Hold...Hold...", for we knew that if we left as everyone else was leaving, we would run into hours of sitting on the interstate in bumper to bumper traffic getting NOWHERE fast. Jefferson and Orleans finally announced that there would be contraflow starting at 4 am the next morning and a mandatory evacuation of both parishes would start at noon. Perfect! We would wake up early, pack the car and leaving by 7:30 to miss the Saturday night evacuees and the Sunday at noon evacuees! We packed most of our clothes, the dogs, all of the items in our refrigerator, pictures, and other valuables. We scheduled great route that took us on back roads through small coastal towns. The evacuation was flawless! No traffic!! Well, no traffic until we got to TEXAS. Road construction (that couldn't wait until after the evacuation apparently) and an overturned 18-wheeler proved to be a major hinderance in getting to Houston in a timely manner. There were three lanes of traffic narrowing into one, and it took us two hours to get past it. After that we were free sailing again all the way to Northwest Houston where my parents live. We are now living with them until further notice. Looks like we will be able to return by Monday, September 8th. YEA! Hopefully we'll return to no major issues. Cross your fingers.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mark's Birthday!

Today is Mark's 29th birthday! Last night we went with our best friends in New Olreans to Superior Grill, Mark's favorite restaurant. Then some friends came back to the house for cake. Today we went to the bakery down the street for a cream danish and sticky bun and coffee. The people there are awesome. It's like having a old-time bakery in a bedroom community where everyone knows each other. Mark got a guitar, bag, tuner, etc. and a lion statue for his birthday. He's planning on learning to play the guitar this year. He already sounds pretty good and he's only had it for 15 minutes! That's the way Mark is...full of many hidden talents. You might wonder why I would get Mark a lion statue...There was something that grabbed us about the lions in Venice, Italy. They are winged and they hold open books representing the power and knowledge of the Venitian Empire. It is also representative of the apostle, Mark. He was stolen from Venice, found and returned, so the wings represent "coming up from the waves" of the ocean and back to Venice. When Napolean conquored Venice, he had all the books closed, which symbolized Venitian defeat. It's sad to think of a powerful empire being overcome that way. Later, Around the same time that we went to Italy, The Chronicles of Narnia film came out. Since then, we have been captivated with the image of Christ as a Lion, as Revelation 5:5 calls Him (And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. ) It's so amazing to think of the power, majesty, authority, strength, and courage of Christ in that way! When we think we are defeated, He "opens the book". Thus...the lion statue.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Our Anniversary!

Okay, so I've been REALLY bad about updating this the last few weeks. School is starting this week, and it feels like I've been through a drive through car wash (without the car). In fact, that's not just how I feel, it's how I look too. I need to go to bed early tonight. God has been so gracious though to give me a great new friend at work. Ashley loves Jesus as much as I do, and we are going to meet a couple times a week to pray. What a blessing! School starts tomorrow (Wednesday), and I'm excited to start a new year with new kids.

Mark and I celebrated our anniversary July 26th. We were careful to bring our camera and very soon realized that our camera was out of battery!!! We parked and walked to Irene's, a fantastic Italian restaurant in the French Quarter/Marigny area. When we got there, there was a wait, so Mark ran around looking for batteries. To make a long story short, he came back to the restaurant sweating with no batteries. For those of you who don't know, grocery stores/convenient stores are hard to come by in the Quarter. So...all that to say...I will tell you about our anniversary without pictures this time. :(

Back to Irene's. Irene's is a small Italian restaurant owned by a little Italian lady (named Irene - crazy! I know!) who runs around cooking, chatting, serving and laughing with the hundreds of guests that come through the restaurant. We waited for two hours to eat there, and it was worth the wait. The waiting area had candle lit tables, a piano player, and tons of people to watch. We sat at a cute table that was literally in a whole in the wall. (Very romantic!) We ate mussels, clams, shrimp in a red sauce over pasta, fresh bread, bread pudding, etc.

Afterward, Mark surprised me by taking me to the Marriot on Canal Blvd. where we stayed for the night. The next morning we had an appointment at the New Orleans Cooking School where we attended a cooking demonstration for traditional New Orleans food. Then, of course, we got to eat everything he cooked! Gumbo, Jambalaya, Bread Pudding, Pralines... YUMMM!

Later on, we went to see The Dark Knight (Batman movie) with some friends, which was a very depressing ending to a wonderful weekend! Ha! It's a pretty dark pun intended. :)

Anyway, that's a quick update. I'll try to be better about writing more often.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

On a lighter note!

This weekend our friend Adam (the one with the mullet) celebrated his birthday 80's style at the skating rink. Mark and I chickened out on full 80's decor. (I'm stilled scared.) But the costums were so much fun to see! (And so authentically 80's).

Saturday our good friend, Lesley Flores (on the left), was married to Brad Ashby. It was a beautiful wedding and the reception was a blast! Our friends, Jamie and Blake (who moved 3 wks ago) came in for the wedding and stayed with us. It was so fun catching up and visiting (until 2 am!). We had a great time.

I'm off to the beach for two days tomorrow with friends from work! I'm looking forward to hearing the sound of the's what I imagine angels wings sounding like. Summer's winding to a close so I'm soaking up every minute.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Last night I woke up nausiated and vomitted twice. I hate to throw up. It's disgusting, painful, and leaves a horrible taste in your mouth. No one wants to feel the involuntary pulsating reflex in your intestines, particulary because you know the burning sensation in your throat that will follow moments later. Moreover, no one wants to experience the complete lack of control that comes with purging...unless of course you've gotten to the point of surrender. You know what I mean. That moment that you realize that purging yourself of the toxins that are causing your body to retaliate is the only option unless of course you plan to be miserable in your nausia, sweating, and sleeplessness for several more hours. That's where I was at an ungodly hour this morning.
Isn't that just like our flesh; constantly resisting the purifying power of God. We try to ignore the sin in our lives. Maybe if we lay really still no one will be able to tell it's there, or maybe if we ignore the Holy Spirit's conviction, I will escape the pain of repentance. We don't want to experience the anguish involved in facing the reality of who we are apart from God. Our pride resists and supresses the purging of sin that must occur in our lives to become more like God. Instead we rebel in fear of the pain of relinquishing our hearts to God. The fact is that we will not be effective for God's kingdom in our generation if we do not allow God to purge us of the "sin that so easily entagles us". Yea, it's gross, painful, and uncomfortable, but until we surrender and allow God to purify us by washing our hearts, we will never experience the rest and healing that comes from eliminating the most ruthless toxin in our hearts: sin. Whether we want it to or not, it's going to come out. We might as well cooperate with God and get on with healthy living.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Musings at Midnight

It's 12:08 a.m. and I can't sleep. This often happens during the summer when I sleep until 10:00 in the morning. My internal clock is saying it's only 9:30 p.m. right now and there's no need to get in bed quite yet. My real-live clock reminds me that the sun is coming up in 5 1/2 hours and unless I want this to happen again tomorrow night, I better go to sleep. But it's summer, and I love staying up late. The only problem is that Mark still has to work and there's no one to stay up late with. Unfortunately, I lay in my bed thinking... wondering... pondering... thinking... wondering... pondering...and on and on until I just can't take anymore. Sometimes I count sheep, other times I do deep breathing, but most often I try to drink a steaming mug of caffine free hot tea. My favorite bedtime tea is cozy camomile or sleepy time. But that's not the only remedial tea you can find these days. There's detox tea, dieter's tea, energy tea, fruity tea, antioxidant tea, flowery tea, herbal tea, medicinal tea, and the list goes on. Their names alone offer hope to the sleepless, diet-obsessed, health nut, but somehow they always seem to come up short. As I laid in my bed tonight and let the wheels turn round and round in my head, it occured to me that too often I have let restlessness steal the joy that's found in waiting and expecting God to move in my life. We are often restless ramblers walking around with our eyes sealed giving the appearance of one who finds peace in God, but never truly surrendering our minds, bodies, and spirits to Him. We claim to know Him, to follow Him, and even to be satisfied with Him, but we impatiently seek a back up plan unless God doesn't come through for us and give us what He promises us. We doubt, attempt to hide our unbelief, and lower our expectations of God. Irritated with the inevidable lack of divine activity in our lives, we secretly sneak into the kitchen to indulge in a cunningly packaged flavor of tea that claims to provide whatever we need. Although delicious at first, the tea unavoidably, begins to taste like bland hot water, and it soon becomes a lukewarm letdown as you near the last sip. Reality is that if I simply went to bed at 10 and woke up at 6, as I do during the school year, I would probably not still be awake writing this and I would be fast asleep. I could drink all the tea in my cabinet and it would not give my body the rest that it needs. Only a disciplined schedule and peace of mind will give me that. Similarly, all the allurements of the world can not substitute the astounding glory that is revealed when we rest and wait expectantly for God to show up in our circumstances. When we "cease striving, and know that He is God" our mind is at peace, our hearts are at rest, our bodies are relaxed, and our spirits are full of hope. "Find rest oh my soul in God alone, my hope comes from Him..." How did we begin thinking that tea could give us that?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ellis Marsalis!

Friday night, Mark and I went to hear Ellis Marsalis play at Snug Harbor. Snug Harbor is a small place near the French Quarter in the Marigny. They have great hamburgers and a jazz concert room. It was a great concert! What a cool thing it was to be in the same room with a legend. Ellis came out and was eating with friends after the show. Of course, I put on my best "begging smile" and got a picture with him. I felt so bad afterward. I'm sure he's had a lifetime of strange people wanting his picture. Our friend Geoff played on drums, and it was so much fun to watch them!

Saturday, we went to the New Orleans Museum of Art. It's free for LA residents! Anything's more fun when it's free! Fernando Botero's work was on display. We had a picnic at city park and I just about died of heat exhaustion. I'm exaggerating, but it really was hot!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Fantastic 4th!

Mark's parents, sister and brother-in-law came in for the 4th of July. We had a blast! I was proud of NOLA for being so beautiful from Algiers Point as we watched fireworks crack over the Mississippi river. What a sight! Just before fireworks began a brass band that was performing in Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World Museum led a "second-line" parade down the levee where spectators danced and cheered.

New Orleans does this to you. Just when you think you can't stand the sight of one more dilapidated house, feel the awful sensation of one more pot hole, or taste the sweat pouring from your upper lip as humidity floats like a fog over the city, she surprises you with just enough beauty to keep you wanting more.

You can't get any more New Orleans than Palace Cafe for dinner, a free tour of Mardi Gras World, a visit with Blaine Kern himself, and sparkling fireworks to the tune of a trumpet-blaring rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In..."

I love this city.

Friday, June 27, 2008

My Birthday!

Today was a perfect day. I woke up at 6:16 a.m. to breakfast that Mark made for me- English muffin, eggs, grapes and banana. That was so thoughtful! Then I took him to work (because we planned to go to dinner later in that area and we thought we'd keep from having two cars downtown.) When I got back home, I took a nap...yes at 7:15. For those of you who don't know me well, I'm NOT a morning person. I woke up again at 9:15 and I thought that was a much more reasonable time for someone to get up. I then spent the rest of the day reading, watching TV and just hanging out. It was raining outside so the option of going to the pool was out, but I enjoyed relaxing at home. Later I got ready to go pick Mark up at work. We went to the Columns Hotel on St. Charles Ave. because I always wanted to know what it was like to sit on the front porch and drink a mint julip like in plantation days.
Then, we went to Cafe' Adelaide in the Lowes Hotel downtown. I had never been to this restaurant before. It is owned by the Brennans and it's a great restaurant named after Aunt Adelaide Brennan was known for being glamorous and fun.

Adelaide is one of my favorite names, so Mark thought it would be fun to bring me there. Our waiter's name was Roy. He was great. There were about 4 people who wished me a Happy Birthday. The Head Server for our section brought me a tuna apetizer on the house, our waiter brought me an "Adelaide Swizzle" sample on the house, and I got a nice birthday desert that had candles and "Happy Birthday" written in chocolate. He went way over and beyond. I think this restaurant served the best dish of duck I've ever had in New Orleans (and there's a lot of duck in New Orleans!).

When we got home, I opened my presents. One present was a Russian Amber necklace that Mark got from a jewler in town. It is butterscotch in color and very pretty! He also got me a Michaelopolis picture of a white uptown-looking house. Michaelopolis is a popular New Orelans painter.

Today was one of the best Birthdays ever! YEA!!!!!!!!!! (Mark says that I say that every year.)