Sunday, June 28, 2015

Love Wins

This post was by far the most difficult I've ever written.  I have prayed and prayed that God would help me chose the words.  I've wondered if He even wanted me to speak at all.  After outlining what I wanted to say about a bajillion times, second guessing myself a bajillion more, these are the words that God put on my heart tonight...errr, early this morning.

I am a sinner.  A sinner with a list miles long.  I'm not deserving of God's love.  I am no better than the person who has done the most wicked of things; yet God somehow still loves me...and He loves you.  I believe that with all my heart.  This post is not one of judgment.  I hope this message is conveyed in the way that God would want it.

There was big decision made by our government the other that brought out pointed fingers,  fierce debate, and divided the nation sharply into the "for" and the "against."  This post is not so much a focus on homosexuality and gay marriage, but to speak about how we as Christians can show love in times of controversy.  I will say I am disappointed in the way our nation handled the ruling - especially in how publicly it displayed our government's opinion.  The special lighting of the White House and Capitol Building certainly made a bold statement and quite honestly, it surprised me.  Our nation is so concerned about being PC and not offending ANYONE...anyone except Christians.  Pretty sure the nation would be in an uproar if the White House was lit up for Easter.  (And not the bunnies and eggs type of Easter.) I'm left wondering what makes us so different...conciliatory to what seems to be this new "norm."

When Christians speak up for our beliefs, we are named bigots, judgmental, and old fashioned.
But...have we brought these labels on ourselves?  Do our Facebook posts and Twitter comments reflect the love of Jesus?

The world is watching.  All eyes on us to see how we react, how we handle the situation.  Are we fueling the fire or are we showing grace and mercy as Jesus would do?  Do our posts of anger and hostility, of judgement, make us deserving of the labels we are given?

Now is the perfect time for Christians to show the world what we are for, not what we're against.  This is the open door.  This is perhaps God's way of answering our "whys."  Things are happening in our world - scary things.  Why?  Maybe they are happening in order for us to really be an example reflecting of God's goodness, of His mercy and forgiveness.  Our role in all of this is to do what we have been called to do all along.

No sin is heavier than another...God sees all sin the same - whether it be the little white lie or something worthy of jail time.  Things are black and white in that way.  We're called by God to love one another, not be stumbling blocks that serve to push people away. How will we ever show the world God's love, if we're spreading hate?  Jesus was a pretty anti-hate kind of dude, I think.  Sure, He disliked the sins of people here on earth, but He didn't hate them.  He didn't qualify the sins of people into who could be loved and who couldn't.  Jesus loved the people that communities shunned and pushed away - He brought them in and showed them love.  We cannot continue to push people away with heated debates and angry words. You don't have to agree with someone to show them love.  You shouldn't back down on your beliefs or make exceptions - God's word is perfect and unchangeable - but you can open your heart and love.

This is me preaching to myself.  I am nothing, y'all.  I am so undeserving.  I've messed up and failed in epic proportions.  I will continue to fail Him, but He loves me anyway...He loves all people. He loves them the same.  Love does win...but it's a love far greater than we can even being to imagine.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Dear 2014-2015 School Year,

You turned my babies into men.  Stop it.  Just stop it.  They have changed more this year than any other.

I. Can't.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015 Review

Oops! Two review posts in a row! It wasn't my intention for that to happen, but I'm truly in love with the canvas I got last week!!

**First a tiny little bit of blog housekeeping...this isn't something I was asked to review nor did I get any incentive or "kick-back".  I think that's important to note because I never want my blog to be about reviewing things just because.  As this is a family lifestyle blog, I want to share things that we use and love, but I would never push a product just to gain something from it.  Pitching stuff isn't my jam, so my intentions are just to help other families know about things that they might love too.**

Back to the regularly scheduled post now ;) is the coolest, y'all!  After working in the photography industry for several years, I got hands-on experience with lots of different print products...and their prices! Great quality is always tops, because who wants to pay anything for something that disappoints? We budget tightly,  so price is also very important.  It's not often that the two combine so easily, but I was extremely impressed with the quality and price of the canvas I ordered.  I found Canvas Discount through a Google search and subscribed to their email list to get a heads up on their sales.  While their regular (non-sale) prices in and of themselves are nice, their sales are incredible.  I was able to get a very large canvas (24x30) for 82% off! Regularly, what would have been $159, I got for less than $40.  That's pretty wild!! With a price like that, you might expect them to scrimp on materials, but the canvas, print quality, wood frame, and construction were all wonderful.  The image printed just like my file.

Other reasons to jump on the Canvas Discount bandwagon?

* A 110% price guarantee.  If you find a cheaper price online, CD will match it plus 10%.

* Completely made in the USA <--this is HUGE!! One of my favorite parts!!

*Earth friendly materials.  Water-based and solvent free, they don't have that heavy chemical smell.

*24 hour turnaround on print time.

Basically, a whole lot of awesome-sauceness!

Here are a few detail pics I took so you can see the finishing...

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Review of Tomorrowland

image copyright Walt Disney Company

Oh dear, Disney! I really wanted to like this film, but it is sooooo not PG.  The trailer and rating are very misleading and I sat watching it, the entire time thinking, "How is this not rated PG-13???"  The language and violence easily rival any PG-13 movie (and honestly, then some.) Who dropped the ball on the rating guidelines for this one??

For a PG movie to contain so much gratuitous cursing and over-the-top destruction, it's hard to even fathom this being marketed as "family friendly."  There's a lot of shooting, hand-to-hand fighting, and death.  The body count says, "Mobster Movie", no kidding!  At one point, a guy - who's a robot - but looks very much human nonetheless, gets his head savagely bashed in.  It's all done in such a casual way that one might mistaken it as an attempt at slap-stick humor, but the effects are incredibly realistic.

Tomorrowland has amazing graphics and is beautiful in its atmospheric elements; the acting is great (casting of George Clooney's character as a child is spot on Little George!!) but those things are unfortunately clouded by the overall disappointment in the movie's delivery.  The film's makers could have easily told the same story - with it's ultimate message of optimism and never giving up - without all the other shenanigans.  Not sure what Disney was trying to do here...???

Bottom line, children that are upset by violence or end-of-world type peril, should definitely skip this one, as should families that don't do PG-13 was totally PG-13 worthy!

The Barlows give it 2 out of 5 stars.*

*The low rating here is a bummer...the story itself wasn't bad, but the rating was far too misleading for families with young children.  We felt a bit like the rug was pulled out from under us. :( Disney deserves a big "Shame on you!" for this one.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

It's not just about barbecues and trips to the beach...

Remembering our heroes this Memorial Day weekend. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It finally happened!  I wasn't the first to tap out on one of our runs...though she maybe (totally, completely) gave me a sympathy win to keep up my spirits.  We're ("we" because more often than not, she is the motivator in this gig) trying to run at least once a week in the evenings when it cools down.  I'm up to four miles with mostly running, but a nice collection of walking spurts too.  Bella would be up to four miles at breakneck speed, but she doesn't like to flaunt her stats in front of me.  She's a gem....and also a diva.  When she decided she didn't want to run any longer, she gave me these...

"You're totally gonna carry me to the car, right??"

Monday, May 18, 2015

It's all fun and games, until someone thinks he sees a's goin' down for real...

This is the cleanest they've been post-baseball...sad fact.  Here's a quick look into what the span of ten seconds is like with these two...oh, the range of emotion.  Pass the Oscars... (there was no spider...)

The "calm" before the storm...can't you see the "muahahahahaha" from Camden???

"Colin!! I think there's a spider on you!!!"

"Stomp it!!!"  (There was no spider.)

"Don't you even think about saying it's on me now!"

"AGGGHHHHHH!!! I feel it on me!!!"

"Is it gone?"

"I think it's back on you!!"