Inspiration from So Cal

It’s been about six years since I last visited the beaches of Southern California. But once you visit this area of Northern America, you never forget it. The white sandy beaches warm your toes up through your soul and the beautiful sunsets falling behind the large crashing waves are visions you take home and dream about.

Day two in Anaheim was filled with inspiration. And we ended it with a trip to Huntington Beach where everyone just seems relaxed and happy.

Yesterday I learned about the 36th clinical research study done on Juice Plus and how it showed DNA was positively altered in over 1,600 genes in overweight adults that controlled metabolic health and inflammatory cells . But yesterday was more than research-based facts. It was a day filled with inspiration. A day that I listened to wives, moms, husbands, cancer survivors, doctors and researchers all share their stories of how and why they said yes to changing their lifestyle when they were at their most vulnerable moment, moments where they were filled with doubt, but acted anyways. Here are my top #OMW [oh my word!] inspirational takeaways from yesterday:

#OMW No. 1: Caring for others is hard work. It’s also heart work.
We kicked off the morning with a praise and worship breakfast. Yes, you read that right. There are thousands of Juice Plus representatives that are believers, and it warms my heart. Nicole Unice, author of Brave Enough, spoke about grace as the catalyst for bravery. From the crippled man who was lowered down into the home where Jesus was teaching [Luke 5: 17] to his fishermen disciples troubled in rough waters [Mark 4: 35] – we all have fear inside that is buried at different levels. But the more we let grace in the less room there is for fear. Unice reminded the crowd that we have one single ask from Jesus … to love others. When you love others, you care for them. And anyone who is a caretaker knows it is HARD work. But it’s also HEART work. When I think about why I’m even here, at this nutrition conference, that’s what it’s ultimately about – caring for others. If a friend knew of something that I should be doing [ahem, taking care of my temple of God] and ideas as to how, telling me and encouraging me is shows love.

#OMW No. 2: Long term vision, short term goals.
Dream big and believe. Sounds so easy, right? If you’re anything like me, I go from dreaming big to reality crashes and I know that’s because I still allow the enemy to inject fear. Jay Martin, founder and CEO of Juice Plus, is of my grandparent’s generation – in my opinion, the hardest working generation of our time. I find many millennials expect instant gratification. Now, I think there are various reasons as to why, some reasonable and some not, but that’s for another blog post. What I took from Martin and a beautiful wife and mother of four children who is a breast cancer survivor was that you absolutely have to have, write, and say your goals, and then you need to consistently put in work to get them. It’s an easy concept, but not many do it.

#OMW No. 3: Get a system.
When you know what you are going after, you have to get a system in place to achieve it. A system marries up well with the whole consistency thing. I think back to my college basketball days when I was told I needed to work on my lateral foot speed after my freshman year. I consistently jumped rope, did ladders and other exercises that summer. I vividly remember my coaches being impressed with my improvement when I got back on campus in the Fall. Whatever goals you have, you will surely fall short unless you get a system in place and consistently put in work toward achieving them.

Spring in SA

The best weather in San Antonio always seems to roll in around this time of year. Spring in San Antonio provides fresh blooms, sunshine and a nice breeze – perfect for any outdoor activity, even swimming. Yes, I said swimming in March.

I love going to the local nursery this time of year. Scents of herbs and plants fill the breeze and your lungs fill your lungs as you walk up and down the rows. It’s the most colorful place to go, too.

Every Spring we plant vegetables in our small outdoor garden. This year, we’re growing cherry tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini and sweet peppers. For the first time, we planted bulbs in the front yard and after just a few weeks, they are already sprouting. It will be a joy to see the kids’ reaction when they bloom later this Summer, and serve as a reminder that when you plant something good, nurture it and remain patient, the result will be something beautiful.


Lastly, a Spring cleaning check in. I have successfully purged and organized about 85% of our property. Still to go, the kitchen and bathroom drawers. Not bad, right?! Thus far, my personal favorite part has been tackling my wardrobe. I conducted a bit of a clothing capsule, donating about 70 percent, and it was beyond necessary. After having three kids in the last five years, I had no business keeping clothing from over a decade ago that, quite honestly, belong on a 20-year-old. Let’s leave it at that.

Less is more, and provides much more room for things that matter – like using our closet that now looks twice as big for a hide and go seek destination.


Survive and Advance

It’s the greatest time of year for college basketball fans – March Madness! A time where we get to watch 18 to 21 year-olds be a part of history, create memories that will turn into stories for their grand kids and fight for that one shinning moment … the moment on the ladder, cutting down the nylon, hosting up the championship trophy.

For nearly two decades, these men and women have trained to get to this stage. Only two percent of them will make it to the professional level, while the rest will hang on to these memories as the grand finale of their basketball careers. As a former college athlete, I can verify that these days, the college days, stay with you forever. Preseason training, two-a-days, weights and conditioning, extra conditioning, max-out sessions, grueling practices, conference tournaments and training room recovery sessions – what goes on during those four years while wearing that University jersey is what I remember most 10 years later.


Friday afternoon I took a back route home in order to stop by a local nursery to pick up some vegetables for our garden. As I drove past the subdivision I grew up in, I spotted an old ice house. It was the ice house that my dad would make my sister and I run to for summer-time conditioning. I couldn’t help but think of the old adage for this time of year … survive and advance. Those runs were held in the heat of  Texas summers. They weren’t easy, nor enjoyable, especially for someone who was not a fan of long distance running.

Here I am, 10 years later, married with three kids and I find survive and advance is equally as relative as my days on the hardwood floor. Whether it’s getting through nine interviews in one week for two positions – yes, that just happened – or juggling the needs of three kids ages five and under every weekend, it’s all about surviving the day, advancing through the phase. Sports taught me how to remain disciplined in adulthood and that everything – every stage, every temper tantrum, every big project, every holiday – is temporary, and seconds later, merely a memory.

My dad wasn’t just training us for cross country, volleyball, basketball and track during those middle school days, he was training us for life. Sometimes, you have to do things you don’t like to do, and often times those things are character-shaping activities. So whether you are working through shaping healthy appetites in toddlers or pushing yourself to run that last mile as you train for a marathon, just remember if your can survive the phase, you’re advancing to the next stage.


Dinning Room Do-Over

By Vanessa Meyer, guest blogger

Y’all I am so excited to share my dining room makeover with you!  Well, let’s be honest it was not really a makeover … more like a successful attempt to finally decorate after living in our house for nearly two years.

But first, a bit about me. I’m a working wife and mom to four young children. When it comes to shopping, I’m frugal, the belle of bargains and a sucker for DIY projects. Together with my dad, we’ve built our entry-way bench, a toy storage unit and two twin beds for my middle boys. Between marriage, kids and work, it goes without saying that spare time doesn’t present itself much. So this year, I decided to take a few days off for Spring Break with my kids and transform our dining room.

First up … window treatments. We have one large window in our dining room and I dread spending money on curtain rods and drapes. It gets so expensive, especially when you have a TON of windows. I found a great pin for DIY curtain rods and after a trip to Home Depot and a phone call to my dad, viola!


I wanted simple, plain white curtains. I found these 108” curtains at Kohl’s on sale for $24.99, plus I had an extra 30% off coupon!  A quick search on Amazon pulled up these curtain rings that I’ve been able to use for multiple window coverings.

With a neutral window covering, pops of color were calling my name. I love vintage floral prints and found some great ones on Etsy, but hello price tag! I turned to my fav, [yep, you guessed it!] Pinterest and found some amazing vintage floral prints for free [insert pat on back]. I printed them at Staples – a much cheaper route for printing than local print shops – and bought these frames on sale at Michael’s.

I was happy with my prints, but the room still felt like it was missing some color. To help achieve a more open concept, we partially tore down the wall between our living and dining room when we first moved in. It left us with a small, angled wall in the dining room that I never loved, but live with. This was my chance to use the wall to dress up the room.

During our trip to the Silos, I spotted the magnolia leaf wreath often used on Fixer Upper episodes. Shell shocked at the $99 price tag, I confidently turned away knowing I could find something similar for half the price. Back home, I turned to my faithful craft store, Hobby Lobby, which did not disappoint. I found this magnolia wreath for $50 and used my 40 percent-off coupon, purchasing it at just $30! Coupled with an antique mirror I bought from Hobby Lobby last year, (find a similar one here) and some wire to hang the two, my walls were complete.


Finally, I wanted to add a live plant because, you know, that’s what self-proclaimed interior decorates do. It was off to Lowe’s with the hubby. I found THE PERFECT indoor plant called Bird of Paradise.  I told him how much it was – $70. Never at a loss for words, he declared we were not paying $70 for a plant I was going to kill in a month. So, I decided I would start smaller [ahem…cheaper] with a cane plant that’s nearly impossible to kill and a cute basket from Home Goods to place it in (find a similar one here.).

Once in its place, I quickly realized the cane plant wasn’t cutting it. So, I swapped out the original plant I was forced to buy picked with a fiddle leaf fig tree from a local nursery in San Antonio.


Here’s a final picture of our new dinning room.  Hope you got some home décor inspiration!



Spring cleaning

All it took was a quick read of the new Magnolia Journal and a shift in season for the annual spring cleaning itch to kick in.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been going room by room, cleaning, purging, donating and organizing, and it’s been refreshing. The sweet volunteer at my local Salvation Army knows me by name.


The “after” picture. The “before” picture didn’t make it because a pile of blankets fell on top of me when I opened the door.

The name of the game … simplify. Ironically, my mom heard a message in church recently around happiness – and that it does not come from materialistic items. I’d venture to guess those with less are happier than those with more.

As I stack up the donation piles with things gone unused for months, even years, I find myself cleaning out my thoughts. Holding on to things we don’t need can be a tough habit to break, but an immature one to keep. As I prepare for Easter, I’m reminded of what’s recorded that Christ owned. A true minimalist who spent his spare time, outside of carpenter work, and likely all of his money, traveling around spreading the Good News.

Life sure comes a lot easier with less choices. My hope is that something as small as creating less choices on what to wear will free up a few extra minutes each morning to maintain my commitment to read the Bible.

What are you cleaning out this Spring?

Pancakes and Halles

You know that time the best breakfast spot in town decided to build a barn-inspired reception hall next door? Ya, me either. Until today. I stumbled upon my future front door at the most adorable, and likely newest, event Halle in San Antonio!


If you live in or around San Antonio you should be very familiar with the infamous Magnolia Pancake Haus. Just two short months ago, they opened up the Magnolia Halle right next to their Huebner location.

With its warm, Texas, rustic-inspired theme, you might have thought you landed in a surrounding city like Hondo or Castroville. The large windows around the venue, floor-to-ceiling white rock gas fireplace, iron accents and barn-style bathroom doors make you want to kick up your cowboy boots and get ready to party at a country-chic wedding reception.

Kudos to the local pancake masters for making this bold and smart business move. I foresee the venue booking up very fast! And if you haven’t done so already, try out their jambalaya omelet … it’s a household favorite!

An inner voice

It’s back to bloggin I go. For a several years, I stayed faithful to writing about our growing family’s adventures, inner thoughts and observations. After taking a 25-month hiatus, I’ve decided to return to online journaling, 2.0.

During my blogging sabbatical, God blessed us with a third child. As full-time working parents with three young children, it’s safe to assume life is busy. We aren’t one for making New Year’s resolutions, but in the New Year, my husband mentioned wanting to dedicate more time to reading. And I agreed. So, I did the unthinkable – I deactivated my Facebook account. Gasp!

After less thanmagnolia_story_book two weeks of going off the [Facebook] grid, I’ve finished my first book of the New Year. And it was the perfect way to kick off 2017. Chip and Joanna Gaines remind each of us to listen to that inner voice – the Holy Spirit – and go after your dreams.

During my time reading The Magnolia Story I heard, saw and encountered God. And He very kindly showed me, what I believe are, some of his desires for our family.

Not to mention, one of my favorite blog sites – Coffee and Crumbs – shared a little inspiration on Instagram encouraging mamas to make time for what you love to do, every day. So … here we go again!

What are you aspiring to do this year?