Saturday, December 27, 2014

Back in the Saddle...and Pie.



Hi folks!

I am jumping back in the saddle! I haven't been blogging for (cough cough) 3 months (cough).
But, please excuse me...I've been in a whirlwind...of pie.

August 1st, Josh and I started a pie company! PJ Pies.

It started one day when our friends, Kerrie and Wade, had some leftover mangos that they didn't want. Josh said..."I'll make y'all a pie with 'em!" So, a mango pie he made.
They loved it and then, Wade took the rest to work to share. The next day, he asked us how much we would charge for another pie, because he had 5 orders for us.

WHAT.

We made the 5 mango pies and the next day, we had 6 more pie orders. 

WHAT WHAT.

This time, they had other flavor requests. We filled those and it has just continued to grow! 
We sought the Lord and what His will was for this. We didn't want to pursue it just because it was thrown in our laps. We wanted to make sure that it was HE who threw it in our laps! He has used it to take care of us and it has grown and grown, because of Him. 

Josh loves the business side of it. He does all of the social media and comes up with all of our new flavors, etc. I do all the crust art:) We have a few girls who have been helping us, the primary being our friend, Korey. It has been an amazing journey so far and we are still walkin' it with joy! It has been so much fun and a LOT of hard work. I've never been so busy in my life...making lots of pie, homeschooling, "keeping" a house (sometimes), having time with my Savior, leading worship, spending time with my family and friends, and clearly my blog hasn't been taken care of :>/ Fixing that now:)

Our website is pjpiesrgv.com. Check it out...and order a pie:)
Check out our Instagram too! instagram.com/pjpies
Here is some of our work!...



We do birthdays:)



Sometimes, I love simple beauty.


Catch a falling star and put it in your...mouth.
This is one of my favorite designs so far:)


Doing some custom artwork.


Thanksgiving time:)


I heart lattice.


My fave flave, raspberry-lime:)


To weave or not to weave....TO WEAVE!!


UGH....our blueberry is so sweet and refreshing. I LOVE.


The holidays have been a Pecan Frenzy!!!


Do put a gift pie in the mouth:)


Two of my loves together:)


Before the bake.


Our mini pies:)
We sell these at the farmer's market...
a great way to tray multiple flavors if you don't know whatcha want. 


A tray for a pie lover.


Cranberry-Pear with an oat crumble...our Christmas pie!


Some chocolate-pecan..rich, chocolatey, nutty goodness.

Back in the blogo-saddle.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Wish They Knew You.

Hey Dad...
A little Happy Birthday Card...it's late...sorry.
As we were driving by the cemetery the other day, Addison noticed all the pretty flowers. We decided to stop and see where you're buried. I hadn't been there since your funeral. I know you aren't really there, so it doesn't necessarily make me feel near to you, but did make me think about the way you were.


I love that you read the Bible and that you talked about Jesus with me. I also love that you tried to honor the Lord in everything that you did. You showed me that being a part of His church is an important part of my walk with Jesus. 
Jesus is, obviously, the best thing I learned from you...and the most valuable thing of my life.


I still remember watching the parades with you on the back of Papa's truck. I can still here the drums and remember eating pickles and salt, while you pointed the different floats out.


Dad, I love that you were affectionate. You hugged us and kissed our cheeks and foreheads often, since your lips were only for Mom. I'm thankful that you never held back on those things. We knew that we were loved by you.


You were THE handiest of handymen. I LOVED how you could fix almost anything. If anything broke, forget the store. We took it to Dad. I definitely got my handy-girl quality from you. Josh even learned so much in the years he had with you as well! You had an engineer's mind and I miss it. Even now, if I hear a noise with the car, I wanna call you, imitate the noise to you and let you tell me what's wrong with it. I'm thankful Josh can do some of that now, because you taught him so much about cars. He has even told me how much he cherished your many evenings outside working on the '79 CJ-5 Jeep he had. This has been a valuable quality that you passed down and I'm thankful.


Aaaand...you're not the shopping kinda dad. I'll never forget you falling asleep in the window of The Gap in Tennessee. Crazy guy.


The time you answered the door with a gun to welcome in my homecoming date. Sheesh. I was embarrassed, but now, I miss that embarrassingly goofy humor...except that I totally have it. I heart goofiness. I guess that's why I married Josh, Dad, because he can laugh at himself, like you:)


This trip is one I am sooooo glad we got to go on!! I got quality time with just you and Mom on a Northeast/New England tour and it was the best. This is one of you and me on the subway in NYC. I miss how you were always up for an adventure. You kind of seemed to love the unknown. Finding weird things was fun to you. Stopping at every "hysterical" marker was fun to you. Getting lost aka "taking the scenic route" was always fun to you. 


Camping with you was the best. You made your girls be a little tougher and stronger for taking us camping and I am so glad you did. You taught me so many things about being self-sufficient this way and about working for everything we did. You know...cutting a stick off a tree, cutting the bark away, smoothing it out and making our own walking sticks...and that we clean up around where we stayed. We left it better than it was when we got there, because it is respectful of the land and of the people who were going to be there next, etc. You were social and loved camping with other people, as well. You welcomed others so kindly:)
These are things I can't wait to teach my kids.





I'm so thankful that you were here to walk me down the aisle and give me away at my wedding. You looked so handsome in your tux, Dad! 
I know the weddings of your daughters were bittersweet (probably for every father) since you have to give your daughters to another man. Now, that I have kids, this is hard to imagine, but I do want that for them. I knew you weren't looking forward to that day when you cried during "Father of the Bride" when we were really young, because you knew that one day, you too, would feel like George Banks. 








One of the weekends I cherish most is the week that Addison was born. We were able to leave immediately after getting home from the hospital to go spend the week with you in Victoria and it was one of the best weeks of my life. I got to introduce you to my precious, first newborn baby and got to spend sweet quality time with you doing hardly anything. It was difficult seeing you like that, but I was also thankful to be spending time with you while you were doing okay enough to hold Addison a little bit and have some good talks.
Every moment that week was a blessing and I will remember it forever. 

You died one month later. 
I got 27 years with you and I can't wait to see you again, which I know I will, because you loved Jesus. I know you're with Him. 
I wish my kids could know you, because you loved Jesus, you were a great husband to mom, an amazing dad, and a wonderful Poppa to the older grand-kids.
I wish they knew how silly you were and that they could learn all these things from you, but you taught me and now I can teach them. Plus, God has put some pretty legit people in our lives to love them in the meantime. God takes care of us. You know that better than me...being there with Him and all:)
I'm hoping that they will get to know you in Heaven/the New Earth...more than that, that they'll know Jesus one day. 

Love you, Dad
Ash

Happy Belated Birthday


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bread Daily for McAllen Locals



This week, I got to try my friend, Aidin's, Virtue bread that she recently started making. It's paleo for all your paleonatics out there and it's delicious:) My husband and I aren't on the paleo diet, but it's great knowing that if you're going to be eating bread, that it doesn't have all the extra junk in there that we ALL now know will kill us.



Those ingredients...what whaaaat?! Squeaky clean as can be.








I wanted to make my go-to grilled sandwich with the paleo almond flax bread to see how it compared to other breads we've used. Let's just say that my taste buds were smiling their little micro-smiles.




We don't have to feel so bad having bread daily with this healthiness! We're getting the next loaf tomorrow! And it'll be gone fast, because it's also good to eat with a swipe of butter, which I'm pretty sure is not paleo, but whatevs!)

Aidin has cookies, sandwich bread, and artisan bread available in her venture, called Virtue Breads. Let her know if you need anything by messaging her through the link!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

In the Right Place



I've been leading in worship for years now. It is a passion and a pleasure.
Since I started in 9th grade, I've been thinking that leading worship (my service to God) was right up there next to my call to make disciples.

I BELIEVED THIS LIE.

Something had been feeling off for me for quite a while, being in the band, leading in worship. I kept thinking...
-Is there something off with the band-mate chemistry?...No.
-Is it because I'm the oldest?...(this was a hard one to push away, even though I'm only the oldest one by 1 year), but...No.
-Is it because my sound isn't relevant?...Uh...No...that's stupid. Even if it isn't the newest sound, the church isn't made of one type of people anyway.
I wasn't sure why things were feeling off, so I began to just wait for the Lord to show me what it was. He soon would...
The Lord put it on my heart to ask an old friend that I used to lead worship with, what he had learned in the past two years as he's had new experiences having moved away. So, I asked. His answer didn't really include anything I was expecting. He talked about making disciples...that leading worship was really a catalyst for doing just that.
Hmm...Okay?
I left thinking...I know what he said was good, but why was THAT his answer to THAT question?

After meditating on that a while, I started to think about how beauty is fleeting (Proverbs 31:30), just as is the condition of my voice. I will not have a good voice for the rest of my life. It will fade. At some point in my singing "career", my vibrato is gonna be sliding between 4 notes or my voice could just completely poop out; yet, I will still praise Him with it...with my wobbly, scratchy, old lady voice.
Leading others, though, will most probably not be my role at that time.
If my call to lead worship was equal to making disciples, I would have a huge problem when I get older, but making disciples and being a Titus 2 woman IS something I can do and be into old age, God-willing.
Being passionate in worshiping the Lord and getting better at leading others to worship Him is a Godly desire and service, but making disciples and growing in my abilities to share the gospel with others must be my greatest passion.

When I stand before the King one day, do I wanna say, "Jesus...I sang my heart out to you and led others into worship. I made a few disciples. Whatcha think?"
NO!
I sure don't want to anyway! He'd be all like..."Hmmm...Okay."
Not what I want to hear from the King of Kings.

That day, God showed me that the reason things weren't feeling right for me, in leading worship, is because it was elevated to a position that it should not have been. Many times, I questioned whether I was putting it before God and my love for Him and I truly do not believe I was for the most part (although, I check my heart on this constantly), but I know that I did have it in a place of priority that it should not have been. I have been sharing the gospel over the years and discipling women. This wasn't forgotten, thanks be to God, but I walked around the mall with my husband that day, talking this out and crying, because I have wasted years spending more time improving on and allowing my service, my offering to the Lord, to be primary. Gross. Thanks to Him and his grace, He is showing me where I've been so wrong and how I can love Him more in my obedience to Him and in growing my passion to share His name.

Leading worship IS an honorable call for such a time as this, but it is NOT my most important call. It is sooooooo secondary! It is equal to every other way that people serve in the church, if not lesser than because it's done in front of many, while others serve quietly, but this is the way he's allowing me to serve right now and so I serve Him in it with gladness. Only He knows...I may have another role next year...or in 5 years...or in 10 years, but to lead on stage with my voice will not be my call for life.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms.  1 Peter 4:10
Thank you door greeters, hospitality team, ushers, tech team, deacons, kid's teachers, baby holders, security team, and all those I'm leaving out, because they serve unseen by us. 
You ARE seen by the Lord.

-The greatest commandment is to love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, and strength. (Matt. 22)
-The second is like the first, to love my neighbor as myself. (Matt. 22)
-Our purpose, as people who follow these commandments, is to make disciples (baptizing them and teaching them). (Matt. 28)

If we serve in the church our whole lives and don't go out into the world and make disciples and teach them, we will miss it in a HUGE way. If my children are telling me they love me all the time and are doing nice things for me, but aren't obeying me, as their mother, I wouldn't be pleased. God desires obedience more than offerings. "...to obey is better than sacrifice..." 1 Samuel 15:22b
Service in the church is beautiful and is an offering to the Lord and is loving to His bride (the church), but...
"...To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."  Mark 12:33
When I stand before the Lord one day, what I want to say is...
"my King, I tried my hardest to love you with everything, love others, and make disciples in your name."...knowing full well His blood covered my sins AND those "honorable efforts".

Whatever your passion or service, have you made it equal to or more important than your call to make disciples?
What do you want to say to the Lord when you stand before Him?

{I'd love to hear your answers...leave a comment!}

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Counting Failures



When will you stop counting strikes against yourself?! 

When will you truly accept forgiveness?

No matter which role...as a parent, as a spouse, as a friend, as a worship leader, whatever...I mess up.
When I mess up, I will usually move on after there has been repentance or an apology, whatever was needed. If I needed forgiveness myself, I would accept it and move on...

...or so I thought. 

I realized that sometimes that happens, but often, what I actually keep doing is moving past the incident, but then when there's another incident, I say to myself, "See!?! You messed up again! You're a horrible ______." (Fill in the blank with a role.) 

I'm keeping my own track record of mistakes! As a follower of Jesus, God doesn't do this to me. 
Why do I keep doing this to myself? I have got to learn to accept Jesus' grace and mercy. 

"...it [love] keeps no record of wrongs."
1 Corinthians 13:5 

God is LOVE! He keeps no record of wrongs. He forgives and does not hold my past mistakes against me.

I have to stop. I don't believe God likes when I, even unknowingly, say to Him...
"Sorry God. These sins do count against me. You're wrong. What you say you died for, what you already paid the price for, didn't work"...
because, in essence, this IS what I am saying when I continue to hold my sins over myself, not to mention that I'm saying that my good and bad works define who I am. 
My works DO NOT define who I am. 
Jesus does. I am who He says I am. 
My identity lies in my Savior.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in
accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished upon us.
Ephesians 1:7-8a

Grace...lavished? Yes please.

Monday, June 16, 2014

To the Village in Mexico...



To the people in the Mexican village on the outskirts of Reynosa...

As my friend, Kerrie, and I were on our way to your village on the outskirts of Reynosa, I was slightly apprehensive, trusting I would most likely be fine, but I hadn't been to Mexico in probably two or three years. When things started getting more unsafe there, I just stopped going. The shootings and violence were definitely a deterrent knowing that the cartel is in control there.
While that stuff absolutely happens, I didn't feel nervous while I was there. I knew that the Lord wanted me to go and that He's with me wherever I go. God is sovereign, so whatever happens is what He allows.

Since it was my first time back to Mexico in some time, I wanted to just see what my friends, Wade and Kerrie, see on a, now, regular basis. I wanted to go and meet you and see where they live and where you all live. 

When we went across the bridge at the border, we soon turned off onto the dirt road that leads to your neighborhood. We were in their little truck. We rolled our windows down and went along for the bumpy ride. Some of you who happened to be out near the road either waved at Kerrie or just watched us go by if you didn't know her. 

Kerrie asked me if I'd rather take the lower level, less bumpy, road near the water or the top level, more bumpy, road through the neighborhood. Since I hadn't been in Mexico in a while, I chose the top level, through the neighborhood. The neighborhood was full of color from the paint colors of houses and plants and flowers. 

I didn't know what, exactly, to expect when I got there, but some of the things I saw, I loved. When we got to Kerrie and Wade's house, we went in with tacos, which she gave to her hubs and friend and to your neighborhood boys who'd been up late into the night and early in the morning playing video games (with the help of the generator). ---Guys are guys are guys! Some things are just the same everywhere! Video games without borders. Almost every guy likes a good video game.

One thing I knew we were doing, for sure, was going to witness a baptism! There is a family in your village that has all started serving Jesus. The father, I believe, was the last to become a follower of Jesus, and so he was being baptized. 

When we got down near the area where the baptisms were going to be taking place, under the bridge, we saw that there was going to be a service before the baptisms! So, we waited for a while. More chairs were brought, because I guess there were more people than expected. It took a while to get started, so we took a walk back to the house to get some water. Walking back to the bridge, we ran into the family of the father that was being baptized. So, I got to meet his two daughters,Graciela and Deysi and their mother, who I've read and heard so much about. The girls were so friendly and huggy. It was sweet.




When we got to the bridge, we went down to the service, walking over all the smashed soda bottles to get down there. We worshiped God in song with the worship leader, who did a great job. We knew a few of the songs. They were ones I grew up singing ("Lord, I lift your name on high" and "Come, Now is the Time to Worship") I sang the little that I could in Spanish, but sang softly in English. I loved how (even though you all weren't aware) we were singing in two different languages, worshiping the same great God.




A pastor spoke for a while and asked all the people who were getting baptized to stand up at the front. There were a ton of people! Maybe 15? After that, he told us to go across the road to the water where they would be doing the baptisms.




Okay. I commend you all. I was baptized in clean, warm water in what was basically a glass case.
Spoiled much?! I'm going to go with YES. You guys had to get in that muddy water with who knows what in it! The water matched the trees that were on the other side. You did it for the sake of obedience. Amen.

The 4 ministers who were doing the baptizing huddled together and prayed before they started. I loved this. Then, as each person went into the water squishing through the mud to get in (the women accepting help from a friendly hand, the men making sure they got through the mud withOUT holding another man's hand), they obeyed the Lord in the act of baptism. It was beautiful. 







Everyone was crowded around and a small group of you led in a song that they song while all the baptisms were going on. I picked it up pretty quickly. I loved this and thought how I'd love to do this at our church!!




After baptisms were finished, there was a potluck where the service had been. Everyone brought something different. There were tamales, wrapped in banana leaves and some in the regular corn things we always see them in. There was rice. There were these little mole enchiladas that you could hold in your hand...I only mention that they were handheld because in the states, we drown them in so much sauce that there's no way we could hold them!  I had some good tamales. 




Oh...Who are the People in your Neighborhood?
We went back to the house and then did a mini-tour of your neighborhood! Kerrie took me next door to meet Sylvia, the lady who owns the property, has a little food store, and who is apparently known for her delicious cooking. We kept walking and went to Paola's house, one that Wade and Kerrie and their friends, the Busby's, and mulitple others, recently built. They're almost finished with the thrift store they're building in front of the house so that the family can have a business!
They didn't let us leave without offering banana ice cream in a baggie. It was so good and was nice to have in the heat! 
We walked down a few more houses and I met two more girls quickly who had a pet raccoon. I couldn't believe it!! I guess it's a nice raccoon?!...I'm hoping. 



After this, Kerrie and I went back stateside. 

I want to go again. Next time I'm there, I want to be more useful! I would love to love my neighbor in Jesus' name by helping with any needs you may have. Neighbors in the states, back in the day, used to say "We're just next door if you need anything." 




I'm glad that people I know live right inside your neighborhood. God has taken them there. They care so much about you. They love your kids and they love you...just like Jesus loves you. 

Thankfully, I have now met my neighbors and I'm glad to know you! 

Being your neighbor, I say this to you...

We're just next door if you need anything.

In fact, we'll come over and see if you need anything. We won't wait for you to ask:)