Category Archives: Updates

10 Things Learned Through 10 Years of Blogging

Hard to believe that 10-years ago today, I launched this blog. I have vivid memories of 2009, and I don’t recall all those memories with fondness. In fact, a series of disruptive events changed the course of my life that year. 2019 has brought its share of disruption as well. My 10th anniversary is the perfect opportunity to reflect on my journey as a blogger and end with a big announcement!

In 2009 we were amidst the Great Recession, during which I got fired. That’s a whole different blog post but suffice it to say I was somehow both blindsided and expecting a change in occupation. Amidst the suppressive heat of Texas in July, I joined the band of the unemployed. I was humiliated, humbled, and learning some tough lessons. But I also knew that God had another plan.

If that wasn’t enough, life decided that other changes were due. I went through a breakup, my phone died, and was in a car accident where I was at fault. I think a root canal may also have been in there (painful to the pocket and the mouth), but you get the point.

I remember how challenging that time was, especially as a single woman with 100% responsibility of the bills and mortgage. But I also recall how significant challenges opened up great opportunities for God to move and work. Just a couple of brief examples of how God showed up big:

  • I made a road trip to Louisiana to visit dear friends there, as I had lived and worked there right before Dallas. While visiting my friend and former boss, she offered some work and got to travel with her to New Orleans. That got me rolling once again.
  • While praying with my BFF, I felt God ask me to invite her to come to live with me. A few weeks later, after prayer and some clarity between her and God, she interviewed in Dallas and accepted a job 10-minutes from what became our Condo! We lived together there until I met my husband and got married, and she was our Maid of Honor. She later met her husband in Dallas, and I was her Matron of Honor and my husband their groomsman.
    The crazy events of 2009 managed to reinforce Maria von Trapp’s view that when God closes a door, he opens a window. Hence this blog’s name: “Closed Doors Open Windows.”

God had my full attention amidst all of those big life events. The suffering that broke my heart urged me to begin to open it more to let Him speak to it. I started working on myself again, which included attending inner-healing sessions at my Church. I also began to discover how I could do things that I loved and build new skills while getting paid for it.

I may have been on unemployment, searching for a job amidst a terrible economic downturn, but God always provided.

I was at some networking event when a recruiter that I met recommended starting a blog at that time as a concrete way for me to begin pursuing my passion for writing. I’m glad that I followed her advice.

One needs not just to love writing to maintain a personal blog, but also be willing to be committed and work on it. While I share below some reasons why my writing here has been less than prolific as of late, I still hope that this space has provided things that have resonated with y’all, and even caused some folks to ponder more themselves in these past ten years.

In honor of my blog-anniversary, here are 10 things that I’ve learned about blogging over the past 10-years. And don’t forget about my exciting news at the end!

blogging tips

  1. Millions of blogs are still published daily. In March 2019, it was reported by Worldometers that over 4.4 million blog posts are published every day! That’s a massive amount of web content, WOW!
  2. Be patient, grasshopper. Building a blog and gaining readership takes consistent effort realized over time. If you’re willing to put in that time and effort, your patience will be worth it.
  3. Blogging well and consistently takes incredible discipline. Planning solid content, taking /editing/finding photos, creating branded graphics, writing, editing, posting – i.e., all the back-end work takes time (energy). Reserving the energy needed for that and then expending it on something that could be anything from income-driven to passion project (aka non-paying) requires discipline.
  4. Sometimes (or a lot of times) you may wonder if your blog makes an impact. Especially if you’re not a social media influencer with 10,000+ followers or content writing for a well-known brand; however, if you love it and it gives you a purpose – then do it regardless of if it’s meant for the masses or one soul.
  5. Be wise. If everything becomes too much at some point, it’s good to step back and take a break from blogging. Usually writing here is my outlet, but I haven’t written on this blog in over a year. While I previously blogged during my Mother’s illness and death, it was simpler and more effective to use Facebook to keep my family and friends updated on recent life events. The past few years have brought a series of significant transitions for us. Caring for my Dad through serious illnesses until he died this past March was my calling and increasing became my focus over the past two years. Since I was his only child/family member in Austin, those responsibilities required a great deal of my energy. I’m working on being gentle with myself amidst the grieving process, so while I have plans and projects, I’m trying to take it slow. I treasure and have no regrets about the time I spent with my Dad and am glad that put writing and maintaining a blog on the back burner.
  6. Know your readers. Who are the people that actually visit your blog? And what do they love and hate? As writers, we want to share our story, our expertise, and opinions. Blogging is only words on a screen unless someone reads it and can connect to it, and hopefully find it helpful or inspiring in some way. So, while it’s important to share, it’s also essential to know your people. What do they value or find inspiring? Knowing who they are and what matters to them is how best to connect and support them. Checking which of your posts are the most popular is a simple and effective way to do this.
  7. Be authentic. I’ve worked for people who wanted massive blog results yet weren’t fully transparent with me about the true purpose of their blogging. Whatever your goal is – whether it’s trying to build up your business or to share your journey through cancer – articulate it and then work the plan for your blog outwards from there. To be authentic requires vulnerability, which is uncomfortable – so some may hold back a little or a lot. Holding back may serve your comfort level but won’t create a lasting impact. We may think we need to blog Pinterest perfect, and while content needs to be well-crafted, people want something authentic. Real people that are flawed can relate to flawed bloggers.
  8. Share your passion. Can you tell the difference between bloggers sharing about things that they’re passionate about versus writing content because it will have good ROI? I can. It feels like the difference between staying up to read a page-turner book and skimming an informative article. Write about the things in your wheelhouse that you’re passionate about – and that will attract others who are curious or excited about the same thing.
  9. Take some risks. I shared this graphic that I made yesterday on Instagram/Twitter (Hey let’s follow each other! Hit me up on the ‘Gram: @lisanch + Twitter: @LSanMartini)writer quotesGreat writers are willing to push the envelope as needed. But writers are also artists. Art comes from feeling deeply, so please don’t confuse all of us with a tribe of ego-maniacs who feel 100% comfortable putting our craft out there for public praise or trashing. Sharing our writings allows people to know us – our thoughts, feelings, and opinions – and once posted, it’s out there. The world is a hyper-sensitive place right now with offended people making their voices boom through the media (social or news). One dumb tweet can obliterate your career. Be smart in your risks — draw from the other points (wisdom, authenticity, passion, etc.) Risks are worthwhile to those who stay humble and continue to grow wise.
  10. Cultivate your voice. Writers need to work on our craft to improve. Find resources and methods that help to cultivate your voice. I’ve found it helpful to read books about writing by successful writers and follow blogs – especially about writing or by writers. Writing is like other skills – you have to work at it to improve. Be willing to adapt. If what you’re passionate about doesn’t resonate well with others – then it’s time to reassess your approach which requires being receptive to feedback. If you want excellent output, seek the best input.

I’ve learned a lot in these past ten years that has shaped and prepared me for what God has next. Speaking of, here’s that news I promised earlier.

I’m excited to share that I’m writing my first book! An item on my bucket list for years, it feels good to be making positive strides towards this goal. The topic is not something that I ever dreamed of writing about, nor something that I’ve shared little to nothing about publicly. The book will be about infertility.

Often silent suffering, God has reaffirmed that it’s needed. But it’s not just my story or another resource book; it’s going to be different. God has placed it on my heart that wants to give a new voice to this age-old problem and bring solace and solidarity to the women who carry this cross. We cannot heal things unless we expose them to the light; so I’ve been doing more healing work and writing along the way.

Whatever you’re going through, please know that you’re not alone on this broken path to restoration, friends. We’re all traveling it in our own way – whether it’s trudging or learning to fly.

More changes and exciting announcements to come in due time. I hope y’all continue to join and share with me too along the journey!

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Merry Martinez Christmas Card & Annual Letter

With the passing of another year, it’s my favorite time to reflect and capture some the highlights of the year.

Sharing blessings begets more blessings – so since my mailing list has limits, but my blog does not, l’d love to share our Merry Martinez Christmas Card and Annual Letter.

So, from our heart and home to yours…. 

Martinez Christmas Card

“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
– Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Dear friends, family, and CDOW community,

This time we ushered in the New Year differently. Coming from a South Texas Christmas enjoyed with Mike’s family, we took a couple of days for a planning retreat in a place we had talked about for years, Fredericksburg. The Old Rectory was the name of our Texas Hill Country B&B, which served as the inspiring ambiance for partners in life and business to begin the work of 2014. Enchanted Rock was the perfect nature escape on our way back to Dallas, right before some Cooper’s BBQ. Yes, Texans love old time pit barbecue.

We whisper prayers, some for years and others only once, never knowing what form the outcome will actually take. “Expand our territory, Lord,” Lisa prayed. Within a couple of weeks, by no effort on our part, our small business was in discussions with two international organizations — one in Rome and one in Southern Arabia. With only illuvint’s logo stuck on our landing page, in February we submitted our first international bid to work with the Catholic Church in Oman, Yemen, and UAE. In April, we were officially awarded the bid for their rebranding project! This has also fulfilled Lisa’s (Tolkien geek) dream to speak to a Gandalf in real life, as that is the name of the Capuchin Priest that serves as the Bishop’s Secretary.

Another great blessing came on the feast of the Assumption, March 25th, in Halifax, Nova Scotia: Nicole, a dear Canadian friend and former roomie from Lisa’s Ave Maria College working days, married her long-awaited Helpmate, Brian. With a rescheduled business trip planned in Virginia a few days later, Lisa trekked solo to the Nuptials in the Great White North; but was warmly welcomed by gracious friends of the couple. The wedding was a beautiful celebration, born out of the community truly pulling together for the Newlyweds. Thankfully, new friends Mark, Maria, and Luke did not mind their houseguest crashing for a few extra days when Lisa’s flight got cancelled on account of getting snowed in.

It was rough…eating Lobster and making Snow Angels with little Luke, but such is life. What a joy, to celebrate marriage and make new friends!

illuvint’s team went through an expansion this year as well. We brought on new partners to collaborate with us, and are grateful for the ways that Monica Hildebrand, John Clem, Erika Higgins, Gerry Whitney, and our first intern — Maddie Stigler, enriched our lives and business. Joining with a startup is not an easy task, so we are grateful for them, and our original partners who have labored alongside us in this digital effort. We were particularly tickled to finally launch our company website in June, illuvint.com!

June brought our 3rd Wedding Anniversary and a few Graduation celebrations – including Simon, Mike’s Godson. His parents, our dear friends Trish and Joseph, had been planning his Graduation present for 3 years, and we were honored to be a part of it. A small group of us hiked up Pike’s Peak in August, inspired by the transformation – physical and otherwise – of our friends. You can read all about this amazing journey at: Joseph’s blog, www.fourteenthousandonehundredten.com, and at CatholicTourist.com where Lisa Hendey featured Lisa Martinez’s travel blogs. That incredible three-week trip included Pike’s Peak, Telluride, Las Cruces (NM), Alpine + other West Texas towns with great friends.

Back in July, Lisa traveled to be with her Dad in Florida during the first of what turned out to be a series of leg surgeries to clean out his veins. That gave a great excuse to leave a day early to spend the night with her brother, Jeff, Annette & kids — vacationing at Bonnet Creek Resort in Orlando. Dad pulled through the surgery like a champ, and Lisa was grateful to visit with two of her Uncles who had been very ill. Congrats to Mike who started a new position at Experian at that time, in Information Risk Management. We also enjoyed a visit from our old friend, Sugar, and crew.

After 7-years in Texas, Lisa finally attended the State Fair of Texas with Mike in September. They enjoyed all things fried (including the renown Corny Dog), watching the Hog Races, and Mike nailed the Ford Fusion car simulator like a boss. The following week, Mike was thrilled that one of his favorite musicians, Scottish singer/songwriter Justin Currie’s tour brought him here, so we enjoyed that intimate show at the Kessler Theater.

October was busy. A highlight of that month was to reconnect with some good friends back in Dallas at the UD Ministry Conference. Some important brainstorming meetings happened there, and there are some grand future visions that we’re drilling down behind the scenes. As partners in life and work, we’ve been deeply discerning some big next steps in life and business – 2015 should be quite a ride!

November brought more road tripping. Lisa joined colleague/friend, Monica, at a Healing Retreat in Georgetown; Mike joined buddies, Tim and Bill, for a guys weekend in Austin. Afterwards we relished a few days with our cousins, Thomas and Claudia, and met with an Austin realtor to discuss possible surrounding areas to relocate next year, God-willing.

From Austin, we roadtripped to New Orleans. There, we finally met Holly & John, our clients/friends, and their fab group of San Diegans for two great celebrations: The launch of Holly’s new company wickednot.com, that we’ve supported since meeting through mutual friend/Co-Founder Tim Foley; AND John Carney’s (a 23-year NFL kicker) induction in the Saints Hall of Fame. The spectacular events, fun, and new friendships formed will always be remembered fondly. From NOLA we trekked 11 hours to San Benito, Texas, to spend Thanksgiving with family and visit Mike’s Uncle, in critical condition in the ICU. Thankfully we were able to share time with family during very precious hours.

WOW, what a year 2014 has been!

Thanks, and a special blessing to all of you who have been a part of it in one way or another! Merry Christmas!

Love,

Mike & Lisa

The magic of Christmas is not in the presents, but in His Presence.” (unknown)

©2014 Lisa Martinez, Christmas card design + letter, which appeared first here at closeddoorsopenwindows.wordpress.com

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Awesomeness, Bucket List Achievement & Prayers Needed

Life has been, well, let’s just say quite active lately. I’ll leave it at that for now, as I’ve got two awesome updates and 1 big prayer request to share with you, friends. Drumroll please…

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT #1:

illuvint-logofinalr1-small

The small business, illuvint llc — that my husband and I own and operate — finally launched our company website!!! [ENTER: A blast of giddy fanfare]

As a writer and marketer, I could pontificate on the backstory on the delay of developing our company website. But I respect you, so I’ll be real with you.

Starting a business from the ground up is one of the most exhilarating, all-consuming, insane, fulfilling, occasionally gut-wrenching, transformative experiences I have ever been through.

I know that just sounds like a long list of adjectives, but each of those words truly would contain a long blog post, or hour of coffee talk, in and of themselves. I’m sure I could come up with more, but it’s 5 am and I’m not a morning person.

So we’ll leave the long-windedness for another time, as there are important announcements to, uh, announce.

At any rate, creating our own website took the back burner amidst the hustle of life and business in the Dallas Metroplex. For the curious folks, the Cliff Notes version of hustle includes:

  • Forming a company out of a bit of dirt and spittle
  • Working on client’s websites, web hosting, graphic design, digital marketing, social media, etc….
  • While growing our team of industry leaders to serve our small business, Entrepreneur, start-up, and Non-profit clients.

WHEW, what an adventure it’s been, and how grateful we are to be on it!

Speaking of grateful…let me not forget to note our beloved Summer Intern. We searched and finally found the gift of a wonderful Digital Marketing Intern, Maddie, for the summer months! She was a tremendous help with the development of the site, and the day-to-day blitzing in the home office.

Please, go on over to illuvint.com, and view it in all it’s splendor. Then come on back and leave a comment to let me know what you think!

 

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT #2:

Catholic_Tourist

My bucket list has long included the dream job of “Travel Writer”. Well, I’m going to cross this puppy off the list shortly!

I could not be more thrilled to share that I will be a featured blogger on CatholicTourist.com, to share the rustic and inspirational tale of our upcoming Outdoors Adventure – a Colorado Road Trip and group Pikes Peak Climb!

The Catholic Tourist travel site was founded by the amazing Lisa Hendey (you may know her as wife-Mom-author-speaker-traveler-founder of CatholicMom.com, Patheos blogger extraordinaire, etc) out of a desire to share new places that she discovers, to offer tips for destinations and simplifying the journey, to meet fellow pilgrims and most especially to share her faith. Since around this time last year, I’ve followed Lisa’s website launch, Social Media (follow on Facebook and Twitter), Rwanda Journal, and adventures  – so I feel incredibly blessed to be a contributor.

Stay tuned for more details here, and get the full scoop at CatholicTourist.com.  This will be our very first 14er with a group on a special mission! I can’t wait to share this story and the amazing images that will come from this adventure.

 

BIG PRAYER REQUEST:

Amidst all of the exciting news, I must admit that my heart is heavy as well. A friend, who is Dad/Husband/Business Owner/Musician and much more, has been battling Cancer and is now on Hospice. I am going this afternoon to serve his wife in the little way that God has provided for me.

If you have spent any amount of time on my blog, you know the story of my Mom’s battle with Cancer and the gift that Hospice was to her and our family. This hits me very close to home. I can only imagine what my friends are facing moment by moment.

Please join me in prayers for this beautiful family. Out of respect for their privacy (I’m not sure what they are sharing with who right now), I’m refraining from posting their names at this point. But don’t worry, God knows who they are. Speaking from experience, the graces that any and all prayers afford are so needed and never more appreciated.

 

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Christmas Card & 2013 Year in Review

Taking this 5th day of Christmas, and the Feast of the Holy Family, to share our Christmas letter and card from our family to yours…

2013 Christmas Card

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

If we could only use three words to describe this past year, explore, dream, and discover would be a pretty reliable synopsis. There are times in life where everything lines up to take you in a new direction: Passion to pursue a dream, ripe circumstances, formation through experience, a window of opportunity, solid discernment, a supportive spouse, a willing spirit seeking God’s will, and just enough faith to leap into the great unknown. After this alignment occurred at the end of 2012, in January, Lisa plunged into our entrepreneurial endeavor full-time. Ever since, our noses have been to the grindstone, busy in the process of laying the groundwork for illuvint (e-LOO-vint), our small business.

It’s humbling to see how the trust walk of 2013 has remarkably unfolded. There was no colossal launch filled with fanfare, as it just was not what our CEO (GOD) wanted – but rather a lean and deliberate process of showing up and speaking with the right people at the right times, and taking each of the steps laid out bit-by-bit before us.  We are convinced that if you never want to be bored or complacent again, start your own small business – especially one focused on serving the needs of other start-ups, small businesses, and ministries – those often faced with the challenges of limited resources. At the same time, what an honor to collaborate with some of the most passionate, creative, inventive, and scrappy go-getters we’ve come to know!

Eager to collaborate with other entrepreneurs, we were thrilled when our Lafayette, LA friends, Ann and Julie, came to visit in early February. It was a weekend devoted to brainstorm, share about dreams and small business endeavors, and seek growth and healing. Reunited the following weekend, but in Lafayette this time, Lisa and Julie, co-hosted one helluva Mardi Gras themed Bridal Shower for dear friend, Kelli, as her “Matrii”, or Matron and Maid of Honor.

The end of February brought an exciting business trip: We both went to Anaheim, CA, for the Los Angeles Religious Educators Congress (40,000+ attendees) to manage Social Media, and capture photos/videos of the event for our friend, Curtis Stephan, the singer/songwriter commissioned to write the conference theme-song.  What an incredible event and time to reconnect with, as well as meet, many amazing people involved in various ministries. We even enjoyed a little side trip to beautiful Santa Barbara before we returned home (upper right 2 photos above were taken on the Pier there).

After the Congress, in March, with the help of some trusted, incredibly generous friends, our professional team really started to take shape: A 1st-Class team of web designers/web developers, graphic designers, English + Bi-lingual marketers, copywriters, speaker/blogger folks began assembling. It was phenomenal to begin to discover our network and collaborations, which we are continually seeking more of, but it all began falling into place with very little effort!

At the end of March, Mike got away for a guys weekend and some fishing on the Lake when he hosted a Bachelor Party for Marcelo. A month later, we got to stand up in our 1st wedding together for Kelli & Marcelo, during the lively Festival International weekend in Lafayette. After returning home, Lisa went to Florida to be with her Dad during his Heart procedure. Dad fared well, and is doing better, and Lisa enjoyed a bit of time to also visit with her brother, Jeff, too.

At the end of May, we took a trip down to South Texas to visit Mike’s family.  Mike was honored that our nephew, Dustin, asked him to be his Confirmation Sponsor.  We also took some time to celebrate our 2nd Anniversary a bit early, as well as Rose’s (Mike’s sister) birthday, by renting a condo near the beach on South Padre Island, not far from where our Wedding reception was. There’s nothing like the beach to unwind a bit.

We ventured over to Austin in mid-July. A nice visit with cousins, Thomas & Claudia, we attended the Tech Symposium that Thomas moderated, and saw old college friends, Aaron & Kate.  A long-time dream of Mike’s to live in Austin, we spent time talking with locals, scouting neighborhoods, partaking in the sights, sounds, and flavors, as well as praying about where we’re supposed to be. We’ll see what happens!

At the end of August, Mike went to Costa Mesa, CA on business. When the trip got extended, Lisa joined him, continuing to enjoy the mobile, flexibility of running our own business!

We heard some sweet music and enjoyed the company of a couple of dear old friends in September. Lisa was front and center at the Audrey Assad concert (one of her favorite female artists), debuting her new album.  Fr. Joe O’Connor, our long-time friend + the Priest who married us, visited, and on a whim, shone the light of Christ on us by replacing our burned out fluorescent kitchen lighting with fancy track lighting.  The next day, we saw Mike’s favorite musician, Josh Rouse, in concert. To ice the cake, our Best Man, Tim, drove in and pulled off a killer surprise on Mike when he sat down at our table right before the show. Well played.

Mike was back in California for work in October, which was extended out to 3-weeks. Ouch. Lisa was really grateful for a girls night/sleepover at Kelli’s house when Julie came back to visit during that time!

Omar, our nephew arrived, in mid-November. Never really having traveled outside of Texas, we surprised him with a Thanksgiving Road-trip to Florida! In 8-days, we spanned over 3,000 miles, from New Orleans, to Dad’s in the Villages, to Jeff’s in Hollywood, to the Summer Estates of Henry Ford/Thomas Edison in Ft. Myers, back to Dad’s, stopping in Jackson, MS, and home again on Dec 1st. Whew – what a great whirlwind!

Currently, we are down in South Texas – the Rio Grand Valley – enjoying the holidays with Mike’s family. Undergoing surgery on December 18th (all went well, thank God), it’s been good for Lisa to heal and recover while taking a couple of weeks of downtime all at once.

2013 sure was packed, and we’re so grateful for all the opportunities to explore, dream, and discover! We’re especially thankful for all our family and friends – this of course includes our clients and illuvint team members.  Our lives are blessed and better because of your love, support, prayer, and belief in us!!

Our goal is to have our company website up for January 1st, www.illuvint.com. All visitors, feedback, and sharing is appreciated!

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Blog Birthday Bash

happy4BdayBlogTime to blow out the candles, cause it’s my Blog Birthday at closed doors open windows! Four years ago I really began to dig into my journey of self discovery with some major doors closing in my life, leading to some incredible open window opportunities. I’ve shared things across the gambit here: joys, sorrows, updates, my family life, recipes, crafts, home decorating, business tips… I’ve shared some of my life’s lows — from my Mom’s battle with Cancer and her passing — and highs — my Engagement and starting out as an Entrepreneur. Wow, how life has changed in these past 4 years, and its gratifying to look back and see some life-defining moments captured here!

It is my hope that in a world where we are bombarded with information, that at some point these ponderings by yours truly have brought even a bit of delight or a moment of reflection. Thank for joining me in my little space on the interwebs, for celebrating my Blog’s Birthday, and for taking time to share some of yourself with me here. Writing is one of my first loves, and using it to connect with other people one of my greatest joys, so sincerely…I’m grateful. I am blessed.

Happy Birthday closeddoorsopenwindows.wordpress.com!

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2012 Year in Review: Annual Christmas Letter

“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”

-St. John of the Cross

PROLOGUE

If I don’t send this–our Annual Christmas Letter update–folded up in our Christmas cards every year, then I usually send a note with the card directing folks here for the proverbial dirt on our comings & goings, highlights of the year, and photo fun. Well, if you happen to be a close-knit friend/family member that’s on our card list, if you hadn’t noticed that a card has not arrived from us, you for sure know now. If you sent us a card, know that we are grateful and truly loved it; and this update is written from our heart to yours. We don’t talk, see each other, message each other, etc., nearly enough–so this is my feeble attempt to connect. Pardon the public format, please.

(Violins play in the background of this part of the prologue). Since we moved up our departure date to Florida 1-week earlier, amidst everything else, it may tip you off to the extreme time crunch we’ve been operating under, especially this season, and the great need to re-prioritize our ever elusive friend and foe, TIME. I easily could have been Martha – determined to still send out Christmas cards come what may; but, I’m thankful that Mary took over, choosing the better part. I’ve been spending some desperately needed downtime in a sunny spot, surrounded by a subset of the circle of loving and large family we are blessed with.

Paul Jacob by Waterside

If you’re friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you’ve likely been seeing a surge of posts and pics from me, i.e. playing with our Godson, visiting with my Brother at my Father’s home–during the short days that our trips overlapped in Florida–baking Mom’s beloved Christmas treats, taking time to blog again, photos, making 1st Turkey dinner, working on our business ventures (more to come on that), etc…

If you are a new blog follower, or just-popped-on-your-blog-cause-I-searched-something guest, well then, WELCOME! Glad you are here, and hope you stay awhile, as well as come back for more visits in the future!

This time for me to “retreat and recharge” has mainly been provided by Mike’s kindness and unwavering support, as well as the flexibility provided by his boss to telecommute into work. And my Dad’s kindness in always opening up his home to us. For all these things and more, I am grateful. Without further ado, here’s the 2012 update!

2012: THE ONE-PAGE BULLETED VERSION, in PROSE

(perfect for speed readers, skimmers, SEO optimizers, you know who you are, etc and such)

Some 2012 Great Moments, in random order:

  • Celebrating our 1st Wedding Anniversary on June 24th. Yep, still Newlyweds and loving it!
  • Being asked to be Padrinos, or Godparents, for the first time together for our youngest nephew, Jacob, also on June 24th
  • Seeing our Texas family, and being back where we got married-South Padre Island-before our 1st wedding anniversary
  • Dad coming to visit us in Texas during the summer
  • Finally seeing my 1st Ordination – congrats to our friends in Dallas who have made fine, young Priests
  • Visiting with friends and family coming to or passing through Dallas – always a blast!
  • Having one of our dearest friends, Kelli, get engaged to Marcelo and ask both of us to be in their wedding. This will be my first time as Matron of Honor 🙂 Incidentally, she was our Maid of Honor.
  • Making the 1st part of “Our Big Announcement”. The 2nd part at the end, folks, so hang in there.

Travel-related 2012 Highlights:

  • Began the New Year traveling back from our Christmas trips to be with both sides of the family in South Texas and in Central Florida
  • South Florida in May for Alyssa’s (niece) Quincinera, a great celebration!
  • San Benito in June, a brief visit with Mike’s family, swinging by South Padre beach where we celebrated our marriage the previous year
  • Louisiana in October for Jeff & Erika’s (friends) wedding – we stayed in a lil’ Cabin on the Bayou. Mike got a Gumbo-making lesson, and we enjoyed a short time to see friends and be back in the country
  • Michigan in November. We took a health scare from my Grandma as an opportunity to visit her and stay with my bro & SIL, Chris & Jen, visiting a couple of other friends and family members in between
  • South Texas in late November – we spent Thanksgiving with Mike’s family in San Benito (we made a mighty fine Turkey, I might add), and then to San Antonio with SIL & BIL, Rose & Jesse. Mike & I were honored to be chosen as Padrinos of the Rings for our newlywed cousins, Thomas & Claudia! We also got to have a yummy brunch with our other cousin, Robert
  • Full circle to Central Florida for Christmas

NOTE: Since we’ve gotten several tempting offers, the list of places-we-WANT-to-travel/friends-& family-that-we-want-to-see is always MUCH longer then what we’ve accomplished. Despite working fulltime and laying the groundwork of 2 businesses, we still were able to squeeze out several trips, as you can see, mostly visiting family since we are both Dallas transplants. Looking forward to more adventures in 2013 – and please continue to be patient with us if you’ve been on the “to visit” list! We’ve not forgotten you – it’s all about the right timing though. Praying for us to have an increase of time and money may move you up on that list though, LOL!!

Several of the Cool New Things I’ve Learned to Make/Do in 2012:

  • Crochet
  • Movie promotionFor Greater Glory, an inspiring and historic film that premiered in the US in June
  • Decoupage
  • Twitter, @LSanMartini at your service. OK, so…I held out until 2012 to dip my toe into that Social Media pool. I’ve got a whopping 20 followers as of this 3rd day of Christmas, to sporatically try and entertain in 140 characters or less. A challenge for the verbose, truly. Trust me, I’ve got Facebook and Pinterest down pat; but I basically feel like I’m wandering round the Twitter Kiddie Pool with a life jacket, and am just now learning how to use the big girl potty instead of the ol’ catch and release method. Did that just get weird? Sorry.
  • Foodie Progress: Homemade Packzi’s (for Fat Tuesday), Brined Turkey, healthy & hearty meals, (click the recipes tab for a few more – but many haven’t been posted unfortunately!)
  • Graphic design – dabbling in logos, icons, new and old programs
  • WordPress-based website development & design– a blog redo, involved with development new websites from scratch – including working on mine (not live yet)
  • With the help of a great new Doc, learning what and how to fight back my Chronic Neck Pain/Migraine Headaches that’s gone on for far too long
  • Photography – we recently scored our first DSLR during Wolf/Ritz Camera’s Going-out-of-Business Sale, and it’s been a blessing. Have loved learning, getting blu-ray interview of my Grandma, and even doing our first engagement photo shoot! This is a good segue way into a a very brief year-end photo tour, courtesy of the Sony a77 and my Hubby & I.

Jacob & Pilar

Gloria in Excelsis Jacob Santa Letter

Jeff & Erica Wedding

Lisa Molly dancing

Mike

Midday on Bayou

brined thanksgiving turkey

Josie at Thanksgiving

Mia

Dustin

BW Lisa & Jacob

Kelli and Marcelo

St Mary's Austin BETTER

Karla

MJ bunny hat

Birthday Family

Jacob in Suitcase

Paul pushing stroller

OL Guadalupe

2012: The Heart of the Matter

2012 has been quite a teacher, as the virtue I was given to work on was perseverance—aka endurance. Through the highlights, as well as personal and professional trials in a downward-facing dog economy, I’ve learned, adjusted, and grown.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. -Romans 5:3-5

The Big Announcement Part II, is something we’ve been building over the years, months, and more so then ever in the past weeks. Honestly, it’s something we feel strongly that God’s been preparing me for, especially through all of the work experiences and skills that I’ve gained over the past 20+ years. Looking back on the doors that have closed and the windows that have opened, it all makes sense. I am moving into being a full-time small business owner , serving as Co-owner/COO of Illuvint as well as Owner of Little With Great Love, Online Boutique.

What is Illuvint? The formal version:

Illuvint LLC, a family-owned and operated company, specializes in custom solutions for small business owners. From online presence to ecommerce, PR to sales, operations to advertising, IT to logos, consulting to implementation, we desire to be involved in what makes you successful! Our diverse, collective expertise provides creative and powerful approaches – from our entrepreneurial experience to yours.

The informal version:

A marriage of the skills, experience, knowledge, talent, resources, outsourcing contacts…that we’ve doubled through our own marriage.

SPECIAL THANKS: I’m very grateful for the diverse and nationwide group of people that have been involved in the preparation of this journeying out into the world in this new way. You are far too many to name, but I pray that you know who you are and how you’ve made a great impact on us. Your support of the work Mike and/or I have already done, mentorship, encouragement, prayers, love, help, yadda yadda yadda, have made us better versions of ourselves. I’m excited to be a full-time Entrepreneur!

Stay tuned for more to come on Illuvint! We will need your continued prayers, encouragement, support, and referrals as this start-up is about to get a kickstart into 2013.

We pray for you, and for us, that 2013 will bring abundance. Abundance of grace, blessings, love, joy, peace, health, wealth, and wisdom!

Love and prayers,

Lisa + Mike

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Non-Extreme Home Makeover: Dad’s House

Dad asked for help in picking out paint colors for the interior of the house.  People do this all the time–run out to the paint or hardware store, pour over paint chips, bring them home and pour over them some more, narrow it down–and then choose their colors.  But it is different this time.

It will be two years in January that Dad will have lived solo in the home that he and Mom built in Florida to enjoy retirement over a decade ago.  Sometimes it can be hard to agree on paint colors, and then life gets nuts, so the walls have remained white all these years.

White walls.  There are things on the walls, and other colors all around, but they are still cold, white walls.  Looking back, I guess that somehow my Mom’s bubbly presence, and all the yummy smells from the kitchen, didn’t make them seem as stark as they now can sometimes feel.

There are still many “touches” of Mom that remain here, some to his liking, and some not as much. Odd how a thing that they picked out together at a time and place in the past can serve a dual purpose at times – a painful reminder.  Ah, GRIEF – a strange and unpredictable “companion” at times.

Picking out paint colors is another step in this journey alongside Dad.  The goal is to make this a place Dad feels is homey and to his liking; definitely not to remove Mom from this home.  I do happen to love decorating, so it’s a lot of fun for me and good practice for when we are blessed with our first house.

All things serve a purpose. Yesterday, as we drove back from dropping my brother and Godson off at the airport, I debated one last time to try to hustle out some Christmas cards still (yes, I’m well aware that Christmas BEGINS in 3 days, thank you).  This year has been one of s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g, and amidst the rush of too many big and small things, cards became low priority.  So we stopped at TJ Maxx to scope out the possibility of making my last ditch effort a reality.

We walked out with 2 new Comforter options for Dad instead, and I feel much better about the whole thing now, HA!

NOTE: That was your heads-up to look out for my Annual Christmas letter, well wishes, and photo shares here on my blog instead of in your mailbox, please and thank you 🙂

Now back to the fun stuff — the Non-Extreme Home Makeover: Dad Edition

Original ComforterThis was the original comforter in Dad’s room

Option #2

Dad had already picked up a new red blanket that matched this option, so we picked this up, as 1 of his top 2 choices, knowing one would be returned.

Dad's New ComforterBut this is the one we decided on. Dad likes how it brightens up the room. I like how it’s simple and clean, yet masculine.

Well, that’s step 1 of however many in this Non-Extreme Home Makeover. We’ll see where it leads – just glad to be along for the ride!

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New Look, Windows Opening

I’ve been inspired to open a new window – a fresh new look for my blog!

Out with the old:

And in with the NEW! I’m hoping that this crisp, clean, and fresh look and design will feel more like the windows that are opening up in our lives.

Special thanks to: inspiration and the aMAZing new logo/header by my talented friend, Karla; and my dear husband, Mike, for his technical and constant support.

 

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2011 Year in Review – Part 1

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
Henry Ford

I started a tradition quite a while ago of writing a recap of the year before the new one was to begin.  I did start this post before 2012 began, but I just wanted to enjoy visiting with family instead of writing about it.  As I begin this post, we currently are more than halfway on our 2 day drive back home to Dallas from Florida, so with the Cowboy’s game on in the background which is occupying my husband in our hotel room, now’s as good a time as any.

2011 was quite a year!!  It brought both some of the hardest and greatest times in my life.  Here are some of the more memorable moments:

Out of the gate of 2011, in January we had to gather all the courage, strength, and hope that comes through faith. My Mom’s Breast Cancer had come back in her bones with a vengeance. She spent her 64th birthday with her friends and family on January 21st, and then 2 days later departed this world.  She still managed to cross some important things off her “Bucket List” first, including seeing me try on my wedding dress from her hospice bed; and Skyping to see her newborn Grandson, Jacob Richard — Paul & Pilar’s youngest boy — born just a few days before her birthday.

1 of about 7 dresses I tried on before I found the one. Mary Catherine was the Angel who brought the dresses from her Ocala shop that day

In February, before returning to Dallas, Mike surprised me and Dad with a short trip to St. Augustine, Florida.  That’s a special place for me, and I hadn’t been back for many years.  It was a much-needed time away together, and we wanted to pray for all those who had prayed for us during our time of need.  We lit candles and prayed for you all when we visited Our Lady of La Leche at the Shrine, and walked the Sacred Acre where the 1st Mass was celebrated in the US.

A short trip to St. Augustine, Florida with 2 of my favorite fellas. Trying to start getting our heads out of the fog...

Meeting my newest nephew, Jacob Richard, upon our return to Dallas. Holding him was what my heart needed...

Then it was back to Dallas, commencing the journey to find a new “normal.” Of course, wedding plans began immediately in high gear, to plan it in just 5 months down where Mike grew up in San Benito, TX and South Padre Island.  I do not recommend grieving and destination wedding planning, but it’s just how things ended up… And so we rely on God’s grace, and those He’s given us to do what we need to.

I never even got thank you notes out to all the people who sent flowers, Mass cards, gifts, Edible Fruit displays, sympathy cards, books, and reached out in so many ways.  So please know that everything meant so much to us, and we are grateful for your friendship, love, prayers and support – truly.

In March, Mike’s Mom came to Dallas and spent Spring break with us.  We had fun crafting and she was our first passenger in the new vehicle that we bought.  God blessed us with a fantastic deal on fully loaded red Mercury Mariner, with less than 5,000 miles on it.  As hard as it was for Mike to let go of Ol’ Blue, this little crossover has served us well.

Our new Mercury Mariner - we love "Ruby"!

Mike's Mom with baby, Jacob. Can you tell she is ready for more little ones??

In April we went to Hollywood, Florida. I was Alyssa’s, my niece, Sponsor for her Confirmation.  We had a great visit with family, and are so proud of the beautiful young lady that Alyssa has become, inside and out.

Cracking up with my niece Alyssa at her Confirmation Party

On the last day of Spring Blooms at the Dallas Arboretum, we had our Engagement photos taken.  Our friends John Wehlage, and his wife Julie, did an amazing job on both our Engagement Photos and my Bridal Portraits. More photos (includes the events surrounding our wedding) are posted on our wedding site blog, the Martinez Lounge so I’ll only post a couple here:

Mike + Lisa - Engagement Photos at the Dallas Arboretum during Spring Blooms

Bridal Portraits & Engagement photos done by John Wehlage. Taken at St. Ann's Catholic Church, Holy Saturday, 2011

Wow, April was really busy.  We took a jam-packed wedding planning trip down to South Padre Island.  It felt like a contest – how many vendors can we book in one weekend? HA! The last weekend of the month we headed to Eunice, Louisiana where I used to live and work.  Our friends hosted a beautiful engagement Mass of Thanksgiving and Party, Cajun style, at Walnut Street’s Atrium of the dear Miller family — where I served at many events for others.  Again, more stories and photos are all on our Martinez Lounge site.

Celebrating with my Cajun Family - Cajun dancing with Garrett

Last year it was May Showers, Bridal Showers that is. A beautiful shower was hosted on Mother’s Day (aren’t my friends amazing??) by friends & CRHP (Christ Renews His Parish) sisters. The other was graciously hosted by St. Ann’s choir members after a Wednesday night practice. My Bachelorette Party was hosted by my Maid of Honor, Kelli, at my friend’s, Cynthia, home in Coppell. We also attended Engaged encounter, along with our NFP classes.  My oldest nephew, Daniel, graduated from High School. My Dad came to stay with us before the wedding, and so we began the big move of Mike into the Condo – and it was the three of us in close quarters until the wedding. Wedding planning pretty much consumed all the other moments – LOL.  Lots of photos of those great moments on our blog. I’ll leave you with a few.

Bridal Shower with friends & CRHP Sisters

Bachelorette Party - Hostesses, Cynthia & Kelli

My nephew, Daniel, graduated from High School.

That’s the first part of 2011.  More to come friends, but sleep most come first!

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