life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between


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Christmas 2011 in Words & Images.

If I had to come up with one word to describe Christmas 2011, our first Christmas as a married couple, it would be blur. It wouldn’t be romantic, refreshing, exciting, intimate, touching, profound, relaxing, or even fun — it would be blur.

Halfway through our Christmas Day Relay, we realized what was happening: in the midst of trying to see everybody and get the gifts where they’re supposed to go and sticking to our scheduled timeslots, we completely lost Christmas and any quality time with anybody at all.

That’s not to say that we didn’t enjoy Christmas or the time we did have with our families, but… we did it wrong. Now we know it, and next year we’re going to try to do it differently.

Plus, as I also learned from Thanksgiving 2011, too many holiday meals=a very sick Lisa. I can’t handle all the food multiple times a day.

So, now that my summary/disclaimer is out of the way, here are a few pictures we took to commemorate Christmas 2011, with a special bonus section at the end:

Our Christmas morning mimosas. This was something we did very, very right.

Our Christmas Morning Cinnamon Buns baking in the oven. This is a tradition Dayne carried over from his family... and also something we did very, very right.

The ornament I made (out of oven-bake clay) and gave to Dayne. (Thanks, Dana, for the inspiration!)

The star on the left of our 1st Christmas ornament is the ornament Dayne gave to me.

Some of our wrapped gifts under our tree.

I really loved this ornament from Aunt Carol & Uncle Eric. Just what I was looking for!

Some of our Christmas gifts for each other: Dayne got me the candle and a subscription to Real Simple. I got him Couples TableTopics for fun conversations 🙂

We got very generous gifts from our family and friends this year. One thing that I’m ultra excited about in our kitchen is our new Griddler from Dayne’s parents:

It’s a panini press, indoor grill, and griddle all in one! You can even buy waffle inserts. We grilled burgers on it the other night, and I can’t wait to make tomato & cheese paninis and big breakfasts with it!

We are also loving this awesome gift from my parents:

SO much fun and it’s great to have a new game to play together on our Wii!

Now, as I promised, a special bonus section:

A few weeks ago, Deb and Ed (Dayne’s parents) came over and brought lunch to eat with us at our apartment. In the midst of preparing the food, we needed a stirring/serving spoon. All I could find were slotted spoons, and we needed a solid spoon. I swore up and down that we at one point had a solid nylon spoon.

Fast forward to December 28, 2011 — me hanging out on the couch browsing Pinterest after a long winters’ nap (since I got out of work early), and Dayne coming in the door around 4:30. He tells me the apartment smells funny. I had noticed a funny smell in the kitchen a little earlier, but thought nothing of it. As I got up and walked around, I noticed the smell was stronger all over the apartment – and it wasn’t the trash. I thought it might be an animal in our heating ducts. Turns out, it was this:

Completely melted through and burning in the bottom of our dishwasher. How did it get there? Nobody knows. I had started the dishwasher before my nap and it had just completed its post-cleaning heating cycle. So not only did we lose the only solid spoon we had, but our apartment smelled totally rank and we thought we broke our dishwasher.

Today, this is what our kitchen looked like, solid spoon and all:

The Countertop Catastrophe was only temporary so that the repair guy from our apartment complex could come in and fix an empty dishwasher, but it so symbolized how my life feels right now. The counter is just so cluttered with stuff, and our Christmas was so jumbled with everything, and we both worked most of last week and this week, and I would just like to get to a place where I can focus and enjoy all the aspects of this time in my life. I don’t want everything to fly by unnoticed and unappreciated; I want to embrace life and live it out.

I want to take more pictures, go more places, live more generously, give more recklessly, laugh harder, love better, take on more new adventures, and have fuller relationships. Which starts with the little things, like cleaning the kitchen counter of our apartment/my soul.

I hope 2012 is a good year for some of that stuff. I think reading the Bible in its entirety will definitely change my life, and hopefully embracing God and His Word will be the first step towards embracing everyone and everything around me.

For now, here’s to lessons learned and God loving us in the midst of & in spite of our messes.

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It’s the Most (Fill-in-the-Blank) Time of the Year

This is the busiest Christmas season I have ever had, hands down. Juggling our first Christmas as a married couple, with a new celebration schedule and gift-giving agenda, and full-time work and long-standing commitments and quality time with family and friends is enough to put someone a little less stable in the nuthouse!

Actually, I haven’t been holding it together quite that well. By 3:00 in the afternoon on Sunday I had cried not once, not twice, but three times. Part of it was pure exhaustion; I had just worked my first wedding with my wonderful, amazing wedding coordinator Stacey in the city on Saturday, Dayne & I got up early to go to church that morning, and I was getting ready to hop in the car again to drive to New Jersey to see Erica. The other part was just the stress of the season – trying to think of and please everybody is an overwhelming job, especially when at least one person is inevitably disappointed. For a people pleaser and perfectionist like me, it’s upsetting.

So, here I am, with very little free time, sitting down and finally writing a blog update.

SO much has been happening, and we’ve been experiencing so many of God’s blessings. First of all, amazingly, we found a church. Thanks to google, a recommendation, and some wise advice from family and friends, we tried a new church two Sundays ago. Within five minutes, someone came up to us and introduced himself, and he and his wife happen to be the leaders of the young couples’ small group. We stayed about a half an hour after the service ended that morning meeting and talking with new people. We made some pretty interesting connections, and as it turns out, I used to sing on a worship team with the lead pastor. We had been praying so desperately to find a church where we could make connections, and here God is just completely overwhelming us (in a good way) with friendly, welcoming people who we could really see ourselves building relationships with.

Of course, we went back, and we went out to lunch with two couples after church this past Sunday. We are excited to see where God takes us in this church, and relieved and so grateful to have found it.

I have two Christmas parties at work this week that I am looking forward to! It’s such a wonderful change of pace to be part of a staff that I can make friends in and hang out with.

Speaking of, I am grateful for the encouragement of one of my co-workers in particular, Dana, who is embarking with me on what I’d like to call the 2012 Challenge. My mother-in-law emailed me (and a bunch of other women) recently to ask who would be interested in reading through the entire Bible in 2012. We’re using The Daily Walk Bible, which I just got in the mail yesterday and am so excited to break into. It has devotionals and questions and summaries and charts to guide your reading, which should be extra motivational!

Married life is super great and I love having someone to enjoy the holidays with! Oh, and I am SUPER grateful that Erica is home for Christmas. I have missed her so much and it is just a moving feeling to be able to see someone in person who you care so much about who has been gone for a while. She’s safe & sound and it was really cool learning all about her life in Cameroon! Check out her blog here.

I’m hoping to get my blogging groove back after the holidays. Come to think of it, Dayne and I even went to Longwood Gardens with Andy & Leah and I don’t even have the pictures from that, let alone a blog entry about it. So sad.

Here are some Christmas traditions Dayne & I are starting (or continuing) this year:
-cutting down our own tree and decorating it together*
-watching Christmas movies & specials (including A Charlie Brown Christmas, obviously)
-making a gingerbread house
-decorating the house together*
-exchanging ornaments as part of our Christmas gifts
-sleeping under the Christmas tree Christmas Eve (we’ll see how long this tradition lasts)
-mimosas & cinnamon buns Christmas morning
(*and by “together”, I mean we’re in it together until Dayne gets tired of it, and then I’m on my own!)

What are your favorite Christmas traditions?


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Post-Thanksgiving Pajama Day.

That’s what I have deemed today. It’s Sunday – Dayne’s and my fourth consecutive day off from work – and the first day in a loooooooong time that we don’t have any reason to leave the house. It’s a balmy 60°F, so our windows are open, I’ve got the slow-cooker rockin’, and there’s some gingerbread cookie dough in the refrigerator waiting to be baked.

The gingerbread cookie dough I made this morning, mixed by my AWESOME FANTASTIC brand new KitchenAid 6-speed hand mixer - courtesy of one Miss Erica Jones!

Our Crockpot (that I've been afraid of using for over 3 months) working hard making its first ever dinner entrée: apricot-glazed pork tenderloin -- thanks Doug & Molly!

We are all decorated for Christmas! I have a habit of deeming things “family traditions” since we got married – starting with apple picking & baking, then pumpkin carving, and now Black Friday Christmas-Tree-Getting and Decorating Extravaganza. Dayne loves it, in case you’re wondering.

We’ve got our Christmas tree and brand-new Willow Tree nativity scene (thanks John & Marcia!):

Our gingerbread house (completed yesterday):

Our reindeer bowl (credit to Maribeth & Jason from Christmas 2010!) and our tealight church (along with a ga-ba-zillion holiday candles spread everywhere throughout our living space):

Our mini JOY nativity that I found at Hallmark last Christmas, along with two light-up glittery Christmas trees (also compliments of Maribeth & Jason Christmas 2010):

Our dining room is also Christmas-ified:

And of course I’ve got our front door & outdoor ledge decorated, too:

And who can forget Christmas stockings?! We don’t have a mantle but I tried to be creative:

The star in the middle was a homemade Christmas gift from my mother-in-law last Christmas. It's made of sheet music!

And one of my favorite touches… our first Christmas ornament:

This week, I plan on spreading my unending Christmas cheer to my desk at work. Dayne’s happy I have somewhere to take all the decorations that didn’t quite fit in our apartment.

I’m just delighted and thankful to be with Dayne at the very start of this amazing adventure of establishing our own family. Dayne’s not much of a traditionalist, but I have some very warm memories revolving around the holidays with my family, and I can’t wait to create our own memories between the two of us and with our children in the future.

I’m thankful for all the things I do & don’t take for granted on any given day. I’m thankful that Dayne & I had three delicious Thanksgiving meals lovingly prepared for us by our families this year, and we have more food & fellowship to look forward to at Christmastime. I’m thankful that my family was able to throw a surprise 90th birthday party for my beautiful great-aunt Louise last weekend, and for all that it taught me about not being afraid of aging:

Who has time for fear when you're having this much fun?

On this Post-Thanksgiving Pajama Day, I’m thankful for life and God and love and meaning. I’m thankful that when things are hard, at least it’s never boring – and when things are great, it’s preparing you for when things are hard. I’m thankful to be in a great place in my life, even with its inherent difficulties and learning experiences.

I’m thankful that when I’m stressed, Dayne tells me to just take one thing at a time. And when I’m in Christmas cheer mode, Dayne just lets me do what I want to do 🙂 And even though he wasn’t much for decorating, I’m thankful Dayne enjoyed hiking around for a Christmas tree with me, sawing it down, dragging it, strapping it to our Rav4’s roof, and driving it home.

Victorious.

Love.

What and who are you thankful for this holiday season?