life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between


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How Big God Is and How Good He Is

Do you ever have times where you just know that something is God’s work? I love feeling like I am in the palm of His hand, and that He has planned all these little things of life to work together to surprise & delight me. Only our God.

Also, this morning at church, I was thinking about how people tend to lead me to worship Him. To see Him work in the lives of the people around me, to see His image in them, and the intricacies of their personalities, and the absolute beauty of their stories… in fact, life in general is just freaking me out lately with how complicated and painful and bittersweet and lovely and amazing and hard and rewarding and catastrophic and chaotic and gut-wrenching it is. Yet somehow, it all joins perfectly together to bring God His ultimate, much-deserved glory. Sometimes the questions lead me to the Creator in a way that a simple-laid path never would. The complications enrich my understanding of who He is and what His purposes are. We are not designed for comfort; we are designed for Christ.


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Weekend Update: First Full Weekend of 2012 Edition

Sometimes I have to blog about things so that I’ll remember them in the future, and this weekend was so chock full of good stuff that a blog entry is definitely in order.

2012 is shaping up to be a fantastic year, mostly because of our commitment to reading through the Bible this year using the Daily Walk Bible. Did I mention that Dayne decided to do it with me? 😀 When I bought my Bible, I ordered two more – one for Dana and one for whoever else decided to do it. None of my girlfriends volunteered, and Dayne asked if I wanted him to join me. It has been one of the better experiences in our marriage so far. We often talk about the things we’re reading – things that stood out to us that are just plain cool, questions that were raised during our readings, and we sometimes process the devotionals/applications together. It’s so nice to have a casual, regular way to talk about God and our individual walks in faith. Not only that, it is just so incredibly refreshing and exciting to be in the Word and growing closer to the heart of God everyday. I’m finding that Genesis, so far, reads like a novel, where I can’t wait to see what happens next to Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham & Sarah, and Isaac & Rebekah. For the first time for me, these stories have fit together like a puzzle where I can see God walking alongside each person and continuously acting in their lives. It reinforces for me the truth that God never changes; He has been the same all along (“…the Father of the heavenly lights… does not change like shifting shadows.” [James 1:17]). He walked so intimately with His people, and it is a challenge for me to accept that He still wants to walk that intimately with us today, that we need to orient ourselves toward Him, “fix our eyes” on Him (2 Cor. 4:18, Heb. 12:2) and try to “keep in step” with Him in obedience (Gal. 5:25).

José, one of Dayne’s friends from work, let us borrow the New Super Mario Bros. for Wii, so Dayne & I have been playing that at random times together. Dayne (or should I say “Mario”) gets upset with me (or should I say “Luigi”) because I lose a lot of lives, but it’s really nice to have a co-op game we can play together (and surely “Luigi” will get better). We played that sporadically throughout the weekend, and it was fun!

On Saturday, Dayne got up super early to go to our new church’s Men’s Bible Study. They meet at Cracker Barrel so there’s some breakfast incentive. 🙂 I was so proud of him for getting up and going! I thought I would sleep through it (since it’s at 7:30), but I got up when Dayne was getting ready and had some delicious quiet time eating breakfast, reading my Bible, cleaning up around the house, and starting The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. It sounds like Dayne’s gonna keep going on Saturdays, and I think that’s wonderful for both of us.

Saturday was such a gorgeous day, and it was our first completely free day in a while, so we took it upon ourselves to go to the Brandywine Zoo.

At the Zoo.

I had gone to the Brandywine Zoo a few times with my family when I was growing up, and I somehow remember it being a lot bigger??? It is a tiny zoo. But it was fun; they have some weird and random animals! Our favorite was the capybara, since we were discussing on the way to the zoo how much we like prairie dogs, and the capybara looks (and sounds) like a giant guinea pig. I also got some nice photos of Dayne petting the pygmy goats…

The zoo's capybara, before he got upset and squeaked and went inside his house.

Dayne petting the pgymy goats... they were all OVER him!

After the zoo, which was free that day (awesome!), we spontaneously decided to go to ChaddsFord Winery. Dayne has become a wine fan since marrying me, which was exactly what was supposed to happen. 😉 We took a self-guided tour, and instead of doing a tasting on empty stomachs, we picked out a few kinds of wine to take home and try. I’m especially excited about the Spiced Apple Wine, which you can heat on the stove with cinnamon sticks and spices to make hot mulled apple wine. Cozy and yum!

On our way home, we stopped at Arby’s for Jamocha shakes (delicious!). We ended up going out to dinner that night at Chili’s (with a gift card!), which was nice since we haven’t gone out on a dinner date in a while, either.

On Sunday, we got up and went to our church. I am so in love with this church and so thankful that God has so obviously led us there. Connection (small) groups are starting back up for the new year, so we signed up to get more information on a Financial Peace University class and a Marriage study. The young couples’ group is also starting back up this week (!), so we’re going to that tomorrow night and I.cannot.wait.

The sermon series is currently on Ezekiel and being fearless… since fear and anxiety are things I struggle with, I’m thankful to be focusing on them early in the New Year. It’s exciting to feel what God is doing in my heart, see what God is doing with my husband & me, and to also be a part of what God’s doing in our church.

After church, we mustered up our courage to try another meal in the Crockpot (after our first failure which I was too embarrassed and disappointed to write about). I was intrigued by this blog earlier this year, and then I got the author’s actual cookbook for Christmas this year from my brother: MORE Make it Fast, Cook it Slow. We threw in the ingredients for a Ground Beef Layered Casserole and crossed our fingers!

After that, we quickly headed out the door to go over to see the family I used to nanny for. It was wonderful to see them all again! Seriously so much fun. The older girl just turned 4 and it is amazing to watch how fast both of the girls grow up. We had a great time meeting their two new cats, seeing the girls’ gifts from Santa, reading stories, catching up with the parents, and swinging the girls by their ankles (that was more Mr. Dayne, not me). The girls fell in love with Dayne (“Mr. Dayne is so funny”) and I was old news by the end of the afternoon 🙂

Finally, last night Dayne and I ate our casserole and watched a documentary on Netflix. I’m quite happy to start a new week with such a relaxing, rejuvenating weekend behind me!

What are your favorite things to do on free weekends?


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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?