life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between


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New Beginnings at Unexpected Times

I woke up today feeling like I had a fresh start. Admittedly, there are a few things that are “fresh” today, but I can’t figure out why I felt that way the very instant I woke up. It was definitely appreciated, though, as I cried 2x yesterday and life’s been feeling kinda stuffy to me lately.

Obviously, today is October 1st, and it finally feels like fall. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to love the autumn season more and more, especially as it leads up to Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas — all times of fun & celebration. I’ve decided to host Christmas dinner for my family & Dayne’s immediate family this year, and I am beyond excited about that. I love party planning!

Remember this look from my great-aunt Louise’s surprise 90th birthday party? Acting like kids & having fun! We had goody bags and crazy straws in the retirement community.

Take a look back at last year’s post about Christmas decorating and Aunt Louise’s party here.

Beyond my excitement for Christmas, I’m starting the New Testament today in my Daily Walk Bible (see my guest post from yesterday about finishing the Old Testament). There’s something really fresh about that — after 400 years of silence in Israel, God breaks His silence by sending John the Baptist followed by His Son. It’s a big frigging deal.

I’m also finally starting my anti-anxiety medication today, after months of putting it off (you can read about my struggles with anxiety & depression throughout my blog, but more specifically here, here, and here). I’m scared (as usual), but if it helps, it will be a great thing.

Dayne and I decided to switch out our summer quilt for our down comforter last night, and it is soooooo cozy.

I chose not to make the bed or de-wrinkle the comforter AND to leave that “PCOS for Dummies” book out so that you can see that we are human, too.

And lastly, I decided to intentionally embrace my writing and make it a part of my routine, and I have defied the kittens & their chewing issues so I could get my desk space back:

That’s Theodore. He’s the main culprit.

My fresh & improved writing space.

So – on this October 1st – what is fresh in your life?


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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?