Tuesday, February 2, 2016

delighting

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

How do I "delight" myself in the Lord?  What do I do to spend time with Him, that brings me joy and gives Him glory? Studying His word. Praying. Giving him thanks, laying my burdens at His feet and trusting him with my day, my heart.

But if I'm being honest, I don't always do this.

When there are struggles and my heart is heavy, I run to the water. I soak it up like dry ground in a rain storm after a drought. I jump and splash and allow myself to go under, to be overwhelmed by His love, His promises, my only Hope.

But just like a cliche, when the sky is sunny and all is right in my world, I forget who made the sun shine, I forget where my blessings come from, I forget to simply delight in the Lord.

So I want to do more than just read a chapter in the bible or a quick devotional excerpt for 15 minutes each day. I want to actively seek to know Him more and to meditate on His love letter to me.

I love this reminder from Lysa TerKeurst:

Seeking God — really seeking — is more than just reading a few verses from the Bible in the morning and trying to be a good person that day. Seeking requires me to sacrifice the things I feel compelled to chase so I can be available to notice God’s clear direction. Whatever we chase, like it or not, gains our full attention. 
 Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (NIV)


Enter bible journaling. If you're unfamiliar with this term, do a quick pinterest or instagram search and prepare to be inspired. I am a visual learner, I have to see something in front of me and copy it down myself to be able to commit it to memory. I've always been someone who underlines highlights and writes in the margins of my bible. I also have stacks and stacks of filled journals so this was right up my alley.

I picked up a new single column bible specifically for journaling - it has 2 inch margins, lightly lined - and some colored pencils and watercolor markers and made myself comfortable. No music, no tv on, a quiet house, my kitchen table and I went right to the book and chapter at the start of this post. It caused me to dwell a little longer, linger over a verse, and picture it in my mind. This seemed like the Psalm to start this new hobby that I hope becomes a habit.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Fri-Yay!

one. So glad it's Friday and that we don't have 20-30 inches of snow in the forecast like my east coast friends. I am already in spring mode (and in denial that it's still January) and tomorrow while T.J.'s at work I plan to do a little "spring cleaning" around the house (and finally unpack that last suitcase that I've hidden out of sight in the guest room with the door closed since Christmas).

two. Speaking of spring...the calendar is starting to fill up!! My old roommates just booked their flights to come out for a visit in March and I can't even handle it. I am already planning all the fun things were going to do together and I can't wait for some girl time! I haven't seen one of them since my wedding weekend! It's been far too long and I am so excited to finally have set a date!

three. T.J. also put in a request for some leave in April. Hawaii here we come!! (Hopefully. Pending any unforseen complications.) But I bought a bathing suit yesterday because I couldn't resist and it was on sale, and then spent most of the afternoon comparing flights and hotels and trying to figure out how we can go without breaking the bank.

four. I won a giveaway on instagram from Oak + Oats for a $100 gift card to Walls Need Love! They do removable wallpaper and wall decor and I am soooo excited to pick something out for our home. I'm debating between doing a big mural on the wall behind our bed, since we don't have a headboard and I think it would be a cool statement, or doing some gold foil decals in our half bath since that room is kinda boring right now. Probably end up doing both, if I'm being honest.
five. T.J. has been working so hard and in the evenings he just crashes (oh man, how we need a real vacation). He literally falls asleep on the couch every. single. night. Last night he was passed out at 7pm so we headed up to bed earlier than usual. I always go up at the same time as him but I haven't fallen asleep before him the entire time we've been married (except for one time when I was sick). Usually I'll read or play on my phone for a little while but I think it's important and so much sweeter to go upstairs together. Of course Hunley likes to snuggle with us too. Both my loves piled on me is my favorite place to be. Bring on the weekend.
 

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I live in Washington.

That statement still sounds odd to me but, in addition to celebrating one year of marriage, I also feel like I should celebrate one year of living in the Pacific Northwest. I've said it once and I'll say it again (and again and again), this year has flown by! I can so clearly remember how I felt preparing to move and start my life way out here. I was so excited, I was so ready for this new adventure. Washington seemed so foreign to me, so unknown and I couldn't wait to explore it. I remember how different everything looked when I first came to visit T.J., the houses, the style, the trees, the mountains.

Sometimes I still can't believe I live here. I've been here now for a little over a year and even though I still refer to this place as "way out here," it's home. I've fallen in love with our house, the town, and the community we've found and I feel like I can pass on some observations now that I'm not quite so new.

The weather. 

When we first found out we would be moving to Washington, a lot of people, who had never lived in Washington, gave me a lot of opinions and advice. Roughly 99% of that was about the weather, more specifically about all the endless rain that would surely leave me in a dark puddle of sadness with endless bad hair days and a seasonal affective disorder.

I personally wasn't worried about the weather (that much) because I'd done my time in England and I'd heard the climates were similar. And I'm glad to report that everyone's concerns were mostly exaggerated. Yes it rains here, yes the winters are gloomier and darker but it's not as bad as people seem to think. The rain is not like the rain you get on the east coast. It's rarely a huge deluge, and I've only heard thunder once. It's more like a steady mist or drizzle and you learn to ignore it and get out of the house anyway. And if you can make it through the winter... you are in for the greatest summer weather! Lonnng days full of sunlight, very little rain, no humidity, perfect temperatures.
The driving.

This may seem like an odd thing to comment on but it's seriously one of the first differences we noticed moving out here. When T.J. came out on his house-hunting trip he made a comment to his realtor about how everyone goes exactly the speed limit. His realtor gave him a quizzical look and said, "What else would they drive? That's the speed limit." I don't know about you, but to me going 5-7 miles over the speed limit is not really speeding, especially on the interstate, in the fast lane! I can't tell you how many times I've caught myself thinking, "why am I passing everyone? Am I going too fast?" only to look at my speedometer and see that, no, everyone else is just going 5-10mph under the speed limit. Also, my assumption was that since it rains more here, people would be better at driving in the rain. Hah.

The style.

Coming from the east coast I had a lot of stereotypes in my head about the Pacific Northwest and it's inhabitants. A bunch of hippies and hipsters. Lots of vegetarians, and liberals. A lot of weed and a lot of bandwagon Seahawks fans. And while yes, all of those things are found out here (in more abundance than South Carolina), it is just a stereotype. I find there is less of a standard "look" and a lot more individual styles which I actually find refreshing. In general though, everything, and everyone, seems to be more casual. Hardly anyone dresses up (I've barely worn half the stuff in my closet since moving here), and you can pretty much wear jeans and rain boots anywhere. Even at what I consider to be a more "fancy" restaurant, that T.J. and I went to for our anniversary, I've seen people in sweatshirts (and Seahawks jerseys...).

The PNW life. 

My favorite part of living out here is that there is so much to do. This was a stereotype I was happy to find to be very true. My bucket list has quadrupled since we arrived! We are surrounded by beautiful mountains on every side. Close your eyes, spin in a circle and point in any direction and you can be in the Cascades or the Olympics or standing by the water in no time at all. There's wine country, "beaches," volcanoes, waterfalls, and glaciers. There are so many places to go hiking and exploring and everything feels less developed, less like an attraction, and more like a way of life. It seems that everyone loves to be outdoors and everyone has their own pair of snowshoes and everyone knows the best trails. We've barely scratched the surface and I have to wonder if I'll ever not be caught off guard by the sight of Mt.Rainier looming in the distance.

If not for the Army and T.J.'s job sending us here, I know we'd probably never have had the chance to live in Washington and really get to know this side of the country. We only have 3 and half more years out here and then who knows where we'll end up next. While at first I thought that sounded like a long time - residency woes make the days drag by - it's going to be gone before we know it. I just want to keep soaking it all in because this place is going to be so hard to leave when the time comes.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Snowshoeing In Snoqualmie

Aside from a quick dusting last weekend that melted the very next day, we haven't had any snow so far this season. So since T.J. had both Saturday and Sunday off so we planned a little northwest winter adventure- snowshoeing! Saturday we picked up our rental snowshoes from the Northwest Adventure Center on post, we laid out our snow pants, hats, and gloves, and then set out alarms for bright and early Sunday morning. I had done some research on fun, dog friendly snowshoeing trails and settled on Gold Creek Trail in Snoqualmie Pass. But seeing that it was supposed to be sunny and high 40s in our neck of the woods, we were still doubtful of what we would find just an hour away from us. Could there really be several feet of powdery snow and the potential need for tire chains less than a 100 miles away from us?

We got closer and closer to our destination without seeing much of the white stuff, and then all of sudden, as if we crossed through the invisible barrier to Narnia, we found ourselves in a winter wonderland! There is something sincerely magical about snow, something that makes you feel like a kid again. I was positively giddy to get out and play and Hunley had no idea the treat he was in for.

We found the trail-head and parked along the shoulder. There's no real parking lot, just a narrow side road, and it gets quite crowded on weekends so definitely get there earlier in the day. And if you can, go on a day when the Seahawks are playing. We put our Sno Park permit in the window, strapped on our shoes and let Hunley drag us onto the trail.
If you can walk you can snowshoe and while there was a groomed trail that we mostly stuck to, it was fun to be able to blaze your own path through untouched powder. The trail wound through the trees and opened up in an all white basin where the snow and fog covered mountains surrounded us. In the center was a frozen lake where you could see the tracks of a few more brave hikers.
We made our way around the trail, occasionally stopping to fling ourselves into the deep drifts and to throw snowballs at our eager pup. Hunley spent most of the day bounding and frolicking through the woods with his mouth to the ground trying to figure out how he was going to manage to eat all the snow.
Further along we came to what I assume is Gold Creek Pond (most of the trail signs were buried). It was so clear and perfectly reflected the dark snow capped mountains around us. You could see cracks of sun trying to burn off the fog. 
Though I got quite toasty hiking in all my warm layers, after a couple hours my cheeks and nose were quite rosy so we made our way back to the car. The parking was now a zoo so we were glad we'd gotten there earlier in the day like we did. Heading home it was wild to notice that less than twenty miles away from our snowy playground the sky was blue, the sun was blazing and the snow almost non-existent. 
Once we got home we spent the rest of the day snuggled up by the fireplace with a completely exhausted puppy on our hands. It was the perfect winter excursion and a great weekend with my guys! And here's a little home movie from our snow day that I made with my gopro. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

a slow start

I've been dragging my feet a bit as we entered 2016. A new year is an exciting chance to start fresh, to make changes, to do better, to do more. But at the same time I always feel that kind of heavily. There's a lot of pressure at the New Year and I always fear that I'm about to dive in head first, too fast, and I'll just crash and burn by February. I don't like to start something I can't finish and I don't like to do something that I can't do perfectly, it's not exactly a character strength and there's not a lot of grace there. It means I feel some guilt that during this first week of  the new year, when everyone is setting goals and picking words and starting projects,  I'm still in my Christmas pjs and I've already had to use white-out in my brand new day planner.
I know this isn't totally unique. No one really likes the end of vacation and the start of Mondays and work and schedules. It also snowed on Sunday, and the first snow of the year is always a good excuse to pause, make hot chocolate, sit by the fire, turn on the Christmas tree (yes, of course it's still up) and just stay home.  But I've still felt behind the game and honestly just lazy when I see what so many others have already "accomplished" in this very first 5 days of 2016. And that's just crazy.
When I think about this new year I don't really know what it will look like, or even what I would want it to look like. Today all I had planned was to get my oil changed, and work on thank you notes, and get Hunley groomed, and at some point this week I suppose I need to start taking down the Christmas decorations. Other than that I don't have any real concrete goals for this year except to be a good wife and a better Christ follower. But that's enough, for now anyway. I think God has given me this rare year, chalk full of white space, with nothing on the calendar, no major plans or life changes as far as I can see, and I think it's meant to be a gift. A chance to stop planning, stop always looking forward and just abide in Him.
I feel like I've finally reached a place, a landmark, that I've been clawing to get to for years and I don't want to miss the beauty of being right here because I'm too busy wondering when or what the next stop will be. I don't want to be constantly running through lists and road maps in my head. I want to be quiet and still so I can hear Him speak into this year. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

year one

Some people warned me that the first year of marriage is the hardest but I just can't imagine that. This year was so so good. I don't think I can sound like anything but a cheesy, lovey-dovey mess when I think about our marriage. We had a healthy year, a peaceful year, a joyful year, a fun year.  I have loved being married more than I ever thought possible. Whenever I'm asked "how's married life?" the first word to pop into my head is FUN! And it really is such pure joy to have T.J. there all the time to talk to, dream with, snuggle on the couch with, cook dinner for, travel with, laugh with, come home to. The comfort of knowing he is mine and I am his forever, is so grounding, and in the same breath, freeing.
He is a part of me in ways I never imagined. We said our vows and in a weekend we went from living separate lives, in separate parts of the country, with separate closets and bank accounts, to one home, one messy closet, one life together.  There is hardly a thought I have that doesn't include him in some way. When I plan my day, when I pick out cereal in the grocery store, when I think about the next week, month, year, it is no longer just about me.
We've taken on these new (favorite) titles, "his wife," "my husband," and as we daily know each other more, we've loved each other better. We're in this together, day to day, year to year. We believe strongly and passionately that this covenant we made with each other and with God, was not just words spoken on a pretty, rainy, day in January. There is power, and so much peace, wrapped up in that promise.
I know we're new at this and I'm not so naive to think that we wont have hard seasons, but all my life, my biggest dream, my most desperate prayer, was to be a wife and a mother.  Now I look at my husband (still love that I get to say that) and I see all those dreams come true.
We celebrated our anniversary last night since T.J. has to work today. We went to one of our favorite Tacoma restaurants, I broke out the earrings and perfume I wore on our wedding day, and then we came home and watched our wedding video. It was a perfect night and the perfect start to another wonderful year together. I went to bed feeling so happy I have to pinch myself. This is really our life and it's beautiful, and we created it, him and me, us, together, one year ago today.

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 in Review

I don't usually like writing these posts because it's a bit time consuming to look back over an entire year and pick out the highlights. Especially in a year like this, when so many wonderful things happened and it's hard to narrow it down. I appreciate the instagram "best nine" doing that job for me (apparently my haircut is right up there with getting married).
2015 definitely felt like one of the fastest years of my life. Was it really just last New Year's Eve that we were only a couple days away from getting married?  I still think and talk about our wedding like it was maybe just a couple months ago and now we're getting ready to celebrate our first anniversary.

Most of this year was taken up by T.J. working long hours and way too many nights apart. But looking back I love remembering how we made the most of every moment we did get to spend together.

Obviously the easiest answer- we got married! I also moved in with my husband and we started our new life together on the west coast.
T.J. was on an away rotation in Seattle so I spent most weekends up there visiting him and exploring the city.
T.J. turned 27, continued working really hard, and got a new grill for his birthday. I started my new job with Young Life and finally finished blogging about our wedding recap.

We had our first visitors. T.J's parents came to town and built us a deck for our backyard! We also travelled to Vancouver which I never blogged about so it's almost like it didn't happen. I'll have to do a throwback post sometime to recap that trip.
My parents came to visit,  Hunley joined our family, and we took some leave and travelled to Oregon for a long weekend.
I turned 27 and we got our wedding video back! T.J. finished intern year of residency!
We hosted a 4th of July party at our house and I took this as a chance to freshen up our deck. (Oh how I can't wait for it to be warm enough to sit out there again.) T.J. started his 2nd year of residency.
My sister came to visit! T.J. and I did some hiking/exploring in the Snoqualmie pass.
T.J. was out of town for a good chunk so I checked off some projects around the house. We also went on a boat cruise to a UW Huskies game. which was a fun way to see more of Seattle.
We escaped to a cabin at Mt. Hood. And then I escaped to Harry Potter World for my friend's bachelorette weekend.
We celebrated our first Thanksgiving together in our home.

We decorated our home for Christmas and then travelled back to South Carolina for the first time in a year to see our families for the holiday.

I can't wait to see what 2016 has in store for us!! 

P.s. My blog is 6 years old today! Yay! I love having this record of our lives. Even if I'm not always consistent it's so fun to read old posts and remember where we were back when. Hope to keep it up for another 6 years. Wonder what my 2021 year in review post will look like then? Happy birthday blog!