Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Planner/ Dreamer

My Mema gave me a new planner for 2014. It's the "Our Daily Bread" planner and I'm already in love with it. Each new month starts off with a beautiful photograph and a devotional blurb to prepare your heart for the coming days. Then there is a month overview with a verse for that month. Each week has space for a to do list and a shopping list plus plenty of space for each day's activities. And in the back of the planner is a schedule for reading through the bible in a year.
I love sitting down with a blank calendar and filling in the dates with travel plans and birthdays and wedding weekends and holidays. I love looking forward to a new year and anticipating all that could happen.

I have so many dreams about what 2014 could look like for me. I feel giddy with anticipation for an open year just waiting for plans to be made and hopefully a few adventures. I sat down with my calendar to start penciling in the things already filling up my schedule, the year already seeming shorter and smaller. Then I opened to January's devotional and I was hit hard by the first verse there on the page. And I had to put down my pens and highlighters and take a step back.

"If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that."  James 4:15

Lord willing.
Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

Not because I want something to happen this year or on this date. Not because I write it down in my planner and check off to do lists. Not because "if I dream it I can achieve it". Not because I scheduled it and planned for it and am ready. Not because I'm impatient (and Lord knows I am) and want things to happen now, on my timeline.

But because the Lord wills it.
It's okay to make plans. It's okay to ask God for big things this year. He knows my dreams, the desires of my heart. He hears my prayers and also hears what I don't even know to ask him for. So I can plan this year and dream my dreams with him in the center, and this year will unfold as He knows best. The pressure is off. The deadlines I set, the anxiousness I feel, all that disappears when I say "Lord willing", confident of His loving plan. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

And lots of cookies.

It's so hard to write about a such a great holiday. It was just a wonderful time a home with lots of family and lots of cookies. Those are the best kinds of vacations in my opinion.

We cooked huge meals and crowded around our dining table and washed a lot of dishes.
We stayed in our pajamas and exchanged gifts and long hugs and thank yous.
We hiked in the snow and sang carols by candlelight.
I sat up late, sitting at the kitchen counter with my Mema, asking for more stories of her early days as a wife, her adventures with my Poppie no longer here.
I spent time with cousins and aunts and uncles and parents and the sister I see not nearly often enough.
And it was crowded, and I slept on an air mattress, and it was noisy and full. 
And it was sort of calm and most definitely bright.  
I think that's how Christmas is supposed to be. I don't even think the silent night was all that silent. 
But I know it was definitely full to the brim with life and family and joy. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Pre-Christmas Weekend Recap

TJ and I decided that we didn't want to wait until New Years to celebrate Christmas together. So even though we had spent the previous weekend together and even though he stayed in town until Tuesday last week, and even though I'm going to see him again next Monday, I booked a flight down to South Carolina for the weekend. I guess two days apart is more than enough right?

I got in late Friday night (along with the rest of the holiday travelers) and was greeted by TJ and piece of chocolate cake. Both quickly lifted my spirits which were a little low after all the delays and travel headaches. Despite staying up much too late chatting and watching home videos of baby TJ, we both still got up pretty early (by my standards not his) the next morning not wanting to waste a minute of our short weekend together.

First on the agenda for the day was to head to our old college campus and see all the new stuff they've added since we've graduated. They've completely updated the bookstore and they've added a bar! (It was a dry campus when I went there so this is a huge change.) We then meandered around pointing out old dorm rooms and sharing stories of our college days. Even though we went to the same school we really didn't know one another until after we'd left.
 
After leaving the campus we headed into downtown to grab a bite at one of my favorite and dearly missed restaurants, Chicora Alley. After indulging on the best nachos ever we had to walk through Falls Park and then up to the Mast General Store, two of my other favorite parts of town. It's crazy how much has been changed and added (an Anthroplogie store!!!) in just the 3 years since I've been away. Visiting my college and the town where I spent so many fun days makes me really glad that TJ and I both share a love for this place.

We headed back to his house after our little excursion and decided that it was high time I learn how to shoot a gun (#5 on my list). With the exception of one experience at a girl scout camp many years ago I have no experience in this department. So we trekked out to the pasture on their property and TJ and his dad gave me the run down, making sure I knew how to turn on the safety.  They rigged up the clay pigeon launching thingie (that's the technical name for it) and after TJ demonstrated how it's done (seriously he was such a show-off, hitting every single one, making it look easy) it was my turn to try. I missed the first few but after a bit of feedback I hit one and got on a streak!
 
Above is my very serious marksman pose. I managed to hit a bunch in a row and I was feeling very Annie Oakley-esque and like I could do okay in a zombie apocalypse.  It was so much fun!

Later that evening we went to dinner with his parents and his sister. And then TJ and I stayed out with his sister and met up with friends in town. It was a really full day and we got a lot checked off our list. I was really glad I got to spend more time with his sister especially as she lives far away and hasn't been in town during my other visits.

Sunday was rainy and dreary so we stayed in our pajamas and stayed inside to enjoy homemade soup and corn bread. We also had a mini Christmas. I had brought a little something for TJ and his family and it was nice to sit in front of their tree and exchange gifts.
It was such a quick weekend (aren't they all) and after more flight delays and missed connections I made it back to DC. It was definitely worth all the travel hassles to get to spend more time with TJ and his family this Christmas season. I was pretty bummed about having to work today and tomorrow but this little pre-Christmas trip more than made up for that. Now I just have one more sleep until I head home to my family!

Merry Christmas everyone! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How About the Hodgepodge

So I thought I'd link up to the hodgepodge this week since I've basically been missing in action on the blog front... blame this guy:

Here we go...

1. Do you believe in miracles? 
Absolutely. What I don't believe in is coincidences. God is in everything, and the smallest chance encounter, or the answered (and even the unanswered) prayers, are actually miracles if you open your eyes. God is still healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, and raising us from death to life. It's just harder to recognize all the wondrous, miraculous sights through the chaos and noise these days.

2. What's a recent fad you admit to trying?
Snapchat. I guess it's not that recent but I'm pretty new to it. I'm still not sure why getting a picture that disappears in 10 seconds is worth my time but I'll admit it's pretty fun to use. It's fun to have conversations with images and I totally wish my mom would use it. Plus I can send pictures like this to my sister and not worry about them showing up on the internet. oh wait...
3. Peppermint-are you a fan? If so, what's your favorite food or beverage containing peppermint? 
Yes! Especially in the form of a candy cane. My roommates and I hung some on our tree this year and let's just say there are now a few bare spots on the tree....

4. Break the ice, on thin ice, as cold as ice (emotionally, not literally)...which phrase have you run into most recently? Explain. 
Well, as a Young Life leader I often find I have to break the ice when new high schoolers show up at "club." I want them to feel welcome and like they are a part of something even if it's their first time and their mom made them come. It can be really weird to walk up to someone you don't know say hi and I've been totally rejected before. I've had high school girls look at me with a stare that says: "who is this girl and why is she talking to me? Is she in high school? She doesn't look like she's in high school. Please stop talking now so I can talk to people cooler than you."   I tend to be completely awkward about it all, but actually sometimes that helps. People put a high price on looking "cool" and fitting in. But really people just want to be included, no matter how thick the ice they put around their hearts. So break that ice. Fall through it.

5. Have you ever broken or spilled something in someone else's home? Still friends?
Many, many years ago when I was just 4, so you can't hold this against me, I "broke" all the fish in this aquarium at someone's house. The owner had let me feed them and I ended up dumping way too much food into the tank. So to compensate for all the extra food, I decided to take cups of water from the fridge to pour into the tank, thinking maybe no one would notice.  Yeah, they all died and I haven't ever been back to that house but not for that reason, I think...

6. 'Tis the week before Christmas...are you feeling more like Buddy the Elf or the Grinch before his heart grew? 
Definitely Buddy the Elf. And even though I have to work until 1pm on Christmas Eve (sucks) I am not going to let that dampen my Christmas spirit! I cannot wait to get home to my family and eat all the cookies and see all the snow that my parents have been accumulating just for me... And I'm also really excited about the gifts I picked up this year and that I just can't wait to hand out. I have almost spilled the beans so many times!

7. Share a favorite quote relating to Christmas.
(download here)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Let it Snow

Like the rest of the East Coast and a good chunk of the US in general we saw some snow yesterday. We didn't get enough to cancel work for the whole day but we did get a 2 hour delay which is better than nothing. I spent most (all) of the weekend on the couch with the blinds open,t he Christmas tree lights on and the holiday candle burning. Wrapped up in a blanket watching movies while the snow fell outside. 

There is something really relaxing and comforting about this weather. Sure it's a pain to leave the house and I can't drive in it (trust me on this) and holiday parties get cancelled. But even now the anticipation of a white winter wonderland gets to me. I get all giddy when I see the first flakes fall and I step outside on my front porch to feel them on my hands and catch them with my tongue. 
It really puts you in the Christmas spirit, you know? Along those lines... I was supposed to go to a Young Life Christmas party and I had the perfect shirt to wear. So of course I decided to just wear it around the house instead. You can't see it here, but beneath my warm snugly blanket I'm wearing this t-shirt... name what movie this is from!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Still Thankful

Thanksgiving may be over and we may be in the full on Christmas mode but it's never too late to remember all the blessings in your life that you have to give thanks for.

Most importantly I am thankful I got to spend the holiday at home with my parents and my sister. It's been far too long since both sister and I were in the house at the same time and I know it makes my parents so happy to have us both at the dinning room table and both sleeping in our own rooms.

We watched movies, cooked and ate delicious foods, snuggled on the couch, stayed in our pj's and bundled up to go out. It was quiet and simple and time passed slower for a few days. It was so nice to have a few extra days instead of the usual whirlwind weekend trip I'm used to taking. There was time to unpack and settle in and breathe.

I think I kind of revert back to childhood when I'm in my parents' house for longer that 48 hours. I drink chocolate milk and let them take care of me. I sit in the back seat with my sister instead of the driver seat, and we hold hands and say grace around the dinner table, and I feel like a kid again and not a independent/young adult/working girl/whatever.

These holidays, the food and the traditions and the warmth of it all, wash over me and restore me. Sitting between my parents on the couch with just the Christmas tree lights, "playing piano" with my sister. They make it harder to go back to work, but they also give me the strength to do just that.

One day I know all my holidays wont look like this, the four of us.They'll be shared with other families or even separate. And it makes my heart ache. I can't think about it too long, it makes me want to grab my sister and move home. Not getting to see them every holiday is a part of growing up I'd like to skip please.

So I will be very thankful of every holiday together.  And I will store away these memories of hot chocolate with marshmallows in my holiday mug. Of my parents asking sister and I if we remembered our gloves, our scarf, "are we sure we're going to be warm enough?" Of airport picks ups and train drop offs. Of every goodnight and "Happy Thanksgiving" said in person and not over the phone.