Look Up to 2014

12.31.2013

December 31 is a funny day.  We want to look back while also looking ahead, and that's not an easy thing to do.  I was a little unsure of how 2013 would go. 2012 was definitely not my favorite year, and I was not sad to see it go.  Because of the trials and lessons last year brought, it is safe to say I was more than a little apprehensive on what this year would bring.

2013 brought forth it's own set of lessons and trials.  I know the moments I was walking through those lessons and trials, I would've traded anything to give them to someone else, but I look back on them with a thankful heart. We're only what we've lived through.

How is truly possible to use one day to look back on the previous 364...? I'm not sure, but I'll give it a try.

.......................................................................................................

In 2013....

+ we celebrated our sweet nephew's first year of life


+ we celebrated our five year wedding anniversary...


+ we went to some baseball games


+ I got a tattoo


+ I forgot I was a "grown-up" and embraced feeling 22


+ we spent time with amazing friends


+ I met a Carolina basketball player (no, I'm not exaggerating when I say this was something I'll remember about this year)


.......................................................................................................

Words and pictures can only do so much when trying to look back on the past 364 days.  Life, more often than not, cannot be explained or recapped. Life can only be lived, and I believe I did that this year. There were times of frustration and heartache, but there were also times ridiculous happiness and joy.

I have high expectations for 2014, but expect nothing. I will not settle, but I also will not pretend to know what God has in store for me or us. I will rest in His word and His promises.

:::Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today...
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still:::
Exodus 14:13-14

In 2014, I want to look up; not forward or back, but to Him for each and every step. I know there will be moments where I will feel as though I don't have the strength to lift my eyes, but in those moments, I need to remember His promises to fight for me. To be still. To wait.

I want for 2014 to be the year I stand firm in all that I do and say.  I'm tired of breaking promises to myself. I want to be brave, and I don't mean in the sense of wielding a sword, but in the sense of living my life in the way God calls me to live. 2014 needs to be the year I look back on and clearly see my feet planted in Him. For our marriage and life to be a sponge for His word.

I want 2014 to be the year I give my life up to Him. I accepted the Lord years ago, but I want to be done being selfish and doing things halfway. I vow to make 2014 to be the year I live up; a year that settling is an option for me or those I love. 

2014 could very well end up being the hardest year of my life, but I know for a fact that nothing can separate me from the love of God (Romans 8:38), and it is in that fact alone I will rest. 

I'm ready for the next 365 days. 

Photobucket

Christmas {2013} Recap

12.28.2013

I am that person that says "merry Christmas" to people days after Christmas.  This wonderful holiday is one I believe should not end when then calendar moves on to the 26th.  And with that said, I hope each and every one of you had a wonderful Christmas.

Ours was amazing, but per usual, it went by way too fast. Thankfully we never have to travel far or much, so that definitely helps us to enjoy this wonderful holiday with very little stress.  It's tradition that the Saturday before Christmas is spent at my nana and papa's and it's one that I love. We eat, talk, laugh, and of course, open presents.


Part of our Christmas present to one another was to go to the Candlelight Evening at Biltmore, so Sunday afternoon, we hit the road again and made our way Asheville.  We had supper at a cute little downtown restaurant called Pack's Tavern. The food was great and I tried mulled wine for the first time. It was definitely a festive drink, but not one I would want a lot of.  Unfortunately, that night there was some torrential rain going on, so we got one picture while at the Biltmore, but it was beautiful on the inside!


Christmas eve was close to perfect.  The day started off with a trip to Winston-Salem to see my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and of course, our oh so adorable nephew.


He is very into the moon right now, so it was way excited about the pj's we got him.  I need to savor that because I'm pretty sure that will be one of the few times he'll be that excited about clothes :)  Andrew got some awesome new-old vinyl records; The Eagles and The Beatles.  Two great reasons to get a new record player!  I got an awesome Bauer calendar which will make each month of 2014 ridiculously cute.

That evening was spent celebrating alongside Andrew's side of the family.  Food was eaten, presents were opened and overall, it was a wonderful, chaotic night.

 
Andrew's grandparents gave us an amazing present of watercolor portraits of our pups! I couldn't help but shedding a tear or two when I opened it.

 

Christmas eve night and day were spent relaxing and watching movies.  It was a fantastic Christmas and I am so sad to see it go.


Photobucket

Merry Christmas to all!

12.25.2013


Merry Christmas from our family to yours!


Photobucket

Christmastime is Here!

12.24.2013

Sometime during my teenage years, I remember feeling less than content in the days leading up to Christmas.  I think it was that awkward time when you realize Christmas has to change from what it was when you were a kid.  But the worst part was,  you had no idea of what it would change to.

Now, at the mature old age of 28, I know that Christmas is just as magical now as it was when I would rush down to see what Santa brought...it's just a different type of magic. And in some ways, it's better.

I am soaking up and savoring every moment this wonderful season has to offer, because as always, as fast as it arrived, it'll be gone even faster...


And, if nothing else, all I really need to remember and soak up is this...

She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means "God with us." 
Matthew 1:23

Christmas is about the peace that came into this world all those years ago. It's about breathing in the simple, overwhelmingly wonderful fact that God is with us.

This year I chose peace over the rush...the quiet over the frantic...and it has made all the difference in the world.

Merry Christmas eve, y'all!


Photobucket

'Twas the Week Before Christmas!

12.18.2013

I swear I feel as though I only blinked once since the last time I posted, but the calendar would have a pretty valid argument that that's not the case.

Christmas is next week, y'all! How is that possible?  I know I say that each year, but seriously, it just doesn't seem like it should already be here.  Per usual, I'm straddling the line of being excited and looking forward to all the fun that is going to be had in the coming week, while also trying to slow it all down.

So far I haven't had any luck with the slowing time down thing, but I have made a more conscious effort to slow me down.  I hope that makes sense, because I'm honestly not sure how to explain it. I've just tried to remind myself that Christmas doesn't come in a box and it certain weather doesn't have to be in place for it to be celebrated.

Something that has been a huge help with adjusting my mindset is Ann Voskamp's advent devotional, The Greatest Gift.


I will say this; this book will bless you and stretch you, and I highly recommend it.
God gives God. That is the gift God always ultimately gives. Because nothing is greater and we have no greater need, God gives God. God gives God, and we only need to slow long enough to unwrap the greatest Gift with our time: time in His Word, time in His presence, time at His feet. - Ann Voskamp

Something else we did this year, and by we, I really mean Andrew, was recreating this sign I saw on Pinterest last year. I knew I wanted to make something similar, however, this presented a slight problem since I have not a single ounce of crafting ability.  Enter my incredibly talented husband.

Side note: I just want to take a minute to say just how thankful I am for Andrew. He is more amazing that I can say and I don't say it enough to him. He's strong, caring, understanding, and puts up with my often times crazy ways. 

He took the time to cut the boards, find a font I would want, and then took a razor blade to do each letter. Did I mention I think he's awesome? :) I absolutely LOVE the finished product


Now the only problem is figuring out where to put it...a few people have been kind enough to offer up their homes as an option. I have kindly turned their offers down :)

In the final seven days (SEVEN DAYS, PEOPLE!) leading up to the most joyous of holidays, I hope each and everyone one of you feel loved and at peace. This is a wonderful time of year and I want to spread and soak up as much Christmas cheer as possible!



Photobucket

Hello December and Happy Tuesday!

12.03.2013

Hello December and happy Tuesday, my friends! I hope and trust each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours was filled with amazing food and much needed/wanted time with family.  As I mentioned, more than once, I think Thanksgiving is one awesome holiday, and this year reinforced that thought more than ever.

Sadly, I didn't take any pictures of the aforementioned amazing food, but I did get some of my ridiculously adorable nephew.


Does he not make the cutest turkey EVER? The answer is yes, and no, I'm not biased :)

The only not so great part of Thanksgiving, was that Andrew had to come back home to Charlotte to take care of the dogs.  Because of Dani's surgery, we just didn't feel comfortable asking anyone to watch her.  After he left, and my brother and sister in law went on to their next stops, I made myself comfortable on the couch to watch football, Harry Potter, and eat pumpkin pie.

Way better than standing in any sort of line in my opinion.

Friday morning, I woke up to an email from sweet Ashley letting me know I won her Blue Nile giveaway! Y'all. I never win anything, and so getting that email caused some serious excitement. And, to top it off, I just love this bracelet!

via

The remainder of Friday and Saturday consisted of spreading bits of Christmas cheer around our home. This is one thing I just can't imagine not loving. As much as I love Thanksgiving, the Christmas season cannot be topped.


We finished off our weekend by getting to see the Panthers win their 8th straight game! Sadly, this is the first game we've made it to all season, but at least we got to witness a franchise record.


It was an awesome weekend from start to finish, and the perfect way to usher in December!

Photobucket

Thankful

11.28.2013

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all! I hope you each feel so blessed and loved today and every day.


Photobucket

Happy Thanksgiving Eve

11.27.2013

It's hard to believe it's Thanksgiving eve, but nevertheless, it is!

It's such a blessing to have a day that is, or should be, purely about recognizing all that we have and saying "thank you." It's fall's last hoorah before the Christmas season officially begins, and I just love this holiday.

Today and everyday, I say thank you for...

...the unending, unwavering love, grace and mercy of Jesus Christ

...my strong, steadfast, loving husband

...our wonderful families and amazing friends

...our sweet, crazy dogs

...our warm, dry, happy home

...hot coffee

...good books

...music

...memories

...joy

Enjoy all the food and chaos. Enjoy spending time with your family; no matter how dysfunctional they may be, enjoy it.  Take a few minutes to reflect on just how blessed you are, despite any hardships or difficult circumstances you may be facing.

Just enjoy this wonderful day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

p.s. I'm super thankful to see this little turkey :)




Photobucket

Dani Update

11.22.2013

As I mentioned earlier this week, our sweet Dani has been having difficulty standing after sitting/laying down and we were taking her for a follow up on Thursday.


Turns out, despite the original thought of the pain originating from her knee, the x-ray's told a different story; her hips were awful.


It took us less than two seconds to agree to surgery after hearing that would ultimately be the only solution. As I mentioned, we consider our dogs our children, but regardless of that, they're a responsibility we chose to have.  This is what she needed, so this is what happened.


The vet called earlier to let me know she was out of surgery and it went wonderfully, which were definitely the best words I heard all day.  Now we all just have to get through the weekend and she'll be back home with no pain!


So thankful for the sweet fur babies and for the vets of the world that take care of them!

Happy Friday!
Photobucket

Giving Thanks in Trials...and Trust Issues

11.19.2013

I am so ready for Thanksgiving, but at the same time, I can't believe it's next week! I am really trying to be better at appreciating what Thanksgiving is and not just think about the fact that it ushers in the Christmas season.

She Reads Truth just started a new series, Give Thanks in All Circumstances, and a portion of the introduction to this series struck a chord with me:
Life does not magically get easier or shinier during the holidays. The hard things we are in the midst of are still hard. In fact, the sharp edges of our difficult circumstances are even more painful when juxtaposed with the beautiful orange and brown place settings, with the coming of Christmas lights and holiday cheer.  
But God. He is with us in every circumstance. He is with us in the joy and pain, in the plenty and need, in certainty and confusion.  
And His presence with us? THAT is why we can give thanks. That is why our circumstances are just that – they are circumstances. The heart and hope of the gospel does not change. Ever. And if that gospel – that Savior Jesus and that Creator Father and that Holy Spirit Companion – if they are here with us even in this, then how are we not to praise him? How can we help but give thanks?
The reason this rang so true and deep for me this morning is because we are facing uncertainty with our sweet dog, Dani.

After noticing she was having difficulty standing up after laying/sitting down, and sometimes favoring one of her back legs, we took her to the vet and learned that her knee joint is popping in and out of place. Since the extent of my medical expertise comes from Grey's Anatomy, I'm not entirely sure what that means, but I know it sounds painful.  We go back on Thursday for x-rays and to find out if she'll need surgery or not.

I know to some, or maybe all, this circumstance doesn't seem like much, but for me, it's a lot. Our dogs are our children and the idea of her being and pain and the not knowing what is going to happen, stresses me out. I have never handled the unknown well.  I like to have a plan and going with the flow sometimes seems like a foreign concept to me.

As bad as the words I'm about to type are going to sound, they're honest; trusting the Lord is hard for me.  I can say that I am and I can tell other people to do the same, but actually putting it into practice is near impossible for me at times.
...though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  1 Peter 1:6-7 
I know that each trial I have and will face, is refining me. I know that the view I have on my life is limited and fractured, while God sees the whole. I know He is in the big, small and in between moments. I do know that, but sometimes a lot of times, it's difficult to rest in that knowledge.

I am thankful for the fact that despite my faithlessness, God is still God. My disbelief doesn't change who He is and what He is going to do.

In this time of uncertainty, and each day of my life, I will take a deep breath, and continue to rest in the knowledge of who He is.
Photobucket

Give Thanks, Get Joy

11.11.2013

I love that November is a month that everyone tries to take a moment, day or even weeks, to express what they're thankful for.  I believe that too often, we just accept what we have in our lives as they way it should be and don't take the time to express intentional gratitude.

Earlier this year, I started "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to LIVE FULLY Right Where You Are" by Ann Voskamp.  I haven't finished yet, because this is a seriously deep book by my standards, but one thing it's already taught me is eucharisteo.

Eucharisteo, a Greek word meaning "to give thanks," is something I am trying to remind myself of on a daily basis.  Each and every morning, I am given the choice to either let discouragement rule my day OR to live fully.  It's easy to let the what I am not or what I do not have bring me down, but why?  God has given me this life and at the risk of being cliche, it's up to me to make the most of it.  I need to refuse to let the thoughts of lacking become a part of me and a part of my day, because as soon as I do, they override eucharisteo.

Most of the time, I am the person that believes life is what we choose to make it.  Don't get me wrong here. I have days where I wonder what else could possibly go wrong and when I am waiting to see when and where the other shoe will drop.  But this perspective is mine to choose. When I adjust the way I see things, I am able to recognize the presence of God in the ordinary. The everyday.  And if I am aware of this, aware of the way I see, I am able to say thank you. To practice thanksgiving.

This November, and upcoming holiday season, when life demands urgency, I encourage you to slow down. To choose and see the seemingly small moments. To listen and hear the words of love or need. To give thanks in days when you're not sure what can you can be thankful for.

"Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. 
Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace." 
- Ann Voskamp

When we give thanks, we get joy. I promise you it is impossible to truly thank God for all we have and not to feel complete and utter joy in Him.

So wherever you find yourself this Thanksgiving, by yourself, with friends or family, be all there. Let go of preconceived notions and just give thanks. Give thanks for the moment God has given you with whoever you are with and whatever you are doing.



Photobucket

There is Always Something...

11.06.2013

In a month where thankfulness has a much needed spotlight on it, I don't want just type words that sound good; I want to be purposeful in what I am thankful for and what it means to me to be thankful.

With that said, a true post will be up tomorrow, but until then, these words will do.


There is always, ALWAYS, something to be thankful for. Don't let today go by without thinking of at least one thing.
Photobucket

28

11.01.2013

28.

When I think of someone being 28 years old, I do not think of myself. Despite the fact I haven't lived at home in 10 years and that I've been married for five of those, I don't feel like a full-fledged grown up.  28 seems like an age of someone that has it all together and more often than not, I feel like I'm figuring it out as I go.

Despite the fact that I supposedly am one, being an adult seems like a daunting task. Again, I'm not sure how that happened so quickly, but here I am; staring down the last two years of being a 20-something. As a kid, I don't think I ever really thought about my future. Like really sat down and pondered how it would all pan out. I'm sure I had general thoughts and ideas, but growing up seemed like such a far off and distant thing, it seemed silly to put a lot of stock into planning it out.


I've said this before, but I think it's worth saying again; too often, we're looking to what's next. Looking forward to what the next season will have to offer, or maybe even dreading it. Though I didn't strain to see what my future as an adult would hold, I don't think I fully appreciated just how awesome it is to be a kid. We all had childhoods, so I won't recap all the reasons that it was awesome because everyone's was awesome for different reasons.

My point (somewhat) to all of that, is this; I want to appreciate where I am in this moment. I want to be 28 for as long as I'm 28. I refuse to spend the next two years wondering what the 30 will bring because whatever it brings, I won't be facing it alone.

God had this life planned for me long before I entered the world. He's seen me throw fits; cry and laugh until I couldn't breath; falter and fall. And through all of that, through all these years, He remains.

Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
Psalms 73:23-24

I thought about writing a "goals" post for my 28th year, and I may still do that, but for now, I want to meditate what it means for me to be here. This age. This season. This life.

This past Sunday, our pastor preached on standing "in God."  And though the message could apply to everyone and everything, I walked away knowing that I need be active in doing that. To stop rushing and running and to just stand. To allow His glory to wash over me and for His strength to be my strength.

He never meant for me to live a life of trying to do it on my own. I have been ridiculously blessed with an amazing man of God that loves, works and tries for me. He holds my hand and guards my heart. And my prayer is I don't let a moment of this year in my life go by without me remembering that.

The past 27 years have been mine. Some have been harder than others, but they have all been mine. I will choose to embrace whatever this year has to offer.

Unless it forces me to become an adult.  Whatever that is.
Photobucket

Happy Birthday to Me!

Birthday Surprises and Wishes

10.28.2013

I may be turning 28, but when it comes to my birthday, I am pretty sure I act more like a kid than an "adult."  I believe the older I get, the longer the celebration should be for my birthday.  If you don't subscribe to this school of thought, you should. It's awesome.

I wasn't really looking forward to this weekend because Andrew was going to have to work all day Saturday. I wasn't dreading it by any means, but I figured it would just be like any other Saturday he works.

Little did I know the scheming that had been taking place throughout the week...

Andrew told me Friday night he was going to take me to lunch on Saturday for my birthday, but was super evasive when I asked where. Fast forward to the drive to lunch and I guessed we were going to Jim 'n Nicks, a barbeque place we like.

Me: Are we going to Jim 'n Nicks?

Andrew: *nodding yes with a smirk* You're so smart

Me: I know. You can't get anything past me.

Little did I know that when we walked into the restaurant, this was the face that would greet me!


I have no idea how loud I screamed, but I really didn't care. I had no idea my mom, brother, sister-in-law and adorable little nephew were coming down for lunch! It was the best surprise EVER.

Unfortunately, they couldn't stay as long as I would've liked and I also temporarily lost my mind and didn't think to get a group picture.  The rest of the afternoon was pretty low key for me and the day ended with chili, pumpkin cookies and some Harry Potter. All in all, despite the hubby having to work, it was a pretty great day.

.................................................................

I realized, sometime around August, that I have a hard time coming up with ideas for what people can get me for my birthday or Christmas.  To remedy this, I created a "wish list." And let me tell you, this has been a awesome because it keeps me from wanting to spend unnecessary money. If I find something I want, I just add it to the list!


1. Timex Houndstooth Watch 2. Infinity Scarf 3. A Walk One Winter Night
4. Silver Knot Earrings 5. Monogrammed Sweatshirt 6. Vintage American Tourister Leather Travel Bag

I loved doing this idea though, so it may become a tradition. It's a win-win!

Happy birthday eve to me :)

Photobucket

Keep Calm and Autumn On

10.25.2013

October has been one awesome month.  If I had the brain power, I probably could have written a post every day...or at least every week! That would have been a great change from the past, um, year.

Every weekend of this month has been filled with something "fall-ish" and I have not been able to get enough of it. With the exception of the 80 degree apple picking excursion, the weather has been awesome and I'm really just trying to enjoy this season. Not just the season of autumn, but this season of my life. As I mentioned here (almost a month ago), I am really trying to make a conscious effort to pause...

...and thank God.

...to breath in the crisp, cool air....

...to bake cookies (seriously)...

...to just be.

Life keeps moving on as fast as ever despite my best efforts to slow it down.

On a separate note, I was looking back through old posts, and this lack of, borderline non-existent, blogging thing I've been doing has been going on for over a year and half! For the record, I hate that. I can't seem to get out of the not being able to write and not wanting to give up blogging. In my head, I haven't given it up; just on the blog itself apparently.

I think part of the problem is that I expect fabulous, worthy posts to just appear in my brain, when what really needs to happen is for me to sit down and care again. To care about getting my thoughts into words and transcribing memories into posts.  I am going to make a vow to myself, and to whoever may be reading this, that I will write at least two posts a week for the month of November.

I don't want to look back at the end of 2013 and wish I would've written more, and it's up to me to make sure that doesn't happen.



I hope everyone enjoys the final weekend of this wonderful month!



Photobucket
 
template design by Studio Mommy (© copyright 2015)