Sunday, December 30, 2012

My 5 Favorite Posts

Warning: This post is kind of a pseudo post. You know how sitcoms sometimes have a flashback episode because the writers are too lazy to come up with new material? You're looking forward to a new episode, but it turns out to be a bunch of old episodes just mashed together. This is that episode. It's like the Women Tell All week of The Bachelor. Interesting, but really, you just want to know who gets the final rose. #SorryNotSorry

As I reflect back over the year, I thought I'd share my 5 Favorite Blog Posts with you.

1. The Toaster, The Jogging Stroller & Gma's House 

2. Let's Be Ladies

3. Online Dating

4. The Art of Journaling

5. The List

Here's to at least 5 more favorite posts in 2013!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Single, Waiting Girl

A conversation that often occurs between myself and other single girls centers around the question, "What is a girl supposed to do about getting into a relationship?" We want the man to pursue, but how does he know to do so? My entire life I've been taught that I should wait on the Lord to bring me a husband, but what does that really mean? I've also heard that men need to be encouraged, prompted, and given signs, but what does that mean? Lately I've been wondering, what if it isn't about waiting, but it's about going and getting? Where is the balance?

I have friends who have no problem saying exactly how they feel to a guy. I have other friends who would rather walk over hot coals than reveal their hearts. I tend to lean toward that camp. I'm often heard saying, "But I don't want him to think I'm interested," when in fact, I am interested. So what's a single girl supposed to do? Am I supposed to just sit on the sidelines watching my friends? Or am I supposed to go out and find what I want?

These are the questions I've been wrestling with. Then just yesterday, I read this verse:
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord. - Psalm 27:13&14
Waiting is hard, and it's easy to lose heart, but that is when we have to remember that we live by faith, and not sight. (2 Cor. 5:7) We don't have to depend on "signs" from a guy. We don't wait on a man to text us, or sit next to us, or like our latest social media update just so we know he's interested. We have to depend on a God who keeps His promises and keeps no good thing from His children. We wait for the Lord to move.

Sometimes I get hope mixed up. I place it in a man. I hope that he will text me, or I hope that I will see him, but that isn't fair to the man. If my hope is placed in an earthly thing, it will surely be crushed. That's why I have to hope in the Lord. Hope isn't just wishful thinking when God is involved, it is something that we can take hold of. (Hebrew 6:18) I can place my hope in God with full knowledge that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!

I'm reminded of the countless Biblical stories of people waiting no the Lord. Mary & Martha when they longed for Lazarus to be healed. (John 11) Sarah when she desired a baby. (Genesis 21) Noah as he built an ark. (Genesis 6) And my favorite, Hannah as she prayed for a son. (1 Samuel 1) Each of these people wanted something, and they waited on the Lord. Through the process of waiting they were changed. I'm sure they were ready to give up, or to try a different route, but they believed in the Lord's goodness, and they were strengthened by waiting.

We've all been there. We've all been told to wait. Maybe you are waiting on the Lord to bring you a spouse, or a baby, or for healing, or financial break though, or the salvation of a loved one. I want to encourage you to remember, "Waiting is not something we do until we get what we want. Waiting is the process of becoming what God wants us to be." (John Ortberg) It's not natural to wait, which is why we have to ask God to help us - to give us the grace to wait on Him and to give us ears to hear his direction when it is time to move. (Isaiah 30:21)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Cash!

One of my favorite people in the world turns three today.

It's amazing how he gets cuter and cuter every year.

He's at the age where everything he says is hilarious, and he has an imagination that includes monster trucks, dinosaurs, and playing doctor.

He definitely has learned a bit of sass in the past year. He can have a come apart with the best of them, but mostly he is just adorable and perfect. (Not that I'm partial or anything.)

I always knew that I would love being an aunt, but I didn't realize I would love it this much. When Cash calls me "Aunt Eny" it absolutely melts my heart. He and his little brother are such a blessing to me. I'm so grateful that I get to be part of their life.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Newsletter

I always enjoy reading Christmas letters that families send out to update their friends and relatives, so I thought I'd write one for the blog.

Dear Friends, Family, and Internet,

I know I never write you letters, but those of you who read my blog know that I have an affinity for writing notes to random inanimate objects such as my house and car, so I figure I might as well write a letter to a real-live person(s). So here is my life update, in alphabetical order.

I'm still working at Campbell, but I am now a "Mentor Teacher" in a partnership with MU. I love my job, but it's hard to explain exactly what I do, so I'm going to pretend like you aren't asking that in your head right now. I also love all the people I work with. (I'm adding that in case any of them read this.) The highlight of my school year was creating this video for our students. Okay, it might not actually be the highlight, but if I don't publicize myself in my own Christmas newsletter, when will I?

This year marks 3 years of home ownership. I finally crossed the threshold into adulthood when I re-financed this year. Luckily for dad, I have not had many hair-brained renovation ideas lately, so it's been fairly quiet around the house. I did however procure a new chair from Momma's basement to spice up my living room, and I finally got the shelves in my kitchen lined. (Every accomplishment should be mentioned in a good Christmas letter.) My goal for 2013 is to get the exterior painted, so I'm slowly trying to commit to a paint color.

Big Kody Dog is doing quite well. He is currently lying at my feet watching a Hallmark movie. He is still a bit of a pain, but he keeps me safe and entertained. The highlight of his year has been harassing the meter reader and getting a new, deluxe water bowl. (The key to a worthwhile newsletter is making things seem like a bigger deal than they actually are.)

I traveled to 2 new locations this year: New Orleans & Seattle. In NOLA, I consumed gallons of seafood, and in Seattle, I drank a latte from the original Starbucks. I also made it down to Springfield multiple times to see friends from college.
When I'm not traveling, I enjoy teaching the 2-year-old Sunday School class at my church. I've been doing so for 5 years, and I'm proud to say that I have not changed my repertoire of children's songs in all that time.
My friends pressured me into chopping my hair off this year. I donated almost 20 inches to Locks of Love, so the past month has been spent trying to re-learn how to fix my own hair. It's been a learning experience, and sometimes I awkwardly reach out and touch strangers with long hair in envy.

I am sure most of you skipped straight to this paragraph to find out if I'm in a relationship yet. The answer is no. I'm still single, and no, I don't know why, but thank you for asking the inevitable follow-up question. I know many of you were expecting an invitation for a 12/12/12 wedding, and I'm sorry that instead you received an extremely glittery Christmas card that caused you to pull out your vacuums. Fingers crossed for 11/12/13.

I can't end a Christmas letter without recounting God's faithfulness to me throughout the year. "He has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!" -Psalm 126:3 Seriously, I am constantly amazed at His goodness.

Well that's my 365 days (wait, was it a leap year?) summed up into a newsletter. Next year, I'll try to get fancy and print it on snowflake paper. I can't wait to read all of your letters.

Warmest Regards,

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Show Us Your Christmas Cards!

I absolutely love Christmas cards, and I can't wait until the day that I have a family to brag about via beautiful photos. Until that day, I'm going to share my favorite Christmas card that I designed this year.

From Thanksgiving to Christmas is a busy time for photographers. The weekend after Christmas, I had 7 shoots, which is crazy for a hobbyist-wannabe-photographer. This past week, I did a last minute photo session for my friend, Sheryl. (Who is amazing in every way, in case you were wondering.) She has 2 beautiful girls, and we've been trying to schedule something for a while. We'd had something on the books 2 or 3 times, but it ended up being windy, cold, or rainy. Finally on Tuesday, we were able to get together and photograph the girls. 

Towards the end of the shoot, it was getting chilly, so we wrapped the girls in a fur blanket, and it ended up being one of my favorite photos. I designed the card for her that evening, she sent it in to be printed the next day, and was ready to hand them out on our last day at work. Here's the card...

And here are a few of my favorites from the photo shoot while we're at it....

That's Sheryl in the middle. She's one of my favorite people. Seriously.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Snow Day

Yesterday was a snow day, so I took the chance to venture out into the yard and capture some snowy moments with my camera.

Big Kody loves the snow. He was all about running and jumping and digging.

Seriously, how cute is he? 
 My poor back yard has a lot of bushes that need some TLC, but they sure do look pretty in the snow.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

First Grade

A few weeks ago, I mentioned my memory box at Momma's house, and the little pieces of our childhood that she saved for us. I stole a couple of things from the box, so I could blog about them. One of the items I stole was a book of letters from my fellow first graders.

It was simply Handwriting Paper with notes and pictures from my classmates stapled together.

My friend Connor drew this photo of me. Apparently I had big feet as a 1st grader.
I doubt it meant much to me when I was in first grade. I'm sure I simply brought it home, gave it to Momma, and went on with my day.

A lot of the letters are from people that I was in school with from kindergarten to senior year. I have no reason to keep this little book except for the fact that it makes me smile. Which is enough of a reason for me. (I'm a bit of a hoarder.)

I love the innocence in each note. There is something about kids that is so honest, yet so sweet. I love the genuine kindness that exudes from the pages.

And I just can't get over the adorableness of first grade spelling. It's perfect in its own little way.

Adam and I were square dance partners at the annual Kindergarten square dance showcase. I think there is a video of it somewhere...
Yesterday I participated in the Blogger Day of Silence to honor the victims from Sandy Hook Elementary School. Those victims included children just like my first grade classmates that were in the middle of reading, writing, and learning. Tragedy is not a strong enough word to describe the loss of those precious lives. I can't even think about it without tearing up. So much darkness. So much anguish. 

My dad brought up the old Christmas carol, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, and I love how well the third & fourth verse illustrate what so many are thinking.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

The line God is not dead, nor doth he sleep hits me hard. He is alive and knows our pain. No amount of blogging, talking, or news coverage will take away our sorrows, but even in the darkest of valleys, the deepest of questioning, and heaviest of sadnesses, we are loved by a God who came to earth as a baby to set us free and put hope into our hearts.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Weight Loss Episode 11

Sometimes I start posts thinking it's going to end up one way, and they end in a completely different way than I expected. This is one of those posts. As of tonight's weigh in, I have lost 62 pounds from my highest weight. Since I've started "Round 2" of weight loss, I've lost about 20. It's interesting how that seems like a lot and so little all at once.

Sometimes I look in the mirror, and I can tell that I am 2 full sizes smaller .... almost 3. Sometimes I can tell that my jawline is more defined. Sometimes I suddenly realize that I shouldn't wear a certain pair of jeans anymore unless I want to tug them up all day long. Then other times I see the "old me." The girl who avoided mirrors and fitting rooms.

The other day I ran across a school photo from me 60 pounds ago. The beauty of being in education is that you get school photos every year. It's funny how similar I look in both photos, yet so different. Which is exactly how I feel about life. It feels so similar, yet so different.

These weight loss posts are incredibly difficult for me to write because I'm so much in the middle of my journey. I have a long way to go, but I've also come a long way. I have learned to eat for health, but I still struggle with certain food choices. I have discovered a few workouts that I genuinely enjoy, but making it a priority is not happening. The biggest thing I've learned is the importance of choosing daily to keep going. 

There are days that I want to run back to the old me because she's comfortable. But if you're not careful, your comfort zone becomes your cocoon, and that cocoon becomes a coffin. Maybe for you your comfort zone is a career, or a relationship, or singleness, or something altogether different. Regardless, as a girl who is learning how to get out of her comfort zone, I urge you to try it as well.

I'm reminded of Peter in Matthew 14 when Jesus walked out on water to meet the boat. The disciples feared him, but Peter mustered up the courage to walk out to Jesus. He stepped out of his comfort zone for something much better, Jesus Christ himself. Granted there was a moment of faltering, but Jesus was there to catch him. And Peter learned to lean on the Son of God. When I want to turn back, I remember Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.

And that is a promise worth remembering.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time...

 I love Christmas, and I love decorating, so Christmas decorating is one of my favorites. In fact, I have 7 totes full of Christmas decor, which in my opinion is a lot for a single girl who has simply collecting things here and there from garage sales & family member's basements. I typically don't use it all, but I like to have options when I'm decorating. I thought I'd link up with Kelly's Korner, and give you a quick tour.

First off, I love Nativities. I think I got it from my Momma. Here's all my nativity stuff. I learned from an interior decorator a while back that it's best to group things that are alike together. Therefore all of my nativity stuff ends up together.

I picked up this hoop art at a garage sale for a quarter this summer. 

My grandpa brought back this nativity set from Isreal. I love it so much. This is the first year I've used the lace table cloth around it. (I stole it from my Momma's garage sale this summer.) I like the way the table cloth sets off the nativity.

 All of my Santa items go on the table in the living room. The green glass is so versatile. It's on the table all year, but goes from season to season perfectly.

My kitchen table center piece. Just a lazy susan and mason jars. Nothing too fancy this year.

This year I started a Jesse Tree. The verse above the tree is Galatians 3:29, which reads "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring & heirs according to promise." I'm hoping to blog more about my Jesse Tree soon, but for those of you who don't know, it is essentially the lineage of Christ. Each day a new ornament goes on that represents a different person in Christ's family tree. The reason I posted Galatians 3:29 above the tree is because it tells us that if we've accepted Christ, then we are part of Abraham's offspring, so therefore it is our family tree. Pretty amazing.

Some people make their ornaments for their advent calendars, and some people buy them. I just used traditional ornaments, and drew the symbols on with a Sharpie because I'm classy like that. Hopefully I'll get to post about it soon, but until then, you can Google "Jesse Tree" and find some information. It isn't the most well known form of an Advent Calendar, but I love the idea of teaching my future children how the stories in the Old Testament point to the birth of Jesus, so that is why I'm choosing to have one.

Something I need more of in my Christmas Totes is snowmen. I'm majorly lacking in the snow department. This little guy is basically the only one I've got.

I don't have a "real" Christmas tree. I just use this cute little pink one. Someday when I'm married, I will have a big tree, but for now, this is all I need.

 Hanging next to my tree is a photo holder which I use to display my Christmas Cards.

I'm so glad you stopped by for the tour. I wish you all could come over and take a real tour while I feed you Gma's peanut brittle & chocolate chip cookies. Until then, this will have to do.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Thankful Thursday!

Today has been an insane day. One of those days that seems like I lived an entire month in a 24 hour span. It's left me feeling very contemplative. I keep coming back to this quote from You've Got Mail tonight: 
Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void.
I don't know why. It really has nothing to do with anything in my life, but I felt like I should post it. Anyway, on to Thankful Thursday (which is actually Friday by this point.)

  • Band-aids - I cut myself while chopping an onion tonight. It was a 3 band-aid cut, and I may have lost an apron in the clean up process. It reminded me that if this were 1832, I wouldn't have a band aid to use.
  • Mom & Dad - Tonight I hosted my Bible Study, and I've had a crazy week. So dad came and took care of vacuuming my house & mom re-did the greenery on my front porch in order to help me out. I'm sure they did other things as well, and I am forever grateful for them. Seriously, I'm a lucky girl.
  • Fridays - I'm so glad that I live in a world where I get to have a weekend.
That's all I've got the energy for tonight, Internet.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Speaking of....

1. The weather has been crazy lately. It feels like spring break when it should feel like Christmas.

2. Speaking of Christmas, I already sent out my Christmas cards. Warning: Some have a lot of glitter. To the point that they are pretty much a card made out of glitter. I just can't help myself. I love sparkly things, but consider yourself warned before you get attacked by glitter.

3. Speaking of glitter, my dad does not like glitter because it just ends up having to be vacuumed. Momma and I were working on decorating her mantle last weekend, and while we were worried about weather or not it needed more Christmas ornaments, snowmen, or glittery trees, he was worried about how easy it would be to clean.

4. Speaking of cleaning, my car is a complete disaster. Seriously, Internet, I cringe when I get in it. It's bad. I may need a car-cleaning-intervention. Okay, I'm making a deal with myself, until I clean my car, I can't go to Starbucks. 

5. Speaking of Starbucks, I was cleaning out a closet and found 3 Starbucks gift cards. They had nothing on them, so I got my hopes up for nothing. 

6. Speaking of nothing, I don't have anything to write here, so I'm just going to end this sentence with talking.

7. Speaking of talking, my cheerleaders, cousins, & sophomore girls have introduced me to this revolutionary stage of dating called the "talking" stage. I'm still not exactly sure what it is, but I know it involves a lot of winky faces and texting.

8.. Speaking of texting, my friend, Raylene, can attest to the fact that I am a terrible texter. The other night it took me 4 tries to send a message that made sense. 

9. Speaking of cents (it's a stretch, I know), I got a new hold all of my cents. I also got a new purse. Wallet and purse shopping is difficult for me. When I need one, I can't find one I like, but when I don't need one, there are about a million that I love.

10. Speaking of love, I love weather. I'm trying to tie up the circle, but this one didn't work out so well. Although I do find weather very interesting.

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Sibling Contract

This weekend I spent some time helping Momma get her Christmas decorations out. And by helping her get her Christmas decorations out, I mean, I spent some time going through my box of childhood memories while she sorted through her dozens of totes of Christmas stuff. Momma has a box for each of us, and it is filled with random things like art projects, favorite toys, yearbooks, and that kind of thing.

While looking through my box, I stumbled upon a few contracts that my brothers and I had created. You see, growing up, Justin was a bit of a neat freak. He made his bed every morning. He kept our books in alphabetical order. He organized our toys. And he hated it when Josh and I would go into his room and mess it all up. In order to keep us out of his room, he decided to type up a contract that laid out the some rules. Basically, Josh and I had to stay out or else we owed him $3.... and if we didn't have the money, the fine would begin accruing interest.

We had to sign the contract, and then he held us to it. This resulted in me creating a contract to keep him out of my room because all he ever did when he was in there was tell me how I needed to clean it. In fact, his son has taken up the same habits. When Cash walks into my room, he tells me that it's a mess, and I need to clean, and he's usually right.

I don't know why Momma decided to keep these silly contracts and the notes we passed back and forth about them, but I'm glad she did. They remind me of the fun and fights we had growing up. It wasn't always easy being the youngest and the only girl, but I personally think I have the best birth order possible. I've been so blessed to have 2 big brothers to show me the ropes & keep me humble.

Luckily we no longer need to write out contracts to get along, and I now have the best sister-in-laws on my side should any disagreements come up.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

December Photo Challenge

If you've been reading the blog for a bit, you know that I am into photography. I love capturing memories, details, and beautiful moments, so when I read about the December Photo Challenge over at A Content Housewife, I knew I wanted in. So for those of you following me on Instagram, expect to see some fun photos coming your way! Here is the list in case you want to participate....