Wednesday, December 9, 2015

holiday home tour.

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. I love the lights and the trees and the holiday treats and the good cheer. I love giving gifts and spending time with the ones we hold dear. 

And with that,  I would like to invite you into our home. Oh how I wish we could host you all for a warm dinner or a cup of coffee, but for some, time and distance will keep us from that this year. So instead, I invite you in via pictures and words. It is my prayer that you would feel the love and cheer we share in our home as you take our holiday home tour. 

First, I invite you into the kitchen where the majority of the holiday madness takes place. I bought this adorable snowman spatula you see below at Williams-Sonoma. It reminds me of my granny who always made it a point to bake with me during the holidays and has a beautiful snowman collection. 

 One of our naughty elves also resides in the kitchen atop our cabinets. I like to think he's supervising the holiday baking. These elves are just two of my great-grandmother's collection. It is so sweet to have a little piece of Christmas tradition that has now been passed down 4 generations in our home.

My favorite part of our entire apartment is our dining room where we have our tree and we host friends and family. The space is a little tight, but then again what space isn't tight in a one bedroom apartment. 

When you don't have a fireplace, you must get creative with the stockings. 

Our centerpiece is something new I put together this year with a little help of Pinterest inspiration. I got this beautiful red ceramic bowl on clearance at HomeGoods and filled it with pinecones from the Wisconsin north woods my mom picked up for me (she's the best!). I added 3 pillar candles in the center, a few greens and bam... a gorgeous centerpiece that reminds me of home and the quiet woods. 

We have these letters up all year, but I really love how they look with our natural, rustic Christmas tree. I don't think I could've planned it any better. 

Most of the ornaments on our tree were handed down to us from my momma. She and I picked them out a few years back from "the idea store" in Green Bay. It is seriously the best place to get Christmas decorating ideas. 

Okay, let me tell you about these colored lights you see. Roy's parents so graciously gave us this tree to have this year (thank you!).  It is a gorgeous tree, however it is prelit. With colored lights. Not my thing. So we did what all teachers do... we problem solved. We just took one bulb out of each set of colored lights and there you have it... no colored lights. Well, at least none that come on. When you look at our tree from a distance, you would never know there are colored lights on it. It's only when I take super up close pictures that it looks a little funny. But like I said, the tree is so full and beautiful that I just couldn't turn it down simply for it's colored lights. 

Although I like to carry on the themed tree, there is always room for the Packers ornament. 

Elf #2 (they really need some names... suggestions appreciated!) hangs from the top of our tree. I imagine he's climbed all the way to the top and now doesn't know what to do with himself at this point. 

I originally bought this lantern for our wedding, but I've changed the candle with each new season and it's like a brand new lantern every time. I love the versatility of it. Our Christmas countdown was also a Pinterest inspired homemade creation. I just used some scrap wood, letter stamps and a clothespin.


And of course our family room has a few little touches of Christmas. 

This tree was given to us by my dad and the snowman was my mom's. One of the reasons I love Christmas so much is that it is a time to spend with family, and even if this Christmas means I will be spending it away from them physically, they are definitely in our home spreading holiday joy and love.

Thank you so so much for spending some time with me in our home for the holidays. It is a joy and honor to share with you.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

one year.

A year ago today, Roy was wandering the streets of Chicago carrying on normal text conversation as though he were teaching back in Houston.

I awoke as normal, put on an old college sweatshirt to match my school's spirit day, and packed my things to leave for home after school. I had 2 eggs and bacon, per usual, with my best friend and her husband (also my roommates and lifesavers), made my coffee and went about my day. I had no idea what was about to be.

My day was normal. I taught some sort of American History to 8th graders who didn't really care to listen. At the same time, Roy was riding a train to Chicago, wandering the streets of the city lined with Christmas lights (my absolute favorite) and waiting for my sweet friend Amy to pick him up from the train station. She so graciously brought him to Green Bay to pick up the ring and anxiously wait.

After school I headed for home and planned to meet my dad and Russell at the Botanical Garden of Lights. On my way home I tried to call and talk with Roy but he was "out to dinner with family and couldn't really talk". Instead I listened to the sounds of the seasons (aka magical Christmas music) and answered every call from my dad, mom, and best friend asking how the drive was going and where I was. Little did I know, this was the longest drive of their lives.

When I finally got into town, dad gave me strict orders to meet him at the Botanical Gardens. I was not to meet him anywhere but there. At the front doors. Park and ride the shuttle yourself. I thought it a bit harsh, but then again, dad always has a plan. As I rode the shuttle to the entrance gate, a Christmas wish ran through my mind... what if Roy surprised me and came to Green Bay for the weekend? Just as fast as that wish came into my mind though, I denied every possibility of it. Where would he fly into? How would he get all the way to Green Bay? Surely everyone couldn't keep that secret from me.

But as my dad and I walked in to Garden of Lights, I felt a gentle tap on my right shoulder and what to my wondering eyes should appear but... my dear.

In a flash my dad left us with 2 tickets and I was in a whirl-wind. We walked around the lights, Roy seeking the perfect spot to do what he'd waited so long for, and I still trying to figure out how everyone pulled this surprise off.

Roy suggested we jump the fence to get a picture under the arbor and I followed in my giddy state. Just as I took a picture of us, Roy dropped to his knee. I wish I could tell you all that he said and what happened next, but all I remember is saying yes!

We kissed and hugged and people around us cheered.

We walked around to see a few more lights, but Roy had more plans in mind for us. We headed to the restaurant where my friends and family sat anxiously awaiting our arrival.

One year. It's crazy what can happen in a year. And it's even crazier how much more you can love someone in a year.

Thank you Roy for your constant surprises, laughter in all of my days, and love that knows no bounds. I am honored to be your wife and will never forget this magical day under the twinkle lights.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

the essential.

The steady rain and thunder keeps us inside this morning. But it's quite okay because sometimes we need that. We need slow mornings to lazily get out of bed and sip coffee as we read a book that started to collect dust. This is what fall is for.

I've been thinking a lot recently about priorities. A mentor once told me to make a list of my top 5 priorities in life... what are the five most important things to me. I never actually took the time to write these things down, but I could easily tell you what they are. And as I think about those things, I feel a mix of emotions. I feel some guilt because my priorities and what I spend my time on doesn't match up. I feel sadness knowing that things that are so important to me continually get pushed to the side. I also feel glimmers of hope knowing that it doesn't always have to be like this. I have the ability to change.

The reality is I don't prioritize things in my life in the ways I would like to. And I would also venture to say that you just might be able to relate to me in this. We put time in to things that don't really matter to us and we don't give enough time to the things that do.

I'm currently reading The Ragamuffin Gospel (which I've been reading for months now, hence the dust on the book). In it, Brennan Manning says,
we are so caught up in the urgent that we forget what is essential. 
Wow. Yes. The urgent being teaching these standards to mastery in just two days, making sure I am wearing the latest fashions, getting caught up on social media, cleaning the house... the list can go on. There are so many things in our lives that are urgent. We must do them today, right now or people will be disappointed in us. Or we will be out of the loop. Or whatever the case may be. The urgencies take precedence in our lives and we feel pressure when they don't.

But what about the essential? What about calling my best friends to tell them how my week is going and ask them about theirs? What about reading the book of life? What about taking time to love my husband to the best of my ability? What about spending time with my family... sending a gift of gratitude... stopping to help a stranger?

These are essential. These matter. What I think I'm in need of the most is a shift in perspective... a shift in priorities. I want to see the things that matter, I want to do the kingdom work, I want to grow spiritually and be filled by the giver of good gifts.

Maybe the things that are urgent to us are so because they are fleeting. In due time that lesson is long forgotten. In due time that fashion is out of style and laughed at. In due time the house is dirty again and the fridge is empty and the nail polish is worn off and my book is still collecting dust.

You see, the urgent are only important today. Tomorrow they are forgotten about. But the essential are everlasting, imperative, and will not fade.

So on a rainy Saturday I fall on my knees, begging for grace and pleading for a shift in perspective. May the urgent be set aside and the essential take precedence. May I find myself spending more time on the things that are lasting and less time on things that are fleeting.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

six on sunday.

It's been a long time since we've gathered. Too long. Life has been extremely busy with the ending of summer and beginning of the school year. For weeks I've been thinking I can't wait to make it back here again, but time simply hasn't allowed. A few blogging friends post "Five on Friday" which I love... its a great way to catch up and get a little snapshot of life. But the reality of posting on Fridays is far too great of an expectation for me to meet. So here we have Six on Sunday. Here's where we've been and what we've been up to in the past few weeks.

1: I have officially declared it fall in our home. Although it is consistently 90 degrees or above in the outside world, my heart longs for fall. So inside we have fall. We have warm, fresh baked muffins, and harvest candles burning. We watch football on Saturdays and Sundays... perhaps with a pumpkin ale. I make dinner in the crockpot and wear the colors I only wish the trees were. Fall is one of my favorite seasons and I will not let this Texas heat let it slip by.

2: A few weeks ago, we received our wedding photos!! I was elated to share with our parents and now to share a few with you.

I just can't get enough of them...

Let me also take a second to thank those of you who traveled near and far to be with us on that day. We are forever grateful for you and the ways you love on us.

3: Our small group and church have been journeying through a new study together called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. Roy and I read the book with our intern class a little over a year ago, but there are still so many lessons that are falling on me fresh. This week I've been meditating on the idea that we are called to live slowly. I read the following in a devotional...
Jesus moved slowly, not striving or rushing. He patiently waited through his adolescent and young adult years to reveal himself as the Messiah. Even then, he did not rush to be recognized. He waited patiently for his Father's timing during his short ministry. Why is it then that we hate "slow" when God appears to delight in it?
These words really struck me and I felt a conviction in the way I've been moving through my days. The honest truth is that from the moment my alarm rings at 4:50am to the moment I lay my head back down, I am rushing. Rushing to take a shower and fix breakfast. Rushing on my drive to work. Rushing to get the kiddos to use the restroom and make it to specials on time. Rushing to teach all that needs to be taught. Rushing to get home, make dinner, spend time with my hubby, grade, read, eat... You get the picture. It's all a big race against the clock. My body is never at rest, let alone my mind and it's catching up to me quickly. This isn't what God intends or asks from us. He calls us to slow down and feel his presence. He calls us to focus on one thing at a time and allow the Holy Spirit to make our moments sacred. He wants us to live slowly and I'm trying to learn what that looks like as a young teacher, new wife, and long-distance friend.

4: Tomorrow marks the beginning of our fifth week of school and the fifth week of living the trailer park. Not literally, but that's what I like to call the clump of classrooms outside the main building. Our school has about 1,450 students, which means the entire fourth and fifth grades are in temporary classrooms. Life isn't too shabby in the trailer park except when it rains or our technology falls short, but we make it cozy.

5: Some might consider this just another part of fall, but I believe it belongs in its own entity. In the past few weeks, we've welcomed FOOTBALL SEASON. Being the diehard Packers fan that I am, last Sunday could've been compared to Christmas morning. The excitement couldn't be contained. It's a little harder this year living in a different land where the Packers are quite as loved as they deserved to be, but I can still find a few who share in my love. One of course is my husband. Others include random folks at the grocery store repping the green and gold and my favorite students who will discuss the game with me on Mondays.

6: Roy and I also started leading Young Life in the Katy Area. Last Monday was our first club with 91 awesome high schoolers. We are so excited to be doing ministry again together and can't wait to see what God has in store for us with our high school friends this year.

Thanks for stopping by to catch up. I hope you have a blessed week and can take a little time to live slowly.

Wedding photo credits go to the sweet Madeline Harper. Check out her site here.