Tuesday, November 27, 2012

advent.

This year, I'm really excited about "prepping" for Christmas - let's be honest, I'm always excited - there's just a heightened pep in my step this year.

I have given extra attention to decorating our home.
I have planned different fun holiday activities/dates/outings for each day of December for Harris and myself to enjoy together.
I have planned yummy recipes to make throughout the month.
I have also prepared different scripture plans to help us focus our attention on Jesus.

There is an intangible thickness of joy in the air around Christmas. I can feel it. I really don't know how to describe it, but it is a mixture of anticipation, excitement, peace, and general warmth. All aspects of Christmas make my eyes glow and my heart happy. While there is a major "holiday bustle", I sense that ultimately people slow down (after all of their hectic shopping to-do lists are complete) enough to notice others around them and to extend loving kindness, even if it is just "because of the season". I sense a connectedness that this season of love and sharing brings to everyone. I love it!

With all of the attention and care I have put into this season and all of the effort I have put in to getting excited about scripture and focusing on the Lord, I cannot help but think about my attitude the rest of the year. Am I always this excited to sit around the table and go over scripture and focus on Jesus? No. Am I always preparing interesting devotionals for my family that we can study and bring Glory to the Lord year-round? No. I know that schedules and seasons bring with them the ebbs and flows of life, but I want one thing to remain, and that is my love and excitement for building relationship with my Savior.

Advent is a time of joyful, expectant anticipation. I want to live my life towards others in love and with that same general sense of joyful, expectant anticipation:

Anticipating the best in others.
Anticipating grace when I fail.
Anticipating that the Lord will provide what I need for the day.
Anticipating the next kind thing I can do for others.


"If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, 
that where I am, there you may be also."
John 14:3

This verse gives me have so much hope and anticipation. I hope that I can maintain these same feelings throughout the year as I focus on who the Lord is and all that he has promised.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

hot yoga.

I got the unique opportunity to participate in a new type of Yoga yesterday evening: Hot Yoga.

I was invited my one of my new friends, Olivia, to attend a yoga class where a series of 26 poses are performed in a relatively small room that is heated to 104 degrees with 40% humidity.
I figured that this would be just like the other relaxing Yoga classes I've taken, just with a warmer room and I would sweat a bit more.. sounded like a neat concept, "I'm in!"

Let. Me. Tell. You... 

I think that might have been one of the best workouts I have ever done. It was also probably one of the hardest. I was dripping sweat after only about 5 minutes (of a 90 minute class). I thought I had plenty of water that day. (two 24oz water bottles is pretty good, right?) No. I had to sit down for probably 1/3 of the class because of how intense the workout was combined with the heat.



For some background, I am an extremely determined "workout student". The reason I enjoy taking classes so much is because I hate to disappoint or fall behind, so I'm extremely motivated to give the class everything I have and do exactly as the instructor says. It usually ends up giving me the best workout results. This time, I had to know when to stop pushing myself.

While I was lying in my child's pose (looks exactly like it sounds, fetal position on the floor just doesn't sound as cool), everybody else continued on in the standing cardio poses and I had a few minutes to think through my present situation. It was so hard for me to accept this 'defeat' and to submit to my body's cry for a break, I really wanted to keep going. Initially I felt weak for stopping but honestly, had I not taken that break, I would've been passed out on the floor which would have definitely been more embarassing!


As weird as this may seem, I learned more than one lesson yesterday:

1. The Lord sometimes walks us through difficult situations.
He calls us in certain seasons to push ourselves, work hard, test our limits, stretch emotionally and spiritually, but on the other side of it all, we walk away new. God brings us through the refining process to teach us, to rid us of personality/character impurities, and bring us to a place of enjoying life to the full - but the refining process can be very difficult!

2. We have to know when to sit out.
The pace and pressures of this culture often tap into our feelings for the need to constantly and consistently achieve, move, develop, grow, or obtain. Without knowing it, we can easily fall into the cycle and find ourselves lost in the commotion - despite our best intentions. Sometimes we have to know when we've reached our limit and we need to be okay with taking a break. We say "yes" to many good things, we get involved, we push and rush, and sometimes we just have to know when OUR limit has been reached - and be okay with it.

Comparison is the theif of joy..
live at your own pace,
live where the Lord has called you,
and live to know your Maker.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

praying for Obama.


My husband came home from work last night and we sat down together to enjoy our (often repeated) spaghetti dinner. We held hands to pray, but this time, his prayer was different. He prayed for Obama.

Harris and I had not had time to talk about the outcome of the election at all yesterday morning because he had to leave extra early. Honestly, when he came in from work yesterday evening we did not mention a word about the election. The first mention of the results between us was done when we talked to the Lord.

It was a genuine prayer. It was as though he was praying for a friend or someone he cares for. I looked up after "Amen", and he began to explain how he is choosing to live 'post-election'. He then stated that as a family, his goal is that we would pray for Obama. We will pray for wisdom for him. We will not pray with a condescending tone, but with a genuine concern for the weight of his responsibility. We have heard so many believers saying that they would pray for Obama, but it has been with the undertone of hatred, defeat, and sarcasm. So our goal as a family, small as we may be, is that we will lift Obama and his family up to the Lord.

Lord, 
We want to remember firstly that you are Lord and King over this world. We also want to remember that you have the ultimate victory in this whole story. 
You are God of the past, present, and future. You knew this would be the outcome of the election, and we know You are good. Please guide Barack in his responsibility of leading our country. 
Please give him wisdom to handle all situations that come his way. 
May we have the love, patience, kindness, and faithfulness to spread Your light to others. Let it start here at home. 
May the Obama family be lifted up to You. We ask that you guide them, speak to them, touch each of their lives personally as you have ours.
We love you Lord. Guide us as we seek to show You to others through our actions, words, and thoughts through this, and any other time in our lives. 
Thank you that we live in a country that allows us freedom here on Earth. More importantly, thank you for sacrificing Your Son so that we may have ultimate freedom. Amen.
 



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

long distance.

Moving away from home is often times difficult because you do not get the opportunity to do with old friends what I love best: sit with each other, spend quality time with each other, and speak to each other face-to-face about life and love. Technology, however, has made this transition in some sense even better! Not only do I get to make a home here in Virginia with my wonderful husband, but I also have had the unique opportunity to connect even deeper with a "new" best friend who actually remains in Rome.


My friend and I did not get much time to sit with each other before the move, but since the move have had countless conversations over email about life, laughter, transition, hardship, and any number of other topics. She has been my counselor, my confidant, my friend, and my mentor. Her words come alive through the screen and her compassionate "listening ear" (reading eye?), has been a gift that came in an completely unexpected time and way. She and I are kindred spirits and the time we have to read each other's thoughts has been a wonderful way of connecting. Our relationship, much thanks to technology and the Lord's perfect timing, has developed into a genuine long-distance blessing in my life.

The Lord will surprise you in the ways that he so delicately tailors His gifts. In order to take notice of anything delicate, intimate, and superbly romantic, we must be highly in-tune with an expectant attitude and know our Father's ways. I only say that because I have missed many a gift/blessing in my own life only to have a dear friend point it out to me.
How is the Lord showering you with love today? It may be a specific type of weather you love, a smile from someone unexpected, extra grace in a moment you know you messed up, or a great hair day.. today I am thankful for the incredible friendship that the Lord has allowed to grow and develop over email. He cares so much!



Monday, November 5, 2012

our first year.





This day last year, I married the best man I know. This past year has been the best of my life. I am so grateful that the Lord brought us together! Harris leads me to the Cross on a daily basis, and I am so blessed with an amazing husband.
I made a video compilation of our first year of marriage: most of this is inside jokes, experiences, and fun times we have shared together in this first year.