Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Beautiful Year.

2011 was such a great year! I can't remember the last time I was as challenged and as inspired as I was this year.  2012 is going to be quite the adventurous year, but for now it's time look back on the year of "Transition" and the year of "Thankfulness" as I'm calling it.  


 I celebrated my 25th birthday!  Joshua threw me my first surprise party ever and I was felt so loved by my friends and family who came to celebrate with me :)  Also, in January we found out we had officially been approved to do humanitarian work overseas!  

Birthday Surprise.
February and March

We did our first week of training for the work we'll be doing overseas and got to meet some of our new friends who will be there with us!  We also endured "Snowpocalypse" as the kids were calling it and took a trip to Hogwarts!

Snow Fort.


We celebrated Josh's 28th birthday with a chilly camping trip in Ludington.  We also went through one of the most challenging stretches of ministry ever and I was relieved to learn that when the 'going gets tough' something in me rises to the occasion.  I also learned that Josh has my back and that it is in difficult situations that we learn what teamwork really is and how to rely on a Strength far above our own.


 I ran a 5k with my sister Katie!  I didn't quite meet the goal I had set, but I was proud of myself nonetheless.  It was such a fun experience!


My younger brother Brad graduated from high school, Buddy got a haircut that made him look like Falkor from "The Never-ending Story", Josh ran in his first race ever, we tearfully celebrated four years of youth ministry coming to an end, and we spent three weeks training for the work we'll be doing overseas!  

Our "Farewell" party.


I got off of birth control and began practicing the Fertility Awareness Method of contraception (a variation of Natural Family Planning).  So far so good!  I spent my last 4th of July State-side at my parents cottage, dressed as a snitch to watch the last Harry Potter movie, supported Katie as she donated her hair to Locks of Love, and saw Taylor Swift in concert from the 4th row, and was honored to be a part of one of my best friend's weddings!  

Floating Heart Lantern.

Harry Potter!

My brave, beautiful sister!
My bff Taylor. Ha.

I had the privilege of
baptizing Katie and took a vacation to Myrtle Beach with my Family-in-love! (We also got to welcome sweet Ainsley into the world!)

September & October

 We celebrated four years together and three years of marriage!  I went to a blogging conference where I met my soul sister, Lenae, and finally figured out the "why" behind why I blog.  We also celebrated Fall's arrival (and my Mom's birthday) by carving pumpkins!


I went hunting for the first time ever with my best friend (and laughed hilariously), had a birthday fiesta for Kate, and finally proved that diet coke from McDonald's is better than any other diet coke!


I became famous on the radio (ha), danced with the coolest group of senior citizens ever, and went on a Christmas Cruise with my family!

Tonight we are in Pennsylvania about to ring in 2012 with Josh's family!  I can only imagine where I will be and what I will have experienced this time next year.  It makes me giddy just thinking about what the new year holds!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The very best Christmas!

Josh and I celebrated one of our very best Christmas' ever with my family on a Carnival cruise ship!  My parents decided to take my entire immediate family (all 9 of us) on a Christmas cruise and we had an incredible time.  I cannot even begin to explain how much I cherished the time with my family.

I purchased this first picture on the ship.  None of us thought it was going to turn out well (With Greg leaning over the railing and Brad lingering in the back), but the fact that we are all genuinely laughing in this photo made it absolutely priceless to me.  It really captures the fun and joy that we all felt together!

On the ship!

Greg feeding the seagulls as we pulled away from Key West.  Hilarious!

Josh and I sang  karaoke for the first time!  I've always wanted to sing karaoke and, well, this was the perfect opportunity.  The room was almost completely empty except for a table full of my brothers and sisters.  Could there be a safer environment to take that kind of risk?  I think not.  There was even a live band to play the song we chose, "I believe in a thing called love" by The Darkness.  It was so. much. fun!

 My favorite part of the trip was sharing dinner together every night.  Josh enjoyed being an adventurous eater and tried new things like Alligator and escargot and I decided to stick with familiar things like.. turkey and lasagna. (I eat vicariously through him.)  The best part of dinner every night was the "Chocolate Melting Cake".  Oh my goodness it had to be the most delicious thing I have ever had in my entire life.  Seriously.

Friday night was "Formal Night" on the ship and everyone had a great time getting dressed up!  I was just excited that I finally had an excuse to wear my "Taylor Swift" dress, as I call it.

It was a beautiful Christmas and I am so incredibly thankful for my parents' generosity and all of the memories that we made together. I am so blessed to have family that I love and enjoy so much!

I will probably have more pictures to post in the next few days, but this will have to do for the time being.   Now we are heading off to Pennsylvania to ring in 2012 with Josh's family!

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Beard.

(This post was written last week and scheduled to be published while we were away but didn't, for some reason!)

For the last five weeks my husband looked like this:

Kinda handsome, right? 

Right.  Until..... he decided to shave.  What should have been an occassion for rejoicing in my life, ended up being downright icky.  He decided to shave it off in "phases" over the course of three days and then actually go out in public during said phases.  Needless to say, I think I deserve some kind of golden sticker for being such a great sport about the whole thing.  It ended up being really fun for him and if I'm being quite honestly, pretty hilarious too.

SO. Without further adieu, phases 1-4 of The Great Shave of 2011.

I know, I know.  You're jealous.  I get it.  Don't worry.  If you wait long enough, I'm sure the man in your life will be able to grow a similar beard and, with enough encouragement from you, boldly shave it off into the creepiest designs you can imagine. 

Hang in there, friend.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Shortcuts to happiness.

"There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.
-Vicki Baum

On Friday, Josh and I joined our friend Betty for a night of dancing with her friends.  Betty is a very special lady and a very close friend of ours.  Every few months, we join her for a cup of tea and some lively conversation.  She is an 87 year old treasure and despite her small stature, a huge inspiration for me.

Josh and I went dancing with Betty and her friends for the first time just a couple of months after he and I began dating in 2007.  Despite the fact that we were falling very much in love, we really had no idea where our relationship was taking us at the time.  Interestingly enough, I posted this next picture on facebook on what would turn out to be the night before our wedding one year later.  Ohhh hindsight, what a fun thing you are to ponder.

Last Friday night was even more enjoyable than our first experience, though, because not only has our friendship with Betty grown exponentially over the last three years, but we are much more confident and comfortable with each other now. (I would hope so!) We were also quite eager to spend time having fun with Betty instead of just talking, and looked forward to getting to know her friends who are each so important to her!

Betty enjoying herself :)

Josh and Betty have a really great connection.  I completely fell in love with him all over again and admired the man that he is as he whisked Betty across the dance floor to several songs.  She enjoyed it so much she even said to me, "It's one thing to be dancing with a handsome young man, it's another thing to have all of the women in the room jealous of me because I'm dancing with a handsome, young man!".  Throughout the evening, I found myself repeatedly pondering the heart of femininity. Every woman there was dressed so intentionally, so carefully for their 'night out'. They were wearing make-up, dancing shoes, cute outfits, matching jewelry, and a few even had glitter in their hair.  As a friend of Betty's urgently whispered to her, "Betty, come with me to the ladies room!" I began to wonder that perhaps a woman wants to feel and be treated like a lady no matter what her age is.  I'm not sure a desire like that could possibly fade with time, and there is something so fiercely feminine... so ladylike and magical about being swept across a dance floor by a handsome man.  No wonder so many drive so far to experience it every week.

We met people who drive over an hour every week to attend these weekly dancing events.  The dance hall they gather in is literally in the middle of no where, and yet they have still formed quite the crew of dancers with over 50 people present!

I couldn't stop smiling the entire time we were there. We had so much fun and everyone was so welcoming.  We were a little concerned we would be viewed as 'outsiders' because we had only been there once before and were the youngest dancers by 40+ years, but of course, we were only met with kindness and acceptance.  It was such a strong reminder that as people age, they grow in wisdom and things like petty-ness and 'inclusivity' are often not friends of the elderly.  In a similar setting with a group of young people, there may have been a temptation to shun or feel threatened by a new couple.  However, a group of seniors knows that life is short and every new friend is a welcome one.

This Friday is their last night of dancing until March, and I'm not sure if we'll be able to make it back before we head overseas.  Perhaps we'll return in another three years, with a toddler in tow? A little one who will bring the average age of attendance down considerably, and will make an already sweet memory completely priceless.  Just imagining it brings so much joy to my heart!  Either way, last Friday night was a wonderful memory to make together; one that I will cherish forever!