Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bring on 2014: Goals and Hopes

So, today, 27 days (now, 30 days as I drafted this post and never actually posted it....) into the new year, I am finally blogging about 2014 goals and resolutions....just a little late! Maybe blogging consistently should be on the list :)

Instead of one big goal, I have several small ones this year.  Lots of little things I (and in some cases, we) want to accomplish in 2014. I like goals ---particularly goals I can control when other factors in life aren't so easily eating habits, exercise, saving, goals to read more or drink more water, etc.  I ran my first half marathon because I needed a goal.  I had just moved to Jackson and didn't have many friends yet and certainly didn't have a boyfriend or husband, so I decided to run a half marathon.  When I felt like I wasn't "accomplishing" my other life goals, this gave me something to strive for!

I also have a few goals ("prayers") that I can't make happen.  I can make strides but I have to hope, pray and trust that God can and will provide. Goals like these are more difficult, but so much more rewarding---- because you learn so much about the Lord and his faithfulness while waiting and working and praying for these goals to be met.

2014 goals:

(1) Eat healthier and work out more.  Let's start with the most obvious new years resolution.  Dave and I both have marriage bellies that we are working on losing. Fat and happy right?? Well, not so much fat, but lets stop it now before we become fat! We also joined a gym and have been going about 4 times a week for the past 2-3 weeks.  I don't want to do anything drastic---but we are eliminating some of the junk we've been eating and hopefully dropping a few pounds while eating healthier.

(2) Read more....1 book a month. I read less now that I am married. I think this is due to the fact that reading is a solo activity and I have spent a bulk of the past 6 months hanging out with Dave, meeting new people or working.  But, I've been reading more this month...and would like this to average out to one book a month (atleast)

(3) Pray for my single friends to meet spouses.  I used to pray fervently for myself and friends to meet godly men. I haven't been as committed since I got engaged and married. Prayers for others to find spouses and have good marriages are just as important as prayers for my own marriage, so I have been striving to pray for my favorite single ladies and gentlemen this year.

(4) Save more.  Dave and I were just making it the first few months here, so no money was being added to our savings account.  Then I got a job and we finished paying for the move-- and we have finally been able to start saving the past couple months.So our goal is to continue this....saving some each month....and hopefully, once I have a better job, saving even more!

(5) Find a job.  The job search is finally beginning to wear on me.  I know some things happened that I couldn't control --  namely, a government shutdown, but constantly looking and/or being rejected is starting to get me down. The past couple weeks have been particularly hard-- a couple rejections where they narrowed it down to me and someone else and hired the other person because of more experience or because that person was from the Congressman's state (which its hard to disagress with home state allegiance!) Not only do I want a job so I can start my career here, I also know that certain futuristic things like home buying, etc can't really happen until I am employed in a better position for awhile. This is just one of those goals I have to trust that God will provide in His own time. I can apply and network and search, but in the end, He will open the right door. So, when jobs fall through and I'm disspointed, I take a day or two off and drink a glass of wine and watch tv then get right back at it.....

(6) Remember the Lord's faithfulness. I remember telling myself (on the week of my wedding) that I wanted to always remember that the Lord is faithful to provide and sustain us. I was experiencing His provision (after many prayers) and wanted to never forget His faithfulness in the future.  And, now, I am definitely praying that I see the Lord's faithfulness now and that when discouraged, I remember His faithfulness in times past.  That is my goal for this year (and for every year).

(7) Be a better wife.  Like #6, this is not just a 2014 goal, but hopefully an ongoing goal.  I am still learning how to be a wife, but my goal this year is to be more forgiving, more loving, use more kind words, serve more, etc. 

(8) Run a race.   I want to run a race of some length --- it could be a 10k or a half marathon or a ten miler.   I just want to get back into training for races. 

(9) Pray expectantly....and keep up with a prayer journal.  I've been writing prayers, requests, answers, praises in my journal over the past few weeks and plan to continue. I want to watch the Lord work in my life and in others--- writing prayers down is a great way to remember the Lord's faithfulness (#6)

(10) Make a DC Bucket list and accomplish several things off the list this year.  We live in such a great area.  I want us to enjoy and take advantage of this city. We really did explore the city at first, but the longer we've lived here, its felt less like a tourist destination and more like our home -- which is great, but it also means are weekends now include more chores, rentining movies, cooking dinners, etc than exploring.  I've listed some things I want to do in the city and am going to encourage Dave to list a few "dc goals" too... we can slowly begin marking things off our "DC Bucket List"  Some of the "to dos" on my list: go to a play at one of the many theaters;  pick a neighborhood we want to explore and make a day of it -- walk around, shop, visit tourist sites, grab dinner or coffee, etc; go to union market (and/or eastern market) for breakfast and shop for our dinner items -- meat from the butcher, cheese, veggies- then cook a lovely meal from what we bought at the market that day (buying food at the market to cook that same day feels so urban to me!); go to an outdoor concert at Wolftrap; when its warm, get drinks on a rooftop bar in DC; go to the Virginia wineries together; go to  the H Street Country Club-- a bar with miniature golf on the inside. The list goes on! Some things I have done, but Dave has never done; but many things I haven't done either! I'm excited to further explore my new home!

(11) Travel.  Weekend trips, day trips and hopefully Toronto/Niagra Falls this coming fall. We love to travel and realize that its easiest without kids so we should do more of it now!

(12) Make weekly goals. (and thus, better manage our lives and schedules)  I think lofty year long goals are great, but I am a big believer in making lists...and then trying to accomplish about 3/4s of the list.  I did this a lot in law school, and I've started doing it some in DC.  These aren't always exciting goals -- for example, one of my goals for this week is "sew buttons back on Dave's coat"  and "take clothes to the dry cleaner" But, my list also includes a couple fun items like "plan a date night for Dave and me" (last weekend we were busy so busy with meetings and work and chores that we just rented a movie and cooked in, so this week my goal is that we actually go out in the city for a few hours and have fun!) Having weekly goals is a great way to get the small things done in life!

2014 got off to a rocky start- and to be fair, it is hard to top 2013, BUT I have high hopes for this year! Excited to see where God leads us in the coming months!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

"Thirty, Flirty and Thriving"

Last weekend, I turned 30. I can't say that turning 30 thrills me, but it sure beats the alternative.....and although I don't like getting older, I sure do love any excuse to celebrate- and celebrate I did!

Birthday weeks should be spent giggling over cocktails with girlfriends, eating delicious meals where all calories don't count, seeing a tony-award winning broadway musical while enjoying your smuggled-in candy from a European candy store visited earlier, enjoying more desserts in 4 days than you have eaten in a month, with lots and lots of wine, walking through the beautiful streets of one of America's classic cities, shopping in New York (even if only for gloves and a scarf), with a love note from your sweet husband (that only included one 30 joke in the whole letter!), opening cards and gifts from family and friends, enjoying a date night out with an adorable country boy, viewing a movie"of your choice" (no compromising with the hubby) in your favorite theater with the huge recliner chairs, and catching up on phone calls with those you love who are away.

Oh, and if you are a Mississippi girl with a January or February birthday then your birthday should include king cake!!

I spent the 3 day weekend in between DC and New York and got to celebrate with friends from college, law school, Mississippi and DC.  I can't lie- the thought of turning 30 has caused me to be a little mopey the past week (in addition to turning 30, this past month has just been tough), but this weekend has cheered me up a lot.  It's hard not to be happy when you realize how many sweet people God has placed in your life for 30 years! Plus, I loved my late 20s better than my early 20s so I think the early 30s might have even more blessings!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2013 Highlights and Favorites

I was going to do a 2013 Highlights post (although we are now 15 days into 2014 so I am slightly tardy on the subject...) and a favorite blogs of 2013 post.  But, I'm way behind and instead of two posts, I could combine the two. The truth is, I've shared most of the 2013 highlights along the way, so all that is needed is a paragraph summary, not a post.

2013 Highlights

In case you haven't kept up. Here is a short summary. Dave graduated from Architecture school in May. He moved to DC first week of June. I missed him, but finished up wedding planning, packing and work -- because he came home a few weeks later and we got married on June 28 and the honeymooned in San Fran and Napa (Napa may now be one of my top 5 places to visit, you should go!) We then moved to DC and after some time as a stay at home wife, I found a temporary position at a lobbying firm. We have started making friends and settling in, even hosting our first holiday meal this Thanksgiving. We went home for Christmas and enjoyed being back in Mississippi, but we were glad to come back to our new home. DC has had its challenges but we are quite happy and blessed here! God has been faithful to us!

My favorite posts from 2013

According to blogger, the posts listed on the left side of this blog are my 10 most popular blog posts.  This is obviously true (who can argue with numbers?) but these aren't necessarilly my favorite posts (although some of them are!) So....I thought I would make a list of my favorite posts from 2013 to wrap up this year! Some are from this blog and some are from my old blog. In addition to being a list of my favorite, it's a pretty good summary of what was on my heart in 2013.

1. Singleness, not a distant memory. I wasn't a single all too long ago, so I wrote this post discussing the myth that getting married makes you forget the years of singleness.  God doesn't cause you to forget it, but He can and does redeem. Plus, most of my single days were fairly happy so I wouldn't want to forget those days!

2. My lessons as a "Stay at Home" Wife. I had the blessing and sometimes annoyance of staying at home fulltime for our first 2 months of marriage. I am glad I got to spend that time taking care of Dave and learning to be a better wife (although I was glad to get back to work!) I blogged about the lessons learned.

3. In Defense of Working Mothers. I fully support stay at home moms and even blogged in their defense as well. However, I feel its become quite popular to bash working moms these days and I spent a little time defending these hard working ladies.  Really, I just think the Mommy Wars are a bit dumb.

4. The Real Weapon Against Abortion. On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I discussed how Christians could really fight abortion.  My opinion that it has more to do with love, acceptance and a welcoming spirit than holding signs in front of an abortion clinic.

5. Final Thoughts on Singleness Series. and here, here, here, here, here, here and here.  I spent my final couple weeks before marriage discussing singleness, my tips on being a single adult and what I learned.  It served as my "final say" from a single persepective.

6. Blessings.  This is a post I wrote a day or two before my wedding expressing gratitude for my husband, but even moreso for the blessings of family and friends that had loved me for years.

7. I Love Monday Nights.  I love adventure, but I sure do cherish my "normal" with Dave (and my "normal" with friends) This post is about our boring typical WONDERFUL Monday nights. Along those same lines, I blogged about how thankful I was for the ordinary.

8. Thankfulness in all circumstances (even the hard ones!) Who hasn't had to work at thankfulness in tough situations?

9.  Thankful for Extras. I am thankful for so many things, one of them being the little extra helpings of joy God gives us.

10. A Thrill of Hope, the Weary World Rejoices! God is good to give us hope when weary.  This is one of my all time favorite Christmas lyrics!

11. Confessions of a Newlywed Cook: Sometimes we eat hotdogs for dinner  It's true....we both work, it can't be gourmet all the time. I try to mix in a few good homecooked meals with some simple meals each week - like make our own pizza, tacos and yes, sometimes hot dogs.

12. What I've learned about Hospitality in Washington DC   We southerners think we have the market cornered on hospitality, but I have been so surprised and touched how hospitable DC can be!

13. Advent: Peace when life has "loose ends"  I love advent but sometimes its hard to have peace when life has loose ends. It's so good that we can trust God in the details!

14. The Impossible.  How great that we serve a God that can do the impossible and answer impossible prayers!

15. Just the icing on the cake.  Romance and gifts are nice, but in a relationship, they are just icing on the cake.

So, maybe I am finally caught up on 2013 and can start focusing on 2014!

Monday, January 13, 2014

What I learned in 2013

I started this post over a week ago and have slowly worked on it-- I guess I missed the "Let's remember 2013" boat and yet I am going to blog about it anyways.  This week was just really busy and I also just didn't feel like blogging. Back on track from here on out, I hope! I can spend the next few days finishing up the obligatory 2013 and 2014 posts then move on to more interesting topics!

2013 was such a happy year. It had its challenges and changes, but this year has been overwhelmingly blessed and full of JOY. 

Both good and bad, here are the lessons I learned in 2013:

1. Change can be scary and good at the same time.

2. Marriage is double the sickness. Seriously, we have been sick more than usual and I blame marriage. Sharing is usually wonderful, except when its germs! (I also blame public transportation -- if I am going to share germs, I'd rather share with my husband or friends, not strangers!)

3. You can live on a lot less money than you think you can. And, you can live in less space than you think you need.

4. You should marry someone you like to hang out with.  Besides making for a happier marriage where romance mixes in with friendship, it also is quite practical for those times when you are travelling or new somewhere and he may be one of the only friend you've got.

5. Waiting for a great guy is 100% worth it. It's not easy and it shouldn't be downplayed, but it's worth the wait!

6. Truthfully, life doesn't always seem fair. Doing the right thing isn't always beneficial. Following the rules doesn't always lead to happiness. Obedience, hard work, prayers don't always seem to pay off.  I guess this is a lesson I learn yearly.  And, more importantly, I guess life not being fair also benefits all of us -- I don't deserve anything but rejection from God and that's the opposite of what I've been given. Also, we should remember that the Bible warned us that following Christ would actually cause hardships so obediance doesn't necessarilly bring prosperity. That being said, it doesn't make the "unfairness" of life any easier to live through!

7. Brunch is the best meal of the day.

8. God answers prayers.

9. Answered prayers don't erase the past, but it can be a way that God redeems and restores the past.

10. Not every homemade meal can be gourmet.

11. One of the many perks of singleness is the friends! Seriously, I love my husband and I love the friends we are making, but I do miss the stage where I was with friends almost nightly.  Singleness is a stage of life when friends can be your family.   In exchange for the many many hard parts of singleness, this is one of the biggest benefits!

12. The older I get, the more I crave normal routine. (also, here) Adventure is good for life and its good for marriage, but humans need to feel settled -- and lazy evenings by the TV with dave or laughing with girlfriends over happy hour makes me feel at home.

13. Marriage (and life, really) takes a little humor, some flexibility and a willingness to always show appreciation and gratefulness to one another.

14. Don't waste your stage of life.  I tried (most of the time) to make the best of singleness, Mississippi, etc  Now I am trying to make the most of marriage, DC, temporary job situation, less income.  From day trips to new recipes, Dave and I are trying to enjoy the best this stage of life has to offer.

15. Sometimes, all you really want is for someone to validate and understand how you feel. Luckilly Dave is learning this -- that sometimes I need someone to be sympathetic and understanding before jumping into solution or critique mode.  And, I think, although he is a guy, he needs this sometimes too-- and I am also learning how to support and validate him without always offering critique or solutions! I pray I can be the type of person that makes others feel heard, valued and like their feelings and opinions matter.

16. There are kind wonderful people almost everywhere!

17. There is some truth to the phrase "fat and happy" as Dave and I both have little bellies now after our first 6 months of marriage. Blame it on homecooked meals, a husband who dislikes veggies, exploring the dining scene in our new city, lack of gym access (for Dave, I have a small gym at work) and a desire to cuddle up and watch TV every night! Luckilly, they are just "little" bellies and we are striving to remedy this in 2014 with healthier eating and a gym membership (before they become "BIG" bellies!)

18. -10 Wind Chill is COLD. Good thing I got a heavy puffer coat for Christmas. And by the way, a husband is a great way to get through the really cold nights.  I know that you think I just typed a romantic statement, but its quite practical actually.  On the coldest nights last week (including the previously mentioned -10 wind chill evening), Dave and I turned our little plug in heaters on, cooked soup, shared a thick blanket and curled up on the couch together. This wasn't about cuddling, it was about warmth. In fact, he went to bed before me and I got so cold that I soon followed. The only other time I remember doing this was on an RUF campout my freshman year when all of us ladies snuggled up in several layers, lying closely together in one small tent. On the plus side, I made it through my first REALLY REALLY COLD week in DC and I survived. Although I hope that there aren't many weeks as misurably cold in my future, I feel prepared to deal with it-- heaters, puffer coat, blankets, socks and a warm husband (a large dog would also probably work well too!)

19.  People are going to dissapoint and hurt you and fail to be supportive.  Sometimes all you can do is accept people as they are, but place protective barriers up around your heart and remember that you serve a Lord that doesn't dissapoint.

20. I highly suggest moving away from your family when you first get married.  I wasn't thrilled about it at first.  I loved my friends and church and life in Jackson-- and a new place was challenging at first (and still has its challenges!) But, I feel like Dave and I are a team now - we have to be, we're eachother's only nearby family. Also, we have been able to leave and cleave a lot more easilly with 16 hours between us and our families.  I actually felt ready to get back to DC after Christmas - because this is our life here.  I love the new people we are meeting, the new traditions we are creating and the new places we are visiting.  Also, I was meant for a more urban lifestyle. I love walking and taking public transportation! I love the variety of restaurant choices. I love happy hour and I love brunch.  I love the diversity and variety!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Home Sweet Mississippi, Home Sweet DC

I know its been awhile since I posted, but I was in the South, celebrating the holidays with those I love!

It was so fun to be back in Mississippi last week.  We enjoyed many of the wonderful aspects of Mississippi -- homecooked meals with families, joyful reunions with friends, coffee, desserts and gifts by the tree, christmas eve communion at a small country church, meals at favorite local restaurants, drinks and laughter at small cozy bars and mornings spent in the woods hunting for big bucks (well, for Dave atleast)

Our week was full, happy, joyful- but not restful.  I was on the road the whole week and then wrapped the week off with a weekend full of wedding activities for a dear friend! Dave and I spent the holidays together, but spent a good portion of the week apart - while he hunted and we both saw family and friends. Then we had a LONG travel day including cancelled flights, delayed flights and finally got home at 12:30 am on Sunday evening/Monday morning. Yes, a HAPPY TIRING holiday!

I always hate January --its a dreadfully boring month and I always turn a year older despite my best attempts at preventing it.  It's cold and dreary and the holidays have ended.  The lights come down, the trees are packed away and there are less outings, parties and events.

And yet....this year, I am excited for January! I am imagining a month of movies and sweats and cuddling, cooking new recipes, curling up with good books and warm steamy cups of cocoa,  possibly a little organizing . WE ARE WORN OUT FROM THANKSGIVING AND CHRISTMAS-- and a slow dull month is just what the doctor ordered! I already have a list of movies I want to see and books I want to read!

Going home to Mississippi was good. The first few days were hard as I realized how much I missed my life there.  I also teared up numerous times with the realization that I didn't have time to see or enjoy everyone and everything I love about home!! But, even so, at the end of the week, Dave and I both admitted that although a few more days in Mississippi would have been nice, we were ready to get back to DC.

DC doesn't have as many people we love and it doesn't have as many memories, but it is the life we are making together- and we love having a life that is "ours". It is good to go home to Mississippi, AND its good to come back home to DC!

A few pictures from our time in the hospitality state!

Annual Game night with 2 families in town!

Sunday Christmas lunch with one side of Dave's family

Sunday Night Girls Dinner

Mele Kalikimaka party (including a round of "cards against humanity")

Jack's first Gingerbread House which he claims he built, but I think Uncle Bubby may have done most of the building!

 Christmas Eve with Dave's family at the Cedars Plantation (This picture should sum up the differences in our two personalities -- Dave's festive wear includes a green polo, mine includes a sequin skirt ha!)

Christmas Morning with Dave's family

Christmas Afternoon with my family

Lunch with some of my favorite Highlands Pres folks!

 I couldn't help but take a pic of Jack napping. Adorable.

 Lindsey's rehearsal dinner

 Drinks at the Library Lounge after the Rehearsal

 Wedding Day! (Isn't she lovely??)

By the way, Dave and I celebrated 6 months of marriage at the wedding. 6 months sure seems like it went by quickly! Excited for what the next 6 months, 6 years, 6 decades bring!

 I know it's 2014 already (Happy New Year!)  so I am a little late on the "2013 memories" and "2014 goals" blog posts, but they will be coming soon....just a little late. Bear with me, its  been a busy month!