What I Learned in 2015

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It’s the last day of the year, and I love reading other people’s reflections on their years—the highlights, the low points, the celebrations, the lessons learned the hard way.  For us, 2015 felt like the year of settling in. After so many years of big life changes and transitions and moving at top speed, this year was a little more steady. It feels like we’re settling into the people we want to be, and at the end of 2015 I feel more thankful than ever for the life we’re building together. Tonight we’ll toast a new year and all the beginnings, challenges, and adventures it will bring. But for now, I’m taking some time to reflect on what the past year brought me. Here are some of the most important things I learned in 2015:

Invest deeply in the people you love.

2015 taught me over and over again that the people I love deserve the best of my time and my energy.  In a lot of ways, 2015 was a year of loss for us. Bryan and I both lost a grandparent this year, and those aches have been a reminder that the time we get with the people we love is precious. The older I get, the more I’m learning that friendships don’t just happen.  You have to invest in them and work on them and take the time to nurture the relationship when you’d rather stay in and take a nap. My people—the small tribe of friends and family who know and love me best—are people I want to invest in every day. They are the people I want to pray with and for, the people I want to call when something goes wrong, the people I want to cry with and celebrate with, and the people I want to tell the truth to no matter how hard it may be.

Practice intentionality.

This year I’ve been learning to practice intentionality—intentionality in my relationships, intentionality in thankfulness, and intentionality in creating memories and savoring the moments happening around me. I think the things that matter the most and offer the greatest rewards don’t just happen—they take work and practice. But they’re worth it.

Let go.

One of the things I’m learning over and over again is that worry and trying to control every little thing gets me nowhere. 2015 (and life, I suppose) has been trying to teach me to just let go every once in a while and to let the pieces fall where they may. My type-A personality wants to plan every detail and make sure everything happens exactly like I want it to, but life is so much better when I let go of that desire. Of course, of all the lessons I’m learning this one is the hardest. I still have a long (long, long, long) way to go, but thankfully I’ve got another year to keep trying.

Cheers to 2016, friends! XO

 

 

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December Reading List

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  1. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. I just love Molly Wizenberg’s writing. I first discovered her through a more recent book, Delancey, and then I just had to back and read this fantastic memoir.  In A Homemade Life, Molly shares stories about everything from living in Paris to meeting her husband to losing her dad to cancer. And everything comes back to food, to life around the table and why it matters so much. Every chapter contains a recipe, and I cannot wait to try my hand at baking her chocolate cake!
  2. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. There was so much anticipation surrounding this book, and honestly I’m still trying to process my feelings about it. Go Set a Watchman takes place in Maycomb, Alabama during one of Scout’s trips back home as a young adult. It doesn’t hold a candle to To Kill a Mockingbird (of course not), but there is no denying that Harper Lee has an incredible way with words—her writing is beautiful and poignant. I also think there is something powerful about the timing of this novel’s release with the current state of race relations in our country and the way we are being challenged to pay attention to what we can learn from our past. The best thing about this book (for those literary nerds fanatics out there) is the connection to To Kill a Mockingbird—the ties are plentiful and fascinating. If you loved To Kill a Mockingbird, it’s definitely worth reading.
  3. A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan. This is your classic girly fiction type of book, which is my favorite kind of thing to read from time to time.  There’s nothing outstanding about this book, but Egan offers a fun, witty story about the age-old struggle to have it all.  Her protagonist is likable and relatable, and overall it’s an enjoyable, easy read.

Friday Links

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Hello friends! Friday is here, and December craziness is back in full force. It has been a packed week with Christmas parties, concerts, and special events, and we’re just getting started. Tis the season! Hope you all have a fabulous weekend. XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

Home Sweet Home {Christmas Edition}

Tis the season for Christmas home tours! I look forward to decorating our home all year. I love pulling decorations out of boxes (probably because I’m not the one that has to get them out of the attic) and thinking about the memories attached to certain items. I also LOVE seeing what other people have done in their homes and how families celebrate the season. Here are a few glimpses of our home all decked out for the holidays…

Merry Christmas, friends!

Currently {December}

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Reading: A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg.  I think memoirs with recipes might be my very favorite kind of book. More on this later!

Listening: Christmas music, of course. Current favorite is the Pentatonix’s  Christmas album. You can’t tell me this doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit!

Watching: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (I know, I know…we’re late to the game on this one). Bryan and I finally have several shows we both like that we’re watching together, and this one is our favorite. It is HILARIOUS. (Gina is one of the best tv characters of all time. Hands down.)

Praying: For peace. Yesterday, we lit another candle on the Advent wreath—this time for peace. When I reflect on what our world is longing for this season, peace stands out more than anything else.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Loving: Everything about this season–the music, the traditions, the decorations (like the adorable print from Minted shown above). I adore this time of year, and I’m so excited to soak it all in with people I love.

 

On Advent and Hope

Glowing lights in the dark.

This past weekend marked the beginning of Advent. Advent is by far my favorite season. It is so sacred and holy, and yet there is something incredibly raw and real about the way it intersects our lives. Advent is all about waiting—it’s about hope and expectation and weariness. And we get it.

On Sunday we lit the hope candle on the Advent wreath, and we read those familiar words from the prophet Isaiah:

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2

Advent is about waiting, of course. It’s about loneliness and ache and longing. But it is also about hope. Advent carries with it a promise that the darkness does not have the last word. It offers a promise that something better is coming—that the story isn’t over just yet.

These days I feel the darkness more acutely than ever before. Our news feeds and television screens are inundated with tragedies and hate and despair.  And that’s why I’m so thankful for Advent. I’m thankful for the chance to sit in the somberness and quiet and darkness of Advent. Advent doesn’t ask us to ignore that—it doesn’t pretend that everything is easy and merry. But Advent does offer us a different perspective. It invites God into the thin, dark places of our world to be present in us and with us.

One of the best ways to live into the Advent season is to choose hope, to choose to believe that a different way of living is on the horizon. This year I am waiting in anticipation of the light that is coming. I am hoping for redemption and healing for our world. And I’m choosing to believe that God is still right where he always said he would be—with us.