2016: A Year of Adventures

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is almost over. This year has truly flown by, and so I’m taking a few moments to look back at some of our favorite moments. 2016 brought our world it’s fair share of heartache and pain, but it also brought our family some incredible adventures.  2016 is definitely a year we will never, ever forget. Here are some of our favorite memories from this crazy, wonderful year:

January: Skiing with friends, movie nights, snow days, leaving a church we loved, and the most wonderful few days in Jamaica.

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February: Bachelor nights with the girls, a new job, more snow, and a baby shower celebrating sweet Baby Kennedy!

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March: Lock-in with 4th and 5th graders, CBFNC, Holy Week activities at church, March Madness, and a few days at the beach with family.

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April: Baseball games, nights spent listening to music and grilling on our back deck, welcoming (and falling in love with) baby Kennedy, OIAM at church, and a trip to Atlanta for work.

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May: Graduation festivities celebrating my sister, Pentatonix at Red Hat, steak frites in Paris, boat rides in Capri, touring vineyards in Tuscany, sightseeing in Rome, and celebrating three years of marriage. (Basically the best month EVER.)

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June: Bryan’s birthday festivities, moving my sister into her new house, BLTs from Merritt’s, rooftop bars, and standing beside my best friend while she married the love of her life.

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July: A week of birthday celebrations, NYC, a wedding at the beach, pool days, buying a new car, and lots of ice cream.

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August: A weekend at the lake, countless hours spent watching the Olympics, Fellows orientation, and Saturday mornings at the Farmer’s Market.

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September: A crazy busy month of work, Ben Rector, camp with my kiddos, a weekend in Asheville, and house hunting.

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October: Girls’ weekend in Charlottesville, visiting my bestie in Chicago, family retreat with church, Rent at DPAC, and meeting Finley.

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November: Belong Tour, ALL THE GILMORE GIRLS, Thanksgiving celebrations, tailgating in Chapel Hill, Christmas card pictures, and buying and moving into our first house!

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December: Unpacking, Christmas parties, picking out a tree, decorating our home, Living Nativity at church, Christmas services, all the holiday movies, a trip home, and jet setting to warmer places!

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Here’s to 2017—I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us. Cheers!

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What Joy Means to Me

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On Sunday, we lit the third candle on the Advent wreath—the candle that represents joy. For most of us, joy is a word synonymous with Christmas.  It announces itself in our favorite carols and the scriptures of the season.  It reveals itself through laughter, song, dance, and an abundance of merriness. Perhaps we experience its magic is the embrace of a old friend or the smell of gingerbread baking in the oven or setting up our nativity scene as we tell the Christmas story to a curious child.

Joy is abundant this time of year, and yet something about this particular year feels a little different. I find myself wondering if anyone else is having trouble finding joy this year.

This has been a hard year for many of us. We feel the weight of what is going on in the world bearing down on us. Instead of letting our hearts be light this Christmas, we feel heavy and burdened. Our souls are tired, and so we long for joy.

But what I’m learning, even in this season, is that joy has very little to do with our circumstances.  While joy does not ignore grief or pain, it does rise above it to speak to some more permanent and more true.

I love how Sarah Bessey says it:

Now, now I know this: joy is the affirmation of the truest thing in this life.

Joy is born, not from pretending everything is fine, but from holding both hope and truth together. The Christian can stand in that liminal space, the place of grief, even there with joy. Why? Because joy is the affirmation of the thing that is truer than any trouble, any affliction: the affirmation that Love wins. Jesus is as good as we hope, it’s all worth it, and all will be redeemed.

Joy, in its truest sense, is not about lights or laughter or carols.  It is a testament to what happened in the world when Jesus entered it. The good news of great joy that the angels proclaimed to the shepherds is still good news for us, still the best news the world has ever received.

We have joy this Christmas because we know that Jesus, who came to meet us and dwell among us, is still at work. He will not tire. He will not quit. Joy to the world, indeed. The Lord has come.

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Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web. 

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Hello friends! It’s been a while since I have gotten around to posting Friday Links. Life has been all kinds of crazy, so we’re looking forward to getting some things done this weekend and finally getting a Christmas tree. I hope you all have a very merry weekend! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure….

 

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Currently: December

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Listening: Pentatonix/A Pentatonix Christmas. I love Christmas music, and this album is at the top of my list. Also, does this not give you chills?

Watching: Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Y’ALL. My sister and I spent all day Friday binging A Year in the Life (complete with tacos, chinese food, candy sushi, and coffe), and now I feel like I need a therapy session. WHAT IN THE WORLD?!? Here are my thoughts (in a nutshell): MORE JESS. What is wrong with Rory? Why was every single thing that happened to her so out of character? Why is she so terrible? The Logan situation is THE WORST. The Dean interaction was perfection. I love Luke and Lorelei. Paris is still gold. More Sookie. More Emily. I greatly appreciated the numerous Parenthood references. Where the heck was the theme song? Why did we waste so many precious minutes with the Stars Hollow musical (even though it was hilarious)? Are they serious with those last four words? WILL THERE BE MORE?

Doing:Unpacking, cleaning, organizing, and unpacking some more. We FINALLY moved into our house last week, and it is an absolute disaster zone. We’re at the point in the process where it’s so overwhelming that every few minutes I just lay down in the middle of the floor and stare at the ceiling. It can only get better from here, right?

Anticipating: CHRISTMAS! The holiday season is officially here, and I love it. There are so many wonderful traditions this time of year like our church’s Hanging of the Greens service, watching Christmas movies, and driving around to look at all the beautiful decorations. Next up on our list is picking out our tree. It’s the best time of the year!

 

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