Monday, January 19, 2015

My heart is happy and full of exclamation marks.

I am long overdue for a blog post. It has been precisely one month since I last posted. I have not posted a year wrap-up. I have not listed or shown what I have been thankful for from the year. I have not posted my word to focus on this new year or goals I have. This is unusual for me; however, that does not mean I have not thought about this. I definitely have.

The year was far beyond anything I could have hoped. I went on several amazing trips. I finished a year of grad school, enjoyed it, learned a lot. God answered my prayers of a desire for life balance, mindset, and keeping priorities.

And then, in the midst of the craziness and my reluctance, I met this guy. Oh, man. Knowing him has changed my life. Here are some favorite moments of the holidays. 

From friends' holiday party--the beginning of the many festivities!

And then a quick photo op at my office's holiday party (our 2nd holiday party of the evening, after his work party). This one included dancing and me laughing a ridiculous amount. The more I laugh, the more he makes me laugh.

We took a brief pause on the Downtown Mall after his holiday concert with the Oratorio Society. The man can sing. And rock a bowtie.

He is not as great at checkers though. Ha. I swept the board at Cracker Barrel before we met a few friends from college on our trip down south.

What is a trip south without introducing him to Bojangle's? His face is amusingly funny here. 

And now for some real favorite moments...

We spent a few days with my brother's family. My parents were quite sick, and the kids actually got sick too. My brother and his wife both worked most of the time, but overall it was okay. First holidays together. That was great. Two weeks solid together, and I couldn't have hoped it would have been any more fun than it was.

My oldest nephew took such a liking to Matt. It probably helped that Matt knows all the superheroes, likes video games, and will have (foam) sword fights.

After the holidays, my brother told me that from the week we were there and the week they visited my sister-in-law's family, one of nephew's top 5 things of the holidays (even including all of the many gifts he received) was Matt. I mean, come on. How adorable is that?? 

We had a really enjoyable week visiting Matt's family too and had more time to rest and be surrounded by children. So fun!

Since my family had been really sick while we visited, we had a Christmas do-over this weekend! My brother's family came up to my parents', and we got to see everyone, including having our holiday dinner with some of mom's family. 

The first thing oldest nephew asked when he saw me Saturday morning (they were in bed when we arrived and I often sleep in the living room so I'm one of the first to get morning greetings) was, "Where is Matt??....I'm going to go get him up to play!" hahahahahahaha. omg. THAT IS SO CUTE I WANT TO BOTTLE IT UP!

And play they did. So, I'm sharing a few other moments I caught on camera. 

Back to Charlottesville we went. He drove so I could do a little work. We had some great chats, sang a bit, had a little dance party, and oohed and ahhed at the sunset.

My heart is happy and full of exclamation marks.  

Friday, December 19, 2014

"Let every heart prepare Him room"

Advent, the season of preparing and waiting. We shove the busyness, anxiety, hurried activity, schedules, to-do's, must's, should's to the side. We let every heart prepare Him room. Or wait...that's how it's supposed to work. But perhaps you find yourself so bombarded by the joy, singing, gift-buying/wrapping/giving, decorating, baking, etc that peace is the last thing you feel in your heart. There is simply so much to do that it's increasingly harder to just be.

How do we open a heart to hope, love, and joy when our schedules are so full and we are sprinting from one place to another?

I do not have answers for you. I have answers for me. I finished classes and stepped into a month off from school. Freeeeeeedom! A month to work during the day and focus on other activities and people in the evenings or on the weekends. The time can easily fill and feel so the opposite of free if we aren't careful. I put up some decorations, but I did not go crazy. I was not willing to set aside multiple evenings to decorate when I could use the time to serve or spend time with people or read or otherwise take a little quality time for myself. I was not willing to strive for the perfect gifts for people. I had ideas of thoughtful gifts and ordered most online because I wanted to do other things with my time. I have spent a little time writing, here and elsewhere, because oh, my soul; it frees when I write. I chose several holiday concerts and programs to attend and deleted invitations to others. Priorities and boundaries are freeing. As a year winds down and activities wind up, I am compelled to rid my home of clutter. I have quite a pile of stuff in the car to go to Goodwill this weekend.

In other words, I have tried to be very intentional about what I am allowing to fill my time and space right now. I am choosing to not run around doing all of my chores and using my free time to cross all tasks off my to-do list. This is not old-Andrea. This is some new version of myself I have been surprised to welcome into my life. I give myself space and room to sit with my thoughts, utter some prayers, and stop the doing to allow the be-ing. This, to me, is how to savor the season. This is how I am getting myself out of the way and letting my heart prepare Him room. This is how I am choosing to wait in anticipation and celebration of our Joy.

I pray for you as the year closes, that your heart opens. I hope you, too, will determine your priorities and align your activities accordingly. I long for you to know peace, love, hope, and joy. Press on as we journey together through this messy, chaotic, beautiful life.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Being on the interwebz like we are, it's easy for words and phrases to gain popularity and fill feeds. Some make you roll your eyes or just annoy. Some I will not use. That includes "food porn" or "beer porn" or "bookshelf porn" or something of the sort.

My rejection of these phrases does not come from a religious stance or that literally it does not make a lot of sense. Are there other definitions of that word? Nope. Or there weren't. My stance is such because using "porn" just to say you are showing food you like or something else you crave normalizes what porn is. 

Photos of food, drink, and book porn are supposed to tantalize, and they do. But I do not need to talk about them as suggestive meals or books I lust after. To me, calling pictures of gourmet entrees and desserts "food porn" usually gives others a chuckle and people nodding heads in strong agreement. But it desensitizes us to "porn" as a word, and I think a concept. It makes it okay, and I'm not okay with this.