Friday, January 24, 2014

Finally--my Christmas 2013 house tour

I planned to post these pictures waaaaaay back in December.
I just can't let January end without getting them on the blog.

Our house was on a Christmas home tour as a fund raiser for our town's clothes and food pantries.
It was a great experience, with approximately 100 friendly people touring our home.
I spent a month to get everything decorated and had help from some great friends. Everything is down now, packed away in plastic tubs until next year.

The front porch...

The mudroom...

The kitchen...

The dining/gathering room...

The music room...
drum chalk art by my friend Mary

The family room...

Down the hallway to the bedrooms...

Ellyn's bedroom...

Meg's room...

The laundry room/gift wrap station ;)...
chalk art by my talented friend Mary

The master bedroom and bathroom...

Oh holy my friend Mary

And a look behind the scenes...

This is my artistic friend Mary!

My florist friend Julie

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Things I've Learned in my First Semester of College (guest blog- Ellyn)

Wow. I can’t believe that my first semester of college is over! For those of you that don’t know, I am attending the University of Iowa in Iowa City (about two hours away from home.) I loved the challenges of living in a new place, surrounded by new people. Here are a few things I learned:

      1. Friends are more important in this time of life than any time before. I was pretty blessed to make some great ones almost right away. This ALL happened through church events and getting to know people in The Salt Company (college ministry.) Now, don’t get me wrong, I had some great friends in high school, too! But in college, my friends have become my family. They are people who make me better each day. Who you make friends with in college matters. A LOT. You have to be intentional and invest in people. Here are some of my new and great friends:
2.  There is a reason my mother never let us have a candy jar. And I have less self-control than I realized before. However, no “Freshman 15” here!

3.     Some things that you thought you would miss, you will actually not miss that much. And some things, you will miss more than you could have realized. Leonna and Aiden, our “Native family”, are on the top of my list of things I miss. They are growing up so fast, and I only get to experience it through occasional Skype dates and texts that Ryan sends me. He updates me on all of Aiden’s new words and Leonna’s wildness. Getting to see them when I come home is always a treat! Not to mention my cuter than cute dog who I receive pictures of almost daily. :)

4.     I never realized how truly blessed I have been until being thrown into a pool of thousands of people from all different backgrounds. I’ve become so thankful for some of the things my parents instilled in me. For example, I was ALWAYS taught not to let my emotions control me. Most kids never learned that! I now realize how that lesson has changed me, and what a huge role it has played in my first semester at college where I have experienced some emotions that I never really had before! (Ex: extreme stress & longing for a cozy home and my family.) I also have become so thankful that my parents didn’t always keep life comfortable. Having people from different backgrounds live in my home at times has allowed me to relate to so many more people in college.

      5. Making friends with the girls down the hall with the BIGGEST ROOM EVER will really benefit you. I met them through Church, and they have become two of my best friends. I often fall asleep on their futon after we have large gatherings in their room. We have connection group there, surprise birthday parties, and one night we had 24 people there watching a basketball game and playing Catch Phrase. SO MUCH FUN. I’m so thankful for their hospitality, and that I get to live with them both next year!

      6.     Signing a lease is even more exciting than I ever could have imagined! Maybe it’s because I will be living with these people:
We got a duplex... girls on one side and boys on the other! Somehow it worked out perfectly, and we are so excited for the ministry we can do through it next year. (just to clarify- none of us are couples!)

7    7.     “Group Studying” is actually not a thing. It’s more like, “Group Socializing" while books happen to be open (or closed) on a table in front of you.

8    8.     Any sort of package or mail delivery is appreciated… Even when it is a registration card for a half marathon, with YOUR name on it. My best friend from high school (who goes to ISU now) signed us both up for a half marathon for my birthday. It’s great having a friend who gives you no other option but to try new things and push yourself! I couldn’t be any more excited to run a 13.1 mile race alongside her on April 5th.

9    9.     Making great guy friends is crucial. They know how to fix DVD players, will scrape the ice off of your car when it’s time to go home for Christmas break, and will do crazy things like bench press you and help you “fly” just because they can and it is fun.

       10.  Tattoos aren’t as painful as I had imagined. I got this little tat on my wrist:
It’s one that I have thought about and wanted for several years, and I finally got it over Christmas break. It’s a great reminder that I am forgiven, and that my daily actions need to reflect that truth. “I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven.” Luke 7:47. 

11. God is SO faithful. Before college, I spent a lot of time reading in Psalms about how God protects us from our enemies. I prayed that God would equip me with what I needed to “fight the good fight.” He has given me parents and a church that raised me to know how to follow Him. He gave me a lot of alone time in the beginning weeks of college to grow and learn and thirst for more of Him. And then He gave me the BEST friends who encourage me to continue to grow spiritually.  He is faithful.

This next semester, I’m looking forward to volunteering and making a few adjustments based on the things I’ve learned these past few months. Overall, it was an awesome semester and I’m so excited for what the next seven will bring!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Merry Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas...just a bit late!
I hope you had a wonderful time with loved ones this past week, celebrating the birth of Jesus.
We had some good times with the relatives and family friends.  During this season, my thoughts often turn to loved ones we've lost...many of them in the month of December or with birthdays in December. I treasure the memories and enjoy making some new ones with the people around me.

I've been a little under the weather since getting home from Christmas travel. In my mind, I've written a few blog posts, but I have mostly been blowing my nose and coughing.
I'm feeling better today and am determined to get some things done!

This was the card we sent this year...

And the back side...