Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking back...

This is the time where I look back at my goals for last year and reflect on how I did. I pull out the calendar for 2012 and take time to look through each month, letting each memory take me back for a moment. Tonight and/or tomorrow I will make new goals for next year and pray over each goal, each month, each moment. But for now, I reflect. 

2012 was a blessed year in so many ways. It was my first year married...and marriage is fun! It was a year full of family nights and amazing memories with friends. It was a year where we spent 3x as many evenings with others than at home alone. It was also a year with some unforeseen struggles and challenges. And I think that's the beauty of not knowing what each day will hold - not ruining the good, not dreading the not so good, and the moment of reflection at the end of it all. 

Although I could type a novella about the moments and memories, laughter and tears of this past year - there are two things that are drastically different now than when I sat reflecting a year ago...

1. Derrick's job - When we got married, Derrick was looking a job. The company he had been working at full-time before moved to California, so he spent several frustrating months looking. In the moment and looking back, I knew it was something that would strengthen our marriage and test me as a wife. It wasn't easy for him - applying to dozens of jobs to hear nothing back. It wasn't easy for me - going to work when my husband wasn't. But we made it through stronger. He took a job in November of 2011, 6 weeks after we were married, working for HHGregg...which meant that we would have to get used to him working many long nights. It gave me plenty of time to clean and clean, to hang out with friends and family and clean...and miss him. Working retail during the holidays meant getting home at 11:30 p.m. and working Saturdays. Once again, I knew God was providing for us and also teaching us something. 

In January, Derrick was in Fuquay looking for a certain address. I had given him the wrong information, and he had to turn around to head a different way. He pulled in a strip of hidden stores behind Ruby Tuesday and turned around in a parking lot...the sign on the door said "Amazing Videos". Wanting to find something different than HHGregg, Derrick googled the company, emailed the owner, and began working there part time. The owner and his family were friends of friends and go to the church I went to as a teenager...Now, Derrick works there full time as the Media Director. It was such a God-thing and such a blessing, and we're excited to see what's to come!

2. Church - When Derrick and I started dating, because I didn't have a lifetime church family, I started going to Hilltop with Derrick. That was a blessing to me and helped build upon the foundation of my faith in many ways. After we got married, though, I think both Derrick and I started looking at and thinking about our place in church - what we wanted to be as a part of the church body and what we wanted in a church. 

We decided to start looking new churches after New Years, and we ended up visiting Relationship Church. Aaron and Whitney invited us when they were down helping with the children's ministry. The first Sunday I was unsure. It was all so new and different. 

After visiting a few more churches, Derrick felt like Relationship was the one, and I'm glad that I follow his wise leadership. I contacted an old friend of mine who went there with tons of questions. Finding a church, making sure you agree with the doctrine, etc. is a big deal and was something new for us. Just two or three weeks after, we visited a life group, Derrick had lunch with the music director, and we had dinner with he and his wife. Before I knew it, we were involved in a life group, and I was a greeter for our First Impressions team.

Now, so many of our friendships, so much of our laughter, so many moments and memories have come from Relationship and the relationships we have made there. I can't believe how much this one change has colored our past year. We have made many lifelong friendships and an eternal church family. When we started going a year ago, Relationship had just started itself - only a few months old. It has been awesome to see the church grow, meet new people along the way, see the changes God has brought...and it's exciting to look forward to what's to come! 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to all!

Merry Christmas! 

I am cozy on our mattress in the living room - left there from our Christmas Eve sleepover last night. Derrick's playing his new video game to my left, and I'm reflecting on and anticipating many things.

But I'm also reflecting on how awesome my God is. How awesome my family is. What this time of year is all about - and what Mary must have been pondering all those years ago. I'm reflecting on our time with family. The laughter. The conversation. The games. The food. The music. The traditions - old and new. The gifts. I'm reflecting on my blessings - and why God chose to give them to me.

And I'm anticipating... watching Brave. See, many weeks ago, I casually mentioned that the only movie I could imagine wanting for Christmas was Brave. I didn't think Derrick noticed. I hardly remembered myself. So tonight when I unwrapped the DVD and a Brave coloring book - I started crying and blabbering on about how sweet it was.

I'm anticipating tomorrow. I am ready to post-Christmas clean the house. Our spare bedroom has about 100 Amazon and Christmas boxes. Our Christmas presents need to find their home, the place where they can be used and enjoyed and appreciated. The kitchen needs to be cleaned. Our mattress needs to again rest on the box spring and be dressed in our new comforter set.

I'm anticipating this next week of rest and errands and cashing in gift cards and a day-date with my best pal (first time it's been just the 2 of us since my wedding day, i think) and time with my Mama and a rockin' Christmas party with my high school girlfriends.

I'm anticipating New Years and the new year. New Years Eve with the Greens - probably eating yummy food and bowling and spending time with God, praying for 2013! And a new year, for new goals, new beginnings, new memories, new adventures, new moments...

I hope you and your family had a very wonderful Christmas - and I hope you have a very happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The End of the World as I Know it....

I think that the end of the world - and heaven - have been on people's minds a lot recently. The world as we know it will end. But it won't be because Mayans say so. It won't be because Hollywood says so. It won't be because zombies  say so. It will be because God says so. One day, in the blink of an eye, in barely a moment, like a thief in the night, Jesus Christ will take His family up to heaven...

I wish heaven had a website.

Before I go on any trip, I research it. If you know me, you know what I mean. I look at pictures of where we're going and read comments. I look up the town and what there is to do. I look up the theme park and all the rides and shows. I make a list of what I want to do while there. I look up the hotel - and look at the rooms, the lobby, the pool, the restaurants, etc. I make sure to look at a list of where and what there is to eat, how expensive it is, the menus, and then I have in mind where I want to go and what works with our schedule.

At the end of it, even if I've never been to the place, I feel like I know exactly what to expect. I can now wrap my mind around the place and my time there. I get it. I am in control as soon as I get there.

And it is because heaven doesn't have a website that it sometimes scares me. I'm being honest with you. The transition from my reality on earth to the reality of heaven is a scary one to think about sometimes.

I know that once I get to heaven, once I have a hug from Jesus and see the glory and beauty and promise and peace and see my Papa's smile once again, then it will all be more than okay. It will be glory and inheritance and peace and good and God. But right now, my imperfect, small human mind can't grasp heaven.

For 25 years, my Mom has been my mom. She has taken care of me and worried about me and fed me and went shopping with me and loved me so much. For 25 years, my Dad has been my dad. He has worked for me and provided for me and protected me and asked me if I checked my oil and never hesitated to be proud of me and tell me so. And for over one amazing year, Derrick Green has been my husband. The man I get to live with and play video games with and sleep next to and wake up next to...

I don't know how my relationships will be with them in heaven. They will be different. They won't be Survivor nights and stolen kisses. And that scares me a little. Although I don't like the world, I like my world. I like what I know. I like sleeping next to Derrick Green, and I can't wrap my head around a perfect place where he's there but not there

I hate that it makes me a little anxious. But I think the mystery of heaven was God's plan. His Word gave us just enough detail, but not nearly enough detail. He wanted us to trust. To believe. To have faith. To be excited about HIM. And I think He likes the surprise. The moment that our imperfect, fragile, too-often-worried, tiny human minds crossover to His world. What a moment! What a beautiful surprise. What a glorious inheritance!

So the truth is that I can't wrap my mind around heaven - but I know that God is there and Jesus is waiting...and that is more than enough. That is everything.

The end of the world is coming one day - and we have to live life ready in each moment. Not ready for the apocalypse as the world fears. Not ready for mythical or hollywood characters to takeover. But ready to stand before the God of the universe, the King of kings, our Creator, Father, Author, and Friend. 

Therefore you also must be ready, 
for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

What Christmas Means to Me!

What Christmas Means to Me is one of my favorite Christmas songs.

From Stevie Wonder to Hanson- it's a great song. I think it embodies the excitement of Christmas and makes you think about what Christmas means to you.

Christmas means to me...

A reminder of Mary and Joseph. The cold night and the miraculous birth. The angels and the shepherds. A a little baby boy who was born to die and died so that we may live! 

Christmas shopping with my mom. Making a budget, making a list, and buying everyone something special. 

Christmas music - reminding us of the joy of Jesus' birth, the beauty of redemption, the treasure that is family and friends, freedom and love. 

Christmas parties at work and celebration with my students. The beauty of campus decorated for the season. 

The house warmly decorated with festive touches. Ornaments thoughtfully placed on the tree.

Constant Christmas music and the sounds of the season.

Christmas candles burning and my senses coming alive with the feeling of the season. 

People dressed in boots and scarves and coats and sweaters. And Jack frost nipped noses. My favorite wardrobe.

The anniversary of the time of year that Derrick and I fell in love. Our favorite time of year. 

Christmas photo shoots and Christmas cards.

Elf and The Grinch and sappy, silly Hallmark Christmas movies. 

Jesus' birthday cake and taking turns reading the Christmas story at Derrick's family's.

Games and food and gifts and catching up with my cousins, aunts and uncles. Hopping from one house to another, blessed with the time and sounds and memories of family.

 Christmas morning at my parents. Reading the Christmas story out of my worn green Bible. Sitting amidst piles of presents, shaking boxes and wondering what it could be. A Christmas Story playing in the background. The smell of sausage wafting through the air. Pouring out my stocking to see soap and perfume and shampoo and toothpaste and razors...things I've been rationing for this moment since September. Derrick and my Christmas scavenger hunt. Excitement and the epitome of Christmas morning. 

The bittersweetness of Christmas night. The sadness that it's over. The joy of the memories it left.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A wonderful weekend, the best day!

I love being married, because it means that I get to hang out with my best friend all the time.It's my favorite part of every day, every week...just hanging out with Derrick Green. 

This past weekend was a very good weekend. It started with our College of Arts & Sciences Christmas party on Friday night. I always enjoy celebrating the season with those that I'm blessed to work with.

Derrick and Ms. Elaine at the Christmas Party

When I got home that night, Derrick was already there. I heard the strums of his guitar in the office and followed the sound. Then we spent the next 30 minutes playing and singing and dancing along to the music. It was wonderful. 

Saturday was the 4th anniversary of the day that changed everything for us. My favorite day. The day that was so filled with magic and God-things and romance. The day that has its own soundtrack and changed our forever. 

To honor this day, I had planned a day-date for us. We started the morning with some video game racing - Derrick is MUCH better than me (but he's really sweet and tries to wreck everyone else so I can join him in the front). Then we headed to Buffalo Wild Wings, before going to Target to shop for each others stockings. Stocking stuffing shopping was interesting - and Derrick will wake up Christmas morning to a strange array of stocking gifts.

The next thing on the agenda was Wreck It Ralph (only the second movie we've seen in theaters this entire year). It was AWESOME! Probably our favorite animated movie. It made me laugh, it made me cry. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Ralph and Vanellope. Go see this movie. Really.
We ended the evening by going to Mr. Billy's church play and to dinner with the Green's.  Then we finished the night with a dance under the stars, and Derrick's customary December 8 present.

See, four years ago, - before we were dating or even talking about it - I found out that Derrick had never seen The Notebook. Finding this to be a tragedy, I gave him the movie and his favorite chocolates for Christmas on that December 8 night. Not exactly an appropriate gift at the time, but it worked. So this past Saturday he got Crazy,Stupid Love and chocolates. (I'm seeing a Ryan Gosling theme...)

 Derrick and me (along with Valerie and Amanda) on December 8, 2008.

Sunday was church all morning and then church shopping with one of my dearest friends! We had a wonderful time dreaming and planning for our church First Impressions ministry. (If you don't have a church home, you should definitely check out Relationship in Fuquay!)

Sunday afternoon we had photos with my family, and it was really nice to catch up with everyone...and then Derrick and I spent some wonderful time hanging out with some other friends and having a movie night in. 

Yay for weekends full of memory-making and best friends!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Music, my life and my God!

This past Sunday our message was on music. 

Not against a particular type of music. 
Not for a particular type of music.
 But in awe of the way that music is naturally a part of us, how we worship, how we feel. And it's so true.

When a good song comes on - I can't help but move along with the beat. Sing along. 

When my favorite songs come on - the world stops for only a moment, and I am simply surrounded by the feeling.

When I am having a bad day, 
I turn up the music and drown out the bad.

When I need creative inspiration, I find it in music. 

When I want to feel God. Feel His majesty. 
Feel His love. Feel His tenderness. Feel His triumph...
I turn up the worship music and let myself feel His arms around me. 

Music takes me back to being five years old, unable to sleep. 
Back to living room duets with my brother.
 Back to the night of Homecoming and our Junior/Senior banquet.
Back to the streets of New York and feeling romance.
Back to the hours Derrick and I spent on instant messaging talking about our favorite songs...
and listening to his over and over to feel him with me. 
Back to our road trip to Ohio for a wedding.
Back to my wedding day. 

Music takes me back to the moment the angel spoke to Mary,
 the silent night Jesus was born, 
the darkness of the nails piercing His wrists,
 the beauty in His resurrection.

Music is emotion. Worship. Sweet sadness.
 Complete joy. Warm comfort. 
Romance. Tears. Stories. Understanding. Hope. Beauty.

"By day the Lord directs his love,  
at night his song is with me
 - a prayer to the God of my life." 
Psalm 42:8 

 Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!
Psalm 150:1-6

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. 
Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.
James 5:13

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, 
teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, 
singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
 Colossians 3:16

Sunday, December 2, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like...December!

I am excited that it is December! As I look forward to this week,
and the next and the next and the next, I am excited...and I'm glad.
I hate when December rolls around, and I don't feel like a kid at Christmas.

I'm pumped for this week...
Dinner with Derrick's family and mine.
The celebration of Aunt Carolyn's birthday with a Green family dinner.
Life group - shopping to bless a family who isn't as financially fortunate as us. 
End-of-semester breakfast at work. 
Christmas party at work
 (yay for the freedom to celebrate Christ at work)!
December 8 date day with Derrick
(the 4th anniversary of our best day - woot!). 
Christmas play at Mr. Billy's church. 

Wow. A lot to be excited about...and that's just this week.

The rest of December includes...
Continuing my marathon of every Netflix Christmas movie.
Celebrating Mom-Vickie's birthday.
Celebrating the little bro's birthday. 
Tacky-sweater game night with our church group.
Derrick and my 2nd annual Christmas Eve sleepover.
Celebrating Jesus' birthday with each group of our family: with food and traditions and laughter.
And blessing them all with gifts picked out just for them
(and I don't hate getting gifts either...let's be honest, folks).
Celebrating Christmas with my group of high school girl friends. 

Yay for December!
And, despite the 70 degree weather, I'm still praying for snow!