Monday, December 13, 2010

Thanksgiving!

So I know it's a little late to write about Thanksgiving with everyone focused on Christmas and all, but I wanted to give Thanksgiving the time it deserves.

Thanksgiving this year was quite different for us. Instead of trying to figure out how to balance seeing all of our family at the same time, we found ourselves without any family. It was a bittersweet time. I think I took it harder than Anthony (boys always seem to have this annoying habit of compartmentalizing things)... I had a little breakdown the night before Thanksgiving. I guess I was holding out hope that one of our sets of parents would visit, but it didn't end up working out for either one. BUT, Anthony and I decided to cook a turkey anyways and have a traditional Thanksgiving meal. We were invited by quite a few families from the church to join their festivities, but we just felt like doing it ourselves this year. In my humble opinion, I think our turkey/meal turned out great! Check it out:

Over the next week, we found ourselves in a battle with the leftovers. Try as we might to eat it all, the leftovers ended up winning and we were eventually forced to toss some of the food out :( It was still worth it to try our hand at a Thanksgiving meal.

Later that weekend, Anthony and I got out the Christmas stuff and decorated our tiny apartment. I always love decorating for Christmas. Anthony loves that I love decorating, but that's as far as his love goes :) We had fun anyways. We even found a local Christmas tree farm and cut down our own tree. Here's Anthony after fighting with the tree to get it in our stand:

It fits perfectly (if not a little big... we currently don't have use of our dining room table...) Here's an after shot:
P.S. Why is it always so hard to take a good picture of a Christmas tree?

We survived our first Iowa blizzard this weekend! Nasty cold temperatures, horrible wind, and about 6 inches of snow. It didn't stop blowing all day on Saturday. It was so bad they pulled the plows. We spent the weekend locked inside watching movies and reading books. It was actually quite lovely not to have to go anywhere. Church ended up being canceled on Sunday, which in some ways was a blessing. Anthony's been battling a cold, so it was probably for the better that he didn't have to lead worship.

That's about all that's happening here. Tomorrow begins our round of Christmas parties with my office party.

Oh we are for sure coming back to Indiana from December 26th - January 1st. It's kind of short trip and we'll be with family for a lot of it (celebrating Christmas), but we would love to see as many people as we can. Let us know if you want to get together and we can try to work something out!

Much love,
Emily

Monday, December 6, 2010

An Anniversary
Almost a year ago (December 11-13, to be exact) Emily and I drove 10 hours from Mishawaka, IN to this little podunk town called Okoboji to interview at Good News Community Church. We had so many emotions on that trip. Do you take a job out of desperation? We had always wished to leave Northern Indiana. But when faced with leaving our friends and family, it was actually pretty scary. Not to mention that trading Northern Indiana with (even further north) Northern Iowa wasn't exactly what we had in mind.

But details like this seem small when compared to God's will. And though we couldn't necessarily see all the ways that God was pointing us towards the Iowa Great Lakes a year ago, we can look back and confidently say, "We belong here."

Advent
I love Christmas, but the few weeks before Advent begins can always be scary as a worship leader. Expectations are higher, traditions can accidentally get trampled on, and somehow you have to come up with (yet again) another unique way to present the birth of Jesus.

But fortunately, I remembered I don't lead worship for people, for a congregation. I lead worship for an Audience of One, for God alone. And His expectations are always the same: surrender. Not performance, not checklists, not resumes. Just me allowing Him to love me, change me, shape me.

Wisely, I think, Good News also has intentionally decided to not plan pageants, parties, and extravagances in the name of Christmas. Jesus came to bring peace. Someone named Him the Prince of it, actually. And so, in that spirit, we're trying to make Christmas simpler. More peaceful. Less stressful. We're giving more time to spend with friends and family, brothers and sisters by blood (the plasma, red cell kind) and by blood (the redemption kind).

Trips
In a few weeks we'll be making yet another 10 hour drive back to Indiana. It will be wonderful to celebrate Christmas and the New Year with our friends and family. Though it is always stressful balancing our two families and our friend group all living within the same 30 mile radius, it is always worth it, and we will of course look back longingly as soon as we drive away.

But then a couple of weeks later we'll be heading to Hawaii! We'll be heading to the island where I did my internship, as well as where our friends Matt and Jamie Metzger are pastoring. I am so looking forward to showing Emily all my haunts. Not to mention get a nice respite from the ridiculous Iowa cold.