December

{December Goals}

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"I'm choosing not to get stressed. I'm just managing blessings."
{Lysa Terkeurst}

December Goals

☐ Celebrate Christ’s birth through meaningful reflection and activities

☐ Work through PowerSheets for 2-0-1-6!

☐ Cut down our very own Christmas tree (it’s a tradition now!)

☐ Listen to as much Christmas music as possible

☐ Make mini gingerbread houses

☐ Host an Eggnog + Cookies party

☐ Update Maddie’s baby book   

☐ Finish reading From Anger to Intimacy (I'm still reading this one! Really soaking it in).

What are your goals for this month? I'd love to know what your aim and focus are set on!

December Gratefulgrams

Val Marie Paper prayer journal
Winchester sunrise portrait session
SG send-off party
Pregnancy announcment photo
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Tribal necklace

"Far from what I once was but not yet what I'm going to be." {Unknown}

Happy 2015!

It's so incredible to look back, over the weeks, months & year to see how the Lord has led, directed & worked through our lives. In the span of just 5 months, Dean & I found out we were pregnant (August), celebrated our 1-year anniversary early in Canada (September), decided not to renew our townhome lease (October), began the job search (October), slept in a hotel/friend's basement/apartment/on a pull-out couch (November-December), traveled to visit different companies (November), accepted an offer (November), said good-bye to our church community & friends (December) & moved into a new little rental home in Columbia, SC (December).

We are thrilled to have this opportunity for newness - a new location, a new job, a new season of life. Like Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3:1-3, 11, "There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born ... a time to uproot... He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."

Here's to living each day of the year in light of God's mercies, which are new each morning!

1. A place to keep all my prayers #Vmpjournals/ 2. Sunrise + photography + beautiful friend / 3. An incredibly (bitter)sweet farewell from my SG ladies / 4. Sharing the news about #MyFairweatherBaby / 5. Hosting our very first Christmas / 6. Capturing moments like this of my amazing sister

A December dream come true

Have y'all ever cut down your very own Christmas tree?? Back in December, I had listed it as one of my goals to accomplish during the holiday/birthday season.

I was born & raised in the Sunshine State, meaning we had mostly palm trees, orange trees & yes, some pine trees, too. But not your choice of farms with the big, beautifully perky evergreens that so perfectly hold out their branches as if to say, "I'm here for you. Please, do put your ornaments on my needles." Since moving to Northern Virginia (or, if you're not from around here, DC :) ), I've wanted to bundle up on a cold winter day & head out to a Christmas tree farm for a tree picking extravaganza. And this past December, that's exactly what Hubby & I got to do!

We drove over to Evergreen Acres in Nokesville. Such a great farm! It's a family-run business & even though we went in the middle of December, they still had a ton of trees left to choose from. Bonus? They gave out steaming cups of hot cider. YUM!

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This guy :) :) :)

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Here's the hilarious part of it all: although the wintery white flakes were melting/on their way out of town when we were at the farm, it was still preeeeetty cold. Meaning I was pretty cold & Dean was not :) I was SO excited to go frolicking through the rows of Fraser fur & pine trees that I didn't even consider that the boots I was wearing were not exactly weather appropriate. 

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My comfy brown boots! Oh how I thought they would never do me wrong. But after the wear & tear of a few winters, they have slowly started to fall apart. Which leads us to the middle of our tree-cutting adventure & I have cold, dripping wet feet. With every step, the melting snow & ice sloshed more into my boots & socks. And y'all, there were puddles ALL over! Since Hubby couldn't cut down the tree & carry me, it became one of the fastest rounds of find-your-Christmas-tree that farm has ever seen!

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There it is! And down she went! So fast. I was telling Dean to let me know when it would fall & then it was already cut down haha. He works so fast!

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Such a welcome to the cold day! If only my soaking wet toes could have had a cider bath...

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We successfully attached our voluptuous tree (she was pretty curvy!) to the roof of our car & brought her back home. I must admit I've never before attempted carrying a tree up 3 flights of stairs! Luckily for me, Hubby & his gun show could get it upstairs with very little assistance from me. And our FSU Just Married ornament was a wedding gift from my sweet friend Lauren Elizabeth & her boyfriend :) Go NOLES!!!

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We brought back this angel from our honeymoon in St. Lucia :)

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Slipper time :) Feet finally started defrosting! Next year, I'm definitely wearing rain boots! Or any pair of boots without holes in them! And if you want to have your own Christmas tree experience, we highly recommend Evergreen Acres! Everyone was really helpful & the prices are great! P.S. if you wait til closer to Christmas time to snag your tree, they go on sale! $25 for any of the pines, same as picking one up at Home Depot. Sold!

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Earlier this month, I was hardcore dreaming of a White Birthday. And that's exactly what I got!

Dean & I started off the morning with a it's-starting-to-snow-so-shoot-faster-so-we-can-all-get-warm-again engagement shoot with Sabrina & David. We had planned to cut down our very own Christmas tree at a nearby farm. Insert excited squeal here! But all of the snow we accumulated throughout the morning & afternoon was actually *too* much to make the trip out out to the farm.

Instead, we spent a cozy afternoon in our new home, enjoying pumpcakes (pumpkin. pancakes!), snuggling under the covers to watch Home Alone. And don't you worry you pretty little Christmas socks off - we *did* get to cut down that tree the next weekend. YAY!

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Part of Dean's gift to me was a bouquet of roses with reasons he loved me on them. So pretty to look at AND read :)

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To my Hubby, who can somehow manage to make me laugh even on the crummiest of days, gives me the world's squeeziest hugs, patiently waits when it's hard for me to open up about something & rocks a pretty awesome spoon on his nose, you are the real deal. The past 18 months have been the best adventure together & I cannot wait for a million more. Thank you for pointing me to the Lord & being a man I truly look up to.

Happy weekend! May it be a little bit snowy & a whole lotta bright :)

{December Goals}

My sweet friend  Dara Lynn

My sweet friend Dara Lynn

Happy winter! Whether it's a balmy 65 or you're wrapped up to your ears in a thick scarf, December still marks this wonderful time of year in my book as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

OK, time for some truuuuth. I was looking back over my past goals & the last time I wrote them down (aka blogged about them) was ... June. Yikes, just a few months have passed since I actively committed to making things happen. You could say these 2 little things called engagement & wedding took up some of that time I would normally have otherwise. So, after a 5 month hiatus, we're back! It's goal time :)

December Goals

>> Cut down & zealously decorate our very own family Christmas tree. This is a lifelong dream, y'all!
>> Pick out a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan. Any suggestions?
>> Serve my spring bride well
>> Shoot a lovely engagement session in Old Town with new LMP equipment
>> Walk/run around our neighborhood lake 3x a week
>> Divide & conquer wedding thank you cards
>> Drink at least 3 refilled water bottles daily (hoping for more)
>> Pull off Operation SS (Secret Service) Christmas, anonymously blessing my assigned Small Group sister this month
>> Celebrate turning 26 by reflecting on 26 ways the Lord has blessed my life
>> Stay faithful to our budget
>> Bake yummy cookies to share with friends & neighbors with our new mixer
>> Watch It's a Wonderful Life (Mr. D has never seen it!)
>> Decorate our mantle into a wintery wonderland & roast marshmallows in our cozy fireplace
>> Listen to as much Christmas music as possible ... and somehow convince my hubby that he likes it, too!

"Present over perfect. Quality over quantity. Relationship over rushing.
People over pressure. Meaning over mania." 
Lara Casey, #presentdecember