Life's Sweet Journey

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Happy Birthday Babe!

 This guy turns 32 today! 32! I can't believe the guy I met when he was just turning 21 is now 32. I am beyond thankful to have spent the past decade with him. I was looking back through old photos trying to find the one below. There were so many memories to look back on and so much to love and it has only grown from there. 

These were taken 5 years ago on a ski trip to Snowshoe, WV. I loved our snow adventures because it meant he would grow the beard out! And now I  get to see that beard everyday! Yay, for beards finally being in (or me finally wearing him down)! He would never do it, because nobody at work had a beard and he didn't want to look unprofessional. I love his drive and his work ethic, but I also really love his beard. 

And now, I am off to clean! Wish me luck! We weren't doing presents this year (my birthday is two days from now), but I thought I would try to surprise him some. One of the other things I love about life with him is our lack of gender roles. He chose to marry me knowing I absolutely SUCK at housework. And I was very thankful to marry a guy who loves a clean house and who finds solace in cleaning it. I think I have finally learned how not to leave streaks when cleaning the counters... I mean, he has only given me the tutorial about 50 times. So today, I figured the best non-gift gift I could give him was to clean the house. I CAN do this, I CAN do this. Hopefully he will notice! Please say a prayer! At least he's giving me a thumbs up! 


Monday, December 14, 2015

2015: A Year in Review

2015 is almost gone, so I figured a little trip down memory lane couldn't hurt! Join me? 

~January, February, March~
I choose a word for the year this year and while I didn't do as well with it as I should have, I have learned a lot about what surrender looks like and it has found it's way to show up in the most unlikely of places. 

We spent some time on the ski slops in West Virginia and boy did SNOW Shoe live up to its name for that trip!! 

And we bid ado to our Disney passes after a wonderful year of all things Disney. We closed it out with my favorite Flower and Garden yummy...
Watermelon Salad!! 

~April, May, June~
Maybe it was finally writing about our trip on the Carnival Breeze, but it was about this time that my thirst for adventure, and seeing the great unknown, really began to grow. So a lot of this chunk of time was spent dreaming about far off places and life on the open road. 

We soothed the wanderlust a little with a trip to Costa Rica to work with Agua Viva Serves, drilling wells in communities needing access to fresh water. Every trip I take with them is so eye opening and humbling. 

I also got to check a big item off the bucket list and be a beekeeper for the day! Oh, my honey loving heart was happy!!

~July, August, September~
Flo!! This was the big moment! We purchased our sweet little travel trailer and named her FloRida ReVa. Someday I will share with you her theme song, but for now here she is again!
This was her first moment as part of our family. Unfortunately, we had to leave her behind, but we were back a few weeks later to pick her up and bring her home!

This was our first full weekend all together, getting to know each other! 

She took her maiden voyage to Fort De Soto State Park and loved every minute!

We also took our annual niece and nephew adventure to Georgia, packed so much more than a backpack, welcomed the newest little nephew love, and I finally got to meet one of my best friend's sweet little baby boy when I went to visit them in Birmingham!

Other Favorite posts: Beautifully YOU!, On Grief and Glory, Orlando Tankful Adventures, An Ode to 17 Year Old Me

~October, November, December~
We kicked it in high gear with a little Tennessee road trip to see my cousin get married! And took what may be our Christmas card picture for this year. We have never sent them in all our 5 years of marriage and Babe wants to do them this year, but he also wants me to handle doing them (hence why we haven't before), so consider this your web version because this is probably as close as we will get...

We ran for recovery in a run hosted by my dad and the other men of the Mind, Body and Soul Surf Co. There was a great turn out and it was so heartwarming to see all the people who came out to support our family, be around so many people who loved my brother and to hear stories of those active in recovery and to meet the families who are helping them continue on in their battle against addiction.
I am so proud to call him Dad!

Flo took another adventure and we got to swim with sea cows!
We celebrated all we have to be thankful for and now we are hanging our stocking on the chimney with care and preparing for the birth of the best Gift we could have ever received!

Other Favorite posts: Thankful Things, Wish list things, The Ache of the Wait

And that's about it for the year so far! Slowly waving 2015 goodbye.
We will be closing the year out with Flo's first trip out of state and spending New Year's in/near Savannah. We have at least two full days in the city and have never really been (he never, me on a class trip in 6th grade). Any pointers for Savannah 1st timers? I would love to know where to eat!! We are doing Lady and Sons per Babe's request, but I would love to know some of your other favorites (I love fresh and flair!).

Thanks for following along with my year in review.
What did your year look like?!
Leave a comment (or link) below and let me know! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Very Merry 5 on Friday

Friday! It's Friday folks! I may be just a little excited about that! 
Kicking off the weekend early with some 5 on Friday fun! 
 1.) Oh Starbucks! How you keep my heart warm and fueled! My face treat for this season is a latte with a 1/2 pump white chocolate mocha and 1/2 pump caramel brulee! Deeeelightful! 

2.) We got the Christmas tree up with the help of this sweet little elf! Watching her put my Mimi's angel on the top of the tree was very special for my heart! Mimi would have loved her! Her child like excitement and ornament overload skills made the tree extra special! However, that's about as far as we have gotten. I'm excited to pull out the rest of the decorations this weekend. Baby Jesus needs to grace the mantle! Every time I glance at the mantle I think "get out the other boxes" and just haven't. So that is the first thing on the list for decorating!

3.) I am love, loving the amount of Christmas lights I am seeing this year! I feel like in recent years there haven't been as many and that had been making my heart sad. But this year?! There are tons! And that makes my heart happy, happy, happy!! 

4.) Birthday week starts next week for this house! Babe's is the 16th and mine the 18th so we basically have a celebration train! We also go tickets to Sea World that have to be used by the end of the year so we're heading to hang with the sea lions for the day on Friday! Yay for birthday buddies and Friday's off to spend together this year!! 

5.) Wine to-go! I got this Vino Mio free to review, but the opinions are all mine and they are all things excited! These handle little wine holders are great! The pack comes with two, one for white wine and one for red, and each holds a whole bottle. It's perfect for taking down to the beach for a sunset sip or for a picnic lunch in the park. Takes a way a lot of the weight away and when you're done it just folds right up and tuck it away. Could also hold water for long hikes so that you don't have to lug a huge water bottle around with you! Vino Mios are great and would make wonderful stocking stuffers. 

And with that wishing you a merry 14 days until Christmas!! 

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Ache of the Wait

I finally sat down to write this post, after I spent the better part of the day trying to avoid it. This space has become more than I had ever envisioned for it, but it often times puts my heart at war with my head. Sharing the mix of the hard, in with mixes of the joy can make me feel as if I don't know the voice of this space, but then I have come to realize that it's all just my voice and some days that voice is light and carefree and some days it can feel as if the weight of the world can leak out when I open my mouth. That's where it started today. Yet, as I wrote, I found myself with this sense of deja vu, so I looked back through last years posts and discovered that I had written nearly the same post I had just started. As I reread my own words, they spoke to my heart the things I needed and so I thought I would share them again, but add a little more this time. 

You see, I had approached Thanksgiving with a sense of anxiety I didn't realize I had until the holiday weekend ended and I finally found that I could breathe again, like taking a long breathe of air after trying to see how far you could swim underwater before surfacing. And then on the ride to work the other day, I found myself singing along to my Christmas CD, when tears I didn't even know I had coming found themselves streaking down my face. It had started with the words, "...Trust me and follow me and I will lead you Home." The next thing I know I am trying to get out the words to my Grownup Christmas List and my heart seems to understand every word in a different way and the song became more of a prayer than a song and "I'm all grown up now, but I still need help somehow" seemed to reverberate through my soul and out into the world. And I found myself wondering if it's not just those that have lost someone close, but really all of us who have fully entered the world of adulthood and taken off the blinders that leave us feeling this ache of Christmas. 

When I was writing today's post in my head, before I ever remembered last years post, I had been thinking about the ache of the wait leading up to Jesus' birthday. The post I found was actually written a few days after Christmas and this is what it said... 

The tree stands glowing in the center of the window, in the same place it has always stood, adorned with the same ornaments for over 20 years. It looks the same as it always has, yet it means something different this year. It holds on its limbs the sweetest of memories, but they are memories so very sweet that they leave an ache behind. An empty, dull, pit in your stomach ache, because they hold all that isn't there. It meant the same last year, but I may have been too blinded with grief that I didn't see them. Or they were too hard to put up. This year the sting wasn't so fresh. It didn't take just the feel of the breeze to make the world hurt. But the ache is still there, it will always be there. In the mention of a name and in the ornaments that hang amid light draped branches. They are the sweetest memories and they still can be. But it's the texts you get from your dad, who is putting the ornaments on the tree, saying it's a slow going process. He doesn't say why, but you know. So you go over and you help and though you don't hang but one ornament its just the fact that there is someone there to look and see. To look and see and not need to say anything, because you both know what the other is thinking. You both know that the ornaments mean so much, but feel so hard. 
The ache is still there on Christmas morning. It's there when you are making waffles and eating them. And it's there as tears fall down faces during a pre-breakfast prayer. It's there in between all the wrapping paper and bows. It's there when presents are presented. Beautiful paintings that so artistically brought sweet memories to life. Yet, the ache is there because on this side of heaven the closest we will get to life here on earth with my brother is the smile in the paintings and in the memories that fill our hearts. It's there when you smile at the joy of a three year old opening presents, hugging Elsa dolls close. It ebbs and flows and sometimes gets forgotten, but it comes back. And really that's ok. 

The ache can be handled, it can be tolerated. Though we hate that it has to be tolerated, we will tolerate it all the same. Because it's better than forgetting all together. For numbing it down so much that you crawl blindly through the holidays. That's about where I was last year, there isn't much that I remember. This year the picture is different. There was more color, more light. There was so much more life in this Christmas. I am glad for that. I am glad that on Christmas, on the time of year that we celebrate life, that we celebrate the greatest Birth there ever was, that I can ache. When a part of you is gone, some of you will always ache. I think it is similar to the way our hearts are hardwired to ache for Jesus. We think fondly of the sweetest gift, the gift that filled the whole world with hope. We ache for the fact that we are so far from sitting face-to-face with Jesus, but we are glad for the fact that someday we will. I am glad that the ache can remind me of all that was good. I am glad for the sweet memories of life that will make it just as hard to take down the tree as it was to put up. And I am glad for the fact that, while I ache here on earth, it is just a matter of time before I see my brother again and get to rejoice at seeing his face. I get to rejoice because the sweet memories will be there, but all the hard things will be long forgotten. 
My gosh, how those words just echoed in my heart again this year. But in a different way. This year, the anxiety felt different and now having made it through Thanksgiving, I have a better understanding of it. I know when it comes and I can greet it with a nod of my head. It still sits there, but there is more joy in those moments. The joy and sorrow aren't separate things anymore, but a mix of it all. Even in the midst of moments that, in the previous two years would have left me unable to speak, I am able to fondly talk about memories with a sense of joy and light in my voice. Time has given me that. And while time can not erase the hurt that lingers, I don't think it should. Our hearts should be hardwired to hurt for things that are wrong. Our hearts should ache and cry out and pray loudly words like, 

"No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
and wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up christmas list" 

Our hearts should ache for the coming of Jesus, so that His birth gives way to the joy of what the gift of His Love really means; which is that someday all of those prayers will be answered. Some day the ache will lead to Him coming to us, taking us by the hand and saying. "Trust me and follow me, we are going Home."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Currently December & a Giveaway

Linking up with Anne and Jenna for another edition of Currently! Join me?
Wishing~ That this Advent season would linger. That each day I would be mindful to carve out time to just sit and soak in what this season means and celebrate the true Gift of Christmas and what it means that Jesus was born. 

And maybe for a few of these goodies too! 

Remembering~ Memories of past travels and Christmases as we decorated the tree. And remembering my sweet Mimi, whose tree topper Angel now adorns our tree. I love our tree and carrying on the tradition my mom had of decorating with the hodgepodge of ornaments made or collected over the years. When we got our house my mom gave me a box with a lot of my ornaments from when I was a kid, so it is really neat to have those, as well as the all the ones I have made or collected for us as a couple. It makes decorating the tree each year such a wonderful trip down memory lane! 

Baking~ Not a lot lately! I did manage to roast some pumpkin seeds though and have two more pumpkins that I plan to do the same with! I just can't keep myself from craving some honey roasted pumpkin seeds, so I usually save a few pumpkins for well into December. I am pretty sure I even managed to get one through January last year!!

Decorating~ The tree!! This year we had my niece the night we got the tree and she helped us decorate. We were only going to do the lights the night we got it, but she was so excited that we did it all! Also, decorating with a 4 year old makes the tree extra fancy. There is literally an entire line of ball ornaments on the bottom of the tree. And the side she couldn't see?! Completely naked! It reminded me of when my siblings and I were kids and my parents would have to press us to put ornaments on the side facing the window. It was bittersweet thinking about as I was decorating with her, knowing her dad wouldn't be here to share in those memories, but how thankful I am to have her to share them with and to tell her stories about her daddy from when we were little. I thought about rearranging things once she left, but figured, nope! It's just extra ready for Santa! Especially the bottom of it. Who cares if the neighbors think we own no ornaments because the window side is bare?!

Wrapping~ Not much! We decided to fore go spouse gifts this year and are only doing stockings over here. And I am still waiting for all the gifts for my parents, and the nieces and nephews, to make their way over from Amazon so I really haven't done much wrapping at all! However, I am really excited to wrap up this giveaway and get it in the mail for one lucky reader.
I thought with all the hustle and bustle the season can bring, that I would share a little package that might help someone find a quiet moment to sit for a while; to breathe in and just enjoy the small wonders that surround this time of year and to maybe take a moment to de-stress if needed. So I am dubbing this the Bee Stress-free Giveaway! It includes this great adult coloring book that I got from blogging for books (and a set of colored pencils). I love adult coloring! It is so soothing and really helps to give my mind a break from the running lists of things to get done. 

Every Little Thing is the cutest coloring book! Perfect for the nature and animal lover, as each page is filled with the sweetest little creatures you ever did see! And you get to color them! You want a pink panda?! Go for it! Seriously, how cute are these pages?! 
I am also including some honey from the Savannah Bee Company and a bag of coffee! I have been wanting to share my love for honey in my coffee with others and thought what a perfect addition! A little coloring time, with a nice hot cup of coffee sweetened with honey?! That sounds like my kind of moment! Seriously, for those of you who haven't tried honey in coffee, you are missing out! I use to use it as a way to cut down on refined sugar and would do half sugar, half honey. Now I'm 100% honey! It adds such a great flavor to a regular cup of joe! This Barney's brew does have some natural hints of flavoring too it, which I thought would be a nice holiday treat, but it's also amazing with just your regular, everyday blend as well! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck!
Happy December!