sweet resolution


Jeremy and I each made some modest resolutions this year. Two each, with a little bit of overlap. Our common resolution is activity-related, and Jeremy came up with the great idea to gift ourselves with some rewards for the first few months (beginning in February) if we could successfully and consistently meet these goals. We’ve done the goals-followed-by-rewards system for other things before, and I think using it for the first few months of 2013 to keep working on our New Years resolutions is a brilliant application.

I’m pretty dang close to resolution success in the month of January (one more week!), and I’ve got my eyes on some 31 bits bling. 31 bits is a sweet organization that sells (mainly paper-beaded) jewelry made by women in Northern Uganda, introduced to me by my sister-in-law, Bex. I’ve got my eye on this baby:

necklacerewardWOOT. Hooray for resolution rewards. And hooray for February. Because after February comes March. And then after March comes SPRINGTIME, BABY!!!!!

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just a hello on a Saturday

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biblestudyIt’s been one of those delightfully peaceful Saturday mornings today. This week was filled with long days and long nights, so I’m reveling in the quiet, restful morning. My favorite kind of Saturday usually involves the following: sleeping in (but not too late), coffee, reading, house or life errands together, and time spent with friends. Today is a day for all of these things, and I’m soaking it in for all its worth.

Things are well around here. School is challenging, as usual, but I’m enjoying it. God is giving me the ability to keep overwhelming stress at bay, and I am having an amazing time in clinical learning how to be an NP.

Jeremy and I are thinking about getting a couple more chickens next month. Tragically (!), our chickens were attacked for the first time ever while we were away at Christmastime (turns out Will has a job in this house!), and now we’re down two silkies. Our local bird/feed store is getting all kinds of chicks in February, and we’re hoping to snag a couple Silver Laced Wyandottes. Lately I’ve felt especially fond of the chickens, and have been getting an immense amount of joy out of their presence in our little yard. The Silkies have thick, soft winter coats, and are looking more and more like giant fluff balls next to the Red Stars, who are already bigger than the Silkies and still growing like crazy. Whenever I come home in the afternoons or venture outside in the middle of the day, the chickens all walk up to the fence and cluck their little hearts out, like they’re telling me hello. It is so fun having them. Lately Jeremy has been dreaming of someday owning a building next to a vacant lot, where we keep chickens, bees, a goat, perhaps a sheep or two, and other city-friendly livestock. Apparently this woman is his inspiration.

Jeremy is preaching at a small church in Watseka, IL tomorrow, so he’s been working on his sermon all morning. I’ve been to this church with him one other time (he’s preached there twice), and am looking forward to going back. The people are wonderful, and it’s really neat to see him developing as a new preacher. It’s two hours away, and the drive is a nice chance to spend some uninterrupted time together, without the feeling that we should both be doing work.

I thought I’d check in here while I had some time. Nothing major to report. I hope all of you are doing well. I’ll leave you with this verse that was the opening to my Streams in the Desert reading this morning (I found it to be an encouraging reminder):

“Men ought always to pray and not to faint.” Luke 18:1b.

Cheers!

Leaving Covenant

IMG_1687Two days ago was our last Sunday at Covenant.

[In case we haven’t corresponded very recently, here’s a quick explanation to catch you up: Jeremy was recently offered a part-time job and pastoral internship of sorts at a church in Oak Park, a small city that borders the west side of Chicago, not too far from our home. We thought and prayed long and hard about accepting the position which would mean leaving our church, a move we thought (and hoped) we wouldn’t have to make so soon. In the end we felt sure that God was leading us to Calvary for this next season of our lives.]

Two days ago was our last Sunday at Covenant: heavy words to type, and to re-read. We’re not moving. We live close to Covenant-going friends. But I realized recently that Covenant has been more of a home to us than any other church Jeremy and I have been a part of.

I still remember the very first time we went. It was a drizzly June Sunday. We were spending the weekend in Chicago to look for apartments; we had just made a rather last-minute, life-altering decision to move across the country from LA. After the service, we ventured over to the coffee hour that was mentioned in church. I was eager for bagels. And coffee. But getting coffee and bagels took about three seconds, and before long we were standing by ourselves, awkwardly gazing around at a sea of unfamiliar faces. Probably right as we were looking particularly awkward and alone, three girls that looked about our age meandered over to us and introduced themselves. Their names were Abby, Erin, and Trisha. I loved all of them immediately. I walked out of church thinking to myself, “I could totally be friends with those girls.” When we moved to Chicago a month later, Erin invited us to a BBQ at her place our very first weekend in the neighborhood, and her husband ended up living in our house before they got married last summer. We’ve been friends and co-small group leaders with Abby for the past two and a half years. And Trisha and her husband live on our second floor, and are some of our dearest friends in Chicago.

Living in Los Angeles was a special season for us. We were newly married, figuring out how to have a home, and enjoying exploring a new city. But with most of our closest friends a lengthy distance from our home, I never felt a total sense of meaningful community in Echo Park.

Chicago was different. Covenant was different. This church quickly became a home. The people quickly became like family. And for the past two and a half years, Covenant has provided for us life and friends and a meaningful place in God’s family that is the Church.

I happened to do worship this last Sunday, which meant I was in both services. I hung on every word that was spoken, paid careful attention to every line of each song we sang. I wanted those two hours to last forever. I was keenly aware that, while we’d be close by and of course back to visit, this was the last time we’d sit in those pews with these people from this place in our lives. While the road ahead is surely laid by God, a bit of loss always accompanies change, and that’s the bitter part of this bittersweet transition. I suppose there’s also something very sweet about how much we’ve come to find rest and a home in this church. It’s hard to leave, but oh so sweet to have been there at all.

Sunday night Jeremy and I laid awake in bed, just listing off the names of people from our church, talking about how great we think they are.

What a blessing it has been to be a part of this body of believers. There will be plenty of time ahead to praise God for the work we know he’ll do in the future. For now, I am thankful to the ends of the Earth for how he’s brought us here, and blessed us through the people of Covenant Presbyterian Church.

In closing, I’m reminded of a song we sing each week with our friends at the Ivy at the end of our service. And while we will surely see our Covenant friends again soon, I think it’s somewhat appropriate:

ten on ten : January 2013

Back for ten on ten with Rebecca over at a bit of sunshine once more today. Although I just realized I accidentally did 12 on 10 (it’s the nurse in me), so I’m compromising by posting 11 photos. It was a typical winter day here in Chicago: very gray. But I had a lovely time snapping photos all day long. Hope you enjoy the shots!

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9am10am11am12pm1pm2pm3pm5pm6pm{winter wool} {feeding the chickens} {dear friends stop by for a visit} {pool to myself} {work time at starbucks} {vanilla spice latte} {home sweet home} {afternoon snack} {study break} {thai food} {evening in another home}

*Disclaimer: my husband, who claims editorial savvy, insisted I take out one of my starbucks photos. I insisted I was there for so long (!) that taking one out would inaccurately represent my day, which would not be in line with the true spirit of ten on ten-ing.*

2013: here to stay

It’s Tuesday, January 8th. A day for jumping back into school. Yesterday, really, was the first day of the term, but I had trouble getting much past reviewing my syllabi. I needed one more day of vacation! A vacation from the vacation! Or, a time to rest in my own home a bit. Actually probably most accurately one more day to recuperate from the short-lived illness that sprung up upon our return to Chicago. Anyways, look at these beautiful faces!

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I mentioned (right?) that the Mann family Christmas involved a Mann family photoshoot, and the photo above is from said photoshoot. The photographers took some couples pictures, which meant Jeremy and I had a few solo shots as a Junior Mann fam. Isn’t this so totally straight out of the engagement photoshoot we never had?

Manns_010413_077Classic. Anyways, I’m writing because of course the urge to blog usually strikes me upon entering whichever coffee shop I’ve traveled to for some serious school work. And so I’m giving myself one last bit of time to enjoy this wordpress before the crazy sets in.

Usually I’m all about a New Years resolution post, or (my favorite!) a year in review post, but I’m easing into 2013 a little late this year, so I’m taking things slow. I’m still thankful for the promise of a brand new year, and feel a special freedom to start fresh, but there’s been less of a sharp distinction this year. Perhaps it was the fact that this was the first year I haven’t really celebrated NYE in as long as I can remember. (I distinctly remember my father-in-law or someone saying, “Oh yeah, it’s New Years Eve. What time is it?” and looking at my phone to find it was 11:59pm. Then we accidentally watched a video of the ball dropping in 2010. Are these signs of getting old?) Or the fact that we had Christmas #2 on January 2nd. But I feel surprisingly ok about the soft start. I’ve got modest resolutions this year, which I’m intending to keep.

I’ve never been one of those people who has a “life verse” or a theme or word that stands out as meaningful for particular seasons. But looking over the past 3 months (which have arguably been the most stressful months of my life so far), has made me sure of one thing: I don’t want to live like that. The coming months have to be different.

And so, the word peace has been rolling around in my mind lately. The stress of school is not going to go away. 2013 is going to bring new concerns about finding a job, passing my NP boards, and stepping into an entirely new role. But I want peace to color the way I respond to the things that come my way. So there it is. My theme of 2013. Peace. You want to know something crazy? Yesterday was sort of the kick off of Jeremy and my New Years resolutions, and I started off the morning reading from one of my favorite devotional books, Streams in the Desert. The short reading directed me to Philippians 4, where I stumbled upon Philippians 4:5b-7:

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.”

These are such famous verses. Why don’t people memorize verse 5b?!?! THE LORD IS AT HAND! What a perfect reminder as we start the new year. We have peace, not because we have no sin, or favorable circumstances, but because the Lord is at hand!!! Also, the peace guards our hearts and our minds in Christ. This, people, we need.

I hope your 2013 is starting off swimmingly. We’re going to have crappy days. We’re going to fail at our resolutions. But take heart, the Lord is at hand. Xoxo.

holiday festivities in mostly photos

It was a big year for family holiday festivities this year. Christmas started later and lasted longer than previous years, landing us in the great state of Minnesota for 13 days. We spent a week at my parents’, enjoying Christmas traditions older than me, stocking up on QT with my pregnant sister, and just generally living the good life. We ate delicious food, slept in, drank coffee in the mornings, shopped, lounged, and played games. Then it was over to the Manns’ for Christmas round two, which was five beautiful days with people we hadn’t seen in far too long. We shared our lives for five full days, doing our best to squeeze the most out of the short time we had together. Our niece is almost two and a half now, and both siblings brought us a new nephew to meet.

It’s overwhelming to think about describing the last two weeks in words, so I’m going to do this mostly through photos. So here goes. Christmas #1: Moore fam:

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IMG_1129Time with my family is always special, and this Christmas was no exception. We got to spend time with my dad’s side of the fam, my mom’s side of the fam, and even the Mobergs (Matt’s parents), who I happen to also love dearly. It’s an exciting time in our lives. Sister Fain is only four months from bringing the first Moore family grandchild into the world. What a sweet blessing it was to share this Christmas as a family of six. I love love love these folks, and wish we lived a lets-go-grab-coffee distance from them all. It was sad to say goodbye, but not too sad, because I know I’ll see them again soon when we’re a little closer to baby’s due date.

So, as I mentioned, after a wonderful time at the Moores’, we headed over to casa de Mann. Moooorrreeee pictures comin your way! Christmas #2: Mann fam:

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IMG_1462It was more difficult to say goodbye to the Manns this year than ever. This family is all over the place (Chicago, Minneapolis, Washington state, Hong Kong, Oregon, Ohio) which makes getting everyone together like this a rare occurrence. And my brothers and sisters-in-law are people I love and really connect with. The Mann men are a unique breed, and time spent as a family is always enlightening, encouraging, and invigorating. Add the most adorable niece and nephews on the planet and you can see why parting is (to be dramatic) such sweet sorrow. The day we left, Jer and I said goodbye to the kids when they went down for their nap, and I just felt horrible. I’m so thankful for sweet relationships with siblings, but it sure makes living far apart the worst. Thankfully the world is small and getting smaller. I’m hoping and praying we get to see them again before long.

I hope your holidays were as lovely and life-giving as mine!