Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve :)

Well, I write this post with a smile that has not gone away since it first appeared last night. I can't help it. I can't not smile. My heart overflows and I can hardly believe that this year can get any better.

Why all the happiness? I'll let you figure that out, unless you are one of those people I told last night!

Today is a day of celebration, as well tomorrow. Unfortunately, this time of the year is almost always about the gifts. Don't get me wrong, gifts aren't bad. But sometimes we forget that Christ is the center of the reason for our celebrating. Christ came and lived and died and lives again, all for us. We shouldn't forget that, and yet sometimes we do.

We cave into political pressures, and say, "Happy Holidays." I understand the reasoning behind this, but I also know in my heart that I will say "Merry Christmas" to each and every person who says "Happy Holidays." Because without CHRISTmas, this world would be nothing.

Obviously, Jesus did not come on a cold and snowy night in December. But just because His actual birthday isn't known doesn't mean we all can't agree to celebrate on December 25. It seems like Christmas is the one time of the year that everyone puts their differences aside to visit with family and friends. Christmas is the one time of the year that we can all be of one accord and celebrate God's gift to the world, even if some do not believe.

Maybe some would argue the whole gift-giving. Why give gifts to each other? When the Wise Men found Jesus, they gave Him gifts. Maybe the gift-giving wasn't a big part of Christmas till a couple hundred years ago, but it has become a tradition now.

I think the sad thing is, is when giving gifts becomes something you "just do" because it's Christmas. Giving gifts becomes old, and almost mechanical, boring. Some rush around the stores and try to find the "perfect gift" because that's "what Christmas is all about." In reality, it never started that way. I encourage you to find the reasons behind your gift-giving and get back into the heart of Christmas. :)

Have a great day today! And Merry Christmas to you and yours!

A couple pictures for you all!

My nieces :)
The proposal :) 
And the ring :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Random and Christmas

Sometimes, I get so caught up in wanting that I forget to look around me and pay attention to others. Or I get so caught up in thinking others know what I want that when those same people fail to bring what I thought they knew I wanted, I get upset.

I might not be the only person to be guilty of it, but every time I do this, I'm immediately hit in the face with how selfish I'm being. How inconsiderate I am. How un-Christlike my actions and feelings are. I immediately feel like I should apologize. But some of the time I don't. I know I was wrong. I know what the right thing to do is. I just feel like it's someone else's fault. They weren't listening. They weren't paying attention. They're making excuses like always.

But what I have to remind myself is that no matter what the other person's issue is, my reactions are never right if I get mad, upset or irritated. And these are the reactions that make me realize I need more of God in my life. Some days, I get so busy in the rush of the day that I forget that I haven't spent time with God, or that I have gone through a complete day or two without reading my Bible or speaking to God.

Especially during this season. It's even worse, as we're all consumed with getting the "perfect gift." And advertisements, store offers, store windows, or coupons just shout at us to get the "perfect gift" at 50% off. We rush around, buying this, buying that. And we don't realize that we're completely forgetting the reason for the season.

That might be an oft repeated phrase, but it remains the same. Christmas would not exist if not for Christ's birth more than 2000 years ago. We look past the true story behind "Santa Claus" and just give gifts because that's what Christmas has become.

I'm not saying that giving gifts is bad, but are we giving them for the right reasons? God gave the Ultimate Gift, and yes, we continue to give gifts in that spirit. Or at least we should be....

What are your reasons for gift giving at Christmas? What are your thoughts on gift giving?

Oh, and posted below is a website I found on Nicholas... the person who became "Santa Claus."

Monday, December 10, 2012

My Favorite Time of the Year

It finally snowed this weekend. Minnesota will have a white Christmas, and I'll have a knot in my shoulder from shoveling for a couple days.

I love the snow. I always used to say that I wanted to move away from Minnesota, and the cold. It obviously never happened, and now I'm glad I stayed. I'd miss the snow, and as much as I hate to admit it, I'd probably miss the cold as well. Christmas isn't the same without the snow, or the cold in Minnesota.

It's starting to feel like Christmastime. Yes, the stores have had Christmas displays up for at least a month now, and Christmas music was playing right at Thanksgiving time. But for me, the best time of the year is when there's snow on the ground and a chill in the air. As much as I love the sun and being outside during the rest of the year, I definitely look forward to winter. Snowballs, snowmen, writing messages in the snow. Even shoveling. Hot chocolate, curling (and sometimes cuddling) under a warm blanket, watching Christmas movies, decorating the tree, wrapping presents.

No joke. This time of the year is probably my favorite. I get to see how pretty it is when there is freshly fallen snow. I see the sun reflecting off the snow. I see icicles. I see kids sledding. Yes, there are downsides to winter... cars sliding into ditches, accidents happening, maybe even not being ready for the snow and realizing your boots are too small or you don't have the right clothes for the weather. Maybe having to shovel while all your neighbors around you have snowblowers.

I think this time of the year has become even more special to me in the last year. One year ago on Wednesday, my boyfriend became my boyfriend.

I remember that night like it was yesterday. I, along with several other coworkers, were upset with him because he was supposedly moving to Utah. Why Utah? Who knows. At least two of my coworkers expressed themselves at work, but I told him he had to wait till after work. I remember our conversation starting out with how upset I was with him, I told him he couldn't go because I thought of him like an older brother and I just couldn't see him leaving. Somehow in the course of our conversation, the truth came out. It had passed midnight when we were completely honest. He confessed he really really liked me and that I'd be the only reason he'd come back. He told me when he came from from Utah, he wanted to give me roses and take me out to dinner.

At this point, I could not help but smile. I went to sleep with a huge smile on my face. And honestly, I woke up the next morning and the first thing I did was to check to make sure what I thought I'd dreamed was real. All those texts between us were still there and I had to read through all of them just to confirm it. Then I promptly texted him and told him that I thought I'd dreamed it all. His response was, "No, definitely not a dream. It's all real."

I don't know when we decided we were boyfriend/girlfriend. I do know, however, that he let me know that night at work that he really wasn't going to Utah. He was going to Nebraska with our boss. He said he couldn't leave without letting me know. I also know that he talked to my mom after he got back from Nebraska, and asked if he could date me. Which was a more official thing. We texted constantly while he was in Nebraska, and I kept the secret that he hadn't gone to Utah. But I had the hardest time keeping a smile off my face when I heard coworkers talking about how upset they were.

The day he came back, we had a staff party at work. One of my coworkers came to pick me up since I didn't have any other way to get there. The second we walked through the kitchen, I saw him. And I couldn't help but grin. The other servers soon found out that I knew that he hadn't really gone to Utah. But all the while, I just couldn't help but laugh because the bigger thing was that we were dating.

So yes, this time of the year has become my favorite time of the year because of him. I can't help but remember last year. I can't help but remember all that we've done in the last year together. Yes, it's been a bumpy journey with all the drama and maybe a little shine of a new relationship. Even as I look back at the last year of my life, a lot has gone on. And I'm so glad God had His hand in all of it and watched out for us.

I cannot wait to see what is in store my boyfriend and me! A year ago, I wouldn't have imagined that I would  date a coworker. And if you had asked me, I would have told you, absolutely no dating coworkers! But what a difference love makes. I could not imagine not saying yes to dating him. I could not imagine not falling in love with the man. And I not only praise God for the gift of love He sent 2000 years ago, but I also thank Him for the gift of love He sent to me in the last year.

Have a great week!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Our Future.

I've been blessed. By what? Well, let me backtrack a little to explain.

I just spent the last two days with my boyfriend. Yes, this isn't an odd occurrence. We see each other a lot. But what happened was a little change in me. I saw things a little differently the last two days.

Yesterday started out pretty much like any other Sunday. Get ready for church, get my boyfriend from his apartment, go to church. At first, I was a little cranky. Maybe it was lack of food. Maybe it was lack of sleep. Maybe it was just because I'm a girl. But as I listened to the worship music, I felt that all melt away. It came back with full force, as we were going into our life groups. Our life group did things a little different yesterday, and we spent several minutes in prayer. As I sat next to my boyfriend, soaking in the sounds of prayer, I couldn't help but think that this is what I want for my life.

I was still a little cranky, which is kind of how I get when I need food. But instead of eating lunch with my family when we got back to my parents' house, my boyfriend asked if we could go for a walk. In complete honesty, I was irritated with him. I mean, I'd told him I was hungry, and I needed to eat. How dare he ask me to take a walk with him when it was supposed to be lunchtime?! By the end of that walk, I was smiling and giggling, and I had lost all sense of crankiness.

When we ate finally ate lunch, it was just the two of us eating. And again, the thought flew through my head, "This is what I want." We spent the afternoon figuring things out for Christmas stuff. I had gone out on Saturday and gotten a bunch of stuff for Secret Santa for my bank job. And he helped me plan out gifts and what day. Then we watched a movie together. (If you have not seen The Heart of Christmas, I recommend it. It might make you cry, but that's one of the best movies I've seen!)

Today, I got up ssssssuuuuuupppper early, and caught the bus to downtown St Paul with my boyfriend. We had decided to go see if we could find gifts for my family together. And honestly, it was another picture of my future with him. I can't imagine where God is leading us, but as we wandered from store to store at the MOA, I marveled at how far we have come. Again, I couldn't help but think of the future with my boyfriend. For the rest of my life, I want to shop wisely with him for little gifts for our families.

Maybe I'm only 21, and maybe I have my whole life ahead of me to fall more and more in love with this man that God placed in my life. But as he pointed out yesterday, God was moving in this direction FOUR years ago, when our mutual boss asked him to come work for him in Cottage Grove, a place he'd never heard of before. Maybe this wasn't what I had in plan for my life, but for reasons only God knows, I stayed in St Paul Park and got a job at the senior living facility where I met my boyfriend, and the man who I am head over heels in love with.

I can't help but smile, and at the same time tear up as the love for this man overwhelms me. Especially when I see his faith and belief in God. When I hear him pray to our Heavenly Father. When he smiles his silly little smile that makes me grin in return. When he points out that we haven't given up even though people said we'd never last. When he says stupid little things that only I understand and giggle about. When he cares so much about my family. When he gives my little sister a hug. When I see my family interacting with him.

Father God, I never saw this coming. Thank you for your gifts. Thank you for this man. Thank you for blessing me with this love. Help it grow. Help it stay strong. Help us to lean on you.

This post wasn't supposed to be totally about my love. But I can only write what's on my heart, and honestly, my heart is overflowing with love. Maybe you can see that, maybe you can't. I can only hope and pray that each and every person who reads this blog can find the type of love I have found because of God.

Have a good week!