Tuesday, December 31, 2013

...And A HAPPY New Year!

Reflecting back on 2013, I have come to the conclusion it was probably the most stressful, difficult year of my life. I tried to chalk it up to something else, a year of growth and overcoming hardships, but let's be real, 2013 was not kind to us.  Starting the year with a debilitating hip surgery, having James get laid off not once but twice, having my 21-year old brother-in-law diagnosed with cancer among so many other serious family illnesses, not to mention the financial hardships we have had to endure from existing on my [small] income alone, 2013 kicked our butts.  Maybe the '13 should have given it away, an ominous number looming on the end of every date, or maybe it was the work of God trying to teach us each something greater. It wasn't what I expected for our first year of marriage and it wasn't a year I ever want to repeat.

As we look to 2014 we have great hope that it will be so much better.  Some huge changes are already in the works and I am already learning that sometimes you have to sacrifice the things you want to get the things you need. As I look back on 2013 there are so many things I know I could have done better, so many selfish decisions I made that should have gone another way, and by the end of 2014 I don't want to have those same regrets.

As I packed up our Christmas decor and boxed it up for next year I added a special touch--I wrote 2014 Amanda a note from current 2013 Amanda, describing our present situations and struggles and our hopes for the future. I wrote about the person I hope to become in the next 366 days and I even included a checklist of small but reasonable goals. I encouraged my future-self and even added in a few jokes. I'm already excited to open it next Christmas.

As I put away all our Christmas cards from friends and family I also found our Christmas card from last year. I put them side by side and I was amazed to see how much we have changed even on the outside. You can see this year all over our faces. Our first Christmas we were still so bright and shiny, never really having to put our marriage to the test or endure anything too difficult. This year I feel more like a wife than ever before--I honestly don't know how I could have endured any of it without my partner and best friend and I am even more thankful for him and this union than ever before.


So here's to 2014, may it bring good tidings and growth to you and your kin!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tree WIlly

This year we were stoked to get our first real Christmas tree; after going back and forth about whether it was worth the maintenance, we gave in and went tree shopping.  And the result was our beautiful little noble fir--Willy! (After all, a noble fir needs a noble name, like William.)
James calls him Tree Willy.

(Is it just me or does the twinkly-light bokeh just look so much more festive than the real thing?)

He might be kind of small and wonky but he makes our house smell wonderful and we love him.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!