Saturday, December 31, 2011

Walk With Me Through 2011...

2011 has certainly been a year to remember! :) I said that 2010 was life changing; this year has just been a continuation of that change. And I know there will be lots more change in the years to come. But it's all good change: some of it I prayed for, some I didn't expect. But all of it is in God's hands. I just pray I can walk humbly and remember to lean on Him through it all. Each year, I am more and more amazed by the blessings the Lord provides. And this post is always a good exercise for me to stop and realize all that the Lord has done...

In January, we began the wedding planning process. We had decided to hold off until the beginning of the new year so we could enjoy the holidays and truly enjoy the precious first days of being engaged. So when January hit, we got started right away! We picked a date, started talking through pre-marital counseling options, and tackled the budget/size/guest issues.

Dallas was hit by a huge ice storm in February. There was a lot of snow and ice, and I got a pass on jury duty and 4 days off work! The unexpected time at home offered me some much-needed rest. I was able do some wedding planning, reading, napping, and snuggling with my puppy. But it also afforded me some extended time in prayer and study in the Word. Which was restoring to my soul, since I had felt like my heart had been wandering a little. February also brought my first non-single birthday celebration and the decision to meet with Scott and Nicole for pre-marital counseling.

March was a bit of a whirlwind month. We were able to check off a lot of "to do's" from our wedding checklist: we completed our registry lists and chose our cakes, my wedding dress and shoes arrived, and we booked our honeymoon! I finally paid off my hospital bills (woohoo!) and celebrated my 2 year blogiversary. March turned sobering when a dear family friend was killed in a car accident. Dr. Chuck spent his life serving Jesus and the people he met, and the Lord reminded me that I needed to make my life count for the kingdom. I publicly shared how the Lord was calling me and Mike to plant a church in McKinney, and we also attended an Acts 29 bootcamp conference. While we are still at the onset of that whole process, I am amazed at all the Lord has already done in the short time we have been in McKinney.

Unfortunately, it wasn't an April Fool's joke when I found out that my identity had been stolen. Despite the un-fun revelation, there was a lot of things to look forward to, so naturally I began counting down toward all things wedding related :) Things seemed to be a bit crazy and overwhelming, both around the world and in my personal life, but I was repeatedly reassured of God's sovereignty and care for His own. Mike and I celebrated our 1 year dating anniversary and launched our new blog!

In May, things just got busier! Sasha and I moved out of my apartment and into my sweet (and gracious) friend Kelly's house. I learned that my Vitamin D deficiency worsened and my cholesterol was still elevated, which prompted a stockpile of Cheerios and the need for some supplements. For Mother's Day weekend, Mike and I headed to San Antonio to see my parents and to attend a fun couples shower that the BSF staff hosted for us. My brother graduated from DBU, and I got to spend a few days in Maine for a work trip. We found our sweet little house in McKinney, and I got to enjoy a fun night out for my lingerie shower!

June was what I like to call "wrap-up final details month." We got our marriage license, I had my makeup trial, and we had our final confirmation meetings with vendors. And the countdown began :) Mike headed to Mexico for his last mission trip with the youth group, and I had my own "lasts" with my beloved 20s group. We finished up our Bible study in the book of Acts, and I fulfilled my final leadership duties. So bittersweet. I made a trip to Chicago for work, celebrated Sasha's 4th birthday, and finally shared our engagement photos. The excitement was growing, and we were MORE than ready for July!

We finally made it to July: Wedding Month! Not much outside of wedding things occurred in July. While there were some last minute details to focus on in the days leading up to the wedding, I was really thankful for all the help I had to get things done early so I could just enjoy the fun festivities. We had our bachelor and bachelorette parties (respectively), with Mike hanging out with his guys for grilling and laughter, and me heading to Painting with a Twist with my sweet girls. Rehearsal Dinner was filled with sweet friends and family. And of course, I would personally say that July 15th was the highlight of the year :) We were so incredibly blessed on our wedding day...I am still living in the glow of the day haha. After we said "I Do," we celebrated with 2 wedding receptions before we headed to Cancun for our Honeymoon!

In August we began settling into married life in McKinney. I began my new commute to work, and Mike persevered in his search for a new job. We began meeting our neighbors, and even had some over for dinner. We said "see you soon" to our dear friend Laura as she moved to Nicaragua to begin her ministry there. We also saw the Lord provide in incredible ways for the In Chains documentary film project, which Mike's brother Bryan is heading up. I decided I wanted to freshen up my blog design and got a template over at Laura Jane Designs. My dad celebrated his 52nd birthday, and I was reminded of how incredibly blessed we are to have my job and my boss.

Our wedding photos arrived in September! And so commenced the endless blog posts of all things wedding-related haha. All but one of my posts in September was devoted to wedding pictures. And that one post was kind of sad when I described how we lost the top to our wedding cake (you know, the one you freeze and then open on your 1 year anniversary). While it was incredibly sad, and there were definitely tears shed, it was a good moment for me to realize how utterly out of control I had felt the weeks prior. Not in a bad way (if anything, in a good way!) but in a way that the Lord reminded me that He is in control... But there was still a lot going on in September...we headed to Austin for a friend's wedding, I started a BSF class in Garland, we had a an Open House for some friends and former ministry partners, and Mike got a job at Starbucks!

In October, I started feeling the weight of my new commute to work. Things were super busy at work, and there was even a period of several days when I never saw the sun haha. But the Lord offered some relief in a visit to see my family in San Antonio. It was our first trip to see my parents after the wedding, and it was good to see them. We actually got to see my parents twice in October, because they made a trip up to Dallas a couple weeks later. I headed to Wausau, WI for a fire training school, got to spend a day at the Texas State Fair with Laura, received word that I was officially a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), and made the shift from Blackberry to iPhone :) We welcomed Jackson Odell Parker into the world and continued making connections with varying ministry leaders in McKinney. As we reached 100 days of being married, I was reminded (yet again) of how incredibly blessed I am to be married to Mike.

Things remained busy into November, so I didn't blog as much as I had wanted to. We did head to Austin for a friend's wedding, and then I headed to Vegas for a work trip (no really, I did!). We got to celebrate the engagement of our dear friends Clint and Kelly, and I got to spend a day decorating for a wedding with Mike's mom. We celebrated our first married Thanksgiving, Mike's 30th Birthday, and decorated our first Christmas Tree together. We also had a fun hangout night of fajitas and games with some of Mike's co-workers.

As is usually the case in December, the month was full of parties and festivities. We celebrated Mike's birthday again with a fun 80s-themed surprise party. We hosted our first Neighborhood Christmas Party, complete with homemade hot chocolate and cookie-decorating for kids. We celebrated White Elephant-style with college friends, as well as Tacky Sweater-style with sweet 20s group friends. We were so blessed to be able to spend Christmas this year in San Antonio with my family. While the weekend was short, it was full of family, and I am so thankful for our first married Christmas!

It was a good year- full of many blessings and new adventures! We are so thankful to Jesus for everything, and we look forward to growing closer to and serving Him in 2012!

Happy New Year!


Monday, December 19, 2011

The Glory of My God

I was in Seattle last week for work and was able to sneak away for a few minutes to walk along the waterfront. I have been here before, but every time I stand on the pier and look out across the Puget Sound, I am amazed at just how absolutely beautiful it is. 

I love the feeling of standing at the edge of beauty, be it the ocean shore, the base of a mountain, or even the grandeur of a know, the overwhelming realization of how insignificant you really are. It's certainly humbling, slightly terrifying, and yet altogether peaceful. Because I know Who is truly significant. And I am reminded of how great my God is and how utterly lost I am without Him. 

When I get to enjoy the rare moments of seeing how the heavens declare His glory and how His creation proclaims without question His handiwork, I cannot help but worship my God. And I am so thankful for the reminders He gives through His creation.

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork."
~ Psalm 19:1

"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all."
~ 1 Chronicles 29:11


Monday, December 12, 2011

Leland Life

I love our neighborhood. It's filled with an eclectic array of older and newer homes, varying cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, and tree-lined streets that lead to a town square. There's always something happening on the square.

And I love our's cute red door, huge backyard, and fun hardwood floors. I even love it's quirky elements...our foundation shifts constantly, so doors and cabinets won't close just right, our floors creak and move (which is actually a fairly good security system), and our water pressure is pretty sensitive (you cannot run the dishwasher/washing machine if you want to take a shower or vice versa). It most definitely has some character...and we're enjoying every minute of it! :)

This house has been such a blessing to us. It was an incredible gift of provision, and we are so grateful for the opportunity to live here, on this street, at this time. We don't believe in coincidences and can say confidently that the Lord gave us this house for His purposes. Our hearts' desire is to be good stewards of what the Lord provides, so from the start we have humbly prayed that the Lord use this little home to proclaim His truth to the people around us. And even in the few short months we have been here, He has answered faithfully! Whether it's hosting parties with friends, hangouts for co-workers or playing games with the neighborhood kids, the Lord has been faithful to provide opportunities to open our home to old and new friends alike. I am excited to see how He chooses to use our time here on Leland...

I loved this post by my sweet husband...
As I hear them ringing the doorbell and tromping through the newly cleaned house by my beautiful wife, I thank God that He has already allowed our home to be a place of fun and refuge for the kids in our neighborhood. May dirty footprints on our floors mark the path the these young boys becoming godly men soon.
While it didn't keep me from letting them come in and hang out, I have to confess that my sinful heart was a tad frustrated when these sweet boys tracked mud through my newly swept/steamed floors. I'm pretty sure I even asked them to take their shoes off at one point haha. I know you mothers out there are shaking your head and probably laughing at me, because you know that I have so much to learn...and you're right. This Type-A planner does :) But praise God for His grace in slowly teaching me in small instances like these. When I saw Mike's post, I was instantly humbled and reminded of why we're here. And my heart's prayer is that our home is always a place of refuge for neighborhood kids and parents alike.

Another big answer to prayer came this weekend when we hosted our first Neighborhood Christmas Party. We wanted an opportunity to meet some more of our neighbors and begin building relationships with the people who live around us. And what better way to do that than to invite people over for some homemade hot chocolate and good ol' fashioned cookie-decorating? :)

A couple of weeks ago, Mike walked the neighborhood and hand-delivered 80 invitations. Since then, we have been praying for the families who might venture to our house for an afternoon of get-to-know-your-neighbors. While we didn't quite have the numbers we had planned for (let's just say we had a mass quantity of leftover cookies), we had the exact turnout we were supposed to. As Mike said, it was a good thing I wasn't making cookies for our neighbors and instead making cookies for Jesus :) And I wouldn't change any part of it. We were able to spend some really good time with the few families that did come. We were even able to extend invitations for the Bible study that we're hosting starting in January. And not an awkward, please come to talk about Jesus...please? But a genuine invitation born out of Holy Spirit-led conversations. God is good.

Please pray for us as we continue to reach out to our neighbors. I get a little excited ball in the pit of my stomach when I walk down our street and think of the people God will call to Himself. But there's also that little nervousness ball that likes to try to take over and convince me that I am inadequate or that they'll think we're crazy. So our prayers are for humility and the wisdom to know how to just love our neighbors. Because the Lord is the one who stirs in our hearts and whispers our names. We just want to be faithful and obedient to what He has called us to. I look forward to seeing God's Spirit move down this street...


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Married Life, Day #149

1 Year Engagement Anniversary

A year ago today, Mike asked me to be his wife. We spent the next 7 months planning one of the best days of our lives. We've been married almost 5 months now, and life is good. God is good :)

The day we got engaged is one of the most memorable (and special) days of my life.When I woke up that morning, I remember feeling excited about our fun "Christmas Date" but I was clueless as to what the evening would actually entail. Of course, I think we have the best proposal story EVER...or it could just be that I am biased :)

I am beyond blessed to have Mike by my side, and I love every minute of being married to him. SO glad I said "yes"  :)


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Totally Awesome Surprise!

This weekend, I threw a surprise birthday party for Mike's 30th birthday. I have been planning this for a couple months, and it was so great (and relieving) for the party to actually get here! I had wanted to do something fun and special for his 30th, and knew that he would enjoy just hanging out with friends and family. In the spirit of his birth year, the party's theme was "I love 1981!" From costumes and music to snacks and decor, we had an all-out 80s party!

So many people were a part of the planning and preparing process. Mike left early on Saturday morning to run a race with Jon and Sami (2 of my fellow conspirators). They then pulled him into a home improvement project, so that gave me most of the day to get things ready. My mom drove in from San Antonio, and I dragged her all over McKinney to run last minute errands. My brother, Laura, and Lindsey also came over early to help set everything up.

Not everyone dressed up to match the party theme (which was ok), but I was really thankful for the people that did- it made things a lot more fun! 

No question, hands down: my brother was the BEST DRESSED!!  :)

Wait for it...

Check out those pants!  :)

Mike was completely surprised! I couldn't tell if he suspected anything, and just resigned myself to the fact that he probably knew but was being kind to let me continue thinking everything was a surprise. But he didn't think anything was up until he walked into the house and smelled food...he said it was kind of early for me to have started on dinner haha.

We got to hang out with sweet friends and family and reminisce on the specialness that was the 80s.

Concentrating to play 80s Scene It!

Rubik's Cubes!

Mike's super-talented sister made the cake! It turned out so GREAT! :)

Cute Miller Sisters :)

Happy 30th Birthday Mike- I love you SO much! I hope you enjoyed your totally awesome party :)