Initiatives (not resolutions) For 2011

Since making lists of [arbitrary number] things you’d like to do before [arbitrary age] is all the blogging rage these days we’re currently working on a 30 (be)for(e) 30 page that’s going to knock your socks off. Yes, it’s that clever. Before we roll that out, however, we thought we’d present a few ways we’re looking forward to making 2011 different…

Mine first today followed by Jen’s tomorrow.

Write more notes
I wrote a post about this back in August and traded a few letters with my grandparents but never truly followed through on it for some reason. I’ve managed to re-motivate myself for 2011 and I can’t wait to see what the physical written world has for me in the next 365 days. I’ve even carved out a specific day of the week on which to put pen to paper instead of fingers to keyboard.

Become a coffee connoisseur
I’m kind of like the kid who just graduated college and thinks he knows all there is to know about his field (pun) and yet I know this world is just barely being revealed to me. I’ve hired a tutor though and he’s given me some ideas. I can’t wait to see what’s behind doors two through infinity.

Read 25 books
I only notched 17 this year (see that entire list here) but I’m already two deep with Decision Points and Death to the BCS with this and this stretching in the on deck circle.

Go to 1 city I’ve never visited
Chicago is currently topping the list but Vancouver, DC, and Seattle are also strong considerations.

What are you doing in 2011?

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The Who of Whoville

I was listening to a radio interview yesterday about Theodore Giesel and his talents and musings and, of course, the Grinch was at the forefront. I know we’ve all read it, seen it, quoted it, but it’s one brilliant reminder of how everything- even the mean and dark things of this world- is spiritual. The meaner and darker they get, the more beautiful Christ looks. Well, Christ and Whoville.

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

And what happened then…?
Well…in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he…

…HE HIMSELF…!
The Grinch carved the roast beast!

We’ve found ourselves in the tropical oasis that is Houston and I’m preparing for maybe my first ever 70 degree Christmas. We stayed up until 3am- my family has never stayed up past 10:30- and our days are full of hang out time and anticipation of the holiday. It’s my first Christmas away from home, and yet it’s not entirely unfamiliar. Here’s to Christ and Whoville. And all the darkness that makes them shine.

Sunday Life

We usually write our posts a few days in advance or sometimes the night before. We almost always have them written in our heads before we put them on paper (the computer screen).

This post, however, I’m typing early on a cold, Sunday morning. We were at a Christmas party until late last night and decided we (I) could type something more thoughtful today instead.

I’m sitting here staring at our Mac sipping on Christmas blend coffee. Jen’s asleep in the other room. I’m reflecting on the Greek-themed party we went to last night and listening to some free Holiday music I downloaded yesterday. I can’t help but think about how idealistic all of this is. Our lives are not perfect, I think we’ve written enough posts about fighting for all of you to realize that. But as I’m typing this for our blog, on a Sunday morning about as perfect as I can imagine one being, I can’t help but wonder how this gets any better?

Oh sure there are things here and there I don’t like about my life but they generally aren’t worth complaining about even though I often indulge my sinful side and complain about them anyway. For the most part though (and I would say this is true of many of our readers as well…since I know many of our readers) we live a pretty good (and easy) life.

In the back of my mind though, I know I’m always 1 day away from what happened to Chandler. I know our time here on earth, temporary as it may be, wasn’t created for our pleasure in worldly things. As CS Lewis said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

I know all of this can end at any moment.

So I move forward this Christmas week, pensive. Grateful for my 25 years but realizing that nary another is guaranteed.

I’m thankful for now and hopeful for the future.

Much love to Marriage Project readers this Sunday, hope it’s a good one.

Also, enter the book giveaway if you haven’t yet. And come back tomorrow for the last of the giveaways, we have a feeling you’re going to enjoy it.

Christmas Tunes

It’s that time of year my friends. The “yes, I’d love it if you’d super-grande-size my egg nog spiced cinnamon caramel whole milk latte” season as I sometimes like to call it. And to go along with my heart attack in a coffee cup I like to fill the air with a few Christmas tunes.

I have a problem though.

I was perusing iTunes the other day for some new Christmas music and I felt like I was trying to solve National Treasure III. Between all the new Beatles stuff to Katy Perry’s scandalousness to Bieber fever, I couldn’t find anything winter-y enough to pique my interest.

So I implore your help. What are you listening to this week/month? Who’s rocking your latte-d world?

I’m not talking about an N*SYNC playlist or the Mariah Carey Album or Faith’s latest either. Everybody’s got all those. I want the most hippie most indie most original Holiday stuff y’all got.

Comments below please.

A Memory and Peppermint Tea

Perhaps it’s the chill in the air or the fact that it happened almost a year ago to date, but as I was cooking dinner last night (another round of our favorite Corn Chowder) I was overcome with the memory of the first time I knew Kyle had asked my dad to marry me. I’m not talking anything obvious like accidentally finding the ring or an email he’d sent about flying his family down here for the engagement, but something so subtle that no one else would have seen it if it hit them in the face.

We were visiting my family and arrived to an unusual scene in our house: no one had prepared dinner. We rarely ate out when I was growing up, but this night we arrived to find my dad and sister headed out the door to pick up dinner at one of the three main eateries in our small town. Actually we went to two of the three main eateries because my sister chose grilled chicken over rotting her body from the inside out with fried okra and butter. Whatever.

We were in the truck -my sister and I in the back seat, my dad and Kyle in the front- when I heard it. Kyle had said something hilarious to the male species, probably something about Mike Gundy or Gisele Bundchen, and my dad laughed. The laugh wasn’t the abnormal thing- my dad’s generally a jolly fellow- but it was a genuine, relaxed, whole-hearted laugh. Like he actually thought Kyle was funny.

I know my husband and his sense of humor- it’s pretty solid. But I also know the laugh he usually got from my dad; a smile with no teeth and a nose that scrunched a little too much to be genuine. Almost a pity, “I’m being nice to you because you’re with my daughter, but my shotgun is in the next room and I know how to use it.” This night, something was different.

Turns out Kyle had asked him for my hand in marriage a few weeks before. As I sit here and think about all that’s happened in the last year- the engagement, the wedding, the move to Dallas, two new jobs- I can’t believe how blessed we are. But I also sit here next to our Christmas tree sipping peppermint tea and soaking up all the greatness and I know that Kyle doesn’t complete me. That if there hadn’t been the ring or the secret wedding or the telltale laugh, my life would still be full and I would still be joyful and my tree would still be glowing in the corner. It would only be a different corner and might taste of blackberry tea instead of peppermint, but my joy would be ever present. This year, I just get to share in it.

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Red Dirt Beauty

Yesterday I took a drive with my dad down the lonely country roads that contrast so sharply with the ones we’re used to. I know I grew up here, but your soul forgets so quickly what things are like anywhere you used to be. As we soaked up the sun through the windows and listened to Glenn Campbell’s “Gentle on my Mind”, I realized quickly one of the biggest differences between my hometown and Dallas.

Here, everything in sight is so personal you can almost feel it. A family’s farm where they planted the now green sprigs of wheat themselves. Bailed hay ready to be sold to feed a neighbor’s cattle, stacked inside an old barn built with a few tools in the early 1900s. Miles of fence built and fixed often by another cattle rancher. The signs of life and livelihoods are everywhere.

In the city, we miss so much of that. Most of what we see is the end product, the steel and metal that house something made in a factory somewhere overseas. We’re thankful for these businesses as well, but there’s something beautiful about seeing the direct impact of your work, of contributing in a way so large in scale that it can’t help but affect everything around you, possibly even for miles. We could have stopped in the middle of the road and no one would have noticed us for hours. No one would even know to honk.

Cheers to Walden and the like. Hope you got some time to enjoy the beauty around you this holiday weekend.

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Favorite Thing

We’ve been blog hogging lately. Not to be confused with hog blogging which, I imagine, would consist of a pair of piglets typing out posts (might be tough with hooves?) on their little MacBook Pros. I digress.

Anyway, you guys always get to hear that we’re doing this or we did that or we think so-and-so and on and on and on.

But, we want to hear from you today. We want to hear about your lives and what you’re up to and how your Thanksgiving was.

So…how about it?

What was the most fun thing you did this holiday weekend?

What She’s Thankful For

Some things I’m thankful for after living a day dedicated strictly to giving thanks:

1. I’m thankful that neither we nor my parents are pet people. This isn’t a shot at Kyle’s family- Junior the chihuahua and I are learning to get along- but as I sat my pie plate down on the carpet I was strangely overwhelmed with being able to sit my pie plate on the carpet. No critters coming to lick me or my plate. I like being on the carpet in peace.

2. I’m thankful for a family who isn’t caught up in material things. We may be caught up in other things- mostly ourselves- but it’s so freeing to be around a group of adults who don’t care one inkling what they wear, what they drive, or what they live in. As much as Dallas offers us, it rarely offers this.

3. I’m working on giving thanks for the cold front. As much as I complain- and will continue to complain until next May- the cool air really does bring a feeling of holiday with it. And that’s certainly worth more than I give it credit for.

4. I’m thankful for the sugar highs that come from eating too much pie topped with too much whipped cream.

5. Last but not least, let’s all give thanks that we weren’t born under the dictatorship of Kim Jong-il or the like. America really is a beautiful thing.

6. Oh, and lastest but not leastest, my extraordinarily servant-hearted husband. And not just because he made me say it.

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What I’m Thankful For

Kyle

  1. This little iPhone app to capture all our “let’s have a christmas ornament making contest while we listen to football” nights.
  2. Stories about rowers from Berkley who have cancer.
  3. That my wife doesn’t utter a peep when I mention bailing on Saturday of Thanksgiving with the fam and spending $100 on a ticket to a sporting event.
  4. My boy Chad, is delivering me my own homemade bicycle on Saturday — it even has a basket for me to put all the groceries in…if I ever actually did the grocery shopping…or rode it to the grocery story.
  5. 1,000 comments from readers in under 6 months = we have the best readers in the blogosphere.
  6. It’s going from 80 degrees to 40 degrees in the next 3 days – getcha’ pullovers ready people, I couldn’t be any more fired up.
  7. Starting this for like the 19th time over the break. Here’s to finishing it for once.

You guys have a great Thanksgiving. We’ll be back tomorrow with a few things Jen is thankful for, which should include a bullet or two on what a servant-hearted husband I am.

Love.

Thankful (or trying to be…)

Some weeks I don’t feel as thankful as I should. This week is one of them. To combat the cranky, mean, stinky, bad attitude, here’s a list of what I’m really thankful for lately:

That we’re both gainfully employed. I’ve never quite understood the term “gainfully,” but I think our jobs are that. Even when we complain that we’d like more vacation time or that we’d rather be doing something else. The alternative to employment is much less exciting.

Non-stick cookware. Even though we still create mondo-messes in the kitchen, cleaning up represents the fact that we have food to eat and that it could take much longer to clean up. Shout out to grandma for the non-stick goodies.

The dogs that live above us. This one is a stretch since I really find no enjoyment in the animal kingdom whatsoever. But the scratchy paws on the wood floors and the yips and yelps mean we have neighbors when we could be living all alone. Yelps trump loneliness. Must… remember…

A $2,300 bill. This large payment was a smaller portion of a much larger sum created by yours truly while at university. While making the final payment hurt a little, it felt good to know we had rid ourselves of a $16,000 debt and now we’re free. Thanks, Dave.

Family. Sometimes family can feel like a repetitive poke in your eyeball. We can only say this because Kyle and I are often the pokiest. But when it comes down to it, we have two of the coolest families around. Holidays, here we come.

Not having a kitchen table. I know we’ve discussed this before, but sometimes it seems like our house can only be clean for ten minute increments, then it’s back to the chaos. But in all reality, creativity is what keeps us alive, inside and out. And God. But you already knew that.

What are you loving about today?

PS: Don’t forget, it’s not too late to win the Amazon gift card from yesterday!

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