Christmas Memories from 2013

This bouquet of flowers belonged to my SIL

Hello lovely readers! Does anyone else feel like Christmas comes and goes so quickly? Although the season felt so short I couldn't have been more blessed. 

The weekend before Christmas Dave and I headed to OKC. We spent some time with our cousins, shopped a bit, ate some good food and visited both the OKC Bombing Memorial and the botanical gardens. OKC got a big ice storm while we were there and although it was freezing it made it beautiful. We then picked up our family from the airport and headed to Wichita. 

The week was spent with family - cooking, playing games, laughing, knitting oh and I got sick. Like really really sick. I got some type of Christmas stomach bug and it knocked me out for a couple of days. 

It was my first Christmas being married. Spending my Christmas with Dave and a new family was just wonderful. It was also a first Christmas having two cute nephews around. 

This Christmas I was reminded that the holiday season isn't just the presents, family, planning for meals, eating, games, etc. Dave and I did a daily Christmas devotional this month and many of them talked about how Christmas is about Jesus, nothing more. My husband also preached the Sunday after Christmas and he said that Christmas isn't about family because your family might not always be there. I can't tell you how proud of Dave I was and how I was reminded of that truth. For my husband to proclaim that truth with his Mom being gone is a bold life statement that his faith is centered on Jesus. 

I've compiled some of my favorite Christmas pictures. I say some because how are you supposed to pick just a few favorites? Plus, you know, in 20 years I can look back on this blog and see it again =) 

I hope your Christmas was just as Merry!  


These are a few of my favorite things

I got a lot of gifts I loved this year however I think I love the 'thought' behind gifts the most. Anyone else agree? 

Before Christmas I told Dave that after all the travels and gifts this year I didn't need any gifts. (Why would any girl tell there husband that!?) Lucky for me, Dave has a lockbox with gifts hidden under our bed and didn't have to buy any new gifts. I also don't get into that wonderful present box because the house rule is, that if I get into the lock box, I don't get the gifts. Dave has had this box since we started dating. He's a smart man! =) 

He hid a present for me and gave me a hint each day. I looked all over our apartment for it and Dave said I even looked right at it several times! Thanks to my friends on Facebook they helped me figure out it was a necklace with the Star of David but I didn't actually find the necklace until Dave told me right where it was. 

Someone recently told me the meaning of the Star of David. The triangle pointing up represents God and the triangle pointing down represents man. When combined they represent God reaching down to man. The 12 stones are the breastplate that the priests wore. 

This next gift was made for me by my sister-in-law. Each ornament resembles something and has a coordinating Bible verse. I have a small white Christmas tree that I'll be hanging these on next year. 

  1. Teapot - hospitality (Romans 12:10-13)
  2. Heart - true love (John 13:34) *The heart has both of our wedding dates written on it.
  3. Rabbit - hope and faith (Hebrews 11:1)
  4. Bouquet of Flowers - good wishes (2 Corinthians 13:14) *look-a-like from my wedding in FL
  5. Angel - God's guidance in the home (II Timothy 3:16)
  6. Bird - happiness & joy (Romans 5:11)
  7. Our wedding invitation 
  8. Fish - Christ's blessing (Ephesians 1:30)
  9. Santa - Unselfishness and goodwill (Luke 2:14)
  10. Rose - beauty & affection (Romans 12:10)
  11. Fruit Basket - generosity (II Corinthians 9:6)
  12. Pinecone - fruitfulness (Colossians 1:10) *Fruitfulness unto good works not babies ASAP ;)
  13. House - shelter & protection (Psalm 61:3)

 Do you put lots of thoughts into gifts? Did you receive any 'thoughtful' gifts?


Dear 2013

Welcome to the 'Dear 2013' Link-up! I can't wait to read other friend's and blogger's year in review. As I wrote my year out I realized how blessed I am. I hope you will feel the same way as you reflect on your year too. Feel free to grab the button at the end of this blog and link it back to us. Thanks so much for joining in! 

Dear 2013 

Dear January, I spent my last full month in Korea intentionally with my kindys and dear friends. I knew time was running short and I soaked it up. We also visited ice sculptures during this month and about froze to death. I didn't believe one my kindys when she told me she couldn't use a squatty potty. "You are Korean", I said, "Go, in there and potty". Poor kid came out with wet pants. whoops =(

Dear February, You brought some of the highest and some of the lowest moments I've ever experienced. We said goodbye to my sweet mother-in-law and words won't ever describe that feeling. However, I'm thankful for the hope we have in Jesus. Our lowest moment of her leaving this earth was also her best moment as she saw Jesus. (I'm a bit jealous!). After some sad days I hopped on a plane and met two little boys who have filled my heart with love. E & Z you have brought joy to my heart and a whole new wonderful dimension to our family. Dave also surprised me a week before our wedding with a trip to Idaho with my bling bling ring!

Dear March, You are the month where I married my dearest and best friend. Although I was a nervous wreck after all the life changes it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I couldn't be happier. Dear snow - Did you really have to come in full blizzard fashion on my wedding day?

Dear Honeymoon - Puerto Rico was fun. I especially loved seeing some warm beaches and thanks for the mini car for the week. It was a scary fun trip. Dear Depression - You reared your ugly head on my honeymoon. Of all the times in life for you to happen that was when you came back - mean!

Dear April - You brought me to a little town where I had some serious small town culture shock. I spent many days praying, listening to sermons, skyping with my sister, unpacking and spending time with Dave being still in a small town. You were a good month of emotional healing for me. Dave and I also started traveling during this month - sand dunes, hiking and other various road trips.

Dear May - I got married to my best friend again surrounded by my closest friends on a white warm sandy beach. You rock, May! I also hopped in the ocean to trash my wedding dress and it was SO MUCH FUN!

Dear June - You had two bridal showers, camping, and summer fun. I don't remember tons about you so I'm guessing it was a calm month for me. I do remember this being the first month to feel completely recovered emotionally so that's a plus!

Dear July - You are the month that hosts my birthday! My husband offered for us to go to Idaho so I could see my family for my birthday. We also jumped out of rickety plane at 15,000 feet. I can't wait to do that again! We also spent some time white water rafting and hanging out with family. Oh yeah and I started back at Crossfit in July which meant I couldn't walk normal for a few weeks. You made me sore but I'm thankful that I started exercising again.

Dear August - You brought wedding season to a close. My sister-in-law was a beautiful bride and I'm thankful we got to be a part of her wedding. You also brought a cute little boy named Isaac into my life and his Mom is now one of my best friends in Woodward.

Dear September - A trip to the sand dunes and a 13,000 foot hike with Dave was a fun trip for us. You also sent Steph and Z for a visit to the Land of Oz. My work spouse also got married and it was fun to be in her wedding.

Dear October - You took me to New Mexico - the Land of Enchantment. A trip with Dave and my parents to see the hot air balloon festival, consume a massive amount of green chilis and see some dear friends was a blessing to my heart.

Dear November - The holidays came so fast! I loved having my first Thanksgiving with Dave. I also loved seeing Luke and my nephew again and I competed in a triathlon with my friend Alisha!

Dear December - The month we celebrate Jesus and his birth. I've been blessed to spend this month with my husband and our families (and Milo too!).

Dear Readers - Thanks for reading this little blog of mine! I'm floored by the support everyone has showed me during my blogging journey! Dear God - Thanks for another year! As I look back I can see your faithfulness and love guiding all the way! 
Sunshine to the Square Inch


December Giveaway

I hope you each had a very Merry Christmas! Today I'm teaming up with Amanda over at Living in Another Language to host a giveaway. There's lots of ad space and a few other goodies as well. It's a great way to beat the 'holiday blues'! It's always so sad when Christmas is completely over. booo! BUT New Years is right around the corner =-). 


You have seven days to get involved in this giveaway, so make sure you get a few entries in! Don't forget to read the terms and conditions below! Remember, you can enter via Twitter DAILY!


Check out a sample of the digital print here. Check out a sample of the burlap bag here.

1. Winner will be notified January 3-4th. 2. Winner will be verified. If the winner cannot be verified, a new one will be selected. 3. The winner has 48 hours to claim their prize after the notifying email has been sent out. If they do not respond to the email within the 48 hours a new winner will be selected.


Merry Christmas

‘Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house
Not a creature was praying, not one in the house
Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care
In hopes that Jesus would not come there. 

The children were dressing to crawl into bed.
Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head.
And Mom in her rocker with baby on her lap
Was watching the Late Show while I took a nap.

When out of the East there arose such a clatter.
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash!

When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here.
With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray
I knew in a moment this must be THE DAY! 

The light of His face made me cover my head
It was Jesus! returning just like He had said.
And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself. 

In the Book of Life which He held in His hand
Was written the name of every saved man.
He spoke not a word as He searched for my name;
When He said “it’s not here” my head hung in shame. 

The people whose names had been written with love
He gathered to take to His Father above.
With those who were ready He rose without a sound.
While all the rest were left standing around. 

I fell to my knees, but it was too late;
I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate.
I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight;
Oh, if only I had been ready tonight. 

In the words of this poem the meaning is clear;
The coming of Jesus is drawing near.
There’s only one life and when comes the last call
We’ll find that the Bible was true after all!

Shepherds and Swaddling Clothes

It's Christmas Eve!!! Yay! Today is the last day of my Christmas devotionals. If you missed the other days you can read  day 1 here and day 2 here

My cat has nothing to do with this post but he is cute so I had to share

For today's devotional we are going to look a bit at the Shepherds. I learned this at church last week and had to share it. I don't know about you but when I think of raising sheep I think of loving on all those fluffy animals. I bet their kids even picked out their own favorite white fluffy sheep and named it. Well .... did you know that the cutest most perfect and probably favorite sheep was the one that got set aside to be sacrificed? God only accepted lambs without spot and blemish. When a lamb without blemish was found they wrapped it in swaddling clothes to keep it from getting dirty or injured. The swaddling clothes signified that the spotless lamb was ready to be sacrificed.

Now, imagine sitting out in a field at night and angels suddenly are in the sky declaring to you that The King has been born. The angel starts out by saying "For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord". How joyous that must have been for them to hear. A Saviour, born in their time but then, the shepherds stopped as they heard the next statement, "And this shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger".

Can you imagine the joy, wonder and maybe sadness they experienced as they saw this beautiful baby in swaddling clothes. Just like the spotless lambs they raised Jesus was also a spotless lamb wrapped in swaddling clothes. It was a sign of what was to come. From the day He entered the world he showed us that he was the spotless and perfect lamb. Oh how He loves us friends!


A Crisis Identity + Singing Ornaments

Happy Monday Friends!!! Welcome to day 2 of my Christmas devotionals where I share some things I've learned as well as something fun and Christmasy! If you missed day 1 check it out HERE.

Before I get into today's topic I wanted to share with you these awesome ornaments my granny has. First off, grannys are just awesome! My granny loves Christmas and collects ornaments. A couple of weeks ago Dave and I were visiting with her at her house and she pulled out these ornaments.

Today I want to share something I've noticed that many of us have - crisis identity. Lately, I've read on a couple of blogs where the writers wrote about many of the people they know are either getting married or having kids. They mentioned to hold on to your identity when other people get married and have kids. Some people almost seem distraught and at a loss. I'm not here to be mean to other bloggers by pointing out what they wrote it just made me think a lot. If I'm really honest, it kind of hurt my feelings. However, I remember being single and feeling the same way at times.

When I was single and all my friends were getting married and having kids - I did feel a bit like a lost sheep but then I moved to Korea. I was a 'teacher', a 'traveler' I had 'experience'. I felt better. 2013 roller around and I moved back to America. I moved to a small town and I wasn't that 'teacher' and 'traveler' anymore! aaaah! Now what do I do? Well, after feeling a bit at a loss and what seems like everyone asking me what my next 'career move' was I finally settled on the new identity of 'I'm a wife' and I'm ok with that.

Well ... after reading about what other single gals were writing and reflecting on my own thoughts / feelings it dawned on me that we kind of have it all wrong. I don't have a guarantee that tomorrow Dave will be here. I know - who writes things like that? But, it's true. If Dave were gone tomorrow my identity of 'wife' would turn to 'widow'. After facing that fact it's like God just impressed on me that my identity is to be found IN HIM. It's not in traveling, in a career, in a wife, in being a Mom, in being a runner, in being fit. While all of those things are good that can't be my core in life. Jesus has to be my identity. Check out this verse:

Philippians 3:9a

and being found IN HIM, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ

Our identity is to be found in HIM! Now you are probably wondering how this ties into Christmas? Well - I got to thinking about Mary. In Bible times being a virgin, being pure, getting married and having kids was a BIG deal. Can you imagine how her identity completely got stripped away from her because of her obedience to God? Her identity wasn't in her purity, it wasn't in her engagement to Joseph and it probably wasn't in her parents (I wonder if they believed her?). Her identity was in that little baby she was carrying inside of her. It had to be. There is no way someone can go through what she did without being rooted in Christ.

So my challenge to me and my challenge to you is  -  identify yourself with Jesus. When people think of me and you I hope that the main thing we are identified by are things that reflect Jesus: truth, righteousness, kindness, mercy, honest, caring, giving and so much more.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you struggle with this? Do you see this in society?


Favoured + Frosting Trees

Hello friends! I hope your Sunday is going well. With Christmas being this week I wanted to share some things God has taught me over the holiday season as well as some fun Christmas photos. I hope you will learn something just as I have. Also, for those who aren't bloggers and think I'm writing and blogging and skipping out on family I'm not.  All these posts have been pre-written and 'published'. I'm not cutting myself short on family time for blogging. Also - if I don't respond to comments this week I will after Christmas. Merry Merry Christmas friends! I hope you are blessed by celebrating Jesus humble entrance into our world.

Luke 1:28 – 30
And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed are thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at this saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou has found favor with God.

I read these verses in early December. If you are like me, you have probably read those verses many times. However, when I read it this time I wondered what the word favored meant. What made Mary 'favored'? Did God randomly pick her? Did she do something extra ordinary?  

I went to Blue Letter Bible to find out the meaning of the word 'favored'. In Greek the word favoured means the following: 

After reading that lengthy definition a few things came to mind: 

Proverbs 31 - That first definition of 'grace' made me think of the woman described in Proverbs 31. I know we don't know everything about Mary's character but just from this one word I believe she defined her life by God's standard of a godly woman. It encouraged me to do the same. God's blessing and our relationship with him flourishes when we choose to live how He has asked us to live. 

Lovingkindness - God showed loving kindness to Mary. He offered her salvation just like everyone else and she believed that. That right there will change someone. 

Giving Back - When God pours out his grace and mercy on your life you want to give back to Him. It isn't out of duty or obligation but out of love.  Mary's life was proof of the work God had done in her. 

Reflecting on those truths was an encouragement to my heart. I hope it is to yours too. Now for the Christmas photos! 

This little picture was taken at church on Wednesday night. My co-teacher brought ice-cream cones, frosting, M&M's and white candies for snow. It was a fun (and kind of messy) craft but the girls loved it. We teachers loved it too because that is one delicious treat! It would be a fun craft over the holiday season for kids.  


Dear 2013 - Announcing a Year in Review Link-Up

Happy Friday Friends! It's the last one before CHRISTMAS! 

Today I'm announcing a link-up hosted by myself and The Lady Okie. Now that 2013 is behind us (almost) we are writing a letter to 2013 reflecting on all the good, bad, ugly and funny life events. I'll be writing my reflections in a 'Dear 2013' letter form but you can use this link-up to reflect on 2013 however you choose.

The link-up will go live on December 27th at midnight and will stay open through Tuesday, December 31st. I hope you will join us. It will be a good way to reflect on 2013, to be grateful and a great way to see what everyone else has learned. 

I've attached a button for you to add to your blog. Spread the word! The more we have participate the better it will be. If you tweet your post and the link-up I'll be sure to re-tweet it as well. =)

Sunshine to the Square Inch


Packing 101

Maybe I'm the only one but being a quick and effecient packer is not my forte. I mean, just check out this picture of when I hopped on a plane for Korea. Did I really need two 50lb bags, two carry ons and a large white comfy pillow? Why, yes! Yes, I did. 

I know! I'm not in the picture but I took it. (To my roomate Alisha - I didn't have a picture of just me with all that baggage so I put yours up, your welcome). However, all that baggage on the left is mine. How Alisha and I managed to haul that much across a big ocean I'll never really know. It's funny now but was some serious work then. You know what else is funny? I came home for Christmas and still managed to come back with 2 full suitcases and a large carry on. However, this time around it was items for the kids so it stayed in Korea. People had to help me haul luggage though because for some reason I thought getting a latte with two big purple suitcases was a brilliant idea ... FAIL =). 

Now, I don't travel across a blue ocean as much but Dave and I travel just about every weekend. We either go home to Wichita (a 3 hour drive), go camping in a near by area or take a trip to a different state. It almost feels like we live two separate lives. One during the week in Woodward and one during the weekends where we travel. 

My packing goes somewhat like this - I'll think and think about what to pack. While I'm still thinking about what clothes I'm going to wear so I can pack them my husband will say "I'm done packing". Grrr! (I secretly want to dump his bags out so he will have to re-pack and know how it feels to be a girl packer. I know, that's really what a mature 28 should not say) Anyways! After I decide what to take I put it all in my bag and then realize I have too much and have to take stuff out. I then remember TOILETRIES! Oh man! I gotta pack those too. EEEEk! My husband saw my routine once and then sat me down and taught me how to be a packer. Some of these ideas are his,  some are mine and some are lessons from experience. =) 

Packing Tips 101

1. Get Good Gear 
Instead of hauling a suitcase I purchased a Gregory Pack. It has tons of room (which I surprisingly don't fill) and has great back support. It also has lots of compartments so you can organize your toiletries, store your electronics, etc. Packs like this come in different sizes by the liter. You can go all the way up to a 70 Liter pack. While that might give you extra room I don't recommend that because guess who gets to carry that pack? You! I believe mine is a 35L or 40L. I opted for a smaller one so I would be forced to pack light and it works great. This pack is practical for weekend trips or can be used for camping. It has attachments where I can hook on my tent and sleeping bag. It's also small enough to be a carry-on for airplane rides. win. win. I'm going to pack for a whole week using this pack for Christmas and I know it will work great. 

2. Wear it Twice
I don't pack a brand new outfit for every day. I often times wear the same pair of jeans / leggings 2 or 3 times but I'll bring different shirts. I also try to color coordinate my outfits. If I'm gone for 3 days I'll pick a scarf and boots that match my outfits for 3 days. That way I can wear the boots all three days and wear the scarf for 2 of those 3 days. That way I don't have to pack as much. 

3. Double Up
This tip is definitely from Dave and has been a life saver. I always packed my make-up and toiletries every time we traveled. Well, if you travel every weekend that is a lot of unpacking and packing. Dave told me to buy two of all my toiletries including makeup! I was hesitant to do this at first because makeup is expensive. I still have one or two items to purchase but I can tell you that this method saves time. All my toiletries, makeup, brushes, etc. are in my bag and I don't have to worry about packing them or worry about forgetting something. If you can't afford to buy two of everything I'd recommend getting travel size bottles and putting some of your shampoo / conditioner in there. I also wear less makeup when I travel which means less packing. 

4. Pack Chronologically
Here is how this one works for me. Lets say I'm traveling Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Well, I don't need my Sunday clothes until the last day so they go on the bottom of my pack, followed by Saturday, followed by Friday. Friday's clothes are on top and are easy to grab. I also will tuck my underwear, scarf and any other clothing accessory into that days clothing pile. It keeps me from digging everything out from my bag. My pack has a zipper on the side and I usually put my pj's right there as well as any other toiletries that didn't fit into the compartments. 

5. Borrow
This might not always work but if I'm traveling to see one of my sisters or my Mom I know they have a hair dryer and a nice flat iron which saves me from packing and hauling more things. I haven't done this yet but if you are going on a girls trip coordinate and each person could bring a major item (hair dryer, lotion, brush, etc.). 

6. Less is More
I know. No one wants to hear this one but it's true. Sometimes when I travel I let my hair air dry and be free. I wear less makeup and I am more casual. It's ok and good for me =) When I went to Taiwan I took a small backpack. I had two tank tops, one pair of capris, one pair of shorts, a swim suit and that's it! Oh yeah, underwear too. I washed my clothes several times on that trip. While I don't recommend packing that light all the time it did work great for that trip. 

Those are my tips. What are yours? Do you have any suggestions to help me pack better? Are you traveling for the holidays? I hope these tips were helpful.