Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Eve: Looking back and looking forward

2012 was an amazing year. 

I planned an amazing wedding and married my best friend. 


 Took an amazing trip to Ireland for our honeymoon.












Took some amazing students on a mission trip to NYC.




Spent a lot of time with friends and family 



 Actually enjoyed Halloween for the first time ever.


And I enjoyed many more memories with friends -- memories I didn't document, mostly due to the overwhelming amount of work I have been doing in graduate school combined with working full time. . . 

2012 brought a lot of time to reflect on myself as a writer, a friend, a wife, and a citizen. I am still trying to figure out who I am as a writer, but I'll get there. I appreciate having the ability to be adaptable in my craft, but I often feel torn. Alas, I'll leave this for another post! I'm trying to be more intentional about checking in on my friends and being all in when I'm with them. By the grace of God I have had a lovely marriage so far, but I know it will always take work. And finally, I've decided to become as active in the community and politically as possible, despite the aforementioned time sucks in my life (even if they are necessary and valuable.)

I really feel like, even though I completed two semesters of school, that this whole year was leading up to and recovering from our wedding. The entire year was all about planning until September 22nd and after that it was savoring the joy of being a newlywed and surprisingly limited amounts of free time for the first time in a long time.

2013, on the other hand, is going to be the very first unplanned year of my entire life. Seriously. Even as a high schooler I planned my life beyond college to 2012. A few things were coincidental, I figured I'd get married by 2012, I knew I'd graduate college in 2010, I figured I'd get a big girl job and do a certain amount of traveling. However, I never really thought beyond 2012 for some reason--as a person who considers herself a planner, that's a big deal.

So all that to say, I'm really looking forward to 2013 for the opportunity to really rely on the Lord to provide for us and for Him to lead my day to day life. I'm so excited for each day to be a surprise!

The only things I know for sure (God willing) are:
  • I'm not planning on quitting my job
  • I'm not moving
  • I'll be enrolling in two graduate classes each semester
  • I won't be graduating this year (2014... what up!)
  • JL and I will be celebrating our one year anniversary in Florida
Other than that, who knows!

While relying on God for my day-to-day, I do hope to accomplish these three important goals this year in addition to the rest of my work!

1. Be DEBT FREE by Christmas. I'm not posting the dollar amount of debt I have from my undergraduate education, but suffice to say, I went to a pricey private school. JL and I are Dave Ramseying it up over here and we really want to get out of debt by Christmas 2013.

2. Once and for all QUIT MY SUGAR ADDICTION. If you know me, you know that this won't be easy, but I've successfully (temporarily) cut out sugar in the past and I know I can do it again. 
Bye bye refined sugars!

3.Post to my blog ONCE a week. I know this sounds lame, but if you look at my track record of blog posts this year, you'll see that my posts were extremely lacking. I love blogging and I think that while on the one hand I need to have real expectations about my time and ability to work/produce, I also have a horrible habit of not publishing the posts I do write. Whether it is fun things that I do or my thoughts on everything from the election to life as a Christian, I begin a lot of posts and don't publish them either because I get too busy to finish or I get overwhelmed for fear of criticism (lame, I know). 

How about you? Anything planned for 2013?
What are your goals?




Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Poem: I Stand By The Door

I love this poem written by the founder of AA. I hope you do too!



I Stand at the Door
By Sam Shoemaker (from the Oxford Group)

I stand by the door.
I neither go to far in, nor stay to far out.
The door is the most important door in the world -
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There is no use my going way inside and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where the door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men,
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it.
So I stand by the door.

The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for men to find that door - the door to God.
The most important thing that any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands
And put it on the latch - the latch that only clicks
And opens to the man's own touch.

Men die outside the door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter.
Die for want of what is within their grasp.
They live on the other side of it - live because they have not found it.

Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him.
So I stand by the door.

Go in great saints; go all the way in -
Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
And way up into the spacious attics.
It is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
Go into the deepest of hidden casements,
Of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.
Some must inhabit those inner rooms
And know the depths and heights of God,
And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.
Sometimes I take a deeper look in.
Sometimes venture in a little farther,
But my place seems closer to the opening.
So I stand by the door.

There is another reason why I stand there.
Some people get part way in and become afraid
Lest God and the zeal of His house devour them;
For God is so very great and asks all of us.
And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia
And want to get out. 'Let me out!' they cry.
And the people way inside only terrify them more.
Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are spoiled.
For the old life, they have seen too much:
One taste of God and nothing but God will do any more.
Somebody must be watching for the frightened
Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,
To tell them how much better it is inside.
The people too far in do not see how near these are
To leaving - preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door
But would like to run away. So for them too,
I stand by the door.

I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not yet even found the door.
Or the people who want to run away again from God.
You can go in too deeply and stay in too long
And forget the people outside the door.
As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him and know He is there,
But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there too.

Where? Outside the door -
Thousands of them. Millions of them.
But - more important for me -
One of them, two of them, ten of them.
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.
So I shall stand by the door and wait
For those who seek it.

'I had rather be a door-keeper
So I stand by the door.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Jennifer's Birthday

 
My sweet sister Jennifer turned 23 earlier this week! As part of my gift I wanted to do something unique so we went to the Savannah Tea House for a little tea party of our own! Look at her cute little outfit!

At this lovely shop you order your food and tea and then you get to pick out your own tea cup.



 Check out the crazy flavors! They had everything from butterscotch, Versailles Earl Grey, to green cherry!

 This is the cup I chose

 My mom's choice!

 Look at this beautiful birthday girl!


Jennifer served the tea, but it was really hot!

 She's a model, am I right?

 Sisters

 After tea we ventured to The Cupcake Collection and shared an amazing sweet potato cupcake!


Later that night we went to Music City Flats and celebrated her party!

Happy Birthday little Jennifer!!!!



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kix Brooks' Vineyard: Arrington Vineyard

Before we said goodbye to my family for the Thanksgiving weekend, JL and I enjoyed one more family outing out to Arrington Vineyard, a local vineyard owned by Kix Brooks (from Brooks and Dunn). 

At this awesome vineyard you can bring your own food and listen to a live band playing (JL and I enjoyed dancing to Christmas music!), relax by the camp fire, or walk gardens. 

 
The club house

 Totally creeped on this cute couple and the lovely view
 My dad and lovely sister

 I'm pretty sure this could be in a magazine. LOVE my new camera!

 Yay Christmas!

 Lovely labels!

My mom and dad relaxing 

Jennifer grabbed the camera and snapped this cute one of us!



Lovely views, right?

JL and I considered going to California to tour vineyards for our honeymoon (real honeymoon pictures coming soon!), but ended up going to Ireland instead. Have you ever been to a vineyard?

Cheers,

Nicole Jeannette

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Truly Tennessean Thanksgiving

 This Thanksgiving JL and I had the pleasure of spending quite a bit of quality time with my sweet family!

On Thursday we "ran" our annual 5k Turkey Trot first thing in the morning! I didn't beat my record like I was hoping to but the old injuries from ballet were acting up and my hips were aching like a woman four times my age might. (Don't laugh. Ballet is NOT for sissies.) Besides, it was JL's first 5k and he's not much of a runner so we were happy to walk it together.

Afterwards we went home and enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving dinner, cooked by yours truly, complete with a crockpot turkey breast that was to die for, my infamous mashed potatoes (recipe to come), and enough cherry and pumpkin pie to feed a small army. 

After adequately gorging ourselves, JL REALLY wanted to experience Black Friday for the first time. I wasn't so keen on this idea, but when I found out that the doors opened at 9pm at Target, rather than 6am, I finally agreed. We were really happy to have Jennifer come with us and had a great time shopping.

Now, let me say that when we scored on Black Friday, I mean we scored hard. We got a pre-lit tree, a 50" TV for my parents, aaaaaand I got a new camera!!! Check out what this baby can do!

 Look at the 21x zoom!


 Check out this pretty new momma!

 His coat is getting so thick for the winter!

Another momma and her colt



 Mommy

 Baby



 Oliver loved getting a walk with some new friends!


That's one happy puppy!

Then on Saturday we took a drive down to Lynchburg to check out the local scenery and offerings:

While none of us are whiskey drinkers, it was interesting to see the Jack Daniels distillery. 



 We ate lunch at a small local restaurant called the Barrel House BBQ

 
It was a very classy establishment. . . 

 But it was charming in a small-Tennessean-town kind of way

 And we do love BBQ

And so does our family!


Christmas tree? Barrels? Get it??

 Our tour guide

 The cave where the distillery from where distillery gets its water

 The Phillips-White Crew... and Jack.

And even though I don't brew whiskey, nor will I ever, I loved their motto! 

Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving as well!

Cheers,

Nicole Jeannette