Christmas and New Years

 Well, our Christmas vacation can best be described into two parts. We spent the first half of our break back in our hometown and spent the other half back at our home in Atlanta. It was nice getting a chance to finally sit  and just spend time with family and friends. We attended a few Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties and did a couple of  gift exchanges with our close friends. Dude, I got so many Starbucks gift cards…it was AWESOME!

Elisa party

Elisa’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Party was so much fun! I got a second chance to wear my tacky Christmas skirt!

On Christmas Eve we had a big meal and watched classic Christmas cartoons with the family. Around 11:20ish  me, Kurtis, and his little sister left and went to Midnight Mass. I love Midnight Mass. It’s one of my favorite masses of the year. It’s just filled with so much anticipation! Sometimes I feel like I get way too excited when it rolls around, but really, how can you not be enthusiastic when it comes to celebrateing The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ? This reminds me of one of my favorite Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI quotes: “At Christmas, therefore, we do not limit ourselves to commemorating the birth of a great figure: we do not simply and abstractly celebrate the birth of the man or in general the mystery of life; even less do we celebrate only the beginning of the new season. At Christmas we commemorate something very tangible and important for mankind, something essential for the Christian faith, a truth that St. John sums up in these few words: “The Word became flesh…” Any who, after Mass we went back home and it was time to open presents! We spent most of Christmas day just relaxing around the house.

Advent Wreath

I finally got a picture of our advent wreath! I love playing with my husbands camera!

The following day we headed back up to Atlanta for our aunt’s Day After Christmas Party. It was a lot fun and it was awesome getting to see everyone, but I was just really tired. The thing I hate most about being an introvert is that especially after big holidays, I’m  just completely exhausted. I get really anxious around the holidays because of it.  Well, after the  party, Kurtis and I finally headed back up to our home.

group

New Year’s Eve photo! We had a fun group of people with us ;)

 When my husband and I got home, we finally got a chance to talk more about family traditions we want to start for advent and for Christmas when we have kids. It was really nice. Too be honest, it’s been awhile since we’ve been able to be in the same place and have that kind of talk. For New Years we hosted our first New Years Eve party at our place! A couple of our friends drove up  from our hometown and visited with us for a couple of days. It was nice having our friends join us in welcoming the new year. We played games, chit-chatted, and ate a lot of food!

smile

He’s the harmony to my melody :)

I still can’t believe that Kurtis and I have celebrated our first Christmas and New Years as a married couple! It’s just weird actually realizing how settled down we are as a couple now. It was the first of the many holidays we look forward to greeting together in years to come. It’s so exciting!

Merry Christmas!

Gerard_van_Honthorst_001

(Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard Van Honthorst)

“The Child born on earth, in lowliness, in the crib, before the shepherds, is born this day in heaven in glory, in magnificence, in majesty: and the day in which He is born is eternity. He is born forever, All-Power, All-Wisdom, begotten before the day-star: He is the beginning and the end, everlastingly born of the Father, the Infinite God: and He Himself is the same God, God of God, Light of Light, True God of True God. God born of Himself, forever: Himself His own second Person: One, yet born of Himself forever. He it is also that is born each instant in our hearts: for this unending birth, this everlasting beginning, without end, this everlasting, perfect newness of God begotten of Himself, issuing from Himself without leaving Himself or altering His one-ness, this is the life that is in us. But see: He is suddenly born again, on this altar, upon the cloth and corporal as white as snow beneath the burning lights, and raised up above us in the hush of the consecration! Christ, the Child of God, the Son, made flesh, with His All-Powerfulness. What will you say to me, this Christmas, Oh Jesus? What is it that you have prepared for me at Your Nativity?”

-Thomas Merton, Thoughts during Mass on Christmas Eve, 1943

Reminder by Mumford and Sons

 

Reminder

Don’t let me darken your door
It’s not what I came here for
No, it’s not what I came here for
And I won’t hear your cry when I’m gone
I won’t know if I’m doing you wrong
I never know if I’m doing you wrong
A constant reminder of where I can find her
A light that might give up the way
Is all that I’m asking for without her I’m lost
Oh my love, don’t’ fade away
So I watched the world tear us apart
A stoic mind and a bleeding heart
You never see my bleeding heart
And your light’s always shining on
When I’ve been travelling oh so long
I’ve been travelling oh so long
A constant reminder of where I can find her
A light that might give up the way
Is all that I’m asking for without her I’m lost
Oh my love, don’t’ fade away
Oh my love don’t fade away

I just can’t even.

So, I’ve been really off lately. I think it has something to do with the change in season and the overall feeling like I have no control over my life right now. Seriously, my life has been pretty hectic since June and the weirdest part is, for the first time, I’m actually not sure how to talk about it.

First: This long distance marriage is just lonely at times. I’m not even sure if “lonely” is the right word to use. When my husband started law school in Atlanta and I decided to stay back in our home town and work. Yeah, I had no idea it would be so difficult. It just seemed like the practical thing to do at the time.  I question my decision constantly. I never imagined this deep ache, well longing, I constantly experience when we’re apart. It feels like my soul is crying out, “Where are you going?!” whenever it’s time to part. I’m slowing learning how to deal with the ache. I’m starting to accept that we will always have periods of separation and I’m learning that it’s okay to feel this way.  Our openness and communication has gotten better. It’s better than it has been in a long time, actually. We’re also getting better at  balancing our alone time and friend time  a lot better too.We didn’t realize the weight of this cross would be so intense, but with God’s grace and the gift of his sacrament we will always be able to grow and overcome our issues.

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Second: My job is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. To be honest, I was afraid when I actually got the position in SID/PID. Over time, I’ve grown to love it. I have incredible mentors and I’m learning so many new things. Every day is incredibly different and at times it is physically draining, but nothing fills my heart with more joy then seeing our kids succeed even in the smallest way.

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Third: My faith is everywhere, but not at the same time. Sounds weird, right? It’s more like I’ve been dealing with more spiritual attacks and knowing that I fail constantly. It’s so frustrating. When I was in adoration during the summer and  answered “Here I am” to Jesus request, I had no idea what all he had in store for me. I’ve set four goals to fix my current state: 1) Start going to adoration weekly 2) Get back in the habit of praying the Divine Office 3) Find a parish in Atlanta that my husband and I both enjoy 4) Attend Wednesday mass (when I can) and when I am there, I am not allowing myself to just think about Lifeteen or YAM . I swear, I have A.D.D or something. It’s getting harder for me to focus during mass- I can usually get it under control by the scripture readings, but it’s so hard! My mind gets lost in everything that I have going on right now. Hmm…perhaps I’m in need of a retreat?

the christian soul accepting her cross by Jacques Stella

(The Christian Soul Accepting her Cross by Jacques Stella)

Directionless

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

 

There are so many times in our lives when we feel completely directionless. What school should I go too? What should I major in? Will I find a job after school? How am I ever going to pay back my student loans? These questions bring out the reality of time and life itself. We’re not getting any younger and the harshness of life can really knock the wind out of you at times, but it’s in those moments, in that grasping for air, we are reminded that this is not our home. That bitter heartache and distress we may feel is that reminder.

With age, the only thing we can hopefully realize is that God is in control. He exists outside of this linear time line that we are bound too by our sins. Our journey may be hard, but we are not alone. His sacrifice, that echo of love, resonates in everything. God is present through every heartache. He catches every tear and is there during every moment of our lives. He is even present in times of indescribable suffering. He’s there in every kind word spoken by a friend and in every embrace. If you can’t see God in the midst of your heart ache, I suggest that you step back and consider his sacrifice for you. During his passion he endured the weight of the worlds sin. Life isn’t about comfort, it’s about seeking God in all things. It’s discerning the question, who is that man on the cross to you?

Your Boat

“Your boat – your talents, your hopes, your achievements – is worth nothing whatsoever unless you leave it in Christ’s hands, allowing him the freedom to come aboard. Make sure you don’t turn it into an idol. In your boat by yourself, if you try to do without the Master, you are – supernaturally speaking – making straight for shipwreck. Only if you allow and seek his presence and captaincy will you be safe from the storms and setbacks of life. Place everything in God’s hands. Let your thoughts, the brave adventures you have imagined, your lofty human ambitions, your noble loves, pass through the heart of Christ. Otherwise, sooner or later, they will sink to the bottom together with your selfishness.”
St. Josemaria Escriva