One Word for 2013. Celebrate!

I didn’t necessarily plan on having one word for 2013, though I like the idea.  I am cheesy enough to enjoy themes.  Sometimes trips have a theme.  A pattern emerges and an inside joke forms for the participants that lasts long after you return home.  Sometimes seasons of life have a theme.  I like the idea of being proactive as this fresh, new year begins and determining in advance what to focus on.  During these past few weeks of travel, Husband and I had a chance to reflect on the year ahead.  Personally and professionally, it looks to be an exciting year for us.

One day during the Christmas holiday spent at my aunt’s house, we went for a glorious walk in her neighborhood.  It was cold–but not miserably so, and we came across a large pond teeming with geese.  Just as we finished circling it, the sun began to set.  Pale pinks and oranges reflected on the calm surface of the water.  It was one of those otherworldly moments of stillness where you are reminded of God’s presence.  These walks are one of my favorite times.  I read that men find it easier to engage in meaningful conversation when participating in some kind of activity.  This seems to be the case with Bryan.  We have some of our best discussions when we’re in the car (him driving) or out walking or cooking together.  I told him about goals and dreams and ideas that I have been comtemplating for this next year.  We talked about things that we are doing well and things that we want to work on.  We discussed his impending graduation and everything that this might mean for us.  It was exhilerating.

When we were driving home from my parents’ house on January 1st and mentally preparing to get back to our routine for the semester, we decided on a word for 2013.  It was Bryan who came up with it–credit where credit is due.  This will be the year of celebration.  pb-121022-Dashain-kb-548p_photoblog900We will rejoice over the blessings in our lives and give God all the glory.  I’ve been working on having a spirit of thankfulness each day, so I love it!  There is ALWAYS something to celebrate.  I think this word goes nicely with the title of my blog, “Spring is in the World”.  It comes from a beloved poem.  Spring is a time for celebrating new beginnings.  The harsh winter is over, and we emerge from our hibernation to breathe in the fresh air.  Flowers bloom, animals frolic, and we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord.

I grew up quasi out in the country, and I’ve always cherished the opportunity to watch the animal activity that goes along with the changing seasons.  In the spring, we would discover baby birds and rabbits.  We were surrounded by neighbors with large pastures where we could watch colts and calves learning to walk on unsteady legs.  There is plenty to love about cold weather, of course, but spring is an amazing time.  This year, I want to celebrate the big and small joys that happen in our lives and remember that spring is in the world.  Bryan’s graduation in May will be the beginning of a new chapter for us.  I trust that God will open a door, and we will venture forth on unsteady legs.

Here are a few of my hopes/dreams/goals/plans for this year…

I’d like to spend more time outside,

be on time more often,

See my husband graduate(!!!!),

Come from a place of love in my interactions with people,

Eat smaller portions,

Continue to exercise often,

Be creative,

Have some travel adventures,

Build deeper relationships with existing friends and make some new ones,

Update my wardrobe,

Get rid of clutter,

Successfully grow and maintain at least two plants,

Use better posture,

Find a new service project/opportunity,

Write more frequently

Read more books

And celebrate every day, of course.  🙂

I’d love to hear what hopes/dreams/goals/plans you have for 2013.  Please share in the comments, and we can inspire each other!

This post is part of the OneWord365 community.

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2012

Here is my belated reflection.  I want to look back on 2012 for a moment and remember some highlights through pictures.

We came back from our honeymoon and Christmas with Bryan's family just in time for my  Dad's retirement party.

We came back from our honeymoon and Christmas with Bryan’s family just in time for my Dad’s retirement party.

My college girlfriends are becoming moms!  This is our first time meeting Miss Brynn, the firstborn of my dear friend, Erin.  Precious!

My college girlfriends are becoming moms! This is our first time meeting Miss Brynn, the firstborn of my friend, Erin. Precious!

I started setting up the house.  It's so much fun having my own kitchen!  These canisters are one of my favorite kitchen items.  They hold the essentials—flour, sugar, rice and coffee beans.

I started setting up the house. It’s so much fun having my own kitchen! These canisters are one of my favorite kitchen items. They hold the essentials—flour, sugar, rice and coffee beans.

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Our first Valentine’s Day as husband and wife called for a dessert date. 🙂

Sarah and I have lived far away from each other ever since college, but we are still very close.  We were blessed to have her visit in February.  It was a blast!

Sarah and I have lived far away from each other ever since college, but we are still very close. We were blessed to have her visit in February. It was a blast!

Two amazing trips were the highlight of the year.  The first was visiting our dear friends, Lisa and Dusty and, of course, Baby Kara in Northern California during our spring break.

Three amazing trips were some of the year’s biggest highlights. The first was visiting our dear friends, Lisa and Dusty and, of course, Baby Kara in Northern California during our spring break.

It was the most snow Bryan had ever seen, and he loved every minute of it.  I'd also like to point out that this is one of my all time favorite pictures of him.

It was the most snow Bryan had ever seen, and he loved every minute of it. I’d also like to point out that this is one of my all time favorite pictures of him, even though it doesn’t display his famous beautiful hair.

We love this family and their beautiful backyard.  We can't wait to go back!

We love this family and their beautiful backyard. We can’t wait to go back!

We have loved getting to work in the church nursery this year.  This is a picture of Bryan with the twin boys from church that we got to babysit!  It was equal parts fun and exhausting. :)

We have loved getting to work in the church nursery this year. This is a picture of Bryan with the twin boys from church that we got to babysit! It was equal parts fun and exhausting. 🙂

In May, Brother graduated from high school!

In May, Brother graduated from high school!

We were able to spend several weeks in Costa Rica in July.  I love my Costa Rican familia!  :)

We were able to spend several weeks in Costa Rica in July. I love my Costa Rican familia! 🙂

This trip was extra exciting because my sister, Katie, was able to come...

This trip was extra exciting because my sister, Katie, was able to come…

And so were our dear friends, Derek and Rachel.  :)

And so were our dear friends, Derek and Rachel. 🙂

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These guys were everywhere in Manuel Antonio national park, near the beach. Oh little Capuchin, you make me smile.

In the fall, we started the process of getting Bryan a green card.  (Don't worry—his student visa doesn't expire for awhile.)

In the fall, we started the process of getting Bryan a green card. (Don’t worry—his student visa doesn’t expire for awhile.)

In October, my dear college friend, Andrea came to visit.  She had just returned from two years in Italy working as a missionary, and she brought a souvenir--her boyfriend, Dario.

In October, my dear college friend, Andrea came to visit. She had just returned from two years in Italy working as a missionary, and she brought a souvenir–her boyfriend, Dario.

Katie and her boyfriend, David, came to visit us, which was wonderful right up until the injury.

Katie and her boyfriend, David, came to visit us, which was wonderful right up until the injury.

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We enjoyed a beautiful fall and Thanksgiving with my family. This is my favorite tree in the front yard at my parents’ house.

We spent our one year wedding anniversary in the Hill Country.  Fredericksburg is magical at Christmastime.  :)

We spent our one year wedding anniversary in the Hill Country. Fredericksburg is magical at Christmastime. 🙂

We took a day trip to San Antonio to stroll along the Riverwalk and enjoy some delicious Mexican food.

We took a day trip to San Antonio to stroll along the Riverwalk and enjoy some delicious Mexican food.

We got snow on Christmas morning!

It snowed on Christmas morning!

Most importantly, we got to spend time with my grandparents, aunts uncles and cousins.  This is Granny Betts.  I think she's the most photogenic in the whole family.  Next year we're hoping Bryan's family can come for the holidays!

Most importantly, we got to spend time with my grandparents, aunts uncles and cousins. This is Granny Betts. I think she’s the most photogenic in the whole family. Next year we’re hoping Bryan’s family can come for the holidays!

Wow, just looking through these pictures and reliving the experiences is a delightful reminder of the blessings in my life.  That’s a nice segue to my next post, as a matter of fact.  I will be revealing my ONE WORD for 2013.

I started this blog about halfway through 2012, and it has already been so rewarding.  I’ve gotten to know some amazing writers and had the honor of doing a couple of guest posts.  I have a post coming up about my hesitation to join to world of blogging despite my longtime blog reading nerdiness.  I’m so glad I decided to take the leap.  It has far exceeded my expectations, and I look forward to seeing where this adventure takes me in the coming year.  Thank you for reading and for your encouragement and feedback.  I love hearing from you.  Now onward to 2013!

It’s Been a Year

Greetings, dear ones!  I hope your holidays were cozy and delicious and full of quality time with your favorite people.  I know it’s time now to look ahead to 2013, so I’m a little late with my reflections on 2012.  I’ve been driving all over Texas the past few weeks, so I am just now taking the time to write about my look back at this past year.  I guess that’s kinda my style.  Someday when we have small children, my family will be the one sending out a New Year’s card for everyone’s fridge instead of a Christmas card.  But I digress.   First, I want to talk about my recent one year wedding anniversary.  The following post was written before our anniversary on December 17th, but with what happened in Connecticut a few days earlier, it didn’t seem like the right time to share it.  As we all were, I was shaken up by the news and only wanted to pray and reflect and hug my loved ones and pray some more.  I plan to be back soon with more reflections on 2012 and aspirations for 2013.  For now, here are my anniversary thoughts…

This is going to be sappy.  (I wanted to let you know up front.)  One year ago I married the love of my life surrounded by our family and friends in the beautiful church building that we call home.  The holiday season will always hold a little more magic and romance for us now as we remember our wedding day and celebrate a milestone in our journey together.  Looking back on that day and on this first year of marriage, it’s hard to put into words what I am feeling.  How can you describe such a gift?

When I met Bryan, I experienced this unique peace about him that allowed me to feel safe very quickly and gave me the courage to open my heart…finally.  We just fit.  And as crazy as it was to be taking this huge step in my life when we were preparing to get married, it also felt very natural.  I am an expressive person (aka…I cry a lot), and several people made comments after the wedding day about how surprisingly calm I seemed.  Beforehand, I wasn’t sure how I would respond to the emotions of the day having never been in that situation before.  It was, in many ways, an out-of-body experience.  It’s impossible to process something that huge while you’re experiencing it (at least it was for me), but I had on my waterproof mascara just in case.  As it turned out, I was outwardly pretty serene.  Mostly, what I remember feeling was eager anticipation.  I couldn’t wait to be Bryan’s wife.  It felt like we had been looking forward to this day forever.  Of course, my heart raced when my dad told me it was time for us to begin our walk down the aisle.  A lot of my memories from that day are a blur.  I was overwhelmed by all the time and energy that went into making the day special.  So many people helped bring it all together, and so many loved ones traveled from afar to share our wedding day with us.  I will never forget how grateful and humbled I felt by the outpouring of love for us during that time.  I felt the full meaning of the verse, “Rejoice with those who rejoice”. (Romans 12:15)Husband and Wife

Married life is truly wonderful with my “alma gemela”.  We have learned so much about each other this year.  We have had conflicts and frustrations, and we have shared so much laughter and joy.  This is a unique time in our lives.  We are more and more aware of the demands on our time that children will add someday as we watch friends become parents, so we try to cherish the evenings and weekends spent together.  Quality time is my love language, so I take advantage of as many lunch dates and lazy Saturdays with my husband as I can.  As cliche as I know it sounds, he really is my best friend.  I hope and pray that we will be making memories together for many years to come and that YOU, too, will find your alma gemela if you haven’t already.  🙂

I memorized this beautiful poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning for an English class in high school.  She wrote it for her husband, and it’s been on my mind lately as I reflect on my own marriage…

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Happy anniversary, Sweetheart!  Te amo.  Thank you for moving thousands of miles to be with me and for asking me to spend my life with you.  I can’t imagine it any other way.

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On Bonding Experiences

The weekend before Thanksgiving something crazy happened while my sister, Katie, and her boyfriend, David, were in town.  We had been looking forward to their visit for weeks, and Saturday was the perfect fall day.  We took advantage of the nice weather with a late lunch picnic on campus.  Golden sunlight streamed down on our quilt, mingled with that thrilling crispness in the air that served as a reminder of the approaching holiday season.  We drank sweet tea and ate barbecue and then tossed a frisbee for a while.  Husband decided to grab his soccer ball out of the car.  Being from Central America, he doesn’t have a lot of frisbee experience but shines with a soccer ball at his feet.  At one point, he kicked the ball super hard, and it went all the way up the steps of the administration building (pictured), hit the doors and bounced back to where he stood.  He was pleased with the impressed reaction he got from the crowd and decided to try this again.  I’ve told you before about his boyish nature. 

On his second attempt, the ball rested too close to the edge of the sidewalk.  He kicked the ball and then the concrete, so his big toe had a head-on collision with the edge of that concrete at full force.  None of us really saw this.  He just rolled onto his back.  I thought he had lost his balance from kicking so hard, and I walked over laughing to help him to his feet.  He didn’t get up, and I heard him moan.  Something was wrong…maybe his knee?  He was holding it and wincing.  Then he told me that he hit his toe and that he could feel his shoe filling up with blood.  The mood changed quickly, and I yelled over my shoulder, “Time to go!”  Katie and David gathered our things and met us at the car.

My big, strong husband grimaced with each step as he leaned on me for support.  This was something new.  I’ve now know him for a little more than three years, and up to this point he hadn’t had much more than a cold during that time.  I had never seen him so physically vulnerable before.  I have to say, it kinda freaked me out.  When we got to the house, he took off his sock.  I’ll spare you the gruesome picture that he captured, but suffice it to say it took about three seconds to decide that we needed to take him to the walk-in clinic.  It was bleeding profusely, and I was apparently so flustered as I filled out his paperwork that I wrote down the wrong address.  I lived at 1109 when I was in college, but somehow that’s what I wrote on the form.  It’s funny what our minds do in these situations…or maybe it’s just me.  I don’t know.  🙂  They assessed the injury and determined that the cut was too deep and the tissue too damaged for them to repair.  They took an x-ray, gave him some shots to numb his toe and sent us to the ER.

We left our guests to find alternate plans for the evening and drove to the hospital where we spent the next five hours, mostly waiting.  Thank goodness they numbed his toe.  They gave us a wheelchair, and he sat playing on his iPhone and not feeling any pain.  The ER on a Saturday night is a wonderful opportunity for people watchers like myself.  I observed a young couple with a cheerful little boy who coulnd’t have been more than 2 and wondered what must be wrong with him.  He was so animated, toddling around the room, lighting up the faces of everyone he passed.  I saw an older woman slumped over in her chair, head down, distraught look on her face.  She got in quickly.  When they finally called us in, I held my husband’s hand while he received more shots and five stitches.  He looked pale and his normally warm skin was clammy and cold.  I tried not to seem concerned.  I smiled and asked him questions to distract him from the scene going on at his feet.  He gazed up at me smiling weakly, and eventually it was done.  

Husband is healing well and got his stitches out yesterday. It has been incredibly hard to see him hurting, but he has handled the whole thing with great courage.  He’s been telling people in an excited tone, “I learned a new word in the ER.  Mangled!”  The nurse must have used it five times.  I was pleasantly surprised by my ability to remain calm and not get squeamish at the sight of the “damaged tissue”.  I learned that I can be strong when someone I love needs me.  I have enjoyed taking care of Bryan while he recovers.  It can’t be easy for an independent, hard-working guy to relinquish control and let someone serve him, but I’ve only caught him hobbling around doing chores a couple of times.   Situations like this remind us not to take our health for granted.  I am thankful for that reminder.  And, yes, this experience brought us closer.  But let’s not make trips to the ER a regular thing, ok honey?

Autumn Nostalgia

Although I don’t love everything that goes along with Halloween (I’m not a fan of gore and violence),  I love this time of year for many reasons.  Pumpkins like this little guy, for example…How adorable is this?  I love the cooler weather that brings thoughts of possibilities and new beginnings.  I love that I always get inspired to bake breads and cobblers and make soup (which is on my top ten list of favorite foods) around this time.  I love burning candles that smell like cinnamon and apples and wearing cardigans.  In recent years, I’ve had a new reason to love this season.  Today is the three year anniversary of my first date with Bryan!

Time is an interesting phenomenon–more so as I get older.  How has it been three years?  I remember that night vividly…trying to achieve that balance of looking casual but still cute as I picked out an outfit, my heart beating faster as I listened to the Spanish love songs in the taxi cab wondering what the night would hold, seeing him approaching from a distance as I waited at our meeting spot in front of Teatro Nacional–his grin matching mine.  There was low, romantic lighting and live music drifting softly toward our table at that upstairs restaraunt in downtown San Jose.  We could feel the breeze from the open windows.  He was so handsome.  Our easy conversation lingered on for more than five hours (and included a Spanish/English dictionary).  It was the beginning of the end of my long season of singleness.  And though I wouldn’t allow myself to speculate about the future beyond my alloted time in Costa Rica, I could tell that night that this was something special.  You know that stirring in your soul that you feel when you can sense that something big is happening?  Well I felt it on that autumn evening in 2009.  And then I blinked, and now here we are.  Happy Fall, everyone!


Happy birthday to Husband

My adorable husband, Bryan, will turn 27 on Saturday.  He blesses my life every day, and I’m so thankful for him.  Here are just a few reasons why I’m glad he was born:

1)  For a Costa Rican, he is quite tall (6ft) and broad, but he has such a gentle spirit.

2)  His integrity and work ethic inspire me constantly.

3)  Having been through quite a bit of tragedy and hardship in his life, he is wise far beyond his years…

4)  but I see glimmers of  something so endearingly boyish in him sometimes.

5)  He is loyal and loves hard.  One of the first things I noticed about him was how dedicated he is to his family and friends and God.  I was always told that you can tell a lot about a man by how he treats his mother.  Well, Latino men tend to love their mamas, but I have never known someone who does more for their mom than Bryan does for his.

6)  He is a technology nerd.  Not only does he love learning about technology, he genuinely enjoys helping others with their technology needs and teaching them how to use technology to make their lives easier.  My parents are eternally grateful.

7)  The accent.  Need I say more?

8)  He is patient and able to take things in stride.  His steadiness is the perfect complement to my passion.

9)  Babies love him!  When we work in the church nursery, they call him the baby whisperer.  It is truly an amazing thing to witness (and bodes well for the future).

10)  I am glad Bryan was born because I found in him my “alma gemela” (twin soul), my best friend, the Love of My Life.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWEETHEART!!