Continuing Advent


I failed quite a bit with documenting our continued advent celebration. I kept getting so caught up in the moment and would realize later that I meant to take pictures! Oh well, bear with me. I’ll work on getting better!

Day 6: Make (and Enjoy) Mulled Wine. My first attempt wasn’t too shabby. We had friends over to enjoy and it seemed to be a hit! The perfect beverage to warm up with!

Day 7 & Day 8: We were on the road over the weekend to visit our cousins in Portland. So to make things easier I made these days “treat” days. Paul got a Bag o’ Sunflower seeds (which is one of his favorite things about road trips) and a Theo Chocolate bar for us to enjoy. The best part though was playing with this handsome fellow! He is going to be a heart breaker!

Day 9: Scripture Reading & Candle Lighting.

Day 10: Game Night & Christmas Music. I wanted to zone out to  some Zombie Dice, but Paul talked me into playing a mellower card game called Pitch. It was a delightful evening!

Day 11: Have a Candlelit Dinner. An easy way to have a relaxing evening!

Day 12: Make a Holiday Treat. We made Dark Chocolate Peppermint truffles which were amazing!! Typically I never share the kitchen with Paul.  This was an easy way for us to get our hands dirty (literally) and share in the food making experience.
PS - How cute are those plates! My Secret Santa aka dear friend Christianna got those for me! I've been using them a lot!
Day 13: Kissing under the mistletoe (no explanation needed).
Day 14: Watch a Holiday Movie. We were too busy this weekend to make this happen. But I still hope we get around to it!

Day 15: Gather with Community. This was awesome! We had a group of friends over for a breakfast potluck. We also collected coats and blankets to donate to the homeless youth. I do not have any pics of the nearly 20 adults and 7 kids that packed our house! But here is a picture of the great stuff we donated!

Creating Traditions


Tradition has been on my mind lately. I often think about traditions in the context of “when we have children we will…” and then fill in the blank. Recently I have been struck by the idea that Team O needs to begin building our traditions as a family before we have children. The idea is that children will naturally become a part of those traditions.
I thought this year would be an excellent time to begin an advent tradition. However, I wasn’t sure where to start. I only knew of Advent done two ways: 1) chocolates in a calendar and 2) the family tradition our dear friends the Kaetzel’s passed down to us where a candle is lit each Sunday leading up to Christmas, scripture is read, songs are sung and the nativity scene is built each week.

During the advent season I want us to keep Jesus as focus, I want to do activities that promote ‘us’ time,  I want fun and silly little things to get us into the holiday spirit, and I wanted to build memories. So from December 1st to the 25th we are doing a plethora of small and inexpensive things to achieve those goals. I say small because the last thing I would want to do is build up a tradition that only stresses us out. The idea is this is a joyful time, Christ IS coming! We are also going to use the devotionals from this online advent book from Desiring God.
Before we started I had to acquire a calendar of some sort. Speaking of stress, google "advent calendars" and you will find many variations that you can make. Sometimes seeing other people's insane creativity flat out stresses me out. One night after work I found myself at JoAnn's meandering the aisles looking for inspiration. And then I stumbled across this beauty and realized - heck no, I'm not making a calendar. I'm buying! I am beyond thrilled with this unexpected (and on sale) purchase!
Our Calendar for many years to come.
I will document our celebration as the month goes on. For now I'll share Days 1-5.
Day 1: Acquire & Decorate a Christmas Tree. Paul hauled this tree over his shoulder the three blocks from the fruit stand to our house!
Day 2: Light the "Gospel" candle, read Scripture and set up our nativity set. In the future we'll set the nativity up week by week.

Day 3: Hang our stockings by the faux fire. Well I guess I could have lit the faux fire, but I honestly don't remember how! Charlie needs a little stocking love too!

Day 4: Write out Christmas cards. Since they're not done I'm not showing our awesome 2012 photo card just yet! I will also say that on Tuesday evening we were exhausted. So we tabled writing out our Christmas cards. Flexibility is key!

Day 5: Share a favorite Christmas memory. Paul telling me about the year he got ALL the video games he asked for made me laugh so hard last night! I remember Christmas PJ's and waking up way too early and eating toaster strudels waiting for my parents to get up. Mmmm Toaster Strudels!!

Team O's Fall of Fun


Okay, in reality, Team O probably broke the bank for our Summer of Fun. But now I just really like looking forward to thinking about what the upcoming season holds for us.

Fall highlights that I'm excited about:

  • Starting up our marriage life group. Paul and I've already started the book and have challenged and encouraged. Can't wait to talk about it with other couples.
  • Seeing Family. Our cousin Matt comes into town next week. And at the end of the month my dad starts his Tour De Retirement. First stop Seattle! 
  • Monthly Saturday Brunch: This is our new tradition as a way to connect with friends we don't get to see as often. 
  • Harleween! Goth? Yes please! I still haven't figured out how I'm going to contain my chipperness!
  • Portland! We are overdue to visit our little buddy Jackson! He falls into the family category. I think he is our first cousin once removed? I 
  • Iowa! We are overdue to visit our little buddies Kevin and Destiny. Okay, I guess these are big buddies since it's my Sister and Bro-In-Law we are talking about! Excited to get some quality time in!
  • December Stay-cation! So this is probably technically winter. But I am so excited for 11 days off from work and to hang around with my husbuddy!
  • Again winter, but we will be hosting our 3rd annual (across 4 years) Orphan Christmas!
As we head into Fall, I am reminded that there is so much to be thankful for!

Part 2: Paleo - What’s all the hype?


Before getting into all of the Paleo hype. I want to give a shout out to Paul. Paul ran a half marathon this last weekend. He shaved 8 minutes off his personal record. So proud of that guy!

I mention Paul's PR because we absolutely believe that the changes in our diet results in optimal performance in our bodies. Paul did not eat a conventional Standard American Diet (SAD) to prepare for his race. No weird goos. No ingredients we couldnt pronounce. Nothing processed. A Paleo lifestyle dumps all of that junk out of our diet. Paul kicked optimal ass! 

Paleo is often referred to as the caveman diet or dino chow. In reality we choose foods that provide our bodies with optimal performance. Foods that are dense with nutrients. Foods that do not harm the insides of our bodies. We no longer stock our pantry with foods that will last forever. Food quality is important -- We are careful about where our meat comes from, and buy produce locally and organically as often as possible.

In a nutshell, this lifestyle is simply about 1) eating whole foods that provide better fuel for your body and 2) avoiding processed, refined, nutrient-poor factory foods.

We avoid corn and soy to stay away from GMOs and poor farming practices. We also avoid processed foods, grains, legumes, diary, white potatoes, and vegetable oils.

What do we eat? Quality meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. We sweeten foods with dates, fruit, honey (preferably raw), and occasionally maple syrup.

If you're interested in learning more. Our friends at Rugged Elite have written a couple of helpful blog posts. One post gets into the idea of making this a lifestyle and the other has great resources for getting started.

So what is all the hype? The hype is that it is changing peoples lives. My body literally feels better. Issues I have had for years have just gone away. Paul has had a significant decrease of inflammation in his body which is noticeable when he logs his miles of running. Our bodies just feel better.

Once upon a time a wise man wrote something profound that takes on so much more meaning in today's world:

"Let food by thy medicine, and medicine be thy food" ~ Hippocrates

Part 1: Getting Healthy


Up until a few months ago, I would have considered myself a fairly healthy person. I worked out several times a week for a healthy heart and healthy lungs. I ate pretty decent, though I definitely have a sweet tooth! Oh and I did tend to suck at portion control. I want what Paul gets (though he runs gazillions of miles each week, I run no miles each week).

So why was there a problem? Well, I was sleeping with a bottle of Maalox by the bed and I kept a bottle of Tums on the kitchen counter. Both were Always in close proximity and I used one or the other pretty much every day. I could only go to sleep when lying on my left side because it helped my tummy feel better when trying to fall asleep. What foods I did digest, I digested very slowly (aka always gassy, aka TMI).

And honestly, all of that was the norm for me. It frustrated Paul to no end, but it was just what I was used to. I just assumed that I had a "sensitive" stomach. 

This problem came to the forefront in May. Paul had been talking to several people about the Paleo lifestyle and had heard all kinds of good results happening to people who made the lifestyle change. At the end of May, Paul told me he wanted to try doing Paleo for a month.

I said Hell No. Why would I want to cut so many tasty foods out of my life? Paul persisted. I told him give me a week to think about it and look around online. See what it entailed. While exploring online I came across so many other testimonials about people who felt better after going Paleo. Interesting….

I didn’t understand the why? What was so magical about cutting out: Dairy, Grains, Legumes, and Soy? More reading entailed. A lot of the foods that are eliminated boil down to antinutrients such as phytates, biologically active lectins, and immunoreactive proteins. What? Yes science. Look it up yourself - cause I ain't no scientist.

Here is what has applied to me specifically. Lectins. Lectins damage the walls of your intestines, helping to create “leaky gut”, so that other large particles can cross the intestinal barrier, enter your blood stream and begin other immune cascades. This is basically how food sensitivities start. Something goes in and makes some holes in your gut that lets big particles of food into your blood stream. Then your immune system gets VERY overwhelmed and confused and starts attacking things at random. Gee that sounds like a party. Well, this started sounding like why I might be feeling awful.

So, I relented. I told Paul I would try it for one month.

Part 2: Paleo, What’s all the hype? (coming soon)

Absence Makes the heart Grow Fonder


Dear Bloggy Blog,

I'm sorry for neglecting you! And honestly, it is hard to believe sometimes how quickly time passes. Honestly, blogging during the first half of this year was too difficult. Team O was going through a tough season on many fronts. I didn't want to go into details on blogo-sphere land, so I just didn't write.

Anyways, Paul and I decided to change our year around. Summer 2012 was/is to be the summer of fun! And we've been pretty successful so far. September still counts as summer here in Seattle right?

Here are some highlights so far!

Kicking off Summer in NYC! 

A weekend getaway with friend in Moclips

Anniversary Celebration on Orcas Island - Hiking Mount Constitution

Being Tourists around town - Ride the Duck!

Lake Wenatchee Camping Trip

Full Circle


Sometimes, it seems when something comes full circle, I can sit back and laugh about God's humor and His humbling ways.

A couple years a go, a friend had something difficult happen to her. I remember getting the text and feeling heartbroken. Normally, I like to be put to work in tough situations - so that I feel that I can care for my friends, and feel useful. In this situation my friend lived a few hundred miles away. So instead I did what came easiest, I gave a piece of  "logical advice". Basically, "I'm so sorry, but at least...." And I remember feeling pretty brilliant in the moment.

Fast forward.

A few months ago I was dealing with my own painful situation. I remember sitting with my friend Sarah and being so angry and frustrated with people who were giving me logical advice of their own. I didn't want logic. It felt demeaning. Like, yes you're suffering - but ponder these words (even truth) and all will be right again. I wanted someone to feel what I felt to the intensity that I did.

And then it hit me. My own words from two years ago came hurtling back at me. Ugh! How could I have been so insensitive. I felt foolish. I felt haunted. I felt like I made someone else's hurt insignificant. I shared those words with Sarah and how they haunted me. I knew deep down that they were words of truth, but I didn't want them. And I decided, I would never subject anyone to them again.

A couple weeks ago I was enjoying a superb lunch of white cheddar mac and cheese with Sarah. It felt, and was, a special moment. Sarah and her husband had been in a head on collision with a drunk driver just a month and a half ago. Sarah is currently on a long journey towards recovery, but thankfully very much alive. So, mac and cheese for lunch becomes a treasured moment.

Anyways, we were talking about heartache and I brought up the frustration of people speaking truth, but how it made the issue at hand feel so insignificant. I told Sarah I wouldn't do that to her. I thought I was being wise (HA!).

Sarah told me that she had been thinking about those very words that had brought me shame - a lot. She told me they have been a comfort to her during this trying time. I was floored. I mean, just when I think I've got it all figured out, well - I don't.
So my words came full circle and I feel like God has used them in every situation. I feel humbled. I realize that no two people are the same, and so when heartache strikes - I need to lean on God for the words or even actions.

And most of all, I've learned to give Grace to those that I felt frustration towards. They had no intention of demeaning my situation, they wanted me to find hope in the truth. I am reminded that I am loved, and that I love. Sometimes we do it well but most of the time it is a bit messy.

Beautiful Words


Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.
~W.S. Merwin

Year of Psalm's


This year has been a hard season for me and for loved ones in my life. I am declaring 2012 to be the year of Psalm's. It is the book I have been dwelling in. These verses are so intimate to both heartache and hope, true to life.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
Psalm 42:11



Heavy steps
Heavy heart

the weight of a life

Pondering Friendship


Life is full of changes, continues to move forward, and surprises always lurk.

6+ months ago, Paul and I pursued a calling which brought us to a new church. The calling and direction was very clear, but I struggled with the idea of finding a new church. I was (am) drawn to comfort and was comfortable at the church I had been involved with for over six years. I had a deep sense of belonging and cared greatly for those in my life and those who were a part of my community.

Paul and I followed God's call and have been truly blessed in doing so. I suppose that I did hold on to the misconception that once we obeyed God's calling, things would be easy. In many ways the transition has been easy. In being honest though, I must admit that there have been challenges and heartache as a part of this move.

The biggest challenge for me has been losing friendships and the sense of community that I had at my previous church. When Paul and I made the transition I found solace in the fact that I had friendships that were Christ focused and not a specific church focused. I thought that some ties went deep. Instead, aside from a few, those friendships have been confined by four church walls that I no longer walk through.

This void had been very real to me these past three months. I went through and continue to work through one of the hardest and deeply emotional experiences of my life. I wont go into detail, but it has caused friendship and community to be on the forefront of my mind as I have been in desperate need of support, love, and encouragement. I am thankful that a handful of friendships have prevailed during this change.

Through this experience I have been learning to pray more and specifically for who God has called me to pursue friendships with. Being able to take time to narrow in on specific people allows me the opportunity to be authentic and allows for margin in my friendships.

Why do I believe margin in friendship is important? It allows me to room to be more flexible. If a friend is in need I feel that I can more easily be there. Instead of investing a little bit with a lot of people, I can focus more deeply with a smaller group of people.

I feel that this learning experience has helped me as I build relationships at my new church. I feel encouraged. I have gained more clarity on what it means to be a Christ follower and that a right heart before God is so important.

And for that, I am thankful for the heartache. I am thankful for those that have walked along side me over the years and I am thankful for those that I feel called to walk alongside.

As my friend C.S Lewis writes “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival."