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Our first married Christmas 

We flew home for 4 blissful, family-filled, cozy days! So thankful for time home with my mom and we wished it was longer. She greeted us with snacks and treats and drove 3 hours round trip. We spent our days prepping for parties though she had majority of it done. She makes Christmas so special because she keeps our traditions and our favorite foods. She even got S his own stocking! 

Pre-hike. 

Love you mom. 

Cramming 4 of us into 3 seats. 

Driving by the Christmas lights. 

life lately 

Our daily breakfast out of mugs + mason jars! My favorite is when Sanjay and I overlap for even ten minutes to enjoy sips and spoonfuls together before work. 

Jonelle visited and we had hot chocolate at Three Arts Cafe! 

My morning routine of tree-lit and candle-burning. 

Brunch double dates at Orange. 

Division street errands and new boots on the right! 

Post-church snow.

Zoo Lights. 

Holiday parties. 

Airports.

Suburb baby showers. 

Jackie came to visit and we watched Gilmore Girls and got lattes. 

Always cheese boards. 

Breakfasts in bed. 

Christmas goodies from Meg — so thoughtful. 

Navy Pier runs before it became winter. 

Our MA thanksgiving with sweet nephew. 
Life lately is full and wonderful!

chili and a (Cubs) cookie cake 


First of all, the Cubs just won game one in round two of playoffs! Second of all, we hosted our first dinner party with all our new dishes! This was our third time hosting people (meaning me cooking for other people), and it was so fun. We invited Erica and Josh and Jordan and Beck for a Friday night of food and connecting!

 I made chili and a goat cheese and fig salad with an apple cider vinegarette. I asked Erica to bring dessert and she brought a Cubs cookie cake and I can’t imagine a better dessert! 

We caught up around bowls of chili while   the guys watched the Cleveland Indians win their first game of the second round of playoffs, too. Then we ended our night all six of us on our sectional, answering hand-picked questions to facilitate conversation and connection between couples. We talked about how to best make our significant other feel loved, any new Christmas traditions we want to start, and two of our favorite dates we’ve had with each other. 

Sweet and filling night with lots of leftovers! Cute Halloween decor from my mom and Grandma Barb!

s p a c e

This week (as mentioned in my previous post) was my first week of an actual schedule, since I helped out in my work’s preschool Monday through Wednesday from 8-4. The thought of being at work with the kiddos made me really excited. But the thought of not being home in the apartment doing things like sleeping, cooking, errands, cleaning, relaxing, kind of scared me, since that is all I have been doing. When will I cook? When will I clean? How early do I have to wake up to run? Yes, and this was only working three of the five days, and that is where my mind went.

I food-prepped on Sunday and set my alarm each night and laid out my outfit twice. It was a blur of blocks and trains and paints and the red line and then I came home Wednesday and napped for 70 minutes feeling exhausted.

Today, Thursday, I got to sleep a couple hours later and enjoy a slow morning of prayer before I ran. I prayed asking God to help me find rest and joy among a full schedule. I may need to wake up earlier to get in my needed prayer time .

So today was rest and running and studying and grocery shopping then more rest. I met Emily B up in Evanston to study togther at a coffee shop before grocery shopping and returning home, to my empty apartment and my first night away from Sanjay since we’ve been married. It was also, in general, the first night I have had with no plans and no large to-do list, and no one around in I’m not sure how long. I got to spend the last couple of weeks up until marriage at home with my Mom in Traverse City where our nights were usually wedding emails while we watched Friends and ate bowls of ice cream. Since marriage, our nights have been discussing our days, figuring out schedule logistics, cleaning up the kitchen, prepping overnight oats, laying out my outfit for work, then watching Friends in bed and doing our marriage devotional when we remember and aren’t half-asleep.

At the end of last week I was reading Mark 6, where Jesus had just fed 5000 people with only a few loaves of bread, a miracle, and then the disciples didn’t even recognize Him as he came up to their boat to calm the storm because their hearts were full of fear. Jesus tells them not to be afraid. I read it as how I can sometimes do that; pay no attention to God and maybe not even recognize Him or His truth or His word or even worse His voice, nudge, guidance.

Mark 6: 48-50.

He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 

In Mark 8, Peter tells Jesus not to say He is going away because Peter wants Jesus to stay with them on earth and can’t imagine why he would be leaving. Jesus tells Peter that his mind is focused on earthly things, telling him, ““You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Mark 8:33 NIV). 

Humanly concerns. Those have been on my mind. My main concerns seem to be getting my workout in, being fed with my favorite things, feeling connected to my husband, feeling like I am learning/contributing at work, having my to-list in order such as cooking and cleaning. All humanly concerns.

Godly concerns. Those have also been on my mind. God wants my heart, my trust, my patience, my stillness. He wants my dependence on Him no matter what is happening with my humanly concerns.

It has been on my mind for a few days, and then the book I am reading (Uninvited by Lysa TerKaust) also talked about these exact passages from Mark! Crazy! I hear you, God.  Godly concerns. Take courage. Do not fear. Remember the miracles. Remember the provision. Rest.

So, tonight. I told myself to give myself space to be with God. I also told myself to clear myself of all space-filling distractions such as Netflix or mindlessly scrolling Instagram or Facebook. It was really hard. I didn’t even realize how I naturally just crave those things. Even to pass time mindlessly, aimlessly. Wow. So I took some time and read two more chapters in my Uninvited book and loved it. It was 7:00. I made one page of a color-coded chart for developmental milestones. I sent an email. It was 8:00. Not complaining, but it was weird. Time passed slowly. I noticed I missed my husband, for sure. I missed his presence and words. I realized I also seemed to miss the aimless noise mentioned above. I did a little cleaning around 8:30. And it is 9:00 as I write this.

Lord, I confess resisting the space for you at times and filling space with aimless things. Help me want connection with you before anything else. Help my heart to go to you first, not anything else in the world to cure boredom or fatigue or comparison or cravings. Help me crave you first and more. And when I don’t, help me hear your voice and nudge. Soften my heart to draw near and stay near. 

In your name and for your glory. Amen. 

 

home-days

My new favorite things are home-days, staying in, only leaving the apartment to workout. Twinkle light pumpkins on, apple pumpkin candle lit, worship music (or Netflix) on in the background.

Home-days are recharging, restoring, full of rest. I get longer time in the word and in prayer. I can still get things done (like clean or cook or email or study) but I’m home, here, and cozy.

Errands are necessary but so are home-days. And I need a mix. Last week was a few days spent in the Loop at Secretary of State and Social Security Administration and Chase bank. Necessary errands, but not cozy places to be. So those errands, then a home-day. This week I had an all day training course for Early Intervention and helped out in my new job’s (!) therapeutic preschool. I loved it, and was energized and thankful for it, and am super excited to start work, but I know I’ll still need my home-days.

How do people do 8-5 jobs? This week I prayed for a new way for encounter God and find productivity with my rest among working Monday-Wednesday. I may need to wake (even) earlier to get some prayer time in.  Home-days may need to turn into home-weeknights; and creating restful evenings.

I am more and more realizing my introverted tendencies and more and more giving them what they need: silence, stillness, rest. It is from that silence, stillness, rest that I am energized. NOT by errands and the gym productivity and preschool (although I love those things!).

honeymooning 

Marriage, days 1 through 27–
Day one was reading our vows to each other while standing under ivy with our grey and blue bridal party surrounding us, singing “Spirit of the Living God come fall afresh on me” as we shared communion while looking out to the blue water, my veil blowing everywhere, dancing in the back of the trolley, four champagne toasts by four dear friends, and eating dinner under pale pink flowers, dancing with friends. 

Day two was waking up next to each other for the first time, coffee and cuddling and napping, eating our wedding cake in bed. 

Day three was a 4:30 am early morning, with my dress and his suit hanging on the luggage cart as we met my mom in the lobby, Summerhouse breakfast in Terminal 2, finding a beach side cabana, room service club sandwiches and an early bedtime because we were just that tired. 

Day four was a humid and (too) high intensity workout, room service breakfast on our infinity-pool porch, sitting in the pool, self-induced heat exhaustion with a pounding headache and nausea, phone calls home to brother-in-law doctor. An in-room doctor visit with a anti-inflammatory and anti- nausea two-in-one shot, feeling thankful when symptoms decreased. 

Day five was taking it easy, lots of water, mostly shade, dips in the Caribbean Sea, and leaving the beach early for naps in the AC. Googling if rose gold rings can go in the ocean, then realizing they cannot, a Mexican fiesta on the beach, ending the night sleeping early and taking up only half of the king size bed. 

Day six was reading Hosea in bed, a 30 minute gym workout, then omelettes and french toast and coffee and mimosas on our patio, laying by the sea and swimming every 30 minutes, shade for him and sun for me, beach-talking about our glorious wedding weekend, our favorite parts, our sweetest moment, and ending our night with caprese salad and minestrone and tiramisu.

Day seven was ice cream at lunch, more spf 100, ending the beach day in shade, sharing The Meaning of Marriage, margaritas and fajitas but going back to the Italian restaurant just for tiramisu. 

Day eight was attempting kayaking, candlelight dinner on the beach, thinking all our clothes smell like mildew, walking the pier, dancing to our first dance song, and cannolis.

Day nine was sleeping in later than normal, sitting in cabanas in the rain, pool piggybacks, enjoying the reprieve from the clouds, one of us following the bears game closely. 

Day ten was more sunscreen, more coffee, thunder with light sprinkles, one of us winning in life-size checkers, realizing selfies are our only hope at pictures, falling asleep to friends.

Day eleven was a jog to breakfast, one of us finishing meaning of marriage, accidentally and casually ordering three desserts, ping pong with one of us using a sunscreen bottle as a paddle as an equalizer. 

Day twelve was (free) massages by the ocean, a back-to-bed nap, creating a poolside shade-haven with our lounge chairs right next to each other, the other one of us finishing the meaning of marriage. 

Day thirteen was an early ride to the airport, Starbucks at the terminal, watching Crazy Stupid Love on the plane, taking the Blue Line home, coming into an apartment with at least 20 cardboard boxes, and our first night in our grey and white bedroom. 

Day fourteen was waking up to our own self-made to do lists: calling credit card companies and insurance companies for Sanjay, laundry for me, then unpacking our suitcases and gifts and collapsing many many cardboard boxes. 

Day sixteen was our first day back at church, lots of hugs and catching up and loving being back, and our last pool double date of the summer. 
Days seventeen through twenty-six were gym workouts, returns, crock pot meals, slow mornings, job applications, phone interviews, to do lists, thank you notes, overnight oats, scrambled eggs, changing my name, learning the effect of all word formations and tones. 
Here I am at day twenty-seven. Candle is lit, wrapped in a blanket, gallery wall hung. This weekend marks one month of marriage. Marriage is wonderful. We love living together, being a team, coming home to one another. So thankful. 







l i g h t


Maybe that is it. Maybe that is the key. Light, in forms of friendship and texts and prayers. All those things, yes, among darkness, yes. Darkness, in forms of stress and to-do lists, not feeling enough, weariness. Darkness can be many things, and it can cloud our minds.

My small group is doing a bible study called Fight Back with Joy by Margaret Feinberg. It is a 6 week study with questions and commentary and scripture-memorization cards all related to joy. Week 1 focused on God being a joy-giver, week 2 focused on identifying joy-robbers (such as shame, busyness, lack of rest), and week 3 focused on “poking holes in the darkness to bleed light“. Today specifically, she challenged us to think of joy as a discipline.

Currently with 8 days until my wedding, this past week hit me quickly with an endless to-do list I hadn’t even realized. Emails after emails with each vendor, realizing things we still hadn’t officially booked, strategically creating a timeline for the whole weekend to manage a 22-person bridal party. Lots and lots of lists and emails and errands. I quickly became overwhelmed, worried, fearful, scared, annoyed, dismayed. Everyone says “Don’t let the stress get to you. It will all be okay. Think of the real reason for a wedding– your future marriage.” Yes. Yes to all that! Yet also, we still have to confirm vendors and make sure we have music and food and drinks and toasts and people knowing where to go. I’m not trying to be super detailed and over-the-top, I am just trying to be organized and confirm my vendors.

So, tears.

I’m not getting this right. I want to look back and remember being calm and happy. I am probably draining my mom and Sanjay and bridesmaids. Possibly all true. I can’t re-do the last two weeks (and nor would I want to!). So maybe this is it. Admitting stress and darkness, and just allowing light to poke through. 

Today I told Emily and Lillian some dress-stress, and they encouraged me and loved me over text. Sanjay listens to me every single day, does his to-do lists, and prays. My mom and I realized we both had to work on patience with each other in order to make these weeks go smoothly, and I cried real tears one night, happy tears another night, and both nights, we prayed. Stress, tears, prayer, encouragement. All together.

I can’t wish anything away. There is always something. Someone may look at me and wonder how at all I could be this stressed during a time like this. I woke up today with a definite cloud of fear over my head because I am sad and worried about my wedding dress that still isn’t done and still doesn’t fit correctly.

I have been thinking to myself, what would make me happier, calmer, more joyful. A finished to-do list, Sanjay coming to Michigan, a job. Yes all those things would bring happiness! But not a deep joy that lasts, because they are not love from my steadfast God. My weary, overwhelmed heart needs Jesus, not just a finished to-do list. I went to the Cedar Lake with my mom and did my joy study. Margaret encouraged us to celebrate. So I wrote in my joy bomb journal, listed praises, and then wrote in my journal truths of how God sees me. And with this, today, this was how I sought and found Jesus in a new way; through gratitude and joy.