Friday, February 10, 2017

Four Years



Our fourth year of marriage began roughly. Circumstances were such that we were inundated with many unexpected and difficult decisions. These things were taxing on each of us personally and even moreso on our marriage. There was a point when we just released our inability to change the circumstances, as well as our inability to alter our own hearts and mind towards each other. It felt like it put our lives on an unhappy and exhausted standstill. Then, spring unfolded and, with it, came a peace. A genuine peace. Not a temporary calm, but an assurance in our hearts that the trial we just walked through, as well as the many ones before that and the ones far off on the horizon, are given to serve us, to humble us, to change us. It is a frightening thing to be humbled and to face the reality that you can or will be changed. And, yet, that is the very thing our Creator comes to do. Not with rough hands and a grim demeanor, but He does so as a Father who beams with delight with just one glance at His children and then, patiently, gently, but reverently, begins the work of refining, which we, as most children do in the smallness of our minds, perceive as unfair, harsh, or controlling. But to receive His wisdom is the only path to lasting freedom and joy. Freedom is choosing to trust the finished work of Christ as presently and always relevant to every step of our human journey, and to trust Who God says He is and who He says we are (He names and gives us our identity), not who we or others think or say He is or as we regard ourselves. Those small, seemingly feeble steps and choices to trust Him do hurt. They hurt because to trust an invisible God was never meant to be easy for our human faculties. Yet, every weak step is rejoiced over by Him and He never ceases to lavish grace upon grace over us. That describes the months that followed our trials. Ever so slowly, His grace proved sufficient for us. And through that grace, Nolan and I found each other again in the simple, ordinary day-to-day activities of life. It was nothing grand or miraculous that occurred to reverse the shadowed moments to a suddenly light and sweet season. We have been blessed by being humbled and it has, surprisingly to us, all the more deepened our marital love, mutual respect, and care for each other.

It has always been my one passion and objective to be completely transparent about our marriage (in a respectful and discreet manner, of course). Inspired by other couples who have chosen to do the same, it's always been my heart to share not merely for the sake of sharing, but to allow the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be revealed in an ordinary and imperfect marriage. It is never my aim to be perceived or thought of as a couple who has "arrived" at a totally ideal, blissful, and easy marriage that somehow flows harmoniously all the time. Nolan and I are two strong-willed, fiery-spirited humans and what is ever harmonious about two human beings learning to become One in every aspect? I expect that we've yet to face our hardest trials. But, for now, here we are. We've reached the 4 year mark. Such a small number, but one brimming with experiences and learning. I thank my husband today for choosing me, not just on that glorious fairy-tale day four years ago, but now, this day, too.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

2017 beginnings



January was basically winter on full force here in Colorado. It feels like the majority of the days this month were cloudy, dreary, snow-filled, and wet. There was a moment when I actually voiced to my husband that if the dismal weather wouldn't let up soon, I was pretty sure that I'd lose my mind! Thankfully, this past week, sunshiney days broke through and it looks like it will be that way for a good stretch.
 The month began with a visit from my not-so-little brother, Aaron, who I invited to stay with us over a winter weekend so that he could experience some snow for once (we're all Phoenix-Arizona natives). We strolled downtown Durango three different times, spent a day sledding and ice skating in Silverton, ate at some local Durango spots, and spent some nice quality time together. It was such a great way to start the year as I haven't spent that much uninterrupted time with my brother in a long time. It really hit me hard at how much he has grown since I moved away from AZ little over three years ago. Although I have seen him many times since then, it's never been just him and me, so I was able to get more conversational moments with him and get to know my little brother who is now an adult. I can't tell you how strange it is to say that! I still vividly remember him as a newborn and when I first met and held him at the hospital. I also recall those mornings when our mom needed sleep and my sister and I cared for and fed him (while also pretending that he was *our* baby in a little makeshift home we built in the living room, hehe!). Maybe it's too easy to always see the youngest in the family as the baby and to treat them as such. However, it's also really wonderful to see your younger sibling embrace their adulthood sooner than you did. ha! Anyway....on to the photos! The drive up to Silverton offered plenty of epic snowy landscapes that filled us with awe!
















































Scratch ice-skating on a natural pond off my bucket list! It was an absolute pain and I was terrified almost the entire time, but hey I got pretty good at shuffling and making small glides. My brother and I just kind of played it safe and did what we could to move around on the uneven ice, but my husband had to be a complete jerk and act like the bully and show-off at the rink. haha!



















The photos below are from the drizzly Sunday afternoon we spent at The Irish Embassy Pub where a group of local Celtic musicians performed their weekly set of jigs and reels. I *love* Sunday afternoons at the pub for that very reason. Afterwards, we visited a look out point above Durango and I did a little mini photo shoot of my brother. 























































It was such a great weekend! ^_^

The week that followed brought a momentous celebration of my husband's 30th birthday! I treated him to a flavorful dinner at the Himalayan Kitchen, where we dined on fresh house-made ice tea (the best!), Chicken Phing (a Tibetan dish!), and deliciously marinated and tandoor-roasted yak, shrimp, and chicken. Have I not mentioned before that Durango has the best restaurants? I die of happiness inside every time. ^_^ Ahem! Back to my husband turning 30...while I don't deem 30s as "old" as some people regard them, I do think of them as a turning point in your age, not really being young but not really being old. haha! Maybe someone in their 60s would disagree with me. However, I also see them as an age or decade where one has the potential to accomplish much due to the growing pains and realizations that came with the 20s. I have great hopes for my husband as he enters his 30s, that he would accomplish a lot for himself and for us. He put down a lot of roots in his 20s by pursuing his career in IT, marrying me, and solidifying his worldview and Christian beliefs. Now comes the season where he can take himself deeper into those areas of his life and nurture those places while continuing to mature in his own character.





















Ever since Nolan came into my life, I took up the celebration of him with passion! We have been through many rough spots in our marriage, so many points of revelation at how much he and I differ from each other and the heated emotions that arise from such strong disagreements and opposing viewpoints. I wholeheartedly respected him when he first came into my life and when we began our marriage, but I did not realize that, that respect would be completely remade into an entirely new one after these four years of our young marriage. Now, I respect him as an individual, as one who has carved his own path in life but also one who has been humbled by his Creator. I still absolutely enjoy celebrating my husband, but now I do it not for who I expect him to become or only for those qualities I deem worthy in him, but who he presently is. I began to see the heart of God in the difficulties I have faced living with such a strong-minded, hard-willed, independent man. Before, I saw all the potential of him, all that he could become! Now, I see him for who he is, the flaws and the strengths of character. I share all this with the upmost respect of my husband because he is a man on his own journey and I have become so intimately united with him that I see every detail of him on that path. There are so many things about him that will never jive well in our sensitive, politically-correct, and mob-mentality culture and, I expect, that he will never come across many individuals that will like, respect, or even want to accept someone like him. But that's okay. The diversity in our humanity is such that, sometimes, some of us are left to trail our own paths, even accepting that there are seasons when we must be the "lone ranger" types and do our own things, be our own person, even if others never validate us. With each passing year of our marriage, I sense that the Lord grants me a little more of a detailed peak into why He chose me and Nolan for one another (myself also being a pretty stubborn and strong-minded person who can be fiery and forceful!) Sometimes, I have completely lost sight of that in our hard times together, as to be expected. But in these days when the cloud breaks, I see how far Nolan and I have come in our mutual respect, care, and love for one another. There are so many more years ahead of us for all that to be put through the test again and again, I know. In the meantime, I am learning so much in appreciating my husband now, especially for who he is as a man.

The rest of January after these events was pretty slow. It's difficult for me to practice mindfulness throughout my days when I just want to "get things over with" and "get to the better stuff." Maybe I will always struggle with being mindful and grateful for the simple, slow, everyday. I am so future-oriented, I drive myself insane with plans and lists and goals. I ask myself, "when will I ever learn?!" Then, I'm like, whatever, probably never. I did learn, however, that feeding chickens is a good mindful activity, which I get to do plenty of when I visit my in-laws'. Chickens are hilarious creatures and these particularly ones especially so, considering just how pampered of a lifestyle they live.




















 Also, I baked these delicious paleo banana muffins twice recently because I have been craving baked goods. They are the perfect consistency, which is difficult to achieve with a lot of paleo recipes. I ate them with a nice cup of almond milk! Perfect reward after long days at work.
















 And recently the thought occurred to me about what an interesting line of work I do. My job is to nurture 2 to 3 years old and teach them regulatory skills of emotional self-management, problem-solving, and social development. I mean, all moms do this, too, but it's
not common that one remains with the same exact age group of children longer than a year. A parent pointed that out to me last year and it really hit me because it is very unusual. 


As I am so very close to completing my last class to become preschool teacher qualified, I have reflected a lot on how different, but very significant this line of work is. I never saw myself doing this as I entered my 20's, but I am incredibly thankful that I was given this opportunity as I have been very disappointed in myself for silly and ignorant decisions I made in college. I always knew I was never wired to take up a line of work that would pay me very well. It's my nature. I'd be a starving artist if I wasn't being a caregiver. :-/ So, while it is exhausting to work with children 5 days a week, I do find that it comes more naturally for me and why I feel capable of meeting the various demands of this work, unlike most job fields I've considered before.

Also, I know no one really cares, but by the beginning of this year I began to consider myself a die-hard fan of Poldark. We will see what season 3 brings, but at the moment I am a fan! My Poldark binge-watching began after suffering in my Outlander drought and wanting some glorious fictional and historical romance to fill the temporary void. Ross Poldark and Demelza are such an interesting fictional mash-up. After much thought and careful research about MBTI cognitive functions, I have realized they are a good example of a (keep in mind, very fictional - so their personalities grow and stretch more than natural!) ESTJ and ISFP pairing, with a particular emphasis on the EST and IFP aspects. And, like Outlander, I so appreciate a good fictional marriage relationship that highlights real marital struggles. It's encouraging to me and I always end up learning so much about my own marriage through these on-screen examples.



Sunday, January 1, 2017

"drink a toast to tomorrow and one to days long ago!"


 Good grief, 2016 came and went and every year of adulthood seems to be faster than the next! These last two weeks have been a wonderful winter break filled with tea, goodies, and lots of downtime. I had plans to do something productive during my break, but then I realized I don't need to be productive all the time. I enjoyed not rushing around to meet all the obligations of adulthood. It has been great!

2016 began on a desperate note. A plethora of personal trials, which had been steadily increasing over many months, met its peak in the first few months of 2016. I was more than ready to throw in the towel of life. I was sick of all the open-ended questions that come with adulthood - you know, the ones that force you to take responsibility for your life. I thought I was facing another entire year of just pure hardship and complete uncertainty. I couldn't find any joy in it; all I really wanted was just a simple, calm, uneventful life and I was being given the opposite. Then, spring came and it seemed the things that gripped us began to thaw, ever so slowly. A trip to see my family proved to be strengthening. Little by little, the day to day activities began to calm down and find routine. By early summer, I began to think I could hope for uneventful and relatively small happy days ahead. A trip to Ouray, CO brought a sense of trust and safety again in our marriage. 


The more 2016 unfolded, the better it became. There were little surprises around the corner of every month. Nolan and I began to explore the areas surrounding this beautiful little pocket of Southwest Colorado. We got to try so many local restaurants and went on many back-road drives. In the mundane everyday and in the natural beauty, we found our way back to each other, a sense of joy and gratitude, and a hope for the days ahead of us. It didn't come all at once, but as the "good" slowly arrived, I realized my heart was softening again to life. 12 full months and 2016 ended with a few very gracious and undeserved gifts in our jobs and in our marriage. Reflecting on this, I don't really know how to respond, but now I do see things from a different (hopefully better) perspective. There is a time for everything underneath the sun.

I have quite a list of goals and plans for 2017. Things for the home, things for my creative goals, places to travel, learning my camera and photo-editing software more, keeping well-practiced in some of my music, and more. I am a list-girl. I jot down everything on lists, all the while realizing they could become completely railroaded by life. So, I am just gonna try (key word: try) to gently hold to my lists this year.

It snowed on Christmas Day and, now, it is snowing on New Year's Day. I feel as if these are heaven's reminder that there is still magic to be found in this mad rush of human life.

We spent a somewhat early Christmas with my in-laws' (thus all the cozy Christmas decor photos below!), but we of course made time for just us by opening up stockings at our apartment.






























 And what better way to end the year than with a grouchy kitty cat that doesn't enjoy taking photos with you in matching flower crowns even though you bribed him with many treats? :-D




































































 Cheers to a humbling 2016 and a hope-filled 2017! I begin the year with a song from one of my favorite bands performing Toast to Tomorrow live!