Monday, December 30, 2013

10 Things Learned in December

This will be the first time I have posted one of these monthly lists. I so enjoyed reading the posts by Emily Freeman on her blog here and decided it would be fun to partake in them!

Things that I have learned this month...

1. Albuquerque is nothing like Phoenix. The roads are unpredictable, winding, and much more difficult to memorize. The road system in Phoenix is set up like a grid (even the highways!) and it is more simple to find your way around there. Needless to say, it will take awhile for me to really learn how to get around in Albuquerque.

2. When I am not creating, I become very depressed. Since moving, routine and normal life has felt difficult to return to and, thus, I have not done any writing or music playing. Nor have I tried any DIY crafts or recipes from Pinterest! I have had to seriously confront myself about this and accept parts of myself that are difficult to live with (i.e. I am easily distracted a lot!). I think an essential part to vibrant health is expressing yourself and creating things you love. Now, my goal is to get myself to focus.

3. As part of my slow journey towards organic living, I have discovered (through much research) the dangerous levels of chlorine (and flouride!) in city water. It is disgusting! Thankfully, my husband, who shares my desire for all things natural, purchased an awesome shower head filter from Berkey HERE and we immediately noticed the benefits! Dry skins and rashes begone!

4. Grown-up responsibilities stress me out majorly. Anything with money, cars, bills, identity matters, paperwork, and the list could go on and on. Well, I cannot say that I just learned this. I always knew this about myself, but there were some stressors this month that really made me reflect on this struggle and how often I mentally try to escape real-life things. I will be the first to admit that I am a failure in this area, which is why I have avoided a *real* job for so long, but there is a determined part of me that desires to learn and grown in this area. I do not like the feeling of submitting to a weakness in myself and would like for the chance to overcome and grow in any area. Thus why I am committed to finding myself a part-time job this new year.

5. After 18 years of not observing Christmas, I realize that I really want to celebrate it now. It is a long story, but I have been renewed in the meaning of Advent and the Christmas season this year and, although my husband and I were unable to do much this year, I am already planning traditions and practices to make this holiday our own next year. My Pinterest boards just exploded!

6. Trials and sorrows humble you in a way that nothing else can. I have felt like an ignorant and naive child much lately. I have many burdens on my heart that have brought about a fresh realization about life and people and relationships. With ongoing trials that I have experienced in my family's lives, I have felt my body age forward in time and my heart age backward in time. It has been a strange combination and has currently propelled me forward to seek much time for healing and grieving in my private life.

7. Understanding my own need for boundaries (a word that I have despised for a long time). I don't plan on reading that popular best-seller on boundaries that is available at every book store, but I have accepted that there is truth in the fact that it is healthy and okay and good to draw lines between yourself and family members or friends who may be, for lack of a better word, life-suckers. I enjoy pursuing, building, and investing in relationships that I often refuse to see that I need to step back or leave certain people to their own devices rather than trying to counsel and walk them through every little thing. Also, if they don't desire a relationship built on honesty, openness, and truth than it is okay to let them go rather than spending so much heart trying to get them to be at that place.

8. My need for rejuvenating rest in every area of my life. I am going into the new year deactivating my Facebook account for a bit so that I can organize and focus on a list of pursuits (artistic and health goals) I have for myself, many of which include routine daily health practices like yoga/pilates, walking, deep breathing, larger intake of nourishing teas like Tulsi, etc.

9. This is the true freedom of life in Christ [video excerpt below] something that has taken me a long time to embrace in all my moralism and legalism. I thank my husband for being an instrument of this grace message to me.

10. I am a Pinterest addict. There is just no other way to put it. I have learned that I get energy and stimulation from ideas. My head loves to drown in possibilities. Pinterest is a bad place for a person like myself, haha!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The first weeks of December

This Wednesday will mark 3 weeks since we packed up a 20 foot U-Haul truck and drove 9 hours to the city of Albuquerque. Upon reaching our destination, we immediately drove up the day after to spend Thanksgiving with my husband's parents who live about a couple hours from here. Their home is my second home. His parents are so hospitable and giving; I once told my sister that I feel like a princess every time I visit them. More than ever, I felt thirsty for their company and the warmth of their home. Just a little taste of normal in the midst of a rather eventful year. These first few photos were taken on a walk near where they live. On a dreary, overcast day, the landscape reminded me of the English countryside.

  Less than a week later, I awoke to experience my first snow in Albuquerque. My melancholy-prone spirit could not help but revel in the beautiful dreary morning. It was almost as if the snow came to put everything to rest, to say that the day was complete before it had begun. And that is how I felt.

If there is any word that summarizes where I sense my life is moving it is rest.For the very first time in several years, I believe this is my opportunity to begin exploring this unearthly reality. Resting in the reality of the Gospel that it is done, it is finished. This is an aspect to my faith, my life in Christ, that I have yet to know how to live out in some of the harsh realities of life. I am determined to know it, more now than ever before. There is an innermost region of my soul that has been shaken by the crumbling of my own bloodline, my family. And if there is anything or anyone that can tear down one's own inner-world, it is the choices, the words, the attitudes of one's own kin.

 I took up my journal again upon moving to our new place.

There has been a confusion, an emptiness, in my days that I cannot place.It refuses to be caught and pinned down and figured out. Writing is the only medium I know how to "keep up" with it.So, I journal. I journal everything, with no thought that I may one day regret writing these things because today demands that I do it, or else I drown in this confusing emptiness that I cannot even reach inside to grasp.

My husband is an explorer, an adventure. All I know how to do is to keep following him, wherever it may take me. I have known he has been a role in my healing since that warm February day on top of the dusty red buttes at Papago Park almost two years ago. He was sent to me for this purpose and he keeps my head above the water and shows me how to continue swimming.

So, my explorer takes me places and we learn to enjoy the simple things.

He drove me to old-town Albuquerque on a night of Christmas festivities. Lights, local musicians, dancers, and quaint little shops! I was taking it all in as we strolled along, sipping hot chocolate in the frigid air.

On a day when nearly every local shop was close, he drove me into the mountains where I made a snow angel and snapped photos on my phone.

On another cold evening, he took me to see a free concert of Shane & Shane and Paul Wickham.

Then, we awoke bright and early on a Sunday morning to meet up with a friend and watch The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

 We have yet to settle into our new place. There are items still to be unpacked and furniture to be situated. I don't imagine I will experience the satisfaction of being settled until after the new year. At this moment, I feel slow at tackling anything on my to-do list. And, while I truly adore talking to friends and family via Skype, even that has felt like "too much" lately. There are people I have yet to connect with since moving and I don't know how to carve out time in my days for them. Perhaps, all this exhaustion and slowing down is there to show me that I do need time for myself. Not in a self-absorbed sense, but to truly allow myself to be free in pursuing lots of quiet at the moment without the burdens I place on myself to stay constantly connected with everyone I know. I love the feeling of remaining connected to the people in my life, but I know I miss something when I prioritize them over my time to rest in Christ. I keep myself well distracted from resting and I think this terrible habit needs to stop.

In all simplicity, all my longing is to learn how to love life and breathe again. of the hot air balloon. I look forward to their balloon fiesta next October!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

photoshoot on South Mountain and reflections {and spot-lighting my sister's awesome skills and website}

Pardon my absence from the blogging world! In between a 9-hour move to another state, Thanksgiving, unpacking, and the many waves and tides of life, my time has been greatly diminished. Nevertheless, I can finally share the rustic sunset photo-shoot that my sister, Danielle, took of my love and I from late October. 

*I will briefly re-direct any readers to my sister's incredible work as a photographer, but mainly, graphic design artist at her webpage, Danielle Pajak Illustrations. Do yourself a favor and check it out! In between fantasizing about superheroes and villians and creating emo-artwork of them (just kidding, Danielle!), she is currently working on a stunning and dramatic graphic novel of the story of Elijah from Scripture. Must see!!!

The ideas for this shoot was originally targeted towards our upcoming first-year anniversary (February 10th, 2014!). However, due to our out of state move, we had to make this happen earlier than planned since my sister will not be near us for our first anniversary. *tear* This worked out better since it summarizes the end to the chapter of our life in Arizona where our courtship, engagement, wedding, and first part of our marriage year took place. Yet, it is somewhat disheartening when life happens so fast and you're living a whole state away from your family only 10 months after your wedding! While I love and crave the adventure of a new home and new city to explore, a piece of my heart is back in Arizona with my family and friends and the life-changing church community we experienced at Open Door Fellowship. And, it always will be. I never did much like growing up in ugly, hot Mesa, Arizona my entire life. I always dreamed of the day I would leave it. Yet, somehow it just became home because of all the beautiful people surrounding me and reminding my restless heart that they are my true home, not a location or a place. :)

As one would expect, I found some inspiration for this shoot from Pinterest! ;) The props included items used at our wedding: a rustic twine cake topper with our initials and a vintage 1930s book titled, From Friendship to Marriage. The location we decided on months ahead: South Mountain Trails in Phoenix.

 I think the setting sun was a bit of a symbol for us our first year of marriage. We, quite literally, woke up to a setting sun every day since early summer when my husband switched over to a 6pm - 6am work schedule. It was hard. I simply cannot describe how that kind of backward schedule messes with you emotionally and physically, as well as limits you from a lot of outside contact with friends. With stresses from every angle (family, work, and health), it has continually felt like we were living in the dark. The light did go out in our hearts many times, but we made it carrying one another through some unexpected challenges. I will confess that it makes me a little timid as we are coming up on our first year anniversary in 2 months. What else awaits us? I care little to know at the moment. I am ready for normal life. For routine, boring, uneventful, day-by-day, yet lazy and happy NORMAL life. Not forever, I know. Just for a little while. I am always thrilled by changes and transitions, but even I have my limits. It is more of my prayer that we would be thriving in our new life rather than just surviving and getting by day to day. Yet, the sufferings and griefs continue to teach me wisdom and, that, I cannot despise, although my heart be heavy. It truly is the rarest gift of all when your lover is really more of your friend who walks with you by your side and is the first one to teach you about grace in real life. And both of us are learning to receive and to give grace more naturally and it is sweet. Because the Giver of Grace goes before us, I know I don't have to be afraid when life is more raw and realistic than my sensitive dreamer's heart can take. Christ in us, the hope of our glory.

Intense. Introverted. Idyllic. 

Those are my words to describe the two of us reflected in these photos. Thank you, Danielle!