Happy (almost) NEW YEAR!
We're still up here in Washington enjoying some time with our family and it's a cold, gloomy, rainy Seattle day so I thought what better time than a few days shy of 2018 to sit and reflect on this past year - 2017 was truly a year full of love and blessings.
We have been abundantly blessed with new nieces and nephews, amazing vacations, a cross country move and so much more.
If there is one word that I'd use to describe 2017, it'd be grateful.
I've been browsing Facebook and Instagram, watching the news and catching glimpses of magazine headlines and the one headline that I keep seeing is that 2017 is being called the year of anxiety and tragedy.
Yes, there was a lot of tragedy this year and perhaps a lot of anxiety as well - but what I think is even sadder than both of those things is the fact that as we reflect on one whole year, 12 months and 365 days, we choose the words tragedy and anxiety to describe 2017 OVERALL.
I think that is is perhaps part of whats wrong with our country today - our perspective on life is all wrong.
It's easy to see the negative and focus on tragedy - it's easy to be angry and hurt by those who hurt us and by societies standards it is far easier to be angry, seek revenge or be bitter rather than seeking forgiveness and forgiving those we've been hurt so deeply by.
Our society is one that has not taught true forgiveness, nor has it taught us unconditional love.
So many people speak of love and how as a society all we need is love, but that love is often conditional - it's all we need is love, BUT . . . and well that isn't the kind of love that is going to bring us peace.
I think back to mine and Taylor's marriage prep class when our priest asked us if we understood what unconditional love was and just like so many people today, we said yep! But I'll tell you right now that we were so wrong - unconditional love is loving someone despite everything. It is forgiving them when they hurt us most and it is loving others as Jesus has loved us.
This year our country has been hurt deeply, BUT each of us has a choice and by what I am seeing on the magazine stands, news and throughout social media it seems that we have chosen to seek the negative and reflect on all of the hurt that we've been hit with in 2017 instead of seeking forgiveness and choosing JOY despite all of the hurt.
One of the biggest lessons that I took away from our marriage course was that even if your spouse does almost everything wrong, seek out the GOOD that they did, even if it is barely anything - I think we should begin doing the same in our country and in our everyday life. We are so quick to react with our feelings and pick out all that is wrong and all that is bad - but that is the shift that we need as we go into 2018.
We all need a shift in perspective - as we go in 2018 let us seek Joy through our pain and let us seek the good, even the littlest bit, among all of the bad.
With all of the pain and hurt that surrounded so many this past year, I pray that they can look back at this year with gratitude and blessings.
If you haven't yet seen the movie The Shack, it is one of our favorites and I encourage you to watch it - it's a story of a man's journey to seeking forgiveness and joy after an unspeakable tragedy. If you watch it comment below and let me know your thoughts!
Now with that being said, I'm SO excited to reflect on 2017, a year that brought us so much love, blessings and gratitude . . . plus some other not so fun things too, ha!
Among all of the blessings, 2017 was also full of some not so fun stuff - it was a year of what felt like a million DENTIST appointments and also our CAR being STOLEN . . .
But enough of that . . . let's get to the GOOD stuff, like VACATION!
We were fortunate to go on two pretty big vacations this year - one to Boston, MA and one to Napa Valley, CA.
Both were AMAZING.
Our trip to Boston was to see my dad's graduation - he decided to go back to school a few years back and earn his bachelors degree. He graduated from the New England College of Business and Finance in May 2017 and we couldn't have been any more proud of him - plus Boston was AMAZING!!! It quickly became one of my FAVORITE cities.
In June we went to Napa Valley - this was actually our honeymoon that we took a few months after our wedding and it was fabulous.
We decided to make a road trip out of it and drive down to Napa - on our way back to Washington we decided to drive along the coast and the funny thing is that we went 3 hours out of our way to see the coast and ended up only seeing about 1 mile of coast line - ha!
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Taylor & I decided to buy a Seattle City Pass and essentially be a tourist in our own city and we LOVED IT!
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We had TWO graduations this year - My DAD and I both graduated with our Bachelors. WOO!
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2017 brought us a baby niece AND a baby nephew!
Baby Bentley was born in June + Baby Austen was born in August
I mean C'MON! Are they not the cutest little things you've ever seen???
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In June we took a little weekend trip up to northern Washington to Semiahmoo, a beautiful resort on the Canadian/Washington border, and it was just the BEST little getaway #takemeback #prettyplease
And also in June, we found out that Taylor had been accepted into Physical Therapy School!
So insanely proud of him!!!
In July my sweet parents came out and visited us for a week - they were here for the 4th of July, which just so happens to be my second favorite holiday!
In August I started this little blog!!!!
I can't believe that it has been 5 MONTHS since With Love From Texas was born and I started this little blogging journey (insert all the heart eyes here!!!)
Taylor's acceptance into PT School is what prompted our move to Texas and led to an almost three week cross country journey from Washington to Texas #roadtrippingpros
We left for Texas on August 29th.
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We were really blessed in 2017 with our apartment - we LOVED our little apartment on the hill.
- A4 was our first apartment together and it'll always hold a special place in our hearts -
And because I'm me, I made us take pictures in front of our beloved little home
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And perhaps one of the biggest parts of 2017 for me was this precious girl
I nannied this sweet girl for a majority of our time in Washington and we completely adored her.
Outside of our family she was one of the hardest parts about about leaving.
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And then it was time to MOVE
This baby was PACKED and ready to roll #texasherewecome #lowridin'
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Well y'all, half of 2017 was spent in Washington and the other half has been spent in Texas - crazy how that happens! But in honor of that I wanted to break up this post into two parts - Check back on Monday (NEW YEARS!) for my reflection on the second half of our year - lots of good stuff still to come!
We were so abundantly blessed in Washington and to be honest with you, as I sit here and reflect on our time there I am moved to tears - we had the best little apartment, family nearby, great jobs and it was just a fun year overall.
I was honestly excited to move to Texas but I was so sad to leave - walking away from our apartment was so hard for me, because I really did adore it. I didn't want to leave, but I knew that this was what we were meant to do and where we were meant to go and just knowing that gave me peace.
I was nervous for the big move, but I'm here to tell you that it was worth it and I again feel so blessed, perhaps even more so than I did in Washington - funny how that happens.
Stay tuned to hear my reflection on the second half of 2017.
Happy New Years dear friends!
Stay safe + have fun
- XO -
Can we just take a minute and jump for JOY because today is FRIDAY and it's OFFICIALLY CHRISTMAS BREAK!
I'm particularly thankful this Christmas because we get to go home and spend it with our family - when we moved down here one of the questions we got asked multiple times was, "are you going to come home for Christmas?" We were telling people that we were going to do everything we could do to make it home, but we just weren't sure at the time. I, however, was bound and determined to get us home and we have been so fortunate to have been able to take the time off work and make it home for Christmas.
My work actually closes for the week surrounding Christmas, which is so rare in the business world and it is seriously such a blessing -I am just so grateful to everyone that made it possible for us to be home and with our family this holiday season.
Now, on another note - As you know I follow quite a few bloggers and one of my favorites is Narci Dreffs - Her blog is called Grace & Love and it is full of inspiration, photography (she's a photographer), fashion, family and so much more. Well, last October she was asked by her Church to share her testimony and I was able to watch it once she posted the video of it and it's something that has resonated with me since I first watched it.
I've actually been wanting to share it for a while and then the other day I thought what better time to share a testimony about coming to Jesus than just a few days before Christmas.
So with that being said, I'm sharing Narci's testimony with you today and I'll tell you right now that its about an hour long, BUT it is WORTH IT - I really encourage you to watch it.
TIP: Skip to 12:40 - that is where her testimony starts.
I hope y'all love it - I know I did - Let me know your thoughts after you watch it!
Now we're off to Seattle for a few days - I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!!!!
- XO -
Yesterday I saw this quote . . .
"Look around you and look inside you. How many people do you think are settling? I will tell you: a hell of a lot of people. People are settling every day into okay relationships and okay jobs and an okay life. And do you know why? Because okay is comfortable. Okay pays the bills and gives a warm bed at night and allows one to go out with co-workers on a Friday evening to enjoy happy hour. But do you know what okay is not? Okay isn’t thrilling, it isn’t passion, it isn’t the reason you get up every day; it isn’t life-changing or unforgettable. Okay is not the reason you go to bed late and wake up early. Okay is not the reason you risk absolutely everything you’ve got just for the smallest chance that something absolutely amazing could happen."
Yesterday I grabbed this quote literally out of a big bucket full of little pieces of paper all with different quotes on them and out of all the different quotes, I chose this one and I couldn't help but to think to myself that this was God's doing, because it was exactly what I needed to hear.
As I was reading the quote all I could think to myself was that I am simply surviving - I'm not thriving. I mean I have a great job, an amazing husband and a cute little apartment and by societies standards I have a pretty good life But then why is it that when I should feel content do I feel like like there is something missing?
This is something that has been troubling me lately and yesterday while I was at work I just started feeling like I needed to leave and get out of the office for a bit - as crazy as it sounds, I felt like my body was full of pressure and I was literally just going to burst . . . I texted my husband and I remember telling him that I wasn't having a great day and before he even texted me back I started another message to him but when I tried to type something I wasn't even sure what I was trying to say. It wasn't really that I wasn't having a good day, it was more that I was just frustrated with where I was in my life for a lack of better terms. My heart was troubled and it was really bothering me. The only way to describe what I was feeling, and I told Taylor this, was that I felt like there was something in me that was just dying to get out.
To be honest, I feel like God came knocking yesterday and put passion for my purpose in my heart and now that it's there, it's all that I can think about it. Whatever it is that God has planned for me, I'm confident that he's working on it right now and that has me feeling a little bit terrified, but more so than that, I feel content - something I didn't feel just 24ish hours ago.
And so while I was outside walking around, I stopped into one of my favorite stores Alter'd State and after wandering around for a few minutes I caught this book out of the corner of my eye . . .
** cue the chills **
I stood there for a good minute in complete awe. Can you blame me?
I felt so at peace in that moment, like God was simply telling me to trust in him.
My mind then wandered back to that quote and all I could think to myself was that this was just the beginning of a passionate life filled with thriving and not just surviving.
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I feel as though we often hear people's stories in the later stages of a God Sized Dream and while I could've kept this to myself and shared this story in maybe 1, 5, 10 or even more years I had a feeling that I was supposed to share it with you now - I'm not sure why, but I feel that God put this in my heart with a purpose to share it with you today.
I have no idea what the future holds or what my purpose is, but I hope that you stay with me and follow me through this journey as I discover my passion and purpose through trusting in God and his plan for me.
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I reached out to the author of this book, Holley Gerth and shared my story with her - I can't say that I expect a response, but I think these stories are worth sharing and in the chance that she does respond I will be sure to share it with you.
In the meantime, I'll be reading her book, You're Made for a God Sized Dream, here soon and if you'd like to join me, you can purchase it here!
" I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. " -Philippians 4:13
- XO -
I feel like hustle & bustle are two words that we hear pretty often around the Christmas season - among all of the words that we associate with the holiday season, busy always seems to be among the most common. I can vouch for myself on this one, when someone asks me how I'm doing around the Thanksgiving/Christmas seasons, I usually say something along the lines of "oh, I'm great! But I'm just busy, have a lot going on."
The other week I was actually thinking about our week ahead and we had something planned just about every night, which was great, but I couldn't help to think about how busy we were and when I was going to have time to get some of the other things I needed to do done in addition to the things we already had planned for the week - I mean I needed to order Christmas presents, go to the post office, write my blog, print pictures for a gift, help make Christmas cards, get groceries, do laundry, clean the house, etc. Bottom line - I felt like I had so much to do and it felt overwhelming.
And then I thought to myself, "this is literally the most wonderful time of the year" and here I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed - this is supposed to be the most joyous season of the whole year, NOT a time to feel stressed and overwhelmed.
And then I realized that if I were stressed and feeling overwhelmed in this time of joy, than maybe my priorities were perhaps out of place.
One reason for my stress was trying to figure out what I wanted to get Taylor for Christmas, because I always like to be creative and get him something that isn't on his list but that I know he wants and this year I was just having the hardest time trying to figure out what I wanted to buy him while also having a pretty limited budget.
Luckily I had collected some gift cards over the past few months and used those to buy two of his gifts, but I wanted to give him one more thing and so I called my mom, dad and sister to get their opinions on what I should buy him and my Mom told me, "you know Em, the gifts you have gotten him are really great already and he's going to love them - why do you feel like you need to get him more?" and I remember getting a little frustrated and saying, "well, just because Mom - I want to get him more" but then after I got off of the phone with her, I thought to myself about how right she was. Why did I feel like I needed to get him more? I was stressing over a third gift to get my husband and then I realized just how silly that was.
This was a real moment of clarity for me - I was thinking that I was doing okay, because I really just wanted to get Taylor the things that he really loves. He deserves it and I love being able to get him gifts. But I think I was so focused on getting him really nice stuff and I was looking at the monetary value of the gift - it wasn't until that moment on the phone call with my mom that I realized that there are so many gifts that I can give Taylor that I know he would love and they cost little to no money.
I had to remind myself of the days when we first began dating and we were both poor college kids - our gifts were nothing extraordinary, but they were straight from the heart and those are some of our most prized possessions to this day.
I feel as though this holiday has become so materialistic and far from what is what it was meant to be: the celebration of Christ our Savior's birth. When I really sit and think about the true meaning of Christmas, I feel a profound joy and those feelings of stress seem to go away - I was caught up in the material meaning of Christmas, like so many are today, and I simply forgot to really surround myself in the joy that the Christmas season is about - it is a season of giving, love and joy.
I don't know that the hustle & bustle of the holiday season will ever go away and I sort of hope it doesn't. It's fun - I love all of the fun that surrounds the season. The lights, the parties, music, shows, Christmas trees, shopping and all of the fun things that make the season so magical. I just hope that in all of the hustle & bustle that people don't ever forget to stop and take a moment to remember what it is that we are celebrating this Christmas season and that is the birth of Baby Jesus.
Now - as I said earlier, I was feeling overwhelmed by the season, but after I shifted my priorities a little bit and realized that time spent with friends and family was far more important than having my house impeccably clean or my laundry done immediately, I stopped feeling so overwhelmed and stressed and finally soak in the true meaning of the season.
So . . . my laundry is currently spilling over the basket, my house is a bit messy and my dishwasher is FULL, but our hearts are filled with an overwhelming amount love from being surrounded by those that we love most - let me just say that moving to a new city and not knowing anyone is a daunting task . . . we have been fortunate and blessed to have found an amazing group of friends and I know that I can speak for both Taylor and I and say that we are so completely grateful to have each of them in our lives.
And with that being said, we are feeling so incredibly grateful this Christmas season. Grateful for our families, our friends, our jobs, our home, our car and most of all - our faith in Jesus, for he gave us the greatest gift of all.
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I was really hoping to share some pictures with y'all from our week, but honestly I complete forgot to take any! However, we did have my work party on Thursday and it was so fun - and the best part is, I GOT A PICTURE!
The party was at The Caswell House here in Austin and it was BEAUTIFUL!
I LOVE all of the Christmas festivities surrounding this time of year - it really is the most wonderful time of year!
Only ONE WEEK until CHRISTMAS!!!!!
- XO -
H E L L O!
Holy moly, these past few weeks have been a whirlwind and now it's December 11th and I can't believe that Christmas is only a few weeks away - WHERE DOES THE TIME GO?
We have been so busy lately and sadly my time to blog sort of fell to the wayside . . . but I'm back and I'm ready to go again. YAY!
What better way to kick off the month of December than to talk about Christmas , because HELLO it's almost CHRISTMAS!!!!!
#20daysuntilChristmas #Icanhardlywait #JustcallmeBuddytheElf #Christmasobsessed
This is our first Christmas, or Texmas, as the locals call it and we've loved it so far! It's been a bit strange not having frigid cold weather and snow . . . the other day I actually kept saying how I wished it would just get a little bit colder and that I missed the snow . . . and then BAM, THIS happened.
Y'all . . . IT SNOWED!
I was beside myself with excitement and it just made for the most magical night ever.
I love me some snow.
I really just love this time of year - it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. I keep getting asked if I miss being back with our families during this time of year, and of course I do - I wish more than anything that we could all be together in one place, but we just can't right now. To be honest, it has been especially hard living far away now while we have our nieces and nephews and knowing that we're missing so much of their childhood - but what I've realized over the years is that living far away comes with the realization that there is so much to be grateful for even in times when it may not feel like it.
When we moved down here in the fall, Taylor and I were actually pretty convinced that we weren't going to make it home for Christmas - we had brand new jobs, not a lot of money and it just wasn't looking promising, but with the help of our parents and some very understanding and wonderful companies, we are going home.
Before we actually knew that we were going home for Christmas, I had this realization that this would be the first Christmas that we wouldn't be with either of our families . . . and I broke down in major tears.
I was completely devastated and I remember sitting on our bed in a blubbering mess telling Taylor that I was going to do whatever it took to get home for Christmas. It didn't matter what I had to do, we we're going and that was final . . .
And now as I sit here and reflect on that day, I think about how I could've easily shifted my thinking and instead of choosing to wallow in my sadness, like I did - I could've decided right then and there to make the best of an unfortunate situation.
I could've, and should have sought out gratitude in that moment. Gratitude for all of the blessings that we have - I'm married to my best friend and somebody that I adore more than anything else. We have a warm home. We have good jobs. We have food. We're healthy. And we are surrounded by friends, who feel like family.
If we hadn't had the chance to go home for Christmas, you can bet that we would've done everything in our power to make the first Christmas with just the two of us the BEST one yet.
This year we are fortunate that we are able to go home and I pray that next year will be the same way, but you just never know and if next year comes around and we're unable to go home, well than I'm looking forward to mine & Taylor's first Christmas with just the two of us.
I really believe in the power of seeking out gratitude in all that you do. Even when it feels like you have next to nothing, there is always something to be grateful for. God has a plan for you in everything you do and there is great peace in trusting him and knowing that he with you through it all.
If you're not where you are wanting to be this Christmas season, I pray that you find the joy in the blessings that you do have.
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Now on another note - these past few weeks have been BUSY! I thought I'd catch y'all up on what we've been up to lately.
Georgetown is one of our favorite towns here and they had their annual Christmas Stroll over the weekend and it was SO FUN. We went with some of our friends and we had the best time. I love me some Georgetown .
We went out to Elgin's Tree Farm and cut down our first Texas Christmas tree! The tree farm was so cute - they had farm animals, a little Christmas store, food and activities for the kiddos. So fun! However, it was 85 degrees . . . and I had a long sleeve shirt, jeans and boots on ( I was trying to be festive, y'all) but I was DYING. It was so hot . . .
After you cut down your tree they take you back the entrance with a hayride! Now if that doesn't say Texas, I don't know what will.
And we set up our tree!!! I could stare at it all day everyday, I love it.
We went with some friends to a tree lighting - a Christmas must!
And then we went to another tree lighting, because you can never have too many Christmas Tree lightings - am I right?
And this past weekend was the first weekend of Austin's Trail of Lights - SO FUN! There were over 6 million lights . . . so crazy!
Saturday night at the Trail of Lights - thankful for our sweet friends!
And that's what we've been up to.
My goodness, how I love this time of year!
Check back on Wednesday - I'll be sharing all of our favorite Christmas traditions!
- XO -
I'm Emilee. 26. Homebody. Believer in a simple + intentional life. Daughter of the King. Living in Austin with my hubs.
S O C I A L