Tag Archives: life

Farmhouse Christmases Past

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Several years ago, we stopped celebrating Christmas at Grandpa and Grandma’s farmhouse because they moved “to town” where they could have more help. The memories thirty Christmases before that are etched deeply in my memories. (OK, to be honest, I probably don’t actually remember the first two.)
When we drove through their tiny town and followed the curving highway out the other side, we would look across the empty fields to see the white barn. As kids, we always tried to be the first to shout, “I see the barn!” We would drive down the long gravel drive to park near the end of the sidewalk that led to the back door. As we unloaded food and gifts to carry them up the sidewalk, Grandpa would come out the door wearing his puffy warm vest over his work overalls and greet us with a loud “Merry Christmas!” and hugs at the top of the stairs. Sometimes we arrived and stayed several days before Christmas and some years we went only for the day, but the greeting was always the same.

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When Joy is Hard

Joy at Home
Sometimes the Christmas season is holly jolly, merry, and bright. Sometimes Christmas is hard and sad. It hurts when things do not go as expected, when we miss people who are not with us for one reason or another, and sometimes when traditions change.

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Appreciating the Ordinary (& a Giveaway)

Living Between Milestones | StairStories.com
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Sometimes it seems that we live only for highlights between ordinary days. Some of us live on weekends between work weeks or on holidays between classes. We seem in-between when we are out of school but not working, working but not at the jobs we want, working and not yet retired. We feel in-between when we are adults but not married, married but without children, have children who do not yet sleep through the nights, and so on.

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Lows & Highs: Video Game Edition

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

 

Lows

My low this week was the way my lower back has been cramping and aching from hours of sitting on the floor and cutting tulle as well as bending over various projects to make my costume. (It is getting better now.) A second low was that Brian’s costume, ordered online, arrived and was uncomfortably short. With my rudimentary sewing skills, I was able to alter the costume so he could wear it but that was a whole unplanned costume project to squeeze in before Friday.

Luigi & Princess Peach Couple Costumes |StairStories.com

Highs

Our Halloween evening was fun! We hurried home after work and got dressed because one of us was sure trick-or-treaters would start coming at four-thirty or five. (The waves of costumed kids actually began later.) We tried to make our house look welcoming with the living room curtains open and the porch light on. As families came to the door, we greeted them in our costumes (Luigi and Princess Peach). Sometimes the little girls would shyly tell me they liked my costume when I complimented theirs. The boys were funnier, gaping at Brian and telling him things like, “I like your game, Luigi!” and “Luigi, you’re my favorite.” Occasionally, we heard voices of kids who could see in the window before they reached the door, “Hey, look! Luigi’s in there!” He was extremely popular with the over forty kids who stopped by.

Around 9:30, we left to set up our popcorn table at the college’s dance party and to surprise students with our costumes. My favorite reaction was Lindsey’s. She saw us standing behind the table and said something like, “Oh, wow, you guys! I mean you, oh, and you, and… oh my gosh, you guys are just so adorable!”

How was your week? Did you dress up for Halloween?

Luigi & Princess Peach Couple Costumes |StairStories.com

 

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Lows & Highs: Meaning of Life

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.
Low: On Monday, I woke up with a headache that lasted all day and did not respond to any of my normal natural or over-the-counter remedies.
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High: We wrapped up our summer Bible study this week. Brian and I have been studying the book of Ecclesiastes with a small group of college girls. It may seem like an odd study for college students but they said they really enjoyed it. Brian and I enjoyed the whole process of reading and discussing with them. From their wide-eyed reaction to the first two chapters to their summaries of the whole book, the process of reading and discussing has been enjoyable and enlightening.

“Life sucks but God is good.” – Lindsey’s summary of Ecclesiastes
I like Ecclesiastes because it is a philosophical book written by a wise king – Solomon – who got everything he wanted and discovered that it was not fulfilling and not the point of life. Solomon summarizes the meaning of life in the last two verses, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
What are your lows and highs this week?

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Lows & Highs: Cola Edition

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

Low: From midnight to around 5:30 Sunday morning, Brian and I were frequently woken up by a yipping puppy who does not like being alone in a dark kennel. It did not make a very restful night!

High #1: I enjoyed hearing Brian preach at CrossPoint Great Bend on Sunday. Here are my sketchnotes from his sermon.

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High #2: We adopted a puppy from our local animal shelter!  She is a terrier mix that we named Cola because she is kind of cola-colored and has a sweet personality. So far the funniest thing she has done is being scared to step from one texture of floor to another. The fear had her trapped on our area rug, surrounded by a moat of wood-laminate flooring, for almost an hour. We were on the rug with her but she really wanted to explore the rest of the room.

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Plans change… so I have a word of the year

Until today, I did not think I would have a particular word of focus for 2014 even though I have for the past three or so years. It was not an entirely intentional decision, but nothing seemed to jump out at me as “undaunted” and “enjoy” did for 2012 and 2013. I was fine with that and chose not to force it or make a big deal about it. As I wrote recently, traditions change and that can be a good thing.

I have recently been noticing and paying special attention to the abundance and fullness of God – both who He is and what He provides – in every day life. I considered “enough” but it did not quite communicate what I have been seeing. Instead, my word for 2014 is “plenty,” which comes from the Latin word for “fullness.”

Plenty Button
Won’t it be exciting to focus on God’s abundance and fullness for a year?!

Do you have a word or theme that you are paying attention to or studying? I’d love to hear about it in the comments or you can post a link if you’ve written about it somewhere else.

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Wedding Collages

We do not have our official wedding photos back yet but here are some of our favorite informal ones!

Wedding Party Collage
Clockwise from the top left:
1. Groomsmen looking sharp: Mark, Chris, Clay (the best man), and Ben.
2. Cool, secret-agent-like ushers: Luke, Brian, Conner, and Cliff.
3. Lovely bridesmaid (and new sister-in-law!) Shanna.
4. Beautiful bridesmaid Laura.
5. Officiant Jon, looking relaxed.
6. Us with our attendants and ushers, looking a bit formal.
7. Personal attendant Rene, a rock star at organizing and assisting (note the way she easily holds three phones, a water cup, and a bouquet!)
8. Glowing matron of honor Sara (my favorite biological sister)

Wedding FunLeft to right from top left:
1 & 2. Getting dressed: Mom safety-pinned my dress straps because she did not trust the snaps. She told me to have someone check them if I felt anything tear or give way. Sara added that I should get help if I felt stabbing or bleeding and we cracked up.

3. Mom kisses Ben, my brother, after helping with his boutonniere.

4. Clay is a good sport about getting drafted to hold a bouquet.

5. My side of the family.
6. Brian’s side of the family. Interestingly, both grandmas pictured are on our dad’s sides, are named Ruth, and were born January 17 (one year apart)! Crazy, huh?

7. One of Brian’s favorite wedding day photos of me. I was laughing at the groom and groomsmen antics while they were posing for photos.

8. Josh, my brother-in-law, with Eli, my nephew. Eli’s ensemble is a white onesie with attached gray vest and purple tie because my sister is creative and handy with sewing! She added a purple band to his favorite hat (because he doesn’t like sun in his eyes or sunglasses).

9. Wedding party picture. I think our instructions were something like, “Okay, now act silly… or really excited… or something.”

10. Brian with his grandma Ruth.

11. The five of us girls grew close during our years in senior high girls’ Bible study with Andrea, our youth pastor’s wife. When the first one of us got married in 2007, we decided this photo would have to be our special tradition. Five years later, this was the fifth wedding.

12. Jon prays with the bridesmaids and me right before the ceremony begins. He told me, “This has been the most relaxed, special, fun wedding.”

13. A kiss from Dad as we wait around the corner from the sanctuary.

14. A high five from my brother, Luke, right before he and Conner open the doors for our entrance.

15. “You may kiss your bride.” At the reception, a dear, long-time family friend quizzed me, “I have to ask, was that a first kiss? Like, the first kiss?”

I smiled, “Um, no. It wasn’t.”

“Dang, I lost a dollar!”

16. My parents kissing after we drove away in a shower of bubbles.

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Catching Up

I am back from my semi-unintentional three-month vacation from blogging! Here is a summary of what has been going on in my life. What have you been up to this summer?

April/May

At the end of April, a school where Brian applied in Oklahoma called for an interview. He had three rounds of interviews for one teaching job in May while preparing for our wedding.

At work, I wrote and updated what felt like 100 pages of procedures and trained people to cover my job. Let me tell you, it is challenging to explain how to analyze information I have handled automatically for the past eight years! My last day as a factory accountant was May 29 and we still did not know whether we would be living in GB or Oklahoma when we returned from the honeymoon.

June

We rehearsed, got married, and went on our honeymoon without major catastrophes. (There are fantastic stories and photos to go with each of those experiences, so they will have separate posts later.)

At the end of our honeymoon, we found out the Oklahoma job was offered to someone else. For three weeks, we prepared to live in GB and started packing my whimsical, single girl apartment with its lavender living room, sunshine-yellow kitchen, and royal purple doorway.

We made a home-hunting trip to GB again and bought a ranch-style house (more details in a separate post). Closing was mid-July, so we lived in Brian’s bachelor pad apartment for three weeks while he taught summer school in the afternoons.

July

We closed on our house and moved everything from both apartments. We are still sorting and finding places for things and decorating (it will take a while!).

We are preparing for student ministry kick-off as college students return for the fall semester.

Side note: I updated my blog header, The List, and About today and have more stories on the way!

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Lows & Highs: 4/10-4/16/13

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Low: I had an intense headache that began suddenly on Sunday night and subsided a bit but still hung on for most of Monday.

Highs: First, I received some sweet and surprising gifts on my birthday this week (courtesy of Melissa and Brian). Second, Brian and I got to spend most of Saturday together when we met halfway to do some household and wedding shopping. We actually found everything on our (read: my) list. While we were there, I also had a chance to claim my birthday gifts from Panera Bread and Starbucks.

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