Top ten for 2010.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

As 2010 begins tomorrow - so hard to believe! - I thought I'd write down a few of my goals for the new year.
Here are my top ten for 2010:

1. Read the Bible all the way through.
This is normally a goal every year, but I usually end up reading everything except Numbers or one of the minor prophets, then I get bored and go back to familiar books without ever finishing. I really want to read the Bible in its entirety this year, Numbers and all!

2. Keep up with birthdays.

As a married woman and part of my own little family now, I feel a lot more responsible to remember birthdays of friends and families and I think I've done a pretty terrible job this past year (I'm so sorry!). I always seem to find out it was someone's birthday the day after when I see the stream of Facebook comments on their wall. There's an adorable perpetual calendar that I'm planning to buy that I think would make remembering much easier.

3. Celebrate the seasons.
I want to do more seasonal activities this year, like ice skating in the winter, having a picnic in the spring, and swimming in the summer. I really want to savor each season, especially now that they're much more distinct and tolerable in Tennessee than they were in Chicago!

4. Plan meals.

I haven't really ever done this, but I think it would help our budget and my stress level when it comes to meals. Once we get in a groove with our schedule, I hope to take an hour or so a week to plan a meal and shopping list. Anyone have any tips on this?

5. Continue learning about natural living.
There is so much more to explore with green cleaning and other natural solutions. I'll be sure to keep the blog updated with what I learn. I think first on the list for the new year will be making my own lip balm.

6. Finish my nursing school pre-requisites.
There are quite a few of them, but I am determined to begin full-time nursing school by either August or the following January, depending on when I can have the pre-requisites wrapped up.

7. Expand BrighterDay.
I have loved making jewelry on Etsy for a while now, but just recently have wanted to pursue it even more. It is such a therapeutic thing for me, and for every sale I make, International Justice Mission benefits as well!

8. Read one book a month.
I've found that if I don't keep up this kind of pace with reading, I feel frustratingly inarticulate. Reading is such good brain exercise, and not just blog or newspaper reading. :) If anyone has book suggestions for this year, please let me know!

9. Visit a beach.
We don't live close to one, but Shawn and I have been craving walking on a beach for a while now. We'll accomplish this one, I'm sure.

10. Master gluten-free bread.
This one will take quite a bit of trial and error, but I'd love to figure out a gluten-free yeast bread that is light and airy. I crave it most of the time, but have to pass when I know how sick it will make me. I'm looking forward to this one!

What are your goals for this upcoming year?

364 days as a wife.

Friday, December 25, 2009

"We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness'."
- Shall We Dance

Tomorrow is our first anniversary.

Last year at about this time, I was laying in my bed for more than an hour trying to fall asleep. My heart beat with anticipation for the following day when I would officially begin my new life as Shawn William Newby's wife.

The day I had longed for for years was truly perfect. More than anything, it was abundantly worshipful. I don't know if I've ever experienced the fullness of worship as I did that night. It was such a fitting way to set the tone for our marriage. And yet when we said goodbye to our family and friends and drove off into our first year of marriage, we had absolutely no idea what it would hold.

You, my love, have been my rock through it all. You have cared for me through intense physical struggles this year. You've cooked dinners when I was too sick to stand up and calmed me down during panic attacks. You've treated me like a princess, carrying me to bed each night and making my tea just the way I like it. Not only that, but you've tended to my emotional and spiritual needs as well, knowing when I need time alone with the Lord and encouraging me to seek it. You have been a patient friend to me and listened to my heart, even if what comes out isn't pretty. You've shown me grace like I've never deserved.

You have exhibited an unmoving faith, trusting the Lord to provide for us each and every day. I am so thankful for a husband who knows he's not in charge and isn't afraid to ask the Lord for help.

I love that you love the Word and can't go a day without it. I love that you pray with me and for me, just as you promised you would. Your passion for Jesus is contagious, Shawn. You are a bright light in this very dark world.

So 364 days into this marriage, I am deeper in love with you than I've ever been. I remember praying for you in high school and college, thinking I already knew who you were (and oh, I was so wrong). I would write you letters and pray that you were waiting for me as I was waiting for you. Little did I know how God was preparing us in intricately detailed ways to spend life with each other. He even had you listening to my mom's singing in Germany long before I knew you! That is no coincidence. He created each of us to be insatiably creative, passionately driven, and adventurous. And yet He balanced us perfectly so we make an amazing team. You are the leader God knew I needed.

As I write this, I can see you sleeping on the other side of the room. No words that I write could ever do you justice or accurately describe my love for you. You have loved me so well this year and sacrificed so much on my behalf. I'm the luckiest girl to get to walk with you through this adventurous life that we have just begun.

You are the one I waited for, and I am so thankful I did. I'm praying for at least another 50 anniversaries to celebrate with you.

I love you,

Merry Christmas from us!


Fun with the Whitworths!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Our sweet friends, Michael and Christy, came to visit us for a long weekend.
We had the best time.
It was wet and cold weather for most of the time they were here, but it didn't stop us from enjoying Franklin and lots of tea.

We visited this place...

And Michael was very happy about it.

Caramel apple cider... the BEST.

Here's the info: Franklin's best coffee shop, hands down.

Best buddies. Precious.

Perfect day for Starbucks on Mainstreet.

And a cupcake at Naticakes downtown.


There's Michael's beautiful sister, Christy, with her tuxedo cupcake.



The boys posed awkwardly with a nativity.

A nativity without the Christ child... it made me feel just a bit sacrilegious. We just resolved the missing baby Jesus by saying, "He is risen indeed!" :)

Oh and we made scones!
Can't forget the scones.

Tender, gluten-free oatmeal scones.
Am I making you hungry?


The boys wrote a song.


It isn't quite finished yet, but once it hits radio I'll be sure to let everyone know. :)


Can't forget this one...
We feasted at J. Alexander's.
Mountains of potatoes,

juicy steak,

and half a chicken!

We had the best weekend!

Thank you guys for making the trek from Atlanta.
As always, you blessed us so much with your presence.
We love you both and can't wait to see you again soon!

My gift this year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I feel like I've already opened my big Christmas present this year.

This year's present wasn't about to fit in a box, wrapped in tawdry snowman wrapping paper. This present is much bigger, much better, and it comes straight from the hand of the Giver of all good gifts, my Heavenly Father.

But first, I want to backtrack a little bit.

For our first few months as newlyweds in Chicago, Shawn and I found it surprisingly difficult to make good friends. Many of our friends from Moody had understandably moved away from the city. Others stayed in the city, but always seemed so busy. We tried to get more involved in our church, but even that was a bit of a disappointment. We served communion, worked with the kiddos, and Shawn read Scripture during the liturgy - all attempts to reach out and meet people - but we still felt like outcasts on most Sundays.

One day at church, one of our very few friends there told us, "You know, you guys don't really fit in here in Chicago." He didn't intend it in a hurtful way at all - it was just true. He thought we were "too happy" and "too friendly." And looking around, it really did seem that way. Most people move to Chicago to work, not to make friends. We found that out the hard way, in a time when we really needed friends to support us in our baby marriage. And we needed them in Chicago. We weren't entirely without friends, but I could easily count my close Chicago friends on one hand. Many people go through life with very few close friends, so I probably shouldn't complain. But we prayed and prayed for the Lord to expand our little circle, to help us feel more at home in Chicago, for someone else to do the inviting over. We honestly love reaching out to people, but when it's one-sided for so long, it gets a little tiresome.

Fast forward to just a few weeks ago as we began our journey as new Franklin residents. We had prayed specifically that our new city - which we were thinking would be Dallas at the time - would hold more friends. Is that a selfish prayer? I'm not sure. God has surely answered it, so it must be ok.

In only a few weeks that we've been here, we are already feeling so welcomed and full of friends! And I know it's not only because the South is famously hospitable. It's because God has chosen to answer our prayer in several distinct ways.

First, our church. Our amazing church. We have already become very involved in our "village" and have gotten to know people that we never would've reached out to in the first place. People our age and people twice our age. People who've been Christians their whole lives and others who are, even now, struggling to find God. Just in the few weeks we've shared life together, we've prayed and cried and ate and disagreed and rejoiced together. It feels so right, so purposeful, so much like home.

And in this new church community, I've found that worship on Sunday mornings comes alive. Last week, we sang these words:
Chains be broken
Lives be healed
Eyes be opened
Christ is revealed

With every line, I could picture a person in my village that needed that prayer. My worship is more authentic in light of the people we're choosing to journey with.

Here in Nashville, God has also blessed us with family. My parents are 8 short minutes away, support us at every turn, and are just a blast to hang out with. Time with them really never gets old, and I love that my husband loves them (and I think they like him quite a bit, too). God has also blessed us with another family that feels just like our blood family, who we see or talk to pretty much daily. The 7 of them are such a clear picture of what a godly family (with 5 young, incredible kids) looks like. We have loved spending time with them every chance we get.

Just tonight, when all of this really hit me, we were at a Christmas party in the neighborhood I grew up in. It was the annual neighborhood Christmas party, and although none of my family lives on that wonderful street anymore, we went to greet old neighbors. I looked around the room at faces that have been familiar to me for 20 years and was filled with gratitude as we sang Christmas carols together. What a beautiful moment. 'We were made for this,' I thought. Humans were made to be around each other - an ecclectic mix of personalities that sharpen and frustrate and build one another up into who we were made to be in Christ. Maybe I was the only one thinking these things as we sang "Deck the Halls," but the Lord has been impressing on me our need for each other.

This Christmas has been so beautiful already because we've spent it with family and friends whom we dearly love and who really love us back. I can honestly say I have more than 20 people in my life right now that I know I could call on and they'd be there for us in a second. What a gift. So to say it more plainly, this year for Christmas, God has given me true community.

And I am so, so thankful.

PS - I'm not about to say He topped last year's gift. For Christmas '08, He gave me a husband. :)

Nashville faves.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I want to give a round of applause to my hometown.

Waaaay back (5 years ago) when I was in high school, Nashville was not known for its shopping. At all. You'd probably think just the opposite with all of the country music stars roaming the stores, but it just wasn't the case. No great malls, still no Nordstrom (although it's coming soon!), and overall, we just seemed way behind the times compared to other cities. Many of my friends in high school even drove the 4 hours to Atlanta to shop for a prom dress!

Well, since being away for college, Nashville has added a few wonderful stores that make my life here just a little happier.

Let me introduce you to a few new Nashville favorites of mine. We can call this the "National Chain Edition" as there are more than a few possible posts about amazing local shops!

1. Whole Foods.


This is the least recent addition to our city, but it's still very worth mentioning. In my gluten-free world, there is no other store that rivals Whole Foods in selection. And not only that, but walking through their doors feels like freedom to me because I can trust everything on their shelves to be real food. Yes, it's more expensive. But for a few key gluten-free items and some other specialty health foods, it's a must. And ahhh... I love it.

2. Trader Joe's.


This is a very recent addition to Nashville and is only about 15 minutes away from us! It just so happens to be the only Trader Joe's in all of Tennessee, so we really lucked out. I love the creative packaging at TJ's and the price. Price is key. I go there for lots of staple pantry items and always end up spending less than I think I should've spent (always a good problem to have).

3. Chipotle.


A new chipotle (and Nashville's 2nd) just opened on December 11 about 15 minutes away from us. Praise the Lord! I think Chipotle solves all ills. If you're having a bad day, eat at Chipotle. If you're having a good day, eat at Chipotle. It's perfection in a bowl (or a tortilla, of course). Not only is it delicious, it's healthy! They even serve free-range, no-hormone chicken and dairy. And I think my love for it must be genetic... Kelsey feels the same passion as I do - maybe even more ("Chipotle" was in her vows! No joke.). :)

I've saved the best for last...

4. Anthropologie. Or for those who have become best friends with it like I have, just "Anthro." Or "Heaven."


I don't even know what to say about this place except that it inspires me like nothing else. No, I can't afford anything outside the sale section, but it's more about browsing and getting ideas than anything. If you have one near you, please go! Consider it a Christmas gift to yourself. :)

In case you haven't heard....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

(... and you probably have.)

Our family has some exciting news.

Read this post by my sister, Kelsey, when you get a chance.


A Dickens Christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Anytime the roads are blocked off in downtown Franklin for a festival, it's probably worth going.


This time, the festival was "A Dickens Christmas," and downtown was bustling with characters from "A Christmas Carol," kettle corn, and dancing.

There were bonnets.


And hoop skirts.


And dancing.



There was the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come*.


And the Ghost of Christmas Present.


And, of course, there was the Ghost of Jacob Marley*.



There was Tiny Tim.


And there was a Mom and Son enjoying each others' company. :)


And finally, there was my kindergarten teacher (who looks the same as she did almost 20 years ago!)


And since you're probably wondering, there was newly brown hair (that looks so red in these photos, but it's really not).

Finally, my favorite, there were doggies that joined in the fun!


*Thanks to Brian Porick for the corrections. It's obvious I need to see "A Christmas Carol" again! :)

New every morning.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation."
- Psalm 5:3

There is something so sacred about the stillness of the morning.

The glow of a candle.


A warm cup of blueberry tea.



A quiet breakfast.



The worn pages of God's Word that speak new life to me each morning.



Maybe you're like me. My mornings set the tone for the rest of my day.
I think God intended it that way, for us to put our to-do lists and busyness aside at the start of the day and focus on the One who has given us a clean slate. He has given us a new day - a chance to start again.

"Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.'
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord."
- Lamentations 3:21-26
CopyRight © | Theme Designed By Hello Manhattan