12.24.2011

Love, Advent, Thin Places, and otherwise

Merry Christmas Eve Friends!!
I just cannot believe it's already December 24th...and almost Christmas Day! It's so funny how when you're a child, you wait all year long for this day to arrive, but once you hit adulthood, this time of the year comes and goes like any other day of the year. It's quite sad, actually. So sad, in fact, that it makes this year seem all the more special to me. You see, James and I seem to have been broken up the past two Christmas'. We break up around Halloween and end up getting back together around Easter...missing the most wonderful holidays. In the four years that we've known each other and "been together," this is only our second Christmas with each other. It's been so rocky and hard the past couple years and we're finally in such an amazing place, that we've decided to make this year extra special. We've done just about everything together...went Black Friday shopping, set up the Christmas tree, wrapped presents, hung the stockings by the fireplace, went driving around town looking at Christmas lights, bought the Christmas turkey together, and today, we're going to frost sugar cookies, and eat Christmas Eve dinner together. It's been quite magical if I do say so myself. I couldn't be more grateful for everything we've walked through and where we are now. I treasure this man...and our love.

















I also got a little creative and decided to hang some really pretty Christmas ornaments from our chandelier! Thank you to Pinterest for this wonderful idea :)
On a more serious note, I was doing some reading on Advent a couple weeks ago. Advent was never something that was a tradition in our family, nor was it ever taught to me what it really is. After learning about it, I think it's a tradition that I will teach my children and have it become one of our Christmas traditions.
Advent is about waiting, anticipating, yearning. Advent is the question, the pleading, and Christmas is the answer to that question, the response to the howl. There are moments in this season when I don't feel a lot like Christmas, but I do feel like Advent.
Advent gives us another option beyond false Christmas cheer or Scrooge. Advent says the baby is coming, but He isn't here yet, that hope is on its way, but the yearning is still very real. Sometimes, depending on what we've lost this year, Advent is what saves us from giving up on Christmas and all its buoyant twinkling-light hope forever. Advent allows us to tell the truth about what we're grieving, without giving up on the gorgeous and extravagant promise of Christmas, the baby on His way.
In my quest to find out what Advent really is, I read a chapter in a book about the Irish culture, and since I am Irish, I decided to really take this idea to heart. One of the Celtic ideas is the concept of thin places. A thin place, according to the Celtic mystics, is a place where the boundary between the natural world and the supernatural one is more permeable - thinner, if you will. 
Thin places: places where the boundary between the divine world and the human world becomes almost nonexistent, and the two, divine and human, can for a moment, dance together uninterrupted. Some are physical places, and some aren't places at all, but states of being or circumstances or seasons. 
Christmas is a thin place, a season during which even the hardest-hearted of people think about what matters, when even the most locked-up individuals loosen their grasps for just a moment, in the face of the deep beauty and hope of Christmas. The shimmer of God's presence, not always plainly visible in our world, is more visible at Christmas. 
When we find a thin place, anytime, anywhere, we should live differently in the face of it, because if we don't, we miss some of the best moments that life with God has to offer us. These thin places are gifts, treasures, and they're worth changing our lives for. Reach through from human to sacred every time the goodness of this season moves you. A thin place is an opportunity to be more aware of the divine fingerprints all over this world, and Christmas is one invitation after another to do that. 
When you hear music that pierces your spirit, thank God for the gift of music. When you witness generosity that reminds you of the deep goodness of humanity, thank God for the way He created us. When you feel a profound sense of beauty, thank God for it. When the traditions and smells and sounds of Christmas that you love and wait for all year long overwhelm you and you think, I love this world we live in, thank God for those things. When the faces of your children or your parents shock you with the love you feel for them, thank God.
There's another kind of thin place, and we find ourselves in these places when our lives and our hearts are broken open. Brokenness has a way of allowing the supernatural into our lives in the same way that deep joy or great beauty do - and maybe, I'm finding, even more. Let me be clear: brokenness doesn't automatically bring us to the thin place, the sacred place where God's breath and touch are closer than our own skin. Heartbreak brings us lots of places - to despair, to bitterness, to emptiness, to numbness, to isolation. But because God is just that good, if we allow the people who love us to walk with us right through the brokenness, it can also lead to a deep sense of God's presence. When things fall apart, the broken places allow all sorts of things to enter, and one of them is the presence of God. 
For some people, this Christmas is, if I can stretch the phrase, doubly thin. It's Christmas - one kind of thin place, and it's a season of loss, an entirely different kind of thin place. Maybe it's the first Christmas without a family member (or, if you're like me, it's Christmas #3 without a family member, and I still find myself in this thin place), and your heart has been wholly battered that it allows God's presence and voice to seep into it at every turn. Or maybe a relationship broken this year hangs over the season like a veil. You are alone, freshly. 
I don't know what you've lost this year: a life, a friend, a child, a dream, a job, a home. I don't know what's broken your heart this year, but I do know that whatever it is, you may feel the loss of it even more acutely at Christmas. 
I believe deeply that God does His best work in our lives during time of great heartbreak and loss, and I believe that much of that rich work is done by the hands of the people who love us, who dive into the wreckage with us and show us who God is, over and over and over.
There are years when the Christmas spirit is hard to come by, and it's in those seasons that make Advent so much more powerful. Consider it a less flashy but still very beautiful way of being present to the season. Give up for a while your false and failing attempts at merriment, and thank God for thin places, and for Advent, for a season that understands longing and loneliness and long nights. Let yourself fall open to Advent, to anticipation, to the belief that what is empty will be filled, what is broken will be repaired, and what is lost can always be found, no matter how many times it's been lost. ( taken from Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist)

This is where I am this season.

My prayer is that what you've lost, and what I've lost this year, will fade a little bit in the beauty of this season, that for a few moments at least, what is right and good and worth believing will outshine all the darkness, within us and around us.

Merry Christmas. 
"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

11.26.2011

Thankful

Thankful: feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative. 

I have so many things to be thankful for.... 

My Jesus who loves me no matter what, who has called me His own, who desires me, who pursues me, who watches over me, who has redeemed me. My life is not my own.

A Dad who has been the rock in my life, who loves me, who has raised me to love Jesus, who fights for me, who protects me, who provides and takes care of me.

A Mom....who doesn't understand how much I truly do love her, but because of life situations, have decided to put up boundaries. Who taught me all of the foundational truths I stand on today. I miss you.

A little brother who is 4ft+ taller than me, who makes me laugh, who I miss terribly and want nothing more than to just have a close relationship with.

A man, James, who has taught me more about Christ's redemption and healing power than anyone else I know, who has been in my life since the week I moved to Colorado, who has become my best friend, who loves me even through my weaknesses, who understands me even when I don't make sense, who has challenged me to become a better woman, who I love so much.

A mentor who is like a Mom to me, who is there for me always, listens to me vent and cry and always has words of wisdom to help guide me. Really...I don't know what I would do without her in my life.

James' family that has become my family. I got to spend Thanksgiving with them and I felt right at home. I am so so blessed to know this family that have graciously welcomed me in as one of their own.

Roommates who have become some of my best friends. Girls that have taught me how to love the Lord deeper, who have challenged me to be more patient, who make me laugh more than I ever thought I could, who have seen my tears and have been there to listen. Amazing girls!

A job that is more than I could ask for. An organization that is changing the hearts and lives of children and adults across America...and I get to play a very small part in it. Co-workers that have become friends so quickly...and some of the best lunch breaks I've ever had. 

Chris and Michelle Rosenhahn. Some of my favorite people ever! Chris who is no less than an older brother to me (and makes me laugh non-stop) and Chelle who has been there for me through thick and thin, hugged me when I needed it, cried with me, and has been nothing but a faithful friend. I don't know what I would do without these two in my life.

Tyler and Kaci Krause. Friends who have seen the best side and the worst side of me. My go-to people when something in life goes wrong. Friends who have prayed with me through the hard times. Kaci...who gives the best lectures ; ) but really...I've learned so so much through all the talks we've had. And now their going to be PARENTS! Getting to watch their faith through the pregnancy process and the beginning of next year, getting to see them with a new baby girl, my heart could not be more excited for them!

Matt and Leah Tisthammer...becoming more than friends...mentors who speak life into James and I. As our relationships develop and more time is spent with them, the love they have for married couples and advancing the Kingdom with healthy marriages is more than apparent. I can't wait to walk out life with them and with their wisdom!

These are just a few people in my life that I am so incredibly thankful. I wouldn't be the person I am today without them. And to have them in my life until my life is over...I couldn't ask for anything more. 

11.23.2011

Almost 2 Months later...

I feel like the past two months have been a whirlwind.
It feels like I haven't had a moment to just sit and write. I miss this. My mind has been running on all cylinders day in and day out. Blogging was my way of getting my emotions off my chest and thoughts out of my head. I miss this. My job is a full-time, sit in front of the computer all day job, and please don't get me wrong, I love where I work and I am so incredibly blessed to work for such an amazing organization, but once I get home, the last thing I want to do is sit in front of the computer. I need to make time for blogging though. It's a must. I drive myself crazy with everything that happens inside of my head. Be thankful that you (whomever you are) are not me. James tells me all the time to, "just stop thinking"....but I just can't. And thus, blogging. My outlet. I journal, which is great. But let's be honest...I type a lot faster than I write. So, here's to, hopefully, getting back into the habit of blogging...at least once a week :) We'll see!

Hmmmm...so, what have I been up to since October 7th?

A lot. 

Birthday parties, new job, family arguments, talk of engagement (oops...did that come out?), Halloween, learning about life, marriage, and how to forgive...and what grace and hope and His redemption is all about.

Life is quite the adventure. Most days, I feel like a 40 year old woman, wrapped up in a 22 year old's body, who, although has learned and grown SO much, has so much more to learn and won't stop learning till I'm on my death bed. Some days I look in the mirror and think to myself how much older I look than I should (this is probably just me that thinks this)...but I think that the stress of life has started taking it's tole on me and I don't look like a 22 year old. Ridiculous. I know. James just laughs when I tell him this...and rightfully so...it's complete non-sense. But the battles of stress, anxiety, and fear do take a tole on a person's life. 

As I sit here and think about the past (almost) two months, I almost don't even know where to begin.

I guess the best place to start is...with how much more I've fallen in love with James. How much more depth there is to us and to him. I was telling a co-worker and now a friend of mine just the other night how the James that she knows now, is not the James I knew just a little over a year ago. James lived two lives...one filled with lies, manipulation, sex, and more lies....and one that I saw, a James I thought would never hurt me and loved me and would never leave me. Now, I don't want to talk about the past, you can read all about that in my previous blogs and on his blog...but I say all that because of the Lord doing such an incredible work in James and through James. It's a true miracle that we are together again. It's a true miracle that God changed my heart. It's a true miracle that God changed James' life. Redemption is such a beautiful thing. The Lord even says in His word, "Fear not, I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, You are Mine." I think some of the most beautiful words that I have ever heard are those right there. The Lord redeems. He calls us by name. We are His creation. It was by His blood that we are able to live in freedom. The Lord's all about redemption. This was something that hit me so hard the beginning of this year that I got it tattooed on my body..."Beautifully Redeemed." Because of Christ's redemption story....and the redemption He has so graciously bestowed upon James and I's relationship, I have fallen more and more in love with this man. A man that broke all trust, yet fought to build it all back up. A man that lied, but turned it all around to share the truth (even the ugly truths) and live a life of honesty. A man that makes me want to be a better woman. A man that encourages me. A man that I love so so deeply.

I have so much more to write about...but if I were to write it all out, this post would be the longest post ever! So, I guess that means that I just have to get back to writing :) 

That's all for now :)
xoxo

10.07.2011

What I'm Loving....

It's my last day being a nanny. I have so many mixed emotions! I'm going to miss this precious baby I've spent the past month with, but I know that this new season of working at Rachel's Challenge is going to be so amazing. Oh yeah....some of you may not know that I got a job as a Marketing Administrator at Rachel's Challenge here in the Springs :) It was totally the Lord. I found out about the job through theMill, sent my resume, had a phone interview the next day, a face-to-face interview a week later, and an hour after I had my interview, I got an email  saying they wanted to offer me the job! Yep. Totally the Lord! I'm so excited for this new season. It's a full time, 40 hour a week, great paying job. So, that's the latest and greatest in my life :)

Today, as I'm sitting here in my sweatshirt and Uggs, I decided to just post something fun! These have been a few of my favorite things as of lately.....

Pinterest-
I just love this website so much! So many great ideas for crafting, baking, dressing...you name it. It's been my newest addiction!



Ray LaMontagne-
His voice...is like butter (well according to Ryann it is), but I really do have to agree. Yes.




Bath & Body Works Paris Amour-
This scent is all I wear currently. It smells sooooooo good :)














Mighty Mango Naked Juice-
Since James and I have changed our eating habits, this is pretty much the only juice we can drink since it's all natural and there are no added sugars. I'm a Mighty Mango fan...he's a Green Machine fan (yuck!)














Uggs-
Yes, it's that time of the year where I get to whip out my new cute Ugg boots! I just love them


















Earth Therapeutics Tea Tree Oil Foot Repair Balm and Spray-
This stuff is Heaven on Earth for my feet! Every night I rub the lotion on and spray the spray. My feet get tingly and smell like mint. I love it.

9.23.2011

Today is the Day!

It's September 23rd...the First Day of Fall! This is one of my favorite days of the year. Why you ask? Because that means the holidays are on their way and there are only 92 days till CHRISTMAS (that's actually kinda nerve-wrecking considering I'll be out of a job in three weeks and need money to buy fun presents for all the people I love.)! But I don't want to get too ahead of myself :)
So because today is the first day of my season ;) I will begin with pictures of all the things I love about Fall!

























{even though I already apply chap-stick that much!}












9.22.2011

A Precious Treasure

(Taken from A Quiet Place of Quiet Rest by Nancy Leigh DeMoss)

Even more important that what we think of the Word of God is what God says about His own Word. According to the Bible, the Word of the Lord is true (Ps. 33:4; 119:160); it is pure (Ps. 12:6; 19:9; 119:140, Prov. 30:5); it is righteous and fully trustworthy (Ps.119:138); it is eternal and stands firm in the Heavens (Ps. 119:89); it is divinely inspired (2 Tim. 3:16); it is perfect (Ps. 19:7) ; it is of greater value than any amount of gold or silver (Ps. 119:72); it is sweet to the taste (Ps. 19:10; 119:103, Ezek. 3:3).

The power and the authority of God's Word infinitely surpass that of any other book that has ever been written. As a troubled young seminary professor being pursued by the "Hounds of Heaven," Martin Luther experienced the supernatural, transforming power of the Word that later led him to write, "The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me."

When we pick up a copy of the Bible, do we realize what it is that we are holding in our hands? Do we ever stop to think that this is actually the Word of God? As Augustine reminds us, "When the Bible speaks, God speaks!" In the West we have been blessed with such easy access to the Word that it is hard not to take it for granted.
Proverbs tells us that "A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet!" (27:7). To hungry souls in parts of the world that have never been allowed to own a Bible, the Word of God is exceedingly precious. But to those of us who can turn on the radio and hear the Word preached every hour of the day, who can walk into any bookstore and find the Bible of our choice, who have Bibles located every several inches on the backs of our pews, and whose shelves are bursting with Bibles, some of them unused- we may find ourselves in danger of adopting a casual attitude toward the Word of God.

The scripture says that God has exalted His Word above even His own name (Ps. 138:2). If God esteems His Word that highly, what should be our attitude toward the Word? In Psalm 119, David speaks of loving the Word, reverencing it, delighting in it, longing for it, trusting it, and fearing it. God says through the prophet Isaiah, "But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my Word" (Is. 66:2 emphasis added; cf. Ps. 119:161). What does it mean to tremble at the Word of the Lord? It means to have an attitude of reverential awe and fear. It is the opposite of a cavalier attitude toward the Word.
In Psalm 119, David can scarcely contain his joy as he rehearses the blessings and benefits he has received from the Word of the Lord. We learn that the Word of God has the power to keep us from sin (Ps. 119:9, 11), to strengthen us when we are grieving (v. 28), to comfort us when we are suffering (vv. 50, 52), to grant us freedom (v. 45), to give us understanding and light for our path (v. 104), and to give us peace and keep us from stumbling (v. 165). 
The Word of God will light your way; it will help you make right choices; it will heal your wounds and settle your heart; it will warn you of danger; it will protect you and cleanse you from sin; it will lead you; it will make you wise. It is bread; it is water; it is a counselor; it is life. It is satisfying; it is sufficient; it is supreme; it is supernatural. A hymn writer put it this way:

Holy Bible, book divine;
Precious treasure, thou art mine;
Mine to tell me whence I came,
Mine to teach me what I am.

Mine to chide me when I rove;
Mine to show a Savior's love;
Mine thou art to guide and guard;
Mine to punish or reward.

Mine to comfort in distress,
Suff'ring in this wilderness;
Mine to show, by living faith,
Man can triumph over death.

Mine to tell of joys to come,
And the rebel sinner's doom;
O thou Holy Bible divine,
Precious treasure, thou art mine
-John Burton (1173-1822)

9.20.2011

Guess what?!

There's a crisp in the breeze, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back at Starbucks, the leaves are starting to change, and I'm starting to get my sweaters and boots out....that means only ONE thing....

MY FAVORITE TIME OF THE YEAR IS HERE!

Yes! I am a fall-fanatic! Maybe it's because my name is Autumn ;) or maybe it's because all growing up, it was my Mom's favorite season and it rubbed off on me! There's just something about the reds, oranges, and yellows, that certain smell in the air, the fall fashion, the burning of candles and fresh goodies coming out of the oven...it's almost like, no matter what's going on in life, there is a sense of peace, of comfort. Joy enters my heart, body, and soul. I just love this time of year...Don't you?

"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address." -You've Got Mail



9.02.2011

My life the past month

Oh my goodness! It's been over a month since I've last posted. I can't believe time goes by SO fast. I've been up to SO much the past several weeks...I really don't even know where to start. Actually...I can start with James and I's trip to California!

California- So... pretty much it was such a great trip! A much needed trip :) Five days of getting away from life, relaxing by the beach, eating In 'N Out, hanging out with my Dad, seeing family, going to a wedding, hanging out with friends of mine. It was such a blessing to be able to go! It was a time where it could just be "us," on vacation, spending time together and learning to love each other again. We stayed with my Dad in his new house and it was SO great! I think almost every afternoon the three of us ended up falling asleep on the living room floor right under the swamp cooler ;) It was pretty stinkin' hot while we were there, but it was great to feel the California sun on our skin!

                                       



























When we got back from Cali, it was time for me to move! I've lived by myself for two years and was asked by my mentor if I wanted to move in with her daughter, Ryann, and another girl into their house here in the Springs. She was moving back to Washington D.C. to be with her husband who was stationed there and instead of finding a random family to move into their house, they decided to ask a few girls to live with Ry. I was SO excited to move in and start a new season with girlfriends...and in a house! The moving process was so long and drawn out. James and I did pretty much all the moving ourselves and then I had to clean out my apartment, scrub it down, and make sure it looked better than when I had moved in. It was so much work, but so worth it! I live with two (it'll be three this weekend) of the most amazing girls I have known. Ryann and Erin are absolutely hilarious and they're such real, authentic girls; not afraid to talk about real life things. I don't think I have ever been so open with girlfriends like I have been with them. They know my life, they know the yuck parts of my life, and they love me and accept my flaws and I don't have to be perfect around them...even down to my un-matching pajamas and no make up on my face. They see the real Autumn. And I love it!
{Ryann doesn't like to be in front of the camera. She's an amazing musician.
She's definitely the crazy one of the house. Not a day goes by without her saying, or some times yelling,
something that makes you laugh so hard, you cry. Also, underneath all her white skin, she's really black. Ha!}
{Erin doesn't mind being in front of the camera. She's going to school for psychology, so we have a lot in common.
She's also from California! Erin, too, is absolutely hilarious.
And she has such an infectious laugh! I love it!}
{Holly is moving in this weekend, so I don't know much about her....yet!
But I know that she is absolutely sweet. She's going to Charis Bible College.
And she's a painter! She also does hair...BONUS! I'm so excited to get to know her more!}
I know that I'm making life long friends...and this experience of living with girls is going to be one of the best for me! I couldn't be more thankful to have such amazing friends in my life that push me to become a better person. Oh, and they all like James around, so that's another huge blessing! They know our story, his story, and love us and our redemptive story!

{This is our beautiful home! The grass is green though ;)
I found this picture online since I keep forgetting to take one myself, haha! Four bedrooms,
two and a half bath, a balcony that overlooks the city, a gorgeous mountain view....yes, we are VERY blessed!}
About 8-9ish years ago, I started a "Bucket List." I've been able to scratch a few things off of it, but there was one I didn't think I was going to be able to scratch off, just because it costs a pretty penny. You see, I've wanted to see Josh Groban in concert since I was in junior high. He's been one of my favorite artists...his voice soothes my soul, and he's a very talented musician. Wellllll....James saw that he was going to be in Denver, so he bought us tickets and took me to go see him! I was SO SO SO excited! I had been waiting for years to see Josh in concert and my man made my dream come true! 


















It was AMAZING! To say the least ;) I am so blessed to have a man that takes to me concerts and spends time with me...even at concerts that aren't his favorite. I love him!

We also went to Rock the Range, which was a Christian crusade type thing up in Denver. We went with Ryann, Erin, and Erin's friend Kristin! Our friends Sarah and Kinzli met us up there. Poor James was the only man. Next time we'll bring another one so he doesn't have to be surrounded by us girls all the time! It was fun though :) I hadn't been to a Christian concert series in years, so it was kinda fun to see some Christian bands play and hear a message from Franklin Graham. The bands that played were The Afters, The Almost, LeCrae (which was my favorite!), and Skillet. Oh, and the lead singer of the group Flyleaf gave her testimony and played a song. She was INcredible! I'm so glad we all got to go up and hang out and just have SO much fun together! 



























Hm....what else has been going on in life...OH! Yes :) I started a new nanny job! I am absolutely loving it. I'm watching a little baby named Jonah and he is such a great baby. I am SO blessed to have known the family from New Life Church and when they saw I was looking for a nanny job, they asked me to jump on board with them. 

{This was taken just last week! This week (Monday the 29th) was my first day! So far...so good! Isn't he cute?!}
In other news:
-James and I started eating healthy...and I mean healthy. Ryann is very much into eating healthy, so she's taught us a lot! We've started eating all organic meat and eggs with no hormones injected into them. No more pork or shellfish. No foods with high fructose corn syrup, or pretty much anything with corn anything in it. No artificial flavors, added sugars, or high sodium. Only whole wheat breads and pastas. And all fresh veggies, no more frozen! Ha! It took us two hours to grocery shop when we started this whole thing, because we read every single label on every single item we like to eat and were left with only little to choose from. But so far, we're making it work and actually really loving it! We both feel healthier and have more energy. Probably cause we're not loading up our bodies with complete crap food!

-I decided to strip out all the color in my hair and try to go back to a more natural look...as close to my natural brown as possible. I hate it. And want to color it again! Holly (roommate) went to cosmetology school and likes to do hair....so I guess that means I'm just gonna have to change it up for the fall season ;)

-James has been working his butt off all summer to pay of his debt. Only a couple more weeks to go and he'll be DONE with all credit card debt, bank debt, debt to people, and the debt he's has since he was 18 years old. I am SO proud of his diligence and determination to get it done! It hasn't been easy...specially when he had to borrow gas money from me, hehehe! But he's almost there and it's going to be SO rewarding when it's all said and done! Praise Jesus!

-James and I (haha...we do pretty much everything together again) recently became leaders in the junior high group at New Life! We get to go to camp in a couple weekends and every Wednesday night we get to spend time with a hundred or so 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. This season is going to be so good, so challenging, and SO rewarding! We're both very excited to be back in ministry again...together :)

I think that's all that's happened the past month! To me, it's a lot. I love this new season of life so much. I've grown so much, and can't wait to see what the future holds for my life! And now that I've updated this thing, maybe I'll get back into the swing of blogging regularly again ;) 

Peace and Love
xo