Waiting, Expecting, Longing

Advent - The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

I didn't grow up in a home that recognized Advent, so I never really understood what it was about. I didn't know it was a time of waiting...expecting...longing for our Savior. I didn't realize how significant it was. Until last year when I was sitting in dark room with hundreds of college-aged people, quietly, patiently, thinking about that moment, two thousand years ago, when a babe was being born. A babe that was born to redeem my life. I get chills just thinking about the moment  it hit me...I finally understood. Breathing deep. Reflecting. Longing for this Christ child.

I was introduced to a blog today: She Reads Truth. I have read the past couple days postings on Advent and made the decision to read daily through this Advent season. I will spend time reflecting on Him, transition my thoughts to long for His birth and His coming again.

This was a story they posted.

The following is an excerpt from “The Jesus Storybook Bible”, by Sally Lloyd-Jones. She uses prophecies from Isaiah 9, 11, 40, 50, 53, 55, and 60 to compose a beautifully-written message of hope from God to us, his people through the prophet Isaiah:
Dear Little Flock,
You’re all wandering away from me, like sheep in an open field. You have always been running away from me. And now you’re lost. You can’t find your way back.
But I can’t stop loving you. I will come to find you. So I am sending you a Shepherd to look after you and love you. To carry you home to me.
You’ve been stumbling around, like people in a dark room. But into the darkness, a bright Light will shine! It will chase away all the shadows, like sunshine.
A little baby will be born. A Royal Son. His mommy will be a young girl who doesn’t have a husband. His name will be Emmanuel, which means “God has come to live with us.” He is one of King David’s children’s children’s children.
The Prince of Peace.
Yes, Someone is going to come and rescue you! But he won’t be who anyone expects.
He will be a King! But he won’t live in a palace. And he won’t have lots of money. He will be poor. And he will be a Servant. But this King will heal the whole world.
He will be a Hero! He will fight for his people, and rescue them from their enemies. But he won’t have big armies, and he won’t fight with swords.
He will make the blind see, he will make the lame leap like a deer!
He will make everything the way it was always meant to be.
But people will hate him, and they won’t listen to him. He will be like a Lamb – he will suffer and die.
It’s the Secret Rescue Plan we made – from before the beginning of the world!
It’s the only way to get you back.
But he won’t stay dead – I will make him alive again!
And, one day, when he comes back to rule forever, the mountains and trees will dance and sing for joy! The earth will shout out loud! His fame will fill the whole earth – as the waters cover the sea! Everything sad will come untrue. Even death is going to die! And he will wipe away every tear from every eye.
Yes, the Rescuer will come. Look for him. Watch for him. Wait for him. He will come!
I promise.
Love, God

Advent is special. It's something husband and I want to incorporate in our family. We want to raise our children to long for the Lord. We want to help train their hearts (and ours) to be less focused on self, less focused on buying presents, and more focused on giving, loving, sharing His story...and most importantly celebrating our King.

"The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.
You shall multiply the nation,
You shall increase their gladness;
They will be glad in Your presence
As with the gladness of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders,
The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian.
For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult,
And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this."
Isaiah 9:2-7

Join me this Advent season in reading through the blog, the scriptures, reflecting, and waiting for our Savior! Amen.


Be thankful everyday!

Day 21: Thankful for time spent in the kitchen (and the money) to make sweet treats! Also thankful that the Tisthammer/Harrison/Catarisano families let us celebrate Thanksgiving and gather around the table with them to share memories and stories!

Day 22: Thankful for a day where we celebrate Thankfulness ;) A day where people all around the nation gather with friends and families to eat turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole (yuck!), yams, rolls, and stuffing! It's a beautiful day, every year, no matter the circumstances!
Annnnnd, late night shopping adventures with great friends! Thanks Tisthammers for joining us and fighting the crowds :)

Happy Thanksgiving from the Carton Family!
Day 23: Black Friday. Loooooove this day! We live in a consumer's world, and I'm not going to lie...I love shopping for stuff! But just being in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is so heartwarming...and at times, frustrating ;)

Day 24: New hair. And new boots.

From red, to brown, to honey blonde! Change is so fun!

Day 25: Late nights playing games and eating pizza with friends who have become our extended family!

Day 26: Conversations with those I love over email who are thousands of miles away! Thankful for Rhonda Miller who pretty much adopted me as her 2nd daughter.

Day 27: Thankful to have met a wonderful couple from Germany and are geting to learn about their lives, their culture, their language, and how they cook amazing food!

Day 28: New recipes to cook for my husband that he loves. Give these delicious Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps from Mel's Kitchen Cafe a try! I would not steer you wrong ;)

Day 29: Hot tea, pumpkin cookies, and Settlers with the Menegocci's. Such a fun night with much laughter and getting to know each other better :) We are thankful to know you guys and call you friends!

Day 30: Thankful for the good and not-so-good seasons in life. Sometimes husband and I don't get along and argue over (what seems like) everything. But I'm reminded that we are both human, that we have our own opinions about situations and that we're still both learning how to communicate, how to love, and how to encourage each other! I'm thankful that we have the Lord, cause if we didn't...I don't know how we would make it!

November has been such a wonderful month of newness in my life! A new home, new puppy, new friendships. Although change is hard for me, I've enjoyed this season of growing (as well as growing up) and learning more about myself and those around me. As this month comes to a close, I'm reminded how wonderful it has been to say what I'm thankful for everyday for a month, but it also challenges me that this needs to be my mindset everyday of the year! There is always something to be thankful for :)
I can't wait to see what the Lord does throughout the month of December!

And....can I just take a moment to say how excited I am it's Christmas month!! Christmas music hasn't stopped in a week, the house is just about decorated, and I've watched Home Alone I & II at least 5 times already ;)

Have a lovely Friday friends!


We're almost there..

I am thankful for...

Day 16: Date night at home with my love. We were supposed to go for our monthly date night...ya know, a nice dinner, a movie, Starbucks...but James wasn't feeling well, so we had a date night in! I love that we started having intentional date nights to catch up on life, talk about what's going on in our hearts, where we're at financially, spiritually, and mentally. It's so refreshing to just sit and talk about life with my best friend!

Day 17: Organizing skills and Pine sol. Husband and I spent all day Saturday organizing (and rearranging) our house, organizing our movies, and scrubbing the floors and walls. The "professional cleaners" the landlord said cleaned the house, failed miserably. I was on my hands and knees for a couple hours cleaning up the nonsense the previous tenets left behind; food on the walls, food on the floor, holes in the walls I had to patch up. It's slowly coming together and smelling much cleaner these days!

Day 18: Celebrating my dear friend Britt Jackson and her little man Lincoln who will be gracing us with his presence in no time! Another friend, Mishayla and I, planned a Mustache Bash for Britt which turned out to be so cute with lots of tasty food! It was such a joy taking the time to celebrate a new life and help prep the parents-to-be with fun gifts!

Husband and I also got to spend Sunday evening with great friends playing Settlers! We're both pretty terrible, but there's nothing like having an evening with great friends, playing a board game, eating sweets, and drinking wine (or hot tea if you're like me!).

Day 19: Making some extra cash by selling items on Craigslist! We just sold a table and chair set, which is perfect cause my wonderful husband said I could use that cash to get my hair did! He's the best ever! And we don't have to pull cash from our budget which means, we can still make payments on our debt! Hallelujah!

Day 20: That it's my last full day at work for the week! Tomorrow I only work half day and then it's time to start cooking and baking for Thanksgiving!! 

Have a great week friends :)


Only 7 Days till Turkey Day...

Oy! I seem to be doing a terrible job at blogging everyday. But HEY! I'm still making the 30 Days of Thankfulness happen ;)

Let's see....I am thankful for....

Day 13: Our Tuesday night dinner group...which is becoming more like a small family. We laugh...with and at each other...a lot! We share married stories, like how we signal to each other the 'angry eye' or the 'hand squeeze'. We watched The Voice together this week and made fun of Carson Daly and cheered for our favorite competitors (Go Trevin Hunte!). Husband and I are just so blessed to know and do life with the Shaida's, the Menegocci's, and the Bisenberger's!

Day 14: The girls I work with! We had a Girls Night Out in a cute little home downtown, drank wine, ate delicious pasta and soup, and laughed all night long. I really don't know how I would get through my work days if it weren't for these amazing ladies! My coworkers have indeed become friends, and these friendships, I know, will last a very long time. I am so thankful to work alongside such an incredible group!

Belinda, Amy, Me, Kristen, Christy, Coby, Jourdan, and Mishayla
(missing Kelly, Rachael, and Mary Claire)
Day 15: The days I can wear my contacts and it goes well. Silly, I know...but it's true! As most of my friends know, I wear my glasses all. the. time. I have contacts, but they seem to have found a cozy home in my medicine cabinet. Today, I decided to take them out of the dark, and actually put them in my eyes. You see, I have bad allergies, dry eyes, and a squinty smile so my eye makeup tends to smudge really easily. Contacts seem to multiply these problems by 10. Naturally, I hate all of the above, so I just put my glasses on, make a comment to husband (everyday) about how much I hate looking like a librarian, and go on my merry way. Today, I put my contacts in and so far so good! No dryness, no smudgy makeup (as of yet), and my allergies seem to be fine. It's a good day and I am thankful :) (I'm also thankful that it doesn't always have to be the big things that bring a little joy in ones day!)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thanksgiving is in 7 days! Can you believe it?? I really can't. Like truly, can't believe it's the HOLIDAY SEASON! I l-o-v-e this time of year, but I'm surprised every year how incredibly fast it shows up. Next week at this time, husband and I will be celebrating our first Thanksgiving as man and wife. We will indulge in the eating of much food. We will watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. And we will be sure to get a good nap in so we're rested to head out at midnight to start Black Friday Shopping

Best. Tradition. Ever

Husband and I started it last year and even though we don't have a ton of money to spend (thank you debt.), we will still go out, enjoy the hustle and bustle, buy a few items, laugh at people in their sweats and beanies with their long lists of Christmas gifts, and realize how insane we are to be apart of it all. Although insane, I would't change our tradition for anything :)

Have a lovely Thursday!


Let's cozy up!

Day 11: Thankful for a warm fire in our new home. I haven't had a wood burning fire place since moving from CA, so having one again is the most wonderful thing...specially with it being so cold lately!

Once upon a time there was a piece of wood.
It was not an expensive piece of wood. 
Far from it. 
It was just a common block of firewood, 
one of those thick, solid logs 
that are put on a fire in winter 
to make cold rooms cozy and warm. ~Carlo Collodi

Day 12: Thankful for His peace when my heart is overwhelmed. Psalm 61:2


Red Robin...yuuuummm...

Day 10: So thankful for family dinner's with my three favorite men :) Dad is in from CA for the weekend and my brother joined us after he got off work. We had a great dinner with many laughs, James telling his jail story (of which Dad didn't know about...oops, hehe!), and lots of great food!

To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.
-Barbara Bush


Happiness is a Clean Puppy

Day 9: Thankful for our Molly Girl! She had her first bath last night :) and let's just say this...she really needs to get used to the water! 

She's the cutest ever even though she didn't like us at the moment!
But now she smells like an apricot, hehe!


A little behind...

We just got internet in our new home..hence why I'm behind on blogging. But I'm back :)

Husband and I got all moved in late Saturday afternoon, but it all started Friday after work, which made for a very loooooong weekend. We met our new landlord at the townhouse, did the walk through, got the keys, and started unloading James' truck which had a load of stuff in it already. We worked all Friday night getting (most) everything out of the basement we were living in and spent our first night (yay!) in our new home...on a blow up mattress...not the best night of sleep, but it worked. Saturday morning we got up, moved some boxes around, ate Chick-fil-a for breakfast, and met a group of wonderful friends at the storage unit where most of our stuff was. An hour and a half, two trips to the house, and 8 cars later, we were done. HALLELUJAH! James and I were amazed at how fast it all got done. After eating lunch with a few of the friends who were available, we headed back to the basement to grab the left over stuff, and clean it all up. I wanted to be done there so we could concentrate on our new home! We were both so extremely exhausted, but more than anything, thankful! Thankful for amazing friends, a new home, and our mattress, although old, it was better than the blow up :)

Sunday we moved stuff around and prepped for Molly to come live with us! We were so very excited to finally have our new addition. Our wonderful, new friends, Robbie and Carrie came over and welcomed us with a bottle of wine and chew toys for the pup! It was a rough first night with the little one, but we managed. I took Monday off to get rest and James worked from home; we figured it would be good to have a day at home with Molly to help her adjust to her new life. She did very well! The past two days I was out from work with the stomach flu :( So those extra days with Molly were good as well. She was a nuisance at times, only cause she wanted to play, but she did well (for the most part) cuddling me when I slept and keeping herself entertained!

All that to say....it's been a crazy week and I'm ready for this upcoming weekend when my Dad comes out to visit and we can get settled in a little bit more!

I have 6 days to catch up on for my Thankfulness, so let's get down to it ;)

Day 3: Thankful for my hardworking, patient, determined, sexy husband. 
He was such a trooper moving all Friday night and was so gracious with me when I got stubborn about staying in our new place. I just love him (more times infinity) and could not be more excited to start this new season of life with him!

AND: So so incredibly thankful for all the friends who helped us! We really couldn't have done it with out you all!
Jared and Mary Claire
Beto and Kelly
David and Simone
Rob and Carrie

Day 4: Thankful for our own place! For the longest time, James and I have both lived in a basement. James lived at home and his room was in the basement. I've been in a basement room for a long time, and then we moved into a basement. No more basement for us!! We now have two bedrooms, and two flights of stairs, and a dining room with our own table in it and a wood burning fire place for cold, winter nights, and our own, new couches...ahhh, it's so wonderful :)

Day 5: Thankful for my job. It's been such a blessing working at Rachel's Challenge the past year. I've learned so much not only about the mission for the organization, but about the public school system and the kids that attend. My heart breaks when I hear stories about kids coming from horrible homes or being in the foster care system, but then I fill with joy knowing they are hearing a message of hope and compassion! I am also thankful to have a job that helps pay for our bills so husband and I can live comfortably! 

Day 6: Thankful for the sunshine that shines in the windows. It's the simple things sometimes :)

Day 7: 7up, Chicken Noodle Soup, Saltines, a cuddly puppy, and my favorite show ever, Friends :) Everything to help soothe an upset tummy.

Day 8: Jourdan Foran, who I've only known for a year (since working at RC), but who has become such a great, trustworthy, honest, true, hilarious, dear friend. I just really love her to pieces and am blessed to have her in my life!

That's all she wrote folks....for today at least ;) Have a lovely Thursday!
P.S. It's almost the weekend...praise Jesus!


Day 2: I Voted

It's November 2nd and I voted. And for that, I am thankful. 

I am thankful I live in a country where I have the freedom to express my opinion for our countries leaders. 

I am thankful for the 19th Amendment that states "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

I am thankful.


It's the little things...

Thankful: Feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative. 

Throughout our lives, we take many things for granted. 
We over look the obvious and don't truly appreciate the world around us. 
Well folks, it's November...which means...
a whole month to express your thankfulness!

I once read a book entitled "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp...a book that challenges and invites the reader to embrace everyday blessings. For, if you live with a mind set on being thankful, you will begin to view the world differently. This book is currently in a box somewhere, but once we move and I get the chance to unpack, I will be diving into it again. I definitely suggest reading it! I also suggest getting a really cute (or manly!) journal to write out your list of 1,000 gifts. My list got to about 200-ish and stopped. When I start the book over, I will make a cute journal and once again, write down 1,000 things I'm thankful for...and be reminded of how much I am blessed!
Since today is November 1st and I have made the conscience decision to blog everyday (if I can, that is...might have to double up on some posts) about something I'm thankful for (whether it be a person, a place, or something random), I will start the month off by saying....

Today, I am thankful for Christmas Music!! Yes, I officially started listening to it (on Monday actually) and it hasn't stopped. I love having two full months of non-stop Christmas Cheer. It makes the world wonderful and bright and my heart leaps at every song as if I were still a child! Annnnnnnnd (just so you are aware) there are only 53 DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS! woohoo!


In the Midst of the Storm

Dear Friends,

Lately I have found myself in one of "those" seasons. You know...when your heart is overwhelmed by circumstances out of your control...Maybe you're struggling with your job, maybe a relationship seems to be falling apart, maybe you have a family member not walking with the Lord, maybe someone dear to you is hurting...physically, emotionally, mentally. To be honest, it feels a little strange to write to try to encourage, while my own heart is feeling this grief so deeply. Maybe this will turn out to be my very own encouragement...who knows!

But...deeper than the grief and louder than all the noise in this world that surrounds, this truth speaks to me. That His mercy is greater than our mess and He will come to fill those hurting places deep within. His strength is made perfect in our weakness and He makes beauty out of ashes.

And so....with this heaviness in my heart, I want to try to encourage with truths that I know to be so true...to whomever reads this:

I know that though everything is shaken, He will not be moved
{He is unchanging}

When the winds and waves crash all around, He whispers softly, "Trust Me."

"You will keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." (Is. 26:3-4)

He extends these truths to all of us....me, in my ache and confusion...and to you, in whatever storm you're facing.

Standing, with arms stretched out, the winds howling in my face, and the waves crashing around me, screaming..."Father, YOU ARE GOOD! And YOUR MERCY ENDURES FOREVER. You. Are. Good."

Your mercies are new for me and will sustain me through this storm...today...and the next day...and the next.

I will magnify You and exalt You over my circumstances. You are all I see.

I will trust Your heart towards me and know that you will not give me more than I can handle.

I will worship you...Praise Your Mighty Name...place my hope in You...no matter what...over and over and over again. Until I am completely undone and at peace in your presence.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18)

The Lord invites us to encounter Him so deeply. In the stillness. In the quiet. In the secret place. He desires for you to draw near to him, so He can draw ever near to you. He is after our hearts...so that we will be wholly surrendered to Him.

I seem to have been through storms like this many times in the past few years with my family and with my husband, and I've seen the other side of it, where there is peace and restoration in my soul and with those around me. But sometimes we have to walk through storms (more than once) to truly grasp what that sweet intimacy with Him looks like. And honestly, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Don't give up, dear friend. He will see you through.


The First Snow

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found? -John Boynton Priestley


Just Do It

It's Tuesday morning and I've been up since 5:30am. Husband and I...well, actually, just I, decided that we needed to start working out again and the mornings are our best option in this busy season of life. We both have gym memberships that we're paying for and we haven't gone since before we were married....so I made the decision to ask a co-worker to keep me accountable and text me in the mornings. From there, I will do the very grueling  job of waking husband up (he's not a morning person) :-/

Today was day one and although I feel good physically, I'm also pretty tired...and constantly hungry. It'll take some getting used to; to get into the habit of working out every morning and eating more throughout the day, but once our bodies have adjusted to waking up so darn early, I think we'll be a lot more diligent with it!

The Lord says in 1 Corinthians that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, that it doesn't belong to us (it's God's) and we are to honor it. I have taken that scripture to heart and after doing much research and praying, Husband and I made the decision (over a year ago) to change our eating habits as a whole. Not only did we cut out junk food and soda, but all processed food with artificial products, coloring, or high fructose corn syrup. We made the change for the betterment of our insides and now, it's time to take care of the outside! (I would recommend watching Food Inc. to gather more info about what you are putting in your system.)

I want to live a healthy lifestyle and I am determined to take care of the body God gave me. So, thus, another adventure begins in our lives! Husband thinks I'm the craziest person ever...and I might be ;) but I know that it's something we need to do and it'll be so worth it!

Just Do It


Answered Prayers and Life Changes

The past few weeks have been so crazy in James and I's lives....in the best way possible of course! Let's see...where to start....

Before we got married, James and I started having discussions about if the Lord wanted us here in CO or not...we asked each other a lot of questions about what we desired for community and didn't really feel at home at the church we were attending. We explained our feelings to our parents and some close friends and left it at that till after we got married and settled into married life. Shortly after we got back from our honeymoon, we realized that our community was scarce and those deep friendships we were longing for just weren't quite there. We started praying that God would open doors for community here or that he would open doors for us to move. Of course my heart automatically went to 'Let's move!'...I wanted an adventure, a new city, new state, new everything. That's what I kept praying and hoping for. Even to the point of not wanting to make any more friends here or see any of the friends I did have. I just wanted my husband and a new place to live. 

Two months after marriage, James ended up losing his job at Chromatic Technologies Inc. due to a lot of mis-communication and poor decision making on the management end. Both of us knew he wouldn't be at that company long and it was only the beginning of where the Lord would use James' designing skills. The day he lost his job, he went over to his parents house to start looking for another one. He spent hour after hour, day after day, looking everywhere for a job. I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to start looking out of state; I could always find another job or maybe Rachel's Challenge would let me work from home. I had it all planned out! James and I talked about it and decided he would start looking in other cities. He applied to jobs in Denver, Seattle, Connecticut, New York, and a couple other places. We were both very excited to see where the Lord would lead. Two weeks later, James got a phone call from a place he applied to here in the Springs. He was asked to come in that day for an interview, the next day the company sent him a test project, he completed it, and the day after that, on a Saturday morning, James got yet another phone call from the company asking if he could start Monday morning; he, of course, said yes! We were so thrilled! I looked at him and said, "I guess the Lord wants us to stay here."  He started that Monday morning for 3GEngagement as their Graphic Artist and they have kept him so very busy. He's really enjoying all the projects he gets to work on!

That same week, we were invited to join two dinner small groups, and I was invited to join a girls weekly Bible study! Community. Just what we had been praying for! One dinner group is for young marrieds and the other dinner group is one with friends we've been wanting to hang out with for quite some time. Such great people in both groups! And the girls Bible study has been really good for me. Just what I've been needing to help restore a lot of hurts from relationships with women/girls. James has also had the opportunity to meet with a mentor and hang out with more guys...which has been so good for him!

Life seemed to be going great and our prayers were being answered! I really couldn't think of how it could get better. Well...a little over two weeks ago, my brother came over to hang out and brought over a puppy that one of my mom's dogs had. The mama dog had a liter of 6 Golden Retriever/Labradors, 4 black, 2 golden. Lord knows that I've been wanting a Golden Retriever girl puppy for yeeears. As soon as Tanner got out of his car with that little girl, I fell in love. Truly, it was instantaneous! We played together, I wore her out, and she fell asleep on my lap. It was a sad moment saying goodbye to her. I looked at James and said, "That's my motivation to find a new place for us to live!" (if you didn't know, we are currently living in a basement apartment at a friends parents house and had been talking about how we would like to move). 

Because I am who I am ;) and we both knew that we didn't want to stay in the basement for long and we told our landlords that it would only be a temporary living situation, I asked James if we could seriously consider moving. We spent some time praying about it and James gave me the okay to start looking for places. We figured out how much we could afford a month and I began my search. It was slim-pickens for what we could afford in a good area, but I kept looking and came across one that I liked. I found the ad on Craigslist and was kinda hesitant...only because Craigslist can be sketch at times. A day later, I got a response that the townhouse was still available and that if we wanted to look at it, we could. James and I took an afternoon off for lunch on October 4th, saw the townhouse, and knew it was home. The landlord was really nice and the place was the perfect size for us! Right before we left, we were handed the application and told to think about it and if we wanted to apply, to email the application in. As soon as we got back to the car, I asked James if we could apply. He said yes! The next morning, I sent our application off and prayed that we would get it. Sunday morning (the 7th) came around... I woke up to an email that said the landlord picked US out of 4 applicants!! I woke James up with much laughing and screaming and jumping! In just a matter of days, we got a perfect little townhouse to rent, a place we can call home (for a while at least)! And the best part about it is, the landlord allows pets...so we get our little golden puppy (another blog will come soon with more pictures)!

Meet Miss Molly
Our new little home

It's evident that the Lord wants us here. He's opened door after door, with so much ease. He's answered our prayers, He changed my heart about moving, and we've had such a peace through all the changes. I told James that life has been so painfully hard the past few years that I've forgotten what it's like to truly be joyful deep down and see good things happen in life...good things that we've prayed for! 

James is happy and busy at his new job, we have great community, we're moving into our new little home at the beginning of November, and we're adding to the Carton family! 

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus and watch Him lead!



Saturday was my wonderful husbands 27th birthday! He told me weeks ago that all he wanted was a day to spend with me! Usually for his birthday I try to plan some surprise, like last year... We celebrated birthday week which was a blast! I took him to see his favorite comedian, Jeff Dunham, he got presents all week long, and it all ended with a birthday dinner party with all his close friends! This year, I did nothing :) He wanted a day just me and him...that's what he was gonna get! Of course I had to spoil him with presents, so I bought him new clothes, which he needed and wanted (and he liked everything I picked, woohoo)!

We went to dinner at one of our favorite places, Cheddar's, and then went to see Taken 2!

This was the first birthday we celebrated as husband and wife. We've celebrated a lot of birthdays together, 6 to be exact, but this year was so much more special! I love my husband and am so so thankful for the leader he his. He challenges me to be a better person and isn't afraid to point out where I need growth. We're not afraid to talk about the hard things in life and be real with each other. He's vulnerable with me, and I'm vulnerable with him, and you know...It's a beautiful thing. 

27 is going to be a great year for you my love! The Lord is going to do so many great things in your life. He's going to continue to grow you into the leader you desire to be, the husband you desire to me, and the friend you desire to be. I am blessed beyond words to know you, love you, be married to you, and do this thing called life alongside you! You're amazing :) I love you more times infinity!


Autumn Colors

A couple weeks ago, husband and I drove out to Cripple Creek to see the changing of the Aspens. It's absolutely my favorite thing to do this time of year. The drive was gorgeous and we had such great conversations about life and how we want to make the drive a family tradition once we start having babies!

A hidden path we found

Autumn Leaves

Beautiful Aspens
Colorado My Home Sweet Home
Husband is a great photographer
Colorado truly is a beautiful state and we are both so thankful we can call it our home! Soon...it'll be a Winter Wonderland!


The Autumn Season

The Autumn season means a few things to me:

1) It's almost Christmas.

2) Boots and Sweaters.

3) It's almost Christmas.

4) Everything Pumpkin!

Everything about the turning of the seasons makes my heart leap for joy and there's a certain sense of peace that comes along with it. The temperature slowly drops. I start sleeping with my window open at night and wake up to a crisp breeze that makes my heart long to stay in bed all day and read. And, it's cuddle weather, which is 10x better now that I have a husband to cuddle with! 

I get this absolute love of the Autumn season from my Mom...hence my name ;) 

As I sit here, drinking my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season (even though it's still 80 degrees outside, I couldn't help but say 'yes!' when my dear co-worker asked if I wanted one), my anxious heart is soothed with the simple message this cup brings..."a new season is among you, crisp and full of beauty." 

In the next few weeks, the leaves will start changing to reds and yellows, the pumpkin patches will open for business, and baking goodies will begin in the Carton kitchen! It's my favorite time of year and I am filled with hope, peace, and much gratitude for God's grace for this new season ahead...a season filled with many trips to Starbucks and new boots on my feet :)


The Proposal....from my Perspective!

Our journey began four years ago. It was a journey I never thought I would find myself on. I met a tall, dark boy who worked as a waiter at the Olive Garden, who had shifty eyes and long spiky black hair. I had no interest in this fellow, nor did he have any interest in me. I did remember his name though and later that day added him as a friend on Myspace. Oh! Myspace. "I thought it would be nice to know someone outside of my family if I ever move to Colorado, so I thought I would add you as a friend," I told him. We exchanged a few messages and left it at that.

Just a few months later, I moved to Colorado. One day, I sat in my new bedroom, in my new house, at my computer reading a message from this strange boy who I once met. "How are you liking Colorado? Are you settling in? I know you're new in town and if you want me to be your tour guide and show you around town, here's my number." I wasn't sure what to do...so I talked to my Mom and she said that if I wanted to hang out with him, I could. I emailed him back and said that would be great! He came to my house to pick me up a couple days later, dressed in slacks, a white jacket, popped collar, and shades. He thought he was smooth. I thought he looked like an idiot and said to myself, "we will never get along." He drove me around till we got to the downtown area and asked if I was hungry. We ate at Phantom Canyon, chatted, and then took a drive through Garden of the Gods. He took me back home and asked what I was doing the next day. My reply was something to the effect of "I'm new in town, I have nothing to do." He asked me to hang out again, I said okay, then he gave me a high five.

The next day, he came to my house to pick me up. As he walked up the driveway, I noticed that he was dressed in ski pants, a ski jacket, bandanna, and a beanie. My initial thought was, "DANG! He's so hot!!" but then I told myself that I had just moved here, just got out of a relationship, and didn't need to dive into another one. We journeyed to the bottom of Pikes Peak on a very cold, fall day and ended up stopping at the Cog Railway Train Station. What better way to see Colorado then to take a train to the top of the mountain? 

And that my friends...is where it all began....on a train...

Fast forward four years through much heartache, sorrow, hurt, healing, growing, and more than anything, forgiving and loving. 

It started on Valentines day. I woke up that morning knowing that it was going to be a fun day, I just had no idea what the plans were! I had to be in Denver most of the day for work meetings, but got done and back to the Springs around 2. I asked to leave early since James told me I needed to be ready by 3:30. I was almost home when I got a call from my boss saying that there was a beautiful, bouquet of flowers delivered for me. I decided I wanted to turn around and go get them! When I got back to my office, I saw a beautiful arrangement of lily's and roses. I opened up the little card and read, "Real love stories never have endings. I can't wait to put another chapter in our story. I love you Autumn Mc...Carton." My heart just melted and I got butterflies in my tummy just like the first time we kissed. I drove back home, got dressed, and waited for James to pick me up. When he got to the house, he pulled out an envelope and then out of the envelope came a coupon book that he had made! He pulled out the first coupon which read, "A romantic dinner at the restaurant of your choice in Denver." He then said that because it was a holiday, he made reservations at a restaurant for us already. I was excited to see what he had picked out. We drove up to Denver and got to a little hole in the wall place called Chianti Restorante Italiano. Italian food! My favorite, as well as the type of restaurant we first met at. Ohhh, I was catching on...he was taking us back to the beginning. We ate a lovely meal and drank delicious wine. 
Then he said it was time for the second coupon....
"Nuggets tickets. Now that's a slam dunk date!"
We were off to a Nuggets game! We had never been to a basketball game together, so I wasn't sure what the subtlety of that was and he said he couldn't tell me because it would spoil later surprises. I ignored it and enjoyed the game. Nuggs WON! We both had to work the next day, so we drove home, said our good nights, and went off to sleep.

Wednesday (the 15th) was a normal work day. I was busy all day with projects. Got home later in the day and waited for James to come over. He said he had to run errands, which he never has to do, so I knew something was up! He came over and could not wait to give me the third coupon. I was SO excited when he handed it to me! I read, "This weekend we're flying so pack your bags and get ready for takeoff!" I stood in the kitchen in shock, with a blank stare on my face. I looked up at him and had no words! The only thing I could conjure up was, "Does work know I'm leaving?!" hahaha! He looked at me and said not to worry, he had taken care of everything. We ate dinner and I spent most of the time trying to guess where we were going (I was convinced we were going to Oregon to meet his Dad)! Then I called my Dad and he was so excited to find out where James was taking me! I stayed up all night doing laundry, packing, painting my nails, and trying to figure out where we were headed off to! 

The next day (the 16th) I woke up and had a dentist appointment first thing, so I went to that, then called James and he said to meet me at Jives Coffee Shop around 11am. You see, Jives and February 16th are two significant things in our story and relationship. February 16th, 2011 was the first time we had seen each other after having been broken up for several months. We hadn't talked, seen each other around town, and to be frank, I wanted nothing to do with him. That cold, February night I went to Jives to listen to live music, have a cup of coffee, and do some reading. It just so happens that James showed up the same night, to the same coffee shop, to do the same thing. I was in SHOCK! But through all my nerves, anger, and anxiety...a still small voice spoke and said, "It's okay Autumn. It's time." We both had such a peace and that's when the reconciliation and forgiving process started. SO....going back to the very same spot, on the 16th was a must! We sat there and reminisced about what had happened the past year, what the Lord had done, where we were at, and how much we loved each other. We were supposed to be at the airport to catch the 4pm flight, but because we fly standby, there were issues getting on the 4 o'clock flight. James said he had to run a few more errands (later he told me it was to pick up the ring, haha!) and he would meet me at the house where were would wait to see what flight we would actually get on.

I got to the house and hung out with my roommates for a few. They both knew what was going on, so they kept asking me questions, like, "Are you excited?! Where do you think you're going?" I kept telling them Oregon and I was dead set on that decision! James got to the house and the 4 of us chatted and laughed, all the while James was CONSTANTLY texting and talking to people and I was getting so anxious. In the midst of the conversations, it slipped out that James and I were flying to San Francisco. I looked at him in complete shock and yelled, "We're going to SAN FRANCISCO!?!?" I was so bummed that he let it slipped, but I just hugged him and told it was okay, I was going to find out anyways!

We left for the airport. I was beyond excited! We got our seats on the plane and the whole time I couldn't stop thinking about who was going to pick us up, where were staying....anxiety took over and James just held my hand and asked, "Do you trust me?" I did and I do. So, I stopped worrying and just really wanted to land. That flight felt like one of the longest flights I had taken. We got to the San Fran airport and I expected someone to be there to get us, but nope, wrong again....we took a shuttle to our little Victorian hotel called Hotel Majestic. It was so cute, so old, had so much history to it. James and I ordered pizza, watched TV, and then he said goodnight and went off to his own room. He told me though, "We have to get up really early....6:30am. I'll call you to wake you up. You will also get another coupon!" I could hardly sleep that night... 1) Because I was so excited to be in San Fran, 2) The city was SO loud and I slept with my window open to feel the cool breeze, and 3) Because I had NO idea what was happening the rest of the weekend...although I thought about how this could actually be the weekend he asks me to be his wife.

6:30 rolls around, my phone rings, and then James comes knocking on my door. I answer and he greets me with a morning kiss. Then he hands me the coupon....I read it, "Escape the city via the Baylink Ferry!" WHAT?!!? A ferry ride?? I was SO excited, although it was hard to tell since I was so tired. We got ready real quick and walked to the nearest Trolley station. It was like a dream come true getting to ride on the Trolley! Ever since I was little and watch Full House I wanted to go take the Trolley's down San Fran. I kept snapping pictures of everything, leaning out of the Trolley, smiling, acting like a child. It was SO fun! We got to end, got off, and grabbed some food from a little cafe. James kept texting and I was getting pretty annoyed, but I tried to let it go. He then looked at me and said, "we need to go." We cleaned our breakfast mess up and then walked to the Port! There were hundreds of people around, the sun was just coming up over the water near the Bay Bridge, so I was busy taking pictures of nearly everything. James had his paperwork out and was trying to figure out where we needed to go, he was lost and confused so I said, "Here let me help you!" He looked at me and said, "NO! You're not supposed to look at these papers." A random, shady looking guy approached us and asked if we were looking for the Napa Valley Wine Tour Bus. I looked at James all wide-eyed, grabbed his arm, and said, "really?!" He tried to play it off like that's not where we were going, the guy got annoyed and said if that's where we were going, to go to the group of people on the other side of the street. So we walked over there and I was SO excited that we were going to Napa Valley! I've always wanted to go! James showed another gentleman the paperwork and the man said, "Oh, you're not on the Wine Bus Tour, you're on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Your ferry is down there," and pointed to another port. THE WINE TRAIN!!!! Oh my gosh! I was ecstatic. We got to the port where we were "supposed to be"...wrong. We were in the wrong place. By this time, the clock was ticking. We asked another gentleman for some guidance and he pointed us in the right direction. We found our port and in the distance I saw someone that looked familiar,  but thought nothing of it. Who would I know that would be in San Francisco the same weekend we're here? I also didn't have my contacts in or my glasses on, so my vision wasn't the best at the moment, haha.

We finally boarded onto the Ferry. It was one of the most gorgeous mornings I have seen thus far. We stood on the upper deck and watched as the sun was coming up. The clouds were sitting low, and as we pulled away from the Port we could see ALL of San Fran. It was incredible! We got to see Alcatraz from a distance, which was neat. It was about an hour or so Ferry ride to Vallejo, which sits outside of Napa Valley. We got to Vallejo and started making our way down the stairs, but then James decided that he wanted a picture of a random bird that was on the Ferry and so I begrudgingly walked back up the stairs, got my camera out, and was ready to take a picture for James when all of a sudden the bird took off and I looked at James and said, "Really? Let's go! I want to get off the Ferry."

We got off the Ferry, I used the restroom, and then we loaded onto the shuttle that would then take us to Napa Valley. The bus driver called roll call by last name...he called a last name that I am VERY familiar with....so I KNEW it, I knew what was happening and somewhere on this bus was our friend, Adam. But no one answered when the driver called his last name, so I thought, James put him on another bus or a car or something. I looked at James like I knew what was happening and he said to me, "I just love how I throw you off." Now, I knew that a proposal was coming, I just had no idea when, and James kept saying how he was going to be doing big things to throw me off so I would be some what surprised when he actually popped the question. I tried not to think about it too much and thankfully, I get distracted really easily, so I got started with taking pictures again and got distracted with all the sights and scenery. We got to the train station, checked in, and sat for a while listening to the history of the Vineyards and did some wine tasting. We finally got to board the train! We were sat in these really comfy seats facing a window so we could look out at all the vineyard we would be passing. James and I ordered some cocktails and were given our appetizers...which were SO yummy! Except that I tried Duck Foie Gras for the first time. I had no idea what it was until I was in the middle of swallowing and James announced that I had just swallowed duck liver. I about threw up, but managed to get it down and laugh about it.

We were enjoying everything, the vineyards weren't quite in bloom, but it was beautiful nonetheless. James then asked if I wanted to venture out to the Observation Deck, which was on the caboose. Yes! Of course I did. We got to walk through many different cars of the train, one of which we were stopped by a man who said he needed to check a loose door. No biggie! He said it was fine to continue, so we continued to walk through the kitchen and finally got to the caboose. There was another couple out there, they stood on one side, we stood on the other. I was busy taking pictures and oblivious to everything that was happening around me. The couple went inside and James started to talk....."We started our journey on a train...." I really don't remember what he said because it hit me what was about to happen. Let me tell you...I had convinced myself that if/when he was going to propose this weekend, he was going to do it in the evening. Not on the train, not in the middle of the afternoon. So for him to be proposing right here, right now, I was in TOTAL shock! Before I knew it, he was down on one knee, with the most beautiful ring in his hand asking me to marry him!! I cried! I said YES!! He slipped the ring on my finger and we hugged and kissed! The door to the inside opened up and the whole car (along with many cute Asian ladies) were cheering and clapping and yelling "Congratulations!" And then out walked Adam....our photographer...who James had flown out to capture everything! Absolutely incredible! We got some pictures and then made our way to the dinner car. The whole staff knew and congratulated us as we ate! I could hardly eat though, I was SO excited! I was making phone calls and texting, and facebooking. My phone was blowing up with so much love from all our friends and family! We got back to the train station and walked to a winery to do more wine tasting. Then we had a couple hours before we had to get back on the shuttle, so we walked around Downtown Napa Valley and got our engagement pictures done! It was time to go, so we got back on the shuttle, loaded onto the Ferry, and chatted with Adam the whole way.

We got back to San Francisco and were all pretty exhausted. I needed to use the restroom, so we found one and when I walked back out, James was standing there by himself. I figured Adam was either in the restroom or souvenir shopping. We started walking and I saw someone out of the corner of my eye that I thought I recognized, but again, we're in San Fran...who else would be here? James and I kept walking and this guy came up behind us and said, 'Excuse me young lady, I just heard someone got engaged." I turned around it was me DAD! James had my dad drive up from LA to surprise me! OH MY GOODNESS! We hugged and I showed him the ring. Adam was taking pictures. I was so amazed that James pulled off the most amazing engagement I have ever heard of! We were all hungry, so we decided to eat at The Cheesecake Factory on top of the Macy's in Union Square. Not only is The Cheesecake Factory my favorite restaurant, but eating the food, on the roof of a Macy's overlooking the city...it was the most perfect ending to the most perfect day! Dad drove us back to the hotel, Adam was in a separate one in China Town which was pretty great! We said our goodnight's and finally got to sleep! I slept SO much better that night. I had a ring on my finger, the most incredible Fiance, my Dad was with us, and we were getting all our engagement photos done by the best photographer, in my opinion!

The next morning we got up, packed our bags, and waited for Dad to come pick us up. After getting the three of us from our hotels, we parked and walked around San Fran for a bit snapping engagement photos. We drove to the Port and got to take a lot of photos there. James' good friend and now groomsman, Dane and his family drove from Sacramento to see us and meet me for the first time. We all ate lunch at the Crab Shack. It was the best crab!! Snapped some more engagements after lunch. Got to drive to the beach and get some pictures on the water with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. It was lovely! But the time came for us to say goodbye and get to the airport. It was sad leaving Dad, but I knew I was going to see him the next month when he came out to visit!

We got to the airport and had some trouble getting on the flight. Gotta love stand-by! But with the help of a pilot and stewardess moving to different seats, all 3 of us got on the flight and we were headed back home!! James and I got complimentary wine on the way home and sat next to a gentleman who owns a vineyard in Napa! We finally got back to the Springs, stopped at a Red Robin on the way home and all I could do was stare at my ring and call James my FIANCE! After calling him 'boyfriend' for 4 years, it was so nice to call him my Fiance :)

And in just a little over 2 months, I get to call him my Husband!


Through the lens....of my 4s!!

Merry late Christmas and a Happy January 6th! I'm a little behind on my blogging, but oh well, I'm back and hopefully with more posts this year than last (we'll see).

Christmas was absolutely wonderful! Dad was here for almost a week, I got to see my brother, James and I were together (miracle!), and to be honest, I got S-P-O-I-L-E-D! Which is always fun ; ) 

My Dad got me the iPhone 4s and let's just say that I spent more time on it then eating. I may be exaggerating a bit, but I really did spend a lot of time on it over the two weeks I had off for vacation. To have a phone that works again is just simply amazing. AND there are so many fun apps to play with! Currently my favorite and I think it'll be my favorite forever is Instagram. An app that allows you take pictures all the while putting a cute little filter over the photo and even (with another app called Diptic) making a collage out of the photos you take. Heaven! I've always loved photography, but never got into it. Why? Well, I am a lame person. Really...I don't have too many hobby's beside reading and scrapbooking like once a year. And maybe making a craft every so often. But now that I have an iPhone with an incredible camera on it, I've been snapping pictures of everything. I've been working on angles and trying to see things in a different way then just 'point and shoot.' It's been very fun!! And hopefully one day soon, James and I will be getting a Canon and taking photography classes together. Until then, the iPhone will suffice : )

So, for this post...I will share with you my Christmas vacation and James and I's first New Years Eve party through all the pictures I took with my new phone <3

My very FIRST Turkey! It was so yummy!
My good looking Man <3
Homemade sugar cookies with homemade frosting! I ate more than I should have.
The perfectly wrapped presents from James!
Christmas Love <3
Keurig and JB. Perfect! 

My Dad jamming away!
Sherlock Holmes
Birthday Balloons for Dad's 51st
German Chocolate Cake
Dad's favorite : )
Dad blowing out his candles!!
Table Decor

New Years Eve Party

Rose Cakes with frosting and Raspberries

Meant to be

Candid moment