A time to celebrate: a soldier's homecoming

All right, so I've got some time to myself because Mr decided to hang with the boys tonight. Oh and it's also the final day of 2011 so I figured I'd better post this before a new year rolls in. The long awaited deployment homecoming post. I'm glad to be finished with my deployment woes posts..as those can be wearing sometimes.  I don't know that I won't ever post on this past year again because it was a year in my life that impacted me..to say the least.  But, I can promise to share new adventures now that one have become two again.

It's hard to find the right place to start with this post because so much can be said. Do I reminisce over the things I've learned and grown through..everything building up to this point? Do I cut straight to the pictures and short change the stories behind them? I'm not sure, so I'll just go with the flow and see where my typing fingers take me.

Sometimes it's weird sharing these personal parts of my life..knowing tens and possibly hundreds of people glance over these words. I often wonder if I share too much or not enough? I'm not sure I'll ever come to a complete answer on that so for now I'll continue to share.

There's few things that happen in life that are cause for a celebration. Engagements..weddings..pregnancy..buying a house..learning to ride a bike, just to name a few. But one I'd never given much consideration to until the last two years was the return of a soldier. If there's one thing I've learned through out living this military lifestyle, it's that we live among brave men and women. We don't always notice, but they're always there..or sometimes technically not there, but fighting for our right to live in this awesome place. They don't ask for recognition or even a fair amount of pay. Sometimes it's men or women who aren't sure what to do with their life so they sign a paper, willing to leave all that's familiar to them and breath red white and blue. Other times it's a son or daughter whose father, grandfather and great grandfather served years before them..and it's only right that they follow suit. Whoever they are and for whatever reason they signed that paper, I am grateful. I'm grateful to families who have sacrificed time away from their loved ones. Mothers and fathers who raised their children alone for months and years at a time. I'm completely floored when I think about those families who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Could you even imagine? Thankful..grateful..forever in debt..to all of those willing to fight for me.

I always expected the celebration of a wedding or a someday pregnancy, but never in my youth did I imagine the joy I'd experience welcoming home a soldier, my soldier. The night before he came home, I remember sitting in bed thinking..this is it..tomorrow starts the rest of my forever. I meant that quite literally too..not in the cliche fairytale like way. Tomorrow starts the rest of my forever..it was a feeling similar to the night before my wedding.

Okay so let's break up these black and white letters with some spurts of color...yes? I slept beautifully the night before Mr came home. Weird, right? Not really because it was the first night I could truly sleep in peace, knowing he was coming home to me for good. It's like God just sent this calm over me and I knew all would be right in the morning.

We drove there and arrived about an hour and 15 minutes early because we didn't want to miss ANYTHING. Oh and I sure saw it all, I took in every aspect of that scene before me.

I should also mention our amazing photographer Lauren, she did all of these pictures for us..drove to the airport and captured memories that I am forever grateful to her for. These images are all copyrighted, so please be kind and don't take'm!! :)

Families so anxious to welcome home their loved ones. Little kids with signs and families gathering around for pictures. Grandma, mom and best friend were by my side throughout the whole day and it was perfection.

freedom riders lined the runway on either side to greet our boys as they stepped off the plane..absolutely amazing

my niece and nephew...okay my sis in law ;) made a sign for their uncle to see...and were holding it so proudly

We all chatted and waited for the planes to land and before we knew it the first plane landed and turned the corner...making it's way to the lined rows of freedom riders and anxiously waiting families.

Talk about a powerful entrance. The unit flew home commercial for the last stretch so it completely warmed my heart to see the pilots pop a flag out the window as they straightened out in front of the crowds. Such a simple gesture to show their support of our loved ones on board, who they safely carried home.

As the door opened we watched as buzzed head after buzzed head walked out of the door...each one looking like Mr. I couldn't help but smile as every butterfly in my stomach fully stretched their wings and fluttered like mad.

Hey there's my man!

We were told to "stay behind the line" and when I saw another lady break the rule..fully leaping on her lover in the middle of their runway I looked at the man in charge and ran right past him.

Perfect moment with my perfect mister. After this moment we were bombarded with camera crews asking for interviews and newspaper journalists hurling questions at us. But in that moment, little tears made their way out and I felt at peace for the first time in a year.

I didn't really want to let him go, and I didn't for a while. I had to touch him, just remembering what he felt like. Finding the freckle on his ring finger that isn't quite covered by his ring. Tucking my thumb under his while we hold hands, because that's where it fits perfectly. Giving the gentle kisses that mean I love you.

So there you have it, the homecoming of my Mr. The year didn't go by fast while it happened, but looking back, I'm so proud of myself and Mr for all the things we overcame. We grew...a lot. You're kind of forced to under the circumstances. But, Jesus..my wonderful Savior never left me. He never forgot about me and only helped me grow. My hope was in Jesus, that He would bring all that I knew to be right in the world, back to me. He would never leave me, or forsake me. He would carry me through all of the sad and lonely nights. It was my Father in Heaven that brought my love safely home to me.

Merry Christmas!

Stopping in to say Merry Christmas from the Mr and Mrs :)

We've had nonstop Christmas festivities the last few days and the party continues until tomorrow.  Our Christmas has been filled with lots of baking..music..giving..family and thankfulness to our Savior. I hope you all enjoyed time with family, friends or loved ones on our Saviors birthday :) I'll be back, posting regular updates on our official newlywed life.. but for now I'm thoroughly embracing this Christmas with Mr!

Luke 2:11

 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord.

Christmas Lights

Classes are over (hurray!), the air is crisp and cool, our house smells like pine trees and gingerbread and Christmas lights are lining the streets! It's the most wonderful time of the year and it's only going to get better this week.  We started off the week with a trip to look at Christmas lights with my best friend and her hubby, and it was just as amazing as we'd hoped.  The boys were thrilled (not) to look at lights and didn't complain once. Sike! They did. But I think they ended up enjoying themselves in the end. I went a little bokeh crazy, but it was so hard not to when it looked this beautiful.

Then we took turns in front of the patriotic house since both our hubbies are military studs.  Best friend and her hubby took their turn and I'm pretty much in love with the turn out.

So apparently not everyone knows how to work a DSLR camera...what? I know, news to me too. But it was mine and Mr's turn to stand in front of the house for our "support our troops" picture.  I thought we could teach best friend's husband to take a picture real quick.  But after about 9 failed attempts and 15 minutes of waiting for crowds to pass, running back and forth to change the focus..raise and lower ISO and reposition ourselves, we gave up :) Best friend's husband and Mr did an excellent job at not complaining throughout the process and now we have a great memory of crazy photo taking at the patriotic house and I'm so very thankful for it!

I'm almost certain I would be happy if it were Christmas time year round. Who wouldn't love to stare at magical lights all the time?

I can't wait until we have little ones to take with us down Christmas adorned streets. It will be so magical for them. There was Christmas music playing, hot cocoa to drink and people swarming the streets.  Everyone complains about Christmas music being played in early November, but I secretly adore it.  Nothing beats this time of the year.  I remember feeling so happy as a little girl, as soon as Christmas tree lots popped up around town.  Then houses lined with colored bulbs and bushes covered in white lights. Christmas trees in windows facing the street, so passerby could catch a glimpse of sparkling beauty. My heart feels full and ready to embrace this season of love and remembrance of our Savior's birth. 

Take two with best friend's husband as our photographer resulted in our faces in focus and some pretty lights in the background. Mission accomplished!

We had such a fun double date and hope this becomes a tradition!  The rest of the week holds more Christmas light looking, present wrapping, eggnog drinking, Christmas Eve services and lots of time with family. I truly adore it all.

With all the lights..treats..parties..presents and music it's easy to lose sight of where our focus should be. So let's not forget to thank and praise our Lord and Savior for the blessings He has brought so we can enjoy this amazing time of year <3

Apartment Wonderland

I've thoroughly enjoyed transforming our little place into a winter wonderland this year :) I basically sit and stare at everything when it's lit up at night.  The magical-ness that comes with glistening lights and sparkled ornaments makes my heart warm.  To top it all off, Mr and I get to share the entire season together! I'm not sure if there's anything better.  Here's our apartment wonderland...

These mason jars are quite possibly my favorite DIY thus far. Mod podge, glitter and a paint brush. Easy and purty.

Christmas tree cones are like an equal tie with sparkle mason jars in the DIY category. FUN to make and pretty inexpensive too. Tutorial to follow :)

Dollar tree vases holding my left over dollar tree ornaments!

and some yummy bokeh of our outdoor lights

Christmas bells are almost ringing!

It's almost time for me to be in full Christmas spirits. T-minus 7 days until the semester is over! I can almost taste the freedom. In the meantime, I'm thoroughly enjoying the amount of holiday decor lighting up our apartment :)

traditions and other holiday goodness

There's no doubt that Mr coming home has been the coolest thing to happen all year..as expected. It's safe to say that marriage has shown itself pretty 'round this little apartment. Lucky for us, Mr came home just in time for the holiday season so our family traditions shined their way to the front. Traditions hoped for, and those unexpected too. Remember when we were little and didn't understand why friends couldn't come over on holidays because that was designated family time? Not so when you create your own traditions. We started our annual "Thanksgiving Eve Sleepover" thanks to a few of our best friends.. who are like family to us.

Okay so there was a little alcohol involved, but it was their first time seeing Mr so obviously we indulged in some fun. Our plan was to have "spontaneous fun" so naturally I suggested we spontaneously watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade come morning. I guess that isn't what they had in mind as far as spontaneous goes. Whatever..I tried ;) But as the night progressed and sobriety kicked in we were all able to experience some powerful bonding through our God. Yes, I'm being real with you, alcohol and God all in one. That's the cool thing about being a Christian..we don't limit our spiritual experiences to a setting and time. God sets up the time, surroundings, people..everything. Our only job is to go with it.. respond. Our discussion went deep that night..and we all prayed together, spur of the moment type prayers..when you feel God tugging at your heart asking you to gather and kneel before Him. Don't get caught up in the rules of Christianity, it's the relationship and experiences with Christ that matter. Who says you can't drink a beer and talk about Jesus? He turned water into wine you know!

After our successful new Thanksgiving Eve sleepover tradition, we had a lovely Thanksgiving split between Mr's family and my own. We sat at the counter because there weren't enough seats at the tables, but it was next to the food, so obvs we weren't upset ;) Sitting at the counter was always a privilege when we were younger because the adults "couldn't see us" so as I engulfed my sparkling apple cider (I can't ever seem to get enough of that stuff) and took in the smells of our German Thanksgiving meal, I was content and so happy. Absolutely nothing compares to spending the first holiday after a deployment together and mine happened one week later.

Between the hours of New Girl, Call of Duty, paper writing and holiday familyness we found time to decorate for Christmas. My hope was to spend black friday listening to Christmas music, smelling the scents of cinnamon and pine tree candles while wearing Santa hats and decorating. Not super unreasonable, right? Three problems, work, schoolwork, and we don't own Santa hats. But we managed to decorate at around 10 p.m...still ringing in the holiday season on black friday just as I'd hoped :) Here's a sneak peek of our apartment, Christmas wonderland.

Nothing makes me happier than a house full of red, green, sparkles and Christmas garlands. And let's not forget the amount of baked goods that accompany the holiday before us ;)

Here's to
traditions & Christmas

my love is home!

He's safe, in my arms..where he belongs

and we couldn't be happier


stay tuned for more pictures

and our reunion story!

A year later

A year ago today, was the eve of Mr's deployment. The end was so far out of reach, 12 months was all I saw. I didn't know how anyone could last 12 months with out their husband, it didn't seem fair to me that our first year of marriage would be spent apart. I remember savoring every moment with him on our last night. Desperately fighting sleep, forcing my eyes to stay open so I could watch him lay next to me one last time before the morning took him away from me. It's funny the things we do to make moments last.


Imprinting memories to get us through those nights that seem to haunt us with a lonesome ache. Those memories, holding hands in church..him letting me pick the drink even though he knows I won't pick his favorite..feeling so loved and wanted when he grabs my face to kiss my forehead..watching him sleep so peacefully..catching an early matinee so we still have time to play dominoes before bed :)..bedtime prayers and morning cuddles. Those memories reminded me to hold on to what will be...once he's home again. Of course a sappy chick flick and a trip to Panera for pastries never hurt either ;)

I've learned a lot of things this year, as expected. I learned that I can be on my own, completely self sufficient. This however, gave me an appreciation for spending time with the ones I love. Being alone isn't all that bad..just quiet. It means you can eat what you want, watch what you want and clean as often...or not as often ;) as you want. So sometimes alone time can be good time. But with all my spare time this past year, I was forced to find ways to keep busy which led me to discovering my passion for crafting and redoing furniture! The hardest times were when I had nothing to do, and nowhere to go. Keeping busy is key..at least it was for me.

I also filled up a lot of my time with photo shoots and learning more about my camera.

The most important thing I've learned this past year, is that we serve a truly faithful and amazing God. In all honesty there were times when I tried to do it by myself. I might have been a little angry with God that he took Mr away from me for a year, frustrated that I had to be alone. But God put things into perspective and I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I had to trust that God's plan was bigger than mine. I won't lie to you though and say I was perfect at putting aside my self pity. There were plenty of times where it crept it's way into my daily life. Overall, I tried to maintain a positive outlook though because Mr's absence was only temporary. Please don't hear this in a cliche tone because it's so real. I can't even list the number of times where God has come through and shown me the importance of faith in Him. This year taught me that my God is with me wherever I go, and He desires the best for me. I think knowing this, and understanding this to be truth are two different things. I've always known God was with me..but I didn't truly understand the capacity of love He has for me until He was all I had.

Mr isn't home just yet, but I'm closer than ever to feeling his embrace. Reflecting back on November 13, 2010 is bittersweet. It hurts to remember the pain and uncertainty I felt going into deployment. But I feel so empowered that we've made it through to the end, and we're stronger than ever. My best friend leaned over to me in worship at church today and said "You did it" I wasn't sure what she was talking about so I asked her what exactly I had done, and she told me "You made it through deployment"

He's coming back to me, safe and sound just as I'd hoped and prayed..we made it through a year apart from each other. Deployment isn't fun, but it's doable.. especially when you allow God to take over and be the true desire of your heart.

God is so good :)

(all images © consider the lilies)

Thoughts On College

This will be long. I don't even know if I'll proof read through this. But when the mind starts rolling you gotta get the pen to the paper. Errr..fingers to the keyboard?

This school semester has been very eye opening. I'm so content with my coffeehouse job, part time photography, little apartment and tight budget..right now at least. But the "responsible" thing according to most, is going to school..getting your degree..then entering the 9-5 world. Well that's nice and all, but not what I'm about. I know I'll never regret getting my degree and receiving a college education, but if I could do it over I never would have gone to a state school. I'd much rather have gone to a photography school and enhanced my skills/knowledge of something I'm absolutely passionate for. I was advised to go for a "stable" generic degree in case my dream of being a photographer didn't quite pan out. While that advice is not terrible, it's definitely put me in a position I'd rather not be in.

I went the generic route and now my professors are asking for passion in my work, and that isn't something I can force. I mean sure I could fake it, but something about that just feels wrong to me. So, I told a particular professor that there will never be passion in my writing for her course because I'm simply taking her class as a graduation requirement..nothing further. She was shocked that approaches to rhetorical criticism wasn't at the top of my list. But at least I was honest. It felt better than giving her fake work.

 As I sit through school 12 hours a week I'm in a constant state of regret. I thought going the generic route was smart because my options are wide open..but writing 15 page papers about topics I could care less about is really starting to eat away at me. For lack of a better example...we're gonna go cliche here and say.. I'm so close to the finish line so I can't back out now but I wish things had gone differently after I graduated high school. I wish I had gone with my gut feeling and worked toward my passion instead of what the world deems valuable. Maybe to most people working 9-5 is valuable because it pays the bills. I want to do something I love, something I can wake up and be excited for. I find value in adoring your work.

I've worked so hard to get this far in college and I'm real proud of myself but sometimes I wonder if all the stress and tears were worth it in the end? Yes I said tears...I don't cry, but mixing deployment with dumb classes I could care less about brings out the tears every once in a while.

I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to receive a college education, and I acknowledge that many are not as fortunate to do so. But I'm struggling right now. Struggling to find meaning and purpose in a degree that has done nothing for me and won't help much in the future either. I've always had this attitude toward school but thought maybe it would change as I reached upper division. Not so my friend. School isn't meant for everyone and I think it's ridiculous when people say that you need school to be successful in life. Success comes from determination and creative will power, not from reading hundreds of textbook pages. Sure some people..well most people I guess..use their degrees to get them further and it's proved successful for them. I just don't see that happening with my degree. Who knows though, next year around this time I could be writing about the wonderful things my state school did for me. I doubt it...but I'm not gonna throw that option out the window yet. It's tough getting to this point, hundreds of tests and quizzes later and still realizing that school wasn't for me.

I did my family proud and in the standards of today's society I made a smart decision but I sure wish I spent the last 4 years hearing the shutter of my camera open and close instead of a textbook.

Fall Decor

Our weather in California finally changed to Fall.. the day after Halloween, better late than never right? There's something uncomfortable about fall decorations and caramel apple spice drinks when the weather outside is 85 degrees. But, over the last week or so we've seen daily showers and mid to upper 50s so now I can officially enjoy burning my Martha Stewart candied caramel pecan candle (given to me by my amazing best friend) and bundling myself up for a cozy night in.

The semester is about 3/4 of the way through and I'm almost positive it's going to kill me soon. But I'm not an A+ student so I gave myself a little time off to craft this "Thanks" banner. I'm pretty much over school and ready for the holiday season to be fully under way! Here's what my house will look like for the next 20 or so days!

Sure I love Fall but only because it's the season before the most wonderful time of the year. We may or may not have spent last night going through Lindsay's Christmas decorations while listening to Pandora's Christmas radio... ;) I will neither confirm nor deny..

sneak peek

One of my best friends came over today and we had a mini photo shoot to test out my new 50 f/1.4mm. I cannot wait to share the photos of her baby boy but they have to be sent to daddy first, of course! :)

I've missed my camera so much lately and taking these pictures was so much fun. I definitely needed it and I'm so ready for the day I can do this full time, giving it my all.

living abundantly

"Christ calls us to do what we cannot, and to be what we are not
He is asking us to walk on water.
Peter succeeded in doing that... but only for those seconds when his gaze was locked on Christ's,
and his mind set, as it were, on the 'things above.' 
But when he looked around, he sank."
Elizabeth Ellio.

How powerful is that?
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
Let Christ be your focus, to the depth of your soul.
Let His breath be your breath
His heart, your heart
 His way, your way
For only through Him can we accomplish anything.
Only through HIM can we live abundantly.

iPhone YouPhone WeAllPhone

I don't even know.
We all do phone though, right?
It's been a while since I've dumped my iPhone pictures
here so I think it's 'bout that time again.

Power food for the information overloaded college student


Every night around 8 p.m. I noticed his bright green, praying-mantice like self creep onto my window.
We were friends for 2 months straight.
Until I woke up to his shriveled body one fateful morning, lifeless on my deck.
Rest in Peace, friend. Your life was short-lived.

Does it surprise you that my math professor rabbit trails into stories
about robots he makes, and brings to dances?
No, no it shouldn't. Because not pictured here, is the hawaiian button-up shirt he cycles through
on an every-other-day basis, paired with this blazor.
And let's not forget his beard.

Friends, meet our pantry.
Pantry, cover yourself up..we have company.
Oh that's right, you're an open bookshelf and you don't have doors.
Darn you small kitchen.

Is taping together your blow-dryer a fire hazard?

If you like circles like me then go here and print out the last two months of this year!
Sorry guys, I knew about this back in September and didn't share til now.

In California we have photo shoots with goats and chickens.

You are a beautiful little lady, full of lusciously blurred backgrounds and crisp images.
I will keep you safe and love you to the fullest. Thank you for being mine.

It's important to note that mutual best friend 
 Langston Hughes.

No, that isn't a coffin like our front office girl suggested.
I don't decorate that intensely for Halloween, ya freaks.
It's actually MR's FINAL PACKAGE HOME!
which means a Mr is soon to follow

Until next time..

pinch, poke, you owe me a coke.