Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas comes from the heart...

First let me start by saying I love Christmas. I am cheesy Christmas! I love the tree, nutcrackers, cookies, and all the good stuff! Last year, with it being Andy and I's first Christmas we bought all the lights and goodies. This year, all of our wonderful holiday belongings are locked tight in storage in Arizona and we are in Virginia.  Obviously I have a problem! Hence, us learning a difficult but much needed lesson.

There were days that I look at my sad little Christmas tree...
and missed the fresh smell of a tree with bright lights. I mean this Charlie Brown tree is cute but its not an actual Christmas tree. And pathetically I felt bad for myself. I felt bad that we didn't have all of the "stuff" that we normally do. The "things" that I thought made it more Christmas-y for me.

Then one day as I was doing my study I realized how horribly I was messing up Christmas. I am so unbelievably blessed. First of all, we don't celebrate Christmas for the tree, nutcrackers, and lights! Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ and how He was sent to Earth to save us. This year has brought so many changes and difficult times for us. Each time something comes up and I feel overwhelmed all I can say is, "I am so glad I serve a God who is in complete control and I don't need to worry!" He has provided every time we need Him to.  This year I have really learned that He will always meet our needs, but it just may not be the way we want Him to or even the needs we think we need Him to meet. God knows me so personally. He knows Andy and I's needs even better than we know our own. So what are my needs...

A Christmas tree? Lights? My awesome Nutcracker collection? No! These are all awesome blessings that He has provided and that I often let get in the way of Christmas. Not only has He met all our needs, but He continues to bless us in amazing ways. I am spending Christmas this year with my Navy husband! There are so many people that do not get to spend the holidays with their loved ones because they are serving. And this very possibly could my future, not this year. Thank you Jesus for giving me this Christmas with my husband! 

This is our first Christmas without our families. We miss them so much and its hard not being with them. However, we have been adopted by some extended family and our new military family out here. We have had so many invites to church services, dinners, and parties we can't do them all. Thank you Jesus for kind people who see family as a matter of the heart, not DNA.

I am jobless and moving all over with the military constantly having an IOU on you is financially challenging. Andy and I love to give gifts to our family and friends and each other. This year we really had to tone down our gift giving, which at times has brought me to tears. But truly what gift could I give that is better than the one God has already given us? Thank you God for the gift of your son, Jesus.

By the time we are back in DC in May we will have lived in 5 different places in one year! That much moving and living out of a suitcase is driving me crazy! But every time we move God provides a place for us at just the right price. We always have clothes on our back and warm food in our bellies. Thank you Jesus for keeping us safe and protected.

Now, don't get me wrong, I think all of the Christmas decorations are wonderful and next year when we are back in DC, in a house, with all of our belongings I will be overly excited to put them all up again. But I will have a new appreciation for it all. I know it is not a need of Christmas. God has already provided all that I need. It is a blessing for all us to enjoy. Christmas is a matter of the heart, your heart. Its not in the gifts, decorations, or food. I needed this reminder this year. So thank you Jesus for stripping me of all the decorations, gifts, shopping, food, and family that I have relied on for Christmas to draw me closer to You.

Monday, December 12, 2011

America's Game: Army vs. Navy

This past Saturday, December 10, Andy and I went to the Army Navy game! This game is always the last regular season college football game and is filled with numerous traditions. The game is normally played in Philadelphia, but this year it was in Washington D.C.. Although we always thought it would be cool to attend this game, the real reason we went was Ben and Jenny! Ben is Andy's cousin and is a senior Cadet at West Point. So when we found out that we were going to be stationed in D.C. Jenny said they were coming down and asked if we wanted to go. We absolutely love hanging out with Ben and Jenny and knew that we would have a blast!
 Of course we had to cheer for Navy!

The game was played at FedEx field in MD. It is where the Redskins play.
 This is Ben marching on the field before the game. All Cadets and Midshipmen that attend the academies must be in attendance at this game. They both march on the field. This was West Point marching on the field, specifically Ben's group.
 This is all of the Cadets at West Point.
Jenny, me, and Andy waiting for Ben to march on the field.
The Midshipmen of Annapolis Naval Academy.

Yay! Ben caught up with us! In the background is all of the Midshipmen. Ben's uniform is something that they pretty much only wear for this game! And you do not want to know how much that cape costs! :)
 Jenny and I!
 Andy and I cheering on Navy!
Love them!
 The President doing the coin toss!

Half time show was Lee Greenwood singing "God Bless the USA". Its always so cool to be places that do an awesome job showing support to our troops and honoring them! I love being at events that honor all of those who have served and currently serve. 
Throughout the game both sides play commercials that they have made that support their team. Some are funny and some are silly. Here is one I love because its from the Seabees! And I love my Seabees (or Seabee)!
Love this picture! Love this girl! Being a military wife holds many challenges. It has been something that I have had to adjust to the past 6 months. I would not trade it at all, but it is a unique position. It makes me so grateful for other military wives (fiances:)). I have met so many wonderful women so far! One of my favorites being this lady! Not only are we weirdly alike in so many ways, we also get each other because we both love men who serve! The encouragement and support she offers me is amazing. I am so grateful for her and that we get to experience this crazy military life together, as wives, friends, and cousins. 

So that was another awesome experience that Andy and I got to do while here in D.C.. We are loving all of the new things we get to do and experience everyday. God continues to bless us and watch over us here. Right now life is an adventure for us and I am so grateful that I get to experience it all with my handsome husband!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Discovering DC

Let me start off with saying there is so much to do here in DC!!! We will not get it all done in the 2 months we are here. Luckily we will be moving back and can set a goal of getting to see it all. It is challenging because we are residents, not tourists here. So we have silly work schedules, cleaning, grocery shopping, and errands that all get in the way of our exploring. But one Sunday we both were off and wanted to see some of the sights. So we took the metro (We are official metro card holders and riders. I take it to work everyday). We started off looking at the big guys...

The Washington Monument, which is currently closed because of the earthquake they had in August. You can see the monument from all over in DC and at night it is lit up.

 Andy and I both agreed the World War II Memorial was our favorite. It is extremely peaceful and leaves you with a very strong feeling of reverence. 

 This is the pond in the memorial with the Lincoln Memorial in the background. They purposely put the WWII Memorial between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. So as you walk this stretch of the mall you honor all of those who fought for the start and preservation of our country.
This is where Andy and I stopped in amazement. Each one of these stars in the memorial (not all are pictured) represent 100 Americans killed in WWII. There are over 4,000 stars. As a teacher I love that they did this. Graphic representations are very powerful with students and people in general. It's a very humbling memorial.

 The steps up to the Lincoln Memorial.
 President Lincoln, himself (well not really). The reflecting pool is currently under construction so we could not get any pictures of that.
 This is the Korean Way Memorial. They have these statues in the grass.
This is the wall for the Korean War Memorial. It is granite with these images lasered into it. It is very cool how they did it.

This is the Vietnam War Memorial. It is very simple, the wall with the names inscribed in it.
 And there were the fall trees. We were in love!

 I thought this leaf was so cool. It was in the process of turning red.
So far we are loving DC! We are excited to see and experience more of it but so far that is what we have seen. DC is amazing because you constantly are surrounded by history. We are so blessed to be here for the next couple of years!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Veteran's Day 2011 at Arlington National Cemetery

Being stationed in Washington D.C. has some amazing perks to it! There is so much happening here and we get to experience it all! Starting right away. This Veteran's Day we had the opportunity to experience the day in a unique and very special way. It started off with the Seabee Memorial. So to give you a little background... Andy is in the CEC (Civil Engineer Corp) of the Navy. When CEC members are deployed they are called Seabees and are apart of a construction battalion.  This memorial honors Seabees who were killed in actions and who serve. There were several retired Seabees there along with the Commanding Officer of the CEC. In fact every head guy of the CEC was there and it was very cool to get to meet some of these men! Here are some pictures of the wreath laying ceremony at the Seabee Memorial.

This is jokingly referred to as the JOPA (Junior Officer Protection Agency). Basically these are other Ensigns and JGs that work in NAVFAC Washington with Andy.

After the Seabee Memorial wreath laying we decided to venture back into Arlington and see the National Wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns with our friends Josh and Kati (Josh graduated from OCS with Andy and is stationed in DC as well). We had no idea what we were going to see but figured it was worth trying out. So we went back and saw that everyone was entering an ampetheatre. So we did too...

This is right outside the Tomb of the Unknowns. And when we sat down we realized what we were not sure of... we were going to see the President! I mean 2 days in DC and already seeing the President! Super cool! The President lays a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns and then comes inside the theatre to give his Veteran"s Day speech. So we did not get to see him lay the wreath but did get to see him give his speech.

The First Lady watching the President give his speech.

It was an awesome day! I wish I could express what the day felt like there. There was such a reverence for the men and women who have fought and paid the greatest sacrifice for our country that they could. It was such an honor to be surrounded by so many people who have served and currently are serving. I don't think we could ever realize what has truly been sacrificed to secure the freedoms that we currently enjoy. I am grateful for anyone who has served in any capacity and especially proud of my amazing husband. He and every other service person serves knowing what it could cost them. Although Veteran's Day is a wonderful day to thank them, we should do so each and everyday!



So... I finally did it! Andy and I are experiencing so many new and exciting things on this amazing journey and want to share it! We have so many people asking how we are doing and what it is like, so I figured this would be an easy and great way for our friends and family to follow our journey! 

God is blessing us so much here in DC! We were able to find a furnished apartment in Alexandria, VA (it is about 10 minutes outside of DC). It is not much but right at our budget and has a short term lease so we can leave in January when we head to California. We are in love with Virginia. They are in the middle of fall and we are amazed at God's beauty! We have started looking around this area for when we come back here in May. I have even looked into getting my teaching certifications in Virginia and some school districts. Andy has started work and has been to a couple different bases. He started of at Navy Yard where he got to work with the big guys of the Navy and Marine Corp. He has currently been reassigned to a new base being built in Arlington. He is finally getting into what his job will be like and is enjoying it! I was able to get a holiday help job at the Gap and love it! As you know I love Gap and the 50% employee discount is a dream come true! It gives me something to do here and a chance to earn some extra money. So far I have really enjoyed it! When we both have time off we are exploring some! There is so much to do here! We are glad we will be here for a couple years so we get to experience it all! I will post pictures and some of our adventures on here soon!