La Mia Coco

Today I simply want to use this blog to wish one of the most amazing people in my life a Happy Birthday.

Meet Corrine (AKA "Coco"):

(Note: I gave her this nickname because it is the Italian term of endearment equivalent to "Darling" or "Dear". And, it kinda sounds like her name.)

She is one of my best friends in world. And she amazes me daily.

Not only is she an amazing student, an amazing member of the airforce, and an AMAZING friend, but she is an amazing woman of faith. Just like every other area of her life, she is committed and dedicated to learning more about God all the time. And she gets so excited when she discovers new things about Him and sees Him at work in her life. I just love hearing the joy that over flows from this girl's heart when she encounters God is some new, fantastic way.

Today I'm spending the day and night in Seattle with my family and Adam. This is one of our favorite Christmastime traditions. But I'm thinking about Corrine because last time I spent a day up there was with her (and another dear friend Jen) when they came all the way out here to visit me this summer.

This was one of countless memories I have with this girl. Some of my favorites are our annual trips to the Outer Banks, living together, having her come crawl into my bed in the mornings where we'd listen to Jon Foreman together to wake up, AM yoga, Speaking Italian together, Loving italy together, cooking, eating, drinking, laughing together, studying God's word together.

Coco: Buon Compleanno la mia bella amica. Mi manca. Ti Voglio Bene Per Sempre. Baci e abbracci.


Worth Waiting For

This time yesterday morning I was feeling very bitter and confused about why Durham county finds it necessary to make a poor grad student living off student loans pay $200 in property tax for her humble little Mazda 3. Where on earth do they expect me to come up with that kind of money? Not to mention it was cold, gray, and for lack of a better word just yucky out. This has been the weather since I arrived home on the 20th and I was starting to fear that I wouldn't see a beautiful northwest winter day before I leave.


This morning I'm sitting at our counter drinking coffee (thanks Dad) and looking out across the water which is glistening in the...wait for it...SUN! And the mountains are glowing and trying to shake the last layer of clouds off. And I'm not thinking about taxes. Or Bills. Or how when I go back to Durham I'm going to be back to my diet of beans, yogurt, and Larabars rather than real food like I've been so enjoying over Christmas. Right now I'm just feeling blessed that I live in such a beautiful place; a place where God's beauty dwells so fantastically. Bear with me here, but when I see the water sparkling and the mountains and clouds glowing across it--all as the sun is just starting to rise--it kinda makes me wonder how similar heaven will look.

And it makes me smile.

Because heaven will far surpass the most breathtaking moments I experience on earth. Here we see a glimpse of God's glory. But there; there His glory will dwell in full. Amazing.

Thank you God for a beautiful Pacific Northwest winter day. I think I speak for all of us PNWers when I say we are truly grateful when we get one. And boy are they worth waiting for.

This is the town where I live. And sometimes it doesn't even seem fair.


Where Light Matters

This is what I learned this Christmas:

Darkness. It existed.
Then, the light was created and pierced the darkness.
But very soon the world was darkened again by our sinfulness.
God had a solution...
He sent his son. He was a light to pierce this darkness too. His name was Jesus. We celebrate His birthday on Christmas.

As a Christian I am supposed to be a light. But what good does a light do in, well, the light? I am notorious for not turning on the lights until I really need them. My roommates have given me a lot of grief about not using enough light when I'm reading or doing things. I just don't see the point of turning on lights until it's pretty dark out (and you need them). It saves electricity. It makes sense. But, hmm. This makes me think about what it means to effectively shine our lights as Christians. A song we sang on Christmas Eve talked about carrying your light and running to the darkness. I think sometimes I prefer to shine my light...where it's light. This seems to contradict my above stated theory about lights/electricity/uselessness/etc.

After the shepherds saw Jesus they "Spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child." (Luke 2:17) They left the light and ran to the darkness to tell people.

Isn't it easier to shine Christ's love among:
Family you love?
Really good, easy, uplifting relationships?
Church community?

But how much harder is it to shine his love in the darkness:
Hurtful relationships?
People that you don't like to spend time with or be around?
Those who are just waiting to mock your faith?
In traffic?
Places that require you to leave your comforts and go? Blindly.

This post doesn't have one over arching take-away I guess. But what I've felt convicted of throughout this Christmas season is that I need to make sure that I am not just trying to show love to those who it is easy to love. To those who know Christ's love well and show me Christ's love well. To those who I enjoy being around. To those only in...America.

I don't want to just show His love to those who I naturally come into contact with. I want to intentionally come into contact with people who need to be loved.


Success at #8

Here's to another fabulous Christmas Party at # 8 33rd Ave. Thanks everyone for coming! (All 115 of you!) We love seeing all the people we love walk through our door each Christmas season. We've all been sitting around today, cleaning, still caroling, recalling and sharing all the wonderful conversations we had last night. Our house may be a mess, but our hearts are just overflowing.

Here are a couple of highlights from last night:

-All the delicious food. Who brought that Brie? Amazing!
-The five golden rings were the loudest as always. Even without Laura.
-All the sweet congratulations and wishes on our engagement.
-Ok, getting to wear my new Anthro dress. Sorry. Had to.
-Little Baby Oliver.

-Uncle Tom singing O Holy Night.
-Dad and Paul in tuxes.

-A few lovely conversations with people I'd never met.
-Many lovely conversations with people I know and love.

-My future in-laws coming and getting to meet my family. So special.

-Seeing my SISTER-to-be for the first time since getting engaged.
-Family pic! (With my new family)

-Brothers to be. And they are all so tall.

-Paul's Posse. I love them.

-Caroling. Caroling. Caroling.

-These two, whose amazing generosity and hospitality make it possible to have such a fun night to share with those we love. I love my parents.

So thank you again everyone who came. Our Christmas wouldn't be the same without you. May the rest of this season bring you great Joy as you reflect on the coming of the King. I'm looking forward to seeing many of y'all tonight at church as we celebrate together at an even better party--a party for Christ's birth!


Tips on Some Tunes

If anyone is bored of all the normal Christmas music and needs a little inspiration in these last few days, I have the PERFECT thing for you. This album has been my favorite this year. Dave Barnes is one of my favorite artists (and his Christmas concert was our first engaged date...but that's not why I love it so much). His Christmas album is a great mix of traditional and original songs. I've been listening to it this morning as I get ready for the Christmas Party Tonight!! Check it out. You won't be disappointed.

My favorite songs on the album include: Family Tree, Christmas Tonight, Meet Me at the Mistletoe :), I Pray on Christmas, O Come O Come Emmanuel, and Every other song that's on there.

(Doesn't he just look like the kinda guy you want to celebrate Jesus coming with??)

Also a few of my favorites over the years to check out too:

-James Taylor (Nothing beats his voice)
-The ELF Soundtrack
-Sufjan Stevens
-Mannheim Steamroller (Duh)
-Hullabahoos--Better Than Coal (This is the best UVa A cappella group and the album is amazing!)

Hope these add to your last few days leading up to Christmas!

Ok, now back to baking for our party!! (Already made about 150 ham rolls this morning. Mmm.)


On the Eve

Tonight is the Eve of my favorite thing our family does each year: Our Annual Christmas Party. We just decorated the tree, made the first round of cookies, set the butter out to soften for baking, Dad was in bed by 7 because he just worked a 24 hour shift. But we are all waiting in anticipation for tomorrow night.

There are so many beautiful aspects of this party:
(Uncle Tom singing O Holy Night, making me, and everyone want to cry)
Cute Kids in Christmas Dresses

It would hardly be Christmas time without it. Every year this time I go to sleep thinking of all the things we'll have to do the next day to prepare for it--making mad numbers of ham rolls, cookies, dips, appetizers, punch, mulled cider, M& the house top to bottom. And as much fun as I know 100+ people have at this thing, I can guarantee everyone that the Joy WE get as a family from throwing it exceeds that of anyone who attends. If there is one thing the Jordan's love to do it is to Host. It's our way of showing our extreme gratefulness for what we've been given.

Needless to say, this year's party will have a major miss: Sisterkind, Laura, won't be here. Which also means no duet from Laura and Bekah--"Breath of Heaven". Last year she got proposed to at this party. This year she is married and she and her husband Robert are spending their first Christmas in Richmond.

Laura we wish you were here. We miss you so much.

Everyone else...I'm excited to see you and to celebrate this season and Christ's birth with you!

Here is a glimpse into a few parties from the past:

All the cute kids up on the balcony...we didn't make them stay there

Everyone singing

Uncle Tom singing O Holy Night

And of course, the famous proposal of 2009


How Sweet They Are

At church on Sunday in Charlottesville Adam and I got to hang with two of my favorite friends: Jenn Boggs and her 7-year old daughter, Angela. I hadn’t seen either since August and was so ready to spend some time with them. Angela sat next to me in church and she drew me some pictures (totally unprompted):

And don't you love Adam's shorts and t-shirt at the alter? Not to mention those bangs...

It's raining on the honeymoon but at least we are picnicking. And have a nice tent. This picnic is in Tuscany right Angela?

Jenn and I kept looking over at each other trying not to crack up in the middle of our pastor’s sermon.
After church we went over to the lovely and brilliantly decorated Boggs residence for lunch and play time with their four children! Rece and Angela sent Adam and I away at the end of our visit with these lovely Christmas gifts (we were supposed to wait till Christmas to open them but we couldn't...):

The gift tag on Adam's bag. :)

Rece, how did you know that candy canes are his favorite??
My present from Angela.
The "hint" said: "Makes stuff with stuff".

I'm glad we are friends too, Ang.

Kids are the sweetest. I’m so lucky to have close relationships with a handful of children. I totally get why Jesus wanted them to be near Him and why He used them as an example of faith. (Matthew 19:14) Last weekend at the Porters and this weekend with the Boggs, left me with a desire to love and trust the way children do. They seem to have this reckless confidence in life. Seeing the way Jack Porter (3) can attach himself to Adam, a new friend, with no hesitation or shame (even if it means going and changing clothes to be matching Adam) or a card like this from Angela Boggs:

makes me realize how well kids show love. And they don’t even really try.

I guess this is yet another thing to reflect on this Christmas season. Do we love, trust, and hope recklessly the way that children do? Because Jesus says that they are the ones who will inherit the Kingdom of God.
"And He said: 'Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'"
Matthew 18:3


Venue Visits and Various other adVentures...

I'm packing to go home. Sitting on the dirty-but-i-meant-to-clean-it floor of my apartment. Paul (brotherkind) and Adam (fiance) are also on their computers, sipping bourbon, being men.

This weekend was a BIG one. Adam, Laura, Katie (wedding coordinator/great friend) and I went to Charlottesville, VA to look at wedding venues. Good news: We found our venue for the ceremony and for the reception! (Sorry for all the West coasters hoping this Jordan wedding would be on the Left coast. Please still come!!)

It sure is something else when you walk into the church, for the first time, that you are going to get married in. My heart started racing.

This weekend of wedding planning had many non-wedding related highlights/funnies as well that should not be overlooked:

-Two of my best friends (LT and Jen) came down from NOVA to visit venues with us. After missing the first of three due to "hold ups getting on the road" they met us at the second venue where they proceeded to get "stuck" because of "car trouble." They ended up spending three hours sitting in a office shack in the middle of nowhere in the snow waiting for AAA!! So they ended up missing the third venue (the winning venue!) and the church (so basically everything :( ), but met us for dinner and dessert before heading back up to NOVA. True friends.

They took this picture to document their mental states while being trapped, cold, and going a bit crazy...AND, they still look so cute.

-We also got to spend some quality time with a family dear to my heart, the Boggs. (I'll probably blog about our time with them tomorrow, while stuck in an airport). It was too good/hilarious to fit into this one.

-Afterward we got to meet with our wonderful photographers/hair and makeup artist Eric and Lora Kelley. These two are not just a beautiful couple, adorable parents, and wonderful Christians, but they are incredibly talented and we are looking forward to working with them so much. (Note: This meeting took place over hot apple cider and freshly baked banana bread. Made and served by another dear friend, Ashley West. Wait. Ashley Wooten. She's married now and I can't get used to it. Sorry Brandon. These two let us stay at their home while in Charlottesville this weekend.)

-After reluctantly getting back on the road to Durham Adam and I spent half the ride on the phone with our mom's vomiting out information and descriptions of everything. This was followed by a stop at a Food Lion to buy Ham, Cheese, and Potato Chips for dinner. Ham and Cheese roll anyone?? Stuffed with friend potato? Don't judge. It was cheap. We were hungry. And it sounded like a good idea at the time.

Mostly, this weekend just reminded me (as if I needed reminding) how wonderful of a community I have in Charlottesville and how much I miss living there. Attending my church and seeing my church family today at Portico, driving around campus, getting fro-yo at Arch's, and strolling downtown with my handsome fiance trying to keep me warm (impossible task) confirmed in my heart, once again, that there is no place like Charlottesville. No matter how long I spend in Durham, Charlottesville, VA will always be home. Well, at least my East coast home.

I guess I should either go to bed now and get 4 hours of sleep before having to get up to leave for the airport, or just stay up and get nice and sleepy for the plane. Hmm. Bed. Decision made.



Comments on Being Free

Today I finished my first semester of grad school at Duke.

A few comments:

-Praise Jesus for getting me through it and keeping me sane

-Praise Jesus for giving me great friends, a great roommate, and a great Bible Study here.

-Praise Jesus that I'm getting out of Durham and going HOME!!

-It felt appropriate to end finals with my epidemiology/biostatistics exam. That would be the class that followed me to the very end...

-I am eating trader joe's lentil soup and tater tots for dinner to celebrate. Hooray.

-I got to do my first bit o' christmas shopping today now that I am a free woman. And, might I add that I got some screaming deals at Anthropologie? Not for me. Gifts. Ok one for me.

-Tomorrow we are going up to Virginia to have Christmas with Laura and Robert and my cousin Cae and her boyfriend Ryan. We will also wedding plan. A lot. (We are even visiting venues in Charlottesville on Saturday!)

-I am going to my first wedding dress appointment tomorrow at 4. So surreal. But I love playing dress up so I'm guessing this will be fun. But again, suuurrrreal.
(On second thought...maybe I shouldn't be stuffing my face with fried bits of delicious yet empty carbs the night before I go wedding dress shopping. Whatever.)

-I think I might take some time to write some birthday thank you notes that are now extremely late. Don't worry everyone, I'm not just going to wait till Christmas and write you one combined note. I've just been wrapped up in this thing called school. Lame excuse. Excuse my excuse.

-God is so faithful. He keeps showing me over and over again why I should trust him. He provides. He extends so much generosity to me through the people in my life. Each phase of life I'm in challenges my faith in new ways, but God remains so constant.
"The LORD is the one who is going ahead of you. He will be with you. He won't abandon or leave you." (Deut. 31:8)

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